Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. —Matthew 25: 10

 "Daily Delight: Meditations from the Scriptures" by P.G. Mathew

The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. —Matthew 25: 10

The parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 speaks about our need to be ready to meet Christ when he comes. No one knows the day or hour when this will happen. He will come suddenly, when no one expects it, like a thief in the night.

Therefore, it is vital that we be prepared for his return.

It is not easy to distinguish the foolish virgins from the wise ones in this parable, for there are many similarities.
All are virgins, all have torches, all sleep, and all awaken.
They all trim their torches when they hear the cry in the middle of the night.
They all intend to be in the procession and to feast with the bridegroom.

In the same way, in the visible church there are professing Christians who look like true believers.
Such professors confess Christ, carry Bibles, join the church, worship regularly, give money, and perform various religious duties.
Yet the truth is, they are not true believers.
They lack one essential ingredient.
-------> The crucial missing ingredient is oil, which represents the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.

This work results in sanctification,
------- by which we increasingly hate sin and increasingly love and do the will of God.

Preparation for Christ’s second coming does not consist in a life of passive watching and waiting.

Wise virgins are effectual and productive in their knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. They daily search the Scriptures to know and do God’s will.

They are not engrossed in this world, but are always thinking about the world to come.

While others are eating, drinking, and relaxing, they are ever engaged in loving and serving God.

The foolish virgins never gave any forethought to their need for oil. Spiritually asleep, they enjoyed a false security. At their moment of need, they sought to borrow from the others, but they could not.
----> We cannot borrow a relationship with Christ from someone else.
----> Salvation is personal, based on a vital relationship with Jesus Christ that is lived out day by day.

On the last day, when the door is shut, it will be too late; but right now, the door is still open. I urge you to prepare today to meet God.


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Thursday, August 3, 2017

"Everything Happens for a Reason" says the believer in Christ

Question: "Is it true that everything happens for a reason?"

Does everything happen for a reason? The short answer is “yes”; because God is sovereign, there are no random, out-of-control happenings. God’s purposes may be hidden from us, but we can be assured that every event has a reason behind it.

There was a reason for the blindness of the man in John 9, although the disciples misidentified the reason (John 9:1–3). There was a reason for Joseph’s mistreatment, although his brothers’ purpose in what they did to him was very different from God’s purpose in allowing it (Genesis 50:20). There was a reason for Jesus’ death—the authorities in Jerusalem had their reasons, based on evil intent, and God had His, based on righteousness. God’s sovereignty extends even to the lowliest of creatures: “Not one [sparrow] falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will” (Matthew 10:29, NET).

Several factors help us know that everything happens for a reason: the law of cause and effect, the doctrine of original sin, and the providence of God. All these demonstrate that everything does happen for a reason, not just by happenstance or by random chance.

First, there is the natural law of cause and effect, also known as the law of sowing and reaping. Paul says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7–8). This means that in every action we take or word we utter, whether good or evil, there are certain inevitable results that follow (Colossians 3:23–25). Someone may ask, “Why am I in jail? Is there a reason for this?” and the answer may be, “Because you robbed your neighbor’s house and got caught.” That’s cause and effect.

All that we do is either an investment in the flesh or an investment in the Spirit. We shall reap whatever we have sown, and we shall reap in proportion to how we have sown. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6). The believer who walks in the Spirit and “sows” in the Spirit is going to reap a spiritual harvest. If his sowing has been generous, the harvest will be bountiful, if not in this life, certainly in the life to come. Conversely, those who “sow” to the flesh are going to reap a life without the full blessings of God, both in this life and the life to come (Jeremiah 18:102 Peter 2:10–12).

The reason some things happen can often be traced back to original sin in the Garden of Eden. The Bible is clear that the world is under a curse (Genesis 3:17), which has resulted in infirmities, diseases, natural disasters, and death. All these things, although under God’s ultimate control, are sometimes used by Satan to inflict misery upon people (see Job 1–2Luke 9:37–4213:16). Someone may ask, “Why did I contract this illness? Is there a reason for it?” and the answer may be one or more of the following: 1) “Because you live in a fallen world, and we are all subject to illness”; 2) “Because God is testing you and strengthening your faith”; or 3) “Because, in love, God is disciplining you according to Hebrews 12:7–13 and 1 Corinthians 11:29–30.”

Then we have what is called the providence of God. The doctrine of providence holds that God quietly and invisibly works through the natural world to manage events. God, in His providence, works out His purposes through natural processes in the physical and social universe. Every effect can be traced back to a natural cause, and there is no hint of the miraculous. The best that man can do to explain the reason why things happen in the course of natural events is to point to “coincidence.”

Believers proclaim that God arranges the coincidences. The unbeliever derides such ideas because he believes natural causes can fully explain each event without reference to God. Yet followers of Christ are wholly assured of this profound truth: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

The book of Esther shows divine providence at work. The banishment of Vashti, the selection of Esther, the plot of the assassins, the pride of Haman, the courage of Mordecai, the insomnia of the king, the bloodlust of Zeresh, and the reading of the scroll—everything in the book happens, like cogs in a well-oiled machine, to bring about the deliverance of God’s people., Although God is never mentioned in Esther, His providence, working through “coincidence,” is plain to see.

God is always at work in the lives of His people, and in His goodness will bring them to a good end (see Philippians 1:6). The events that define our lives are not simply products of natural causes or random chance. They are ordained by God and are intended for our good. We often fail to sense God’s hidden guidance or protection as events in our lives unfold. But, when we look back at past events, we are able to see His hand more clearly, even in times of tragedy.
Recommended Resource: Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot by Max Lucado

Sunday, July 2, 2017

He who conceals his sins does not prosper. ~ Prov. 28:13

True confession of faith is always accompanied by confession of sin.

As a Christian declares his faith in Jesus Christ, he will also necessarily admit his sin and guilt before God.

Due to our sinful nature, the first thing we instinctively want to do after we sin is to conceal it. King David did this prior to feeling God’s heavy hand upon him. But God helped him to change, and David declared, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’and you forgave the guilt of my sin”(Ps. 32: 5).

Concealing is the opposite of confession.
But Proverbs 28: 13 tells us, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper.”

Such a person will remain a failure; he can never succeed.

Are you concealing your sin?
If so, you will not prosper.

Concealing sin finally leads to death, as Joshua 7 illustrates.

Achan was an Israelite who clearly knew God’s will, but he disregarded it. When he saw a beautiful Babylonian garment and some silver and gold in Jericho, he coveted them, took them, hid them, and refused to confess. No one, however, can conceal anything from God’s sight. Achan was exposed by God’s intervention, and his unwilling confession did not result in mercy. Rather, when Achan’s guilt was exposed, the Israelites stoned him to death in administration of divine justice.

Willing confession, born of the Holy Spirit’s convicting work in the soul, is the prelude to and condition for forgiveness.

Such confession always involves forsaking and renouncing our sins.

We cannot come to God and continue to be greedy or a liar or a thief or a homosexual or an adulterer.
True repentance means turning away from evil and turning to God.

The Bible has no Plan B that will allow us to come to God while continuing in sin. That is a false gospel. We must forsake all sin.

When Jacob went to Bethel to worship Yahweh, he acted in accordance with this principle.

He instructed his household, “Get rid of all your idols,”and they left them behind (Gen. 35: 2).
Therefore, what should you do?
-- Confess your sins and prosper.
-- Confess your sins and enjoy divine liberation from all shackles. -- Confess your sins and live!

~ devotion from Daily Delight: Meditations from the Scriptures

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bitterness...envy...and....jealousy are infectious diseases.....

When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. —Genesis 37: 4

Bitterness, envy, and jealousy are infectious diseases of our spirit, and can go on to infect the entire church.

When we harbor negative thoughts towards a brother, we cannot pray for him and will not fellowship with him.

 This sin is extremely evil, for it is ultimately against God and his sovereign decrees.

Bitter Christians have, in effect, lodged a serious accusation against their Lord, complaining that the place and calling God has assigned them is unfair and wrong.

Joseph’s brothers were envious of his purity, possessions, and position. They resented the fact that Jacob had given him preeminence. And they kicked against God’s plan, revealed in two dreams, to make him the head. As their hatred grew, the root of bitterness manifested in the fruit of murderous intent. So they said, “Here comes that dreamer! Come now, let’s kill him”(Gen. 37: 19–20).

 This is nothing less than demon possession—the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

By God’s amazing grace, the one who had been truly wronged by so many people—Joseph—was the one who remained free of such crippling passions throughout his life.

What was the key to his spiritual success?
----------------> “The LORD was with him.”

We read in Genesis 49 concerning Joseph: “With bitterness archers attacked him . . . but his bow remained steady . . . because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Joseph understood in the core of his being that the God who was for him would help and sustain him, and that he therefore did not need to take matters into his own hands by resorting to devilish revenge.

Joseph grew up without an iota of bitterness.

Later, as vice-regent of Egypt, he embraced his trembling brothers.

He is perhaps the foremost Old Testament example of grace.
But there is one who is greater than Joseph—the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are told, “Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. . . . When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate. . . . Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly”(1 Pet. 2: 21–23).

The Holy Spirit will help us to do this too.

.......We need not construct a prison cell of lifelong bitterness.

.............Instead, may we entrust ourselves to our faithful God.

Daily Delight: Meditations from the Scriptures by P G Mathew

Monday, June 12, 2017

.....we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.

Therefore, brothers, . . . we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus. —Hebrews 10: 19

Why is man in his sin restless, miserable, and fearful? His access to the true and living God has been cut off; he is like a fish thrown out of the water and gasping for oxygen.

We can trace the root of this problem back to Genesis 3, which relates the history of our first parents’sin against God in the garden. They and their offspring were punished with death, banishment from the very presence of God.

 Thanks be to God, that is not the final word. In Hebrews 10, we read that access has been restored; thus, we have confidence to enter God’s presence.

The Greek word used describes the exclusive right of a Greek citizen to come into the council and speak freely.
A slave had no such right.

 Such confidence is ours through Jesus Christ, who has changed our status from a slave of sin to a citizen of heaven, an adopted son of God himself.

 Jesus, our great high priest, is far superior to the Old Testament high priests. They made sure that the worshipers did not enter the Holy of Holies. The thick curtain that separated the people from God remained intact. Only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, could the high priest enter God’s presence for a brief moment with blood and incense.

But now Jesus has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself, and we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb. 9: 26; 10: 10).

 We cannot go to God on any other basis.

We cannot come into his presence by claiming that we have been good people.

 God is looking for only one thing—the sprinkled blood of Christ.

According to some, confidence is a subjective feeling—some days we have it, other days we don’t.

 But the confidence we read about in Hebrews 10 has nothing to do with how we feel on any given day; it is based, rather, on the objective reality of Christ and his sacrifice.

 Therefore, “let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful”(v. 23).

God, who does not change, welcomes all who come by this new and living way.


Friday, June 9, 2017

We have this hope....

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. —Hebrews 6: 19

Hebrews 6: 13–20 introduces us to the anchor of the Christian’s life.

An anchor stabilizes a ship by sinking into the water until it finally grips the solid ground.

The people of the world have no such anchor.

In the ocean of relativism, they have no mooring, no stabilizer when the storm and waves threaten to overwhelm their vessel.

What is our anchor?
It is God’s sworn promise to each of his children: “I will surely bless you”(v. 14).

Abraham himself received this gracious promise from God and believed it, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Although he had to wait patiently for twenty-five years for its fulfillment, Abraham “did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God” (Rom. 4: 20).

The recipients of the Epistle to the Hebrews needed this reminder, and so do we. Trouble, problems, and delay are part and parcel of the Christian pilgrimage. Each of us is called to “imitate those [like Abraham] who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Heb. 6: 12).

This divine promise is not the equivalent of the world’s “hope-so”that so often disappoints.
------ Rather, God provided Abraham, and us today, with a sure guarantee by adding his oath to the promise.

God, who cannot lie, intends for his people to be greatly encouraged so that they will persevere and trust in him, despite troubles, persecutions, and setbacks.
----- His gracious purpose for us who live in a world of ceaseless flux remains fixed and unchangeable, because he is the immutable God.

God’s promise to bless us is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
------- He is our true hope, the true anchor for our souls.

Every Christian is united to the risen Christ by faith, and this Christ has entered into the very presence of God as a high priest forever on our behalf.

We are completely secure!

Notice, though, that such encouragement is only for those who “have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us”(v. 18).

The imperative of the gospel is this: to run from destruction to safety, to come and surrender to Jesus Christ and find refuge from the wrath of God. He himself enables us to run, that we may flee to Christ in accordance with his gracious promise.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Left alone....I must come to the end of myself!

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. —Genesis 32: 24

This man who wrestled with Jacob was not just a man; this was the angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ, the second Person of the Trinity.

What did he want from Jacob?

He came to bring Jacob to a genuine realization of his nothingness, to make him see what a poor, helpless creature he was, to defeat and conquer his willfulness, and to teach him that in acknowledged weakness lay his strength.

If God has ordained us to salvation,
--- He will see to it that our rebellion and resistance are subdued.
--- He will reduce us to utter nothingness.
---------> And he never loses a battle.

He touches the sockets of our hips and dislocates our plans. He touches us with disease and disaster.

He wrestles with us until we surrender ourselves to his supreme rulership as King of kings and Lord of lords.
------ Wisdom is always to surrender early.

In his stubbornness and self-will, however, Jacob wrestled with God Almighty for a long time, until daybreak.

In the end, who won Jacob’s wrestling match?
-------> Christ.

And so, at daybreak, fallen Jacob was clinging to the angel of the Lord and praying.

Jacob had given up his rebellion, stubbornness, and resistance. He realized that his opponent was superior in strength. His power and self-reliance had vanished.

Oh, the blessed loss of human strength!

Now Jacob was clinging to, leaning on, and trusting in the Lord. And then he prayed.

Let me assure you, if we do not feel the need to pray, God has a way of bringing us to our knees.

We do not pray, because we feel strong.
We have tactics to solve our problems.
Our strength and arrogance say, “Don’t pray,”and God must break our strength until we cry out to him.

So Jacob prayed, “You alone can help me. I am not going to let you go until you bless me!”

God heard his prayer and delivered him from all his troubles.

Notice, only after total surrender to God was Jacob told, “You have overcome.”
------ In other words, our surrender is our triumph, for “God’s power is made perfect in weakness.”

Jacob, like Paul, learned, “When I am weak, then I am strong”(2 Cor. 12: 9–10).

------ That is winning by losing!


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Encourage one another daily.....

Encourage one another daily . . . so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. —Hebrews 3: 13

The Hebrews writer warns, “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (Heb. 3: 12).

The Greek word translated as “turns away” actually means to actively revolt against God; such people are called apostates, those who stand away from God.

How can we guard our own souls and help others to avoid this deadly heart condition?

In verse 13 he gives one chief imperative: “Encourage one another daily.”

What does this call to encourage entail?
First, we have a responsibility to quickly recognize and respond in love when a brother or sister begins to turn away.

We must say with great compassion,
“Stop, friend! Remember what God has done for you. He has given you his word; he has forgiven your sins. Don’t turn back to the way of rebellion, for the end thereof is destruction.”

Our goal is to win that person back, so that we can continue to walk together on the narrow way that leads to heaven.

And we, too, must respond in humble repentance when a brother or sister comes to us with a similar exhortation.

It is the responsibility of each church member to engage in this ministry. The church is necessarily a community where people are vitally connected. That implies close relationships, not a “Don’t ask, don’t tell”attitude.

We are to spur one another on to love and good works.
--- Notice that such close fellowship is wonderfully therapeutic.
---  It prevents hardheartedness, which ultimately damns.

Why is this exhortation so important?

The writer explains, “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first” (Heb. 3: 14).

Perseverance in the faith is one mark of a genuine Christian. If we do not persevere, if we apostatize, we are not children of God.

--- The Israelites began well, but they did not continue in obedience and faith, and their bodies fell in the desert.
--- By way of contrast, in Hebrews 3 we read that Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, and Jesus was faithful as a son over God’s house.

If we would be his house, we must together walk faithfully before God, encouraging one another daily until we each arrive safely in heaven.