Daily Bible Lessons - Second 100
By Robert L. (Bob) Craig
DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[ 001

THE BEGINNING

by Bob Craig

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

"God said, let us make man ..." (Genesis 1:26)

"If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature (creation)." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

God made man, in the beginning, as a creature different from all other created beings. He was a creature of choice. He could and would make decisions according to his own disposition. He was what we call a "free moral agent." He chose to disobey God and in so doing separated himself from God. He died a spiritual death on that day. Death is a separation whether physical or spiritual. Physically: (James 2:26) "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." and spiritually: (Isaiah 59:1) "Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."

He had sinned, thus separated himself from God and there was no way he could make restitution for his sin. But God made a promise through Abraham that "in thy seed shall all nations be blessed." And that seed was Christ. That seed reaches back to those faithful ones in any dispensation of religious history just as it reaches forward to us today. [see Devotion No. 2] (Galatians 3:16) "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."

So, we hear so much about being born again, and it is a Bible subject, but not a mysterious, miraculous manifestation of some sort, but an intelligent conception that man can understand. When man is born again, he is the new creation that Paul talks about. But who is this new creation, this new man? He is one who has been born again (anew) and if anyone is in Christ he is this new creature. He has been born again.

Simple, isnít it? How do we get into Christ? The Spirit reveals the entrance in passages such as Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27 thus the Spirit performs His part and the water performs its part and thus we are born of the water and the Spirit --- new creatures in Christ Jesus.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[002.

BLOOD REACHES BACK

by Bob Craig

We hear much concerning the universal church. This is the sum total of the saved of God throughout all ages; Patriarchal, Mosaical or Gospel dispensations. We read about it in Hebrews 12:23: "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect ..."

The sacrificial offering of Christ covers all the faithful of all ages. (Romans 4:16) "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all ..."

Of course, it must be understood that faith, whether of Abraham or Adam or us today, will be made known by our obedience to whatever God says. They who were declared faithful in Hebrews 11, were obedient to Godís command for them. Then we have Paulís statement in Hebrews 9:15: "And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."

Abrahamís faith was tested when God told him to take the son from whom the seed line should come and offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham did as God directed and thus was declared faithful. Read the story in Genesis 22:1-14 and then understand what constitutes faith by reading of the fulfillment of the story in James 2:21-24.

Not everyone has been tested in that same way. Abel was told one thing while Noah was told something else. And there are unnamed hundreds of faithful people in Hebrews 11 for whom God has already prepared an eternal dwelling place. We, today, are tested for faith. We, who say that we have faith, are told to "Repent and be immersed" (Acts 2:38) and we, too, shall inherit the gift of God through the Holy Spirit, which is this hope of life eternal.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[ 003

A NEW CREATURE

by Bob Craig

"If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature (creation)" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Man is a NEW creature inasmuch as he has been born again (anew). This does not mean that he has undergone some mysterious "better-felt-than-told" experience. It means simply that he has obeyed the gospel of Christ from a sincere heart, thus he has all his past sins forgiven and he can now have a new beginning even as he did from the first (physical) birth. At his first (physical) birth, he was a new creature without spot nor blemish. He was innocent in Godís sight. "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).

He reached a certain plateau of life in which he could distinguish between right and wrong. So Satan and sin entered his life and took away his contact with God. I prefer to call this a "STATE of responsibility" rather than the traditional "AGE of responsibility" because it will come at different ages in different people. Now he must be "born again" or "born anew" or "born from above." Jesus says it MUST take place but gives no indication of the HOW in John 3:3: "Ye must be born again." He gives a little more instruction in John 3:5: "Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."

Now a person, having reached this "state of responsibility" must realize that he is guilty of sin and take on humility to the extent that the recognizes his condition and that he, himself, can do nothing to relieve himself of his guilt so he cries out "What must I do?" His teacher might say, with the apostle, "Believe on the Lord, Jesus, and thou shalt be saved." But he is rather confused and asks, "Who art thou, Lord?" And He answers in the Book, "I am Jesus of Nazareth." Now, he indicates that he needs even more information so he asks the question once again but this time inquires with a believing heart, "What [more] shall I do?" Then we have the Spiritís final answer as it was revealed through the apostle Peter, "...Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins ..." (Acts 2:38).

So, with believing, penitent heart, this person comes forth from this watery grave. He is a born again

Christian, [the only kind of Christian there is] a new creature in Christ Jesus, with the attitude now that says, "Here am I, Lord, send me."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100- No. 004

MUST WE FORGIVE?

by Bob Craig

Jesus said, in His model prayer, "Forgive us our debts (sins), as we forgive our debtors (or those who sin against us.)" The idea today seems to be that we must forgive folk whether these want to be forgiven or not.

I believe that the attitude of a Christian ought to be one of forgiveness. Be ready to forgive anyone who sins against you. But forgiveness is a two way street. Remember, two parties are involved: the one who sins and the one who is sinned against. Itís like this: when a person sins against another he also sins against God. He erects a barrier between his brother and him and between God and him. Something must be done by both parties in removing the barrier. I am willing to forgive just as God is willing to forgive. "God is not willing that any should perish ....." (2 Peter 3:9).

I have gone as far as I can in the removal of the barrier. God has done all that he can/will in the removal of the barrier. We both wait at the barrier for the sinnerís move. Does he want to be forgiven? If so, he makes this known by his repentance. We now complete 2 Peter 3:9 "... but that all should come to repentance," and we also look at Luke 17 3-4: "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 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."

We are waiting at the barrier, God and me. We cannot do any more toward removing the barrier. The sinner comes to the barrier and says, "I repent," or, in so many words, "I want to be forgiven." I forgive, God forgives, the barrier is removed and my brother is forgiven and, to our human ability, forgotten.

I think you can see what we mean when we say that "forgiveness is a two-way street."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[ 005

WHERE EVER THEY WENT

by Bob Craig

The Jews in Jerusalem were displeased when they saw their own people forsaking the law of Moses and embracing the Christ. Their displeasure was manifested in their persecution of these people. This persecution became so severe that many fled the city and went into the surrounding territories of Judea and Samaria. And the record says in Acts 8:4, "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word."

Persecution has never hindered Godís people from preaching the truth. Christians were first persecuted by the Jews. This ceased when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 70 A. D. Nero instigated persecution against Christians about 64 A. D. and it continued, intermittently, until 313 when Constantine handed down the Edict of Milan giving all religions freedom from persecution.

When persecution ceased, apostasy flourished and produced the Roman Catholic Church which in turn brought forth the Protestant Denominational situation we are surrounded with today. [More later on that.]

But these Christians of Acts 8:4 did not go everywhere in the known world of their day. "... they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria ..." (Acts 8:1). So I think it can be more accurately stated that "Everywhere they went. they preached the word." And thatís the way it should be today. We are not obligated to go everywhere but everywhere we do go, we are obligated to preach the word.

Question: are we doing that? Answer: No! Question: why not? Answer: perhaps because we have it so easy. No persecution. No need for defending the word so we donít do it. We expect the government to pass moral laws to do our work. But everywhere THEY went, they preached the word and because of their work, they continued to be persecuted until Constantine and then, protection by the government and apostasy flourished.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[ 006

ADAMíS FIFTH RIB

by Bob Craig

We have four instances where the fifth rib is mentioned in the Bible. Each of these have to do with the despatch of one person by another. The dispatched person was struck "under the fifth rib" and expired rapidly. Why the fifth rib? The encyclopedia in describing the heart uses as part of that description this: "the apex [of the heart] touches the chest wall between the fifth and sixth ribs." Apex is the highest point. So the fifth rib would be the most vulnerable point of entry into the heart.

The heart of man is often used figuratively as the seat of the emotions. It "grieves, gladdens, sorrows, loves, rejoices, fears, etc." God, in the creative mode, seeing that it was not good for the man to be alone, determines to make a mate who would be an appropriate helper. He would make this helper to be one whom, not only Adam, but all male humankind would draw her close to him as the love of his heart. So, God opened Adamís side and took a rib and made woman. It is logical to assume that God opened his side at the fifth rib; the apex of the heart; that which is the nearest part of the heart to mankind. Just as life was taken from man at the fifth rib, so life was created for woman at the fifth rib.

Woman became a vital factor in the live of man so Adam makes the declaration, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:23-24; Matthew 19:5-6). Just as surely as God joined Adam and Eve back yonder so that it is said, "they shall be one flesh," even so when today, man chooses a certain woman as the love of his life and so declares it, in some recognizable way, to the world, God joins them together and they become "one flesh." When God joins them together, man [the man involved in the relationship or any other man] does not have the right nor the power to put asunder. So, even though he may give her a bill of divorcement, she is still his wife until God severs the relationship and he will do this only on the grounds of sexual unfaithfulness. What God joins only God can "unjoin."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100Number[ 007

AUTHORITY

by Bob Craig

We hear much concerning the subject of "Authority," especially how to establish authority in religion. I would not take exception to any of them so long as they use as their thesis the old hermeneutic and does not seek for the "new." But I am interested in the source and the source of that authority is the "King."

Letís let Mr. James Strong, imminent scholar, define the word, kingdom. He says it better than I. "1) royal power, kingship, dominion, rule 1a) not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom 1b) of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah 1c) of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah's kingdom 2) a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king 3) used in the N.T. to refer to the reign of the Messiah." Until we reach the point where we are willing to submit to authority, it makes no difference how we establish it. When we are really ready to make Christ our King, then it makes no difference what he says nor how he says it. We read a statement in Luke 17:21: "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."

They looked round about them and saw no robed king, no jeweled crown, no elaborate throne room, but they were looking in the wrong place just as many today are looking for a coming kingdom which they can see, which they can experience with their human senses. But the kingdom of which Jesus is King is a spiritual kingdom. Itís here now and "it is within you," that is, if you are an authenticated Christian.

He rules your life from his throne in your heart. He is your sovereign; he is your ruler, he is your King. Now, what will you, king of my life, have me do? All he wants me to do is contained in His New Covenant, the New Testament. I must not add to nor diminish ought from it and I will not if he is the ruler of my heart.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100Number[ 008

HOW DOES HE SPEAK?

by Bob Craig

Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, "All power (authority) hath been given unto me, in heaven and on earth." So, whatever He says, becomes binding upon mankind. I think that all people who claim to believe in Christ, will agree with that statement. But these same believers sometimes say, "we need to hear what Christ says, not what the apostles say. But he said to these apostles, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:19-20). This was their charge, their mission and we hear Him once again as he makes the apostlesí voices just as binding as though God, Himself, were the speaker. (Matthew 10:40) "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me."

We hear the apostle Paul and he affirms this in 2 Corinthians 5:20 "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." An ambassador is a personal representative of a government and these apostles had the proper credentials and had the message of heaven given them by the King. They were the help of the Holy Spirit, *the Comforter." Read all about that beginning with John 13:31 through the end of chapter 17. All of that is addressed to the apostles. Remember that as you read.

Their writing was just as authoritative as their speaking. Read with me from ASV 2 Timothy 3:16-17: Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work." The word "scripture" means "writings." All writings were not and are not inspired but the writings of the apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit and were therefore authoritative and binding.

By the way, there are no successors to the apostles. No man today has the qualifications or the credentials essential to that position!

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[009

THE GLORIOUS CHRIST

by Bob Craig

(John 1:1-2) "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God."

In Bible study we need to be aware of words. The word "God" comes from a Greek word "theos" which means deity or divinity. So, reading the verse literally it would sound like this: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with deity, and the Word was deity. The same was in the beginning with deity." Jesus possessed deity just as the Father possessed deity

But verse 14 says, "... the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

The Word was Christ and Christ was deity but deity became flesh. We do not know what form (substance) deity has but whatever that form, it underwent change. His form changed from whatever form deity has into the form of man -- deity "became flesh." But, he lost none of the glory of deity for John says, "we beheld his glory." The "we" in this verse evidently refers to the apostles so John puts it like this in 1 John 1:1: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)"

We too, must see him for what he is, so to that end we hear John again in John 20:30-31 saying, "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But 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." They "beheld his glory" by personal contact. We behold his glory through their words which "are written."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[ 010

COMPREHENSIVE FAITH

by Bob Craig

Several verses that I have used contain only the word "faith" or "belief" in regard to salvation or eternal life. I will be using several more as time goes on. Just to set the record straight, I do not subscribe to the Calvinistic doctrine of "salvation or justification by saith only." James says in James 2:24: "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

The word "faith" is used in the New Testament in at least five different ways: Comprehensive faith, Historical faith, Textual faith, Motivational faith and Personal faith. I shall examine each of these in the mentioned order in other articles..

First, comprehensive faith. It is all-inclusive. Billy Graham, after making a speech in which he introduced John 3:16 as the "plan of salvation," was questioned thusly: "Faith or belief is the only thing mentioned in the verse. Do you not believe that the love of God, repentance or confession are necessary components in the plan of salvation?" Mr. Graham said that these things are understood in the word faith or belief. In other words, faith is comprehensive. It includes all things that pertain to salvation.

For instance, if we believe in Christ, we believe all that he says and believing all that he says, we will then, from the heart, obey his every command. Mr. Graham was asked if baptism was necessary. Graham said "no!" Why not? Jesus said, in Mark 16:16: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." He sent forth his apostles with the charge to "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19 ), and inspired them to say, "... Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins ..." ( Acts 2:38).

This is Comprehensive faith. It includes all things that pertain to salvation.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[011

HISTORICAL FAITH

by Bob Craig

"... he that cometh to God must believe that he is ..." (Hebrews 11:6)

For lack of a better word this is what I call "Historical Faith." We must believe that "he is" whoever he claims to be. He claimed to be the Son of God, the Messiah, deity. How can we know this to be a fact? John declares in John 20:30-31 "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But 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." We have the record of a competent eye-witnesses concerning the mighty signs that Jesus did, the apostles. Their competency was never questioned during their life time therefore we can trust their testimony. John said that they saw him, they heard him, they touched him.

Jesus proved that he was the son of God, deity, by his control of the elements. We read the account of he and his disciples being overtaken by a vicious storm in Matthew 8:24-27. The concluding thought in that passage was, "the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!" No man, not even the apostles, were able to do this.

He proved that he was the son of God, deity, by his control of the material things of life. We read of his multiplying the loaves and fishes in Matthew 14:17-21 so that over 5000 were fed. This demonstrates that he had at his command the material needs of mankind. No man other than he ever was able to do this..

He proved that he was the son of God, deity, when he forgave sins. The people all agreed that "only God can forgive sins." Read Mark 2:3-7. Men make claims today to be able to forgive sins but the fact remains that "only God can forgive sins."

"Except you believe that I am he, you shall die in your sins."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[012

TEXTUAL FAITH

"I ... exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3)

I know of no better title to use than "Textual" faith. By that I mean that the word "faith" as used in Jude 3 pertains to the inspired message from heaven which becomes the Christianís only Articles of Faith. Various books called manuals, disciplines, catechisms, etc., have been written that contain the Articles of Faith of the numerous religious bodies among us. They are all different even though many of them are based on the Catholicís Nicene Creed.

The various religions of the world are referred to as some kind of faith. The question is often asked, "Of what faith are you?" Whether we like it or not, the Bible teaches that there is "one faith." Read carefully, very carefully, Ephesians 4:1-6. You will notice that it says there is ONE Lord, ONE spirit, ONE father. There are the same number of faiths that there are Lords, Spirits and Fathers.

The Roman Catholics recently handed down an encyclical making plain that it is the only religion (the only faith) that will get one to heaven. The various religions of this town were in an uproar over the statement. But, after all, if Catholic doctrine is the faith of the New Testament, then it is the only way. But I challenge them to prove that most of their faith is even found in the New Testament either their version or the King James Version or any other.

Reader friend: do you believe that the religion you embrace is the one faith of the New Testament? If so, then you are in the position of the Catholics. If not, then you need to begin a search for that which is the one faith. After all, there is only one body of truth that has been revealed from heaven and it was delivered to the saints of the first century; not to the miscalled saints of the Catholic church of the present and Jude exhorts us to contend (defend staunchly) for that faith, that body of truth. Paul warns of departures as did Jesus himself. (Read Matthew 7:21-27) Paul sais, "I have kept the faith." Wherever the word faith is preceded by the word "the" and even sometimes where the word "the" is lacking, it means the body of truth revealed from heaven.

Now, before you file this is file No. 13, read once again Ephesians 4:1-6.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[013

MOTIVATIONAL FAITH

by Bob Craig

"... we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).

There is something that causes a Christian, and should cause others to want to be Christians, to diligently seek for heavens recognition and that is what Paul is talking about in the noted verse. He begins the discussion concerning unseen things in the last verse of chapter 4 and continues with it in this fifth chapter.

People do things for various reasons. Every effort we put forth is caused by something. We run a race for a trophy. We seek to be the best at games for the praise we get. We do a good job in our profession looking for advancement or salary increases or both. Something motivates us. But what motivates us in our service to God. Nothing we can see. We have a promise -- eternal bliss in heaven. We can neither see nor hear the one making the promise. We cannot see the results of the promise. We have the word of the Master in regard to it. We believe his Word.

This faith in the unseen is closely connected to hope. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it" (Romans 8:24-25). Hope has been defined like this: "a desire with the expectation of receiving." Eternal life is out yonder in the future. We donít have it yet. We only have the promise. The other good things we work for are tangible; money or prizes or the adulation of others. But this greatest prize of all is unseen.

So we press on, sometimes suffering the mockery of men. Why do we do it? Because we believe the words of the Master. Peter, by inspiration and authority of the Lord says it is "... an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:4-5). Our faith in Godís promise keeps up going in the right direction.

Read more of motivational faith in Hebrews the eleventh chapter.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[014

PERSONAL FAITH

by Bob Craig

"...whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23).

That statement could be made concerning each of the various kinds of faith we have mentioned. But it has to do with some personal conviction I have -- something that is peculiar to me. I hold it though, as a matter of religious conviction.

The entire chapter is concerning a weak brotherís conscience. Particularly does it pertain to the eating of meats. It could include the unclean meats of the Old Covenant or meats offered in sacrifice to idols. It could have some application to something in our present life but we need to be careful in making these applications. The weak brother is one who has not reached the plateau of learning the scriptures that others have, therefore we need to deal with him gently and consider his weak conscience. He, in turn, needs to recognize his lack of learning and not try to bind his opinion on others.

In spite of such verses as Acts 10:10-16 and 1 Timothy 4:3-5 he feels that it is unlawful to eat certain meats. Paul points out, once again, that this is not to be bound as a matter of law. He points out that these matters of personal conscience, eating or refraining from eating, keeping a certain a day or not keeping a day, should all be accomplished as "unto the Lord." Even though it was not a matter of law, it would be considered as such if a person had a conviction about it.

Thus, it is all summed up in verses 22 and 23: "Hast thou faith? [do you have some personal belief?] have it to thyself before God. [Donít try to bind it on others.] Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. 23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, [He has doubts about it being right but he eats it any way. In his heart he has rebelled against what he believes the Lord condemns] because he eateth not of faith:[personal conviction] for whatsoever is not of faith [his personal faith or conviction] is sin."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[015

FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT

by Bob Craig

(John 3:34) "For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him."

In the above verse John the baptist was the speaker. He was discussing himself and Jesus. In so doing he talks of one "whom God hath sent." That could be either John or Jesus. But in this talk he lays down a principle that would pertain to many in time to come and it was, "he giveth not the Spirit by measure." The words "unto him" have been added by the translators and are not found in most of the more modern translations. A person else has the Spirit in what he does or he does not have the Spirit. There are no half-measures, quarter measures, no part measures.

This phrase, "filled with the Spirit" carries the same idea. One is "filled with the Spirit or he is devoid of the Spirit. "Filled" carries with it the concept of motivation. There are many illustrations in the Bible concerning what I mean but Iíll only use two to demonstrate the concept of "cause and effect." We read in Luke 4:29: "... they rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong." That was the effect. What caused it? "... they ... were filled with wrath" (Luke 4:28). Another: Acts 5:3: "But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan FILLED thine heart (the cause) (and the effect) to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land?" You see what I mean? When we do something it is caused by being filled with something..

So, we, as Christians, are admonished to be filled with the Spirit (not half-filled) in what we do. (Ephesians 5.18_19): "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." When our spirit is filled with the Spirit of God then what we do will be pleasing to Him. But remember, the Spirit works in us by the power of the word. Compare the above verse with Colossians 3:16: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[016

THE HOLY LAND

by Bob Craig

I get brochures advertising trips to "the Holy Land." They describe these trips as taking one to the supposed crucifixion site, the burial cave of Jesus, the place where the temple stood, the route of Jesus to the cross, etc. I received an advertisement selling vials of "holy" water from the Jordan where Jesus was baptized.

Battles have been fought, and continue to be fought, over who would possess these "Holy" places. The Crusades of long ago were dedicated to reclaiming this land from the "infidels." One of the obstacles to peace in present-day Israel is who shall occupy the temple area of Jerusalem. So on and on goes the conflict and the promotions pertaining to "the Holy Land."

Under the Old Covenant the temple was holy and Jerusalem was a holy city and after their desecration and destruction by the Babylonians, Nehemiah, Ezra, Zerubbabel, and others labored exceedingly to restore the temple, the town and the worship to their former glory.

But Jesus taught a lesson in John the fourth chapter in regard to physical places. The woman of Samaria said, "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship" (John 4:20). Jesus answered, "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father." (vs 21) "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him." (vs 23)

That hour has come. The Old Covenant was fulfilled bringing it to an end and with its ending, no mountain nor place of assembly is any more holy than any other. What makes an assembly of people pleasing in Godís sight is when their worship is "in spirit and in truth."

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[017

SCRIPTURAL WORSHIP

by Bob Craig

"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23-24)

We live in the New Testament era when God has no favorite people and no favorite place of worship. There are no gender nor ethnic boundaries for who may worship Him. Peter used the "keys of the kingdom" and opened the doors into the majestic presence of God to both Jew and Gentile. "God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:34-35). By faith, repentance and baptism we become his children.

As children of God we are to worship Him. This worship must be in harmony with truth. We learn how to worship God by the explicit and implicit commands of the New Testament. We cannot devise our own plans for such worship. To do so is to corrupt Godís ways and place our souls in jeopardy. But even though we do the right things in worship, that worship may not be acceptable unless it is "in spirit" also.

In spirit has to do with attitude or disposition. This has to do with the inward man. The outer man is doing the right thing but is he doing it with his spirit? The spirit of man might be described as the heart of man, the spiritual mind of man, the inner man. The people in Corinth were eating the bread and drinking the fruit of the vine but ate and drank damnation to themselves inasmuch as their hearts were not right in so doing. James said the prayers of some were not heard inasmuch as they had the wrong attitude.

Many people are worshiping God in this present time but their worship is in vain for the same reason that the worship of the scribes and Pharisees was not acceptable. "In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). Worship God with all your heart, soul and mind and do it His way. Thatís the kind of worship God is well pleased with.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[018

BAPTISM IS ESSENTIAL

by Bob Craig

(NASB John 4:1-2) "Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were),"

For various reasons, most modern-day churches believe and teach that salvation is by faith only and that baptism is not necessary [non-essential] for salvation. [Please go back and re-read my lesson No. 10 on "comprehensive Faith"] One of the verses used to teach their doctrine is 1 Corinthians 1:17: "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect."

Paul tells of some that he baptized. His point is not to diminish the importance of baptism in Godís plan of salvation but to point out that the baptizer is of no importance. It takes no special preparation nor special selection nor special ordination for one to baptize another person. Jesus himself did not personally baptize, even though he was credited with their baptism, but his disciples performed the actual act. And so it was with Paul. Paul baptized very few in Corinth but many were obedient to the command of the gospel to be baptized. Notice Acts 18:8: "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized."

Yes, Crispus is here mentioned as he is in the 1st Corinthian letter. He believed and was baptized and all the other Corinthians believed and were baptized. Somebody other than Paul did the baptizing. Who? We donít have that information perhaps because the one who performs the act of baptizing is of little or no importance. Paul was sent out under the same commission that the apostles were and that was, "... Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15).

Paul did what he had been called to do, preach the gospel. The Corinthians did what the Lord commanded them to do, believe and be baptized. When that old time gospel of the New Testament was preached and people obeyed it -- result -- they were saved.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[019

JESUS IS OUR SPIRITUAL FOOD AND DRINK

by Bob Craig

(John 4:14) "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

(John 6:48) "I am that bread of life."

(NKJ John 6:54-55) "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed."

We must have his water; we must have his bread; we must have his food and drink; we must have HIM. How is this accomplished? Let the Bible answer.

(1 Peter 2:2) "... desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:"

(John 6:44-45) "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."

(John 6:63) "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."

(Hebrews 4:12) "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

When we have implicit and explicit faith in the word of God, make it our daily sustenance, then we have HIM in our lives. Without the Word of God we have no access to the blessings of heaven. "Eat and be filled."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[020

A SAD STORY

by Bob Craig

(John 6:66) "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."

These disciples had heard something from him that they could not or would not accept. They considered it "a hard saying." Many today will not receive him because they, too, consider something he has said as being "too hard."

For instance, some think his law concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage is too severe. Hereís what he said, "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 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. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 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." (Matthew 19:3-9). This goes back to the beginning of creation. He made one woman for one man and no one but God or death could separate them. So, many of todayís people turn from him and look for an easier way.

Notice; it is one MAN and one WOMAN. Not two men or two women. They come together as husband and wife and in this relationship bring forth children thus producing the happy situation we call the FAMILY, the HOME. What can be better than what God through Jesus ordained?

There are literally hundreds of other scriptural situations that man turns his back on but this one is enough to make my point. Itís always the same sad story when people turn their back on Christ. They forfeit eternal bliss in heaven.

The bottom line: "Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God" (John 6:67-69).

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[021

"TO WHOM SHALL WE GO?"

by Bob Craig

We ended last time with this:

The bottom line: "Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God" (John 6:67-69)

And now our titled question; "To whom shall we go?" for eternal life?

Not to the atheist who says, "There is no God," therefore no hereafter. Or to the Humanist whose doctrine implies the same while giving materialism as the answer. But to both Paul says, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable" (1 Corinthians 15:19).

To whom shall we go? To the Methodist Discipline, the Baptist Manual, The Lutheran Catechism, the Catholic Catechism, The Episcopal Prayer Book, The Watchtower Society, The United Pentecostal Handbook, The Book of Mormon, Church of Christ doctrine, etc., etc.?

.Peter answers the question: "thou [Jesus, the Christ] hast the words of eternal life." We would do no violence to the scriptures to add the word "only" to this statement: "ONLY thou!"

What are his exact words concerning this important subject? "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" (John 6:45). "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (Read John 8:24-30)." I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16). "... be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).

"To whom shall we go?" "THOU hast the words of eternal life."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[022

THE WOMAN TAKEN IN ADULTERY

by Bob Craig

In the eighth chapter of John we have the story of a woman begin brought to Jesus of whom it was said was taken in the act of adultery. To tempt him into forsaking the law of Moses, they asked him the question, "They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?" (John 8:4-5).

This story has been used in this present time to contend that we must not judge any one even one who is guilty of adultery. This teaches no such thing. Jesus didnít answer them at first which might be telling us not to be too hasty in jumping to conclusions. After a little while he made the statement, "... He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" (John 8:7) According to the law there had to be two accusers. Their conscience condemned them and one by one they passed out and there was not left no accuser.

Jesus then told the woman, ",,, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more" (John 8:10-11).

Jesus was acting in harmony with the law. Their law said that there must be two witnesses. His only knowledge of the incident was hearsay. There were no witnesses. According to law she was free to go. They Lord said "go" but further warned her, :"sin no more>" He realized that she was guilty, but he had no witnesses so he recognized her sin and admonished her, :sin no more."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[023

NEW OR OLD --- WHICH?

by Bob Craig

Recently, it came to my attention that some are saying that the four gospels are not a part of the New Testament; they are of the Old Testament. Are the sayings of Jesus for us today or not?

I have emphasized, maybe over-emphasized, the concept of considering the context: who, what, when, where and how. Let me say more. Just because a statement is made to one person or group of persons, doesnít mean that it cannot be applied to others under certain circumstances. But donít press the circumstances.

Some of the remarks in the four gospels were addressed to certain people: to Mary, Elizabeth, Lazarus, Judas the betrayer. When that is done, then it can only be applied to them. Sometimes groups of people are addressed; scribes and Pharisees, the multitude, the Sadducees. Some of what is said to these groups can be applied. Many times Jesus addressed his disciples, later called apostles. We must be extremely careful in applying what was said to them to also apply to us.

All of that having been said, what about our question: are the four gospels part of the New Testament? Yes! It is said that he "... went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom ..." (Matthew 4:23).The sermon on the mount is introduced with a beatitude concerning the kingdom. "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3).Then all of the various parables that are introduced with the statement, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto ..." Jesus is laying the foundation of the kingdom throughout the four gospels and giving the qualities by which he would be know as "the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Then the mission and charge of the apostles in Matthew 28:19 and the promise of John 14:26 ASV "But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you." And remember, the Book of Acts is just a continuation of the gospel according to Luke.

There are more, but these are enough to convince the believer that the four gospels are a part of the New Testament. So call it what you will, when properly applied, it has many lessons for us today. "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4).

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[024

JUST ONE SIN

by Bob Craig

Itís been said that just one sin will not condemn a person. But letís look at the record.

First, there is Adam and Eve. As far as we know, they committed only one sin each. God had told them, and they understood what he said, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). They ate; they sinned; now they stood condemned and must suffer the consequences.

Moses was about as good a man as we can find. He was described thusly: "(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)" (Numbers 12:3). But Moses committed one sin for which he must suffer the consequences. So we view the aged Moses standing on Mount Pisgah, overlooking the land to which he had led the Israelites, knowing that he could not enter in because of one sin. "And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither" (Deuteronomy 34:4). (Deuteronomy 32:51-52) "Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel. Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel."

There are more instances but thatís enough of the Old Testament; letís look at the New Testament. From Acts 8:20-23 we take the case of Simon who was called the Sorcerer. "But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity."

One unforgiven sin can cause us to suffer the consequences, but we can be forgiven if we will hear what the King has to say.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[025

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

by Bob Craig

(John 9:5) "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

Isaiah prophesied about the light in regard to both Israel and the Gentiles. And when Jesus came into the world much is said of Him as the light of the world. [Read specifically the first chapter of John.] Nearly all the translations put it the same way as in the KJV. Two, that I have access to, use words that convey exactly the same thought but with one word. They use the word "when" and "while" in place of "as long as."

The Jew of Jesusí day nor the Jew of the present day can abide the idea that God will have mercy on the Gentile in spite of what the prophet says. Hear him in Isaiah 42:6: "I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;" and again in Isaiah 60:1-3 "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."

Notice that the prophet contrasts the gross darkness with the light which should shine. Then see how the prophecy is fulfilled, even in the personal ministry of the Lord. (Matthew 4:15) "The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

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.

Even though the prophet made it plain and the Lord charged the apostles to enlighten the world and to teach the nations (ethnos) they withheld the glorious light of the gospel until the days of Cornelius. After hearing the testimony of Peter the elders and the rest of the apostles in Jerusalem handed down the verdict, "they glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." (Acts 11:18).

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[026

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

by Bob Craig

Jesus said, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." (John 9:5).

But he was leaving the world and would take his place on the throne of his glory. So we read of the multitude that followed him as he went up on the mountain. From out of the multitude that were certain ones who are called his "disciples." This number probably contained the twelve but was not confined to the twelve. Disciples are sincere students of a master teacher and so it was at this time. We read in Matthew 5:1-2: "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them ..."

We know it was the sincere ones he was addressing specifically for me hear him in vs 11 saying, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." So he tells this group of sincere disciples, "Ye are the light of the world ... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (vss 14-16). They would not be the light that he was but would reflect his light into a world of darkness. They would be the only light the world would have or, as he pts it at another time,. "... Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light" (John 12:35-36).

Just as it was then, even so it is today. We see a world of wickedness, darkness, all around us. Light is the only medium that can dispel darkness. If the light of his disciples goes out, then the world will lie in utter darkness as in the beginning when "darkness was upon the face of the deep." But God said, "let there be light" and there was light. So he says in this present day, "let there be light." And that light is dependent upon people who will open their hearts to a hearing of the master teacher and apply the lessons of the Book in their lives without fear of what the world may think or say or do. "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" (Philippians 2:15).

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[027

"OTHER SHEEP I HAVE"

by Bob Craig

(John 10:16) "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."

Jesus was speaking to the Jewish Pharisees on this occasion. He uses this parable of the sheep fold to teach the lesson that only the ones who hear him, even among these self-righteous Pharisees, and respond to his call, will enter the care of his sheep fold. Then he speaks of "other sheep." These other sheep, I believe, has reference to the Gentiles.

God had promised to Abraham that "in thy seed shall ALL NATIONS be blessed" and that blessing would come through the Christ.(See Galatians 3:14) Jesus charged his apostles to "Go ye therefore and teach all nations ..." (Matthew 28:19). All nations (ethnos) can be summed up as Jews and Gentiles. Paul further tells how this will be fulfilled in Acts 28 25-28: "And when they (the Jews) agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it."

This also harmonizes with the statement of Paul in Romans 1:16: "For 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."

There is room in the kingdom for all who will hear him. To hear him implies that they will respond to what they hear him say and what he says has been recorded in the New Testament. They will all be ONE, of one mind, in this kingdom. There will be no divisions; one of this kind and another of that kind. (Galatians 3:28-29) "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. 29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[028

CAN ONE FALL?

by Bob Craig

"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand" (John 10:28-29)

Some of my religious neighbors say that this verse emphatically teaches that a child of God can never be lost. They say further, if a child of God can be lost then the Devil would have to be stronger than God and enter into his hand if he is to pluck one of Godís children. Sounds good but I donít believe that is what the Lord is saying at this place in scripture.

I would agree that the Devil would have to be the greater to violate Godís hand but he doesnít here

discuss another possibility. That is, if one is so disposed, he can depart from his fatherís hand. God will not hold us in his hand against our own will. He does not take from us our freedom of choice when we become his child. And when we depart from him we are then back in the Devilís territory. This is taught plainly in other places. Look at 1 Timothy 4:1: "Now 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." One cannot depart from a place where he has never been. These had been "in the faith," in Godís hand, but they depart. Then look at Hebrews 3:12 "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God."

There are 100's of other quotations that could be given but two should be enough for those who love the Word of God. If one or two is not enough then 100 or 200 more would make no difference. The doctrine of once saved, always saved, gives comfort to the rebellious. Bur if a child of God does drifts away or rebels, then returns in true repentance, God will receive him back as did the prodigalís father. We also have that promise 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."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[029

PSALM SUNDAY

by Bob Craig

(John 12:13) "Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord."

A season called Lent has developed in the religious world which is distinguished by certain days, one of which is based on the above verse and is called "Psalm Sunday." The season has its beginning with Marta Gras which is also called "fat Tuesday." This is the day before the 40 day Lenten season begins and is a day of unrestrained merry making. The next day is "Ash Wednesday," the day when fasting begins. It is distinguished by people making vows to give up certain favorite practices or foods. Its vow is sealed by a priest smearing some ashes on the forehead of the pilgrim.

"Maunday Thursday" is the Thursday before Easter and is celebrated by the Eucharist, washing of feet, etc. "Good Friday" is the crucifixion celebration and it reaches a climax on "Easter Sunday," a day for celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

This seasonal celebration is primarily a Catholic institution but most protestant denominational groups have adopted it or at least parts of it. The "Easter"part is almost universally accepted in the religious world.

The whole thing comes out of the mind of man. The only thing in the whole celebration of which we read in the Bible is the word "Easter" in Acts 12:4 in the King James Version and it is a MIStranslation of the Greek word "pascha." The true translation of that word is "Passover." Even the Catholic Bible fails to translate it as Easter. It renders it simply as "Pasch." All modern translations render it as Passover..

So, like many other beliefs and practices in the religious world, this one has no Bible basis and is also a false doctrine

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[030

A CONSPIRACY?

by Bob Craig

(Matthew 21:4-5) "All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass."

There are several verses in the New Testament similar to the above that also contain the phrase "that is might be fulfilled." Because of that kind of terminology the enemies of the Bible make the accusation that the story of Jesus is all a conspiracy by the follower of Jesus so palm him off as some divine being.

These accusers overlook completely all the scriptures that are inadvertently fulfilled by the enemies of Jesus. Letís look at two: (Zechariah 11:12-13) "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. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD." Judas and the enemies of Jesus began the fulfilling of this prophecy when they contracted for the betrayal of Jesus. Then it was completed when Judas, smitten with remorse, returned the money and it was used to buy the potteerís field to bury strangers in. Read the account in Matthew 26:15 and Matthew 27:3-9.

Another: (Psalm 22:18) "They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." The Roman soldiers, who couldnít care less about the scriptures, fulfilled this one as we read in Matthew 2:35: "And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots."

There are others but this is enough to discount the theory of conspiracy. Every old testament prophecy concerning the Messiah was fulfilled in the life and death of Christ.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[031

DULLED SENSES

by Bob Craig

(Matthew 13:15) "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."

Jesus addressed the people on several different occasions but had little effect on them. He attributed this rejection to an attitude that had been described by the prophet Isaiah a long while ago. (Isaiah 6:10) It was the attitude of the Jews that Paul addressed in Rome. The Bible says that some believed and some didnít. Paul said that they were of the same disposition of those of whom the prophet and Jesus had spoken. Paul said, "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it" (Acts 28:18).

This disposition is still prevalent in people today, even among many who call themselves Christians. Sometimes it is found in we who claim to "speak where the Bible speaks and to be silent where the Bible is silent."

The Bible says, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16). But many people harden their hearts and will not hear of it meaning what it says.. We read a plain statement addressed to Christians in 1 Corinthians 10:12: "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." But some close their eyes and loudly proclaim that "a child of God can never fall." We come in contact with Christians who stop their ears so as to not hear the exhortation of Hebrews 10:25: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is ..." And some who claim to be students and scholars of the Bible find it hard to understand the simple statement found in Mark 13: 31-32: "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." So some fix dates for his coming and others just say, "Soon."

And so the attitude still prevails just as it was in the days of Isaiah, of Jesus and of Paul.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[032

BEARING OUR CROSS

by Bob Craig

(Mark 8:34) "And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

The song, "If Jesus Goes With Me," is found in several hymn books. The song declares that we will bear His cross hence we hear preachers preaching about and people talking about bearing the cross of Jesus. But nowhere in all the scriptures does Christ teach us that we are to bear His cross. The cross He bore was not just the wooden stake He would soon occupy, but all the humiliation, shame and reproach along with the pain and suffering he would experience were a part of that burden. It was the culmination of His mediatorship for mankind. No one could bear His cross but Him.

He tells the people and his disciples, specifically, that they, too, have a cross to bear so they must take up THEIR cross and follow Him. That cross would consist of a total commitment unto Him. It would consist of denying self and putting following Him first in their lives. It might even cost them their lives. "... whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it" (Mark 8:38).

The "whosoever" includes us today. We are to take up OUR cross and follow Him. That cross is to consider Him and His words first in every thing we do or say. It may cost us some friends and cost us some time and some questionable pleasures but it will not cost us our lives as it did Him and some of them. But it will require us to publicly confess him on many occasions. The burden of OUR cross will be light as compared to the cross He bore for us.

"Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels" (John 8:38).

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[033

YE ARE THE BRANCHES

by Bob Craig

(John 15:5) "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."

This statement has been used to teach that the branches mentioned are the various denominational churches that exist today. That is a false conception. We must consider the context when studying the scriptures. Who is being spoken to? If you will go back to the 31st verse of chapter 13 you will find this to be the beginning of a conversation between Jesus and the eleven disciples and which continues through the 17th chapter. So, when he says, "Ye are the branches" he is addressing them.

He had told them of another Comforter, the Holy Spirit, which he would send them to guide them into all truth and bring to their remembrance all things that he had spoken to them. He would be the source of all they were to teach, the vine, and they were the branches, the messengers of the gospel. They would be charged with the responsibility of "teaching all nations." That teaching would produce much fruit or have great results. You might say, in a round about way, we who today serve Him in harmony with his will, are the fruit of their labors.

He concludes that thought by saying, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 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. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:8-11).

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[ 034

"I ABSOLVE YOU OF SIN"

by Bob Craig

"1. To pronounce clear of guilt or blame. 2. To relieve of a requirement or an obligation. 3.a To grant a remission of sin to. b. To pardon or remit (a sin)." (Amer. Heritage Dict.)

Two or three years ago, I thought I heard a Catholic priest, in a TV show [I forget which right now] use the titled phrase. I used it in an article and was told that a Catholic priest could not forgive sins therefore I must have heard wrong. Well, since I am nearly deaf and have to depend on a hearing aid, that might have been true.

But, Thursday night, February 22, I not only heard it again but read it on my "closed captions" monitor. This time I could not be mistaken. On the ER, show the old Catholic priest, on his death bed, said to the young doctor, (after the doctor had made a kind of confession) "I absolve you of sin." Now read the definition, given above, of the word "absolve."

I must concur with the scribes and Pharisees on this one. (Luke 5:21 "And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" When man sins against his fellow man or against society in general or against his own body, we sin against God, and God is the offended one hence He is the only one who can pardon such.

But, say some, "the priest acted as only a mediator." Well, the Bible says,. "For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (quotation from the Catholic Douay Version 1943 [Catholic] of 1 Timothy 2:5) so that eliminates another mediator, whether Mary, saints, angels or statues.

Conclusion: A Catholic priest, nor Protestant "Rev," can neither forgive nor act as mediator for our sins.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[ 035

REMISSION OF SINS

by Bob Craig

John 20:23 "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained."

This is the promise Jesus made to his apostles. This passage is sometimes used to prove that a Catholic priest today has the power to remit or absolve one from his sins inasmuch as the priests are the successors of the apostles.

First, how was this power to be administered? This was not a promise that gave the apostles personal pardoning power. They would be given words by the Holy Spirit by which those who heard would receive remission of sins. We hear Peter on Pentecost accusing the Jewish audience of crucifying the Son of God. In answer to their question, "what shall we do?" he said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). His message was one of salvation or remission. 3000 people were granted remission of sins by Peterís message on that occasion.

Later on, he used the other part of the promise when he told Simon "... thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity" (Acts 8:21-23). Simon learned that his sins would be retained, lest he repent.

We have no scripture that promises that anyone would be successors of the apostles. Theirís was a unique office. They were personally called by the Lord and were witnesses of the resurrected Christ. No one today has the qualifications of apostleship and, also, there is no promise of such, therefore there are no successors to the apostolic office.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[ 036

CONCERNING INFANT COMMUNION

by Bob Craig

The San Antonio Express-News carried a story of the inter-denominational battle between factions of the Lutheran Church concerning infant communion. The old guard was rejecting the innovation primarily on the basis that tradition excluded the infant from communion. No appeal to scripture. The younger and more liberal Lutherans reasoned that it would be good for the family relationship for the whole family to take communion together. No appeal to scripture, either. But they could have used the argument that so many others use in defending some religious practices today: i.e, "The Bible doesnít forbid it therefore we can do it." In fact a statement that is attributed to Martin Luther, the father of the Lutheran Church, goes something like this: "Whatsoever is not specifically forbidden we are free to practice." Luther was very strict in complying with certain scriptures. He was insistent that unleavened bread and wine be used in the communion. However, according to the above adage, buttermilk and cornbread were not forbidden in the communion, therefore we are permitted to use those elements if we so desire. But, I am fully persuaded that Luther would have been as adamant as a pope that it had to be unleavened bread and fruit of the vine.

Another reformer and a contemporary with Luther, was Ulrich Zwingli. Zwingli approached a religious subject from more of a Bible concept. He said, "We must have Bible authority for everything we practice." Peter said the same thing: "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God," and that concept is the answer to the question of infant communion. Lutherans, like many other denominational bodies, also practice infant baptism. But, like infant communion, there is no Bible authority for it, therefore it must not be practiced and those who do it, do it by the authority of man rather than .the authority of heaven thus becoming workers of iniquity (Matthew 7:23) or spiritual outlaws.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[The 2nd 100 Number[037

WHAT ARE YOU?

by Bob Craig

According to the archaeological world, the two most recent lines of the evolutionary chain are the Homo-sapiens and Homo-erectus. The Sapiens lived about 250,000 to 500,000 years ago. Homo-erectus came after or actually lapped over into that age and, as such, continue to evolve until this present time.

But recent scientific developments have brought forth a process called DNA testing. I have no idea what all is involved in this DNA test but from all accounts, great things can be discovered. Many crimes have been solved and innocence has been revealed by the use of this test. But, tomorrow may bring forth a new and better test and set aside all that DNA revealed.

Be that as it may, an Associated Press release tells of the test being used in regard to the Neanderthal man and the findings reveal that, actually, Homo-sapien Neanderthal is not in the linage of man. However, they say, from that same line the genes split and Homo-sapien evolved into another species while, from the same gene, Homo-erectus evolved into what we now know as man.

The idea seems to be that from that time the monkey line went one way and the human line went another. The only thing this new finding does is to show us, and them, that science has a long way to go before they declare anything to be 100% proved.

They say that this is all based on scientific facts. But the dates for these various bones have not and cannot be dated with any great accuracy. The Carbon-14 method of dating, which is universally used for dating purposes, has been acknowledged as not being accurate beyond a few hundred years. After all, they dated the Piltdown Man as being the oldest bone found of man --- and he turned out to be a hoax.

For further information on the origin of man, read the 1st and 2nd chapters of Genesis.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[038

RESURRECTION DAY

by Bob Craig

"Easter" Sunday is almost universally recognized in the religious world as being the day set aside for the celebration of the Lordís resurrection. [Look at No. 25 for more information on these special days.]

On a certain first day of the week, about 1970 years ago, three devout ladies approached the tomb of Jesus. They were coming to anoint his dead body appropriately as was the custom of the Jews. Their concern was about the heavy stone that sealed the tomb. But when they arrived there, behold, the stone had already been removed but the body of Jesus was not there. An angel was there and told the simple story, "He is risen!" (Mark 16:6) Then the resurrected Jesus made himself known to the women and then to the apostles and Paul tells us of 500 of the brethren, and himself, who also saw him after his resurrection. A goodly number of eye witnesses.

Some say the first day of the week, Sunday, is of great significance because the Lordís Supper was celebrated on that day. No, weíve got that backwards. The first day of the week and the significance of the resurrection was there first. That great day was chosen to be the day when the notable events of the gospel (the death, burial and resurrection) were to be remembered. Disciples everywhere would remember the great sacrifice of the cross, the death, the suffering Saviour, on this day, the first day of the week, the Resurrection Day.

So, not once a year, but every time the sun rises on the first day of the week, devout followers of Christ remember the empty tomb, and gather together to also remember the Cross.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[039

SOUND WORDS

by Bob Craig

We have the apostles, in many places, admonishing their readers to use "sound words, sound speech, sound doctrine, faithful words, oracles of God, etc." Upon such admonitions, Thomas Campbell formulated the slogan, "We will speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent." Amish people were so impressed with that idea that they used the King James words such as "thee, thou, thine, etc." But the apostles were not talking about the language of some translation. Their admonitions pertained to being sure they did not stray from the teaching revealed by the Spirit and that is what we are to be concerned about today.

Unscriptural doctrines are sometimes advanced by the use or misuse of certain words or phrases. For instance, we hear of "the fall of man." Certainly man fell but the common use of the term indicates the Calvinistic doctrine of Total Depravity. The use of the word "saved" has been so twisted as to teach a false idea. Nothing wrong with the word; just the misuse of it. The Bible says, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Then, "The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." But most denominational preachers stretch the word out to mean something else. The good word "Christian" has been subjected to such loose usage, both by my brethren and the denominational world, that it has lost its Bible meaning and has become an umbrella that covers most anything that people want covered.

The word "church" has lost the Bible meaning of just being "a called out people belonging to the Lord." A bishop in New Testament times, was one of a plurality of elders in a local church while a pastor was one of the bishops or elders.

There are many more. The lesson is this: instead of being influenced by our denominational neighbors and picking up their language, we should influence them by our correct use of sound words and sound doctrine. Use their misuse of these words as a means of initiating a Bible discussion.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[040

FLESH vs SPIRIT

by Bob Craig

Paul tells of a great battle taking place within man in the 7th and 8th chapters of Romans and the 5th chapter of Galatians. This is a battle between material desires and manís efforts to serve God. It is flesh vs spirit. When man becomes a child of God, he is a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17); he walks in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). Christ, by the Holy Spirit given unto the apostle, fills man with his word. Manís spirit then carries on the battle against the flesh.

When manís spirit causes him to walk in the ways of the Lord, he is said to be spiritual (Gal. 6:1). He overcomes the lusts of the flesh, the material desires that sometimes win the battle. But the spiritual man always comes back and is, possibly, stronger than before. Satan, the Devil, uses every material means available to gain followers. The spiritual man has one weapon, the word of God. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds" (2 Cor. 10:4). Some want to fight that battle with ballots, bullets, courts and they put their trust in such but we have all we need--the Word of God. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God ..." (Rom. 1:16).

Our biggest problem in fighting this battle is that we donít have enough trust in our weaponry. But remember, "the worlds were formed by the Word of God." And only with the Word of God, Jesus defeated the Devil in the wilderness.

The spiritual man is "filled with the Spirit," is "set for the defense of the gospel," is ready to "contend for the faith," will overcome the "lust of the flesh." To be filled with the Spirit is letting the word of Christ dwell in you. Two parallel verses will prove that point and complete this epistle. Look first at Ephesians 5:18-19: "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Then, Colossians 3:16: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[041

LEST WE FORGET

by Bob Craig

There are things we need to remember and things we need to forget. This lesson was impressed upon the Israelites by Moses a long while ago. (Deuteronomy 4:9) "Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons."

Sadly, they forgot.

But, they, with us, expect God to remember the promises he makes to us. Nearly everyone is aware of the covenant that God made on one occasion not to destroy mankind with a flood as he did in the days of Noah.

(Genesis 9:16) "And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature ..." We call it the rainbow; a beautiful phenomena; and we remember.

There were other reminders that God gave Israel: the various feast days, the Sabbath, stones set up at various places. Some they remembered; some they forgot.

Under the law of Moses it is said that "sins were forgiven" but, actually, they were "remembered" year by year until the sacrificial offering on Christ on the cross introduced us to the coming of the new covenant. With its coming the covenant would say, "... and your sins and your iniquities will I remember no more forever."

 

"Remember Lotís wife," Jesus said. Donít look back.

The Lordís Supper is a feast of remembrance. "This do in remembrance of me" least we forget "that we were purged from our old sins."

And, one of the most important forget-me-nots in our lives: "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: (attained) but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

Let us be extremely careful of our priorities: remember the things that need to be remembered and to forget the things that need to be forgotten.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[042

BUSY, BUSY, BUSY

by Bob Craig

We are a busy group of people. We are perhaps busier than any generation before us and busier than any generation that shall come after us. There is so much to do and so little time in which to get it done. These are busy days!

Fathers have a double duty. As the head of the house they have the obligation of providing material needs and spiritual needs. "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" (1 Timothy 5:8). Also, on the other hand: "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). So, Fathers, you have the obligation to be busy. If these fathers didnít want this responsibility, then they shouldnít have taken it on in the first place, but since they did, do it heartily. You are going to have to get your priorities straight.

Ladies, if you are older, you have the double responsibility of being a good example of the right kind of homemaker and then "admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed" (NKJ Titus 2:4-5). So, the older women and the younger ones have a busy schedule.

Love is a two-way street. If husbands love their wives as the Lord tells them to, they will share in her duties of home care and the wife will share in the responsibility of "bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." And if they both love the Lord as they ought and have their priorities straight, they will not busy themselves with so much that they do not have time to serve Him.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[043

EACH STEP I TAKE

by Bob Craig

Some of the songs we sing bring forth varying emotions. The word "emotion" has been defined as "a strong feeling: the emotions of joy, sorrow, reverence, hate, and love." Emotions are primarily subjective. That is, the consciousness of man reacts according to his own thinking. What brings joy to me may not affect you in the same way. In fact, some sing a particular song and get an entirely different thought than I do. His emotions are stirred one way and mine, another. And we may have both missed what the poet who wrote it had as inspiration. I think we can eliminate "hate" as one of the emotions our songs bring forth unless when we sing of how "They Crucified My Saviour" we hate the deed that was done.

"Joy To The World" brings forth the emotion of joy in the participant because "the Lord has come." Itís too bad people have relegated it to the Christmas season. Perhaps we should sing it on the fourth of July. We are moved with sorrow as we share the agonies of the Lord in singing "Night With Ebon Pinion Brooded Oíer The Deep." We soar to the heights of reverence as we raise our voices to acclaim "How Great Thou Art, How Great Thou Art." "Wonderful Story of Love" and "O Love, That Wilt Not Let Me Go," causes us to attain a higher degree of love as we attune our hearts unto God.

But the one I used as a title, perhaps affects me more, emotionally, than any other. I am moved to tears, as others tell me they are too as we put our trust in words: "Each step I take, I know that thou wilt guide me." He will guide each step I take, through his divine word, that leads me to a place the song calls "home." Perhaps I am moved more than a 16 year old would be for now I am old and stricken with years of traveling about this old earth we now call home. I wish I could get that 16 or 20 year old to realize that he, also, is closer home by each step he takes. Perhaps he would be more careful about where he walks.

I am emotionally drained when the song is finished because I know that I have but little time left and there is so much to do. "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away" (Psalm 90:10).

"Each step I take, just leads me closer home."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[044

COME OUT OF YOUR CLOSET

by Bob Craig

It would be a matter of speculation to give a count of how many "secret" disciples there might have been in the days of Jesus. Several are mentioned in the divine record so I believe it would be safe to assume that there were numerous others.

Outstanding among these examples are the parents of the blind man whom Jesus made to see and certain of the Jewish rulers and priests. In each case they believed but were afraid to make it known publicly. One is called by name, Nicodemus. He came to Jesus "by night." Various reasons have been attributed for his coming by night but the terminology indicates it was a stealthy approach, a secret rendezvous. Later on it seems that Nicodemus no longer hid his discipleship when he cooperated with Joseph of Arimathea, another secret disciple, in openly asking for and receiving the body of Jesus for burial. (John 19:38-42)

Many of Godís people, today, need to "come out of the closet" of secret discipleship. In the beginning of their gospel obedience they openly confessed their faith in Christ before baptism. But this was before friends. Now, as disciples who live in a world of spiritual darkness, we are admonished, as disciples, to "confess Christ before men." (Matthew 10:32-33) This is not the confession to be made before baptism; this is your daily walk with people of the world.

But often, when someone in our company, belittles the church or the doctrine or the Christ, we hide in our closet and, for some reason, whether for fear or shame, will not take a stand. We are supposed to be fearless soldiers, contenders for the faith! But, as one of His parabolic characters whined, "I was afraid," and we sometimes follow that example.

Itís time we put into action the songs we so lustily sing, "I want to be a worker for the Lord," "I will work, I will pray," "Ring it out," and many other proclamations in song what we deny in practice. Letís all come out of our closet and publicly confess, He is my Master, my Lord, my King!

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[045

TWO GOOD DEATHS

by Bob Craig

"For he that is dead is freed from sin" (Romans 6:7).

The word "freed" as used in this verse is usually rendered "justified" in other places. To be "justified" is to stand just or right in Godís sight. Notice Romans 6:3: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" This verse, considered with other verses, seems to indicate that we became recipients of the benefits of Christís death when we were scripturally baptized. The outstanding benefit of Christís death was for the justification of mankind. This benefit was the result of being baptized. Look also at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." They were washed, (baptized) therefore justified.

How strange it is that outstanding scholars hate baptism so much they do all they can to undermine what the Bible says. Notice the remarks of Robertson on the word washed: "This was their own voluntary act in baptism which was the outward expression of the previous act of God in cleansing (ye were sanctified or cleansed before the baptism) and justified (ye were put right with God before the act of baptism)." But the Bible is plain: "baptized into His death."

Romans 6:4 tells us further, "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." We are set free from the bondage of sin, justified. Where did the death take place? The Bible says that it all took place in baptism. "For he that is dead is freed (justified) from sin." A good death!

"... Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them" (Revelation 14:13). This is one of the beatitudes of Revelation.

The word "blessed" is sometimes rendered "happy," but it goes further than being just a pleasurable happy. It has to do with the satisfaction of being "in favor" with God.. So, those who "die in the Lord" are highly favored in Godís sight. To "die in the Lord" is more than just having been baptized "into Christ." It means that one is walking in harmony with the commandments of the Lord. So, a person who dies in that condition has a "happy" ending. Another good death!

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[046

119TH PSALM

by Bob Craig

The 119th Psalm is the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses. It is divided into 22 sections. These sections have as their headings, the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and each portion has eight verses.

The theme of the chapter is the power of the word of God. Each division tells us something of value concerning the powerful word. His Word is sometimes called law, commandments, testimonies, precepts, judgments, statutes.

Aleph-Verse one: "Blessed are they ... who walk in the law of the LORD."

Beth-vs 11: "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."

Gimel-vs 18: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."

Daleth-vs 27: "Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works."

He-vs 35: "Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight."

Vau-vs 45: "And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts."

Zain-vs 54: "Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage."

Cheth-vs 64: "The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes."

Teth-vs 68: "Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes."

Jod-vs 80: "Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed."

Caph-vs 81: "My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word."

Lamed-vs 89: "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven."

Mem-vs 97: "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day."

Nun-vs 105: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

Samech-vs 114: "Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word."

Ain-vs 125: "... give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies."

Pe-vs 130: "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple."

Tzaddi-vs 140: "Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it."

Koph-vs 148: "Mine eyes anticipated the night-watches, That I might meditate on thy word."

Resh-vs 160: "Thy word is true from the beginning ..."

Schin-vs 165: "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them."

Tau-vs 172: "My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[047

ANOTHER CHANCE

by Bob Craig

Sixteen years ago, Sunday, May 12, 1985, 9:30 a.m. until about noon, I suffered a massive heart attack. I had had a few chest pains earlier so I had my wife call one of the brethren to preach and teach my class and we headed for the emergency room. About the time they placed me on a gurney and wheeled me into an observation room, the massive attack began. I was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time. So the Lord used the hospital personnel to give me another chance. Another chance to perhaps finish some unfinished work that he wanted me to do.

About 12 hours later on this same day, a very close friend of mine, Roy E. Cogdill, in like manner, suffered a massive heart attack. Roy had fought many battles, a good fight, and he had kept the faith, he had finished his course, so the Lord allowed him to leave this old world of cares and troubles and enter into --- rest. There would be no more work for him to do. So I would like to dedicate this poem, that I originally wrote for another, to his memory. May he never be forgotten.

Going Home

by Bob Craig

Iíve traveled a long, long journey,

But now Iím going home.

Sometimes the load was heavy,

But I carried it not alone.

Sometimes I walked in the valley so dark,

Sometimes in green pastures I lay ,

Beside still waters I rested a while,

And waited for breaking of day.

And now I stand at the riverís shore,

Iím tired, Iím weary, Iím worn,

The day is over, itís time to go,

But Iíll wait Ďtil the coming of dawn.

The river is silent and calm and warm,

The crossing will not take long,

Then Iíll be at rest, with all the best,

My eternity will have begun.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[048

ALL THE WORLD

by Bob Craig

(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." This is called "The Limited Commission" inasmuch as the territory is specifically limited to certain ones.

The same twelve (minus Judas), about three years later were sent forth with this charge: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, [or "Go into all the world] baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19). This is commonly called "The Great Commission" but I choose to call it "The Unlimited Commission" inasmuch as it has no limitations.

A promise had been made to Abraham and reiterated to Issac and Jacob concerning a time that was referred to like this: "And in thy seed shall all the nations [families, kindred] of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Genesis 22:18). The seed was within the posterity of Abraham and the specific seed was Christ. (Galatians 3:16)

"In the fullness of time" Jesus, of the lineage of Abraham, came and made the sacrificial offering of the cross and sealed a new covenant with his blood. The new covenant was the gospel through which mankind would be saved. (Romans 1:16). The pattern of spreading it was like this: "... ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Jerusalem and Judea was the land of the Jews, Samaria the land of the mixed Jews and the uttermost part of the earth was the Gentile nations. Peter said it would be for the Jews and those "afar off," the Gentiles. (Acts 2:39)

The "families, kindreds, nations" were words that described the totality of Jews and Gentiles. The word "world" was not every individual on earth but was , in like manner, simply Jew and Gentile and when the keys of the kingdom had opened the door to both Jew (Acts 2) and the Gentiles, (Acts 10 and 11:18) the unlimited commission had been fulfilled and it could be said, "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world" (Colossians 1:5-6).

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[049

THE CHOSEN FEW

by Bob Craig

I have often used the statement of Joshua in Joshua 24:15, "... choose you this day whom ye will serve ..." to urge people to make a commitment to serve Christ. But in John 15:16 we read, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you ..." Is this a contradiction? No. We need to do what I have suggested in other lessons. We need to consider the context. To whom was the Lord talking? Here, as in John 13:31 to John 17:26 he is addressing the eleven apostles. We need to be careful to follow the rules of interpretation in these verses just as we urge people of the world and our denominational neighbors to do in other verses. When we do this, the explanation becomes clear.

So, he is saying ONLY to these eleven men, "Ye [the eleven] have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you" (John 15:16). He concludes this chapter, definitely identifying the ones he is addressing in all these verses by saying in John 15:27, "And ye also shall bear witness, because YE HAVE BEEN WITH ME FROM THE BEGINNING."

(Luke 6:13) "And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles." These men were chosen for a specific purpose. Their task would be to introduce the world to the gospel message which would be divinely conveyed to them by the coming of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. They did not choose to be apostles; Jesus chose only certain ones and a certain number. Paul did not choose to be an apostle; Jesus chose him. (Acts 9:15)

Their task would be to bring forth fruit, that is, to produce results by their efforts. The results would be a called out people built upon a solid foundation that should remain. Peter initiated this mandate to the Jews on the Pentecost of Acts 2 and to the Gentiles in Acts 10 and 11. Whatever they needed to carry out this task would be provided. "... whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[050

HARD SAYINGS

by Bob Craig

( 2 Peter 3:15-16) "And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."

Peter, in the above verses is commending Paul as a divinely inspired writer but explains that he sometimes writes about things that are hard to understand. He is not saying that Paulís writings are hard to be understood but there are some things about which he writes that are hard to be understood.

For instance, the people had a hard time understanding the resurrection of the body. So they asked the question, "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" (1 Corinthians 15:35). Paul went into some detail in regard to the bodily resurrection and finally concludes not with the direct answer to their enquiry but to the fact that their is a resurrection and we will have a great victory over death through Christ Jesus if we are faithful. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

It seems that many found it hard to understand that the Lord was not coming soon. The Thessalonians, in particular, were confused about the matter. Paul assures them concerning this. "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand" (2 Thessalonians 2:2). And reassures them in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and tells them to "... comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

There may have been other things that were hard to be understood but God gives us enlightenment on the things that we need to understand in order to go to heaven. People are still confused on the subjects mentioned and many are wresting them to their own destruction.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[051

THE RAPTURE

by Bob Craig

I have two commentaries, one by John Walvoord and the other by Hal Lindsey. They both take the position that a period of time they call the Rapture is coming. Many good, sincere people have taken up their teaching and are advocating the same doctrine. Some display bumper stickers that say: "WARNING: In case of Rapture this car will be unoccupied." The idea is that when the Rapture occurs the Lord will come and call up all His faithful followers to a heavenly dwelling for a period of seven years. The unfaithful will be left behind. Another book has been written speculating about those who are "left behind."

These seven years will be divided into two 3 1/2 year periods. The first of these will be a time of severe tribulation and the 2nd will be a time when many people will turn to the Lord. After the seven year period is completed the Lord will return with his saints and be seated on Davidís throne in Jerusalem, the Jewish economy will be somewhat reestablished and that reign will continue for 1000 years. (That is another false theory.)

The Rapture theory is based primarily on two passages: 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord," and Matthew 24:40-41: "Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left."

The first passage is self explanatory and denies the seven year rapture period for it is telling of the Lordís final coming and the ones caught up "shall EVER be with the Lord." Not seven nor 1000 years but forever. There is one hope (Ephesians 4:4) and that hope and my hope is going to heaven and dwelling in eternity. The second passage is dependent on this one. If the first does not teach a seven year rapture (and it doesnít) then the second has no connection.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[052

THY KINGDOM COME

by Bob Craig

In the model prayer of Matthew 6, one petition was "Thy kingdom come." The Jews of that time were looking for a Messiah to come and bring back the glory days of David and Solomon. They longed to be a powerful nation among the nations of men once again and the prophets had prophesied of a time in which the Lord would establish a mighty kingdom. Even the apostles looked for this to happen for they questioned the Lord, "Will thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" Many people of the present time also look for an earthly kingdom to be established with Jerusalem the central city and Jesus sitting on his throne there.

Jesus taught that his kingdom would be a spiritual kingdom. Pilate was concerned about the report that Jesus was king of the Jews so he questioned him about it. Jesus told Pilate, "... 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" (John 18:36). The prophet had told in prophetic language that the Lord would establish a kingdom but that kingdom would not be advanced by physical warfare. "And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4).

So this is the way it would happen. Jesus would end his personal advent on earth on the cross, he would arise from the dead and ascend into heaven where he would be seated on Davidís throne. This would be a heavenly throne where he would be made Lord and Christ; king of all kings and Lord of all Lords. (Read Acts 2:29-36) People of earth would prepare themselves for an eternal reign with Christ in heaven by being born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). The rulership, the sovereignty, the kingdom of Christ will be in our hearts. (Luke 17:21) "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love" (Ephesians 3:17).

"There is one hope" (Ephesians 4:4) My hope is that I shall enthrone Christ is my heart here so that I may dwell with him in his heavenly home after a while.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[053

AS A LITTLE CHILD

by Bob Craig

(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."

This verse has been used by preachers and teachers to teach lessons on child abuse, institutional care for orphans, how to raise children, etc. But the lesson Jesus was teaching was not about little children but how grown people who had been converted and become as little children were to conduct themselves and the dire results of mistreating such.

Jesus uses a little child to teach his lesson. The little child is the epitome of humility and he tells them that must turn about and become like (as) the little child in order to be a part of the kingdom of heaven and to be great therein. Notice the language, "whoso receives one such little child in my name receiveth me." He is not saying "he who received a little child" but one SUCH as the little child. "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6). He is not talking about mistreating little kids but "one of these little ones WHICH BELIEVE IN ME." Grown people, believers, who have become as little children.

The way the world reacts toward such a believer is the same as their reaction toward the Lord. He teaches this same lesson in the judgment scene of Matthew 25 when he tells of being "... an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:35-40). Then in verses 41-45 is the converse side of the matter.

It is contingent upon people to be converted and be as little children and then to humble ourselves and serve others who are in need even as though we served the Lord.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[054

IS IT PARROTING OR CONVICTION?

by Bob Craig

(Acts 17:11) "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." The word "noble" is defined as "having or showing qualities of high moral character."

The word "parrot" has as one definition and the one I am interested in, "One who imitates the words or actions of another, especially without understanding them," while "conviction" is defined thusly, "the state of being convinced or a fixed or strong belief."

There is nothing wrong with accepting the teaching of another. I was taught and convinced a long while ago that 2x2-4 thus I will believe that unless and until someone teaches me otherwise. But I am concerned with scripture and not arithmetic.

Down through the years I have been caused to study certain scriptures which I had been parroting for some time. In other words, I had without much study and forethought of my own, accepted someone elseís solution, perhaps because I believed that he had more knowledge that I or that I had great confidence in him. Then, perhaps because someone had questioned that belief and presented something different, I studied said scripture more thoroughly and reached a different conclusion than what my past one had been.

But the point I want to make is this: the new conclusion is now MY conviction. I have reached it by study and meditation. It is MINE! Certainly someone else stirred up my lazy, parrot mind but I did not accept the new position because of the conviction of another. I searched the scriptures and found that his solution was more in harmony what the scripture was saying. No need to give blame or credit to another. I have arrived at my own conclusion that this is right. I will present it now as MY conviction and urge YOU to do the same.

May God help us all in our search for truth to "Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth" (ASV 2 Timothy 2:15).

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[055

Departing From "The Faith"

by Bob Craig

(1 Timothy 4:1) "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith ..."

Other New Testament scriptures also tell of this great apostasy. Paul uses the words "latter times" to express this departure as a foregoing action. In 2nd Thessalonians 2:7 he says that this mystery of iniquity is already working and will continue to work until time shall be no more.

Notice that this departure will be "from the faith." The word "faith," as used here, is the body of truth revealed in the New Testament and was delivered into the hands of "faithful men who shall teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:2) Jude puts it like this in Jude 3: "Beloved ... I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints." False teachers and men seeking prominence in the kingdom would arise in every generation and tear at the faith which was once for all time delivered. (Acts 20:29) "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock."

We, as Godís people, must be able to recognize false teaching, and contend earnestly [fight the battle] for purity of the faith. Their "mouths must be stopped" (Titus 1:11) and this must be done not with carnal weapons but with "... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17).

The battle for truth continues. Daily there are new departures added to the voluminous amount that has already accumulated. Letís put into practice that which is just the lip service of many, "Letís (really) go back to the Bible" to prove that our faith is the "one faith" (Ephesians 4:5) of the New Testament.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[056

PERILOUS TIMES

by Bob Craig

(2 Timothy 3:1-5) "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."

The phrase "last days" must be understood by the context in which it is used. In this passage it seems to indicate a future time. But since all these dire things were happening at the time of this writing these "last days" could well be descriptive of the last dispensation or age of religious history rather than something to come at a future date. We have the Patriarchal age and the Mosaical age followed by the Gospel age which is the age in which we now live. This age is referred to in Acts 2:17 in the quoted prophecy of Joel as "this is that."

Various historians and philosophers have described most all of these conditions as being in existence in ancient history. These are certainly not new sins that will be introduced in time to come. This is a warning that the same things that people were guilty of then would continue to beset and beguile people as time progressed. As we look at the list we recognize nearly all of them in those round about. But these are things that we can all be guilty of. Some of them are more prevalent than others: "lovers of self, disobedient to parents, unthankful, trucebreakers, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God."

We need to give ourselves constant, honest examinations to be sure that we are not afflicted with any of these. We are living in "perilous times."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[057

by Bob Craig

CALLING EVIL GOOD

"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20).

Just as it was in the days of Isaiah, so it is today. In particular do we find evil being called good. When I was just a lad, divorce was a bad word. About the only people who were divorced had a scriptural cause for it. But even the innocent party bore the stigma of "a divorced person." But nowadays divorce is a common thing. People are not concerned about having a scriptural reason. Divorce and remarriage is an accepted life style. Evil has become good.

When I was a lad, ladies didnít display their skin like they do now. In fact ladies tried to be "ladylike." The underside of the thigh was not shown when sitting. The cleavage of the breast had not come into prominence and the navel was not only unsightly but well covered. I recently heard of a "navel beauty contest." And when I was a lad, men didnít go about in public with their hairy chests bared. But now that which was then evil is accepted as very good.

When I was a lad, prohibition was law and anyone who drank alcoholic beverages were considered outlaws. Prohibition was repealed and that which was evil was declared, by law, to be good. Even then, very few men drank during the day and ladies not at all. But now, beer is guzzled for breakfast, cocktails for lunch and pick-me-ups are consumed all day. Even though alcohol consumption is responsible for 50% of fatal car accidents, wife battering and child abuse runs rampant in alcoholic homes and alcohol is blamed for all kinds of crime and many health hazards, not one warning label has been attached to alcoholic beverages and it is accepted in all circles of society as being good.

There are other evil things that are called good such as abortion and homosexuality and those who carry on the fight for good are often labeled as trouble-makers just as it was in the days of the prophet.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[058

BEARING BURDENS

by Bob Craig

(Galatians 6:2) "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." (verse 5) "For every man shall bear his own burden."

These verses, on the surface, seem to contradict one another but a careful examination of the word "burden" will bring us to the proper conclusion. The first has to do with the restoration of the man who has been overtaken in a fault. He is borne down with the burden of sin. I must help him in every way possible to rid himself of this tremendous burden. I cannot assume his responsibility for his action. In that, he "must bear his own burden." I cannot make restitution for any misdeed he has performed. I cannot bear a part of his guilt. But I can share in his sorrow for his misdeed and counsel him in regard to the thing he has done. I can be there when he needs me to help him overcome his weakness. This is a part of the law of Christ when he said, "Love thy neighbor" and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

But I have to approach this task with the proper attitude. I must, first of all, be a "spiritual" man. A spiritual man is one who is concerned about himself. Does he think of himself as being so much better than the one whose burden he has come to share? He must examine himself and pluck any beam in his eye that might hinder him in seeing more clearly the problem that his brother has. He cannot appear with a self-righteous attitude. "For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself" (vs 3).

Restoration of the wayward is a needed work but prevention is usually easier than restoration. Those who are new born into the Lordís family need encouragement. Often we baptize a person and forget about him and he falls away and we attribute it to his stony heart. Recognizing, Galatians chapter five, that we are all engaged in "our spirit against the flesh" warfare, all people need spiritual education concerning the works of the flesh. Not just browbeating, law sermons but lessons explaining these works and how they work to overcome, even the faithful, on occasions.

The teacher must be a qualified person; a spiritually minded and spiritually motivated individual who is sincerely interested in anotherís spiritual welfare. Itís a grievous responsibility.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[059

UNITY

by Bob Craig

The New Testament tells of "a departure from the faith," a "falling away." We need only to open our eyes and we will see the results of that great apostasy in the multiplicity of religious bodies in the world today, each one teaching something different from the other.

This is not what Jesus intended when he said, "I will build my church." In his prayer of John 17, he stated his desire and the formula for accomplishing it. He was praying especially for his apostles but in his prayer he said, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent meí (John 17:20-21 --- read the whole chapter). That which was to set these apostles apart and bind them together was the truth, the word of God. (John 17:`7) That same word was the medium through which all believers were to be bound together as one. Unity was desired and demanded by our Lord..

But he wasnít talking about an organized association of differing churches.. Neither was he talking about one ecclesiastical headquarters to hand down its own decrees. The unity he was advocating began and ended with the individual. Certainly every congregation is to be united but the congregation is made up of individuals who are told to "speak the same things," "be of one spirit," "that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Anyone who disrupted that unity was to be marked and shunned. (Romans 16:17) And an Old Testament proverbs says that God hates the one who sows discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:19)

Every individual is responsible before God for what he believes and practices. No church has the right to tell him what he MUST believe. He must search the scriptures (Acts 17:11), try the spirits of religious teachers (1 John 4:1); study diligently (2 Timothy 2:15). Find a congregation, not a denominational association, that teaches what Jesus authorized the apostles to teach and band yourself together with those of like mind. Thus you will be one with them and one with Christ. This unity must, of necessity, be based on what the apostles had been authorized and inspired to teach.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[060

AUTHORITY OF APOSTLES

by Bob Craig

(John 17:20) "Neither pray I for these [the apostles] alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." [Please read all of this 17 th chapter.]

Since the oneness for which Jesus prayed was in regard to those who believed on him through the words of the apostles, it behooves us to dispel the idea held by many that the words of the apostles are not important. Some say that the red letters of the New Testament, the words of Jesus, are all that are important. All right, letís consider the red letters in regard to the matter before us.

Jesus said in Matthew 18:18, "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." This binding and loosing would take place in heaven and be conveyed to the apostles by inspiration of the Spirit. (John 16:12) "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come." Their words would be just as authoritative as though God, Himself, spoke to us personally. Hear Jesus, "He that heareth you heareth me; and he that rejecteth you rejecteth me; and he that rejecteth me rejecteth him that sent me" (ASV Luke 10:16). "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me" (Matthew 10:40). Paul, the apostle, said, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20). These apostles were the ambassadors, messengers of heaven, personal representatives of the anointed king, Jesus, and no one can bear that distinction today.

So we see from these few passages that we are to hear, believe and practice the things taught and/or approved by these men. Their words become the authority, and only authority, by which Godís people can be united, be one with one another and be united or one with the Father and His Son. (John 17:21) "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[061

THE UNGODLY AND THE SINNER

by Bob Craig

There are several passages in the Bible that distinguishes between the "ungodly" and the "sinner." David, in the first Psalm says, "Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly nor standeth in the way of sinners ..." The same distinction is made in the New Testament in 1 Timothy 1:9, 1 Peter 4:18 and in Jude vs 15 he speaks of the "ungodly sinner."

The idea seems to be that a man just might be a sinner without being ungodly. But all ungodly men

are sinners. Hereís what I mean: ungodliness is defined as "destitute of reverential awe towards God, condemning God, impious." This is an attitude that is ingrained in a man. He does not consider God in the life that he lives. He says, like the fool, "there is no God." His counsel, his advice, would not include God therefore it would not be at all beneficial so it would be a "blessed eventí to avoid his counsel. There is little hope that the ungodly man will ever change therefore that person shall perish from Godís sight in the judgment.

The one who is designated as a sinner is one who has transgressed Godís law. No doubt he will be condemned for his sin unless he repents. He may be one who reverences God but through some weakness allows himself to be caught in the Devilís web. David said, "My sin is ever before me." He didnít sin because he rejected God but because of his own lust. "Man is drawn away by his own lusts and enticed." There is hope for the sinner who has not rejected God.

But we read of the "wilful sinner." He is likely the one Jude refers to as the "ungodly sinner." This man has turned his back on the only thing that can cleanse him from his sin, the sacrifice of Christ. So shun the counsel of the ungodly and have no companionship with the sinner lest you, too, should be turned aside and rejected.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[062

FELLOWSHIP

by Bob Craig

Fellowship and unity are pretty much the same subjects. People today seek after fellowship. Fellowship is sharing in or the doing of things together. True fellowship is based on agreement. Paul asked the rhetorical question, "... what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14). He admonished the Ephesians to "... have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Ephesians 5:11). Our search for fellowship sometimes is in the wrong places and with the wrong people.

In the spiritual realm our first item of importance is fellowship with God. Do I have fellowship with God? We obtain our primary fellowship or communion with God through gospel obedience. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). People must be taught the gospel of Christ. Believing or accepting the teaching they are baptized into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit which means that they are baptized into communion and fellowship with the Holy three. If we do not have fellowship with God then we have nothing.

John says, "If we SAY that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:6-7). Just to SAY we have fellowship with Him is not enough. We have obtained fellowship with Him by our obedience to the gospel; now we maintain that fellowship by walking in the light. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).

If I walk in the light and thus have fellowship with God and you walk in the light and have fellowship with God then we can have fellowship with one another, but if I walk in darkness and you walk in light, there can be no fellowship; unity is impossible.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[063

THE PLACE OF THE APOSTLES.

by Bob Craig

The apostles were an integral part of Godís plan for the salvation of mankind. They were given an important place in his dealing with humanity. Why did God choose this avenue? I donít know. All I know is that they are set apart, by Christ, to be his spokesmen on earth so it behooves us to listen to their words. Their words would be "the word of God," and God had chosen the "word" to be the means by which he would deal with mankind. (Hebrews 4:12) "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the hear

"Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven" (NASB Matthew 18:18) The message of the apostles would be limited to what heaven had prepared for them. It would be given them by inspiration. (John 16:13) "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."

By these words the apostles would fill the place of judgment Jesus had gone to prepare for them. (Luke 6:13) "... he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles." (Matthew 19:28) "And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Luke 22:30) "That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." These men would lay the foundation that the church would be built upon and that would sustain the church. (Revelation 21:14) "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[064

THE RENEWING BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

by Bob Craig

Titus 3:5-6 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;"

The phrase or antecedent of "which he shed on us abundantly" is not the Holy Spirit but has reference to "his mercy." That is what has been "shed on us abundantly." His grace, his mercy, his salvation was not "shed on us" because we had done enough good works to merit it but his grace supplied the instructions on how to obtain this great gift. (Titus 2:9-11)

The "washing of regeneration " was the new birth that Jesus spoke of in John 3:5: "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." Evidently baptism is the water referred to in both verses. "Baptism doth also now save us." Peter says in 1 Peter 3:21. It is understood that in neither place was the writer advocating baptism only. It was a baptism for which one had been prepared by proper teaching. (Ephesians 5:26) "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." The washing would be accompanied with the word, the teaching.

Baptism puts one into Christ, into the merits of his atoning blood, but we do not stop with baptism. The Holy Spirit acts in the life of this new creation but the Holy Spirit accomplishes his work through the medium of the word. His words are the words of inspiration hence the reception of the message of the Spirit is equivalent to receiving the Spirit himself. I prefer the rendering of several later translations of the passage."renewing of the Holy Spirit" as "renewing BY the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit is the means by which we are renewed. This has to do with the putting off of the Old Man and the putting on of the New Man as is taught by Paul in Colossians 3:1-10. We read the conclusion of the whole matter in verse 10: "And have put on the new man, which is RENEWED in knowledge after the image of him that created him:"

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[065

A LESSON THE WORLD NEEDS TO LEARN

by Bob Craig

In Genesis 2:24 we read, "Genesis 2:24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." In Matthew 19:5 Jesus put his stamp of approval on this concept. This is not Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic nor is it attributable to any religious philosophy. It is a moral principle that was put into motion "in the beginning" of bringing man and woman together as husband and wife and was stated by Adam with the approval of the Creator and the Son, Jesus. Therefore man and woman enters into a relationship that makes them even as one flesh. The closest relationship that exists among people. This applies to all people for all time

This close relationship cannot exist between a man and a man nor a woman and a woman. They can become the very closest of friends but never can they be as "one flesh." Also this closeness cannot be accomplished until both man and woman accept and apply the conditions set forth. Man and woman living together with no intention of being husband and wife are in an adulterous relationship. Man and woman belong together as husband and wife, they become an autonomous entity known as a home or family. Nothing shall come between these two who have determined to live as "one flesh.í Not even the love and respect that children are to have for their parents.

The word "cleave" is a strange word just as many other English words are strange. It can be used as exact opposites. Sometimes it means "to cut asunder" and conversely it can mean to "adhere, stick tight or cling fast." The latter meaning is what man and woman are to do but too often we find them practicing the former definition.

Letís begin to teach our children at an early age, by word of mouth and by the example of our lives that husband and wife, mama and daddy, "adhere, stick tight or cling fast" to one another.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[066

STEPS IN APOSTASY

by Bob Craig

That there would be an apostasy among Godís people is evident from many verses. "Some shall depart from the faith ..." "From among yourselves will men arise speaking perverse things and draw away disciples after them ..." "A falling away must come ..." "I will remove your candlestick from out its place ..." It would come in a deceptive manner; not all at once; a step at a time.

The organization of the church of the New Testament was extremely simple. (I use the word "organization" as defined in The American Heritage Dictionary: "A structure through which individuals cooperate systematically to conduct business.") When completely organized it is an autonomous organization made up of bishops, deacons and people who are called saints. (Philippians 1:1) Bishops are also called elders or pastors. Each church had a plurality of bishops. Paul and Barnabas "appointed for them elders in every church ..." These men had the oversight of the congregation. Their oversight began and ended with what the scriptures taught. Qualified men were appointed as deacons to serve in whatever capacity the church might have need.

The first step of apostasy was a corruption of this organization. A presiding elder was appointed and he soon began to be known as the Bishop of that particular church. A distinction was made between the bishop and the elder. No such distinction is made in the New Testament. The word bishop indicated their oversight, the word elder indicated that they were aged men and the word pastor indicated that they were to be feeders of the flock, teachers. But these words all applied to same group of men.

It developed that a bishop in a bigger church took the oversight of several smaller churches. These bishops formed themselves into centralized groups and the group took the oversight of the churches. This concept grew until in 325 A.D. Constantine called all the bishops of all the churches to a convocation called the Counsel of Nicaea. They handed down a decree that was known as the Nicene Creed and it became the rule of faith for all the churches. Apostasy was in full bloom, and it all started with a little unscriptural departure in organization.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[067

A CONFUSING VERSE

by R. L.(Bob) Craig

 In regard to an article I wrote on The New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible, I mentioned that there were some confusing verses. I certainly didnít look all through the book to see what I could find but I ran across a verse that, to me, was confusing, so I thought it might be well to look at it with the idea in mind that the translations are the works of men therefore they might be influenced by their own ideas of by some theological philosophy. The same thing could possibly be said about all the other translations. Inconsistencies could be found in any of them. So, Iíll just say as I have said on other occasions: as you study, take time to compare versions especially in your study of controversial passages.

The verse I have in mind for this article is Romans 4:25. Letís look at the passage in Romans 4:25 from the NKJV. "Who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification."

What I am concerned about is the word "because." I am not too concerned about the first time the word is used although I think a better word could have been used. It is saying, we have sinned, we have offended God, so a sacrificial offering had to be made on our behalf so he was delivered up because we had sinned or offended. But the second because seems to be out of place. "He was raised because of our justification." He was raised because we were justified? Not so but this verse says he was raised because we are justified or because our sins have been remitted. Not so. He was raised in order that we might be justified, not because we were already justified. Letís look at some other translations.

Hereís the way it is in the NKJV: "Who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification."

Now look at the KJV: "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."

Itís this way in the New American Standard Version: "He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification."

But hereís the way it is in the old American Standard of 1901: "Who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification."

The New Revised Version puts it this way: "Who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification."

And the New International Version reads like this: "He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised for our iniquities."

So, the consensus of the translations and the only sensible rendering is that the word should be "for," instead of "because."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[068

THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

by Bob Craig

(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.".

The latter part of this verse is one of the most controversial passages in the New Testament. I shall not go into the various explanations except to point out that the main controversy is whether Peter is saying that they should receive the Holy Spirit himself or receive something from the Holy Spirit. Everywhere the New Testament mentions receiving the Holy Spirit it has to do with something they received from the Holy Spirit so it is reasonable to say that in this place he is saying that if they, as believers, obeyed to gospel command to "repent and be baptized" the would receive the remission of past sins and look forward to eternal salvation. As we contemplate the meaning of the passage think about this: "What are the two greatest things that could happen to mankind?" Answer: the guilt of his past sins could be forgiven and he could look forward to heaven after awhile.

But, someone says, the gift of eternal salvation is from God. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23 ). All the Godhead is working toward to same result thus the promise of a heavenly hereafter is attributed not only to God but to the Son: "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Hebrews 5:9). And we find the heavenly gift being attributed to the Spirit in another place: "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" And then we find the same heavenly promise being made by the reception of the word: "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified" (Galatians 6:8). So you see, all the forces of heaven are responsible for the great gift of eternal salvation.

Peter told the people on that day that the promise was not only to the Jews but to "them that were afar off" or the Gentiles and we have the same parallel promise being made concerning the Gentiles but in words that we can readily understand:"Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me" (Acts 26:17-19).

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[069

LIVING FAITH

by Bob Craig

Some weeks ago I wrote concerning five kinds of faith. There were two kinds (and maybe more) that I did not include: living faith and dead faith.

A lengthy reading from Hebrews 10, I believe, is the best commentary we can find on what constitutes "living faith." "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul" (Hebrews 10:36-39).

The Hebrew Christians were being severely persecuted and some were turning from the faith. The writer has exhorted them to be faithful in attending the assemblies of the saints. This would be a time for them to exhort and encourage one another. Faith was that which would save them. These were the ones who had done the will of God. These were the just ones, the righteous ones. They were the ones who would not draw back, i.e., turn back into the world for this would be perdition, which is defined as being utter destruction.

Their faith would be a living faith, an obedient faith. They would not allow the cares of the world to affect them. They must patiently endure the hardships that beset them. In verse 34 he reminds them of a place "in heaven a better and an enduring substance;" in verse 35 he refers to it as "a great recompense of reward;" and in verse 36 as "the promise." They, as do faithful people of this day, look forward to something better than what we have today. We, today, like they of old, must have a living faith, a faith that is unto the saving of the soul..

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[070

DEAD FAITH

by Bob Craig

Just as we read of a faith that is to the "saving of the soul" or a living faith, we also read of a dead faith. There is, in the religious world, the concept of salvation or justification by "faith only." The idea is that when one reaches the point of faith whereby he confesses that "Jesus Christ is the resurrected son of God," he is justified in Godís sight or saved. Sometimes the doctrine concludes that "once your are saved you can never be lost.

But the Bible tells a different story. We read of "... among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:42 ).These men "believed on him" but didnít have enough faith to confess him. Were they justified? I think not.

He tells of many who believe and numbers among them the devils, the demons. "And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God." (Luke 4:41). They were terrified but not justified.

James is explicit in his teaching. He says definitely that "... faith without works is dead ..." (James 2:26). Seemingly some then had the notion that some have today: that one is saved by faith only, so he makes it so simple that anyone can understand. "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith [only] save him?" (James 1:14).

Then James gives an illustration if they failed to understand him. "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works" (James 2:17-18). James was not teaching salvation by works only but a faith demonstrated by works.

Then the conclusion: "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:24).

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[071

AN ACCEPTABLE PRAYER

by Bob Craig

People often tell me of being in an awkward situation when they didnít know what to say. Especially in times of tragedy or catastrophe we become speechless. Under such circumstances, generally. it is better to say nothing. And there are times when we go into our closet to pray and want to pray for something or about something and we find ourselves in the above condition. We just donít how to express ourselves. But in that situation, we can be assured that whatever we say and however we say it, if we are on praying terms with God and have the right attitude of heart, it will be heard and understood in the way our heart desires.

In Romans 8:26 Paul gives us that assurance: "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." The translators thought that the Holy Spirit was under consideration in this verse therefore they capitalized the word spirit.

But the spiritual mind of man is begin discussed throughout the seventh and eighth chapters. The spirit of man is at war with the flesh and through Jesus Christ the spiritual man emerges and overcomes the flesh.

Then in verse twenty-seven he says, "And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." The unutterable groanings are those of man. So the search is not of the heart of the Holy Spirt but he searches the heart of the spiritual man and his spiritual disposition makes his petitions sensible and understandable because he prays according to Godís will.

The same reasoning would be true with the man who leads the public prayer. His prayer need not be with flowery language or perfect grammar. As long as he has a spiritual heart, that good heart will make his petitions acceptable before the throne of grace.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[072

MENTAL ABUSE

by Bob Craig

There is too much physical abuse of women (wives) being reported. Even one case would be too many but I was motivated to write when I read a statement in an article by Cary Clack in the SA Express News. The statement: "Yet sometimes itís not the body but the mind and psyche that are abused."

In my 50+ years of preaching I have observed this to be true, of all places, among my preaching brethren and, of course, among the brethren themselves.. Among the preachers there is sometimes an attitude of arrogance, perhaps because of a high attainment of education or perhaps a feeling of importance because of his position. And, sadly, some of the wives of such men have bowed to this arrogant attitude. Sometimes, the preacherís wife is just a bearer of his children, or a housekeeper, and he leaves her to tend the children and clean the house while he excuses himself from such mundane chores by having morning coffee with his close cronies or attending morning meetings or playing politics by visiting with the more prominent members of the congregation. He also ignores her in social gatherings as he mingles and jokes, sometimes even using her dowdiness or her lack of education as the butt of his jocular encounters. And then on Sunday, preaches a sermon on Ephesians 5 always emphasizing manís dominance over the woman and ignoring the simple statement of inspiration, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it."

Then the more accomplished, better educated wives of the preachers, whose delight, it seems, is to publicly criticize their husbands for any little trivial mistake he might make. She has no intention of giving constructive criticism. He starts to tell a tale or a joke and she takes over; perhaps explaining what he means or interrupts the tale with one of her own. She is critical of his delivery, his clothing, his lack of higher education, etc., forgetting that she is to be his "help meet." One who is worthy to be a part of him, his helper, his friend.

And both have forgotten the admonition to "submit yourselves one to the other." Have concern and respect for one another. Without the aid of a loving and tender woman I donít see how any man could ever expect to be the kind of man a gospel preacher is supposed to be. And without the tender care and concern of a devoted man, I donít see how any woman can love and respect the man she has promised to love and honor as her husband.

The above remarks also include all saints and sinners alike. God honors the husband and wife relationship and give it instruction on how it must be. Be sure to honor Him by listening to what he says.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[073

DRINKING FROM THE SAUCER

by Bob Craig

"Iím drinking from the saucer

Cause my cup has overflowed."

Those two lines are from a poem I sent out a few days ago and the poem has caused me to do a lot of thinking. Iím almost positive that the poet had a line from the 23rd Psalm in mind as he/she penned these verses. That line is this: "My cup runneth over."

Often I use the 23rd Psalm as a prayer by changing a few words, such as: "Thou art my shepherd. I shall not want, Thou makest me to lie down in green pastures," etc. The reason I do this is because I feel like the Psalmist has covered all the ground pertaining to the blessings God has bestowed upon me and says it by far better than I could. So I come to the climax, "My cup runneth over," and that satisfied me until I read the poem. Have my blessings ceased with the running over of my cup?

No, I have just ceased counting. The song says "Count your many blessings, name them one by one." So now I have counted and concluded my counting. No, Iím now drinking from the saucer some of the blessings that I did not count. An old pop song of years gone by also comes to my mind. "When youíre worried and you canít sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep and youíll fall asleep counting your blessings."

Read of the blessings of the man of Psalms One. Read of the blessings of Matthew Five. Find and read the seven blessings of Revelation. Read the 432 times the word bless, blessed or blessedness is used in the New Testament. The greatest blessing of all is summed up in 1 John 3:1: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God."

"Iím drinking from the saucer cause my cup has overflowed."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[074

ALL THINGS WORKING TOGETHER

by Bob Craig

(Romans 8:28) "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

The above verse, more often than not, is used in trying to bring order out of chaos, good out of evil, or blessings out of tragedy. Recently two teenagers in our town died in a car wreck. In commenting on this tragedy one lady said, "Well, some good came out of it. We got a traffic light where it was needed." Two teenagers traded for one traffic light! But they had to get some good out of this tragedy and this verse is used to sustain such.

To be sure, there are occasions when tragedy results in some good being accomplished, but I do not believe that Paul was discussing something so out of context in the verse we have mentioned.

The word "all" is not an all inclusive word. It may be used as an hyperbole, or as an adjective, or as a pronoun, but it must always be understood by the setting in which it is used. In the verse under consideration, it is a continuation of the discussion concerning Godís working with his children to bring them to final salvation. So Paul discusses the warfare taking place between the flesh and the spirit and how Godís spirit working through the word brings man to final glorification. Godís eternal purpose was to bring about the salvation of mankind and he provided the means by which this would be accomplished.

So the final conclusion is that all these good things, not catastrophic, tragic events, were working together to bring about Godís eternal purpose, the salvation of souls. Thatís what this entire context, both before and after our verse, is discussing.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[075

LET US -- NOT MAKE US

by Bob Craig

I heard a TV commercial that said concerning a sleeping potion, "it doesnít make you sleep, it letís you sleep." The idea was that this pill didnít force you to sleep; it relaxed you and let you go to sleep. This idea was also advanced in a e-mail posting that said, among other things, "you canít make people love you, but you can let them love you." Well, thatís true. You canít force people to love you but you can give them good cause to love you and if the cause is strong enough, then people will just naturally fall in love with you. Itís kinda like Solomon said about friendship: Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:..." If you want people to love you, you must be a lovely person.

Paul said in Philippians 4:8, "whatsoever things are lovely.... think on these things." A person thinking on lovely things becomes a lovely person and one who is easy to be loved by others. All this reminds me of the statement made by the Lord in Matthew 5:16: "Let your light so shine before men ..." This is done by our good works. But we must never advertise ourselves nor our righteousness.

When a person dies, the one who eulogizes him sometimes has a difficult task of thinking of some good thing to say about the deceased. But when a lovely person dies, many things come out concerning the good he has done that no one knew about. This is in harmony with another lesson the Lord gave mankind. (Matthew 6:1) "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven."

(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;"

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[076

MACHIAVELLI

by Bob Craig

Niccolo Machiavelli was an Italian political theorist whose book, The Prince, written in 1513, describes the achievement and maintenance of power by a determined ruler indifferent to moral considerations. It became the basis of what is called Machiavellians which denies the relevance of morality in political affairs and holds that craft and deceit are justified in pursuing and maintaining political power.

There seems to be a whole lot of that going round in this present time, both in politics, civic affairs, business and religion.

No matter what area we are talking about, God demands honesty. Many politicians are Jewish. They claim that they adhere to the Old Testament law. Their law demands honesty. (Deuteronomy 5:19-20) "Neither shalt thou steal. Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour." Most politicians claim to be Christians. The New Testament requires honesty in Gentiles also. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you ..." (2 Corinthians 8:21) "Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men."

Machiavellians runs rampant in our land and is it any wonder?

We read about and witness on TV many, or most, of our elected senators, representatives, governors, yea, even our presidents, practicing lying, cheating, extortion and every conceivable method of dishonesty, and we, too, begin to think like they do. Dishonesty becomes the norm for the general public. Men and women lie about sicknesses to get free off time; steal products from their employers; falsify travel expenses; give lying excuses for shoddy workmanship; lie to customers about when to expect services or products; etc. Our boys and girls see their parents lying on income tax reports (and bragging about it), being instructed to lie concerning their whereabouts to phone callers, witness their thievery in regard to their employerís products, hear all the stories about the above dishonest maneuvers and then they receive scolding for cheating on a school paper or chastisement for their phony excuses of why they missed curfew. Whoís to blame?

Yea, verily, Machiavellianism runs rampant in our land.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[077

KEYS OF THE KINGDOM

by Bob Craig

We read of the "keys of the Kingdom" in the setting of Matthew 16:19-20. "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."

Peter had just spoken the words that would constitute the foundation for the church and such is affirmed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:11: "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." But Jesus continues his comments and they are specifically directed to Peter, "I will give unto thee" the keys of the kingdom of heaven. The word keys is used metaphorically to indicate the means or the power of entrance. A door, the means of entrance, would be opened into the kingdom and thus the church would become a reality.

Peter was chosen to be the one who should open the door to the Jews, which he did on Pentecost of Acts 2. He also was chosen to open the door to the Gentiles. "... Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe." (Acts 15:7) He used these keys on the Pentecost of Acts two and again at the house of Cornelius as is recorded in Acts ten and eleven. What was used by Peter on these occasions?

Jesus had said, "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." (NASB - Matthew 16:19) The words Peter and all the rest were to speak were words originating in heaven and dictated by the Holy Spirit for these men. (NASB John 16:13) "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak." Peter had no authority to speak words of his own.

Peter preached the gospel on Pentecost of Acts 2 and opened the door of salvation for the Jews; he spoke the same kind of words at the house of Cornelius and opened the door of salvation for the Gentiles. The other apostles were charged to speak the same thing---confess faith, repent and be baptized in order to remission of sins---salvation. 3000 responded on Pentecost and were added together thus constituting the church and day by day others were saved and added to the church (Acts 2:47). And woe unto men today if they preach anything else. (Galatians 1:8)

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[078

CONFUSING VERSES

by Bob Craig

I mentioned confusing verses in another article. There are others. Letís look at Romans 6:17 which is also rather confusing in the New King James Version.. Here it is: "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered." I am interested in the last part of the verse: "... that form of doctrine to which you were delivered." It is an awkward statement. Something was delivered. Was it the doctrine or you? It is impossible to determine the answer from the way the statement appears.

It is not at all confusing in the KJV. "... that form of doctrine which was delivered you." Here the thing delivered definitely is the doctrine.

The NASV follows the idea advanced by the KJV but is extended:"... that form of teaching to which you were committed," The teaching (doctrine) is delivered and we are committed to it. The RSV carries it this way also.

The NRS follows the same idea: "... the form of teaching to which you were entrusted," The NIV states it almost the same way.

The American Standard turns it around and it sounds like the person rather than the doctrine is the thing delivered: "... that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered." I think we can only understand the verse when we reach the conclusion mentioned in the following verse. "... being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Being made free from sin is accomplished when we obey from the heart the delivered doctrine and are committed to it.

Language can be made so ambiguous on occasion, that the truth is hard to find. Sometimes it is deliberate; sometimes it is ignorance; sometimes the writer may be so unsure of a proper interpretation that he hides his doubts in vague language or in equivocation. Diligent study is required on some verses and the comparisons of two or more translations are sometimes very helpful.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[079

WATER IN GODíS PLAN

by Bob Craig

I often write articles emphasizing the necessity of baptism in regard to salvation. And I am often criticized and misrepresented in regard to this belief. Some say, "This is water salvation that he teaches." No, I put the water just where Jesus put it. He put it as the final step in Godís plan for the forgiveness of sins. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16). He put it as the final step into Christ."Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (Romans 6:3)

Baptism alone no more saves than does faith alone. Scriptural baptism must be preceded by scriptural teaching. "He that believeth" what? The gospel, the doctrine, the teaching. Jesus said, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them ..." One who is taught right, will be baptized right but one who is taught wrong, his baptism will be wrong.

Notice the people in Acts 19:1-5. They had been baptized but their teaching had been wrong so, after hearing the proper teaching, they were rebaptized. This time "in the name of the Lord Jesus;" i.e., by his authority, in harmony with his teaching. Many people today have undergone something that is called baptism; affusion which is the pouring on of water, sprinkling of water on the receiver, and some have been immersed. But if their teaching was such that denied that baptism is for (in order to) the remission (forgiveness) of sins, a part of Godís plan of salvation, then their teaching was wrong therefore their baptism was wrong. And if they had been taught that affusion or sprinkling is baptism (immersion) then that teaching is wrong.

So, I hear what Jesus says, "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," and so I teach. Is there anything wrong with that? "Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Colossians 3:17)

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[080

SAVED BY WATER

by Bob Craig

(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, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water."

Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives, were the eight souls that were saved by water. This incident is used by Peter as an illustration of people begin saved by water in the gospel dispensation. In the next verse he says, "baptism doth also now save us."

Water is only one aspect of our salvation even as it was only one aspect of Noahís salvation. Noah was the recipient of Godís grace so it might be said that Noah was saved by grace,. "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." (Genesis 6:8) He was saved by faith. (Hebrews 11:7) He was saved by his diligent efforts in building the ark. (ibid.) And he was saved by the water.

What part did the water play in Noahís salvation? The water destroyed the world of wickedness that surrounded him and transported him into a new world --- a new beginning. Noahís salvation by water prefigured our salvation by water --- baptism. Godís grace has made provision for our salvation; by faith we receive the good news, the gospel; we submit to Godís commandment to be baptized for the remission of our sins and when we complete our obedience in baptism we are separated from the world of sin and transported into the "kingdom of Godís dear son." (Colossians 1:13) We have been born of "the water and the spirit," (John 3:5) "new creatures in Christ Jesus," (2 Corinthians 5:17) we have a new beginning. Let us make the most of it!

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[081

CONFUSION ABOUT 1 CORINTHIANS 1:21

by Bob Craig

(1 Corinthians 1:21) "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."

I have heard this verse, from the KJV, used by gospel preachers to exalt pulpit preaching and the place of the preacher in Godís arrangement for manís salvation. This idea is completely out of harmony with the context. Even in the KJV the word is not a verb; itís a noun but that takes some effort to find out. We can be enlightened by a comparison of various versions.

The ASV helps out considerably by putting a definite article, "the" before the word "preaching." But the NKJ is much more enlightening when it says, "... it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." That translation is in harmony with what Henry Thayer says the original word means: "that which is proclaimed by a herald or public crier, a proclamation by herald 2) in the NT the message or proclamation of the heralds of God or Christ " Several other translations concur. That also agrees with Paulís statement in Romans 1:16: "For 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."

The old KJV is a grand old book. From it you can learn what to do to be saved and how to conduct yourself as a child of God and go to heaven after a while but it can be rather confusing sometimes as well as enlightening at other times. So continue your Bible study considering other translations as you study.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[082

HOW SHALL THEY HEAR?

by Bob Craig

(Romans 10:14) "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"

This is another verse that present-day preachers sometimes use to promote their importance. The next verse more or less explains that the preachers under consideration were those who were "sent" that people might hear the gospel. And the ones sent were the apostles. The word "apostle" means "one sent." They had the gospel, the good news, entrusted unto them. As they were sent to all nations they were guided into all truth by the giving and reception of the Holy Spirit. Theirs was an exclusive task and without their dedication to that task the world would not hear the message of salvation. So, that was the kind of preacher that was essential to the hearing of the word. Jesus specifically called them one by one and sent them out into a lost world.

We hear some preachers today make the claim of being, in some near miraculous manner, "God called and sent." But the truth of the matter is that usually they come out of a Bible seminary and start looking for a preaching job. A pulpit committee comes in contact with them and grants them a trial sermon. If they satisfy the committee and a majority of the people, they are "called" by that church not by God. If they donít fit, they look further. After building up a reputation, they answer the "call" of a bigger church with a bigger salary or better fringe benefits but God has nothing at all to do with that call.

True preachers of the gospel preach because they feel the need of saving souls. The apostles, those who truly were the "called and sent," were the essential preachers who gave us the message of salvation.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[083

CHRISTIAN OR NOT A CHRISTIAN

by Bob Craig

(Acts 11:26) "... And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." It has been said that the name "Christian" was given by the enemies of the Lord in derision. That is not so. No more glorious name could have been given Godís people therefore Peter declares, "If a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name" (ASV 1 Peter 4:16)

The suffix "ian" attached to a word means, "relating, resembling or belonging to." Wes see it used in the words, Galatians, Corinthians, Colossians, etc. So, in attaching the suffix to the name of Christ we have a group of people who belong to, relate to, and/or resemble him.

Isaiah told of a time when Godís people would be called by a new name. The name Christian is the only exclusive name by which they were ever called. They were called disciples but this word means a learner. One could be a disciple of Plato, Hermes or Homer. They were called friends but that word can be used to indicate friends of the world or of Satan. They were called saints but that word merely means they were a separate people.

There were not different kinds of Christians in the New Testament. They were either Christians or they were not Christians. The word of God is the seed of the kingdom. When that seed is planted in good and honest hearts, it produces Christians. Whether in 33 a.d. or 2001 a.d. when that happens the result is the same. Christians are produced. They belong to Christ. They do what he says. They worship him the same way they did 2000 years ago. They teach the same doctrine they did 2000 years ago.

"Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds" (Acts 26:28).

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[084

WHEN MUST WE FORGIVE

by Bob Craig

Today there is quite a bit of talk concerning forgiveness. Some are suggesting that we should forgive the perpetrators of the great holocaust of the century, the destruction of the World Trade Center and the partial destruction of the Pentagon.

It would be good to restudy a few verses from the Bible concerning forgiveness.. First, only God can forgive sin. (Mark 2:7) "Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?" Jesus had power while on earth to forgive sin so he could do it on any occasion as he saw fit. But Jesus died, was resurrected from the dead and went into heaven and a certain pattern was formed concerning forgiveness.

Now, we approach God through Jesus. (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: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Godís forgiveness is conditioned upon repentance. (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." Anyone can have the forgiveness of their sins if they want to be forgiven. The person who is not a Christian has this promise. We hear Peter telling those who believed his message about the Christ that they must "... Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins ..." (Acts 2:38). And to those who are Christians Peter told them to "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee" (Acts 8:22). Some have asked the question, "What if they didnít have time to do these things?" Well, letís let God handle that situation and I am sure that whatever he does it will be right.

(More later)

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[085

MUST WE FORGIVE

by Bob Craig

People are saying that we must forgive those who are responsible for the holocaust of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and Timothy McVeigh. But must we?!

We must have an attitude of forgiveness that would cause us to want to forgive anyone who sins against us. Forgiveness is a two way street. It contains the one who sins against us and we who are sinned against. If we have not been one of the two then we are not a party to the situation. When one sins against another, he builds two barriers: one barrier between himself and God and another barrier between himself and the wounded person. That barrier must be removed. God is willing to forgive so he goes up to the barrier but he cannot remove it; the perpetrator must remove it through repentance. But until he does it will remain. The same is true concerning the barrier between him and me. I can go to the barrier but I cannot remove it; thatís up to him. I am told, "if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him" (Luke 17:3)

But what if he will not repent? Must I forgive him anyway? You can be ready to forgive but until he removes the barrier it will remain and forgiveness cannot be complete. This is the way it is with God and we canít do better than God.

The terrorists nor Timothy McVeigh didnít sin against me so that situation doesnít involve me in a forgiveness condition with them

But there is absolutely no evidence of repentance on the part of the terrorists nor Timothy McVeigh. (1 John 5:16) "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it." The sin unto death is any unrepented of sin.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[086

THINGS THAT ARE ABOVE

by Bob Craig

We read the word "mind-set" in magazine and newspaper editorials and in the many fine articles written by my brethren and others. We think of the word as something new but it has been in the dictionary for a good long while and is defined like this: "A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations." Paul used it as he wrote to the Colossians: "Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth" (Colossians 3:2). "Set your mind" he said. Or let your "mind-set" be thus. So it must be if we intend to reap the reward of heaven after a while. But where is our mind or what is our mind-set?

Parents have their minds set on raising their children. But what do we have in mind as we expend our efforts, our time and our money? Is it preparing them for eternity or here and now? We make sure they are in school but do we concern ourselves with the things they come in contact with while there. Do we teach them about modest apparel and eternity or do we let them adhere to the belly-button, cleavage showing (front or back) flesh piercing, fashions of time?

We must make money to fulfill 1 Timothy 5:8 but do we allow making money to become our mind-set? We need to remember that Paul sets forth "the desire to be rich" right alongside with being rich. There is danger in both. What is our mind-set in regard to money? Is our love of money for the purpose of providing the things we need or the things we lust after?

Really, are our minds set on "things above" or on "things below?" Do we "predetermine our responses" to that or something else? Only you, after an HONEST inspection of self can answer that question.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[087

ITíS IN THE VALLEYS I GROW

by Bob Craig

The receipt of a poem titled as above, caused me to look at and ponder James 1:27 once again. "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." When we read that verse many of us can see nothing except an institutional home for orphans or old folk. That is far from what the wrier had in mind.

The word "visit" carries with it the idea of coming in contact with any misery that these individuals might have experienced. The word "fatherless" comes from the word rendered "orphans" by us. So it could be "parentless" as well as just "fatherless." Because of their condition, they have been brought into a destitute situation. The widows are ones who have no one to care for them and are in similar condition as the "parentless."

The poem says "Itís in the valleys I grow." Well, I may not have had too many valleys so James says, we should share the valleys of others. We must come into personal contact with misery. There is nothing wrong with making a generous contribution to a personís need but it means more and causes growth when we look upon and share anotherís grief or destitution. So James is giving instruction on how to grow as one of Godís children. To grow in "pure and undefiled religion" is the doing of something personally to relieve pain and suffering.

(If you would like to read the poem mentioned, click on:)

http://www.grnco.net/~cbm/thought.htm

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[088

"PRAISE THE LORD"

by Bob Craig

The word "praise" is used about 100 times in the book of Psalms. There are several original Hebrew words that are so translated in English but, basically, they all have the same meaning with slight variations.

Usually the word is used to indicate some kind of worship, exaltation, adulation, great confidence in or giving of thanks. However it is being used, it is much more than just uttering the empty, hollow phrase with a loud voice, "Praise the Lord!"

David said in Psalm 119:164: "Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments." I don't know just which way David was using the word, whether he was saying, "I thank God seven times in the day" or "Seven times in the day I exalt in a special way his holy name." But however he was using it, he devoted an allotted time seven times in the day to do it.

Wherever the word is used it can be thanksgiving or exaltation. I would be hesitant to dogmatically say it has to be one way or the other. But whenever it is used by the Psalmist it indicates a loving devotion to He who is responsible for all the blessings mankind receives. The word gives credit to the Creator and thanksgiving for all these good things.

In the 107th Psalm he uses this phrase four times: "Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" Here, it seems, he is undoubtedly using the word to express thanksgiving.

In this Psalm it seems as though he is using it or can be using it in the two ways:  thanksgiving and exaltation. "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving" (Psalm 69:30).

However the word was used, it was to be a continuing thing, not just every once in a while. "I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints" (Psalm 52:9).

And the last application of our word indicates great trust: "In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me" (Psalm 56:4).

All the ways the Psalmist used the word becomes a lesson for his saints today.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[089

MORE ON STUDYING IN CONTEXT

by Bob Craig

There was quite a bit of contention among the Lord's disciples about who would be the greatest in His kingdom. He was nearing the end of his earthly advent so he taught them a lesson concerning greatness just before his departure.

In my classes and in my articles I have tried to stress the importance of "studying in context." This has to do with "who, what, when, where, how and why." So for our text today look at John 13:4_17: the story of feet washing. In context you will see that Jesus was talking, specifically, to his disciples. We have the question that Jesus asked these men in verse 12: "Know ye what I have done to you?" The obvious answer would be, "Lord, you have washed our feet." But he had done much more than that. He had taught them his final lesson concerning who would be greatest.

I knew a brother in the Port Arthur who believed that Jesus was teaching us, today, to engage in a ceremonial washing of one another's feet. There are groups of others in the religious world that believe the same thing. And the Roman pope engages in such a ceremony once in awhile. I have never been to a foot-washing ceremony but others who have visited such, gave me some details of what takes place. First, no one engages himself in this ceremony if his feet are really dirty. He washes his feet very thoroughly before the ceremony. But Jesus said, "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet" (vs 10). Only the feet got dirty walking in the dust with the ever_present sandals of that day and it was an act of hospitality for water to be provided and, usually, for the servants to wash a traveller's dusty feet. Jesus rebuked Simon for not providing for this hospitable act in Luke 7:44 "... he ... said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head." So, Jesus was washing dirty feet. Second, in this ceremonial washing they wash only one foot. Hence, it is literally "foot_washing," not "feet- washing." 

So, what was Jesus doing? Was he giving them an order to hold a feet- washing ceremony? No, he was teaching them an explicit lesson they needed so badly. None of them was to be above the other. They were to serve one another and thus would their greatness be measured.

Notice the closing part of the story: (John 13:12_17) "So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." 

Remember the context. Jesus teaching them "that was sent" (the apostles), a needed lesson and, perhaps, a lesson that we need also.  Not a lesson in ceremonies, but a lesson in humility and greatness.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[090

LOVE - PEACE- VENGEANCE

by Bob Craig

In this present war against terrorism, we hear and read so much about how we are love our enemies and to ensue peace and avoid vengeance. The Bible is used to sustain all such positions. Or perhaps I should say "misused" in most instances.

Most all of the scriptures used are to be individually applied. This is how Christians are to conduct themselves in dealing personally with their fellows. (Romans 12:17) "Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."

God is a God of love but he is also a God of justice and vengeance.

The word "vengeance" is defined as revenge, retribution or retaliation. When an evildoer, whether an individual or a nation, does evil, there awaits them, vengeance. But the apostle warns us that vengeance is not to be in the hands of the individual, it is in the hands of God. God will be the avenger. "I will repay, saith the Lord."

But God has chosen the means of vengeance, repayment or retaliation. In the 13th chapter of Romans the apostle says that God has ordained or mandated the "higher powers," "powers that be" or "rulers," that which we refer to as civil government, to be the means by which God will take care of the evil doer. (Romans 13:1-4) "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."

We cannot, individually, judge and execute judgment. Godís appointed medium, the powers that be, will take care of that. "He" (the powers that be) "beareth not the sword in vain." He can and will take life if necessary.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[091

THE SONGS WE SING.

by Bob Craig

(NRS James 5:13) "Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise."

People express themselves in different ways. In the many TV commercials we are subjected to, we see most of the people reacting to music by hunching, bumping and grinding. I think they call it "the beat." But to me it answers the question of "who are you?" or "what are you?" And that type response indicates animal of some sort.

James says that our response should be different from this. We are in one of two categories -- suffering or afflicted or else we are cheerful or merry. If we are of the former, then we pray; the latter, we sing praises. Well, this morning I am some of both: suffering because I have lost a dear friend--Leon Odom. So, I pray. Not for Leon but for myself and his loved ones with whom I am sharing a broken heart.

Leon loved songs and singing and I sing a song of praise in remembrance of him as I write these words -- "I Wonít Have To Cross Jordan Alone." I believe that the writer of this song had Israel in mind as they stood on the East Bank of Jordan and waited for God through Joshua to lead them into the promised rest. Well, faithful people have a rest awaiting them also on the other side of their Jordan. And he will be there to guide us over the river into the land of escape from the cares and sufferings of this world. David said, "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, FOR THOU ART WITH ME." Leon crossed Jordan and, I am fully persuaded, entered into the promised rest. All of us can have that assurance if we follow the guide, Jesus, through his Holy Word. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND Number[092

HEART-FELT RELIGION

by Bob Craig

We are sometimes accused of not practicing "heart-felt" religion because we donít clap our hands, stamp our feet, wave our arms, or make some outward display when we worship God. Jesus said, "God is spirit and all who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." That is, we must worship him inwardly and outwardly. "In spirit" has to do with the inner man, the mind, sincere hearts and "in truth" has to do with doing what God has instructed us to do.

For instance, we have to been command to assemble, but we must assemble for the right purpose. We come together strictly for the purpose of worshiping God, not to be entertained by a paid choir or soloist or quartet, nor because of a free meal or because some prominent character will be there, nor for the social aspect of the assembly, etc. The people in Corinth had actually come together to take the Lordís Supper but they had an ulterior motive in mind (heart) therefore it was not possible for them to take the "Supper" in a worthy manner thus they "ate and drank damnation to themselves." Our hearts (minds) must be centered on the death of Christ. He said "do this in remembrance of me."

We may contribute huge sums of money but unless we have the right attitude (heart) our money becomes an abomination in Godís sight. We must have a "willing" mind (heart) and give cheerfully.

And, of course, we know that a sincere and contrite heart must accompany our prayers, whether public or private. Whether leading or following, they must not be hypocritical. (Read Matthew 6:5-7)

Our music must be the kind that pleases God. There are only two kinds of music; vocal and instrumental. God authorizes vocal music that comes from the heart of man. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16).

What our critics need to be aware of is the fact that we do believe that the heart is the central part of our worship. But most of them believe that the heart part (sincerity) is all that is needed. They think and teach that it makes no difference what you believe or practice so long as one is sincere in that belief or practice. They need to be aware of the fact that there are two components that make our worship acceptable; "in spirt (with a true heart) and the right act (in truth), This is what constitutes "heart-felt" religion, not the clapping of hands, nor stamping of feet, or waving of arms.

After all, I see people do those things on the "The Price Is Right" when the announcement goes out to "come on down."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[093

"SUCH AS I HAVE"

by Bob Craig

(Acts 3:2-6) "A certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk."

Several lessons can be gained from this account, such as: Here was a well-known person (40 years he had laid daily at the gate of the temple); he was known to definitely have a noticeable ailment (lame); he was not made to be a little better or promised that he would improve but he was healed completely and instantly and demonstrated his healing (vs 7-10: "immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God: And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.") This is so different from the pseudo healers of the present.

But notice the phrase "such as I have give I thee". The man wanted alms (money). Peter had no money but he did have something that the man needed. Jesus had given him a gift and that is what he used.

The apostle said in Galatians 6:10: " As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." The word "opportunity" is defined also as "an occasion." Generally, we think of this verse as teaching benevolence: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc. The principle involved in the verse might include such but whatever the good is, it is universal in scope. In other words, what Paul is talking about is something that all men (rich or poor) have need of and that need is not, necessarily, food or clothes.

The lame man needed alms but what he needed more was the ability that Peter gave him. The poor man may have need of food and clothes but what he needs more than that is spiritual healing, the gospel. The rich man may think he has need of nothing (Rev. 3:17) but what he needs is the same thing the poor man needs, spiritual help -- the gospel -- good news! ALL MEN have that need and we must be looking for opportunities, occasions, when we can fulfill that need.

"Such as I have." What do I have? You may be like the apostle, ("gold and silver have I none") but "such as I have." I have the gospel committed unto me (and you) and it's like love: the more of it you give away, the more you have to give away. Jude, in Jude 3 says, "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."

An opportunity comes. Peter, in another place (1 Peter 3:15), said be ready (prepared) to take advantage of that opportunity. Another definition for the word "ready" is "willing." If we are not prepared to "give answer" then we need to busy ourselves in getting ready. If you have never had a part in converting someone to Christ, you have missed out on one of the greatest thrills that can come to mankind. John said, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children (converts) walk in truth."

Now, don't take this article as an excuse not to do all you can to relieve the destitute. Remember that this is one of the bases on which we will be judged. Reread the scriptures in Matthew 25:31-46: Sheep on the right hand: "I was hungry and you gave me meat, etc." Goats on the left hand: "I was hungry and you gave me NO meat, etc." "Inasmuch as you did it (or did it not) unto the least of these, ye did it (or did it not) unto me." "And these (left hand, the goats) shall go away into everlasting punishment: but he righteous (right hand, the sheep) into life eternal."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[094

COUNTING THE COST

(Based on a sermon by Leon Odom)

by Bob Craig

"For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it" (Luke 14:28).

Whatever we do, we should count the cost to see whether it is worth the time, effort and/or money or the consequences of what we intend to do. We try to convince the young people concerning the wrong in doing certain things. One approach in our efforts ought to be to get them to count the cost.

Donít smoke, we tell them. Why not, they ask? Count the cost. First the money cost. Think of all the things one could buy with the money it costs to smoke. But the cost is more than the money spent. Lung cancer, emphysema and other maladies. And the influence you may have on others to encourage them to follow your example. And the influence you may destroy when you try to teach someone of Christ.

Count the cost to use drugs and/or alcohol. The cost in money is enormous. That cost has caused people to lie, steal, cheat and kill in order to maintain their habit. And the consequences. A great feeling for a few hours, a few minutes of good feelings and then a tremendous let down that has to be fed over and over and finally a person who is financially and physically poverty stricken.

Count the cost of an illicit sexual relationship. It could cost a young lady her childhood or a young man financial obligations that he is not ready or willing to contract. An older man who plays the fool and engages in an illicit affair. He risks destroying an entire family relationship. What is the benefits of such activity. A few minutes of fun that must be hidden from friends and family. Perhaps disease. Perhaps a lifetime of shame.

Count the cost even of a marital relationship. Whom shall I marry? Be careful with this one. What will be the consequences? Will it be a boy/girl that will give me a family relationship that will endure? Is it the kind of man/woman that my family can relate to? Will it be someone that is always there to lean on? Is it a relationship that God approves of?

There are many things we would not involve ourselves in if we would honestly "count the cost." Jesus said, "Count the cost."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[095

TABLE FELLOWSHI[P

by Bob Craig

Eating at anotherís table had by far more importance in times past than it does in the present. In days gone by eating at oneís table indicated, at least in the minds of most, that we condoned the actions of that person. It indicated fellowship with the person. Nowadays, when many new houses donít even have a dining area included, just a breakfast bar, with a TV cable plug nearby constitutes the eating together of many families.

My belief that the family eating together, without the TV, would heal many breaches in the family relationship between husband and wife and children with parents. There we could, if we would, discuss religion, current events, political affairs and family problems. Something of what the table once meant would be restored.

Joseph, even in his elevated position (next to Pharaoh in authority). did not eat with the Egyptians. (Genesis 41:32) But Jesus ate with publicans and sinners, note indicating fellowship with them but that he might gain their discipleship. Paul discussed eating "things offered in sacrifice to idols,í indicating things eaten not with whom eaten, might, under certain circumstances, indicate fellowship.

David said the Lord had "prepared a table in the presence of his enemies," thus indicating that he would be with David in his battle with the Philistines and others. Jesus told his disciples, who later became known as apostles, "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22: 28-30). This could possibly refer to the Lordís Supper but I think rather that he was referring to the close and harmonious relationship they would enjoy with him in his kingdom.

But he has definitely given unto all of his people a table fellowship (the Lordís Supper) in which we commune (have fellowship with) his body, his blood, and we become one with him as we do so. All who have fellowship with God have the right to eat at that table.

As for our common meals, we need to use some common sense about whom we eat with. Will it be construed by some as indicating fellowship with them? If so, then we had best not eat lest we cause someone to sin.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[096

SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT

by Bob Craig

The baby cries. Why? He is hungry; he needs food; he needs nourishment. We feed him and he is happy. Why? His appetite has been satisfied.

Peter uses this figure in 1 Peter 2:2: "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." We should have the same kind of voracious appetite for spiritual nourishment that the baby has for physical nourishment. We want the little fellow to grow and develop in a normal manner. If he doesnít, we are concerned. Something is wrong.

The word "desire" is defined as meaning "to intensely crave." If we intensely crave something we will go to great lengths to obtain such. If we have no desire for a thing, we likely will never get it. So, we must develop an appetite for spiritual nourishment.

I wish there was some magic formula I could give whereby people would have that desire, but I have no such. I can suggest some things that might help.

1. Begin to read your Bible daily. This part is somewhat difficult but try to have a quiet place and a quiet time. Be sure you are comfortable with the size type in your Bible. If it is hard to read you will not continue very long. Begin with Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Then read the four gospel and Acts. Read the love story of Ruth and the drama of Esther. Then start reading the books you may have missed. If you bog down and get bored, go back and read again some of the ones you particularly enjoyed. Keep it up. Your appetite will develop.

2. Have a dictionary handy and look up words you do not understand.

3. Look at the center column references. They are designated in the text by a small letter in the verse. Look up that particular verse.

4. Make some notes on the sermon or the class lesson, especially on some word or verse the teacher may use with which you are not familiar. Look up the word definition or the scripture reference.

By now I hope your appetite is whetted to the extent that you are looking forward to your next quiet time. Above all things, donít quit. If you quit, then you begin to go backwards just like the people we read of in Hebrews 5:12: "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you AGAIN which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."

Peter said, "as newborn babes." But we must not remain babes. Notice Hebrews 5:13-14: "For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

After awhile you will look forward to every visit you have with the Word of God. He speaks to you through His word. This is his line of communication with mankind and to neglect it is to close up His end of the line. Look forward to the blessings of the man of the first Psalm: "Blessed is the man ..... his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND Number[097

MUST AN OLD SAP BE GULLIBLE?

by Bob Craig

The word "sap" has several definitions. A slang usage of the word means "one who is easily deceived; a dupe." We read of such in the daily newspapers. Of course, they are not called "saps" but they fall in that category. They are easily deceived. We receive constant warnings about the various "scams" that "con_men" hatch up for the deception and always find some "saps." And these warnings are usually directed toward the older generation and that's where they are generally found. We read the warnings daily and we read of the deceptions daily. These deceptions come about because old people see a chance of getting rich quickly thus enriching their usually paltry savings into something they can live out their lives enjoying. Hence categorized as "saps."

But there is also another definition for "sap". It is, "The watery fluid which circulates through a tree or plant, carrying vitality, energy, and food to all parts of the plant.' Just as blood flowing through our bodies carries vitality, energy and food to all parts of the body. This old body need not fit the first definition, "easily duped."

In the King James Version of the Bible, Psalm 92:14 says, "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;" But in the ASV, NAB, RSV and NRS, the verse reads like this: "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and green:" David exalts the aged in this passage.

"They shall be full of SAP and green." "They shall bring forth fruit in old age." No need for old people to die on the vine. They can still be useful if they will. The world is full of old people and statistics tell us that there are more developing all the time. We are a voting bloc. We can make a difference in world affairs. We can paint; we can write prose and poetry; we can build things; we can be a strong incentive to the young; we can set proper guidelines to live by; we can be examples of courage; we can move mountains. Because we are "full of sap and green."

Don't wither and die and be like the "chaff that is driven by the wind." Remember, we must not be the old SAP that is "easily deceived," but stir up the old SAP that flows within you and "bring forth fruit in your old age."

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[098

WAITING -- WAITING

by R. L. (Bob) Craig

I am 44,676,000 minutes of age. Many were spent in WAITING. The first 7,458,400 were spent WAITING for one of the most important dates in my life. Would I ever reach sixteen? After that, the only age I was concerned about was whether I would attain 44,676,000. But, I made it!

WAITING is kinda like worrying; there's not a thing you can do about it.

When I was a little fellow, I spent useless minutes WAITING. The old fellow who led the prayer. He petitioned the Lord for everything while I squirmed, scratched, worried and WAITED for that cheer-bringing word -- AMEN!

Accompanying that, there was a bellowing behemoth who had no stopping place. He had the people in burning torment and now he had to extricate them. They didn't want to be extricated. So I WAITED for him to give up or give out.

It was over. The old man who prayed and the fire-eating parson were invited for dinner. I knew what was in store: the white meat would be gone and the taters would be cold while I WAITED.

WAITING for school to end; WAITING to see if I failed; WAITING for the little brunette to come along; fearfully WAITING after school to see if the bully would show up.

As I went through life, WAITING played a major role. I WAITED at the grocery check-out; WAITED for my prescription to be filled; WAITED at the doctorís office. Where? The WAITING room, of course. I WAITED in the examining room; I WAITED, fearfully, for the news of some dread disease. I WAITED in the movie ticket line. At the bank -- the sign said, "WAIT for the next available teller."

The computer age began so I WAITED while it booted up. I WAITED for the menu. I WAITED for the files to show. An exasperating message appeared at the bottom of the screen. It said "please WAIT."

WAITING time is often filled with anger, resentment and stress.

I WAITED at the gasoline pump while someone pondered the automatic pumping instructions. I WAITED for the red lights to turn so I could WAIT to get on the freeway. Now the stress, the anger and resentment would be dispelled. But I WAITED on the freeway for a work crew to move a piece of equipment; I WAITED for a slow-moving line of cars to view a wreck scene. The car stalled. I WAITED for a good Samaritan. Finally, some good soul used his cellular and I WAITED for the tow to come. I WAITED for a diagnosis of the trouble and then I WAITED for someone to take me home where I could WAIT in comfort for my car to be repaired.

I have WAITED in suspense for a child to be born and then I have spent many anxious, stomach-wrenching minutes, WAITING for that child, who had missed curfew, to come home. So I WAITED, helplessly, because I could do nothing more than WAIT and worry.

Along the road to forty-four million, six hundred and seventy-six thousand, I learned something about WAITING -- be patient. WAITING minutes are inevitable; there's nothing we can do to change it. Remember the "Prayer of Serenity." "Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change." These WAITING times are unchangeable.

Some of WAITING time can be used profitably. I wrote a poem while WAITING for a doctor. I outlined an article while I WAITED for sleep to come. I solved a problem while I WAITED for someone who missed an appointment. I stretched and relaxed while I WAITED for the light to change.

Some WAITING is needed. I have WAITED beside the sick bed of a loved one just as a loved one has WAITED on me. I have patiently WAITED, watched and witnessed the drawing of a last breath of at least three that were dear to me. The hardest of all, the end of a life that had hardly begun, my grandson. A WAITING like that will cause a person to reach a maturity that is sadly needed by all but experienced by few. A young friend, who WAITED and watched while his grandfather died, said, "Today, I feel like I became a man."

And now, at forty-four million, six hundred and seventy-six thousand, WAITING time is almost over. WAITING for time, which is made up of minutes, hours, days and years, to run its course and for my entrance into that which is called eternity. Some of my WAITING time has been well spent, some wasted. But now, each minute I WAIT, just gets me a little closer home.

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[099

HURRY, HURRY, HURRY

by Bob Craig

(A sequel to WAITING -- WAITING)

Since we are the busiest folk that have ever been, we must hurry to get it all done. So, in our rushing about, we overlook some things the Lord bound on us. Things such as kindness, gentleness, self-control, patience; all these summed up in"Love thy neighbor as thyself." In our hurried world we forget that we are to be in subjection to law. "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates ..." (Titus 3:1).

This is a truism we call "chimney-corner" scriptures: "The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get." Thatís the way our life is. Hurrying doesnít help. We wear ourselves out and still stay behind because we are just too busy, and --- we have to wait a lot..

We sometimes lose sight of valuable Bible principles in our mad dash to accomplish whatever it is weíre trying to accomplish. We pick up the phone and it, too, is busy and we are in a hurry. The second time we try, we lose our cool, our "gentle Christlike" nature, and condemn the phonees who would interfere with our hurried schedule. We hurry to the grocery store to stand in line while some poor old gray haired lady hunts for her checkbook, hunts for a pen, slowly writes her check in a shaky hand. Now our "Bible patience" is exhausted and we unleash our wrath (at least in mind) on someone of whose circumstances we are not aware.

Half the time the reason for our hurry is because we started a little late. We could have started a few minutes earlier, but we didnít, and now we suffer the consequences and blame someone else.

Itís begun to rain -- enough to dampen our hurrying spirits. My traffic lane has slowed and I lose my "self-control." I join others in punching the horn button and mutter to myself and anyone else who is in earshot. The car in front of me has likewise lost control and zooms into the other lane and left me behind some poor fellow with hood uplifted and a bewildered look on his face. But my tortured, impatient spirit has completely taken leave of its control, so I give the poor soul a last withering look and burn rubber into the other lane to get out of the situation. What if I do have a "cell" phone that would take just a few of my precious minutes to use in his behalf? What has happened to the kind, gentle, patient Christian who would "do unto others as he would have them do unto him?"

In my hurried pace I have forgotten to "be in subjection to the higher powers, magistrates." I donít have time to fasten my seat belt; technically I run a red light because and it was a little long in turning and I donít have time to wait for the next one; I slow a little, then cruise through a sign that reads STOP; I did not yield; I am over the speed limit; the school zone means nothing. All because I didnít start a few minutes earlier. All these little (?) things are contrary to what I have vowed to do and be. My kids riding with me see my disregard for these "little" things and learn my lesson of leaving late, disregarding laws and haranguing my fellow-man. They do it, too, and get into trouble.

My daughter admonished me several years ago: "Daddy, slow down and smell the roses." Well, I had a massive heart attack, damaged my heart and had bypass surgery. I slowed down. The roses smell great. I admonish you and HER the same way. You might not be as lucky as I was and get a second chance.

"Hurry up and wait" should go into the "chimney corner" vocabulary also. Hurry, hurry, hurry! Here I come! Get out of my way!

 

DEVOTIONS Series[ 2ND 100 Number[ 100

UNTIL DEATH DO US PART

by Bob Craig

"Do you take this young woman [man] whose right hand you now hold to be your lawfully wedded wife [husband]; to love her [him], to cherish her [him], in sickness or in health, in prosperity or adversity, for better or for worse; do you promise to be true to her [him], forsaking all others and cleave unto her [him] and her [him] only until death do us part?"

Without hesitation, but perhaps with quivering lips, the answer comes __ "I do." The legal statement connecting them is stated and then, usually, the statement, "What God joined together, let not man put asunder."

I have gone through this hundreds of times, my first being back in 1945. Some of these I have managed to keep track of. Others are scattered all over the country. It is always with a rather sick feeling that I hear of one of these unions being dissolved. Preachers are not just "marrying Sams," looking for a fee; all the preachers I know are somewhat careful about the ceremonies they perform because they are deeply concerned with the eternal welfare of the participants. The world in general has forsaken its marriage vows. The home teeters on the brink of total destruction. Family life is no more. The most pitiable thing about this situation is that God's people are joining the world rather than influencing the world to imitate them. Preachers are anxiously looking for loop-holes in God's divine arrangement pertaining to the marital state. In so doing, they are perverting scripture, dividing churches and leading many to eternal destruction.

"Buy the truth and sell it not" was the inspired admonition of the wise man. I am persuaded that he was not, exclusively, talking about "truth" as it pertains to the way of salvation. I think he was talking about truth, honesty, in all situations. Truth is a scarce commodity on the world market today, but there are still a few, especially among Christians, that regard truth to be as valuable as Solomon labeled it.

Here's what I am getting at: when we spoke or agreed to those marital conditions as set forth in the ceremony, the exchange of vows, were we telling the truth, telling a lie, or playing the hypocrite? After all, these vows are sacred promises, pronounced and agreed to "before God and the assembled witnesses."

Young unmarried people, read the wording of that vow you will some day be called on to exchange with your chosen one. Look at the tremendous responsibility to which you will agree. Ask yourself: are you ready to assume the obligations of marriage? Talk it over with that "one of your heart" with which you expect to spend a life-time. Is he [she] ready also? If not, then the marriage is doomed from the beginning.

Young married people: look over again the vows you exchanged. Did you mean what you said when you made this most holy promise? Did you understand? Or, did you lie about it?

Older people are now getting divorces because the children are raised, married, and away from home. Well, was your vows made to be faithful for your children's sake, or to be faithful until they were grown, or to be faithful to your mate regardless of what hardships or idiosyncrasies he or she might have?

Parents, try to get your children to read this little article. It might help __ it might not. But something must be done to restore God's will in the marriage relationship.

The good Lord willing, when, and if, January 1, 2002, comes around next year, my wife and I will have completed 65 years of wedlock. Sixty-five years of heart-ache, sorrow, hard financial times, sickness and a limited number of little spats. But on the credit side is sixty-five years of shared happiness, joy and contentment. After sixty-five years, we appreciate more fully than ever the meaning of the four letter word, "love." It is not hugging and kissing, nor sex, but the joy of a companionship with someone you trust; just a look, a smile, a touch __ and thankfulness for someone who loves me in spite of my shortcomings __ just like the marriage vow said: "For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in adversity or in prosperity __ until death do us part!"

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