The Throne of His Father David

The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:32-33).

Two thousand years ago, the angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to a Son who would rule and reign over Jacob’s descendants forever. This King was foreshadowed in the lives of the Old Testament patriarchs, foretold by prophets, announced by angels over Bethlehem, peeked at on the Mount of Transfiguration, proven in words and works at His First Coming, and set as a promise in a Second Coming.

Jesus was propelled forcefully by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan (Mark 1:12, 13). One of His temptations was Satan’s offer to receive all the kingdoms of the world and their glory (Mt 4:8). In a moment of time (Luke 4:5) Satan showed Jesus the glories of every kingdom throughout human history. Satan continued, All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish (Luke 4:6). Jesus could have the kingdoms of this world for but a moment of worship.

God is in control of all things and nothing happens outside of His good pleasure. He ordains the leaders of every nation (Rom 13:1) and has set both national boundaries and their times (Acts 17:26), yet the governments of this world are under the leadership of the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4). This is why Christians must be careful that patriotism not be our religion nor politicians our hope.

The glories of human history were offered to Jesus for a simple act of declaring the worth-ship of Satan. Instead, He went to the cross to redeem sinners. By His obedience to the Father, He will one day destroy the kingdoms of this world and create a glorious kingdom of God upon the earth that will have no end.

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Enquiring Minds Want to Know

There used to be a gossip tabloid advertised with the line, Enquiring minds want to know. It’s true! The human mind is seldom satisfied with what it knows and mankind thirsts to know more.

Wanting to know more more sent Christopher Columbus to adventure out from Europe in 1492 and sail to North America. In 1804, the longing to know more brought adventurers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark into the Pacific Northwest and the west coast into the fledgling American nation. The search to know more about our solar system rocketed three Americans onto the moon in 1969.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to know more, but our need to know can also lead us astray spiritually. Americans now spend more than 2 billion dollars a year on fortune-telling, palm-reading, and other occult divinations. We study our horoscope to explain our behavior. Mediums and seers are sought for solving our problems. Prophets, tarot cards, and Ouija boards are consulted for advice about tomorrow.

But God, who knows all things, is quiet about most of the things we hunger to know. He hasn’t revealed everything we’d like to know, but what He has revealed in the pages of Scripture is sufficient to make us wise for salvation and lead us into all spiritual truth (2 Tim 3:15-16). The Bible is sufficient to grow us in living godly lives (2 Pet 1:3-4). Our quest for additional spiritual knowledge must be pushed to the side and our focus made upon the truths that God has revealed in His Word.

Yes, God has secret things that belong only to Him (Deut 29:29), but all that we need to know is found in the pages of the Bible.

Keeping Busy with Religion

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! (Luke 13:34).

The Biblical history of Israel reveals a startling truth: they killed the messengers God sent to them.

The murder of the Jewish prophets wasn’t by heathen immigrants or foreign armies, but by those busily following the Old Testament law of Moses.

Every day the Jews were offering their animal sacrifices by the thousands in the temple. They were diligent to pay their tithes – even of their salt and spices. They prayed many times a day. They memorized large sections of the Scriptures and even wore Bible verses tied to their arms and foreheads. They claimed to be devoted followers of God and as they were busy being religious they rejected the Word of God and killed His messengers. Their devotion was outward for show and had no inward reality. Jesus said that they rejected God.

False religion always hides among true godliness.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will  … have a form of godliness but deny its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1, 5).

Give Them Christ

Five hundred years ago, a Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther (1483-1546) challenged the church of his day over un-Biblical practices. These religious traditions including the selling forgiveness of sins for money, worshiping artifacts, paying for your own sins in Purgatory, giving privileges to church leaders, the separation of priest from people, and praying to the dead. These practices shrouded and spoiled the Good News of Jesus.

Luther would have none of it. If it was not clearly given to the Church in the Scriptures it was forbidden. No special chairs, robes, or perks for priests. No Purgatory. No Pope. No priesthood. No forgiveness of sins by religious deeds. No altars, crucifixes, or statues of Jesus or Mary. No prayers to saints. No salvation outside of Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone.

Luther’s mentor pleaded with him to take it easy and not push so hard for reformation. “But Martin, if we get rid of all these things – the practices so many common people cling to – what will we give them in their place?

Luther replied firmly and intently, “Why, Sir, we will give them Christ! Yes, we will give them Christ!

We have more than our share of un-biblical practices and cultural traditions in churchianity today. These traditions of men are different than what Luther confronted, but are still against the Scriptures.

What we need – all that we need – is Christ.

I did not come to you with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-2).

Cowboy Boots

An American Cowboy

As long as I can remember I’ve been a flip-flop and tennis shoe wearer; but after years of trying, my wife finally convinced me to buy a pair of cowboy boots last week. Had I known how beautiful, comfortable, and supportive they are to my feet, I’d have been born wearing them! (Sorry Mom).

Cowboy boots are amazing! Now I wear them all the time. I’ve even worn them to bed a couple of times. And if I may say so, they look really good.

Isaiah 52:7 reads, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Honestly, feet are not very beautiful unless they’re in cowboy boots. Yet the Bible calls the feet of those who bring good news beautiful. Their feet aren’t attractive, but are made attractive by the news they carry.

For 43 years, the Athenians and Persians had been at war. Finally in 490 BC, a runner was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to proclaim the Greeks had defeated the Persians. The runner’s pathway was largely uphill and a difficult 26 mile journey. When he arrived in Athens, the herald shouted, “Victory!” and died. The man who ran the first “marathon” died bringing good news, but how lovely his feet must have been to the war-weary Athenians!

When Isaiah wrote, he was looking forward to the Good News of salvation in Jesus.  Through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:38-39).

Emancipation Proclamation

On January 1, 1863, at the height of the great American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. This executive order declared that more than 3 million slaves in the 10 rebellious southern states were free. As soon as a slave escaped his master, or a slave was met by Union troops, the slave was legally free. With this Proclamation, the ending of slavery in the United States became one of the goals of the War.

The Biblical word redemption is one of profound beauty. It describes a freedom bought by the payment of ransom. It was used in the ancient Roman world of the New Testament for a slave who was bought for the purpose of being set free. It’s the basis of our English word emancipation. 

In the Bible, redemption speaks of Christ’s freeing of His people from the power and penalty of sin through the shedding of His own blood. Guilty sinners who place their trust in Christ alone, receive pardon, and the Father casts away all of our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

The death of Jesus paid the price for our redemption. Upon Christ’s death, the Father forgave all our sins, delivered us from death unto life, and gave us an eternal inheritance in His household.

In Him, Jesus, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).

The Naked Truth

Okay, here’s the naked truth: more than two thousand years in Greece and Rome, sports were usually played in the nude. As an example, if you go to the Colosseum in Rome, you’ll find carvings of the athletes without their clothes on. When fighting wild animals, wrestling, running, or engaging in track and field events, the last thing you wanted was for your clothes to inhibit your performance.

This image of an athlete free from every snare or entanglement is the thought in Hebrews 12:1-3.

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith …

As we run the race of faith, living out our Christianity where the “rubber meets the road,” we must beware of the sin which so easily ensnares us. Each of us has at least one of those easily ensnaring sins, one to which we are most vulnerable.

Some sins like laziness, bribery, or gluttony, may have no tempting power over me, but others like pride, self-righteousness, or sexual lust may. These latter ones are sins which so easily ensnare me. And weighty hindrances to me, like an ungodly relationship or style of music, may not hinder you.

These things must be cast aside, or literally, stripped away in the presence of a great crowd of witnesses watching us compete. Will we remove everything that hinders our race or will we fail to make it out of the starting block? Remember, it takes only one loose shoelace to fall the greatest runner.

How do we tie up our shoelaces and run without hindrance? We look unto Jesus who not only begins and completes our faith, but is the object of our faith. He is our example. Don’t look at the crowd, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and don’t let anything stop you from reaching Him at the finish line.

The Leopard’s Spots

 

 

 

 

This is a poster printed in the year 1898. It reads:

The Brutal Driver

Many horsemen are so lacking in the sense of humanity that they take delight in pursuing and running down cyclists on the public road. By the efforts of the L.A.W. many of these brutes have been arrested and punished, and this salutary work will be carried on in the future more vigorously than ever.

Despite the advancements in education, medicine, technology, and general civilization, the nature of man doesn’t change. It reminds us of the Scripture:

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil (Jeremiah 13:23).

Apart from the transforming work of Jesus Christ in the heart of man, we are no more able to do the good that honors God than the leopard can change its spots.

A Bible Revolution

lutherMartin Luther was faced with a decision to remain quiet or speak out. The religious corruption he witnessed was unbearable. Bishops sold places in Heaven to the highest bidder. The pope promised early release from Purgatory for donations to build his palace. Priests were impregnating nuns and aborting the babies. The pope claimed to be the only authority for Christians.

Luther began by writing a letter to his bishop, explaining 95 Biblical reasons the pope was wrong to sell salvation. Then on October 31, 1517, filled with anger, he stormed to his church and nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the doors which served as the community bulletin board. Soon his complaint reached Rome.

For hundreds of years the pope was considered the final authority in all things Christian. His words were more authoritative than the Bible. Suddenly a Bible teacher in a small German village was questioning the status quo.

At that time, Luther was preaching a Bible-based sermon every 2 1/2 days. He also wrote a booklet on a Bible subject every other day for at least 4 years.

Tensions between the pope and Luther grew. The pope threatened the German emperor to get Luther or else. He even told his aides that if Luther “accidentally” died, it would solve many problems.

In hiding, Luther translated the Bible into German, which had only been in Latin for over a thousand years. He believed the German people should be able to compare what they were being taught in church with what God said in the Bible.

The final 13 years of his life, Luther suffered from vertigo, fainting, tinnitus, cataracts, kidney and bladder stones, arthritis, angina, and deafness, but he kept writing and preaching the Word of God.

On the evening of February 17, 1546, at the age of 56, Luther experienced chest pain and hours later died. Any thought that his death would end his Bible revolution was quickly proven wrong. He had founded a movement stressing the authority of the Scriptures above every man, experience, and idea.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Be Ye Perfect

be-ye-perfectI remember as a child watching another child at the 1976 Olympics. The world and I watched as 14-year old Nadia Comaneci finished her routine on the gymnastic uneven bars, her dismount bringing wild cheers from the crowd.

Since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, no one ever expected a perfect gymnastic routine. Score boards were built to only go as high as 9.9. Nadia became the first athlete to receive a perfect score of 10 from the international judges.

Spiritually, only God sets the standard of perfection. He alone judges whether His standard is ever met. The standard goes like this: Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), yet the reality is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, meeting God’s standard became impossible … until Jesus. When He was born, the world encountered the first and only perfect Person. He lived a perfect life socially, morally, religiously, and spiritually. He kept every standard of man and God, never sinning and never falling short of the glory of God (Hebrews 4:15).

He gave His perfect life on the cross as the Substitute for sinful man. All who trust in Him receive His perfect righteousness applied to their lives. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

You can’t ever be perfect, but you can respond to God’s gift of salvation. The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).