Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hope in the Christian Life

Hope is one of the greatest words in the Christian vocabulary! It not only points us to the future, but it gives us strength to live in and through the present. It is like a lighthouse in the midst of a stormy dark night whose rays of light help us press on through the waves of difficulty and doubt. There are many that are like a ship lost at sea, tossed back and forth, sailing aimlessly and hopelessly across life’s seas. They lost direction and have no real hope. In the words of the Apostle Paul they are “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). They are not only lost at sea and have no hope for the future, but they have no instruments to guide them through the turbulent waters when they come. Paul again describes these people as being “without strength” (Romans 5:6).

This hopelessness and helplessness is one reason we see so much despair in the world today. It is also one of the causes of so many false religions and cults. Men and women must have some thing to look forward to if they are going to survive the present. Many live with false hopes, while others escape through drugs or alcohol. Then there are those who give up all together and take their own lives because life without hope is not worth living.

The Bible has much to say about hope. It reveals hope, not as something uncertain and unknown. But something that is sure, steadfast and secure. Hebrews 6:18-20 says, “we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus.” We also read in Romans 8:24 “In hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?” This verse suggests that there are many features of our salvation that is yet future, which motivate us now in the present. This is the hope the every Christian has in Christ. I would like to look at a few basic statements about our hope.

First, Psalm 42:5 reminds us that the only antidote for true hope is in God and God alone. “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” These words are repeated two other times (Ps. 42:11, 43:5).

We also read that hope is an amazing gift from God, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace” (2 Thessalonians 2:16). Hope is an amazing gift of God’s grace for our encouragement, comfort and assurance for the future.

We might ask, “where to we get this gift on a on-going basis?” Romans 15:4 tells that hope comes as we read, understand and believe the Bible, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” The Word of God helps us have confidence during the rough waters of life.

Peter would remind us that this hope is secured by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Paul adds, “if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; and you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to encourage the believer in the hope that we have for the future. Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Hope defends us against the attacks of Satan. He bombards us with the fiery darts of doubt and fear trying to shake our faith. That is why Paul told those at Thessalonica to “put on the breastplate of faith and love and put on as a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8). When we have hope on as a helmet these darts bounce off and do not affect us.

The Psalmist knew that this hope had to be an on going thing in our lives. In Psalm 71:14 he said, “but I will hope continually and praise you yet more and more.” This hope will also produces joy as we read in Psalm 146:5 “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord God.” If I loose sight of my hope in Christ I loose the joy that is found in fellowship with Him. Because hope causes rejoicing and does not disappoint (Romans 5:2, 5, 12:12).

Another thing about the Christians hope is that it removes the fear of death. Colossians 1:5 refers to “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” We have nothing to fear because we know that God has a wonderful future in store for us! Our Lord’s resurrection is the basis of the removal of the fear. Because He lives we can face tomorrow!

This hope brings comfort to the hurting. Those that have lost loved ones have a hope that helps heal the hurt. This is what Paul was getting at in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 when he wrote, “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those that have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you, by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep in Jesus. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The hope of the coming of Christ is connected with three particular things. First, it is connected to the promise of His personal return for His own given in John 14:1-3. The same passage gives the promise of a prepared home (we will look at these in more detail in the next chapter). Then we also can be encouraged by the hope of prepared redeemed bodies waiting for us according to Philippians 3:20-21.

Hope for the Here & Now

We are living in a day with so many uncertainties. If ever we needed hope it is today. Just as the Lord Jesus prophesied many years ago we see kingdom rising against kingdom. We hear of wars and rumors of wars. We see the threat of terrorism on ever hand. In the last few year there have more frequent natural calamities, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes. Crime in many cities is at an all time high. We need hope for the here and now!

The disciples must have felt a similar need as they walked with and listened to the words of the Lord. They were not sure what was ahead for them. They might have had many concerns and cares. This is one of the reasons the Lord Jesus gathered alone with them in the upper room. But even before that private time of instruction with His followers the Lord spoke of the hope of Heaven. This hope is more than a destination. It should be an encouragement to us in our day of uncertainty. I would like to look at four places in the Gospel of John where the Lord used the expression “where I am.” He was referring to heaven. These four portions of scripture describe the kind of people we will be when the hope of heaven becomes our incentive.

Witnessing People

If we really believe we are going to heaven we will not be able to keep it to ourselves. We will want to tell others. The Lord Jesus is the perfect example of this. In John 7:32-34 we read, “The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him. Then Jesus said to them, “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come.” As in previous messages, the people misunderstood what the Lord was saying. Within six months, He would go back to heaven, and these religious, but unsaved people would not be able to follow Him. The Lord Jesus gave them a loving uncompromising witness. They must trust Him if they wanted to go where He was going, to heaven. If we know we are going to heaven we ought to have a deep desire for others to go there too! That is why we see the Lord warning the religious time and time again. In John 8:21,24 He warned “I am going away, and you will not seek Me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

David sent by His Father

We have already looked at David as a picture of Christ, but there is something that we missed that deserves our attention. In 1 Samuel 16 we find King Saul in deep distress, in fact he is in torment. The suggestion is made by some of his servants to find someone who is skillful playing the lyre to sooth the harmful spirit away from the king. Then we read that one particular servant points the King to David. He gives a detail description of David that draws the King’s heart to this young man. We have already seen that this description is a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But what we didn’t mention before was this unnamed servant reminds us of the ministry of the Holy Spirit today. When the Lord Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit He said that when He comes that the Holy Spirit “would testify of Me.” Then He said, “when the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” (John15:26, 16:13-14). Saul’s unnamed servant point this discouraged and depressed king to the beauty of David and that is exactly what the Holy Spirit does in the heart of each one of us today. This servant said “Behold I have seen a son of Jesse.” The Holy Spirit say to each of us, "Behold the Son of God, look at His beauty, look at His greatness, look at all He has done for you!” The Holy Spirit is never seen in scripture as one who draws attention to Himself, He is always pointing the believer to the person and work of Christ. He makes much of Christ, as this servant did of David.

Then we see that Saul request this one that was describe to him and David’s father sends him. But notice that David’s father, Jesse doesn’t send him empty handed, he sends some refreshment with him. I’d like to look at what he sends, three things are mention and each has some lessons for us to see. First, we read that Jesse sent bread. Bread speaks of that which sustains and satisfies life. The Lord Jesus is called the Bread of Life (John 6:35). He is the only one that can truly satisfy the longing in every human heart. David also brought wine, and wine often speaks of joy. The Lord Jesus is the only one who can provide joy to it’s fullest (John15:11). The last thing David brought was a goat which speaks of strength. The apostle Paul reminds us that our strength comes from Christ Himself (Philippians 4:13).

So just as the servant pointed to David who brought from his father bread, wine and a goat, the Holy Spirit points us to the Lord Jesus who provides us from the Father substance and satisfaction, true joy and strength for each day.

We praise thee, our Father and God, for the Son that came down from the throne, for thy Spirit that Thou hast bestowed to tell us what Jesus hast done.

Praise for the Holy Spirit given, Our Teacher and our Guide, by whom from heaven’s unbounded store our every need’s supplied. The comforter, whose service is to glorify the Son, to take the treasure of His love and make them all our own.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

David and Goliath

We have all heard the story of David and Goliath growing up in Sunday school. It is probably one of the most well know stories in the entire Bible. But we can know the story and miss the lessons that the Spirit of God wants to teach us. The story of David and Goliath has two main illustrations for us. The first illustrates the work of Christ as He triumph over the enemy of God, Satan. The second picture that is paint here for us is how every born again Christian can display victorious faith and conquer the enemy each time he attacks.

Christ Victory at Calvary

Lets look first and David as a picture of Christ facing the enemy. David was prepared to face the Goliath even before he went into battle. That is where the victory really begins! Notice back in 1 Samuel 16:13 that David was anointed by the Holy Spirit. He was sanctified (set apart) for this special service to God and to His people. The Lord Jesus was also anointed for service by the Holy Spirit at the banks of the Jordan River. When He was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, like a dove, Heaven opened up and the Father declared, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Then He was led up, driven out and filled with the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3: Mk.1:12, Lk. 3:23).

We too need to have a life that is set apart for God before the battle ever begins. In Ephesians 6 we are reminded that we are in a spiritual battle and that we are to be “Strong in the Lord.” But it is important to notice that before the Spirit of God directs us to this spiritual battle He has challenged us to be set apart in attitude and action. In Ephesians 4:25-5:2, He challenges us to have our horizontal life in order. If our relationships with each other are not right we will never be able to win the skirmishes against the enemy when he strikes. So we need hearts and hands, mouths and motives set apart for God. We are instructed there “not to give the devil a place.” This means that in our relationship with one another we are not to give him a beach head for his attacks against us. Latter in chapter 5:18 we are instructed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. What this means is that we are to be control by Him, under His influence and power. The way to accomplish this is to be S.E.T apart. I would suggest that to be S.E.T. apart is to be Separated to Christ, Engrossed in His Word and Teachable.

Next we see that David was sent by his father to his brothers with something for them (1 Samuel 17:17). We are reminded that God sent His only begotten Son into this world. We can also say that He has now sent us into this same world to bring this lost world a message of hope.

David went willingly with a submissive spirit. The Lord Jesus could say at the age of 12 “Do you not know that I ought to be about M Father’s business?” Through out His life we read this of Him (read these references on your own Jn.4:34, 5:17, 30, 6:38, 9:4, Mt. 26:39). If we are going to emulate our Lord, we too are be willing to submit to His Word and to each other before we are confront in battle (James 4:6-10 and 1 Peter 5:5-10).

As we follow David into battle we also see that even before the battle began he was scorned by his brothers (1 Samuel 17:28). The Lord Jesus “came unto His own and His own received Him not” (Jn.1:11). He was despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:3). Scripture reminds us that “all with desire to live a godly life will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). The Lord Jesus said “if they persecuted me they will persecute you” (Jn. 15:20). We are told do bear his reproach (Hebrews 13:13).

It is important to see that while all this scorning was taking place it didn’t discourage David. We learn that he was strengthened by the way God had given him victory in the past (1 Samuel 17:33). The Lord Jesus had met the enemy before the cross while he was in the wilderness. Satan came to Him and attacked Him with 3 temptations that we read of in Matthew 4. But the Lord gained the victory there because He relied totally on God’s word quoting from the book of Deuteronomy three times. If we spend time looking at this temptation we’d see that Satan attacked Him the same way he attacked Adam and Eve back in Genesis 3 and the same way he attacks us today. He attacks through the lust of the eyes the lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2 :15-17). But we can enjoy victory the same way our Lord gained the victory, through the Word of God.

So we see then that David was sustained by the Word of God (1 Samuel 17:45, 47) just as our Lord was and just as we can be (Acts 20:32). David was successful by faith in the living God, as was our Lord who set the example for each of us (1 Peter 2:21-24). David experienced victory and reminds us that because of the ultimate victory that was won at Calvary “I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me!”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Five Resoures to Help Us Be Overcomers

We are never told to overcome the flesh. We are to reckon it dead. But we are told to overcome the wicked one and the world There are at least five things that are listed in the Epistles of John that work in and through the overcomer that will help us.

1. In 1 John 2:13-14 the Word of God abides in the young men, enabling them to overcome the wicked one. Our responsibility is to be in the right moral condition in order for the Word of God to abide in us. We see in 1 John that the battle is between the Father’s world and Satan’s world.

2. In 1 John 4:1-4 we see that the Holy Spirit is the One in us who works in and through the overcomer to help us test the spirits in this world.

3. 1 John 5:4 we read “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith.” This tells us that our spiritual power to overcome comes from our life that comes from God and our faith in Him. Being born of God puts us on a path of victory over the world.

4. The same verse reminds us of our responsibility. It is our faith which according to Ephesians 2:8 is a gift and is dependent the Lord Jesus the Son of God.

5. That brings us to 1 John 5:5 which reminds us that the victory to overcome is from the Lord Jesus the Son of God. He is the one who acts in and through our faith to help us overcome the world.

This is how we become overcomers by identifying with the Lord Jesus. As we get a greater view of Him, His power, glory and authority. That is why in every church in Revelation 2-3 there is overcoming victory possible as they focus on Christ and the victory He has won! He is presented to meet the need in each assembly and promises to provide them with overcoming victory!

In Revelation 21:7 the apostle John summarizes the blessings of the eternal state and desires believers to enjoy those eternal blessings now. One of those eternal blessings is our position as sons of God. What we can learn from this is those who have been made sons of God through the finished work of Christ (Heb. 2:10) ought to display the same character as His unique Son who was the great Overcomer. May the Lord help us to be overcomers for His glory!

Be Of Good Cheer

The result of His overcoming is peace for us and this should bring us good cheer! The Lord Jesus often used this phrase “Be of good cheer.” Let’s look at a few of them it briefly.

1. Good Cheer of His Pardon (Mt. 9:1-8)
2. Good Cheer of His Power (Mt.9:18-22)
3. Good Cheer of His Presence (Mt.14:22-27)
4. Good Cheer of His Prominent Victory over the World (Jn. 16:33)

Three Elements of Overcoming

In Revelation 12:11-12 we see three elements of overcoming that are helpful to see. This passage is speaking of those during the tribulation, but the principles of overcoming that are seen here applies to us as well. Notice they over came by three things:

1. They overcame by the blood of the Lamb. This reminds us that positional all believers are overcomers by the blood of the Lamb. We are seen in His victory!

2. They overcame by the word of their testimony. They will not have as much as we have now in one sense, but they had a testimony for Christ. Peter knew what this was like, he had denied his Lord, yet He gave testimony that he was “kept by the power of God through faith.” Read Peter's testimony there in 1 Peter 1:3-5. This thought of overcoming by our testimony applies to each of us potentially.

3. They overcame by the fact that they loved not their lives to death. What do we think of our own lives? The Lord Jesus said, “He who loves his own life will loose it and he who looses his life for my sake will shall.” This speaks of the very practical side of overcoming. We are told to lay down our lives for one another in 1 John 3:16.

Overcoming in the New Testament
So how is overcoming looked at throughout the New Testament? The Greek verb and noun occurs about 28 times, in 16 different forms, in 24 verses of the New Testament. We have seen that positional ever believer is an overcomer, but practically, many of us feel overcome rather than like overcomer!

We are instructed in Romans 12:21 “Not to overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good.” Evil is everywhere, but we are not to fight evil with evil. God Himself overcame evil with good when He gave His Son to be our Savior. How is it possible to overcome evil with good? It takes us back to Romans 12:1-2. Read those verses careful and let them challenge your heart.

Overcoming in Christ

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."John 16:33

This verse has a wonderful meaning to each of us, not only positionaly, but in a very practical way as well. When we look at the churches in Revelation 2-3 there are promises to the Overcomer that fit the specific situation that faced them. I hope to review the applications for us in a moment. But first I want to look at the instruction this verse has for us concerning Overcoming.

In John 13-17 we see the Lord Jesus with His own in that upper room instructing them as to His departure and their future. In chapter 13, He gave them an example of genuine love and true humility to follow. Then in chapter 14, He points them to the Father's house and reminds them of their relationship with the Father. In chapter 15, He informs them of the need to abide in Him and that the world will hate them because it hated Him. He also promises to send the Holy Spirit to them in chapters 14-16. This upper room discourse ends with the Lord Jesus declaring that He is the great Overcomer!

This great fact was to encourage these disciples and provide them with peace in a world full of strife and tribulation. “I have spoken these things” refers back to chapter 13-16. It should encourage each of us today as well.

Notice the contrast in this verse between "in Christ" and "in the world". The Lord Jesus said, “In Me you may have peace” and “in the world you will have tribulation.” In fact the word “will” is not in some translations, it simply reads, “in the world you have tribulation.” We are left here in this world and we have tribulation. That is part of being in a world that has turn it's own way in rebellion against God. But we are to identify with the great Overcomer. He has overcome everything that stood against us. Romans 3:4 speaks of the legal victory that He has won, this reminds us of what we read in Colossians 2:14.

When the Lord Jesus said “I have overcome the world” I believe He desires us to realize that this is an abiding victory. We should not fear a defeated foe! He has not only given us a legal victory, but He has gained the victory over sin, death and the grave. He has overcome this very world system. In John 12:31 and 16:11 He speaks of the victory over the very ruler of this world. In Luke 11:21-22, He is liken to the stronger man that has overcome the strong man and won the spoils. We are told in Hebrews 2:14 that the Lord Jesus “has destroyed him who had the power of death, that is the devil and release those who through fear of death were all their life time subject to bondage.”

The Functions of the Priesthood

We have learned from 1 Peter 2 that every believer are both a holy and a royal priest, where and how do we function in this capacity? Lets look at the holy priesthood first. Where do we primarily function as holy priest? Certainly it would begin in the privacy of our own time alone with the Lord, worshipping Him and giving Him thanks and praise. But it shouldn’t stop there; it should overflow into our public worship as we gather with other like-minded Believers to remember Him in the breaking of bread and the drinking of the cup. As we present Christ to God, we bring worship, the fruit of the lips and sing His praises! What a privilege for us and what a joy to the heart of the Father!

As far as our functioning as royal priests, this would take place in other public meetings where Christians gather for the teaching of God’s Word. Such as a ministry meeting or even a Bible Study. Where we have been in the presence of the Lord and come out to His people with something He wants us to share, not simply something that we have put together as a sermon or a message. There might be a fine line between priesthood and service, but sharing of His word may very well be the exercise of the royal priesthood. So if only one person is sharing God’s word all time, others are limited in their functioning as a royal priest.
Priestly Service

We have looked a little at what a priest was in the Old Testament and what areas they functioned in, but what was some of the specific priestly service? I would like to at least mention them here.

First, lets look at the Holy Priesthood.

1. The priest had the privilege to approach to God.
2. They offered sacrifices to God.
3. They were to burned incenses unto the Lord.
4. The priests were held responsible to keep things in a God honoring way.
5. They were to light and trim the lamps on the golden lamp stand.
6. They sprinkled the blood in front of the arc of the covenant on the alter of burnt offers
7. They were to wash at the laver and perform their service clean before the Lord.
8. They supervise they putting up and taking down of the tabernacle.
9. The priest set the showbread on the table.
10. They ate of the sacrifices that were brought. In fellowship with God and with those who brought them.

The priestly service man-ward or as royal priest:

1. They were to address the people.
2. They blew the silver trumpets.
3. Communicated and interpreted the law of God to the people.
4. They were to judge the people.
5. The priests were to encourage the people of God in time of war.
6. They were God’s massagers to the people.

A Closer look at 1 Peter 2:1-9
It is very instructive to see that every area of the priest’s life was regulated by God’s word. There were instructions given that affected their clothing, their marriages, their children and even their food (Leviticus 21). The priest’s life was to be marked with distinction. He was to be set apart and holy unto the Lord. We may not have the same physical regulations put on us in this day of grace, but there are things that ought to mark every Believer spiritually.

New Testament Priests

All of what we have had in the Old Testament helps us understand what God purpose was for the priesthood. In 1 Peter 2:5 we learn what God’s intentions are for the every new -born believer. We read there that we as holy priests are to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. I would like to come back to what are some of these spiritual sacrifices. But for now lets also look at verse nine, which informs us that we are not only holy priest, but also royal priests. As royal priests are to set forth the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. We come out of the presence of God to let His praises be known.

There are some very significant lessons in the Old Testament for us concerning this matter of fulfilling our priesthood. We see both the privilege and the failures of those who functioned as Old Testament priest. We have looked a little at the privileges, now I would like to look at the failure of some of the priest, not to find fault as much as to learn from their failure.

In Malachi the Jewish priest reprimanded for not functioning as priest should function. In chapter one they are taken to task for not functioning as holy priest. In chapter two they are challenged because they were not functioning as royal priest. The Lord spoke to them in chapter one-verse six, “you priest who have despised my name.” Then they answered back “In what way have we despised your name?” The Lord responded, “You have offer defiled food on My alter” and He goes onto answer “by saying the table of the Lord is contemptible and you offered blind, lame and sick animals as sacrifices.” The Lord went onto to challenge them to try to bring this kind of offerings to the governor. If they would offer second best to the governor, why offer it to the Lord? Shouldn’t the Lord get our best as holy priest? How does this apply to us today? Do we give the Lord over left -overs? Our left over time, left over energy and ability. If we tried that at work, how would that go over? If we came in consistently late or tired to work, what would happen? If we wouldn’t give our employer second best out of fear should we give our Lord first best out of love?

In chapter two of Malachi we see them not giving glory to His name (2:2) as royal priest. This is so severe to the heart of God that He pronounces a curse on them. The Lord goes on to tell them what He expected of them by declaring, “For the lips of the priest should keep knowledge, and the people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.” He is the one who comes out of God’s presence to the people. He is the one who should be bringing glory to God and making Him great among the people. As royal priest they were to come out of the presence of God and bless the people (Numbers 6:22-27). But they failed to do this and how often we fail too.

The Priesthood of All Believers

The root meaning of the word priest means, one who offers a sacrifice. The Latin word for priest is sacerdos. This is seen in the Old Testament priest, who offer their sacrifices on the alter. But in the New Testament we are not instructed to offer sacrifices of animals for sin, our sins have been dealt with once and for all when Christ offered up Himself for us (Heb. 10:12). However, we are instructed to offer spiritual sacrifices as New Testament priest. The priesthood of believers is divided into two basic categories, Holy priesthood and royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5,9). These two categories have a certain amount of overlap; simply in the fact the every believer is both. Scripture does not teach that some believers are holy priest, while others are royal priest. Another thing that we often see today is that one side of our priesthood is overemphasized at the expense of the other side.
History of the Priesthood

Who is the first person to be specifically mentioned as a priest in scripture? In Genesis 14:18-24 we are introduced to Melchizedek king of Salem who was the priest of the Most High God. Often when we find something mentioned for the first time in scripture, it gives some very important insight as to how the subject is going to be treated throughout the Bible. So it is good to go back to the first place where a priest is found.

In Genesis 14, Abram rescues his nephew Lot who had been taken captive by some kings from the east. After Abram was victorious the king of Sodom went out to meet him to offer him a reward, but Abram refused. It is then that we are introduced to Melchizedek offering bread and wine to Abram. He then blessed Abram.

Melchizedek as King of Salem (latter called Jerusalem) is a beautiful illustration of the royal priesthood. Hebrews 7:2 points out that the meaning of Melchizedek is King of Righteousness. We also learn in the seventh chapter of Hebrews that he was called the king of peace. Hebrews seven also emphasizes details that are not given to us. We are not told how he became priest or who his parents were or even where he came from. All the credentials that were later on looked for in a priest are absent here. In that way Melchizedek is a type of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus did not possess the credentials that were given later on in scripture for human priest, so in that way Melchizedek is a picture of the Lord Jesus.

But for now let us look at his royal priesthood character. First of all, he came out of the presence of God and blessed Abram saying, “Blessed be Abram of the Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High who has delivered you from your enemies into your hand (Gen. 14:19-20).” In bless God we see him as a holy priest also, but his primary function here is that of a royal priest. But as I said before we can’t be one without being the other. The king of Sodom had offered Abram earthly spoils as long as he would get the people. He is a picture of Satan, whose only interest is in getting the souls of men into his power. But Abram told him to keep all that he had. Abram would rather enjoy what God was giving him through this royal priest, not only the blessing that were given, but also the refreshment that was given through the bread and wine. This is what a royal does; he comes out of the presence of God to share and bless others.

The second priest that is specially mentioned in scripture is found in Genesis 41:45. Joseph is given a daughter of the Priest of On, a city in Egypt to marry. We are not told what kind of priest he was or even how he functioned as a priest. But what we do know is that he was a priest in Egypt and Egypt at that time was a deep into idolatry. So in all likelihood he was an idolatrous priest. So why is this important for us to even mention? I think it is important to see that very early on in the history of man, man imitated the priesthood that God set up, and that the priesthood that man imitates is a localized thing, he was the priest of On. The next priest is that is mention is the priest of Median, Moses father-in-law. Every place and every god can have it’s own priest and even priestess, which we never really find a women priest in scripture as such. We find daughters and wives of priests. In the Old Testament, men performed the function of the priesthood. But later on we want to see that in this dispensation not all who approach God or come out of His presence are men. There is a vital function for our sisters as priest, it may be a somewhat different role a male, but it is just as important!

The next priest is Moses’ father in-law, Jethro (Ex. 3:1, 18:1-27). In chapter 18 of Exodus we have a mixed situation and some of this mixture has been introduced into Christendom today. Notice in verse 10-11 Jethro declares, “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods,” he believes that Moses’ God is great, but he also believes in other gods. We are not told which god he was the priest of in Midian, but he believe that God was greater than all other gods. In the follow verses he offers sacrifices to God and the next day has a message for Moses. But we don’t read that this message was from God, but he gives Moses good advice humanly speaking. He instructed Moses to delegate some of the work and in Numbers 11 we do read that God takes of the spirit of that was on Moses and divides it and puts it on seventy other men.

So out of the first three priests mentioned in scripture, the first one is definitely of God. He was a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus in many ways. The second one, it seems was an idol priest and the third one somewhere half way in-between, believing in God yet compromise with other gods. These three represent a lot of what we see in the world today that can be traced back to one or the other of these.

After this we see God setting up a regular priesthood. But even before that in Exodus 19:3-6 we learn what was in God’s heart concerning this manner of priesthood. He desired to have a kingdom of priest and a holy nation representing Him in this world. But Israel put themselves under law by saying “all that the Lord has spoken we will do” (Ex.19:8). But God had to show them that they were not able to keep what He instructed them to do. Because of this God told them through Moses that there was going to be distance between them and Himself. God came down on Mount Sinai with a thick cloud, thunder and lighting. The people were afraid of the Holy presence of God and they requested Moses to stand between them and God and now there was distance. Instead of being a kingdom of priest, only a few select individuals from one family were allowed to function as priests. They never did approach Him as a people into His presence, they had to have representatives instead of drawing near to God themselves. They thought they could accomplish “all that God said” on their own merit. There is a helpful verse in Psalm 65:4 that connects with this: “Blessed is the man You choose and cause to approach You. That he may dwell in your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, of Your temple” (Esther, Nehemiah).

In Numbers 16 we have the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, Abirim and some 250 others who wanted to approach God (as holy priest) on their own terms. God had not chosen them to be priests to come into His presence (Num. 16:5-7) and they ended up dying when God opened up the earth and it swallowed them up (Num.16:31-33). All because they sought to approach God on they’re terms without being chosen by Him to be Holy Priests.

God had chosen Moses to be a mediator between God and the people and Aaron to be the one to function as priest. Then all of his descendents after him became priests, one family became the line that functioned as the priesthood on behalf of God. They could go into the holy place of the tabernacle and latter the temple. Once a year only the High Priest could go into the Most Holy Place. So even on Aaron and his family there were limitations.

Distinguishing the Difference between Office, Gifts and Priesthood

It is important to understand the difference between office, gifts and the priesthood of believers. Many confuse these three and therefore do not clearly understand or fully enjoy the function of each.

Offices
There are two main offices given to us for the local assembly, that of an elder (also called an overseer or a bishop) and that of a deacon. The main Scriptures giving instructions for these are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Peter 5:1-4. But is not my intention to develop the teaching on these two offices. Except to say that, these functions are well defined and require specific qualities: good testimony, spirituality and maturity. The spiritual standard of God’s Word has not changed even though our society has.

Gifts

Every Christian has at least one spiritual gift to discover and develop. The Bible clearly says, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another” (1 Peter 4:10). In 1 Corinthians 12:7 “the manifestation of the Spirit has been given to each one for the profit of all.” All do not share the same gifts, but the source is the same (Rom. 12:5-6, 1 Cor. 12:4,11). There are four main passages in the Bible that speak of gifts, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4:10-11. But again it is not my purpose to develop this, I only to show the distinctions. So to conclude the topic of gifts we must remember that spiritual gifts come from God, knowledge in how to use them is acquired by study and skill is developed by practice.

Priesthood
Now I would like to briefly mention a few things about the priesthood of all believers that is described in the New Testament. Later we will look at this in more detail.

This is the privilege of all Christians. A.J. Pollock in his book on this subject said, “One of the greatest causes of weakness that prevails in the professing Church of God is because this great truth has been set aside. The priesthood has been arrogated as the right of a privileged class…” The New Testament clearly teaches that every blood-bought child of God, without distinction or exception, regardless of their spiritual maturity, are priests (1 Peter 2:5, 9, Rev. 1:5-6, 5:10).

The Priesthood of all Believers

Introduction
What comes to your mind when you think of a priest? Many people have the image of a man dress in black with a white collar. Some may have the picture of someone carrying incense, dressed in a long colorful robe. But what does the Bible have to say about priests? We want to look a little at similarities and contrasts Old Testament and New Testament priests and see Who qualifies as a New Testament priest today and what is their function.

One Mediator
First of all, I found it very helpful to see that nowhere in the New Testament is there a distinction made between so called “clergy” and “laity” as we often see today. Neither can we find the praying to saints or the mediation of Mary or anyone else. What we do find in the New Testament is very instructive and insight to the subject of New Testament priesthood. A careful reading of the book of Hebrews shows that there is only One who is worthy to be the great high priest of His people and that is the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 4:14-15, 7:26-28, 8:1-16). His priesthood is unchangeable and He alone “is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him seeing He ever lives to make intercession for the” (Heb. 7:24-25).

In Hebrews 3:1 we are told to “Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.” As apostle (which means sent one) the Lord Jesus reveals God to us and represents Him on the earth. As High Priest He represents us before God in Heaven.

The Bible clearly teaches us that:
• There is no other mediator between God and man (1Tim. 2:5).
• There is no other priest who is able to permit us into the presence of God (Heb. 10:19-22).
• Thee is no other sacrifice to God for our atonement (Heb. 10:10, 12, 14).
• There is no other minister or priest capable of intervening on our behalf before God (Heb. 7:22-25, 1 John 2:1-2).
• There is no other person who can save us (Acts 4:12).
• There is no other way to approach the Father (John 14:6).
• There is no other door by which to enter heaven (Matt. 7:13-14, John 10:9).

This is the foundation for any who desire to approach God, it is through a man, and it is through the Man, the Man Christ Jesus.

Monday, March 21, 2011

David as a Picture of Christ

The world that we live in seems to have a different idea of what beauty is. The Lord declared that man looks at the outward, but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). There is an inner beauty that God desires to see in His servants. He found that beauty in David. Saul was man’s choice because he was head and shoulders above other men (1 Samuel 9:1-3). David’s oldest brother Eliab was also a tall good looking man (1Samuel 16:6-7). But God rejected him even though Samuel and others were attracted to him.

God is looking for another kind of beauty. It is interesting to see that the Lord often used men who this inner beauty was found in. It is said of Moses that he was “exceedingly lovely,” literally it means he was “fair to God” (Acts 7:20). This is the beauty that God saw in Joseph who was “of beautiful form and of a beautiful countenance” (Genesis 39:6). He saw it in Daniel who along with his outward appearance had an inward appearance that God takes note of (Daniel 1:4, 8). God saw this same beauty here in David and takes special care to see that it is recorded for us to review. Why does the Lord want us to take notice of this beauty in David? Because David is a picture of the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We read in Isaiah 53 that the Lord Jesus had no form or comeliness, His visage was marred mo than any man, but all the moral glory that filled Him shone upon His face and shed light all about Him. Grace was poured into His lips and so it is said of Him “You are fairer than the sons of men…therefore God has blessed you for ever” (Psalms 45:2).

Let’s look a little at the beauty of the Lord Jesus as it is seen in this man David. First of all we know his name David means “beloved.” We know that the Lord Jesus is the Man “true beloved,” He is the One in who the Father found all of His delight! He was that suffering man, the Man of affliction. He was the man of Philippians 2, the humble man and the Man of Sorrows.

We read of David that he was skillful (1 Samuel 16:18). It is said of our Lord that the people marveled at the grace that poured from His lips (Luke 4:22).

David is also said to have been valiant or a man of Valor (1 Samuel 16:18). The Lord Jesus is that One who calms the storms and the wind and waves obey Him. He is that One who speaks and His enemies fall back. He is the One who destroyed Him who has the power of death (Hebrews 2:14).

Like David the Lord Jesus is a “man of war”. In a coming day the Lord Jesus will gird His sword upon His thigh a valiant man in His majesty and splendor and that His right hand shall teach Him terrible things (Psalm 45:3-4), that He will sit as Over comer on a white horse, followed by the armies of heaven, smiting the nations with the two-edged sword going forth from His mouth (Revelation 19:11-16).

Again like David, the Lord Jesus is “prudent in matters.” We read in Acts 10:38 that “God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power” and in Isaiah 11:2 we read prophetically of the Lord Jesus, “the Spirit of Jehovah rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of fear of Jehovah.”

David was “A man of good presence.” It is said of the Lord Jesus that His presence was one who spoke with authority (look at Luke 4:20-22). His life backed up what He said, not like the religious men of the day

The last thing that is said of David is “Jehovah was with Him” (1 Samuel 16:18). Back in Acts 10:38 we read of the Lord Jesus, “God was with Him.”

In each of these things David is simply a picture of the true Beloved, the true Man after God’s own heart, the Lord Jesus Christ.

David Soothing Saul

“Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. Saul servants then said to him, Behold an evil spirit from God tormenting you” (1 Samuel 16:14-15). Many people read these words’s and fear that this could happen today. Is it possible for the Spirit of God to depart a believer today? Some preachers use this verse and the one in Judges 16 it reads that Samson “knew not that the Spirit had departed from him.” about the spirit departed from Samson or the one in Psalm 51:11 where David cries out “Take not Your Holy Spirit from me” to scare people into living for God. That’s a fearful thought, that God could lift His Spirit from us and we’d be lost, having once been saved.

It is very important to understand that there is a difference between the way the Holy Spirit worked in the Old Testament and the way He works in the New Testament. Before the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost (Acts 2), the Spirit of God never permanently rested on any believer except David and John the Baptizer. Those are the only two. It was not uncommon for the Spirit of God to come for a temporary period of strengthening or insight or whatever was the need of the moment and then to depart, only to return again for another surge of the need of the moment, then to depart once again.

However after Pentecost and from that time all the way through our present era, when the Spirit of God comes into the believing sinner at salvation, He never leaves. He comes and baptizes us into the body of Christ (1Cor. 12:13). That happens at salvation. We remain sealed by the Spirit from that time on (Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30). We’re never exhorted to be baptized by the Spirit. We are baptized into the body of Christ, placed there by the Spirit, sealed until the day of redemption. Furthermore, our bodies are temple of the Holy Spirit in which the Holy Spirit dwells. He permanently resides within us and will never, ever depart.

Saul had rejected the word of God and in doing so he gave Satan a beach head from where to attack! It is interesting to see the way God used David to sooth Saul’s tormented Spirit. It was through David’s skillful playing of his harp that he had often played while tending to his sheep out in the fields. David used the gifts that he had proven while in obscurity to be a help to the king. There is a lesson here for each of us, we ought to use the gifts the Lord has given us and when He is ready He will open the door for us to use them on a wider scale for His glory! When we are faithful in the little things He entrust us with bigger things.But there is another striking think here that stands out. I find it interesting that as this evil sprit came upon Saul, David is the one to help sooth him. Why is this interesting? Because David is a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ and we find so many cases of demon possession in the life of our Lord. In every case the Lord has power and control over the demonic power. Here David is a beautiful picture of how Christ can comfort and sooth a life that has been tormented.

In our next post we will see more ways in which David is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Young David in God’s Training Ground

In 1 Samuel 16 we are introduce to young David. Here we learn that he was tending his father’s sheep out in the fields. Think for a moment what that might have been like, it probably isn’t what we would think of as a natural training ground for a future King. But that it exactly what it was, David had spent many hours out in the fields watching over the sheep. This was time well spent because it was time when David learned to appreciate the reality of the presence of God. Think of David out on a calm dark night, looking up in the star filled night sky. David sees myriads of stars filling that night sky and later declares, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him” (Psalm 8:3-4).

This was the training ground for David; it was his boot camp that prepared him to be the shepherd over God’s people. This training ground was probably monotonous where he often did the same thing over and over. After all how exciting can sheep really be. Think of how lonely those nights could get, the solitude of this training ground taught him to enjoy the presence of his God, to talk with him often. It was not only a lonely and monotonous training ground, but it was very obscure, there was no lime light for him; no one ever saw what he was doing day in and day out. This taught him to be faithful to the Lord and to his sheep.

It was out of such a training ground that David could write: “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.” David knew his own waywardness as a sheep who could often wander away from his Shepherd. He knew of his own need of grace and guidance of God to watch over him. He could go on to write, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” As a young man David’s life was marked by quietness and he knew the joy of fellowship with the Lord. David wasn’t perfect but his heart was set on holiness and he really wanted that to be seen in his life. We see this when David declares, “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sakes.” As a shepherd David faced many dangers, but he learned to put his confidence in the Lord out in that training ground. He also learned to appreciate the protecting and correcting hand of God. We see this when he could say, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me your rod and staff, they comfort me.” David expresses how thankful he was for the providing hand of God when he writes, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” David displays that His heart was fixed on his God when he declares, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Where ever you are today, that is God’s training ground for you! The Lord is shaping and molding you for something He has in store for you. It may not be to be King, but he wants to use you just as He did David. What will be your response to the boot camp you’re passing through right now?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Four Things God Wants You to Know

1. You were Created with Value and Worth: Did you know God loves you and created you to know Him personally? The Bible tells us God created you, “You created every part of me and put me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalms 139:13-14).

God loves you, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

God’s purpose for you, “I have come that they might have life and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10)

What keeps us from connecting with God and knowing Him personally?

2. Man is sinful and separated from God so we cannot know and enjoy Him personally:

People are sinful, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We were created to have a personal relationship with God, but by our own sin we have gone independent of God and that relationship with Him has been broken.

People are separated from God, “Your iniquities (sins) have separated you from your God…” (Isaiah 59:2). “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Think of a great canyon with God on one side and you on the other. You can try to build bridges to Him but every bridge comes up short. The bridges of good works, church attendance, moral behavior and many more all come up short.

What is the solution to our sin and separation from God?

3. Jesus Christ is God’s only solution for our sin:

He died in our place, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

He rose from among the dead, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once…”(1 Corinthians 15:3-6).

He is the only way to God, “Jesus said, I am the way the truth and the life. No One comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

The Lord Jesus Christ has bridged that great canyon that separated you and God. He did that when He died on the cross in your place. He has paid the price of death, His death for your sin.

It is not enough to simply know these facts about Jesus Christ….

4. We must personally receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior before we can know God personally and experience His love.

We must believe in and receive Christ, “To all who received Him, He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12)

We receive Christ by Faith, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

When we receive Christ we experience a New Birth, (see John 3:1-8).

We receive Christ by personal invitation, “Behold I stand at the door and knock, If anyone hears My voice and opens the door I will come in and fellowship with him” (Revelation 3:20).

Receiving Christ involves:
Recognizing our need for Christ, turning to Christ and away from self (repentance).Trusting Christ to come into our live, forgive our sins, and make us what He us to be.
Do You Have Eternal Life?

“He who has the Son has life and he who does not the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:12-13).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

12 Keys to Financial Stability

Live a Life of …….

T RANSFER Ownership back to God (Col. 1:16-17, 1 Chron. 29:11-12)

H UMBLY adjust your lifestyle to live below your means
(Prov. 21:20,Deut. 25:13, 1 Pet. 5:5-7)

A VOID or eliminate growing indebtedness & surety
(Prov. 22:7, Deut. 28:15,43,44, Ezra 28:17-18)

N AVIGATE away from financial temptation
(Ps.119:36-37, Titus 2:12,Rom. 13:14)

K NOW your financial status and goals (Prov. 27:23-24, 21:5)

S HARE with people in need (Prov. 22:9, James 1 :27, 2 Cor. 9:9)

G IVE to God first as your highest financial priority
(1 Kings 17:13-16,Deut.14:22-23, 2 Cor. 8:7)

I NVOLE yourself in productive work
(Prov. 10:4, 13:4 Mtt. 6:33, 2 Thess. 3:9-13)

V IEW every need & desire as a chance to trust God
(Matt. 6:11, Ps. 34:10, Eccl. 2:26)

I NSERT time in your week to manage your finances
(1 Cor. 16:2, Prov. 13:16, 14:23, 14:3, Isaiah 32:8)

N EVER be dishonest (Prov. 13:11, 20:17, 10:2, Ephesians 4:28)

G AIN Biblical understanding
(Psalm 119:11, 2 Chron.26:5,2 Tim.3:16-17)

Based on the “Experience God as Your Provider” book. See more at www.GodIsYourProvider.com

Monday, March 14, 2011

David over Men

We have look at David a little at what kind of man David was under God, now we want to spend some time looking at what kind of man he was over other men.

David was Chosen by God

The first thing we must acknowledge is that man appoints, but only God can anoint a man to serve Him and His people! This is what the apostle Paul taught in Acts20:28 when he reminded the elders at Ephesus, “Therefore, take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Remember what God said to Samuel after Saul had ruin his reign over Israel? “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons” (1 Samuel 16:1). How did David become king? He didn’t become king because he pushed himself forward. He became king because God chose him! God chose David for Himself!

As we move down the corridors of time we hear the Lord Jesus say something very similar to His own disciples in John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit.” This truth doesn’t stop there, we read in Ephesians 1:4 that God “chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love…” Then the apostle John reminds that another reason is that He “made us kings and priests to His God and Father” (Revelation 1:6). God is desiring for you and I to be kingly in our ways, to imitate the King of Kings, by our walking holy and blameless, Holy before God and blameless before men. But also He desires that every believer function as a priest before God. The apostle Peter brings this out when he said that we come “to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Then he goes on to say that, we “are a chosen generation a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises (excellencies) of Him who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light”(1 Peter 2:4-5, 9).

God not only chose David to be king, but in 1 Samuel 16:3 He says, “Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you.” God chose David and He anointed him. The anointing of oil is a picture or type of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the lives of Christians. Each one of us who belong to Christ has been chosen and indwelt by the Holy Spirit and we are also anointed for special service as the Lord seeks to use us for His glory.

David had a Desire for Unity among People of God

David had a burning desire to destroy the internal enemies and unite the nation. Israel was to move into the land and push out all of its enemies but it didn’t do that. like Saul they often kept the best for themselves. When David became king, he was committed to carrying out the order God issued to the Israelites hundreds of years before. He began to destroy the Philistines, the Amalekites and all others. When his son, Solomon came to the throne, the land was at peace and was untied together.

Today we have to admit that Christianity is not really united. We have so many division and schisms that it must break the Lord’s heart if that was possible. But what is the answer? We could unite everyone together by trying to simply overlook our differences, but that has never worked. That is like tying two ally-cats tails together and then declaring that there is unity! That is not unity; they would certainly be untied together, but not in unity. How do we arrive at biblical unity? The apostle Paul challenges us to “endeavor to keep the unity of Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). But it is hard to understand what he is talking about without realizing the unity that the Holy Spirit has created that is mentioned in chapter two of Ephesians. We learn there that the middle wall of division between Jew and Gentile has been torn down and that what used to be two is now one. If fact the teaching there is not that there are many grows of Christians now that form little bodies or groups here and there, but that there is now ONE BODY, the body of Christ. One body here on earth while the Head of that body is in Heaven. Now we are to acknowledge that, not by forming new groups or denominations, but simply by living in a way that acknowledges a Head in Heaven, His Spirit here on earth in the lives of those that call on His name. But in order to walk worthy of this calling which we were and are called, we must walk with “all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1-2). There is no room for our pride or arrogance, but simple obedience to the word of God.

David wanted God to be at the Center of his Life

When David was a young shepherd boy he made it his practice to put God at the center of His life. We can tell as we read his Psalms that his thoughts, his joys and his dreams were God centered. Later as King he wanted his God to be the center of his nation as well. One way he did this was by bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. The Ark represented the presence and power of God among His people. God instructed Moses to build it that He might speak to the children of Israel from the mercy seat. Between the wings of the cherubim adorning the top of the Ark. The Ark was placed in a separate room of the tabernacle called the holy of holies, which only the High Priest could enter once a year.

Later the Ark was carried into Canaan and was soon disregarded by the people of Israel. During the time of the Judges the people of Israel almost forgot the presence of God. It really wasn’t until David became king that the Ark became a center focus once again. The reality of the presence of God had been lost for such a long time, but it took a man after God’s own heart to refocus the people’s attention back on the importance of the presence of God.

In David’s day God’s presence was illustrated in the Ark, but where is His presence today? It is not in temples made with wood or stone. The Lord Jesus promised in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” How is this possible today? In Corinthians 6:19 we are reminded that the individual Believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit. But we also read in 1 Corinthians 3:9, 16 that the church is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul reminds us that the church, “the whole building being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21-22). The church is made up of every Christian and is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. John 16:14-15 reminds us that the Holy Spirit will always point us to Christ! He will always magnify Christ and direct us to put Him at the center. It is interesting to note that at His birth Christ was at the center of the occupation of the angels, shepherd and others (Luke 2). When He was a young boy the Lord was in the center of the teachers asking listening and asking question (Luke 2:46). While on the Cross the Lord Jesus was in the center of two thieves, as well as being in the center of a holy and righteous God and sinful mankind (Luke 23). After His resurrection the Lord Jesus appeared in the center of His disciples in the upper room (John 20:19-20). In a coming day He will be in the center of the throne of God being worshipped as creator (Revelation 4) and Redeemer (Revelation 5). But right now the Lord Jesus ought to have the center place as we gather unto His name (Matthew 18:20) and as He does have that center place He leads us in praise to His us (Hebrews 2:12).

So as David wanted his God to have center stage, you and I ought to allow the Lord Jesus to be the center of our private lives and our “church” lives.

David sought God’s Mind

A fourth quality of David reign as king of Israel is that he continually sought guidance from God. We see this often as David led us troops into battle. He would often stop and ask God, “Should I move forward?” One such example of this is found in 1 Samuel 23. David was dependent on his God.

We see this same dependence of God in the life of the true David, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the gospel of Luke we see over and over how the Lord Jesus prayed in dependence of His Father. In Mark’s gospel we again see the secret of His power as the perfect servant of God is prayer (Mark 1 35)! If the Lord Jesus as the perfect Man of God and the perfect Servant of God needed to be dependent on His God, how much more do we need o develop prayer as a way to seek His mind daily!

David had a Servant’s Heart

We read in Acts 13:36 that David served his generation. What an interesting term. It doesn’t say that he reigned over them, he served them! As a young boy he served his father’s sheep and then he served Saul by playing his harp for him when he was distressed and couldn’t sleep (1 Samuel 16:14-16). Then he served his father by taking food to his brothers who were battling the Philistines. Then he served his nation by fighting Goliath. In each step of the way we see David being faithful in the little areas of service. As he was faithful in the small things larger ones were entrusted to him. This is a biblical principle for us to learn from as we see to serve one another in the family of God.

David Had a Shepherd’s Heart

David not only had a servant’s heart, but he also had a shepherd’s heart. He cared for people just like he did for the sheep under his care. We see this throughout his life but it really stands out toward the end of his reign as king. In 1 Chronicles 21 we read of a time when David was tempted to number the people. It was his pride that caused him to want to number the people. God wasn’t pleased with what David did and 70,000 people died because of David’s mistake. David doesn’t blame God or try to make excuses for what he did. But instead he begs God to have mercy and to punish him. Listen to David’s heart, “Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered? I am the one who sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done? Let your hand, I pray, O, Lord my God, be against me and my father’s house, but not against your people…”
(1 Chronicles 21:17).

The Lord heard His shepherd’s heart and stopped the pestilence. This is what marks real men of God; they care for the people of God and put them first over themselves and their own agenda’s. The apostle Peter challenges us to “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers not by constraint but willingly not for dishonest gain but eagerly, nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock…” (1 Peter 5:2-3). Three words stand out in these verses that ought to speak to our hearts: Shepherd, serving, and being examples. The greatest Shepherd of all is the perfect example of what each of us ought to strive to be. May we learn from the Lord Jesus how we ought to serve one another and May the life of men like David challenge to look for way to serve our generation today!

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Man after God's Own Heart Acts 13:22

I am amazed as I study the life of David and then come across this verse. His life is one those rag to riches stories. David started out as a shepherd boy and ended up being a king. He became a great warrior and consolidated the tiny nation of Israel into a powerful kingdom that ruled a large part of the Middle East during the tenth century BC.

When you review his life it seems like a bit of a checkered past, but the secret of His success was that, “he was a man after God’s own heart.” This was God’s assessment of David. I find that statement very perplexing.

David was a warrior that shed much blood (1 Chron. 22:8). He committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam.11:4). He then committed murder (2 Sam. 11:5-17). David had multiple wives (2 Sam. 3:1-5). He was a negligent father and his family was a mess (2 Sam. 13:15-18, 28-29, 18:33). Then David disobeyed God, because of his pride he numbered the people, causing 70,000 people to die (2 Sam. 24:10, 15).

All this and yet God says “I have found David to be a man after my own heart.” How can that be? How could God possibly commend a man with this kind of a background? Even though David had such a questionable past, he sought to be righteous and his heart’s desire was to do God’s will. This is the kind of man God looks for as indicated in Jer. 5:1-9. God does not expect perfection; He is looking for a heart that is repents and seeks to do His will!

This is nothing more than the Grace of God! (Eph. 2:8-10).

What are the Marks of a Man after God’s Own Heart?

I. A Heart That Desires Spiritual Growth: (Ps 42:1-2) What is the source of our Spiritual growth? It is the Word of God, the Bible! The Bible claims to be Word of God, which is the best possible source for learning the ways of God (2Tim. 3:16). The Bible claims to be true and never tries to justify itself or it statements. David mentions this in Ps. 19:7-10. The Bible is alive and Power (Heb. 4:12). We are encouraged to grow spiritually (2 Pet. 3:18). It is really expected in each of our lives (Heb. 5:12).

A very practical question is what can we do to grow spiritually? What steps should we take?

1. Devote your life to Christ: Most of us have probably done this. In Mark 1:17 the Lord challenged His disciples to “follow Me.”

2. Deal with sin: David had to deal with the sin in his life Ps. 32:3-5. David suffered many side affects because of His sin. But most of us haven’t done what David did, but we still must deal with sin in our lives. Look at Matthew. 5:22, 28. No matter how big or small sin is it has to be dealt with.

3. Discipline Self: Galatians 5:23, 2 Peter 1:5-7, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Romans 8:13

4. Decide the method of growth: Different things work for different people.

II. A Heart that Prays: When you read through the Bible, it becomes clear that men who desired God were men of prayer.

Abraham built altars and on the name of the Lord (Gen. 12:7-8).
Moses was constantly on his knees praying for God’s direction (Ex. 34:12-16).
David prayed for forgiveness for his sin with Bathsheba (Ps. 32, 38, 51) and for numbering the people (2Sam. 24:10).
Solomon prayed for wisdom in order to judge the people (1 Kings 3:9).
Daniel prayed a prayer of confession identifying with the sins of the people (Dan. 9).
Nehemiah prayed for God’s protection as He rebuilt the wall (Neh. 4:9).
The Apostles prayed for guidance after the ascension of the Lord (Acts 1:14).
Paul prayed constantly for the churches.

Paul emphasized the importance of prayer to young Timothy in 1 Tim. 2:1, 8. The question for us is; “What will it take to develop a heart that prays?”

TIME: is a key element in anyones pray life. We must make the time to communicate with the Lord regularly each day. The Lord Jesus Himself had a routine of prayer. Closely related to making the time to pray is:

A PLACE: Mark 1:35 shows us that the Lord Jesus made the time to pray and He had a place to pray. It was His custom to get up very early in the morning and went to a solitary place to pray. The Lord often went to the same place to pray and that reminds us of the next thing:

A PATTERN: Luke 5:16 reminds us that this custom of withdrawing to a quite place to pray was a pattern.

A LIFESTYLE: Making time to pray leads us to a place, which leads us to a pattern, which becomes a lifestyle. The Bible calls us to a lifestyle or attitude of constant prayer (1 Thess. 5:17).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

David: A Man After God's Own Heart

The name David means "beloved of God." This name is very fitting for David, but we could ask the question "why was David loved of God?" Why did God reject King Saul, who was really a man after the people's heart, he was want they wanted, and accept David? Acts 13:22 gives us the answer. David was beloved of God because he was a man after God's heart. Even though he made many mistakes, and not just little ones, but big ones like lust, adultery, lying, and even murder God could forgive him because he repented and followed after God. God is not looking for perfection from any of us. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says that His "eyes go to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." So God is looking for those who would be surrender to Him, not successfully perfect, but surrender! Meaning that when blow it and make mistakes we humble ourselves admit it and repent or turn to Him and agree with what Him and His Word. That is the difference between Saul and David. Saul was a man after the flesh who refuse to agree with God and repent, while David is a man after God's heart.


Let's spend some time looking at what qualities made David a man after God's Own heart.


1. David had a Thirsty Heart for God. Back in 1 Samuel 13:14 God told the grieving prophet Samuel that He would seek out a man after His own heart to take Saul place as King. God is still looking for people today who would be willing to say, "I want my heart to be like your heart O God!" But how does this take place. It is not by putting a bumper sticker on my car that says, "Honk if you love Jesus." Its not by going through a set rules or following after a creed of some sort. Having a heart after God's heart begins with a thirst for God Himself! What are we thirsty for, what are we hungering after in this life? 1 Samuel 16:7 says "The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward but the Lord looks at the heart." God is looking for hearts that yearn for Him. In Psalm 42:1-2 we read, "As a deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for you O God. My soul thirst for God for the living God." This might have been a contemplation of the sons of Korah, but it describes what God is looking for and it describes what He found in David. Because in Psalm 63:1 David wrote, "O God, You are my God Early will I seek you; My soul thirst for You; My flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water." David sought after his God, do we? This is what the Lord Jesus meant in Matthew 6:33 when He said "Seek first the Kingdom of God." It is what the apostle Paul meant when wrote, "seek those things which above where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above not on the things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1-2). Even after many years of service the apostle still longed in his heart after Christ and counted everything else loss. His one goal in life after some sixty years as a Christian was to know Christ (Philippians 3:7-11).


I heard a story of a young man who wanted to know what it was to thirst after God . So he went to an older brother in Christ. When he enquired the older Christian said follow me. The young man obediently followed. They went down to a river, and the older Christian waded in up to his chest and motioned to the young man to follow. When they both were in water up to the chest the older brother put the young man under the water and held him there. At first the young man held his breath, then he ran out of air, he began to struggle, thrashing about, while the old man held him hard under. Just when the young man was about to pass out, the older brother in Christ released him. Once he could catch His breath the young man said,"What in the world does that have to do with thirsting for God?" "Son, when you begin to thirst gasp for God the way you did for that air, when that is the only thing in life that matters to you, then your thirsting for God!" Are you thirsting for God today?


2. David had a Discerning Heart. It has been said, "that if we want to know what happen in David's life we can read 1 and 2 Samuel. If we want to know what was in David's heart read his Psalms." Psalm 37 for example reveals the discerning heart of David and where such discernment came from. David would instruct us not to fret because of evil doers knowing that their end is inevitable. But to trust in the Lord. to delight in Him and so much more. Carefully read this chapter and discover where David learn to have a discerning heart. Throughout his Psalms David would encourage us to take time to go into the presence of God and listen to God that is the secret to having a discerning heart. There were devastating consequences in David's life when he neglected to do get into the presence of His God. May we be found in His presence more.


3. David Had a Sensitive Heart. By that we mean that David was sensitive to God's presence and to His will. He didn't want to do any thing that would grieve the heart of God. Like all of us he did at times, but he tried to be sensitive to it. For example, when Saul was jealous of David and sought to take his life. There were several times when David could have taken Saul's life, but he refused. Read one of the accounts in 1 Samuel 24, David had a perfect opportunity to take out the man that hunted him like an animal. He was even encouraged by his own men to do so, but he would not. Why not? Read 1 Samuel 24:5, "David's heart troubled him because he had cut Saul's robe." He had only cut a small corner of Saul's robe, he could have taken his life, yet his heart troubled him. David was overwhelmed and his conscience was tender to the fact that he would have stretched out his hand to the Lord's anointed! How tender is your conscience today? Is there any thing that the Lord may be speaking to you at this very moment? Are we sensitive to how the Spirit of God desires to lead us day by day?


4. David had a Repentant Heart. There are many examples of this in David's life. One such example is found in 1 Samuel 25. David was going to destroy Nabal and all that was connected to him for mistreating his men. But Nabal's wife, Abigail intervened. David was red hot mad and Abigail kept David from making a mistake, here is what David said, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel who sent you to meet me this day. And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand. for indeed the Lord God who lives, who kept me back from hurting you unless had hurried and come to meet me surely by mourning light no males would have been left to Nabal." David realized this would have been a big mistake and was willing to change his course.


Another time of course is when the prophet Nathan came to David after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. We read just how repentant David was in Psalms 32 and 51. Are we willing to be like David who could say, "Search me, O God and know my heart, test me and know my anxieties. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" Psalm 139:23-24.


5. David had a Heart of Worship. As we read through the Psalms we can see that David often would lift up his voice to God in praise and worship. Our altitude of Worship is often determined by our attitude of gratitude. David spent much time in the presence of his God and it affected his attitude which affected his worship. David learn how to be happy in this life. It is interesting to see that the very first Psalm instructs us as to our happiness. True happiness is found as we spend in the Word of God and this inner joy that flows out of being in God's presence through His Word affects everything else in our lives. David learned this secret and lived it out. Can this be said about each of us today? Do we have a worshipful heart?

Life of David (Intro)

Why study the Life of David? For One reason, David's biography occupies more room in the Bible (60 chapters than any other man except that of the Lord Jesus (the 89 chapters of the gospels). Also he is said to have written about half the Psalms. David's example is constantly mentioned, especially in comparison with the kings after him. In the New testament he is quoted 58 times, evidence of the importance attached by divine revelation to this man of faith.

We hope to look at David's life several ways. First historically, describing the formation of a man of God. Secondly morally, not shying away from the challenges he faced. We will look at ways we can imitate him and ways we can avoid the mistakes that he made. We can
 also look at David's life prophetically, as a picture or type of the Lord Jesus as well as the future remnant of Israel. But we hope to view his life in a very practical way as well, considering the many lessons which we can learn from his life.

David is a remarkable type of Christ, but at the same time he is also presented to us as "a man with a nature like ours." His faults and failures are not hidden, even though many of them are very serious. But His life stands as a testimony of what God can to with a man, who even though he fails, truly repents and follows after God with all of his heart. David's dependence on his God coupled with his incessant for action conquered a nation for God's purposes. David's life spoke to his generation and to ours today. We face impossible moral pressure and relentless assaults on the family, this generation needs to hear that the pattern of victory is possible. There can be victory over the giants of the day!

You might look at your life and only see the monotony of every day routine. You might wonder how God can you use you, but remember when others saw a shepherd boy, God saw a king. If God can use a shepherd boy like David, He can use you and me today.

So every day we hope to have something on the life of David, check in and follow along. Let us know what you think and if there is any way we can help you in your walk with God let us know.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How to Grow in Your Relationship with God

G Go to God in prayer. Talk to Him each day (Philippians 4:6-7)
R Read God's Word every day. It will build your faith of the inner man (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
O Obey God when you know what is right. (John 14:21).
W Witness- tell others about your faith in Christ by your life and you words (1 Peter 3:15-16)
T Trust God with every detail of your life. (1 Peter 5:7)
H Holy Spirit- This is God's Spirit living in you. Allow Him to live through you (Glaltians 5:16)

The Bible tells us not to forget the importance of meeting together with other Christians (Hebrews 10:25). Have you ever watched a fire burning in fireplace? Several logs together burn brightly. But if you pull one log away from the fire, its flame soon goes out. The same thing happens to us if we do not spend time with other Christians. This is why it's important to spend time on a regular basis with other believers.

If you need any spiritual help please contact us. We would love to help point you to Jesus Christ and Help you grow in Him.

Bibical Manhood

I recently read that out of every 10 men in the average church:

9 will have children who leave the church
8 will not find their jobs satisfying
6 will pay monthly minimum on their credit card bills
5 will have a major problem with pornography
4 will get divorced- affecting 1 million children yearly
Only 1 will have a biblical worldview
All 10 will struggle to balance work and family

Too many men lead lukewarm life and hate it.
Too many famlies suffer because men don't get it.
Too many leaders get discouraged and give up.

How to begin to work on these things as men? Involves three areas of my life:

My Head: Understand how the bible guides men in every area of our lives
My Heart: Seek to understand what it is that distracts us from living for the Lord
My Hands: Schedule time with the Lord, spent time with godly men

Studying the Life of the TRUE MAN OF GOD the Lord Jesus Christ. Begin today in the gospel of Luke that protrys the Lord Jesus as the perfect dependent man of God. Take special note of His dependence on the Father, on His relationships with others and in the way He spent His time.

4 Fold Progression of Salvation

In 1 Peter 1:2 Peter is writing to those who were temporary residents. He called them so-journers or pilgrims. He also referred to them as strangers (Philippians 2:11). They did not belong in the land that they lived in, in fact Peter refers to all believers as citizens of Heaven through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20). Like them every Christian is a temporary resident of planet earth, like Abraham we are to have our eyes of faith centered on the future city of God (Hebrews 11:8-16). We are in the world but not of it (John 17:16).

It is good to be reminded that we as Christian are to march to a different drum. Christians have standards and values different from those of this world. Why? Because we are born for another world. Peter reminds us in the first four verses that we are "born or begotten again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ..." Let's look back at 1 Peter 1:2 and take this verse apart to see the four fold progression to our new birth. When we see what God has done we begin to understand why He desires for us to live differently from the philosophy of this world and to grow and make progress in our Christian life.

First of all, Peter mentions that we are "elect accocrding foreknowledge of God the Father." We have already looked at the doctrine of election on another blog, so we'll not spend too much time on it again. Just to say that in eternity past God chose us to belong to Him. Every Christian belongs to God because He in His grace drew us to Himself. This was part of His Divine plan in eternity past.

Along with election is the fact that He has set us apart. Peter define this next part of salvation as the "sanctification by the Spirit", This is the ministry of the Spirit where He sets us apart to belong to God (2 Thessalonians 2:13). In eternity past God foreknew and chose men. In time the Holy Spirit operates to make that election real in the lives of the individuals concerned. We might just mention at this point that there are different aspects of sanctification. Scripture speaks of different forms of sanctification. When a person is born again , he becomes positionally sanctified because he is in Christ (Hebrews 10:10, 14). Then throughout the Christian life he or she should experience practical sanctification, that is the process of becoming more like Christ (1 Peter 1:15). In Heaven we will achieve perfect sanctification, for we will never again sin (Colossians 1:22, 1 John 3:1-4).

The third step in the soul's salvation is our response to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is described as "obedience to Jesus Christ." The gospel always calls on the sinner to respond by obedience. There are those who believe and those who do not believe (John 3:36). This obedience is not simply obeying a certain set of rules or certain teachings. We are first to obey the gospel which ought to lead to a life of obedience. It is interesting that the book of Romans, which teaches the gospel to Believers, begins and finishes with obedience of faith (Romans 1:5, 16:26). The Christian is to imitate the One who was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2: 5-8). We are to live a life of obedience to please the One we serve!

The fourth thing that Peter mentions in 1 Peter 1:2 is the "sprinkling with His blood" This is figurative of the value and power of the blood of Jesus Christ. This is not the shedding of the blood, but of sprinkling of it. Of course the blood must be shed before it can be sprinkled, but it may be shed and its efficacy never applied to the individual. the shedding of the blood is the giving up of the life as a sacrifice for sin. It is the provision made. The sprinkling of the blood is the applying of the value and efficacy of the sacrifice. This is the power imparted. In the Old Testament, the sprinkling of the blood was seen in connection with its power to protect the Firstborn in Egypt (Ex. 13:2). Its power to purify the priest for service, its power to prepare the way into the holiest, and its power to purge the leper of his ceremonial uncleanness. But it would seem that Peter was referring to Exodus 24 when Moses took the blood of the sacrifice and with half he sprinkled the alter, then the book of the covenant was read in the presence of the people and they responded by a promise of obedience. Moses then took the other half and sprinkled the people, linking them to the sacrifice and their promise. This was limited to the nation, but Peter is using it to show that we are brought into something so much better. Here in 1 Peter 1:2 the sprinkling of the  blood is connected to a finished work, never needing to be repeated (Hebrews 10:11-12).

These are the four steps in our spiritual new birth and now we are encourage to "grow in the grace and knowledge of  our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen" (2 Peter 3:18).

Monday, March 7, 2011

What does the Bible teach about election?

The teaching of election is very hard for many to understand. Many simply ignore it and side step verses such as Ephesians 1:3-6, Romans 8:29-30 and many others. But I would like to spend some time looking at what the Bible teaches concerning election and predestination in hopes that it might be a help to some,

First of all, the Bible clearly teaches that God desire all men to be saved 1 Timothy 2:3-4 and at the same time it teaches that God chooses men and women to salvation. Paul wrote to the young church at Thessalonica, "because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved." The Bible clearly addresses believers as those who are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God" (1 Peter 1:2). It teaches that people can know whether they are elect by their response to the gospel, those who hear and believe it are elect (1 Thess. 1:4-7).

But let's be clear, the Bible never teaches that God chooses men to be lost. The fact that He choose some to be saved does not mean that He condemn all the rest. He never condemns anyone who deserves to be saved, because there are not any, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23, 6:23). But He does save some that ought to be condemned! The Lord Jesus said, "For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Whoever believes in the Son has life, whoever does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." Mankind are already condemned because we have sinned, the wrath of God already abides over us and God is providing a way to take us out from underneath that condemnation. When Paul describes the elect, he speaks of them as "vessels of mercy which He had prepared beforehand for glory" (Romans 9:23). When he refers to the lost he simply says, "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction" (Romans 9:22). God prepares vessels of mercy to glory, but He does not prepare vessels for destruction. This is done by unbelief. The teaching of election lets God be God and God is sovereign,

It is important for us to see that the same Bible that teaches sovereign election also teaches man's responsibility. People can not blame God or use election has an excuse for not being save or even for not witnessing to the lost. There are many scriptures that show that God loves each and every human being and is reaching out to whosoever will respond to His grace (John 3:16, 36, 5:24, Romans 10:9-10). Anyone who turns to God by believing in His Son the Lord Jesus can be saved. If a person who has heard the gospel remains lost, it is because he chooses to be lost, not because god desires it!

In John 6:37 the Lord Jesus said, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." In this one verse we have both sovereign election and man's responsibility.

When did this election take place? Ephesians 1:4 says "before the foundation of the world." Why did it take place? Ephesians goes onto say it was for the pleasure of the Father (Eph. 1:5-6) Predestination has to do with the pleasure of the heart of the Father. Romans 8:29 reminds us the He desires us "to be conformed to the image of His Son." It was on His son that He opened the Heaven and declared "this is my beloved Son in whom I find all my delight." Now he is desiring to bring many sons to glory who bear the likeness of the One who delights His heart.

This is the real purpose of election and predestination. Now the Lord is looking for a response from each of us to give Him praise.