Archive | December 2014

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Revelation 2:10

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.           NKJV

What a great promise from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ. As Christians, there are three lessons we need to take to heart as we enter into this New Year.

First, we do not need to be afraid of what the New Year will bring. Many times over, the Lord has promised us in His word that He will be with us no matter in what circumstances we may find ourselves (Deut. 31:6, Josh. 1:9, I Chron. 28:20, Matt. 28:20), and He will enable us to carry out His plan for our lives no matter how daunting those circumstances may seem (Isa. 41:13, Heb. 13:5-6, Eph. 2:10, Phil. 4:13). In addition, the Lord has promised to meet all of our needs (Phil. 4:19), and to work all our circumstances out in the way that is best for us individually (Rom. 8:28).

Second, we need to be faithful in our service and obedience to the Lord no matter what the New Year will bring. Since Satan, who is the prince of this world, and unbelievers both hate Christians (Eph. 6:12, John 15:18-20, I Jn. 3:13), the Christian life often brings persecution and suffering. The Christians at Smyrna were persecuted, arrested, thrown into prison, tortured, and murdered, yet they were faithful unto death; and as a result, the Lord will give them the crown of life. Likewise, if we are faithful unto death, the Lord will richly reward us for our service to Him (Rom. 2:6-7, Rom. 8:18, I Cor. 15:58, II Tim. 2:12, Heb. 10:36, Jas. 1:12).

Third, we need to live each day of the New Year as though Jesus was coming that day. The crowns promised to Christians will be given at the rapture when we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air and are taken to heaven (II Tim. 4:8, I Pet. 5:4, Rev. 4:10). We do not know when Jesus will appear (Matt. 24:42,44; Mk. 13:35-36; Rev. 3:11, 22:12), so for this New Year we need to purpose in our hearts to live every moment of every day as though the Lord were coming at that moment, so that we will not be caught unaware and ashamed before Him at His coming (I Jn. 2:28).

Are you ready if Jesus comes today? Have you truly repented of your sins and trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? If so, are you living a life of faithful obedience and service to Him? Or would you be ashamed at His coming?

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From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on John 8:12

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”   NKJV

What a fitting verse for the Christmas season when Christians celebrate the birth of the Son of God into the world as the Light of the World. As we consider all that this declaration that Christ is “the Light of the World” entails, let us focus on four truths regarding the Light of the World.

First, the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world in the darkness of that first Christmas evening to be the light of the world.

I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”           Isaiah 49:6 NKJV

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.                        John 1:4-5, 9-14 NKJV

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”            John 3:16-21 NKJV

Second, Jesus has called us out of darkness into His light.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”    John 8:12 NKJV

While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”           John 12:36 NKJV

To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’          Acts 26:18 NKJV

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.          II Corinthians 4:6 NKJV

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”     Ephesians 5:8, 14 NKJV

You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.           I Thessalonians 5:5 NKJV

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;     I Peter 2:9 NKJV

If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.          I John 1:7 NKJV

Third, as His ambassadors on earth, Jesus has called us to shine his light into the darkness of the world around us.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.              Matthew 5:14-16 NKJV

That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,           Philippians 2:15 NKJV

Fourth, when Jesus comes again, He will light up the world.

“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory.           Isaiah 60:19 NKJV

But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).                    Revelation 21:22-25 NKJV

And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.                Revelation 22:3-5 NKJV

Is the birth of Jesus more than just a historical event to you? Is it a reality in your heart? Have you repented of your sins, and trusted the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Light of the World, as your personal Savior?

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Hebrews 4:11-13

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.           NKJV

Hebrews was written to the Jews to show them that Jesus is the Messiah and as such, is the fulfillment of all the ceremonial laws. In chapter 4, verses 1-10, God demonstrates that the ceremonial laws fulfilled by Jesus include the Sabbath Day commandments, and that the true Sabbath rest comes through faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. In chapter 4, verse 11, the Apostle exhorts his readers to enter into the true Sabbath rest through faith in Christ (v.3). With this background having been laid, there are three important lessons in our present text.

First, we need to trust Jesus as our Savior, lest we fall into condemnation as the Jews in the wilderness did (v. 11). That the Old Testament Jews were given the gospel message is clearly seen in the following passages. In Genesis 3:15, God promised that the seed of the woman (the Messiah) would deliver fallen man from his sins by bruising the head of the serpent (Satan). In Galatians 3:8, we are told that God preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand. Abraham believed God’s gospel message regarding the coming Messiah who would deliver him from his sins (Gal. 3:6-7). Jesus told the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” (Jn. 8:56). Many Old Testament passages such as Psalm 22 and Isa. 53 expound in great detail upon the death of the Messiah for our sins. In Luke 24:25-26, Jesus rebuked the two disciples on the road to Emmaus for being foolish and slow of heart to believe the Old Testament message of His death, resurrection, and ascension. In John 3:10, Jesus also rebuked Nicodemus, who was the spiritual teacher of the Jews, for his ignorance of the Old Testament teaching regarding the new birth that comes through salvation in the Messiah. The Jews in the wilderness rejected the gospel message, and as a result they were not saved (Heb. 3:7-11,15,18-19; 4:2,11). Because they rejected the gospel message, they fell into condemnation (Heb. 3:16-17, I Cor. 10:5). Likewise, all who are disobedient to the gospel message will be condemned (II Thess. 1:7-9, Jn. 3:16-18).

Second, the Word of God is what pierces the inward man and leads people to salvation in Christ (v.12). There are five terms in verse twelve of our text used to describe the inward man (soul, spirit, joints, marrow, and heart). Just as a sword is able to pierce the body, likewise the gospel is able to pierce the inward man (Rom. 10:17, Eph. 6:17, II Tim. 3:15). Both “soul” and “spirit”, carry the idea of life, but soul refers to the natural life (that which energizes the body) as opposed to spirit, which refers to the spiritual life that brings one into a relationship with God. The unsaved person is spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1), and as a result, has no understanding or experiential knowledge of the things of God (I Cor. 2:14). The unsaved person is physically alive, but is dead to God. There is no division or conflict between his soul and spirit because he is spiritually dead, and as a result, he is ruled by the lusts of his flesh (Eph. 2:3). But in Christ, all of that changes. The saved person is given spiritual life, and as a result of his new nature in Christ, the spirit now wars against the lusts of the flesh (II Cor. 5:17, Gal. 5:16-17).

Third, the Lord will bring us all into judgment (v.13). This is true whether you are a believer or an unbeliever; the difference lies in the kind of judgment into which we will be brought. For believers, it will be a judgment of rewards or loss of rewards which will determined at the Judgment Seat of Christ (I Cor. 3:12-15, II Cor. 5:10, Rom. 14:10). Conversely, for unbelievers, it will be a judgment of condemnation against their sins which will be determined at the great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).

Where we will spend eternity in the next life depends on how we respond to the gospel in this life. Have you repented of your sins, and trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? Where will you spend eternity?

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final thoughts on Psalm 40:1-5

I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD. Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust, And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works Which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us Cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered.           NKJV

Are you experiencing any burdens in your life? Are you having health problems, dealing with injuries, or have you lost a job or source of income? Are your bills and debts mounting? Or perhaps you’ve lost a loved one. Or maybe you’re experiencing animosity from others toward you on your job, or having conflicts with relatives. Or it may be that you’re struggling with a particular sin (or sins) in your life. If so, how do you dealing with these burdens are weighing your down? In our text, the Lord gives us three lessons on responding to burdens in our lives.

First, we need to take our burdens to the Lord in prayer and wait patiently on Him (v.1). As Christians, the Lord does hear our prayer for help (Psa. 9:10, 34:15, 86:7, 91:15), but He doesn’t always answer the way we would have Him answer. Often His answer is “yes,” but sometimes His answer is “no,” and in some cases, His answer is “wait awhile,” but be assured Christian, that no matter what His answer may be, He does hear and answer your prayer in a manner that will be in your best spiritual interest (Rom. 8:28). The Lord will deliver us from troubles in His time—not in ours—and so we must learn to wait patiently on Him (Psa. 37:7, Lam. 3:26, Isa. 40:31). The Lord always delivers His people through Christ, the Rock of our salvation (v.2, I Cor. 10:4, Isa. 28:16, I Pet. 2:6, Jn. 10:14, Psa. 23, Heb. 13:5-6). The “miry clay” of verse two refers to quicksand. Are there burdens that are bogging you down? Look to the Lord Jesus Christ to lift those burdens (Heb. 12:1-2, Matt. 11:28). We will be blessed if we put our trust in the Lord (v.4), not in our physicians, our source of income, our money or bank accounts, or our own strength, skill, cleverness, ingenuity, education, or wisdom. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths (Prov. 3:5-6).

Second, we need to praise the Lord and let others know how He has removed our burdens. Far too often, we are focused intently on the Lord when we are going through trials and carrying the weight of burdens, but then, when the Lord lifts our burdens, our gratitude and praise is very fleeting. We are like the nine out of ten lepers that Jesus healed in Lk.17:11-19 and who never bothered to thank Him. The Lord has blessed us in innumerable ways (v.5). Do we praise Him for it, and share with others all the blessings He has showered upon us (Psa. 105:1-2)?

Third, if we trust in the Lord, we will persevere even under burdens (v.4). If we trust in the Lord, we will keep our integrity, will not compromise our Biblical principles and convictions, and we will not choose to sin to alleviate our burdens. We won’t take jobs that are unethical or immoral no matter how much they pay. We won’t go against our Biblical convictions no matter how much pressure our classmates, our relatives, our co-workers, or even our bosses may put on us. If we trust in the Lord, we will continue to keep His commandments and do what is right in His sight—no matter how heavy the burdens—knowing that He will give us the strength to carry those burdens, and we will rest on the promise that He will, in His perfect timing, remove those burdens.

From the Pastor’s Pen

Thoughts on I Peter 5:13

She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.           NKJV

According to the Roman Catholic Church, which claims that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome (Pope), Babylon is used in I Peter 5:13 as an alias for Rome. However, there is no evidence that Peter was ever in Rome. The book of Acts never records Peter traveling to Rome, and despite sending his greetings to 26 people by name in Romans 16, the Apostle Paul never mentions Peter.

Furthermore, Paul was called to be the Apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 26:17; Rom. 11:13, 15:16; Gal. 1:15-16; I Tim. 2:7)—not Peter (Gal. 2:7-8). According to several ancient manuscripts, Peter was buried on the Mount of Olives and, in 1953, an ossuary box, bearing the inscription “Simon Bar-Jonah” (see Mat. 16:17) was found in a tomb on the Mount of Olives.

The Babylon from which Peter wrote is literally Babylon of Assyria, the metropolis of the dispersion of the Jews, to whom Peter wrote; and where as the Apostle of the Jews (Gal. 2:7-8), he resided since there lived in Babylon a large number of born again Jews in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Psa. 87:4).