Go and Gather the Empty

A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried unto Elisha, saying, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves’” (2 Kings 4:1–2).

This woman had once been surrounded by the Word of God—where there was power and provision, a hope and a future. Yet, for some reason, the Word of the Lord had been taken from her household. She eventually found herself alone, and one day, an evil man—for only an evil man would do what he was about to do—arrived at the door and said, “Your children belong to me from this day forward. You do not have the resources or the power to stop me from taking them.”

We have a similar situation in our generation. The Bible tells us that “the wicked prowl on every side, when vileness is exalted among the sons of men” (Psalm 12:8). Who can rationally deny that vileness has raised itself up to be the standard of behavior in our modern-day society—by killing children in the womb; causing gender confusion in our young children in grade school; lying about the existence of God; forbidding our sons and daughters to pray in high school; radicalizing our young people against both God and their country in our colleges? Vileness is being exalted as righteousness, and what is good, holy and true is being cast down as evil and bigoted.

And so we ask ourselves today: How do we meet this challenge? Let’s start by taking a look at what happened to the widow in our opening passage. When the creditor was coming, she did what I suppose any mother would do: she shared her distress with the prophet Elisha—the only person of God left in the nation, to her knowledge.

“So Elisha said to her, ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house’” (2 Kings 4:2). Now Elisha had the power to do a lot of things, including the power of God to raise the dead. Yet he responded by turning to her and asking what she had in her house. “And she said, ‘Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a of oil’” (2 Kings 4:2).

The widow answered him by saying, “All I have is a jar of oil.” In other words, she was unaware of the power available to her if she would be willing to use what she had. Instead, she was totally focused on her distress, as is the case with many people today. “Lord, the wicked have come and are demanding our children.” We may become so focused on the distress of this dark hour that we are in danger of forgetting what God has already put into our hands.

Just as this widow said, “I have only a jar of oil,” we might say, “Oh, God, I have only my own salvation. I have only a little bit of strength left, yet this powerful force is coming to take away our hope and our future. It is taking the presence and sense of God out of the nation, and I do not know what to do. I feel like a widow.

It has been so long, as a nation, since we have heard the piercing word of God. Where has the conscience of America gone? What hope do we have left? How do we stop this creditor from taking our sons and daughters and making them slaves to unrighteousness?” Just as the widow had barely any oil left, we might have only a little bit of power left in our lives as a church age.

Nevertheless, we must not forget that we are the Body of Christ. We have access to the One who has all power and all knowledge and all authority

THE PLAN OF GOD

Elisha then said to the widow, “‘Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.’ So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her, and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’…Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest’” (2 Kings 4:3–7).

The oil just kept coming! She thought she had just a small amount, but she did not realize she was connected to a supply that never runs dry! That is what a spiritual awakening looks like! When we simply believe God, even when we have only little bit of oil, we can start pouring into others around us.

In fact, I believe the plan of God for our day is to gather every empty person you know and begin to pour into them. Gather your empty friends; gather your empty neighbors; and even send your children out to gather them in. Perhaps you are a single mother with two children who have you worried. Tell them to get all those friends they are hanging out with and bring them to your home. Then tell your children to say to their friends, “I’m going to lay hands on you, and we are going to pray. We are going to believe that God will fill you with the Holy Spirit!”

The promise and the hope for our generation is God saying, “As you take the little bit that you have and pour it into the empty places, you will discover that I am a river of life flowing from inside of you.” After all, Jesus Himself promised, “Come to Me, and out of your belly, out of your inward parts, will flow this river of living water” (see John 7:37–38).

When Pastor Teresa and I first got saved, we did not know any better so we started laying hands on people, and many were filled with the Holy Spirit. One time Pastor Teresa had a Tupperware party in our home and a lady brought her husband, who was hostile to the gospel. Neither he nor I wanted to be around the party, so we went upstairs. As we conversed, I simply started talking to him about what God had done for me, and suddenly he said, “I want that in my life!” So I laid my hands on him and started to pray. The next thing I knew, he was lying on the floor speaking in tongues! All I did was reach out with the little life that I had, and that man is still walking with the Lord today.

Thank God for the simplicity of faith. No wonder Jesus told the Church of Ephesus, “You have your theology down and are testing and proving those  who say they are apostles. You have discernment and are doing a lot of good works—even more than at the beginning—but I have something against you: You have lost your first love. You have lost the simplicity of walking with God, the joy of just being a vessel through whom God can pour His life into others. If you do not get back to that, you will lose your ‘candlestick’” (see Revelation 2:1–5).

In other words, if you do not use the oil you have, you will lose it. You will lose the light. Yes, you will still have your salvation and end up at the throne of God one day, but what the Lord could have done through your life to impact those around you will not happen.

GOD’S VESSELS

In the Book of Acts, we read of a hundred and twenty people gathered in the temple—people who were emptied of self, essentially possessing only the oil of their own salvation. You might say they were empty vessels—empty of all sense of strength, empty of all the promises they had made to God—yet aware that their generation was about to be taken captive by the godlessness of that moment. After all, it does not get any more godless than killing the Son of God. Nevertheless, knowing their own limitations and fears, they began to pray in the temple. I can picture God the Father talking to His Son regarding those who were seeking more of Him. God said to Jesus, “May I borrow these empty vessels that have gathered in Your Name? May I borrow them and do something astounding through them?” And the Son answered, “Father, You are more than welcome to them.” And right away, oil was pouring down into these hundred and twenty who had no strength in themselves.

They left the Temple, walked out into the marketplace, and began pouring that oil out—and soon there were about five thousand new believers in Christ (see Acts 4:4). Think about it—the hundred and twenty did not have the New Testament; they were the New Testament! God’s Spirit was in them, and they were simply being used as vessels to pour into empty people. They learned that it was not in their strength but in their weakness that God’s power would be made known.

And so now you can either sit at home and stare at your little jar of oil and try to survive, hoping nobody will captivate your children, or you can do what God says—go and gather your neighbors. Find them on the street corners. Start pouring into the empty places. Pour unreservedly, for you have more resources than you know. You do not have to wait for some divine moment. You do not have to wait until you feel like you are on top of the world or you have a million dollars in the bank. You can start on the street today; you can pray for somebody, somewhere, right now.

This is the hope now for our nation. You will be shocked at how hungry people are today. Remember, you do not have to sit there and debate theology with them. You can simply say, “Let me pray for you, and let God pour His Holy Spirit into your life.” Begin to gather and pour, believe and pray, and watch what God will do in this generation!

Carter Conlon ©2019 Times Square Church

This is an edited version of “Go and Gather the Empty,” a sermon given on October 21, 2018 in the sanctuary of Times Square Church in New York City. Other sermons are available by visiting our website at tsc.nyc.

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Cry Out! Help is On the Way!

Hebrews 2:18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

Jesus comes running to the cry of His brethren which is beautifully pictured by a parent who responds without hesitation to the cry of their child crying out in distress!

Come to the aid (997) (boetheo [word study] from boé = at a shout or cry as for aid or help [only NT use = Jas 5:4=”outcry”, the cry of the oppressed] + théo = to run) means literally to run on hearing a cry from one (in need or danger) to give help, relief, aid and/or assistance to someone. To hurry or hasten to the help of someone who is oppressed or in need of assistance. To bring or furnish aid. To assist by supplying what is needed.

TDNT – Boetheo “is often used of the physician…and cf. also the healings of Jesus (Mk. 9:2224Mt. 15:25). Similarly in Ac. 16:9Rev. 12:16. Of God as the One who helps it is used only at 2 Cor. 6:2, quoting Isa. 49:8. It is used of help in religious need at Mk. 9:24Heb. 2:18. (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament – Volume I)

Gary Hill’s discussion gives us a good feeling for the meaning of this great Greek verb –   boēthéō (from 995 boē, “intense exclamation” and theō, “run”) – properly, run to meet an urgent distress-call (cry for help); deliver help by quickly responding to an urgent need (intense distress). boētheō (“supply urgently needed help”) means to give immediate aid – in time for a pressing need, i.e. “to run, on a call to help” (TDNT, 1:628). Boētheō was originally a military word, responding to a critical, urgent need (MM).  Boētheō is also used in Homeric Greek (800-900 BC) for responding to a war-cry. (ED: A GREAT DESCRIPTION FOR BELOVED WE ARE DAILY IN AN ONGOING SPIRITUAL WAR WHETHER WE KNOW IT OR NOT!) (The Discovery Bible) (Bold added)

THOUGHT – Dr Hill’s description begs the question – What is my response when I am tempted (and we are always being tempted to one degree or another – cf 1 Peter 2:11 where “wage war” is present tense = continuously, James 1:14) Which direction do I go when I tempted? Do I run toward the temptation? Do I flee from the temptation (cf 1 Cor 6:18)? Do I cry out for urgent help from Jesus Who was tempted in the same way and yet did not sin and Who is ever able to run to my aid when I am tempted? May God grant us the desire and the power to cry out to Jesus when we are sorely tempted to sin against our Father (cf Ge 39:9). Amen. But remember even though we “cry out” our part is not just passive and to “let go, let God,” but more like “Let God and let’s go (flee from the temptation)!” And remember that with the temptation comes the way of escape, but we must (energized by the Spirit) choose to run through the way of escape.

Hendriksen – The word “help” is very meaningful and touching. In the original it consists of two smaller words: a cry and run. In any context in which this word is used it is an earnest and moving request that the Lord, or whoever the potential helper happens to be, may rush toward the person who is in need, and may help him. (New Testament Commentary Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark )

Mills writes that boethéo “denotes a loud, ringing cry for help, thus emphasizing the desperate, helpless state of the supplicant.” (The Acts of the Apostles. 3E Ministries)

Moulton and Milligan have identified the noun help (boetheia) and the verb to help (boetheo) repeatedly recurring at the end of petitions in Greek secular writings (papyri)

SPIRITUAL HELP FROM
THE GREAT PHYSICIAN!

Secular Greek often used boetheo in the description of a physician according to Kittel (TDNT). It is interesting that the Gospels uses of boetheo in situations where individuals address Jesus (the Great Physician) in a sense “interceding” with Him to come to the aid of loved ones who are demon possessed. Thus the sense in those passages is to provide spiritual help and healing. In Paul’s vision of the man of Macedonia, the man appealed to him “Come over to Macedonia and help (aorist imperative) us” clearly a call to bring the soul healing/saving Gospel to Europe! Jesus sent help in this case in the form of a His man on the scene, the Apostle Paul! Paul also alludes to the saving help of the Gospel in 2Cor 6:2. In short, we see that most of the NT uses boetheo are in the context of individuals in need of spiritual help, even as is true of Hebrews 2:18.

Boethéo means to relieve – the verb relieve in English means to free, wholly or partially, from pain, grief, want, anxiety, care, toil, trouble, burden, oppression or any thing that is considered to be an evil; to ease of any thing that pains the body or distresses the mind.

JESUS THE SAVIOR
SUCCORS SUFFERING SAINTS

Jesus became a Man of SORROW
that He might become
The One Who able to SUCCOR

Boetheo means to succor (KJV reads “He is able to succor them that are tempted”) which is a word you may not be too familiar with, but which means literally to run to or run to support hence, to help or relieve when in difficulty, want or distress; to assist and deliver from suffering; as, to succor a besieged city; to succor prisoners. (succor is derived from Latin succurrere = to run up, run to help, from sub– = up + currere to run). (See below for more discussion of this aspect of Jesus’ help to the helpless)

Boetheo – 8x in 8v and rendered (NAS) as – come to the aid, 1; come to…aid, 1; help, 4; helped, 2. Boetheo is used 78 times in the Septuagint translation – e.g., in Ps 121:1 “where does my help come from?” and Ps 124:8 “Our help is in the Name of the LORD.” See also 1Sa 7:12Ps 28:737:4040:1344:2646:554:470:579:986:1794:17109:26119:86175.

Matthew 15:25 But she came and began to bow down (proskuneo = verb translated “worship” in Mt 15:25KJV!) before (Jesus), saying, “Lord, help (present imperative in context signifying a petition not a demand) me!”

Wuest: And having come, she fell upon her knees and touched her forehead to the ground in profound reverence before Him, saying, Sir, be helping (Ed: picking up on the present tense) me.

Comment: The Canaanite woman pleaded with Jesus to help her demon-possessed daughter, and in so doing we see her desperation, her persistence and faith (Read context = Mt 15:21-28, especially Mt 15:28), her humility, her submission (her posture of worship), her dependence and her bold confidence(help is in the imperative mood – where the imperative expresses a petition, not a command) in Jesus.

THOUGHT – Would it be that more of God’s children had this Gentile woman’s desperate, dependent attitude and like her we would not hesitate to cry out for Jesus to come to our aid when we find ourselves drowning in the dire straits of temptation and in great need of His assistance! Do you really believe Jesus will come running to your aid and has the power to overcome your temptations? Do you cry out when you are being tempted ( Caveat : I am assuming you have not gone somewhere, done something or looked at something that has aroused the flesh and the fires of temptation and that is the pathogenesis of your current strong temptation!)

Mark 9:22 “It (the demon) has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity (verb form splagchnizomai derived from splagchnon) on us and help (aorist imperative) us!”

Comment: Do not miss the association – His great pity for us precedes His matchless help for us! The aorist imperative is a petition that seeks instant help! “Now not later please” is the idea!

Mark 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help(present imperative) my unbelief.”

Hendriksen comments on “help” in present imperative: “Continue moment by moment and day by day to come to my aid, so that I may overcome my unbelief.”

Acts 16:9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help (aorist imperative) us.”

Comment: The man of Macedonia in using the plural for himself speaks for Europe, and his cry for help Europe’s need of Christ. Paul recognized a divine summons in the vision.

Kent Hughes helps us understand the picture of the verb boethéo remarking that: This was one of the great turning points of history, and we should thank God for it, for as a result the gospel has come to us in the West. Nothing makes a person strong like hearing someone cry for help! You can be walking down the street completely fatigued so that you would like to lie down on the curb and go to sleep, but then you hear a crysomeone is in trouble!and you completely forget your weariness. Paul and his associates moved forward in the power of Christ’s strength. (Hughes, R. K.. Acts: The Church Afire. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books) (Bolding added)

Acts 21:28 (Context = Acts 21:27-29) Unbelieving Jews from Asia who were in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost “upon seeing (Paul) in the temple (of Herod), began to stir up all the multitude and laid hands on him, (then they began continually) crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid (see boetheo below)(present imperative)!

Comment – (boethéo – Acting as though Paul had committed an act of blasphemy, they called for help in dealing with it – a vivid picture of the meaning of running to the aid of one who cries out for aid!). This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people, and the Law, and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place. For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. -29)

2 Corinthians 6:2 for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” (“I ran to your cry and brought you aid” = Wuest) Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME (now is a propitious, favorably disposed, epochal season),” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION “–

Comment: Paul is addressing the Corinthians, saved (who were not living in grace) and/or unsaved (who had never received grace) warning them not to receive the grace of God in vain. He quotes the Septuagint (Greek of the Hebrew OT) of Isa 49:8.

Revelation 12:16note But the earth helped the woman (Metaphor for Israel), and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.

The cognate (related) noun boetheia is used in Hebrews in the exhortation

Let us therefore (based on the truth of Heb 4:14noteHeb 4:15note) draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16note)

Comment on “time of need”: Greek adjective eukairos (eu = well, good + kairos = opportunity) = seasonable, timely, opportune, at the right time, well-timed, in season, timely. Mk 6:21 = only other NT use. BDAG = “in our lit. only pert. to time that is considered a favorable occasion for some event or circumstance, well-timed, suitable.” A T Robertson = well-timed help, help in the nick of time, before too late.

Vincent on “time of need”: Lit. for seasonable help, or help in good time; before it is too late; while there is still time to seek God’s rest. Others, however, explain, when it is needed; or, before temptation leads to sin.

Ryrie comments: His grace comes when we come in our time of need, and not until. (Ryrie Study Bible)

The cognate adjective boethos is used in Hebrews 13:6note where we read

The Lord is my Helper [boethos – the One Who responds to my call for help], I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?

Comment: This is the only NT uses of Boēthós which is common (45 uses) in the Septuagint (Lxx), the first use describing the wife as a man’s helper (Ge 2:18). The writer of Hebrews uses boethos to describe the Lord as poised and ready to run to the relief of His tempted/afflicted children. When? When they cry out for His assistance. Crying out reflects humility, a sense of dependence, a laying aside of self-reliance, that dangerous tendency we all “run to”. One has to make a choice to cry out to Jesus! Are you too proud or too self sufficient to cry out?

HELP FROM ANGELS
VERSUS
HELP FROM JESUS

Warren Wiersbe makes a distinction between the help angels give and the help given by our merciful and faithful High Priest, Who “stands ready to help us! He was tempted when He was on earth, but no temptation ever conquered Him. Because He has defeated every enemy, He is able to give us the grace that we need to overcome temptation. The word “succour” (boethéo “Come to the aid”) literally means “to run to the cry of a child.” It means “to bring help when it is needed.” Angels are able to serve us (Heb 1:14note), but they are not able to succor us in our times of temptation. Only Jesus Christ can do that, and He can do it because He became a man and suffered and died. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor) (Bolding added)

Kenneth Wuest commenting on Hebrews 2:18 says “How precious to know that when we are being tempted, the Lord Jesus always stands ready, eager to run to our cry and bring us aid.’

Philip Hughes – The help that he brings is twofold: in the first place, forgiveness of sins, the annulment of past defeats, and, in the second place, the power (his power) to fight and overcome temptation. His own conquest of temptation means for the Christian that the dominion of sin over him has been broken (Ro 6:14note). These two realities, forgiveness and power, are present in the passage before us. (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews – Philip Edgbumbe Hughes)

A W Pink adds that we need to “Remember Who He is. Remember the experiences through which He passed! He, too, has been in the place of trial: He, too, was tempted—to distrust, to despondency, to destroy Himself. Yes, He was tempted “in all points like as we are, sin excepted.” Remember His present position, sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high! How blessed then to know that He is “able” both to enter, sympathetically, into our sufferings and sorrows, and that He has power to “succor.” (Pink, A W: An Exposition of Hebrews)

As Man, a man of sorrows,
Thou hast suffered every woe,
And though enthroned in glory now,
Canst pity all Thy saints below.

KJV Study Bible – How much easier it is to help someone when we ourselves have gone through similar trials! Christ as Man has fully suffered the greatest of trials and so can ably comfort. These suffering Jews needed to hear that Christ had suffered as they were suffering.” (Bolding added. King James Version Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

As Paul reminds us

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” (2 Co 1:3-5)

MacArthur – Ours is not a cosmic God, powerful and holy, but indifferent. He knows where we hurt, where we are weak, and where we are tempted. He is the God we can go to not only for salvation but for sympathy.” (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word Pub)

Wiersbe – Now He is a merciful and faithful High Priest; we can depend on Him! He is able to succor us when we come to Him for aid. The word succor means “to run when called for” and was used of physicians. Christ runs to our aid when we call Him! (Wiersbe, W. W. Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books)

Matthew Poole – This is the most powerful preservative against despair, and the firmest ground of hope and comfort, that ever believing, penitent sinners could desire or have.”

Adam Clarke – “There are three things,” says Dr. Owen, “of which tempted believers do stand in need: 1. Strength to withstand their temptations; 2. Consolations to support their spirits under them; 3. Seasonable deliverance from them. Unto these is the succour afforded by our High Priest suited; and it is variously administered to them: 1. By his word or promises; 2. By his Spirit; (and, that, 1. By communicating to them supplies of grace or spiritual strength; 2. Strong consolation; 3. By rebuking their tempters and temptations; ) and 3. By his providence disposing of all things to their good and advantage in the issue.” Those who are peculiarly tempted and severely tried, have an especial interest in, and claim upon Christ. They, particularly, may go with boldness to the throne of grace, where they shall assuredly obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Were the rest of the Scripture silent on this subject, this verse might be an ample support for every tempted soul.”

Although the word boetheo is not used, Matthew gives us a blessed illustration of Jesus’ succoring or coming to the aid of one in need recording the story of Peter walking on the water

“but seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt 14:3031)

Comment: Jesus’ response is a vivid picture of what He will do for us beloved. And what was the condition? He cried out and so too must we. It is a humbling thing to cry out in need to another but God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. If a man or woman is willing to humble themselves in the presence of the Lord, he will lift them up!

JESUS IS ABLE TO SUCCOR
THOSE WHO ARE BEING TEMPTED

E. A. Thomson has this quote in regarding the succor provided by our Savior Who has suffered slings similar to His saints…

If ever I fall into a surgeon’s hands with broken bones, give me one whose own bones have been broken.” How can those who have never known what illness is, enter with the tenderness of a perfect fellowship into the chambers of the sick? or how can those who have never known a want understand with a matter-of-fact experience the anxieties of the poor and needy? (The Biblical Illustrator)

The writer’s point is this – Jesus is the Great Physician Who knows! He is able. He is ready to come to your cry for aid. Cry out beloved. His is the same One today Who yesterday said…

Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, I dry up the sea with My rebuke, I make the rivers a wilderness… (Isa 50:2)

Later in Isaiah He answers declaring

Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short that it cannot save. Neither is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. (Isa 59:1)

In a similar statement W. Gouge writes that

It is found by experience that childbearing women are more pitiful (Ed: mercy filled) to others in their travails than such women as are barren. The like may be said of such as are afflicted with any painful malady. (EdPoint? Jesus is mercy filled [Heb 2:17noteHeb 4:16note], because His cup of trials and temptations suffered was filled to the brim beloved!) (The Biblical Illustrator)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon writes concerning “JESUS SUCCORING.

He is able to succor them that are tempted. In this we note His pity (mercy), that He should give Himself up to this business of succoring them that are tempted. He lays Himself out to succor them that are tempted, and therefore He does not hide Himself from them, nor pass them by on the other side. What an example is this for us! He devotes Himself to this Divine business of comforting all such as mourn. He is Lord of all, yet makes Himself the servant of the weakest. Whatever He may do with the strongest, He succors “them that are tempted.” He does not throw up the business in disgust; He does not grow cross or angry with them because they are so foolish as to give way to idle fears.” (The Biblical Illustrator)

Spurgeon goes on to discuss Jesus’ “methods of succoring them that are tempted” listing out four areas as follows

(1) Usually by giving a sense of His sympathy.

(2) Sometimes by suggesting precious truths, which are the sweet antidote for the poison of sorrow.

(3) Sometimes He succors His people by inwardly strengthening them. (Ed: Cp Eph 3:16 where the Spirit of Christ is the One through Whom Christ strengthens.)

(4) I have known the Lord bless His people by making them very weak. The next best thing to being strong in the Lord is to be extremely weak in yourself. They go together, but sometimes they are divided in experience. It is grand to feel, “I will not struggle any more; I will give all up, and lie passive in the Lord’s hand.” Spurgeon then draws his discussion to a conclusion asking two questions “Where else can you go?. Where better can you go?” (The Biblical Illustrator)

Jeremy Irons asks

Now shall I tell you how our Lord “is able to succor” you? It is just simply by revealing Himself. “I am thy salvation”; “It is I; be not afraid.” It comforts, it cheers, it upholds. Just observe what encouragement here is for faith to the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having Himself “suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.” He has the fulness of grace; “all power is given to Him in heaven and in earth” (Mt 28:18); it is in His own hands, and He is “full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14) “He is able to succor them that are tempted.” “Well,” say you,” is He willing?” Suppose I reverse the question: Are you willing that He should? or are you looking somewhere else for succor? Are you willing that He should do it in His own way?” (The Biblical Illustrator)

G. Lawson writes regarding our Savior’s ability to succor His brethren that

The saying is, “None so merciful as those who have been miserable”; and they who have not only known misery, bat felt it, are most powerfully inclined, not only to inward compassion, but to the real relieving of others miserable. And this was a contrivance of the profound wisdom of that God, who is infinitely knowing and merciful, to find a way how to feel misery and be merciful another way. This was by His Word assuming flesh, that in that flesh He might be tempted violently and suffer most grievously; and all this that He might be more merciful and effectually succor sinful man.” (The Biblical Illustrator)

W. F. Adeney writes that Christ is able to succor

By His knowledge and sympathy He can give just such grace as is needed. Pathology must precede therapeutics. The diagnosis of disease is the first duty of the physician, and it is the most difficult; when that is successfully accomplished, the prescription follows almost as a matter of course. (The Biblical Illustrator)

W. A. Bridge asks

HOW DOTH HE SUCCOR those that are tempted in the day and time of their temptation?

1. Christ succors tempted souls before the temptation comes sometimes, by a special manifestation of Himself, His love and fulness, to them. Again, He succors before the temptation by filling the heart with the Holy Ghost. When the vessel is filled with one liquor, it keeps out another.

2. He succors also under temptation by opening the eyes of him that is tempted to see that it is but a temptation. A temptation is half-cured when a man knows that it is but a temptation: when a man’s eyes are open to see the tempter and the temptation. Therefore men are so hardly cured, because they are hardly persuaded that it is a temptation. When they see that, then they say, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Christ opens their eyes. Again, He succors under temptation, by letting fall some glimpse of His love, some love-look upon a tempted soul. And so, when Peter was in the high priest’s hall, Christ looks upon him, and he went out and wept bitterly.

3. After temptation He succors: by filling the heart with joy unspeakable and full of glory; by sending the angels to minister: as when the devil left Christ, had tempted Him and left Him, then came the angels and ministered to Him. Every way — before temptation, and in temptation, and after temptation — the Lord Jesus Christ is a succoring Christ to tempted souls. He was a Man of Sorrows that He might be a God of succors; His heart is full of succors.” (The Biblical Illustrator)

DOES YOUR FRAME
NEED FRAPPING?

Unger has an interesting note on ancient ships…

The imperfection of the build, and the tendency to strain the seams, led to taking on board “helps” (Gk. boetheia), cables or chains (apparatus for securing a leaking vessel), that in case of necessity could be passed around the hull, at right angles to its length and made tight—a process called frapping in the English navy.

Luke uses the noun boetheia in his description of the storm tossed ship in (Acts 27:17), writing that

after they had hoisted (the lifeboat) up, they used supporting cables (boetheia) in undergirding the ship and fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis, they let down the sea anchor, and so let themselves be driven along.”

Comment: In Acts 27:17 “boetheia” refers specifically a rope or chain for frapping a vessel to keep the beams from separating. Frapping (derived from Mid French [fraper] to draw tight as with ropes or cables) means a lashing binding a thing tightly or binding things together.

In nautical terms, this procedure of passing ropes under the ship to hold it together is termed frappingFrap is a nautical term that means to draw tight, to lash down or together. So in the midst of the storm in Acts 27 the sailors wrapped cables around the ship’s hull and winched them tight. Thus supported, the ship would be better able to withstand the severe pounding of wind and sea.

THOUGHT – Beloved, do you see the word picture inherent in the Biblical use of (verb – boethéo, noun – boetheia) in other verses? From time to time all saints encounter unexpected storms with potentially destructive wind and waves and find themselves in desperate need of our great Captain, Jesus, to batten down the hatches, sending His help that we might be able to endure the stormy trial or temptation, emerging on the other side of the “storm” intact, even unscathed! That’s supernatural! That’s what happens when we cry out for the Savior’s succoring!

Beloved Jesus is able to run to your aid
when He hears your cry for His help.

Perhaps right now you need to take a moment and like the Canaanite woman above (click), bow down in worship (even singing the hymn below), reminding yourself that your Helper Jesus is truly ready, able and willing to run to your assistance no matter the “size or shape” of your test or temptation.

WHAT A FRIEND
WE HAVE IN JESUS

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there

Courtesy of https://preceptaustin.wordpress.com/2019/02/27/3533/

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Abraham Believed God

“For what saith the Scripture? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness’” (Romans 4:3).

In these words we have the essence of the Gospel of God, and of His Grace. That Gospel is explained in Romans 1:1 to be the “Gospel of God.” God’s Good News; and faith cometh by hearing it. This is the Gospel that Abraham believed; he believed God; believed what God said. The patriarch’s feet were firmly planted on God’s ground; his eyes were fixed on God Himself. He had no shadow of doubt as to his possessing, in due time, all that God had promised. He did not hope it, still less did he doubt it, or go on asking for what God said He had given. 
Oh! how few comparatively among the children of God really believe God, and without any reserve take this blessed ground of having died with Christ, of being risen with Christ, of being forgiven all sins, accepted in the Beloved, and sealed by the Holy Spirit! At times they hope it; when all goes smoothly with them they can venture to speak hopefully, but when things go against them, they feel the working of the old nature, and at once they begin to reason about themselves, and to question whether after all they are in reality the children of God. From such reasonings the passage to despondency and despair is an easy one.

All this is destructive to peace, because it is dishonouring to God. It is impossible to make progress in this condition. How can one run a race if he is not sure whether he has started? How can one erect a building if he has not laid the foundation? How can any one grow in grace if he is in doubt whether he has life, or has been “planted“? But some may ask, “How can I be sure about this? How may I know that I am saved?” The answer is, How do you know that you are a sinner and need saving? Is it because you feel you are one ? Possibly so, but feeling is not a ground of faith; faith that is based on feeling is not a Divine faith at all. “Faith cometh by hearing.” Faith must have respect to a promise not to a feeling. True faith rests on the testimony of God’s Word. No doubt it is by the gracious energy of the Holy Spirit that any one can exercise this living faith, but we are speaking now of the true ground of faith, the authority for faith, the basis on which alone it can rest, and that surely is the Word of God, which is able to make wise unto salvation without any human intervention whatsoever.

Religion versus Christianity

There is scarcely a point on which Religion is more opposed to Christianity. Religion makes the word of God of none effect by its tradition and its superstition, and is thus in direct hostility to the truth of God. Religion has to do with the flesh; it admits that there is a Divine revelation; but it denies that anyone can understand it save by the interpretation of man; or, in other words, the Word of God is not sufficient without man’s authority. God has spoken, but I am told I cannot hear His voice or understand His Word without; human intervention. This is Religion!

Infidelity, on the other hand, boldly denies a Revelation; it does not believe in such a thing. Infidels can write books, they can tell us their mind, but (so they say) God cannot! But where is the difference between denying that God has spoken, and maintaining that He cannot make us understand what He says? Both are alike dishonouring to God. Both deprive man of the priceless treasure of His Word. Both exalt the creature and blaspheme the Creator. Both alike shut out God, and rob the soul of the foundation of its faith.

This has ever been the device of the enemy, to quench the light of inspiration, to plunge the soul into the darkness of infidelity and superstition, to set aside the authority of the Word of God by any means in his power. He cares not by what agency he gains this end. Witness how he brought about the Fall by casting doubt on the Word of God. “Yea, hath God said?” It is therefore very important for us to seize this great fact which is brought out in our text, “Abraham believed God.” Here was Divine faith. It was not a question of feeling or Religion. Indeed, if Abraham had been influenced by his feelings he would have been a doubter instead of a believer. For what had he in himself to build his faith on? “His own body now dead” (verse 19)? A poor ground surely on which to base a faith in the promise of an innumerable posterity. But we are told that “he considered not his own body now dead.” What then did he consider? The Word of the living God, and on that he rested. This is faith.

Written for our sake

Mark what the Holy Spirit says of him. “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief… therefore it was imputed unto him for righteousness” (verses 20-22). Ah, but the anxious one may say, “What has all this to do with my case? I am not Abraham! I cannot expect a special revelation from God. How am I to know that God has spoken to me? How can I possess this precious faith?” Mark the answer to these questions in the Spirit’s further words in verse 23. “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but for us also. if…” If what? If we feel it? If we realise it? If we experience anything in ourselves? Nay! But “if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.”

Oh! what solid comfort is here, what rich consolation! It assures the anxious one that he has the self-same ground and authority to rest upon that Abraham had, with much more light than Abraham had. For Abraham was called to believe God’s Word as to what He promised, whereas we are privileged to believe in a fact which God has accomplished. He was called to look forward to something yet to be done; we look back at something that has been done, even an accomplished redemption attested by the fact of a risen and glorified Saviour, seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

But as to the ground or authority on which this faith is to be based, it is the same in our case as in that of Abraham — the Word of God. So it is written, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” There is no other foundation for faith but this; and the faith that rests on any other foundation is not true faith at all. A faith resting on human tradition, or on the authority of a Church, is not Divine faith; it is a mere superstition, it is a faith which stands in the wisdom of men, and not in the power of God (I Corinthians 2:5). It is impossible for us to overstate the value and the importance of this grand principle, the ground of a living faith. This is the Divine antidote to all the errors, evils, and hostile influences of the present day. There is a tremendous shaking going on around us, and it will grow worse. Minds are agitated; disturbing forces are abroad; foundations are being loosened; institutions are tottering; souls which found shelter in them are being dislodged and know not whither to turn. Confusion and judgment is written on all things ecclesiastical and political.

What do we need?

What is the one thing that we need? Simply this. A living faith in the living God! This is what is needed for all who are disturbed by what they see without, or feel within. Our unfailing resource is this, trust in a living God, and in His Son Jesus Christ, revealed by the Eternal Spirit in the Scriptures of Truth .

Here is the resting-place for faith. Here we solemnly exhort you to stay your whole souls. Here we have authority for all that we need to know, to believe, and to do. Is it a question of anxiety about your safety? Hear the Divine words, “Wherefore also it is contained in the Scriptures: Behold I lay in Zion a Chief Corner Stone, elect, precious, and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded” (I Peter 2:6). What solid comfort is here, what deep, settled repose! God has laid the foundation, and that foundation is nothing less than His own Eternal, co-equal Son. This foundation is sufficient to sustain all the counsels of God, to meet all the needs of the soul. Christ is God’s own precious, tried, Chief Corner Stone. That blessed One who went down into death’s dark waters; bore the heavy judgment and wrath of God against sin, and robbed death of its sting, and, having done this, was raised from the dead, was received up into Glory, and is now seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the Heavens. Such is God’s foundation to which He graciously calls the attention of every one who really feels the need of something divinely solid on which to build, in view of the hollow and shadowy scenes of the world, and in prospect of the stern realities of the future.

God has spoken!

Dear reader, if this is your position, if you have come to this point, be assured that it is for you as positively and as distinctively as though you heard a voice from Heaven speaking to your own very self. In spite of sin in all its forms, and in all its consequences, in spite of Satan’s power and Satan’s malice, God has spoken! He has caused His voice to be heard in this dark and sinful world, and what has He said? “Behold, I lay in Zion… a foundation!” This is something entirely new! It is as though our blessed, loving and ever-gracious God had said to us, “Here I have begun anew, I have laid a foundation, and I pledge My word that whosoever commits himself to My foundation, whosoever rests in Mine Anointed, i.e., in My Christ, whosoever is satisfied with My precious, tried, Chief Corner Stone, shall never, no never, no never, be confounded, never be put to shame, never be disappointed, never perish, world without end!” Oh, how blessed, how safe, how secure! If there were any question raised, any condition imposed, any barrier erected, you might well hesitate. If it were made a question of feeling, or experience, or of anything else that you could do, feel, be or produce, then you might justly pause, but there is absolutely nothing of the sort. There is the Christ of God, there is the Word of God, and what then? “He that believeth shall not he confounded.”

In short, it is no more and no less than believing what God says, because He says it! It is committing your self to the word of Him that cannot lie. It is doing exactly what Abraham did. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” It does not say Abraham understood God, because he did not; nor that Abraham believed something about God, but Abraham believed God, i.e., what He said. Thus he lived in peace with God, and died in the hope of Resurrection, of a Heavenly City, of a Heavenly Home. It is resting on the immovable rock of Holy Scripture, and thus proving the Divine and saving virtue of that which never failed any who trusted to it, never did, and never will, and never can. Oh! the unspeakable blessedness of having such a foundation in a world like this, where death and decay and change are stamped upon all, where friendship’s fondest ties are snapped in a moment by death’s rude hand, where all that seems (to nature’s view) most stable is liable to be swept away in a moment by a popular Revolution, where there is absolutely nothing on which the heart can lean and say, “Now I have found permanent repose.” Oh! what a mercy in such a scene to have a living faith in the living Word and in the written Word of the living God.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake

By E.W. Bullinger

This page Copyright © 1999 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/

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Nothing the World Offers Compares to Biblical Peace

Webster defines PEACE as a “state (not an attitude but a condition of one’s heart) of stillness and serenity, of freedom from disquieting, agitating, anxious thoughts and a condition of harmony in relationships.” The Greek word for PEACE is EIRENE from the verb EIRO which means to join or bind together that which has been broken, divided or separated! Eirene is the root of our English word “serene” (free of storms or disturbance, marked by utter calm). EIRENE literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which has been separated, the result being that the separated parts are set at one again. Our common English expression “having it all together” speaks of everything in place and as it ought to be, a good description of BIBLICAL PEACE. When things (or people) are disjointed, there is lack of harmony and absence of an inner sense of well-being. When things (or people) are joined together, there is a sense of harmony, well-being and freedom from inner turmoil. PEACE can also describe cessation of war – “war” describes the state of all mankind in Adam (Ro 5:12note) because before salvation we were enemies of God (Ro 5:10-note) and our peace with Him was broken. When we believed in Jesus by grace thru faith we were transferred from our old position in Adam to our new, eternal position of peace with God in Christ (1Cor 15:22-sermon). As Paul explained “having been justified by faith, we have PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ro 5:1note)

Matthew Henry once asked “What peace can they have who are not at peace with God?” answering that “Peace is such a precious jewel, that I would give anything for it but truth.” Amen!

ONE HEART!

One of the best illustrations of BIBLICAL PEACE I have ever encountered is from missionary Jim Walton who was translating the New Testament for the Muinane people of La Sabana in the jungles of Colombia. However, Jim was having trouble translating the word PEACE. About this same time (don’t you love the PROVIDENCE of God!), Fernando, the village chief, was promised a 20-minute plane ride to a location that would have taken him 3 days to travel by walking. The plane was delayed in arriving at La Sabana, so Fernando departed on foot. When the plane finally came, a runner took off to bring Fernando back. But by the time he had returned, the plane had left. Fernando was furious (loss of peace) because of the mix-up. He went to Jim and launched into an angry tirade. Fortunately, Walton taped the chief’s diatribe and later when he translated it, he discovered that the chief kept repeating the phrase, “I don’t have ONE HEART.” Jim asked other villagers what having “ONE HEART” meant, and he found that it was like saying, “There is nothing between you and the other person.” Walton realized that God had just given him the picture he needed to translate the word PEACE into their language! To have peace with God means that there is nothing–no sin, no guilt, no condemnation–that separates us from God, PEACE possible only through Christ, Paul writing “having been justified (declared eternally in right standing before God) by faith, we have PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ro 5:1note).

Do you have “ONE HEART” with God today?

Outside of Christ there is no peace.

Only those in Christ know peace!

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India wrote, “Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace…If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you know what His will is.”

Indeed as Thomas Watson said “The seeming PEACE a sinner has is not from the knowledge of his happiness but the ignorance of his danger.” D L Moody adds that “A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is to enter into it.”

BIBLICAL PEACE describes that state of inner repose and quietness, even (especially) in adverse circumstances, which indicates that this peace is not natural but must be a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, a truth that Paul affirms writing that “the fruit of the Spirit is…PEACE” (Gal 5:22-note) It follows that we can possess “ONE HEART” because God is able to give us His peace even when our lives seem to be “falling to pieces.” Have you experienced His supernatural peace that surpasses all human understanding (Php 4:7note)? How can we experience this glorious peace? We experience this peace by learning to surrender to the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

As Kenneth Wuest explains this blessed “state of untroubled, undisturbed tranquility and well being is produced in the heart of the yielded saint by the Holy Spirit. We have this peace to the extent that we are yielded to the Spirit and are intelligently conscious of and dependent upon His ministry for us.” (Wuest, K. S. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)

Alexander Maclaren adds that this “PEACE comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of” Christ.

Jesus promised His fearful little flock

PEACE I leave with you. MY PEACE (“the imperturbable, inviolable peace of Jesus imparted to us in every detail of our lives”-Oswald Chambers) I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (Note that Jesus is saying that His peace is the “divine balm” for a troubled and fearful heart!) (John 14:27)

Comment: See 3 Spurgeon sermons on this passage – Spiritual PeaceThe Best of MastersThe Cause and Effect of Heart Trouble

As Amy Carmichael (who lived in the midst of troubling circumstances as a woman missionary in India) testified, “The PEACE of Jesus stood every sort of test, every strain, and it never broke. It is this, His very own PEACE, which He says ‘I give.’” And so we see that the peace that Jesus gives is not a guarantee of the absence of trouble, but instead is the promise that He is there with us in and thru the storm (Cf “The waves were breaking over the boat…and HE HIMSELF was in the stern”-Mk 4:37-38-sermon). While sometimes Jesus chooses to calm the storm as when He declared “PEACE, BE STILL” (Mk 4:39KJV), at other times He lets the storm rage and calms His child by giving His peace that transcends human understanding. Regardless, as Oswald Chambers says “No matter how complicated the circumstances may be, one moment of contact with Jesus and the fuss is gone, the panic is gone, all the shallow emptiness is gone, and His PEACE is put in, absolute tranquility, because of what He says—“All power is given unto Me.”

Jesus again repeated the truth about His peace to His fearful disciples declaring “These things (John 13-16) I have spoken to you, that IN ME you may have PEACE. In the world you have tribulation (affliction, trouble), but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33-Spurgeon sermon) Observe the phrase “IN ME” which signifies that Jesus’ peace is not just His PROMISE (which it is) but even better, PEACE is the PERSON of Christ Himself! (cf Eph 2:14-noteMicah 5:5-note)

Now may the LORD OF PEACE HIMSELF continually grant you PEACE in EVERY (Greek means “all” w/o exception!) circumstance. The Lord be with you all!” (2Th 3:16Spurgeon sermon). Indeed “Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace.” Pause and meditate a few moments on God’s perfect peace in Christ as you sing this great hymn to Him…

Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do.
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.
Francis Havergal

When we keep our MIND fixed (stayed) on the LORD OF PEACE, He gives us His PEACE OF MIND for as a man or woman thinks in their heart so they are (Pr 23:7a).

Great GOD OF PEACE by Your Spirit cause our hearts to BE STILL, and grant us Your grace to understand BIBLICAL PEACE so that we might know the blessedness of this peace by personal possession and practice, in the Name of Christ Jesus our Peace, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6sermon) and the God of Peace Who will soon crush Satan under His feet. (Ro 16:20note) Amen

Dearly beloved, is your SOUL troubled (lacking His peace)? After you have meditated on the truth about God’s Peace, take a moment to sing prayerfully to your SOUL (cf similar exhortation in Ps 42:5-note) the beautiful Selah hymn medley

Be Still” and “What a Friend we Have in Jesus

BE STILL, MY SOUL: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
BE STILL, MY SOUL: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
BE STILL MY SOUL the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below
Oh what PEACE we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
BE STILL MY SOUL.

BIBLICAL PEACE
Part 2

PEACE (eirene from eiro = to join together) is not just the absence of hostility and strife (which it is!) but also describes the situation where two are brought together and there is no long anything between them to cause friction or create a barrier. As missionary Jim Walton discovered, BIBLICAL PEACE was beautifully described by the natives as a person who possessed “ONE HEART” (see above). When things (people, God and man) are “disjointed,” there is lack of harmony (a DIVIDED HEART) and a loss of a sense of well-being, but when they are joined together, there is ONE HEART that can supernaturally sing

“IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!”

PEACE WITH GOD should be distinguished from PEACE OF GOD. The former is forever, equates with justification and is the position (standing, possession) of every believer, while the latter is associated with sanctification (daily growth in Christlikeness), is experiential and manifest by inward tranquility (freedom from agitation, disturbance, turmoil) of one’s soul but sadly an experience that can be “stolen” from our heart, especially by the “thieves” named fear, anxiety and worry.

I Will Be Still and Know You Are God
Don Moen

Hide me now, under Your wings,
Cover me, within Your mighty hand.
When oceans rise and thunders roar,
I will soar with You above the storm.
Father, You are King over the flood,
And I will be still and know
You are God.

Find rest my soul
In Christ alone.
Know His pow’r
In quietness and trust.

PEACE WITH GOD: Paul writes that “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1Cor 15:22-Spurgeon sermon) And so when we were in Adam “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1-note, cf Ro 5:12-note) we were not at PEACE WITH GOD for we were “alienated and hostile in mind (“hostile toward God” Ro 8:7-note), engaged in evil deeds” (Col 1:21-note). BUT JESUS “made PEACE (WITH GOD) thru the blood of the Cross” (Col 1:20-note), so that now “having been justified (declared legally in right standing before God) by faith, we (forever) have PEACE WITH (“face to face” before) GOD thru our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ro 5:1-note). Indeed, even while “We were enemies, we were RECONCILED (taken from a state of enmity to a state of peace which restored our relationship) to God thru the death of His Son” (Ro 5:10-note) Who thereby made us God’s “children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Ro 8:17-note), yea, even eternal heirs of the precious prize of PEACE WITH GOD.

As Spurgeon explains that “There is no quarrel now between God and those who are in Christ Jesus. PEACE is made between them. The middle wall that stood between them is taken away (for “now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ, for He Himself is our peace, Who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.” Eph 2:13-14-note). Christ, by His “one sacrifice for sins for all time,” (Heb 10:12), has made peace for all His people, and has effectually established a union (oneness in Christ) that will never be broken.” Amen! Hallelujah!

PEACE OF GOD: As noted this “genre” of divine peace can rise and fall proportionate to disturbances from fear, anxiety or worry. Little wonder that these thieves can steal our peace, for ANXIOUS is derived from the Latin angere meaning to strangle while WORRY is related to German wurgen which also means to strangle! Is this not what anxiety and worry do to disturb the PEACE OF GOD in our heart and mind? But God has not left us without “the way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13-note) when we encounter these “peace breakers.” Under the inspiration of the Spirit, Paul writes

BE ANXIOUS (command – present imperative with negative = stop doing this or don’t begin!) for NOTHING(Paul’s circumstances? An “anxiety producing” prison cell!), but in EVERYTHING (not just the “big things” – nothing too small to bring to God) by PRAYER (includes the ideas of adoration and worship of God) and SUPPLICATION (sincere, earnest sharing of our needs and problems) with THANKSGIVING (A Spirit enabled God aligned attitude of gratitude. cf 1 Thessalonians 5:18note) let your requests BE MADE KNOWN to God (Of course He knows them, but this is an act of humbling ourselves before Him, knowing He is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6-note). And the PEACE OF GOD, which SURPASSES ALL COMPREHENSION (Why? In short, it is supernatural in nature and origin, a gift of grace from the God of peace and a gift that “keeps on giving” in spite of adverse circumstances or people, which is simply incomprehensible to non-believers and even mysterious to believers who are surprised at the presence of peace and lack of anxiety even though they are in trials or tribulations!), shall GUARD (God’s “supernatural soldier” standing on guard duty over) your HEARTS and your MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS (Don’t miss this last phrase –in Christ Jesus– we are safe in Him Who is Peace Personified) (See study of phrases in Christ and in Christ Jesus).” (Php 4:6notePhil 4:7note)

So what is the divine “antidote” for peace stealers? It is a command to stop worrying and start praying with thankful hearts. “Careful for nothing, prayerful for everything, thankful for anything!” (Moody) Warren Wiersbe helps us understand this command noting that “It is not enough for us to tell ourselves to “quit worrying” because that will never capture the thief (worry the greatest thief). Worry is an “inside job,” and it takes more than good intentions to get the victory.” The only way to obey this command is by jettisoning self reliance and self effort and casing ourselves wholly on the Spirit of Christ to give us the desire and the power (see Php 2:13note)

Spurgeon adds we must supplement

No care with all prayer….Carry our desires to the Lord of our life, the guardian of our soul. Go to Him with two portions of prayer and one of fragrant praise. Do not pray doubtfully but thankfully. Consider that you have your petitions, and, therefore, thank God for His grace.

Remember that the Greek word for PEACE is eirene which describes the joining together of that which has been separated while ANXIETY is the polar opposite the Greek word describing a mind which is pulled apart or drawn in different directions! As Wiersbe says

Our hopes pull us in one direction; our fears pull us the opposite direction; and we are pulled apart!

The ANTIDOTE for this “ANTITHESIS” is grateful prayer leading to God’s PEACE which counters all ANXIETY!Indeed, care (anxiety) and prayer are as mutually opposed as fire and water so by turning our CARES into PRAYERS we throw them upon Him Who gives us in return His peace, the PEACE OF GOD that GUARDS us like a soldier over the two areas that create anxiety, our heart (wrong feelings) and our mind (wrong thinking) while the GOD OF PEACE GUIDES us step by step (Php 4:9note)!

Spurgeon adds that the PEACE OF GOD is

God’s Own peace. You shall not be able to understand the peace which you shall enjoy. It will enfold you in its infinite embrace. Heart and mind through Christ Jesus shall be steeped in a sea of rest. Come life or death, poverty, pain, slander, you shall dwell in Jesus above every ruffling wind or darkening cloud. Will you not obey this dear command? Yes, Lord, I do believe thee; BUT, I beseech thee, HELP MINE UNBELIEF.

John MacArthur adds that “The real challenge of the Christian life is not to eliminate EVERY unpleasant circumstance; it is to TRUST in the good purpose of our infinite, holy, sovereign, powerful God in EVERY difficulty. Those who honor Him by trusting Him will experience the blessings of His perfect peace. (MacArthur, J. Philippians. Chicago: Moody Press)

When circumstances arise that try to pull our hearts away from God and His SURPASSING PEACE, the psalmist offers us a great prayer

Teach me Your way O LORD and I will walk in Your truth. GIVE ME AN UNDIVIDED HEART, (Give me “ONE HEART” ~ PEACE) that I may fear Your Name.” (Ps 86:11NIV-note) Amen.

Spurgeon agrees noting that “Our minds are apt to be DIVIDED between a variety of objects, like trickling streamlets which waste their force in a hundred runnels; our great desire should be to have all our life floods poured into one channel and to have that channel directed towards the Lord alone. A man of DIVIDED heart is weak, the man of one object is the man. God Who created the bands of our nature can draw them together, tighten, strengthen, and fasten them, and so braced and inwardly knit by His uniting grace, we shall be powerful for good, but not otherwise. To fear God is both the beginning, the growth, and the maturity of wisdom, therefore should we be UNDIVIDEDLY given up to it, heart, and soul.”

Now the GOD OF PEACE, (cf Ro 15:33Ro 16:201Co 14:332Co 13:11Php 4:91Th 5:23) Who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, EQUIP you (Greek = mend what is broken, restoring to former useful condition, making us whole and what we ought to be) in every good thing TO DO His will (our responsibility), (enabled supernaturally by His Spirit Who is continually) working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, thru Jesus Christ, to Whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21-note)

The PEACE OF GOD comes when the Spirit of Christ controls our internal being whatever our external circumstances. The worst ocean storm never goes more than fifty feet deep. Gales rip across the Atlantic and cause waves a hundred feet high, but far below the water is calm as a pond on a sunny day in June. In the same way the PEACE OF GOD which surpasses all understanding keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus in the midst of all storms and perils.

Horatio Spafford understood this metaphor, for his only son died of scarlet fever in 1870, his investment in real estate in 1871 burned to the ground that same year in the great Chicago fire, and then in 1873 he was devastated by the news that all 4 of his daughters had died in a shipwreck in the Atlantic. Later, as he was in route to Europe to meet his wife who had survived, he was shown the spot in the mid-Atlantic where his daughters had perished, and was suddenly overwhelmed by an inrush of SUPERNATURAL PEACE (the PEACE OF GOD). With tears streaming down his face, Spafford picked up a pen to record his feelings and from his heart filled with the  Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18noteGalatians 5:22noteIsaiah 28:3) and His gracious gift of a deep inner peace peace of God prompting the timeless words “It is well with my soul”.

Play and pray this great Hillsong hymn medley

When PEACE like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to say,
‘IT IS WELL, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL’

Courtesy of https://www.preceptaustin.org/biblical_peace#Peace

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Insights into the Birth of Jesus

An old and familiar part of the Christmas story goes like this: Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem shortly before the birth of Jesus. [1] The night they arrived in Bethlehem there were no rooms available in the local inns, and so Joseph and Mary had to make a place for themselves in a local stable, where Mary gave birth to Jesus and then laid him in a manger, a feeding trough for the animals.

The picture painted by the above part of the Christmas story is not a pretty one. It paints a cold and selfish picture of the people of Bethlehem. Most people of every age and culture go out of their way to help women in need, but somehow the people of Bethlehem closed their doors to this young woman about to give birth. Is that really the picture of the birth of Christ that the Word of God paints for us? We will see that there is a joyful picture of giving in the Christmas story that has been hidden from the eyes of many Christians, but which shows the true heart of Christmas: giving to others from a joyful heart.

The modern Christian understanding of the birth of Jesus comes largely from extra-biblical works and traditions imported into the Gospels, rather than the biblical record itself. Much misinformation came from a document that was widely circulated in the early centuries of the Christian era. It is referred to by scholars as the Protevangelium of James, and was likely written in the third century A.D. [2] The Protevangelium is the first document scholars are aware of that refers to Jesus being born close to Mary’s arrival in Bethlehem, though it says Jesus was born in a cave before Joseph and Mary even reached Bethlehem. Sadly, in ancient times as well as today, people seem to pay more attention to what people say about the Bible than what the Bible itself says.

We do not know how large a part the Protevangelium played in developing the tradition that Mary gave birth to Jesus the night she and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem. However, we do know that the traditional belief became easier to sustain as the center of Christian culture moved to Europe, where day-to-day life was quite different from life in Palestine.

Arrival in Bethlehem

When we read the Bible carefully, even in most English versions, we see that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem for an unspecified number of days before Mary gave birth.

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

It is clear from Luke 2:6 that Joseph and Mary did not arrive in Bethlehem the night she gave birth, but days earlier. Mary gave birth “while they [she and Joseph] were there [in Bethlehem],” and the verse specifically says “days.” When the word “days” is used in the plural in the New Testament, it always refers to “days” literally or a period of time. Had Joseph and Mary arrived the day Mary gave birth, the text would have used “day” or “hours,” not the plural “days.” New Testament scholars know this. For example, R. C. H. Lenski writes: “This [the day Jesus was born] was not the day of Joseph’s and Mary’s arrival….” [3] Nevertheless, as usual, scholarship does not often have the power to overturn tradition, with its well-entrenched stories, songs, and paintings.

If Joseph and Mary had been staying in Bethlehem before Jesus was born, how is it that they had not found adequate lodging? Why give birth in a stable and lay Jesus in a manger? Oops, the Bible never says the birth was in a stable—that is tradition. If for some reason Bethlehem was so totally filled with guests and visitors that no one would open their homes to Joseph and Mary, their relatives Zechariah and Elizabeth lived only a short distance away, in the hill country of Judah (Luke 1:39 – NASB) [4], and Joseph and Mary could have gone there with only a little effort. In fact, Mary had visited Elizabeth early in her pregnancy (Luke 1:40). So Joseph and Mary could have found adequate housing and care if they needed it.

Getting the Story Straight

The story of the night of Christ’s birth needs to be retaught and relearned in Christian circles, not only because truth matters and what actually happened is important, but because it shows the love and sacrifice that people make to help each other, and the true joy of giving so that others may be blessed. That is a much more redemptive rendition of the Christmas story than townspeople closing their hearts and shutting their doors to a pregnant woman in need.

In order to see what really happened around the season of the birth of Christ we will need to glean facts from both the Greek text and the culture of the ancient Near East (which, by the way, existed in many parts there until quite recently). Too often the Greek text alone has been used to try to reveal biblical truth. The Greek text alone is not enough to rebuild the truth of the biblical events for a very simple reason: when something in a culture is usual, well known, normal, or “standard operating procedure,” it is not written about in detail. For example, if I write a letter to a friend about my months of being with my son as he recovered from being wounded in battle, I might say, “I drove to the hospital every day.” I would never write: “I went to the hospital in my car, which is a large metal and plastic mobility device on wheels, with a gasoline engine that starts when an ignition key is turned, and I made it move by pedals on the floor, (etc).” It would be ridiculous to write that. Why? Because everyone in today’s culture knows exactly what I mean when I say, “I drove to the hospital.” Perhaps 2000 years from now, if culture has changed so much that only a few historians know what a car is, they might wish we described our driving in more detail, but that is not necessary today. In the same way, things that were part of the everyday culture of the Bible times were not described in detail in their writings. We have to learn about the ordinary things of ancient life by piecing together details from many texts and writings, by using archaeology to study the material a culture left to us, and by studying any cultures that still live the same way.

What we will see as we examine the biblical record from both the Greek text and the culture of the times is that Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem some time before she gave birth and were taken into the home of a local resident, likely a relative who was also of the family of David, in whose home Mary gave birth. Although most English versions have the phrase, “there was no room for them in the inn,” we will see that phrase has been both mistranslated and misinterpreted.

Welcomed into a Private Home

Before we look at the mistranslations of “room” and “inn,” however, let us look at some reasons Joseph and Mary could have found a place to stay. [5] First, Joseph was returning to his town of origin. Historical memories are long in the Middle East, and family support is very strong. For example, Paul knew he was a descendant of Benjamin (Phil. 3:5), even though Benjamin lived more than 1500 years earlier than he did. Given the long family memories in Hebrew culture, once Joseph told people that both he and Mary were descendants of families from Bethlehem, many homes would be open to them. In fact, it is likely that Joseph and Mary already knew of relatives in Bethlehem and may well have gone to those homes first to find lodging. As we see the true story of Christ’s birth develop, that seems like a very strong possibility.

Second, not just one, but both Joseph and Mary were “royals,” because they were both from the royal line of David. David is so famous in Bethlehem that it is called, “the city of David” (Luke 2:4 – KJV). Being from that famous family would have meant that most homes would open their doors to them if only for that fact alone. Being able to host a couple that was direct descendants of David would have been an honor and privilege.

Third, in every culture women about to give birth are given special help, and the village of Bethlehem would be no different. The New Testament scholar Kenneth Bailey, who has spent his life living in the East and teaching in Universities in Egypt and Lebanon, properly understands the heart of village life in Palestine and points out that Joseph and Mary would never have been turned away in their hour of need. He says:

“Was there no sense of honor in Bethlehem? Surely the community would have sensed its responsibility to help Joseph find adequate shelter for Mary and provide the care she needed. To turn away a descendent of David in the city of David would be an unspeakable shame to the entire village.” [6]

Fourth, and very importantly, the shepherds who came to see Jesus shortly after his birth knew that he was the promised Messiah and their Savior. The angel had made that very clear to them. When they found Joseph, Mary, and their Savior, and if they in any way felt that he was not being treated well, they would have been scandalized and outraged, and immediately taken them home to their own houses. The fact that they did no such thing, but left the new family where they were and went to tell the good news to the whole area, indicates they felt Joseph, Mary, and the baby were being well cared for.

It is important that we properly understand the record of the birth of Christ. The night that Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem they were not rejected by a local hotel that had its “No Vacancy” sign turned on. Instead, they were taken into the private home of a caring family, who let them stay in the family living quarters. This type of giving and joy of service demonstrates the true meaning of Christmas.

There was No Space in the Guestroom

Let’s read, properly translate, and correctly understand what happened when Jesus was born.

Luke 2:7
and she [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The phrase “no room in the inn” is a mistranslation that continues to support the misunderstanding about the birth of Christ. Two words we must understand to properly interpret the biblical account are topos, which most versions translate as “room,” and kataluma, which most versions translate as “inn.” The word topos occurs more than ninety times in the New Testament. It does not refer to “a room,” like we think of a hotel room, or a bedroom, but simply to a place, or a space in a given area. The text is not saying there was no “room” for Joseph and Mary as in the sense of a hotel room, but rather that there was no “space” for them. Space where? Not in the “inn,” but in the kataluma. What is a kataluma? In the Gospel record it is a “lodging place” or “guest room,” not a commercial lodge, or inn. There was no space for Joseph and Mary in the guest room because it was already full. It is noteworthy that even Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon notes that if Luke 2:7 had meant to say “inn” in the sense of a hotel, there is a better Greek word that is used elsewhere in Luke. [7]

The normal Greek word for “inn” is pandocheion, and it refers to a public house for the reception of strangers (caravansarykhan, inn; we would say hotel or motel). The word pandocheion was used not only by the Greeks, but also as a loan-word for “inn” or a commercial lodging place in Hebrew, Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, and Turkish. Luke uses the word pandocheion in the parable of the Good Samaritan when the Samaritan took the man who was mugged to a public inn (Luke 10:34).

In contrast to the public inn (pandocheion), both Mark and Luke use kataluma in their Gospels as a “guest room” in someone’s house (Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11). When finding a place to eat the Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus tells them to say to the owner of the house, “…The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room [kataluma], where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” (Luke 22:11). So in both Mark and Luke, the kataluma is a guest room in a house, not an inn or hotel.

The gospel of Luke also uses the verb form of kataluma, which is kataluo, “to find rest or lodging.” When Zacchaeus the tax collector brings Jesus home for a meal, the Bible says that Jesus goes “to be the guest” [kataluo] at Zacchaeus’ house (Luke 19:7). So Luke uses both the noun kataluma and the verb kataluo to refer to a room in someone’s house. [8] The fact that pandocheion is a better word for “inn” than kataluma, along with the fact that Luke used pandocheionfor an “inn” and kataluma for a guest room, is very solid evidence that Luke is telling us the family who took in Joseph and Mary had “no space” in their “guest room.” Thus the Bible should not be translated to say there was no room for them in the inn, but rather there was “no space for them in the guest room.” It is noteworthy that Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible, done by Robert Young, the same man who produced Young’s Concordance to the Bible, translates Luke 2:7 as follows: “…there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber.”

One thing that is left out of the biblical record is why the guest room was full. Although we will never know for sure, there are a couple of possibilities. First, if Jesus was born when we of Spirit & Truth Fellowship think he was, the first day of Tishri, it is possible that Jerusalem and the surrounding region was already experiencing a large influx of people for the season of the year, because it had the largest number of sacred days and feasts. The month of Tishri (usually around our September) had the Feast of Trumpets (Tishri 1), the Day of Atonement (Tishri 10), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Tishri 15-22), and anyone who was traveling a very long distance to be at Jerusalem for any of them might have wanted to be there for the entire festival season. Also, Luke tells us the reason that Joseph traveled to Bethlehem was due to the Caesar’s tax registration (Luke 2:1-4), and it is possible that other family members besides Joseph had decided to travel to Bethlehem at that time, when they could both register for the tax and be part of the celebrations in Jerusalem. [9]

Common Features of an Eastern Life

There are a few things about ordinary houses and ordinary life in first century Palestine that we must know in order to understand the birth of Jesus. One is that it was quite common for houses in the Middle East to have a guest room where guests, and even strangers, could stay. Showing hospitality to strangers has always been a huge part of Eastern life, and is written about in the Bible and in many books on the customs of the Bible. Several biblical records show strangers being given hospitality, including the record of Lot (Gen. 19:1-4), the man in Gibeah (Judg. 19:19-21), and the Shunamite woman, who showed hospitality to Elisha by building a guest room just for him (2 Kings 4:10). Giving hospitality is a command for Christian leaders as well (1 Tim. 3:2).

Even poor people could have a guest room because it did not have to be furnished or have an adjoining bathroom and shower. People did not generally sleep on beds, but traveled with their own blankets that they slept on at night, so sleeping arrangements were no problem. Tables and chairs were not used in the common homes of first century Palestinians, and the bathroom was a pot, or a place outside. So the average guest room was simply a small, empty room, offering shelter and a place of safety. The guest room provided privacy for the guests as well as the family, because one-room homes were common. Our modern houses with many rooms were simply not the norm in a village of the first century. Quite often a family lived in a one-room house, in which all family activities occurred. They pulled their bedrolls out at night and slept on the floor, and simply rolled them up again in the morning. Of course, the Bible does not specify that Joseph and Mary were taken into a one-room house, but even if it were a larger, two-room house Jesus would still have been born in the family room of the house. Single room dwellings were so common, however, that when Jesus taught that a lighted oil lamp (sometimes mistranslated as “candle”) was lit and put on a stand, it would give light “to everyone in the house” (Matt. 5:15).

Another thing we must understand about houses in the East is that it was common for people to bring their animals, such as the family donkey, a couple of milk goats, or a cow or two, into the home at night. Such animals were very valuable, and the people brought them in at night to keep them from being stolen and to protect them from harm. Also, the animals added heat to the house, which would be very welcome on chilly nights. The woman in Endor who King Saul visited at night had her calf in the house with her: “And the woman had a fat calf in the house” (1 Sam. 28:24, KJV). [10] Of course, if the family were shepherds or herdsmen, they would not bring the whole flock or herd into the house, but would have a family member or hired guard watch them in the field, just as the shepherds were in the field on the night Jesus was born.

It was a common practice to raise the floor of the part of the house where the family lived, and keep the animals in an area that was a little lower. [11] Knowing this helps us understand Luke 2:6 and also where that idea that Jesus was born in a stable came from. Jesus was laid in a manger, which is an open trough, box, or bin, where the animal food was placed so the animals could feed easily. In Western society, mangers are in barns or stables, so if Jesus was laid in a manger it made sense he was born in a stable. However, in Eastern society, where the animals grazed outside during the day and were brought into the house at night, the manger was in the house. Having the manger in the house kept the animals calm and contented in the tighter quarters of the house, just as many modern farm animals have a feeding trough in their stall stay calm and content.

Everyone knew the manger was in the house, so when the Bible says that Jesus was laid in a manger “because” there was no space in the guest room, any Easterner would understand perfectly that the guest room was full so Jesus was born in the main part of the house where the family and animals stayed. Sometime after his birth he was safely placed in the manger, which would have been filled with clean hay or straw and would have been the perfect size for him. This was not to demean him in any way, but to care for him. The protective walls of the manger kept him safely guarded and away from busy feet and a bustling household, as well as warm and protected from any drafts or cold air in the home.

Another thing that helps us understand the Christmas story is understanding Eastern hospitality. In the East, guests were given special treatment of all kinds, including behavior that seems very extreme to us. For example, in the record of Lot and the two strangers, Lot would have handed over his own daughters to the mob before surrendering his guests (Gen. 19:8). Similarly, the people with whom Joseph and Mary stayed would never displace their guests from the guest room, but instead would inconvenience themselves, graciously bringing the couple into their living space.

Another thing we need to know is that Mary and Joseph would not have been alone when Jesus was born. Actually, Joseph would not have been there at all, while the women of the household, along with the women of the family staying in the guest room, most likely the village midwife, and perhaps even wise and experienced women from the neighborhood, would have been present. They would have shooed Joseph and the rest of the men out of the house some time during Mary’s labor (actually, the men would have graciously left on their own, which was also standard procedure in that culture). This is all completely normal for birth in a village in Israel.

Someone with a modern Western mindset may say, “Well, the Bible does not say those women were there.” Of course not. We remind the reader that if something was normal for the culture, it was written about only rarely, if ever. The details of a woman giving birth are never given in the Bible. Is someone going to insist that none of the women in the Bible who are mentioned giving birth (and there are dozens of them) had other women to help them just because those helpers are not specifically mentioned? That would be absurd. No details of the birth would be given in the Bible because births were a “normal” part of life, and no first-century reader in Palestine would expect anything different than what usually happens with a village birth. In fact, if the women of the household had not been there to help, that would have been so unusual (and seemingly coldhearted) that it would probably be written about in the Bible.

While Mary was in labor and giving birth in the house, the man who owned the house, along with his sons and Joseph, would have been outside or perhaps in the home of a neighbor, giving Mary the privacy she needed during the birth of Jesus. [12] Once Jesus was born, a woman would announce that a baby boy had been born, and there would be shouting, music, and joyful partying. Of course the men would be allowed back in the house after there had been adequate time after the birth to get things back in proper order and make sure Jesus and Mary were comfortable. Thus baby Jesus would have been born in normal circumstances, with Mary being helped and cared for by the women around her while the men waited outside to hear the news of the birth.

The Christmas Story

So we see that the way the birth of Jesus actually happened is considerably different than what is commonly taught. It is not that Bethlehem was full of cold-hearted townspeople who would not take special care of a young woman about to have her first child.

Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem at least a few days before Mary gave birth, and were taken in by one of the local homes, most likely that of a relative. The host family already had guests in the kataluma, the guest room, so there was no space (topos) for them there. Therefore, the homeowners graciously made room for Joseph and Mary in their own living quarters, treating them like family. When Mary went into labor, the men left their own home to give her privacy, and the women of the household, likely along with the village midwife, came to Mary’s side for help and support. When Mary gave birth to our Lord and Savior late in the evening (after sunset) or at night, Joseph and the men would have been told the news, and there would have been much jubilation and revelry, which was always a traditional part of the birth of a baby boy, particularly if it was a first child. [13] Sometime later the men would have been called back into the house to see the new baby boy.

Not too long after Jesus was born, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes, dedicated to God, and placed in a perfect spot, the manger in the family home, which would have been cleaned and made up with fresh hay or straw. No doubt the news soon spread around the village that a baby boy had been born (the music and shouting would have helped that happen), and that both the mother and baby were doing well, but this kind of news was common in village life. However, soon there was news that was anything but common. Shepherds showed up from a nearby field to see the newborn child, and after seeing him, went out and told the village that a great light had shined around them, that they had seen an army of angels on the hillsides, and that an angel had told them that this baby was no ordinary baby, but the Messiah, the Savior. Their report caused great wonder all over the region, and resulted in glory and praise to God.

The story of the birth of Christ reveals what we today consider to be the true spirit of Christmas. Not people closing their hearts and homes to a couple in need, but rather people opening both their hearts and their homes, and joyfully giving to others in need and helping where they can. It is wonderful that the Christ, who gave so much to so many, was born in circumstances in which people were so giving to him.

Endnotes

[1] I use “Christmas story” in this article because of its familiarly in our culture, but it is important to know that Jesus was born in the Fall of the year, likely September, and not in December
[2] Wilhelm Schneemelcher, editor, New Testament Apocrypha (The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1963), “The Protevangelium of James,” pp. 370-388. It is possible, but not likely, that it dates as early as 150 A.D.
[3] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, (Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, MN, 1946), p. 126.
[4] Some versions, such as the NASB say Judah, while some say “Judea.” The correct translation is Judah, and it refers to the ancient tribal area of Judah, not the Roman province of Judea. The Greek is iouda, which Luke uses for Judah, usually the name of a man and here the tribal area named after the man, Judah, the son of Jacob. If Luke had meant Roman Judea, he would have used ioudaia as he did 10 places in Luke and 12 in Acts. Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
[5] These reasons are given in Kenneth Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, (IVP Academic, Downers Grove, IL, 2008), pp. 25-37, and credit must go to him for enlightening me to the basic truth in this article and for making many of the points I have covered; that Jesus was born in the home of a loving family in Bethlehem, who opened their home to Joseph and Mary.
[6] Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, p. 26.
[7] Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon says of kataluma: “lodging place. The sense inn is possible in Lk 2:7, but in 10:34 Luke uses pandocheion, the more specific term for innKataluma is therefore best understood here as lodging or guest-room.”
[8] In the New Testament, the only other use of the verb kataluo is also in Luke, and occurs in Luke 9:12 in the record of the feeding of the 5,000. The disciples wanted Jesus to send away the multitude so they could “find lodging” and get something to eat. Although the disciples spoke in a general sense, in the culture of the East, where showing hospitality was an important part of family life, they would have had in mind that these 5000 would find lodging with other people, and not that they would find local hotels to stay in. Public inns have been around a long time, and much could be written about them. In the first place, there were not many of them. Certainly not enough for 5000 men and their families to stay. Beyond that, however, both those inns that were modeled after the inns of the Greco-Roman culture and those with roots in the Eastern culture were not wonderful places to stay, like the hotels we have today. They were loud and dirty places, and often filled with riff-raff and ruffians. They were centers of prostitution and drunken parties (often the inn provided food for sale and prostitutes for rent), and the rooms were not rented privately, as in our modern hotels. Instead, guests rented a space on the floor to sleep (there were no beds), and it was anyone’s guess who might be in the room with you, renting the space on the floor next to you (and anyone’s guess if they would actually sleep or stay up all night engaged in activities with friends or prostitutes). In contrast to staying in a public inn, taking in travelers for the night was a long established biblical custom, going back to Genesis (cp. Gen. 19:1-3), and that is what the disciples would have thought about when they knew Jesus’ audience needed to find a place to stay.
[9] Caesar wanted everyone to be registered for taxation, so some versions read “enrolled,” some “registered,” some “taxed,” some refer to a “census,” etc. It was a registration, or enrollment, for taxation.
[10] The translation “in the house” is correct, and is used in the more literal translations such as the KJV, ESV, NASB, etc.
[11] Fred Wight, Manners and Customs of Bible Lands (Moody Press, Chicago, 1953), p. 34; Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, pp. 28-33. The New Testament scholar John Nolland also mentions the area for animals being somewhat lower than where the people ate and slept: “…it is best to think of an overcrowded Palestinian peasant home: a single-roomed home with an animal stall under the same roof (frequently to be distinguished from the family living quarters by the raised platform floor of the latter). John Nolland, Word Biblical Commentary (Nelson Reference and Electronic, Colombia, 1989), p. 105.
[12] We know Jesus’ birth was late in the evening, after sunset, or at night, because the shepherds were in the fields at night when the angel appeared to them (Luke 2:8 – KJV), and told them the Christ was born “this day.” Since “this day” started at sunset, as all Jewish days do, then the Messiah was born after sunset.
[13] We Westerners are used to thinking of Mary’s birth night as being silent and peaceful (note the song, “Silent Night”), but the birth of a boy is always the time for a party in village life.

Courtesy of https://www.truthortradition.com/articles/retelling-the-christmas-story

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Christ the Breaker

There is an intriguing verse about Christ in the Book of Micah and it sets forth a wonderful name for our Lord. He is called the Breaker.

Micah 2:13: “The breaker [the Messiah, who opens the way] shall go up before them [liberating them].They will break out, pass through the gate and go out; So their King goes on before them, The Lord at their head.”

The word “breaker” in the Hebrew is a strong word meaning “to break down and destroy.” The word describes when King Jehoash broke down the wall of Jerusalem for 400 cubits (600 feet or 200 yards- 2 football fields). That is an enormous breaking in physical terms and Christ as the Breaker is a thousand times more powerful. Jesus Christ was sent by His Heavenly Father to be the ultimate breaker of sin, death, the devil, and the consequences of sin. He crushed each one on the cross and in his resurrection. Their power was paralyzed and will ultimately be destroyed forever.

Jesus Christ is the Breaker who goes before us and opens the way. He is the Rock that cannot be broken. As the Breaker, he is the liberator, the savior and the deliverer. Nothing can stand against him. Nothing can overcome him. No obstacle will block his progression. No other person can claim this title of “The Breaker.”

2 Peter 3:18: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

As believers we need to grow in both the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Scripture names have important significance in understanding the purpose of a person and the impact or his or her life. Names are not given haphazardly and some of the names given to Jesus are enlightening as they illustrate the wonderful ministry and purpose of the Son of God. Proverbs 18:10: The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. When we begin to understand the knowledge of Jesus Christ as the Breaker, it will be a strong tower in our lives and gives us safety and peace in the instability of our times. In this season when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, his life, ministry and finished work will take on an even deeper and richer meaning when our eyes are enlightened to the importance of name of Christ as the Breaker

Jesus Christ has a name above every name and one day all will bow a knee to his glorious name.

Philippians 2:9-11:Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The scriptures declare unequivocally that there is one and only one intermediary between God and man, Christ Jesus. Only the mediator could be the Breaker.

1 TIMOTHY 2:3-5: In the sight of God our saviour this is undoubtedly the right thing to pray for; for his purpose is that all men should be saved and come to realise the truth. And that is, that there is only one God, and only one intermediary (mediator) between God and men, Jesus Christ the man. He gave himself as a ransom for us all—an act of redemption which happened once, but which stands for all times as a witness to what he is.

He and He alone is “the man”. He and He alone is “the Breaker”.
No one else is capable of filling His shoes.

Ephesians 1:17-22: That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Christ is far above all rule, authority, power and dominion and above every name, every philosophy, every political theory, and every way of life. All things are under his feet. His power is limitless; His strength immeasurable; His authority is unbreakable. He is the Rock and He is God Almighty’s Breaker.

Christ broke the power of sin

Romans 3:9,23: What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

We are all under the power of sin since our birth. No one can escape as sin resides in the blood. Leviticus 17:11

God sent His Son to a dying world for the glorious mission of obliterating the curse of sin, death, and bondage that corrupted the human race in the Garden of Eden. Not a son or daughter of Adam’s race has escaped the chains of sin and death, for sin entered the world and spread death to all, because all sinned We were all born in chains and in slavery. Sin held us fast in bondage as children of a fallen race.

Romans 5:12 (Amplified);

Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man, and death as the result of sin, so death spread to all men, [no one being able to stop it or to escape its power] because all men sinned.

Adam introduced sin into God’s creation, and it corrupted all forms of life. The curse of sin and death passed on to all of Adam’s progeny. No human could stop the infiltration of the sin nature or escape its power. Death, which had not existed in any form before, became the strong ally of sin, as every human born on this earth was subject to death. This was not only physical death, but spiritual death also.

E.W. Kenyon, in The Bible in Light of our Redemption, writes:

Sin has ruled as king in the realm of spiritual

death, where man lives under the cruel Emperor,

Satan. Every effort of man has to failed to eradicate

the power of sin. Education has failed. History

confesses that every single rise in civilization has

been accompanied by a decline in morals. War

has dominated in every period of the life of every

nation, destroying the youth and strength of humanity.

It has brought untold suffering to man. Its cruelty is

but a manifestation of Satanic Dominion at work in

its destruction of man. Man has been unable to strike

at the root  and the cause of sin, sickness and death.

The law of disease has fastened itself upon the

human body, blighting and scourging humanity.

Death is the supreme problem that all men at all

periods have faced. It casts its shadow on upon

every happiness born in the sense of man. Man,

lying in the embrace of Satan, cries in agony against

this vain struggle which only ends in a hopeless

death and doom…He is born to die…Spiritual death,

the nature of Satan, is the soil out of which has

grown sin, sickness, physical death and every sorrow

that has darkened the life of God’s man.

Sin and spiritual death brought enormous consequences upon the human race. Every type of suffering, pain, misery, sickness, affliction, torment, and anguish began to grow and flourish upon the earth because of sin and spiritual death. A great separation and barrier now existed between God and men, women, and children.  The human race’s relationship with God was thrown into chaos and confusion. It was like a thick, iron door was shut on a person’s access, communion, and fellowship with God.  Adam and Eve had become alienated from the life and presence of God, and their understanding became darkened. They were like blindfolded people wandering aimless in a fog of darkness. The light and spiritual life within them was extinguished, and it left a great void of hunger and need for their loving Creator. Adam had sealed the fate of the human race, and now the great cry was for a Redeemer, a Savior, and a Liberator. No matter how smart, how talented, how strong, how powerful, or how rich a person may be, no one could free themselves from the bondage of their birth nature of sin and their condition of spiritual death. We are born dead in trespasses and sin and need deliverance. Who will break the power of sin? All the people of the earth need the Breaker.

Romans 5:12 declares that this sin nature, this deadly virus, this defective gene that directs a person’s life away from what is pleasing to God, entered into the world through  Adam’s  disobedience to God. The word “entered” in the Greek literally means: to come into and contains the force of distribution, meaning it made its way to each individual member of the human race.” The word is in the indicative mood, the mood of certainty, which states that the action is factual and certainly occurred.   The word “world” is kosmos in the Greek which in this verse means: the harmonious arrangement and order of God’s creation. It was the creation in perfect order and harmony before the entrance of sin. The word “spread” in the Greek means: to go or pass through; to send out in all directions like a highly contagious virus disseminating and spreading completely through an entire population.” Sin and death certainly spread to every member of the human race and ruined God’s original perfect order and harmony of His creation. No one had a pass; no one was exempt; no one was immune; we all inherent this sin nature from Adam.

God had a magnificent plan to deal with sin and crush its power. He sent his only begotten Son to pay the penalty for our sins and redeem us from sin’s power.

Matthew 1:21: She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

“Saved” means to be delivered and preserved from the penalty of sin and the power of sin.

Hebrews 9:24-28: For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Ephesians 1:7-10: It is through the Son, at the cost of his own blood, that we are redeemed, freely forgiven through that full and generous grace which has overflowed into our lives and opened our eyes to the truth. For God had allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposes in his sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfilment in him.

The power of sin was broken at Calvary. He redeemed us with His blood. He paid the price and we no longer need to be enslaved in sin.

Romans 6:6,7,11: We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free[ from sin. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Christ broke the power of death

Revelation 1:17,18: When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Hebrews 2:14,15: Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Since the fall of Adam in the garden, the devil has wielded the power of death. Part of his dominion over the human race was in the form of death. Death has been an incredible weapon of destruction for Satan on the human race. Death is an enemy to every human being on the earth, and with its companion sin, the devil has held the human race in his firm grasp. The human race needed a Savior to be released from the bondage of sin and death.

This brutal and horrible dominion of death, utilized so effectively by the devil, was broken at Calvary. The strength and might of death that the devil has used relentlessly as a weapon in every age of history was declared null and void. The major kingpin of his dominion and authority over the earth has been trampled under the feet of the Lord Jesus. God also promises in I Corinthians 15, and in the book of Revelation, that there is a day coming when this last enemy, death, will be completely destroyed off the face of the earth, and its sorrow, bondage, and destruction will be no more. There will absolutely be no death in the new heavens and earth promised in Revelation 21 and I Peter 3. This was all made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who crushed the serpent’s head.

I Timothy 1:10 (Amplified):

It is that purpose and grace which He has

now made known and has fully disclosed

and made real to us through the appearing

of our Savior Christ Jesus, Who annulled

death and made it of no effect and brought

life and immortality (immunity from eternal

death) to light through the Gospel.

New Living Translation:

And now he has made all of this plain to us

by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior.

He broke the power of death and illuminated

the way to life and immortality through the

Good News.

The born again believer who has put his faith in Christ as his Savior cannot be defeated by spiritual or physical death.  We have been reconciled to God in the new birth and made alive spiritually in Christ. We have been given the sure promise of everlasting life and spiritual death has been obliterated by Jesus Christ. Even if we die physically, the Lord has promised that at the Rapture, he will raise us from the dead and give us a new glorious immortal body that is not subject to the jaws of death. We cannot be held captive or conquered by death. The devil’s main tool in the battle between good and evil, the power of death, has been absolutely mortally wounded and crushed at the cross. We no longer need to fear death and be in bondage to this fear. The wages of sin is death and someone had to pay the price for us so death does not crush our existence. Christ the Breaker breaks the power of death for all those who believe on him and promises eternal life.

There is a time coming in the future that Death will never again raise its ugly head, as it is forever destroyed at the end of the great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20. In the new heavens and earth of Revelation 21, there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain. All of these things are gone forever. What a gospel! How good is the truth about the Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ! Death, the hated enemy, the feared enemy, the loathsome enemy, the painful enemy, the sorrowful enemy, and the wicked enemy has been broken and defeated by the Lord Jesus Christ. He swallowed up death in victory.

Romans 5:21 (Phillips):

The whole outlook changes-sin use to be the

master of men and in the end handed them

over to death: now grace is the ruling factor,

with righteousness as its purpose and

at its end the bringing of men to the eternal

life of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I Corinthians 15:20-28; 51-57 (Message):

But the truth is Christ has been raised up,

the first in a long legacy of those who are

going to leave the cemeteries.

There is a nice symmetry to this: Death

initially came by a man, and resurrection

from death came by a man.

Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes

alive in Christ.

But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first,

then those with him at his Coming, the grand

consummation when, after crushing the

opposition, he hands over his kingdom to

God the Father.

He won’t let up until the last enemy is down-

and the very last enemy is death.

But let me tell you something wonderful…

On signal from that trumpet from heaven,

the dead will be up and out of the graves,

beyond the reach of death, never to die again.

At that same moment and in the same way,

we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme

of things, this has to happen: everything perishable

take off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable,

this mortal replaced by the immortal.

Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by

triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh Death?

Oh Death, whose afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code

guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power.

But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three-

Sin, guilt, death are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus

Christ. Thank God!

Death is the personal enemy of every human upon the face of the earth, and there is no deliverance from the power and strength of the grave without the Lord Jesus Christ. Death cannot be conquered by science; death cannot be overcome by a political decree; death cannot be eradicated by a vaccine, and death cannot be defeated by any earthly power. There will never be a fountain of youth or some magical spell or potion to obtain eternal life. Death does not bring you into some higher state of consciousness or being, but throws you into the decay and corruption of the grave. It is a life destroyer, happiness destroyer, family destroyer, society destroyer, and it has ripped the human heart to shreds with fear, sorrow, and pain since Adam’s high treason and the entrance of sin into the world. Death does not allow you to float around as a ghost and have free movement while you haunt or help people. Death does not bring you into a reincarnated new life form. This is a most certain truth-death does not bring life in any way, shape, or form. Without the Savior Jesus Christ, death is the end of all humanity. Death cannot produce, generate, or refine life. Death is the end of life.

Do you see why death is such a curse and lethal enemy according to Scripture? Once you understand the brutal and permanent nature of death, you can really appreciate the total victory that Jesus Christ accomplished with his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ is the master over death and the conqueror of the grave. Immortality only comes with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Christ broke the power of the devil

Genesis 3:15 (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible):

And enmity shall I put between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed,-He shall crush thy head, but thou shall crush his heel.

This is the first promise of Christ in the Bible and says that Christ shall crush the head of the serpent (devil). When it is said (v.15), “He shall crush thy head,” it means something more than a skull of bone, and brain and hair. It means all Satan’s plans and plots, policy and purposes, will one day be finally crushed and ended, never more to mar or to hinder the purposes of God. This is a fatal blow from which there is no recovery.

Christ broke the power of the oppressor (Psalm 72:4). He is the Second Adam that through his death and resurrection restored everything that Adam lost in the fall. He broke and paralyzed the power of the god of this age. His doom is forecast. His time is limited. One day he will be reduced to nothing and come to a dreadful end and can never exercise power and control over anything forever (Ezekiel 28:18,19) Christ the breaker crushed His power and control over us.

Colossians 1:13: God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of his Son, whom he loves.

He rescued us from the power of darkness and gave us full legal rights as a son or daughter of God. The word “power” in Colossians means the exercised power to do something; liberty of action to do as one pleases; the delegated authority and power to act, and the right to exercise power. The devil and his kingdom no longer have the liberty or power to do what they please in your life when you stand upon the triumph of the cross. The devil  no longer has the right to act freely with authority and power over you. We have been set free. In the new birth you are now citizens in His kingdom.

Acts 26:18: to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.

The Breaker turns us from the power of Satan to God and from darkness to light.

Colossians 2:14,15 (Phillips): You, who were spiritually dead because of your sins and your uncircumcision (i.e. the fact that you were outside the Law), God has now made to share in the very life of Christ! He has forgiven you all your sins: Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over his own head on the cross. And then having drawn the sting of all the powers ranged against us, he exposed them, shattered, empty and defeated, in his final glorious triumphant act!:

Lightfoot:

Taking on him our human nature, he stripped off and cast side all the powers of evil which clung to it like a poisonous garment. As a mighty conqueror he displayed these his fallen enemies to an astonished world, leading them in triumph on his cross.

At Calvary, Jesus Christ stripped and disarmed the power and authority of the devil’s kingdom for every born again believer. No devil spirit in the devil’s kingdom, no matter what its rank, can defeat you when you stand in the strength of the Lord’s redemptive work for you at the cross. The picture Paul is painting is of a triumphant general who has routed the enemy and leads the captive foes and spoils of his victory behind his chariot in a grand public procession through the city.

In the Roman world, this was the highest honor that could be bestowed upon a victorious Roman general. It was called “the triumph.” There must have been at least 5,000 enemy soldiers killed, and there must have been a gain of Roman territory in the conquest. It was an awesome display of the power, strength, and might of the Roman Empire. It was a spectacle that few would forget its images, as the triumph declared to the world that the enemy had been overwhelmed and crushed, now to be publicly humiliated through the streets of the city.

How much greater is the triumph of Christ as the captain of our salvation?  What a triumph on the cross! What a victory against the forces of darkness! What a crushing blow to Satan’s kingdom! What a public display of victory to all those who have eyes to see and ears to hear! You become identified and in vital union with this triumph on the cross and all its far-reaching glorious effects when you become a new creation in Christ at the new birth. You are marching right beside Jesus Christ in this magnificent victory march with every wretched captive in chains under your feet. With great freedom, the power of the old sin nature has been stripped off and crippled, and the power of Christ in you flows and energizes every cell of your human body. You are a super conqueror who always triumphs in Christ. Jesus Christ cut away Satan’s firm grip on us and smashed the kingdom of darkness’s authority, control, and rule over our lives. No longer must we be a slave to sin or the bondage of this world. Jesus Christ victoriously led captivity captive for every Christian, according to the book of Ephesians, as he crushed and defeated every form of mental, physical, or spiritual bondage. What a triumph on the cross! What a victory in Christ!

I John 3:8b: The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

I John 3:8b (Voice): That is why the Son of God came into our world: to destroy the plague of destruction inflicted on the world by the diabolical one.

The word “destroy” is the Greek word luo, which means: to loose something tied or bound, to break up that which is compacted together, to dissolve, to sever, to break in pieces, to set free, to melt and to demolish. The word means “a destruction by undoing or dissolving that which forms the bond of cohesion.” Jesus Christ came to loosen people from the works of the devil and set them free. We all had a bond of cohesion to Satan’s kingdom through sin and death, but Jesus Christ dissolved the bond, and we broke free.  The word luo is used in the gospels when John the Baptist said that he was not worthy to unloose (luo) the thong or strap of Jesus’ sandals. This gives a great mind picture of Jesus unloosening the works of the devil in people’s lives, like un-strapping a sandal, so that the works can be thrown off of the body, heart, and soul of a person and one can enjoy true freedom.

The Greek word luo is used again in Acts 27:41 when the ship taking the Apostle Paul to Rome was “broken (luo) on the violence of the waves.” This was a huge boat with enough room for 276 people, yet the fierce strength of the waves shattered the hinder part of the boat into pieces. Many of the soldiers were saved by grabbing onto a broken piece of the ship and floating to shore. This should paint a vivid picture for you. Jesus Christ shattered the devil’s works into a million pieces by the awesome power of God. Like a ship helplessly run into the ground and continuously beat with the relentless pounding of the waves, Jesus Christ continually pounded the schemes, deceptions, and purposes of the devil with the great force of the Word of God. He was relentless in his destruction of the devil’s works, as the boat of Satan’s kingdom could not escape the light and truth of His purpose upon the earth. Jesus Christ shook and shattered the devil’s kingdom into broken pieces.

The Greek word luo is also used in II Peter 3:10,12 when the present heaven, earth and elements melt (luo) with fervent heat and dissolve (luo) by fire at the time of the last judgments described in the Book of Revelation. What a mind picture!  For something to melt, you have to apply intense heat to it. It requires energy to melt anything. When increasing temperature is applied to an element and it melts, the energy being applied to it is greater than the energy holding it together. The heat overcomes the internal forces of attraction within the solid to transform it into a liquid. Thus it begins to change form and melt.

Jesus Christ put intense heat on the purposes, works, and schemes of the devil and melted and dissolved them. Jesus Christ operated spiritual power, and when this spiritual energy of God was applied to the works of the devil, it was greater than any force holding his works together. The power of God disintegrates any plot, scheme, or purpose of Satan and no matter how attractively it is held together by evil, it cannot overcome the energy and dynamic power that rest in God.  Jesus Christ put the intense heat of the truth of the Word of God right upon the kingdom of darkness, and it shined as a brilliant light, exposing the wicked works of the Evil One. This white hot heat of God’s Word melted the hardened and callous hearts of many and melted the devil’s evil foothold of bondage that robs people of joy, peace, love, and wholeness.

Interestingly, this same Greek word, luo, is also used in John 10:35, when it

declares, “the scripture cannot be broken (luo).” The devil can never break, dissolve, melt, or demolish the Word of God. I Peter 1:23 says that “the word of God lives and abides forever.” The Word of God is life. The Word of God is good, pure, powerful, and faithful. It cannot be dissolved away into nothing. No matter how much heat or pressure the devil applies to the Word, it does not melt under the burning heat. Satan does not have enough energy or power to break the Word of God. Jesus Christ is the living Word. The devil does not have enough energy or power to break or shatter the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only one who is the Breaker of the arch enemy of God.

We can live daily in the benefit and power of this enormous blessing that we no longer need to be under the oppression and bondage of the Devil and his kingdom.

Ephesians 2:6: “And He raised us up with Him, and He made us to sit with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.” We were crucified with Him, died with Him, were buried with Him, suffered with Him, were justified with Him, were made alive with Him, conquered Satan with Him, and were raised together with Him. That resurrection of Jesus is proof of our victory over the adversary. It is a proof that cannot be denied. Every person who takes Christ as Savior, in the mind of God, is a victor over the adversary. So few of the Father’s children have seen this mighty truth; that our victory was in the victory of Christ. When Jesus broke the bars of death, having conquered death, Satan, and sin, it was our victory. Greater is He who now resides in you than all the powers of the enemy exercised in this world.

Christ broke the bondage of the consequences of sin

When “saved” is used in regard to God’s salvation through Jesus Christ, the meaning is deliverance and preservation from all the consequences of sin.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law and we have redemption in his blood (Galatians 3:13 and Ephesians 1:7). We no longer need to be oppressed under the curse of sin. In Deuteronomy 28 the consequences of the curse of sin are set forth. We never have to be in bondage or enslaved to any of these curses of the law. Christ broke the power of physical, mental and spiritual oppression at the cross. He bore every pain, he bore every sickness, he bore every suppression, he bore every depression, he bore every sorrow, he bore all sin and its consequences at Calvary and with his resurrection crushed them into the ground.

Isaiah 53:5,6: Surely he hath borne our griefs (Hebrew choliy-sickness)

and carried our sorrows (Hebrew-makob-pains: both physical and mental): yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised (Hebrew-shalowm-crushed, broken, shattered) for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

We no longer need to be in bondage to anything or anyone. He has set us free.  

Hebrews 9:11-12: “But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.”

As the High Priest, He took His own blood and carried it up to the Heavenly Holy of Holies and there presented it to God. It was accepted, and that red seal is upon the document of our Redemption. The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is the eternal witness of His finished work for us, of our legal right to Eternal Life, and sonship with all its privileges. On the basis of that blood, we are more than conquerors. Satan has no dominion over us. His dominion is utterly broken. The tokens of that victory are continually before the Father.

Hebrews 7:22, “By so much also hath Jesus become the surety of a better covenant.” If you are in grave danger, or Satan is pressing hard upon you, you call the Father’s attention to your rights that are guaranteed on the ground of that blood. Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony.”

Christ breaks our chains and opens up the iron door so we can live seated in the heavenlies, redeemed, purchased, precious and His sons and daughters by the new birth.

Acts 12:4ff: Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.

”Men and women! Some of you are the slaves of your own lusts. Some of you are the slaves of the world’s maxims. Some of you are held in bondage by some habit that you abominate, but cannot get away from. Here is freedom for you. The dark walls of the prison are round us all. ‘The Scripture hath shut up all in sin, that He might have mercy upon all.’ Blessed be His name! As the angel came to the sleeping Apostle, and to his light touch the iron gates swung obedient on their hinges, and Roman soldiers who ought to have watched their prey were lulled to sleep, and fetters that held the limbs dropped as if melted; so, silently, in His meek and merciful strength, the Christ comes to us all, and the iron gate which leadeth out into freedom opens of its own accord at His touch, and the fetters fall from our limbs, and we go forth free men. ‘The Breaker is gone up before us.

When He had paid this penalty for our sin on the cross, He arose from the dead. He conquered Satan. He broke his dominion and took away his authority and power. Then, with the trophies of His triumph, He ascended to the right band of the Majesty on High and laid the tokens of His victory at the feet of His Great Father. On the ground of this victory, the sinner has a legal right to accept Jesus Christ as a personal Savior. He has a legal right to Eternal Life. He has a legal right to Victory over sin and Satan. He has a legal right to a home in Heaven. He has a legal right to use the Name of Jesus in prayer. He has a legal right to his Father’s protection and care. He has a legal right to a son’s place in the Family of God. He has a legal right to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, to the care and protection of the Spirit, and to the intercession and teaching of the Spirit. He has a legal right to be translated at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. He has a legal right to immortality for the body. He has a legal right to an inheritance in the New Heavens and New Earth. He has a legal right to live with his Father throughout Eternity.

What a glorious gospel that Christ broke the power of all sin and its consequences and set us free from its curse forever.

Christ shall break all the kingdoms, philosophies, political systems and religions of this world and set up his kingdom of which there will be no end

The Bible is clear of this glorious truth-Jesus Christ is coming back for us and to establish his kingdom upon the earth. He shall break into pieces all earthly kingdoms and systems that oppose him. This kingdom will have no end. It will be perfect in every aspect and filled with righteousness, justice and peace.

Psalm 2:1-3,7-9: Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

No political system, no earthly ruler can stand against or conquer Christ’s kingdom. The Breaker will shatter all opposition that is set up by the Devil and his kingdom that has ruled on this earth since Adam will come to an end. Luke 4:5,6: And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.

As Daniel interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he prophesied of Christ’s future kingdom:

Daniel 2:34,35,44,45-As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”

Christ is the stone made of no human hand who breaks the power and influence of all past kingdoms of this earth. His kingdom shall never be destroyed and stand forever. This is as certain as the sun rising every morning. It is God’s plan and purpose in the future.

Luke 1:30-33:  And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

We celebrate in this season the birth of the Son of the Most High, Jesus, whose future kingdom is coming and there will be no end to his magnificent kingdom.

Revelation 18:11-16: Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule[c] them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

The Breaker is the Living Word of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will bring to an end the rule of evil on this earth. In his kingdom there will be no bribery, no deception, no murders, no injustice, no hunger, no poverty, no wars, no death, no pollution, and no evil.

Revelation 21:1ff: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

What a Savior. What a King! What a Deliverer! What a Liberator! He is the Breaker and no earthly or spiritual power can stand against him. He alone is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He can shatter any obstacle, break any barrier, and push through any wall. This is why we celebrate his birth for the second Adam has broken the power of sin, death, the devil and the consequences that flow from sin and reconciled us to God, redeeming us from the curse that Adam brought upon the human race. He can obliterate every addition, quench every thirst, overcome every circumstance and conquer ever challenge. Jesus Christ has broken every barrier and obstacle that stood in our way from being restored to our Heavenly Father. We are seated in the heavenlies in Him and nothing needs to enslave us anymore. Every bondage, every depression, every addiction and every oppression has been broken in Christ.  How wonderful are the words of the angels from on high when they announced the birth of the Breaker, the only begotten Son of God.

Luke 2:8-11: And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Christ the Breaker brings immeasurable joy as our Lord. We celebrate not only His birth, but what He has done for us because He loved us. The words of the wonderful hymn “O Holy Night” ring true for us over 2000 years later.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

 Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;

And in His name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,

His power and glory evermore proclaim.

His power and glory evermore proclaim.

 

 

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The Value of Every Moment: Count Your Days to Live Wisely

By Peter Wade

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). So I did! I did what the Bible says, people, as I’m a Bible teacher. The word “number” is also translated “count” in the KJV. On my 80th birthday the count was — get ready for this — 29,220 days! Yes, 29,220 days I have been on this planet Earth.

At around 3,000 days, I gave my heard to the Lord Jesus Christ in a Salvation Army citadel in Moulsham Street, Chelmsford, Essex, England. I don’t know the exact date. So for some 26,000 plus days, I have belonged to the family of God. On day 8,878, I was married to my first wife. Her name is Vivien. She’s still my wife! On day 9,237, we graduated from college as ministers of the gospel. On day 9,452, I became a father for the first time, and so I could go on.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Why is that? Mortality is something that happens to us all. What is this verse saying? Remember your mortality. It says in earlier in the Psalm that our days are just like the grass in the field that grows up in the morning, it is cut, put in the oven, and then it’s all over. And the older you get, the quicker the days go by. When you’re young, you think you have got all the time in the world. As you start getting through middle age and then into that wonderful category of being a senior citizen, the years just seem to fly.

So Lord, teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. “Teach us to live wisely and well!” (MSG). And so I ask you, what are you going to do with today? Have you thought about it? What are you going to get out of today? What are your desires and plans and programs for today? What do you want God to do for you today? Or more importantly, what are you going to do for God today? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Get your day sponsored by God

I’m going to give you four things that I think we ought to do about our day. First of all, get your day sponsored by God. This is most important. Get your day sponsored by God. I’ve often sang a chorus based on Psalm 118:24, “This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made. We will rejoice, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Who made today? God made the day. This is God’s day. Take God as your sponsor for today. We all know what sponsorship means. God is your sponsor for today.

Let’s go to another verse, Psalm 84:10, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” A day in your courts, that is, in the presence of God, is better than a thousand days anywhere else. “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Or as it might better be translated, “I would rather choose to sit at the threshold of the house of my God.” I’d rather just sit on the doorstep than to dwell in the midst of all the luxury of the tent of wickedness.

Take God as your sponsor for today. When you think about it, this is the only time God has given you anyway. He has not given you tomorrow. He hasn’t even given you this afternoon. He’s given you this moment. So, make this moment count for God. Have God as your sponsor for the day.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). God’s compassions, His mercies, do not fail and there is a new supply of them every morning. When you woke up this morning, God had your supply ready with your name on it. He is a compassionate God. Your sponsor looks after you. He’s not just there to make money. He looks after you. His compassions fail not.

He has provided you with everything you will ever need for every situation you will ever run across and He’s hidden it in the inner man. You’ve got it. This is why I’m so careful about the songs that we sing, because I only want to sing songs that talk about what the Word teaches. I don’t want man’s theology. I can’t stand the songs that some people sing, when they’re singing about what they want God to do for them. Usually they are singing about something God has already done for them and they haven’t recognized it yet. And you can sing or pray until you’re blue in the face to ask God to do something for you, but if He’s already done it, He can’t do anything else. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it.

If you haven’t got it, you don’t need it. As Garrison Keillor says about the little general story in Lake Wobegon, Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery — if he doesn’t have what you want, then you don’t need it. God’s mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Have God as a sponsor for your day. And not forgetting Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

So number one, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”Take God as the sponsor for your day. Say, “This is the Lord’s day. This isn’t my day. I’m not going to waste this day. I’m going to fulfill this day according to the guidance that God has given to me and I’m going to express the Jesus Christ that is in me, and so express the compassion of God to everybody I meet.”

Speak to your day, talk to it

In Job chapter 7 verse 6 we read how some people describe their day. “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle and come to their end without hope” (Job 7:6). “So you want to know how my day is? I’ll tell you. My wife threw a saucepan at me this morning. My boss is mad at me. I missed the bus. There’s nothing worse than watching the sight of the back of the bus just going down the street. If I haven’t stopped for one second to kick the dog as I went out the front door, I might have made it. My days are without hope. I’m not living; I’m just existing. You call this life? This is a backside of the world. I don’t know why I’m even living here.”

Have you met people like that? How can we fly like eagles when we have to work with turkeys everyday? Psalm 45 tells us the way I believe would be better for you to talk about your day. Psalm 45 verse 1, “My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; … my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.” It’s just bubbling up from within me. I’m just so excited about day 29,220 that it’s bubbling up inside of me.

Have a good theme for your day. I love that first phrase, “My heart overflows with a goodly theme.” Speak to your day. Talk to your day; affirm what you want out of this day. Affirm that this is the Lord’s Day. Affirm that God’s goodness is going to flow not only through you but to you. You’re going to be a magnet for good during this day. God’s money is going to flow towards you. I love the word “affluence” because it comes from the word “to flow.” Affluent people are people through whose hands many things should be flowing, helping the world to be a better place.

Speak to your day, have a goodly theme for your day. Billy Graham’s wife had a sign up over her kitchen sink that said, “Divine service will be held here three times a day.” Have a theme for your day, take God into the everyday aspects of your life. I read some of the incidents in the Bible. I think of the man in Acts chapter 3, the man who laid at the gate of the temple, and Peter and John, which happen to be my first two names, thanks to godly parents.

Peter and John were walking as they were accustomed to do to the temple. They’d walk that path many, many times. It was just an ordinary everyday occurrence. And there was a beggar sitting at the side. It could well have been on previous days, they had tossed the beggar a coin because it was part of their custom, unlike today when we just look away and say, “Go, get yourself a job,” or something. In those days, it was considered a spiritual experience to share with the poor.

On this particular day they were just walking along and the beggar asked them for money. Peter suddenly got an inspiration from God during an ordinary everyday occurrence and said, “I have no silver and gold” (verse 6). Well, I’ve been there and done that. I know what that’s like. It’s not a sin to be poor, it’s just mighty inconvenient at times.

“I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you.” You see, he was in tune with God on that day, at the start of the day. He had got himself ready to be used as God’s servant wherever God wanted him. And God wanted to use him just as he was walking up to the gate of the temple. He haven’t even got into church, haven’t even sat in the pew or sung the first song. He was just walking up the path and God said, “This is a moment I want you to do something today.”

Speak to your day, have a godly theme for your day. This is the only time you’ve got, folks, you better make use of it. “What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?” (Psalm 34:12). The New International Version paraphrases it, this man “desires to see many good days.” We all like good days, don’t we? Monday is not a good day in a lot of people’s minds. Monday is the pits. You’ve got to work, “I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go.” Wednesday is the “hump” day, when you pass the middle of the week. And TGFF, thank God for Friday!

Desire a good day, and why not? Even if you are or are not going to work, why can’t it be a good day? This could be the very day that your boss says you’re going to get a rise. This could be a very day when you solve the problem that you left sitting on your desk last Friday night. This could be a good day, and it will be a good day if you make it a good day. It won’t be a good day if you just expect it to happen. This is a good day. This is the day the Lord has made, so let us speak to our days.

Watch what you say about your day. That’s what I’m saying there. So, get your day sponsored by God and speak to your day.

Accomplish something today

“Don’t be silly, this is my vacation.” I’m just going to veg out. We all know how to veg out. You don’t have to take a college course, Veg Out 101; it just comes naturally, but we are believers. We have a loving father. He wants us to make something of today. We need to accomplish something today.

No doubt you’ve read the story of the man born blind in John chapter 9. “1As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2And his disciples asked him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? 3Jesus answered, It was not that this man sinned, or his parents…” There should be a full stop right there in our English translations (CSB) and a comma at the end of the verse. “… but that the works of God might be displayed in him, 4we must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” The Message Bible paraphrases it as “Jesus said, ‘You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.”

Accomplish something today, amplify your possibilities, get busy with God’s business while it is daylight. God has given you this day. Make something of it, accomplish something today. And what is His business? His business, it says in the church epistles, is to “edify one another” (Romans 14:19, I Thessalonians 5:11). What does edify mean? Build up. Help build up one another. We all need encouragement. I need encouragement today. I’ve been around here for 29,220 days and counting! I need encouragement to see the next 365 days or to head for the next milestone of 32,872 days.

Accomplish something today. We must work while it is light. God has given us the light, God has given us tremendous freedom. We thought that we had the free flow of the gospel. We have television and radio. Now God has given us the internet and a worldwide audience. What great opportunities we have to accomplish something today. What God wants you to do, nobody else can do. He’s got you where you are so that you can do what He wants you alone to do. No one else can do it for you. There are no substitutes. If you don’t do it folks, it doesn’t get done. But you can do it because He’s given you the power within to do it. He never asked you to do anything that you can’t do. Accomplish something today.

No, I do not mean to be a workaholic. God never made us to be workaholics. God made us to accomplish things. There is a difference. “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2b). Our God is a God of the now. And now is the day of wholeness. The word “salvation” means wholeness of body and soul and spirit. Today is a day of wholeness, so accomplish something today, whether something for yourself or for somebody else.

Sometimes we don’t get the balance right. My wife has to constantly remind me, “Get off the computer, Peter. Go for a walk,” because we forget that one thing that we have to accomplish is rest. Even God only works six days a week and on the seventh he rested. And just because it’s a day of rest doesn’t mean to say you are not accomplishing something, because you are; you’re recharging your batteries.

I remember when I was starting my ministry, a believer made the statement to me that the time you spend to sharpen your axe is never time wasted. That’s an accomplishment, to learn how to rest. Accomplish something today. And if it’s going to be rest, if that’s what you need to accomplish, don’t be ashamed of it, accomplish it! I no longer have any shame that I have to lie down in the afternoon some days. That’s fine, and I have a wife that understands and stays quiet. Two amens to that!

Put His life into your days

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). Two things there: He is your life and He is the length of your days. We have no control over the amount but we do have control over the quality.

I do not know how many more days God will give me. My father was the longest living Wade, at least that’s what he always told us. He died at the age of 88, when he wasn’t expected to live beyond his teenage years. So, he set me quite an example to follow.

God says He is our life and He is the length of our days. I cannot control the length but I can control expressing His life today, and that’s all I can control. I can’t control tomorrow. I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I know who holds the future. Yet I do know He’s given me today.

He is your life. So, put God’s life into your day. We don’t choose how our face looks, but we can control our expression. We can’t control lots of things that go on around us but we can control how we react to those things within us. I am not a victim of the world I see. I am responsible for what happens to me. I don’t control the circumstances, but I do control myself and I do allow a life of Christ to flow out through me. So put His life into your day.

So, there are some wonderful principles about day 29,220 in the life of Peter Wade. I was born in the city of Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, 29,220 days ago, born to English parents. I didn’t choose my relatives. Thank God I can choose my friends.

Three steps in Bible study

“Now, what does this got to do with Bible study? What have I done with Psalm 90:12, “so teach us to number our days?” The first thing I did, I observed what is written. That’s the first step. So, I got my electronic brain, my calculator, and I sat down and tapped out the figures. I counted up on my hand how many leap years there have been. So I have observed what was written, but God didn’t intend me to sit down with a calculator. So I had to take another step, and that was to interpret what was written. What does it mean? I had to interpret what it actually meant to the people that it was written to.

The Psalmist prayed for God to “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). We have observed what is written. Now let’s interpret what it means. It means that I have to be careful, as I have only a set number of days in my account. I must be wise how to use those days. I must remember my mortality.

God has me on this earth for only a very minor little period of time. I’ve already spent far too many of them, and there’s far too many things I would have like to accomplish. Usually, the interpretation is a principle. The application will vary in each one of our lives, but the principle, the interpretation will remain constant, even in different cultures.

It is obviously not a question of counting our days but making our days count. We not only observe what is written and interpret what it means, but we then must apply it to our lives. We make it personal, we apply it to our own life, to the situations we run across.

There are cultural differences in the Bible too, and the way the people lived in Bible days are not the same way that we live in western society today, and you must understand that there are cultural things there, even in the church epistles, that I don’t have to obey. Another example might be when Jesus said we should wash each other’s feet. Don’t try it on me! It’s a cultural thing. Observe what is written, then interpret it, what did it mean to the people to whom it was written?

Thirdly, apply it to your own life. And people, the Bible never works until you apply it. It doesn’t work when you’re sitting in a room, working all those books. All you are getting is head knowledge, but you’re getting head knowledge for a good reason: you want to learn how better to apply it in your life. So, knowing the Bible is one thing, applying it is something else.

In this teaching, I’m trying to help you enjoy your Bible again. The Bible is not enjoyed, E.W. Bullinger said, because it is not understood. So, in order to understand your Bible, observe, interpret, and apply.

This article is Copyright © 2013 Peter Wade and appears on the site: https://peterwade.com/

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