"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

JESUS IS GOD – The WORD Incarnate a.k.a. the MESSIAH of Israel – Part TWO





By James Fire


RIGHTEOUS BRANCH – DIVINE MESSIAH –

Jeremiah 23:5 -6
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
.

In the Hebrew Bible it says it like this:

“Behold the days are coming, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous shoot, and he shall reign as king and prosper, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is the name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jere. 23:6, JPS, 1917).

Note that this King that will come from David, who will reign and execute justice in the Earth, is called the LORD of RIGHTEOUSNESS. “LORD” here is the tetragrammaton or the YHWH (Yahweh), and always refers to God Himself.
Dr. Eastman rightly asks the question:

“How could the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses be a descendent of David? Why is this person described as a physical being, born of the line of David, one who will reign as king ‘in his days’ and yet his name [would be] ‘the LORD (YHWH) our RIGHTEOUSNESS’?

“Some might argue that this is simply a prophetic declaration that God will rule over the people of Israel at some point in the future. However, an omnipotent being cannot fit the bill here. Such a being isn’t born into time and space with a beginning or end of days. Furthermore, God, in His spiritual, omnipresent state cannot be a descendent of David. What kind of being could possibly fulfill such criteria?
~*“The only solution to these requirements would be for God to enter our space-time domain, manifesting Himself in a physical body, being born supernaturally [via a virgin birth] as a descendent of David*, then to “reign as king and prosper, and … execute justice and righteousness in the land!” All these criteria could be solved by God in just such a way. He could be a descendent of David, yet still be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses. Further, by entering the space-time continuum at a finite point, he would technically have a beginning to his physical, earthly days.”

This is the essence of the Christmas celebration – the arrival of the Christ child to the world, the Messiah of Israel! From
Koinonia House ministries once again, we have a message from Chuck Missler: A Christmas Devotional – The Deity of Christ.

* Speaking of branches, did you know that the Messiah and His lineage trace not just one, but two family tree lines? In the Gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke, we have two distinct lists of names that are actually identical until we come to King David. From David on, the two family tree lines diverge (from Solomon, a son of David to Joseph, the step father of Jesus; from Nathan, another son of David to Mary, the mother of Jesus) in Matthew’s and Luke’s account, and with good reason! From Koinonia House once again, Chuck Missler in
Why a Virgin Birth?

To this agrees the ancient Jewish rabbis, again hundreds of years prior to the birth of Christ (one must note that rabbis in the A.D. period and even during the days when Jesus walked this earth, starkly oppose the beliefs and writings of the ancients, and such statements as found in the Babylonian Talmud, Babha Bathra 75th, Midrash on Ps. 21):

“And I will raise up for David, the Messiah the Just” and “By the righteous branch is meant Messiah” (David Baron, Rays of the Messianic Glory: Christ in the Old Testament, Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan, 1886.

In such ancient writings such as the Midrash on Psalm 23, Messiah is seen as “Jehovah [who] is a man of war” and “Jehovah our righteousness”; the same can be seen in Lamentations 1:16 where the name of Jehovah is attributed to He who is the Messiah. To apply such titles to any other man, other than the Messiah, is not only unfitting, but unscriptural.

Scripture abounds with references to God, apparently in physical form (i.e. the manifestation of Messiah) coming to this world and making “war with the nations” (Zech. 14:3-4: “…He will set His feet on the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem on the east…”) and this corroborates with what the two angels told the disciples on the Mount of Olives regarding Jesus Christ:

Acts 1:9-12
And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.

Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey
.


The LORD Jesus, having given His blessing and Great Commission to His followers, standing on the Mt. of Olives, then ascended into heaven out of their sight. The angels declared that He would return "in like manner". Had you been able to record the Ascension on video, and then play it in reverse, you would see Him descend upon the Mt. of Olives and His feet would touch down upon it, just as the Scripture from Zechariah 14 prophesies that God will one day do!Jacob wrestles all night with a Theophany that is a physical appearing of God (Gen. 32: 24-30); Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather likewise encounters a Theophany of God (Gen. 18:1-4) and feeds Him (and His accompanying angels) lunch!

From Dr. Norman Geisler we have the following:

Jesus claimed to be Messiah-God –

“The Old Testament teaches that the coming Messiah would be God Himself. So when Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, He was also claiming to be God. For example, the Psalmist wrote of the Messiah:

Psalm 45:6
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
(see also Heb. 1:8)

Psalm 110 records a conversation between the Father and the Son:

Psalm 110:1[[A Psalm of David.]] The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

The LORD here is Yahweh, and the Lord is Adonai; Jesus applied this passage to Himself in Matthew 22: 41-46. The Jews understood this passage as a reference to the Messiah, also known as “the Son of David”, but they had never considered before what the LORD brought up in His question:

“If he is David’s son, how then does he call him ‘Lord’?” This verse plainly reveals that the Lord, the Messiah, the Son of David, though he is a descendent of the royal line of Judah, of the House of David, yet the King, David, defers to Him, calling Him ‘Lord’ Who pre-existed him!

Daniel Chapter 7, in the Messianic prophecy contained therein, the Son of Man is called “the Ancient of Days” (vs. 22), a title that is used twice in the same passage of God the Father (vs. 9, 13).

Jesus also said He was the Messiah at His trial before the high priest. When asked, “Are you the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus responded, “I am . . . and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” At this point the high priest tore his robe (an unlawful act according to the Torah) and said, “Why do we need any more witnesses? . . . you have heard the blasphemy!” Mark 14: 61- 64. There was no doubt that in claiming to be the Messiah, Jesus was also claiming to be God (See also Matt. 26: 54; Lk. 24: 27).

Back to The Search for the Messiah with Dr. Eastman:

THE WORSHIP OF MESSIAH –No where in the Old Testament are the people of Israel allowed to worship any but the LORD God that delivered them from Egypt, and He alone would they be permitted to serve. This is of paramount importance to the observant Jew and vitally important to his faith (Deut. 8:19).

Yet there is a passage that declares that One to Whom there will be given a dominion, glory and a kingdom that all the peoples (including Israel), nations and languages shall serve – his kingdom shall not pass away, and shall not be destroyed. Obviously this is speaking of the eternal kingdom as ruled over by Messiah, whom all, including Israel shall serve:

Daniel 7:13-14
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed
.

Compare this with:

Deut 8:18-20
But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.

As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God
.


How can these passages be reconciled if not by conceding that the Messiah (“The Son of Man” a title that the LORD Jesus attributed to Himself over 80 times in the Gospels) would in fact be “the LORD thy God” which Scripture clearly states is alone worthy of worship and service (pelach in Aramaic; the same word is used in Daniel 3:16-17, 27-28)?

Mark Eastman points out: “According to Daniel 7:14, the group that will serve the Messiah is composed of ‘all the peoples, nations, and languages.’ That is, every person on earth will serve (pelach) him. However, Daniel 7:27 states that the same all inclusive group will be serving “the Most High” God.

“Has Daniel contradicted himself? How do we reconcile this dilemma?”

Again, the conclusive reconciliation is that God was prophesied to reveal and manifest Himself physically, literally and spiritually as the Messiah.

All the angels of God were commanded by God Himself to worship “the Son (Who would be Jesus) through Whom He appointed heir of all things, through Whom He made the worlds” and is “the express image of His (God’s) person”.

Hebrews 1:5-6
For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him
.


Mark Eastman comments: “In this portion of the book of Hebrews, the writer quotes a number of OT passages and then attributes them to Jesus as God’s Son and "the brightness of His (God’s) glory and the express image of His person," the writer then quotes Psalm 2 and 2 Samuel 7:14, Messianic verses which are [also] found in Jewish Bibles.”

If Jesus were merely an angelic being, or something higher than the angels, yet lower than God Himself, God would be commanding the angels to commit idolatry, as no one is worthy of worship except God alone! The one time some angelic being (cherub or ‘super-angel’) solicited worship from others, it got him cast out of heaven, and condemned by God (Lucifer; Isaiah 14th chapter and Ezekiel 28th chapter)! The worship of Lucifer, vicariously in the last days through the Beast, the anti-Christ is so heinous to God, that any that commits such worship are irredeemable (Rev. 13:8)! It is clear that God will allow worship only of Himself, and no other!

In the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament constructed 3 BC) the following rendering is most telling:

“For I will sharpen my word like lightening, and my hand shall take hold of judgment; I will render judgment to my enemies and will recompense them that hate me. I will make my weapons drunk with blood and my sword shall devour flesh, it shall glut itself with the blood of wounded, and from the captivity of the heads of their enemies that rule over them. Rejoice ye heavens, with him, and let the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance and recompense justice to his enemies and will reward them that hate him; and the LORD shall purge the land of his people.” Deut. 32:41-43, Septuagint Version.

Dr. Geisler supplements these observances with some commentary of his own:

Just as the Old Testament forbids worshipping anyone other than God (Ex. 20:1-4; Deut. 5:6-9), so also the New Testament agrees, showing that humans refused worship (Acts 14:15), as did angels (Rev. 22: 8-9). But Jesus accepted worship on numerous occasions, showing he claimed to be God. A healed leper worshipped Him (Matt. 8:2) and a ruler knelt before Him with a request (Matt. 9:18).

After He stilled the storm “those who were in the boat worshipped Him saying ‘Truly you are the Son of God’” (Matt. 14:33). A group of Canaanite women likewise did so (Matt. 15:25), the mother of James and John (Matt. 20:20), the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:6), all worshipped Jesus without a word of rebuke [from Jesus, certainly an observant Jew who obeyed the Torah]. The disciples worshipped Him after His resurrection (Matt. 28: 17). Thomas saw the risen Christ [and the wounds upon Him] and cried out, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

This could only be allowed by a person who seriously considered himself to be God. Not only did Jesus accept worship due to God alone, without rebuking those who gave it, but He even commended those who acknowledged His Deity (John 20:29; Matt. 16:17).

And this concludes part TWO of this series; in part THREE, the triunity nature of God will be examined, as any treatment of the Deity of Christ must by necessity, examine such an essential doctrine as this, as it is entirely pertinent to this assertion of the Divine nature of Jesus of Nazareth: God incarnate. A comparison between the Father and the Son as co-equal will also be considered. Until then, may the LORD continue to bless, encourage, sanctity and use us His
children, for His glory; amen!
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

JESUS IS GOD – The WORD Incarnate a.k.a. the MESSIAH of Israel - Part ONE




























~~ By James Fire

A friend of mine has three words scribed on the back of his lap top, and displays this message boldly out in public; the same three words are painted on the back window of his van, and scores of people read this controversial message as he drives all over the city of Tucson daily.

What is this controversial message consisting of only these three words?

JESUS IS GOD” and only recently my friend received a little note attached to his van from a detractor:

“Jesus was only a guy, just so you know.”

On this singular issue and assertion, the world is divided with increasingly noticeable distancing. In days gone by, the most determining factor that revealed whether or not a religious group was a cult, was their view of Jesus Christ.
Every cult either takes away from, or adds something to, Jesus of Nazareth. Some cults take away His divinity, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses; others add to His atoning sacrifice He accomplished on the cross, saying that it’s necessary but insufficient for salvation, such as the Roman Catholic Institution.

Yet increasingly among so-called evangelical churches, gone ‘Emergent’ such dialogues have transpired in order to “seek common ground” not merely among denominations, but with world religions across the globe. In seeking that common ground, one of the first things that seem to be conceded by churches today, is the Divinity of Jesus Christ! More and more denominations are ‘voting away’ the Divinity of Jesus! Another one is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Before we get too deep into this subject, I want to address this notion that the person, Jesus of Nazareth was just a myth, something concocted by those who claimed to be His followers, perhaps based on previous legends from pagan sources. To answer this, we turn to Got Questions? and the following article:
Is Jesus A Myth?~*

See also:
Did Jesus Really Exist?

GETTING TTUF On THOSE THAT DENY JESUS’ DEITY –

It is the intent of this series to reveal through Scripture that Jesus is the Christ (Y’shua ha Meschiach – the Messiah of Israel) and that the Word of God declares that the Messiah is indeed God made flesh; that Jesus is not only the Son of God, but that He is also God the Son!

As usual various resources will be utilized in this series, from books such as The Search for Messiah by Dr. Mark Eastman and Chuck Smith, 1993, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics by Norman Geisler; material from R.A. Torrey and other resource materials, as well as online information from such ministries as C.A.R.M.We are in the midst of the holiday season, and it’s during Christmas time that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ; what is our great hope and reason for celebration, if not the LORD Jesus Christ and the salvation He brings as the Lamb of God? Were Jesus ‘only a guy’ then our hope and faith would be entirely in vain, quite useless indeed and the Bible would become an unimportant, even a dangerous book of lies!

As we embark on a survey of Scripture we will examine the earliest of prophecies (beginning as far back as Genesis Chapter Three), through the Old Testament Scriptural prophecies that paint this portrait of who this coming Messiah would be. We will examine the New Testament Scriptures in light of the Old to see how Jesus qualifies on every count as the Messiah of Israel, indeed, the only worthy and provable candidate for the office of the Messiah, and that the Messiah would not ‘only be a guy’ that is, merely human, but also God made flesh.

It is our prayerful hope that any who reads this and has some serious skepticism and significant doubts regarding the person of Jesus of Nazareth and his true identity, that they will come to an understanding through the truth of Scripture that He is exactly who He claimed to be (and yes, He made definitive claims regarding Himself).

GOD, The GREATEST REJECT?

In the last days of the Judges of Israel, the people came to Samuel and they made a certain demand of the prophet:

1 Sam 8:5-7
And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.

And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them
.

Samuel was instructed by God to forewarn the people that if they had a king to rule over them, he would eventually begin to oppress them, and take from them more than he would offer. Even after the protests from this pleading prophet:

1 Sam 8:19-20

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles
.

Israel was to be unique among all the nations of the world, and have, as their leader, God Almighty Himself – and yet from this glorious privilege and position, Israel instead wanted to be more like the world and have the things that the world has, rather than the blessings from and of the LORD (sounds sadly like many of today’s modern Western church doesn’t it?).
However, even after the disaster that was Saul of the tribe of Benjamin, Israel’s first king, the LORD raised up David (not a plan ‘B’ option after Saul, but the man after God’s own heart, whom He has in mind all along!) to be king over Israel.

The ‘HOUSE’ of DAVID, ‘RESIDENCE’ of the MESSIAH –

There was a day when a particular realization struck King David; the fact that he lived in a palace while the place of God was an elaborately decorated and expansive . . . tent. He wanted to build a house for the LORD, which touched God’s heart! Yet the word of the LORD came to David and told him that his son (Solomon), rather than himself would do this; and as for David, God was planning on building him a ‘house’ (“the house of David” – lineage; see 2 Sam. 7th Chapter, and Psalm 89) and that from this house would come the Ultimate King: the same King that Israel previously rejected in Samuel’s day – God Himself.

Prophetically speaking, there are two primary subjects in the entirety of the Bible: Israel is one and the other is He Who would come from Israel, the Messiah Who would rule over God’s people in an everlasting kingdom on this earth, known as the Millennium (1000 years).
The Scriptures have much to say about both, but the emphasis is on the Messiah Himself (See Psalms 40:7 and John 5:39) and it’s from the Scriptures of the Old Testament (the Tanahk) that we learn that this Messiah would in fact, be God in the flesh.

People routinely discount the divinity of Christ by saying, that ‘Jesus no where in the Scripture professed to be God’ – yet for the careful student of Scripture, Jesus’ declaration of divinity is evident, and He directly claimed to be the Messiah:

John 4:25-26
The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

Matt 16:13-17
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.



He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven
.

There is no denying that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah and that He endorsed the declaration from others; they having been given divine revelation attesting to this truth, who said as much. So, if it can be proven that the Old Testament equated the Messiah with God incarnate as a man (and it can and does) we then rightly conclude that Jesus is God!

First let’s examine this chapter from The Search for Messiah by Mark Eastman and Chuck Smith*.

(* Recently and in the recent past, pastor Chuck Smith has befriended the founders of certain ministries, as well as making particular statements that we at TTUF do not agree with; so while we are using this resource which in part was authored by pastor Smith, we have definite reservations concerning his ministry and conduct in specific areas.)MESSIAH – GOD The SON?

Rev 1:8
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
John 8:24
I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins
.

“Jesus Christ set himself apart from virtually every religious leader in history by making claims such as these. He left us no room for fence sitting. When he declared that he is no less than God, the great ‘I Am’.

“In making this claim Jesus set off a firestorm of debate that began when he claimed equality with God and the storm continues even to this day. He and his disciples clearly maintained that Messiah would be no less a person than God in human flesh. It was these claims that led the ancient rabbis to try Jesus for blasphemy, i.e. claiming equality with God.

“The belief that God is a plural being, eternally existent in the three persons of God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit is called the doctrine of the Trinity. This is one of the foundational beliefs of Christianity (NOT a pagan concept as found in ancient Babylonian and other cultures wherein triplets of gods would form alliances with one another for their own purposes; the Trinity expresses One God (Godhead), revealed as three distinct Persons, yet identical in nature, power, motives, etc.) and a point of view that is strictly denied by modern rabbis.”

“… a careful examination of the Hebrew scriptures reveals verses where Messiah is worshipped and strong evidence that God is a plural being, existing eternally in more than one personage. Finally there are verses that portray the Messiah as a literal and physical manifestation of God.”

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel
.

From the book of Isaiah, long esteemed by the Jews as the greatest treatment of Messianic (The Messiah according to OT Scriptures has a triad of primary roles: that of King, Prophet and Priest (Sacrifice)) import in the Scriptures we have this verse that speaks of the virgin birth. Being without human father, this child, Immanuel would have one as his Father, which is God Himself (which Jesus later claimed profusely at every turn during His ministry). Its critical to observe that being without a human father, Jesus of Nazareth was a sinless man because of the curse of sin was not passed down to Him through Adam to Joseph (The stepfather of Jesus; more on the lineage between King David to Jesus will be addressed later on). Detractors would ask, “What’s in a name? There are millions of people named Immanuel, what does this Scripture prove?” Obviously the name Immanuel is a fairly common one, but mismatched with the nature of those mere humans bearing that name; there is only one that has truly lived up to that name, Jesus of Nazareth, of Whom even His enemies couldn’t find fault with, or point out a single sin He committed!

This miracle baby would also be “the Root of Jesse” (Is. 11:1) as well as the “Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:6) and such referrals signifies His deity as the Messiah of Israel.

There are those that debate the significance of such Hebrew words as “almah” and “betulah” (Have a look at this treatment for an excellent examination of these words and how the Scriptures that relate the birth of Messiah with deity here (I do not entirely agree with some of the assertions and conclusions, but in the main, I feel this article has some useful information):
ISAIAH 14 and The VIRGIN BIRTH of the MESSIAH).

The MARVELOUS or MUNDANE MIRACLE of ISAIAH?

All Hebrew words and their meanings aside, one doesn’t require scholarship in linguistics in order to read the plain meaning of Scripture. If one examines Isaiah Ch. 7 in context one sees that Isaiah confronts the unbelief of King Ahaz by telling him that God has provided the opportunity to prove Him and His promise to the king by asking for a sign (a miraculous event or occurrence that must be Divine in origin):

Isaiah 7:10-11
Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,

Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above
.

Note the wording found here: “…either in the depth or in the height above.” This is a kind of ‘blank check’ from God Himself, In other words, He says, “as for a sign, the skies are the limit Ahaz! Ask whatever you want for a sign!” Yet in feigned piety Ahaz declines, exasperating even God! So the LORD turns from dealing just with Ahaz and addresses the entire house of David (vs. 13; the royal line through which the promised Messiah would come). Get the picture here: God is offering to show the entire house of David a sign, so beyond the norm – “in the depth or in the height” that it must by definition be proven as miraculous, so that all of the house of David would know for certain that this was a proclamation from God Himself – You can just see the LORD rolling up His sleeves and about to unleash a potent, cascading flood of miraculous, divine power:

But now let’s read vs. 14 as though “virgin” meant only young maiden:

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a
[young maiden] shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

. . . So . . . is that the best God’s got?! THIS is His witness to the miraculous power that He alone wields?! This is supposed to prove to all the house of David that this proclamation is undeniably from God Almighty?! Young maidens have been conceiving and birthing babies since Eve gave birth to Abel, Cain and Seth!The implication clearly is that in this instance, “almah” refers to a virgin who will “conceive and bear a son” (something that the record shows as having happened once and ONLY once!), in the very same sense that was stated regarding Rebekah and her virginity (“almah”):

Gen 24:16a
And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her . . .

And Mary, the wife of Joseph makes the same claim:

Luke 1:34
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?


The angel had just previously spoken that Mary would give birth to the Messiah (vs. 32, “God shall give to him the throne of His father, David”), the mother of Whom, revealed by the prophet Isaiah would be a virgin. This child, Immanuel is the LORD Jesus, whose character name of Immanuel actually means “God with us” not in a supportive sense, but in an actual sense. This is supported by the appellations (“the Mighty God” and “the Everlasting Father” among them) of this child, given later in Isaiah:

Isaiah 9:6-7
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this
.

This same child that would be granted the government and throne of David and his Kingdom (descriptive of the Messiah) and He would also be called “the mighty God” or “El Gibbor” – ‘El’ meaning God, and is used elsewhere in Scripture and refers unequivocally as YHWH (God) in other such passages as Isaiah 10: 21 and 46: 9. Even in the ancient Targum of Isaiah, a venerated treatment from Rabbis who wrote centuries before the birth of Christ:

“His name has been called from old, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, he who lives forever, the Anointed One (exclusive term for the Messiah), in whose days peace shall increase upon us.”
The Search For Messiah concludes from this:

“The clear Messianic application of Isaiah 9:6 (9:5 in the Hebrew Bible), coupled with the fact that the title “El Gibbor” is a definite and common reference to the eternal God of Israel, is powerful evidence that, in some supernatural way, the Messiah would be a physical manifestation of God!”


And this concludes this first segment to this article; there is more to come soon, but as we are in the midst of this holiday season, I know we will all be quite intent on the celebration of our LORD's First Advent, so these segments will be posted once, weekly until its conclusion. Until next time, have a VERY BLESSED, HOLY and JOYOUS Celebration of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST!
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Monday, December 5, 2011

The CHRISTMAS GIFT of PEACE DECLINED

By James J. Fire

Luke 2:1-5
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child
.

The Nativity of the Son of God

*~And so began this marvelous journey, a holy pilgrimage, not to a holy place, but rather accompanying the holy Child within the womb of the virgin, Mary the espoused to Joseph, both descendents of King David, of the House of Judah.
Look at a map and you will find Nazareth in northern Israel in far away Galilee; from here this blessed couple made their arduous and painfully slow voyage all the way to Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem.

On the back of a mule, feeling every bump in the road, Mary who was “great with child” had one of the most difficult struggles of her very young life. Yet such a journey was necessary, not because of the royal edict of the Caesar of Rome, but because of the Holy edict and proclamation of prophecy, from the prophet Micah:

Mic 5:2
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting
.

And Isaiah confirms that this child would be the One upon Whose shoulder the government would rest:

Isa 9:6
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace
.

On a side note, there are those skeptics who like to point out a supposed Scriptural error regarding Cyrenius, who according to some records was the governor of Syria before this time. However, what most don’t realize is that he was actually governor of Syria – twice! For more on this, visit this site:

Truth For Today - Difficulties and Apparent Contradictions in the Bible

Let’s move on:

Luke 2:6-7
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn
.

Having been to Israel, twice, we visited Nazareth on both occasions and stood shoulder to shoulder, surrounding a manger, a stone carved feeding or drinking trough for animals. This is where the King of all creation was laid after being delivered into this world of sin, not out of choice, but actually because Joseph and His mother had no choice. Whether by lack of accommodations or because of the stigma against Mary and rumors about her illegitimate child, “there was no room for them in the inn.” The first of countless occurrences where Christ would be rejected . . .

And such humble beginnings too: born in a barn! What King have you ever learned about in history class that was born in a barn? What Child was this? Here was the Savior babe “in such mean estate”, wrapped in swaddling clothes – have you ever wondered what ‘swaddling’ is? Watch this brief one minute youtube to find out what this is and how it’s done:

How to Swaddle Your Baby

Some have suggested that because this couple was so poor, that they used whatever was available to them for this swaddling; patches of cloth used for the bedding of lambs in the barn. Yet here was the very Lamb of God wrapped in such course material!

Now this manger scene is almost complete; add to this the ruckus of barn yard animals, and until Joseph had time to clear it all away, the foul deposits of said creatures. Until the Babe actually was born, the barn would have also had, reverberating on its walls, the cries of this young lady in the throes of child birth. Now everything is quiet – a silent night. Perhaps even the animals were aware of the Holy Company that they kept that night. Yet Joseph and Mary were soon to have some other company as well . . .

Luke 2:8
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night
.

For this reason it’s believed that this Blessed Event did not take place in the winter, as shepherds in Israel were not accustomed to keeping their sheep in open fields at this time, but rather corralled, together with the sheep of other shepherds, where collectively, they would stay safe and warm, and shepherds would stay close to the fires.
These men, watching over their flocks were probably gazing at the brilliant, glorious stars under a Spring or Autumn sky. All was quiet with the exception of some bleating sheep; perhaps one of the shepherds softly played a flute, fashioned on the spot from some nearby reeds (a common practice among Jewish shepherds who would lead their flocks to its lilting sound, an almost pied piper practice!).

All was routine and mundane; a night very much like all the previous ones; perhaps even a boring and monotonous night with very little chance of an interesting intervention to break it up.

Yet in the very next instant their night, their very lives and the entirety of their worldview was tipped upside down and spun dizzily on their heads when suddenly a burst of holy light exploded into the darkness, and they saw a brilliant, glorious being that far exceeded the stars in brightness – an angel of God!

Luke 2:9
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid
.

Let’s face it, angels didn’t routinely come around Israel in those days; being visited by one was not a common occurrence! To say that they were “sore (very) afraid” is putting it mildly, especially when all you would expect to see on such a night were the familiar faces of your wooly brood! As terrifying as this unannounced visitation was, the news that this angelic being brought far exceeded the awesome event:

Luke 2:10-12
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger
.

One thing about shepherds is that they are not known for their scholarly prowess or high brow cogitations; yet even such ignorant shepherds as these would know about the Messiah (“Christ”) of Israel, He Who is the “Son of David” that would be born in the city of David (“Bethlehem” – which interestingly means “house of bread.” The LORD Jesus would later proclaim Himself to be the “Bread of Life”).

All of Israel was under the oppressive and heavy hand of the Roman Empire; bereft of self-ruling autonomy as a free nation, once glorious under Kings David and Solomon, the people of Israel lived in a land deemed merely as an insignificant but troublesome province by the Roman authorities. They longed for, and expected their Messiah King to arrive, who would eclipse the martial powers of such famous warriors as Joshua, and David, and deliver them from their Roman oppressors.

Little did they know that the Messiah would be on an entirely different mission this time around (and fulfill the latter mission of delivering Israel from the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) at His second advent)! As the angel said, he brought “good tidings” which is really what ‘the Gospel’ means, and it certainly is! The birth of the Messiah was the commencement of the Gospel in action, in accord with the plan of God since before the foundation of the world!

To think that the Messiah would be born on this night, and that a holy angel would make his appearance to such lowly persons as these shepherds (whose fingers were known to be somewhat sticky, and merchandise would be prone to disappear any time they passed through town) to announce this EVENT of the AGES!

Yet according to this angel, they would find the Messiah – in a manger, a feeding trough? Was this angel confused? How could such a thing be?? He also said that this would be “good tidings of great joy which shall be … to ALL people”?? Why would the coming of the Messiah be good tidings for any one but the Jews? What would Gentiles have to do with any of this (this was the current thinking of the Jews at the time of Jesus’ earthly life)?

When the shepherds went on their way to Bethlehem, they eventually came to the very spot where they beheld this wonderful sight of the Savior of His people Israel! In between the proclamation of this angel and that visitation, they beheld another display of angelic declaration:

Luke 2:13-14
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men
.

Indeed, the glory of God revealed was about to come upon the land and people of Israel, and the blessed Name of the Highest praised and extolled for the mighty works of His Servant-King that would come lowly to His people, from the humblest of beginnings to an even humbler life. I am reminded of the verse where it says:

Matt 11:28-29
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls
.

Not only rest for our souls, but also blessed and enduring peace, even as the angels declared: “…on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Another criticism from skeptics and cynics is this angelic announcement of “peace on earth” when for the last two thousand years the world has known greater and increasingly intense tragic occurrences of war, violence, strife, contention, misery and suffering: so… where is this “peace on earth”?? And “good will toward men”??

Let's listen to Johnny Cash sing about this, he provides a very good answer to such skepticism:
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

The peace spoken of here is that which God extended, and continues to extend to the people of this fallen world, by bringing to us the very Prince of Peace (as we quoted from Isaiah 9:6), the LORD Jesus Christ.

Nah 1:15a
Behold upon the mountains the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace . . .


Being sinners by nature, we were at enmity against the holy God of all creation (Rom. 5:10), and any sin we committed could legitimately be considered in His Holy Court of Law an act of treason, punishable by eternal death (separation from God). We are a people in dire need of reconciliation with the LORD our Maker!

God in His grace and mercy made provision for our sin, and offered up His own Beloved Son, the Lamb of God (John 3:16; John 1:29) and therefore bringing reconciliation for us! We would no longer be counted as enemies, having our sins forgiven; because of this provision by God, we would enjoy peace with God (Rom. 5:1)! This is the peace offered to people everywhere, the same peace as proclaimed by the angels to those shepherds two thousand years ago, and foretold some several hundred years before that by the holy prophets!

Any who receives the Prince of Peace and His propitiation for our sins not only will have peace with God, but will also experience the peace OF God (Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15) and peace FROM God (See Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2 and elsewhere in all the greetings and benedictions penned in the epistles of Paul).

Just think for a moment, that if the vast majority of humanity actually received this Greatest and most Profound Christmas Gift ever given: the LORD Jesus Christ and His awesome salvation – how different this world would be! Wars would be a rare thing; violence would be almost unheard of; injustice and poverty would be seldom witnessed. There would indeed be peace on earth and good will not just toward all people, but among them as well!

Sadly however, Jesus Christ is rejected all the more in these last days, and since human beings have no peace with their Maker, their hearts are also then absent of any peace (Isaiah 48:22) and in continuous turmoil (Isaiah 57:20). Bent upon self will and selfish ambitions which run contrary to the hearts of others in such turmoil, they propagate the sin empowered strife and therein lies the problem inherent in such conflicts as war, oppression, criminal activity, wanton acts of violence, etc. (Jer. 8: 15; 30: 5; Ezek. 7: 25).

Division and discord will only increase, until the false Christ, the Beast arrives on the scene; this ‘Christ’ rather than the genuine Jesus Christ will be accepted by every one (except those loyal to the Messiah) just as the LORD Himself prophesied in John 5:43. He will unite all of humanity in a false peace on Earth; this sinful race will be in one accord with this man of sin, the son of perdition (2 Thess. 2:3) because both operate from the same spirit of disobedience (Eph. 2:2) in defiance against God Almighty (Dan. 8: 25). Unity is not peace; peace must be based upon Truth, and Truth is contrary to Unity that is based on relativism. For more on this, watch this brief video from the series KNOW YOUR ENEMY -

Deception: Truth vs. Unity (Part 68)

Yet once the LORD Jesus returns (and this will be quite soon for those that belong to the church I believe!) to inaugurate His rightful rule as the Messiah King, He will put down the reign of the Beast, consign both him and his false prophet to Gehenna (the lake of fire; Rev. 19:20) and commence the Millennial Reign where peace will prevail – though still, some pockets of rebellion will appear, even then!
Yet after one final rebellion, with Lucifer, who will at that time be recently released from the abyss (Rev. 20:7 – 10), it will be decisively put down and the curse of sin tainting both the Earth and the heavens will be done away with – in order to make way for a New Earth and a New Heavens, pure and unscathed by sin, but existing with an “abundance of peace” (Ps. 37: 11) reserved for the saints of the most High God!

This Christmas season, may I greatly encourage you to consider Jesus, the Prince of Life, the Prince of Peace and the LORD of Glory! He extends an invitation to any one who is convinced of their sin and sinful ways, will repent by turning from their sins and surrender their hearts to the LORD. Do you desire to know God in a living, breathing, loving relationship with Him as a Heavenly Father? Then come before Him humbly and receive salvation and the eternal peace that accompanies it.

JESUS is the veritable reason for the season! If you want to know more about the Gospel, you can access two different sources from here: the short or long version.
For the long, detailed version, just type “Simple Serious Gospel” into the TTUF search engine, and a few links will appear and you can read each of these segments as you like.
For the shorter version, click on this link to an article posted FROM the MIND of FIRE:

The TRUE Gospel: Accept No Imitations!

By receiving the LORD Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:40; John 1:12; Col. 2:6), the Prince of Peace into your life, you will be part of the prophetic fulfillment of “peace on earth and good will to men” as pronounced by the angel to those shepherds so long ago! He is the ultimate, the best and dearest gift you will ever receive, bar none!

Luke 1:30-33
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Num 6:24-26
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:

The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace


Isa 9:7
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.


Isa 26:3-4
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

Isa 53:5
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed
.

Remember that while the LORD Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), the LORD is offering peace to you, not wanting to count you as an enemy, but a friend, and not only a friend, but His child, born of His Spirit as His child (John 1:12), born of grace and peace . . .

Rom 15:33
Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen
.
Read more!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans – “On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter Seven:

~~ By James Fire

Chapter Seven: An ‘Illegal’ Bride –

In medieval courts and Roman Catholic tribunals of that day, sometimes the practice of exhuming a corpse would be enacted for the purpose of trying them in said courts and tribunals with the intent of convicting them of crimes post-mortem, and then sentencing punitive actions upon them. If such a practice wasn’t such a travesty, it would almost be comedic!

However, here in vs. 1 of this Chapter in Romans, we read Paul’s words about how the Law has no dominion over the dead; their life is over and the appointment with death is met and followed by the judgment (Heb. 9:27):

Rom 7:1
Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?


At such a point, the Law no longer holds sway over the departed in the sense of enlightening a person to their own sinful state and revealing the need for repentance; rather it is used for the sake of prosecution and condemnation in judgment in the realm of eternity ‘future’.~*Once dead, the remedial influence of the Law is no longer valid; likewise Paul uses the analogy of marriage to demonstrate this point:

Rom 7:2-3
For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.


Just as it’s perfectly acceptable and proper for a woman to have another husband, if her first husband is dead, so likewise is it acceptable and proper that once we are married to the LORD Jesus Christ as His bride (Rev. 21: 9), we may validly consider ourselves to be perfectly dead indeed to the Law. Paul expresses this idea of Christ being the husband to the church elsewhere in his epistles too:

2 Cor 11:2
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

Eph 5:31-32
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church
.


Just as husband and wife become one flesh through the marriage covenant, so likewise any that are baptized into the body of Christ through the new covenant (testament) are joined to the LORD in spirit; for the two become one:

1 Cor 6:16-17
What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit
.


Thus the body of Christ and all the individual saints that comprise it, becomes by the Spirit of the LORD, the bride of Christ, no longer bound under the Law, no longer helplessly restrained by the flesh and its sinful tendencies; and for all eternity, joined to the LORD Jesus, forsaking all others (false Jesus’ and false gospels, false hopes in this fallen world, etc.), and keeping their relationship with Him simple, pure and uncorrupted (see 2 Cor. 11: 3-4; Gal. 1: 6-9).

Marriage is an institution that is bound and certified by the law (of the land, but primarily the Law of God that instituted such in the Garden of Eden), but the law makes a poor means of marital relationship. This is why so many Christians who are caught up in legalism have a cold, almost business-like relationship with the LORD!

What He desires of course, is a love relationship, based on the yearning and devotion, commitment and adoration of both marriage partners in a mutual bond of true holiness, purity, commotment and agape love and not the letter of the Law; therefore we are in a sense, with tongue in cheek – an ‘illegal’ bride, one that is not according to the Law but according to grace.

In the book of Revelation, the LORD rebukes the church of Ephesus for leaving her first love; interesting what the name “Ephesus” itself intimates:

The Berean Bible Study Group – A Letter To Ephesus: Chapter 2:1-7

Meaning of the name ‘Ephesus’: “Evidence of the Greek word Ἔφεσος (Ephesos) has only been found in reference to the city and church of that name. Whatever other meaning it may have had has been lost in antiquity. However, Christian tradition indicates that it meant darling or chosen. Strong's indicates that it may have also meant permitted. The word itself may have been derived from the Greek word ephoros, meaning overseer. Ephesus was a major religious center and the home of the first and largest Christian church in Asia. It certainly represented the origins of the church in the eyes of any who would have received this letter. For that reason, we will go with the traditional meaning of ‘darling’.”

So while Ephesus lost her first love, she is still considered the LORD’s darling, and speaks of the LORD Jesus everlasting and unconditional love and devotion; however this doesn’t at all mean, that Ephesus or any church is beyond being chastened, for the LORD chastens those whom He loves (Heb. 12: 6).

Rom 7:4
Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God
.


So rather than a ‘marriage’ to the Law, we are dead to such “through the body of Christ” that is, the church (see Eph. 5:24; Col. 1:18; side note: there are hyper-dispensationalists that make a distinction between the church and the body of Christ, but such a distinction is unwarranted as these terms are used interchangeably in these and other Scriptures).

Thus, even though we are now “married to another” that is, Christ – we are not adulterers because we are dead to the Law.

HOWEVER: Today more than ever, spiritual adultery is rampant in the church, this body that was intended to remain a “chaste virgin” (2 Cor. 11:2)! Christians are involved in practices that are actually occultic – everything from yoga (no, it is not just physical exercise), to contemplative prayer, to actually engaging explicitly in Eastern meditative practices by name (which is what contemplative prayer really is), to spiritual ‘gifts’ that are not of the Spirit of God, but satanic in origin; Christians dabble with horoscopes, astrology, psychic readings, etc. but “just for fun” when such practices are expressly forbidden in the counsels of Scripture! Today’s emergent apostasy is a hodge-podge of do-it-yourself-religion that harks back to the existential philosophy of “if it feels good, do it.” – Regardless of what the Scriptures say about it!

On the issue of the occult and spiritual seduction through ‘gifts’ particularly in the Charismatic movement, please consider the following by Sandy Simpson of Deception in the Church (DITC) Ministries:

The Vineyard, the Charismatic Church and the Cults

Aside from this, the love for the things of the world and ‘going native’ rather than remaining “pilgrims and strangers, abstaining from the things of the flesh that war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11), Christians have adopted the world’s customs of sensuality both in clothing, mannerisms and in lifestyle. They’ve been lured by the enchantment of materialism and ease, and seldom engage in any spiritual interaction with the LORD in prayer and personal Bible reading; if they do, its the sort of interaction as mentioned above – or entrapped in the bonds of legalism (See also: 2 Cor. 6: 14-18; 1 John 2: 15-17; Rev. 2: 20-23).

How it pains our LORD’s heart, Who only seeks out the simplicity of love and devoted fellowship with His bride, when He sees such corruption, and complication burdening His body, the church. May we be encouraged to repent of any such things, and return to our First and Best love, wholly given over to our Creator and Redeemer, the Lover of our souls!

Just as a marriage will bring about children, that is the fruit of the womb, so too will our marriage to Christ Jesus, our Bridegroom bring forth the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5: 22-23); the Spirit of grace indeed brings eternal life, but the law of sin can only bring death (Rom. 8:2) and the Holy Law of God can only work condemnation upon sinners. Strangely bizarre I think that so many Christians want to put themselves back under the Law when it cannot produce any fruit to the glory of God!

Rom 7:5
For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death
.


Comparing vs. 5 with vs. 4 is most revealing, and will produce some profitable insights for those who will meditate upon them, and observe the contrasts between the two. “Motions of sin” is translated also as “the impulses of sin” and this word “motions” can mean “suffering, pain, something to be endured; to undergo some influence, whether good or bad” and it’s the same word used in Heb. 2:9 in “suffering for death”.

The same idea conveyed here in vs. 5 is also seen in Romans 6:23a. Consider the deadliness of sin and how it mars and ruins the soul!

Rom 7:6-7
But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet
.


Here we see another example of contrast between the oldness of the letter, that is, the Law and the newness of the Spirit, which brings life. 2 Cor. 3: 6 as well as Romans 2: 29 elaborate on this:

2 Cor 3:6
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life
.

Dr. Scofield provides some interesting insights here:

Romans 2:29; 2 Corinthians 3:6. “‘The letter’ is a Paulinism for the law, as ‘spirit’ in these passages is his word for the relationships and powers of new life in Christ Jesus. In 2 Cor. chapter 3 a series is presented of contrast of law with ‘spirit,’ of the old covenant and the new. The contrast is not between two methods of interpretation, literal, and spiritual, but between two methods of divine dealing: one through the law, the other through the Holy Spirit.”

There are some who, in a sense disdain the Law, and are smug about it, declaring that “we are under grace now” as if there was something wrong with the Law. Yet the Law of God simply declares things like “You shall not kill (murder)” and “you shall not steal” – who would have a problem with these, except murderers and thieves?

Those who would obey the Law in form, by external observation and not obedient from the heart and fulfilling the Law in the intents and motives of the heart (an impossibility for sinners like us) are invalid as far as righteousness is concerned from God’s Holy point of view, and this was the very reason why the LORD Jesus slammed the Pharisees and Sadducees at every turn (consider Matthew Chapter 23 for instance). Such legalists and devotees of religion are following the “oldness of the letter” that only “kills.”
They cannot experience the vibrant, effervescent, joyous life in Christ, which is “newness in spirit” that “gives life (abundantly)” and born not of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13); just as God breathed into lifeless dust and created a living soul in Adam, so too, He breathes His Spirit into dead, barren spirits and raises them to potent life brimming over eternally!

As stated in vs. 7 here, we are aware of sin because of the Law, both observed in Scripture as well as written on our hearts, or that is, conscience; together with the Holy Spirit we are convicted of sin, even as unbelievers upon whom God works, Who would lead them (and ourselves as necessary) to confession (1 John 1:9) and repentance (Acts 26:20).

Rom 7:8
But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead
.


Two words to examine here are “occasion” and “concupiscence” –

Occasion (aphorme in the Greek): “a starting point, a base of operations in war; it is used of the Law providing sin a base of operations for its attack upon the soul (Rom. 7:8, 11). Christian freedom is not to provide (“provision”) a base of operations for the flesh as in Gal. 5:13.”

Concupiscence (epithumia in the Greek): “a longing, especially for that which is forbidden, desire, lust; an irrational longing for pleasure, ‘unbridled lust’ in the sense of a very strong desire, whether for good – which would not be forbidden – (as in Lk. 22: 15; Phil. 1: 23; 1 Th. 2:17) or evil (Rom. 7:8; Col. 3:5; 1 Th. 4:5)

In Romans 6:12 the injunction against letting sin reign in our moral body to obey the ‘lust’ thereof, refers to those evil desire which are ready to express themselves in bodily activity. They are equally the lusts of the flesh as in Romans 13:14; Gal. 5:16, 24; Eph. 2:3 2 Pet. 2:18; 1 Jn. 2:16, a phrase that describes the emotions of the soul, the natural tendency towards things evil.

Such lusts are not necessarily base and immoral, they may be refined in character but are evil IF inconsistent* with the will of God.”

Looking at the book of Hebrews we read:

Hebr 12:1
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us
,


*Note that in this verse there is that which is clearly and blatantly “sin” but also “weight[s]” that weigh and slow us down, preventing our running in the race of our Christian exercise in life and ministry with greater efficiency and effectiveness. Such weights and things that are not perhaps sinful in themselves but become sinful in that they inhibit God’s will in our lives.

For example, I love reading novels, and would voraciously devour them from some of my favorite authors (and admittedly, being secular writers, they would sometimes write about things that are objectionable to the Christian). Yet when the LORD was calling me to greater study of the Word, and in committing more time towards this ministry of TTUF, it required more research in non-fiction books as well as online time on various sites.

Aside from financing novelists that would at times write on offensive topics and acts, devoting time towards reading these, inhibited what God would have me do for TTUF. So, is reading novels a sin? No, not necessarily, but for me, these ‘weights’ were preventing me from accomplishing what the LORD would have me do, so I laid down these things so that I might ‘run the race’ better.

Rom 7:9-11
For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

From Dr. Scofield:
“The passage (vs 7-25) is autobiographical. Paul's religious experience was in three strongly marked phases:
“(1) He was a godly Jew under the law. That the passage does not refer to that period is clear from his own explicit statements elsewhere. At that time he held himself to be "blameless" as concerned the law Philippians 3:6. He had "lived in all good conscience" Acts 23:1.

“(2) With his conversion came new light upon the law itself. He now perceived it to be "spiritual" (Romans 7:14). He now saw that, so far from having kept it, he was condemned by it. He had supposed himself to be "alive," but now the commandment really "came" (Romans 7:9) and he "died." Just when the apostle passed through the experience of Romans 7:7-25 we are not told. Perhaps during the days of physical blindness at Damascus, Acts 9:9; perhaps in Arabia, Galatians 1:17.
“It is the experience of a renewed man, under the law, and still ignorant of the delivering power of the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:2.

“(3) With the great revelations afterward embodied in Galatians and Romans, the apostle's experience entered it third phase. He now knew himself to be "dead to the law by the body of Christ," and, in the power of the indwelling Spirit, "free from the law of sin and death" Romans 8:2 while "the righteousness of the law" was wrought in him (not by him) while he walked after the Spirit Romans 8:4, Romans 7 is the record of past conflicts and defeats experience as a renewed man under law.”

And from Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible we have these insights:

A paraphrase based on the Greek in verse 9:
“‘For I was alive without the law once’” q. d. Take me, if you please for an instance. Before I knew the law aright, and understood the Divine and spiritual meaning of it, or whilst the law stood afar off, and was not brought home to my conscience, I was alive, that is, in my own conceit; I thought myself in as good a condition as any man living, my conscience never gave me any trouble. So it was with me once or heretofore when I was a Pharisee or in an unregenerate state. But when the commandment came; i.e. its sinfulness and guilt appeared, and I had a lively sense thereof imprinted upon my soul; or my corruption began to gather head and seemed, as it were, to receive new vigor and life. ‘And I died’; i.e. in my own opinion and feeling, I felt my conscience deadly wounded. I was convinced I was in a state of death and damnation. I lost the confidence I formerly had of my good estate.

Verse 10: ‘And the commandment which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.’ So it came to pas that the commandment which was ordained to be a rule of life, and if I could have kept it, a means of life also (Ch. 10:5; Gal. 3:12) I found it to be to me (through my corruption and transgression) an occasion of death; it bound me over to punishment; and so by accident it tendeth towards death…”

Rom 7:12-14
Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin
.


And therein lies the problem of our own perdition! That this death which plagues us not only at the hour of our demise, but in every aspect of this diminishing life and works its ruin because of the sinfulness of our own hearts. The revelation of this deplorable condition is the result of the Law which is “holy, and just and good” and (by contrast) shows us our sinful nature for what it is: a carnal (unspiritual) nature that is “sold under sin” or that is, being “delivered and transported as merchandise or specifically as slaves (“sold” pripasko in the Greek) into sin”.

See also Romans 5: 20-21 and Galatians 3:21.

Here Paul allows us an ‘inside look’ into the inner turmoil he struggled with, and indeed one that every born again believer struggles with: this war of the Spirit and the flesh (Gal. 5:17; the duality of natures both Divine by spiritual rebirth in Christ, and depraved by natural birth in Adam). The Christian need not live a life of defeat by sin (though too often and too readily we may surrender to such) but even the victorious Christian (such as Paul himself!) is never without this struggle!

(We will always have this war on our hands until the redemption of our bodies (See: Rom. 8:23) where we shall inherit glorified, incorruptible, sinless bodies that we will don for eternity by the grace of God!)

This is why Paul stated elsewhere:

1 Cor 9:27
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway
.


Paul isn’t speaking of the sort of practice of monastic orders that would literally beat and torture their own bodies, thinking that this would somehow mortify the flesh and produce holy results; rather, when speaking of his “body” he is referring to “the flesh” or the fallen sinful nature that caters to the body appetites and leads to acts of sin, and he brings such into subjection, certainly not by his own power or determination, but in faith by the Spirit of God.

Our sinful flesh is like a wild, vicious, voracious dog that wants its own way, regardless of what damage is incurred to our spiritual life or even that of others. Paul states here that he, in effect, keeps this wild dog on its leash, subjected and kept under control (of the Spirit!).

Now sometimes you and I let this dog off its leash, and it has a hay day of partaking of sin, and this is why too many Christians suffer defeat, because once loosed, they don’t know how to get this savage beast back under control. The answer is found abundantly throughout Scripture, as well as here in this chapter, in verse 25 and previously in vs. 4 and 6.

Rom 7:15-20
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me
.


Note that Paul distinguishes between the “I” in verse 17 and “sin” or that sinful nature of the flesh (vs. 18) that dwells in him and commits such acts; these are the things that the “I” of Paul, hates. This is the battle between the new man and the old, that which is born of God’s nature and that which is born of Adam’s nature. John expresses this as well in his epistle:

1 John 3:9
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God
.


That which is born of God, does not “commit” sin, that is, does not tarry upon, dwell in, practice in a continual sense of committing sin because the new nature either in this life or in the commencement of the next, overcomes the old nature. The new nature itself born of God, cannot sin (though the old nature certainly can, and does).
This is why those who are born of God and have acquired the new nature will manifest (the fruit of) righteousness in their lives (Read 1 John 3: 4 – 10 to see this in context).

One would think that the self-esteem gospel would have had the wind knocked out of its sails early on in its infancy because Paul himself declares that in himself – his flesh – there dwells “NO GOOD THING”. In his own nature, there was nothing to esteem of value, to venerate as noble and good and admirable. Paul was stating the same thing as our LORD did in the Beattitudes:

Matt 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
.


Those who are spiritually bankrupt, poverty stricken, entirely deficient of any spiritual value whatsoever! What then is there to esteem about oneself?? Rather, let our focus be upon the LORD Jesus and consider His value, His veneration and holy nobility, goodness and admirable qualities, and the truth of the matter, which is that He willingly died for us out of His own heart of goodness, love, compassion and tender mercies!

I don’t know about you, but I find it of far greater potency and much deeper satisfaction to know the love of Christ for me, rather than any ‘love’ for myself I could ever dredge up! The rest of this portion of Scripture from Romans (vs. 18 – 20) should be ample enough evidence to prove that there is nothing in us worthy of any esteem whatsoever.

Verse 19 speaks of the spiritual bondage to sin that Paul laments over; other verses that speak on this are as follows: Prov. 5:22; John 8:34; Rom. 6: 16; 2 Tim. 2:26; 2 Pet. 2: 19. The only liberation from such bondage is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the new life He imparts upon salvation.

Rom 7:21-23
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members
.


Two laws are in operation here: the law of sin which is in our members (bodies) and the law of God which operates in the mind or inward man. The inward man is no match by itself to combat the law of sin which brings us into captivity. We need the Life-generating power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ’s atonement and propitiation and resurrection power to defeat this law of sin, and we can and will and do, by faith acquire this victory!
An acronym that came to mind some years ago was A.V.R.A.S. or Absolute Victory (in life) Requires Absolute Surrender (to Christ).


Such victory is proportional to the degree of surrender, so that the more one is surrendered (or yielded; see Romans 6: 13 – 19) to the LORD, the greater the victory in life that will be experienced.
What is commonly known as ‘Spiritual Warfare’ (Use the TTUF search engine and type this phrase and enter; you will find an ample number of articles on this subject) has the significant aspect of spiritual integrity and holiness, which the enemy will endeavor to compromise at any cost in order to see the saint fallen from this state, and back into bondage to sin.

This is why a walk of holiness, a life of obedience and keeping our hearts and minds (2 Cor. 10:4) steadfastly upon Christ is crucial for such victory, yet always and ever by the power of Christ Jesus Himself; simply yield in surrender to Him and such is obtainable.


Rom 7:24-25
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin
.


When we stumble and fall into sin – and we will (1 John 1:8), let us recognize the flesh for what it is, confess and repent of such, but not spend any time living in the ‘condo’s’ (condemnation) and allow the enemy to beat and bludgeon us further with overmuch guilt to the point that we walk away from the LORD.

Rather, let us remember to keep short accounts with God, confess our sin and failings at once, and simply accept by faith that as we have confessed our sins, “He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The flesh will never know holiness while we remain on this earth; the new man will never know separation from God in communion (but separated in fellowship if we live with unconfessed sin in our lives). The law of sin will always operate in our flesh, just as the law of God will affect our spiritual lives. This is why the crucifixion (by identifying with Jesus Christ and His cross, by faith) of the flesh is the only remedy to diminish the influence (“motions”) of sin in our lives (Gal. 2:20 once again!).

In the next study, Paul will wrap up the doctrinal truths regarding the second aspect of salvation (sanctification) in Chapter Eight and begin to address some of the aspects of the third part of salvation (glorification).

The book of Romans is sometimes compared to a temple with its many chambers and rooms of deep theological and doctrinal truths; in this analogy, Chapter Eight is seen the highest spires and towers of that temple as the heights of its glories are unmatched anywhere else in the epistle, or much of the New Testament for that matter!

For this and many other reasons, I am most excited to venture into this chapter and plumb its depths and feast on its riches of spiritual provender! I hope to see you soon as we continue to walk On the Road of Righteousness!
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Saturday, November 19, 2011

THE GIVING of THANKS - HONORING GOD IN SUCH

By James J. Fire

THANKSGIVING is the favorite holiday of choice among many Bible believers and disciples of Jesus Christ. It’s the one that has apparently been untainted by the customs and mythic beliefs of this world.

Christmas (the observance of the birth of Christ at any rate) is tainted with Santa Claus, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, and materialism in the world of commerce to your home.
Easter (barring the pagan name – I prefer to call it Blessed Resurrection Day myself) is about the resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ from the dead, and yet here too we have such things as Easter Baskets, the Easter Bunny, etc. and so forth.

Thanksgiving is at least in form, untouched; true, people partake of food in such quantities as to be considered gluttonous; but the idea of thankfulness is present. The world just doesn’t seem to know to Whom they’re to express their thanks (themselves and their own industry maybe?) – or if they offer thanks, it’s to some generic concept of ‘God’.

For the believer however, thanksgiving is not just one day of the year to observe; rather it’s a heart attitude to maintain every day, and if one wills, to make a special observance of such on this last Thursday of November.
*~Why is it imperative to give thanks to God all of the time? Doesn’t He know our hearts and whether we are actually thankful or not? Why the need to constantly express our thanks to Him?
Well, for one reason, the Scriptures are replete with verses that speak on “giving thanks” and expressing our hearts of gratitude to the Giver of all blessings and gifts . . .

2 Sam 22:50
Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.
2 Sam 22:51
He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore
.

He is indeed the tower of our salvation, and shows mercy, not just to the king, David, but even those of lowly estate, meager and poor though their circumstances may be; in that which is vital and of eternal importance, the LORD is gracious in salvation and mercy (1 Chron. 16:34) and for these reasons, we offer our thanks and note this: "among the heathen". The unsaved are to see our gratitude for God and this is, in part, a faithful witness and testimony before them!

The Psalms are as overflowing with thanksgiving and praise to God as are our Thanksgiving tables with delectable feasts! And they’re just as stuffed with such subject matter as a roasted turkey!


Psalms 30:4, 12
Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever
.

Over and over the Psalms remind us to give thanks to God for His holiness, for His goodness and mercy, and for His righteousness and justice, and for His faithfulness to those whose hearts are towards Him!

Likewise in the New Testament, we see an ample supply of admonitions and exhortations to “give thanks” to the LORD –

We are thankful to the LORD for our fellow saints, that the LORD saved their souls and through whom we find encouragement and cheer, as one member of the body ministers to another to our mutual edification and joy:

Eph 1:15-16
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers
;

We understand that God’s will for us is to “give thanks” in – not necessarily “because” but at the least, “in all things”:

1 Thess 5:16-18
Rejoice evermore.

Pray without ceasing.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you
.

Another Psalm links thankfulness with the worship of God, and the life of a believer is to be as constant in worship as it is in breathing! It so “blesses His Name” to see His own beloved children express their heart-felt appreciation and thanks to Him for all He has done for us!

Psalms 100:4-5
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations
.

Thankfulness is associated with love and peace in the Scriptures:

Col 3:14-15
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful
.

Its sobering to note that the unsaved, and specifically those opposed to God have as one of their defining characteristics an attitude of an unthankful heart (Rom. 1: 21; 2 Tim. 3:2) and they did not (and do not) glorify God, a primary reason for our very existence!

There are times of sorrow and deep loss for every saint in the kingdom; its during this time, when overwhelmed with grief and despondency when one is tempted to become hardened of heart, even accusing God with such words as “You could have prevented this, LORD!” or something similar.

It’s during these times that we do well to remember that even in the darkest of days, and the deep, deep despondency of grief and pain, there are still things to be thankful to the LORD for – and such thanks offered, at such times when one feels least like doing so, is a sacrifice to the LORD. In bringing the heart about, and directing it towards God in thanksgiving is a means of lifting us out of our present circumstance, so we can see, despite the current calamity, that we have an eternity of blessing awaiting us, for which it is proper to express our thanks and gratitude:

Psalms 116:17
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD
.

Anxious thoughts, worry and frustration will be abated when once we direct our hearts in prayer and supplication to the LORD, and in bringing before Him our thanksgiving, and thus bearing the fruit of peace which shall rule our hearts:

Philippians 4: 6-7
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.


And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Its important that we express thanks, and in so doing, bringing to the fore the constant reminder of the supply of the LORD’s blessing – even if there is a temporary lack of physical blessing in our earthly world – that shall endure for all eternity, knowing that our struggles and burdens we endure now are only temporary – like our lives themselves: but a vapor that appears for an instant and then is gone.

Those that ignore the offering of thanks will soon forget the blessing and provision that the LORD brings to us, and will see only the pain and sorrow, the deficiencies and lack, the darkness and dreariness of life, and as a result become bitter and hard of heart, not expressing faith towards God, but unbelief and mistrust.

Hebrews 3:12-13, 19
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief
.

And also:

Hebrews 4:10-11
For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief
.

We are God’s sheep, the flock of His pasture – and the LORD is our Shepherd, we shall not want (have any need unmet); it’s important that we “rest” in His provisions just as He has faithfully made provision for our salvation! He Who wrought such an incredible provision that will endure throughout all eternity, is He any less able to meet our temporal provisions that we have need of (sometimes desperately so), even in today’s society of a depressed economy, scant provisions for employment, and with little foreseeable hope on our future horizons (EXCEPT for the Blessed Hope of the LORD’s SOON RETURN!)?

Rom 8:31-32
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?


A good brother (and worship leader) that I know is fond of saying, “If the LORD Jesus died for our sins, and did nothing else for us, this in itself would be far, far more than we ever deserve.” Yet the LORD daily loads us with benefits (Psalm 68:19), some of which we are not even presently aware of! Yet we must remember, since our Abba Father has granted to us His Son, Whom He willingly sacrificed on the cross for our salvation, how much more shall He in the same Spirit of Grace, Love and Peace give us all things, and freely so?

What He would have of us, if I may say so, is a closer walk with Him, recognition of His provisions, both physical and especially spiritual, and a heart fluent in worship and thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving, may we all stop and consider that which the LORD has blessed us with, and if we can think of nothing else (though I’m sure we can!), the primary cause and focus of our thankful heart: the LORD Jesus Christ, our King, and Savior and Chiefest of Friends! HALLELUJAH, what a Savior!

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart

Today as you read this, there is a saint in Communist China who is imprisoned, having endured torture, who is thankful to the LORD for giving them the grace to bear up under such violence and remain faithful to His Name despite such. Others are enduring the same thing behind Islamic borders and are likewise thankful for the same reasons…

There are other followers of Jesus Christ who are thankful in Africa for the handful of food, a daily provision for their present need, and not looking towards tomorrow’s needs, but leave that in the faithful hands of our dear LORD…

Other believers are gathered together at a funeral of a beloved who has departed; thankful that the LORD allowed them to be blessed by their life, and the privilege of knowing them, and that they are securely in the hands of our Abba, and awaiting our own arrival in heaven…

Some saint has had a tragic car accident and has lost their legs, and now will spend the remainder of their days in a wheel chair, but they are nevertheless thankful for the days when they did have good, strong legs . . . and are also thankful that the LORD spared their life, which means that they have yet some divine purpose to fulfill in this world, for His glory…

At that same hospital, another believer is fighting cancer, and in the pain and anguish, offers up sacrifices of joy, thanking Him for grace to endure, and a life lived with beloved family and friends, and with whom, they will one day be reunited, delivered from all disease, pain and death...

Now we focus our attention on a healing that the LORD performed on ten lepers; apparently there was at least one among them that was not Jewish but "a stranger (foreigner)" . . . who received healing like the other nine, but with a difference:

Luke 17:11-19 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us
And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole
.

Again, we see that the giving of thanks equates to glorifying God; let us as His beloved, glorify Him by offering our heart-felt and deep, abiding thanks this not only on this upcoming Thursday, but all the year through!

Psalm 95:2a
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving
.

Everywhere God is present, but there is a peculiar presence of grace and glory into which men should never come without the profoundest reverence. We may make bold to come before the immediate presence of the Lord - for the voice of the Holy Ghost in this Psalm invites us, and when we do draw near to him we should remember his great goodness to us and cheerfully confess it. Our worship should have reference to the past as well as to the future; if we do not bless the Lord for what we have already received, how can we reasonably look for more? We are permitted to bring our petitions, and therefore we are in honour bound to bring our thanksgivings.” ~~ Charles Spurgeon
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