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Days of Praise

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February 20, 2019
How to Please the Lord
“Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9) 

In this verse, Paul expresses the strong desire to be “pleasing to” (the idea behind “accepted of”) the Lord Jesus Christ. It should likewise be our own ambition—whatever we do and wherever we are—to please Him. This, of course, will make a difference in what we do and where we go!

The Scriptures give us a number of specific ways in which we can be confident of pleasing Him. For example: “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). That is, our criterion should be pleasing Him—not ourselves. Similarly, we are warned that “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). That is, our thoughts and deeds must not be governed by worldly considerations.

By suffering, willingly, for His sake, we can please Him. “If, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable [‘well-pleasing’] with God” (1 Peter 2:20).

“Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6). We must walk by faith if we would please the Lord. This is not faith in the abstract, but specific truth—faith to believe the revealed Word of God and to act on that faith.

God is pleased with generosity. “But to do good and to communicate [to share what we have with others, for His sake] forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16). This certainly includes sharing the gospel, as well as our material possessions. “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

Finally, when our ways please the Lord, we have this gracious promise: “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22). HMM

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February 21, 2019
The Lord and Inspiration
“And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying . . .” (Leviticus 1:1) 

This introductory verse to what many erroneously consider a dry and difficult book of the Bible actually introduces a remarkable phenomenon. All the rest of the chapter consists of a direct quotation from the Lord Himself. In fact, most of the rest of the book also consists solely of the direct words of God, except for an occasional interjection of a statement that God was still speaking. In all, 717 of the 832 verses in Leviticus (that is 86 percent) consist of the very words of God, directly quoted. This is more than any other book of the Bible, except for the books of the prophets, some of which also consist almost entirely of verbatim statements from God. The same situation is found in lesser, but still substantial, degrees in other historical books, not to mention the extensive quotations from the sermons and discourses of Christ in the four gospels.

While it is true that the Holy Spirit used many different means by which to convey the Scriptures (all of which are verbally inspired and fully inerrant) to writing, it is also true that, on many occasions, what amounts to the “dictation” method was used by Him. Evangelicals have often been intimidated by the scientists’ ridicule of this “mechanical theory” of inspiration, but they should not be. God is well able to use whatever means He chooses to reveal His word to men, and we should simply take Him at His word!

Leviticus is a guidebook for the consecration and cleansing of God’s people—especially His priests. In the New Covenant, all believers are priests, and therefore are expected to be consecrated and pure. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). HMM

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February 22, 2019
When the Lord Comes
“After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (Genesis 15:1) 

This is the first of the great “I am’s” of Scripture, and it was given to Father Abraham at a time of both great victory and great despondence. The Lord had enabled Abraham’s little army to vanquish a much larger Amorite host, but then, still childless, he was suddenly overwhelmed by his loneliness and vulnerability in an alien land.

Then Jesus came! When Christ much later affirmed His eternal self-existence to the Pharisees (“I am,” He had said), He claimed that Abraham had seen His day and rejoiced (John 8:56). This experience, recorded early in Genesis, was, no doubt, that great occasion. As the living Word (John 1:1) by whom all things were made (v. 3), He assured Abram that He, Himself, would provide all needed protection (“thy shield”) and all needed blessing (“exceeding great reward”). And then it was that “he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal existing Creator and Redeemer of all things, is no less able today than then to be our protection—and our provision, as well.

Note also that it was the Word of the Lord which came to Abram in a vision. This is the first use of the Hebrew word dabar in Scripture to mean “word,” and here it is the Word of God personified. This still further identifies the vision with the pre-incarnate Christ, who would eventually become God’s incarnate Word (John 1:1, 14).

Thus, as to Abram, God says, “Fear not!” Adam, indeed, was justifiably afraid when he heard the voice of the Lord (Genesis 3:10), for he had only a fig leaf for a covering. But, like Abram, we have a strong shield, which is none other than the Lord Himself. HMM

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February 23, 2019
To the Praise of His Glory
“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:5-6) 

Theologians of great ability and unquestioned sincerity have argued the meaning of predestination for centuries. Since the question involves the eternal, inscrutable counsels of the infinite Creator, it is evidently impossible for finite humans to comprehend its full meaning. But we don’t have to understand it before we can rejoice in its truth. The Scriptures (especially our text) teach that the purpose of God’s predestinating work is that we might glorify Him and His amazing grace! We have been predestinated to become adopted sons of God, “to the praise of the glory of his grace.”

Then it is said that we have been predestinated to a great inheritance, in order “that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” (v. 12). We have been “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” and, again, this is all “unto the praise of his glory” (vv. 13-14).

Note also that He has “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself” (v. 5). “We have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (v. 11). We have also been predestinated “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29)—predestinated unto eternal holiness, sonship, heirship, and Christlikeness! Surely such gifts are cause enough for us to praise eternally the glory of His grace.

That is, indeed, what we shall do in the ages to come. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21). And since we are to be testifying to the praise of the glory of His grace throughout all ages, it behooves us to do so now as well. HMM

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February 24, 2019
Nations That Forget God
“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17) 

The subject of hell is widely ignored today, even by evangelical teachers and pastors. Heaven is commonly mentioned at funerals, of course, since almost everyone attending a funeral wants to think that the deceased has gone there (assuming there turns out to be such a place). Hell is rarely acknowledged as even a possibility, on the other hand, even for mobsters or other criminals.

Nevertheless, hell is real and it is going to be more fully populated than heaven. The Lord Jesus said (and He should know!), “Broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: . . . narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

But just who are the “wicked” that will be turned into hell? According to the Bible, “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), and “the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). By the principle of Hebrew poetic parallelism, our text would indicate that “the wicked” are those who “forget God,” where the connotation of “forget” is “become oblivious to.”

Can whole nations become oblivious to the true God of creation—and do business and legislate and conduct all their affairs just as though God no longer existed? If so, those nations (or at least those citizens of those nations who practice such wickedness) are in mortal danger. “Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross” (Psalm 119:119).

But “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6) and “blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:12). We who trust Christ therefore surely need to work and pray earnestly for our nation, and its people, that they return to genuine love of God and His Word. HMM

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February 25, 2019
The Magnified Word of God
“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” (Psalm 138:2) 

The Word of God is not greater than God, of course, but is greater than His name, and this is, itself, inestimably magnificent. The “name” of God represents all that He is and all that He does and is supremely deserving of the praise of all His creatures.

But we can only know His name—what He is and what He does—through His Word. The full exposition of His character of truth and His acts of love and mercy can be discerned only through His Word, which thus becomes greater than His name by manifesting and revealing His name.

“As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). We believe on His name, and thereby receive Him, by trusting His Word of truth and appropriating His forgiving mercy; we deny His name by doubting His Word and despising His proffered salvation.

The Word of God is “light” (Psalm 119:105), and “thy word is truth” (John 17:17). It is living and energizing (Hebrews 4:12). It is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true, and righteous altogether (Psalm 19:7-9). “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable. . . . That the man of God may be perfect” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

May God enable us, in full sincerity of heart and mind, to “worship” (literally to “bow down” to His Word) in everything He says—believing and obeying His promises and His commandments.

There are many who charge Christians with placing too much emphasis on the written Word, but it is impossible to place too much emphasis on the Bible, for God Himself has magnified His Word even above His name! HMM

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February 26, 2019
The Prayer of Faith
“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” (James 5:15) 

Without examining the various interpretations of this somewhat controversial passage, we merely note that one of the main ingredients of effective praying is faith. There are others, of course (praying in God’s will, no unconfessed sin, unselfish motives, etc.), but all these must be “mixed with faith” to be effective (Hebrews 4:2).

There are many such exhortations to pray in faith. Jesus said, “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22). Another example is James 1:5-6: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” And another: “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).

Every Scripture passage must be viewed in context, of course, including the context of the entire Bible. The “faith” we must exercise is not only a spiritual confidence that God will answer (and this, clearly, is necessary), but also faith in God as Creator (and, therefore, able to answer!), Christ as Savior (therefore, justly willing to hear), and in the Holy Scriptures as the written Word of God. James warns any man without genuine faith: “Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:7-8).

True biblical faith is faith in God the omnipotent Creator (Hebrews 11:3), faith in Christ as redeeming Savior (John 3:16- 18), and obedient faith in the revealed Word of God (1 John 3:22). Then we can believe in confidence that God will indeed answer our prayer of faith. HMM

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February 27, 2019
Seducing Spirits
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” (1 Timothy 4:1) 

These “latter days” are surely characterized by the tragic departure from the faith on the part of many. Unfortunately, even many of our churches have followed what should certainly be exposed as “seducing spirits,” embracing lies taught under the influence of Satan. A list of such false teachings and practices within the church would surely implicate many. Let us look at the examples Paul gives in the next few verses.

First, he identifies the leaders and teachers of these errors as hypocritical liars who intentionally deceive their prey. They have deadened any possibility of right attitude by hardening their minds and searing their consciences (v. 2).

Next, we are given examples of their heresy: “Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving” (v. 3).

Many cults and pseudo-Christian groups have fallen into these traps, but both the institution of marriage and the provision of foods were specifically created by God for man’s enjoyment and blessing (marriage: see Genesis 1:28; 2:18, 24; foods: Genesis 1:29; 9:3). They are to be “received with thanksgiving” to a loving Creator, “sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5). Each of these and all of God’s creation are “very good” (Genesis 1:31), if used properly.

But the main point of this passage is that we should guard against the heresy of false teachers and from imposing on ourselves and our fellow Christians a false piety—practices which may make us feel “holier than thou” but which, in reality, impugn God and His creation. Rather, let us be among those “which believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:3) of God’s loving provision of creation. JDM

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February 28, 2019
The Law and the Spirit
“Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord.” (Leviticus 23:16)

This commandment represents the initiation of the Jewish Feast of Pentecost (“fiftieth day”) which, many years later, was the day on which the Holy Spirit came to the church waiting in the upper room (Acts 2:1-4). There were seven such annual “feasts of Jehovah,” all outlined in Leviticus 23, beginning with the Passover, commemorating the deliverance from Egypt, and culminating in the Feast of Tabernacles, in memory of their entrance into the Promised Land after dwelling in tents in the wilderness.

The middle feast of the seven was Pentecost, which seems to have been the anniversary of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. It was scheduled 50 days after the “morrow after the sabbath” of the wave-offering of the “firstfruits” (Leviticus 23:10, 15), which in turn seems to have been the Passover sabbath, on the 14th day of the first month (Exodus 12:2, 6). It was on the third day of the third month that God came down on Mount Sinai to give the law (Exodus 19:1, 11, 16). Jewish time-reckoning included both the first and last days of a time period in figuring the number of days between two events, so both the Lord’s appearance on Sinai and the annual Feast of Pentecost seem to have been 50 days after the Passover offering.

And so was the coming of the Holy Spirit! When the Holy Spirit came to the upper room, there were fiery tongues and a mighty wind (Acts 2:2-3). On that great day, Peter announced to Israel, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36), and we have received His great promise of the indwelling Law in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 10:15-17). HMM

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March 1, 2019
The Good Pleasure of God
“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11)

God’s good pleasure withholds judgment! “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). “The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:8-9).

God’s good pleasure is to do good to His people! “The LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:3-4).

God’s good pleasure forgives us! “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19).

God’s good pleasure is to bring about His will! “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. . . . So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:9-11). “The Lord . . . is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). When we live in God’s good pleasure, we are able to “delight” in Him. HMM III

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  March 2, 2019
Diluting the Word of God
“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:19)

It is a very serious error to try to add some new revelation to God’s written Word, as many cults and false religions do. This is the warning of verse 18 (see also Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6).

It is even more dangerous, as shown in the above text (the third from the last verse of the Bible), to delete (or even dilute) any of the words of the Bible. Note that the warning emphasizes the words, not just the thoughts. The sad fact is that a great many liberal theologians, especially in the past hundred years or so, have been doing just that, thinking thereby to make Christianity more compatible with modern science and philosophy. But they are literally playing with fire—this same book had just warned that any whose names do not remain in the book of life will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). Tragically, many of the sections they seek to “take away” are the references to hell.

God has promised to guard His Word against any such deletions. “The words of the LORD are pure words: . . . Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever” (Psalm 12:6-7).

There are also many who would not try to take away any of the words from the text, but who then dilute their intended meaning in order to attract unbelieving intellectuals. This also is dangerous. Peter warns against those who would “wrest, . . . scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). We must never forget the words of the Bible are “pure words,” meaning just what they say. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God [God-breathed], and is profitable . . .” (2 Timothy 3:16). HMM

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March 3, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: The Virgin Birth
“The LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.” (Jeremiah 31:22)

The entire gospel authority rests on the fact of the sinless life of the Lord Jesus—beginning with His conception.

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). An ‘owth (the Hebrew word for “the token” or “the miracle”) would prove that the child born, the son given, would be none other than the “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

When Matthew and Luke speak of the virgin birth (Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27), they use the Greek word parthenos, which is only used of an actual virgin. Yet, even as clear as the words may be, the reason for the virgin birth is more important still.

The Lamb of God (John 1:29) must be “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). Resting on the centuries of the example of the perfect sacrifice with the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:5), “even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthains 5:7).

This “last Adam,” created to be the “quickening spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45), was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26). This virgin-born Immanuel was “made flesh” (John 1:14) “to take away our sins” (1 John 3:5) “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

This all began (in real time) with the sinless, virgin-born conception of the Messiah “which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2). HMM III

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March 4, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: The Messages of Gabriel
“I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.” (Luke 1:19)

The great archangel Gabriel was selected to bring the initial messages of the Messiah’s birth. Zacharias was told by Gabriel that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son who would “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). Zacharias refused to believe Gabriel and was struck dumb until the fulfilment of Gabriel’s message when Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist (Luke 1:57).

When Elizabeth was six months pregnant with John (Luke 1:26), Gabriel appeared to Mary in Nazareth to tell her that she would “conceive . . . and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.” Gabriel further insisted, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:31-32).

Mary made the journey south to see Elizabeth in the hill country of Judah. Immediately, Mary heard further confirmation of Gabriel’s announcement to her when Elizabeth, “filled with the Holy Ghost,” stated that “there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Luke 1:41, 45).

Meanwhile, Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant, but “being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily” (Matthew 1:19). However, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph while he was asleep to encourage him: “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21). Gabriel’s honor, our eternal blessing. HMM III

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March 5, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: The Ministry of the Forerunner
“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3)

John the Baptist is one of the most unusual men recorded in the Scriptures. He was “filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). No other person is so honored other than the Lord Jesus Himself. John lived “in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel” (Luke 1:80) and was known for eating “locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6).

In spite of his different lifestyle, he was commissioned by God to operate “in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). In fact, Jesus said, “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).

He preached to “all the land of Judaea” (Mark 1:5) that they should bring “fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8), but his primary mission was to identify the Messiah. At the baptism of Jesus, John boldly confirmed this, announcing: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

As John’s intense popularity and notoriety as a prophet began to wane, he knew that “[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Yet, when he saw his key disciples leave and attach themselves to Jesus, John began to wonder if this carpenter from Nazareth was the one “that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3).

That doubt vanished when he was reminded of the stunning miracles Jesus did. To His growing followers, Jesus said: “This is Elias, which was for to come” (Matthew 11:14). HMM III

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March 6, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: The Temptation of the Messiah
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” (Matthew 4:1)

The 40 days our Lord Jesus spent fasting in the desert being “tempted of the devil” (Luke 4:2) are a precise example for us. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7), resisting “stedfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). Satan would never tempt us the same way he tempted Jesus, but Christ’s response is exactly the way we should counter the Adversary’s effort to seduce us. Each challenge was overcome by quoting the Scriptures—“the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).

Turn stone into bread? “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Here, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, when God reminded Israel that “every word” must be obeyed or the gift of manna would breed “worms” (Exodus 16:20).

Throw yourself down and test the angels? “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Luke 4:12). Here, Jesus quoted Moses’ response when the Israelites “tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:7).

Worship the archangel who rebelled against the Creator merely to gain a shortcut to power? “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10). Perhaps such an opportunity might exist, but “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Our faith (Romans 10:17) and our sword (Ephesians 6:17) are the Word of God that we are to use against the Enemy. But remember: “When the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season” (Luke 4:13). HMM III

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March 7, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: The Miracle at Cana
“This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” (John 2:11)

Right after His baptism and the time of spiritual intensity in the wilderness, Jesus returned to Galilee and attended a wedding celebration at Cana, some nine miles north of Nazareth, with Mary and some of His disciples.

During the course of the multi-day feast, the host family ran out of wine to provide for their guests. Apparently, Mary was embarrassed for the hosts and expected Jesus to fix the problem.

Within the compound were “six waterpots of stone . . . containing two or three firkins apiece” (John 2:6). A firkin was about 10 gallons. Each stone pot would hold about 25 gallons, therefore the six vessels would contain about 125 gallons total. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim” (John 2:7).

Once that was done, the servants were directed to fill a pitcher and serve the “governor of the feast” (John 2:8). The unsuspecting governor tasted the miraculous beverage and declared, “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10).

What actually happened? The water (H2O), a simple molecular compound, was instantly changed into extremely complex, multifaceted molecular compounds. It was a creation event, overriding the scientific axioms of stasis and entropy. New matter was created—instantly—just by the private thought of the Creator Himself!

This first miracle defies those who would insist that God must use natural processes over long ages to create. HMM III

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  March 8, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: The First Temple Cleansing
“For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.” (Psalm 69:9)

After spending a few days at Capernaum, Jesus, His family, and His disciples traveled to Jerusalem to observe the Passover (John 2:12-13). The huge temple complex, rebuilt by Herod, had been turned into something akin to a religious shopping mall, with stalls and booths surrounding the outer court with vendors who “sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting” (John 2:14).

Ostensibly, these vendors were there to facilitate the thousands of visitors who had come to observe the Passover and offer sacrifices and contribute payment for certain vows and “redemption” fees identified by the Old Testament laws (Leviticus 27). However, the system had been corrupted by “heavy burdens” of usurious temple fees levied by the priesthood (Matthew 23:4).

Jesus became incensed by the open corruption and flagrant violation of God’s instructions, and making “a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:15-16).

What a sight this must have been! Just a small taste of the “zeal of thine house” (John 2:17) turned this one man into a flurry of power that stunned a host of vendors, priests, and temple guards. One day, “the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever” (Revelation 15:7) will be unleashed on Earth. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). HMM III

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phkrause

March 9, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: The Nobleman's Son Healed
“This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.” (John 4:54)

Jesus had returned from the Passover celebration in Jerusalem and stopped in Cana to visit friends. The news of the Messiah’s return traveled 20 miles away to Capernaum, where a nobleman whose son was deathly sick with a terrible fever heard that Jesus was in the area (John 4:47).

As quickly as he could, the nobleman went to Cana and asked Jesus to come and heal his son. The Lord’s response was almost a sarcastic rebuke: “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). Rather than giving up or getting angry at Jesus’ apparent indifference, the nobleman begged him, “Sir, come down ere my child die” (John 4:49).

Often the Lord tests our commitment, and just as often does not respond the way we expect Him to. In this case, Jesus sends the nobleman back to his home (20 miles away) with the instruction: “Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way” (John 4:50). Jesus promised; the nobleman believed and left to return home.

When the nobleman’s servants met him with the news that his son’s fever had left him “yesterday at the seventh hour . . . So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house” (John 4:52-53).

How did Jesus do this? The Creator has authority over disease; distance is irrelevant. “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. . . . . For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6, 9). HMM III

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phkrause

March 10, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: The Paralytic at Bethesda
“Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.” (John 5:2-3)

Bethesda combines two Hebrew words to mean “house of kindness” or “house of mercy.” The pool was famous for an angel who supposedly infused healing in the waters. Lying among the many afflicted people was a man who’d had an infirmity for 38 years (John 5:5). After Jesus healed him, he was told to “sin no more” (John 5:14), which may indicate he had injured himself and become socially outcast and friendless.

When Jesus asked him if he wanted to be “made whole,” he told Jesus, “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me” (John 5:7). From all appearances, he was abandoned, helpless, and hopeless.

Then, without any further questioning to see if this man had faith, had any civic value or religious inclinations, in simple grace and mercy, “Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked” (John 5:8-9).

Paralysis is usually the result of serious damage to the nervous system, not repairable in most cases. Muscles atrophy, weaken, stiffen, and lose material. Christ’s healing involved an instant creation, overriding the first and second laws of thermodynamics and restoring full function and strength.

Rather than rejoicing, the leaders of Judah wanted to kill Jesus “because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). HMM III

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March 11, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: The Feeding of the 5,000
“When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.” (John 6:5-6)

Word began to get out about the Lord Jesus healing all who came to Him, and a “great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased” (John 6:2). An exasperated Philip noted that “two hundred pennyworth of bread” would not be enough so that “every one of them may take a little” (John 6:7).

Andrew found a “lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes, but what are they among so many?” (John 6:9). Jesus calmly told the disciples to seat the crowd, gave thanks, and distributed the food to the disciples, who then dispersed the food until the crowd was filled (John 6:11). Twelve baskets were collected of leftover bread “that nothing be lost” (John 6:12-13).

What actually happened? New matter was created—instantly! Since “all things were created by him, and for him” (Colossians 1:16), the Lord Jesus not only demonstrated His power to create, but also the design to conserve that which is created. Remember the first law of thermodynamics: Matter can neither be created nor destroyed.

Those who insist that the structure of the universe must have taken eons to develop are going against the evidence given by the Creator Himself when He was on Earth. The incarnate Son of God openly demonstrated His power over all creation by miracles like this event. Jesus later said, “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:37-38). HMM III

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  March 12, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: Walking on the Water
“And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.” (Mark 6:48)

Right after feeding the 5,000 just outside Capernaum, Jesus remained behind to pray while His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee at night. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John all record some details of this event.

After the disciples had gotten about “five and twenty or thirty furlongs” across the sea (about halfway), “the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew” (John 6:18-19). Somewhere between three and six in the morning, “Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea” (Matthew 14:25).

When the disciples saw Him, “they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear” (Matthew 14:26). Jesus “talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid” (Mark 6:50). Peter asked to join Jesus on the water and stepped out. When he “saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30).

When Jesus brought Peter into the boat, “the wind ceased” (Matthew 14:32), and “they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened” (Mark 6:51-52). But Jesus gently said to them, “It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went” (John 6:20-21).

This event displays Christ’s omnipotence by the way He ignored gravity, immediately stopped the wind and waves, and instantaneously transported the ship to shore from the middle of the Sea of Galilee. HMM III

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March 13, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: The Man Born Blind
“And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1-2)

The wrong theology the disciples embraced still impacts our thinking today. There is a tendency to assign blame to others or look for circumstances that can give a rational explanation for misfortune. Sometimes, as in this case, the suffering had nothing to do with such conditions, but was so “that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3).

The same was true for the awful suffering of the great patriarch Job. All of the tragedies in his life were allowed by God to teach Satan a lesson. By God’s own evaluation, Job was a “perfect and an upright man” (Job 1:8), yet he patiently endured more suffering and sorrow than perhaps any man in history (James 5:11). Lazarus, too, was allowed to die because “this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4).

Once again, the Lord Jesus, the Creator of heaven and Earth, produced new matter where there was none before. In this case, it was not mere bread and meat or the mysterious power over gravity, wind, water, or distance, but the complex tissues, membranes, vessels, and nerves of new eyes.

Why did Jesus do this? Two results are obvious. The hardened Pharisees refused to accept the reality of what they knew had happened, revealing their evil heart. And the man who had been healed simply said, “Lord, I believe! And he worshipped him” (John 9:38). HMM III

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March 14, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: The Resurrection of Lazarus
“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.” (John 11:1)

The family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus was well known to Jesus and His disciples. They lived in Bethany, less than two miles from Jerusalem. Jesus often stayed with them during His ministry, and several memorable events transpired in their home.

Word came that Lazarus was very sick. Jesus’ disciples reminded Him that “the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?” (John 11:8). Finally it was clear Lazarus had died, and Jesus directed that they go to Bethany “to the intent ye may believe” (John 11:15). Thomas, however, could only see the danger: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16).

By the time they got to Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for four days (John 11:17). Jesus insisted they open the door to the tomb. Martha tried to stop Jesus because “by this time [Lazarus] stinketh” (John 11:39).

Bodies begin to decompose within three to six hours after death; muscular tissues become rigid, cells lose structural integrity, and the chemical process of decomposition causes breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and bone.

Death is horrible. Death processes cannot be stopped or reversed. Death is the “last enemy” to be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26). Yet at the command of the Creator, Lazarus walked out of the tomb fully whole: no decay, no sickness. Jesus simply said: “Loose him and let him go” (John 11:44). Why did Jesus do this? Because “this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4). HMM III

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March 15, 2019
The Provision of God
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Psalm 136 gives three key examples of God’s sovereign provision. He protects and shelters during our times in the “wilderness.” He makes possible victories over great “enemies.” And he gives “food to all flesh.” God’s detailed provision and the many examples thereof in the Scriptures are inexhaustible. Yet, in these three areas, we may find hope for any situation “in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Our “wanderings” are compared to hard-hearted Israel (1 Corinthians 10) and the many physical and spiritual sins of a people in rebellion to God’s control in their lives. Jesus warned that the “cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things” would “choke the word” and make us unfruitful (Mark 4:19). Yet, even though we may be like the younger son in the story of the prodigal (Luke 15:11-32) and would waste our “substance in riotous living,” God was still the Provider of the inheritance that was wasted. God was still waiting for the son to “come to himself” and return home. God still has compassion, and He forgives and restores to fellowship all who come home.

And were it not for the promises of deliverance from our enemies that are so replete throughout the Scriptures, were it not for the hope that we would see deliverance “in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13), and were it not for the confident knowledge that “evildoers shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:9), we would be in constant fear and torment. God promises to bring us victory! We are told that He will fight for us, and that we are not left to our own devices! Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. . . . and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20). HMM III

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  March 16, 2019
Praying for Faith
“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Many centuries ago, a desperate father brought his son to the Lord Jesus with an appeal for healing. The boy was demon-possessed from childhood and tormented physically and spiritually. The agony was awful. His father had brought him to Jesus’ disciples, and they were unable to do anything. Nothing worked (Mark 9:17-21).

Jesus told the father, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (v. 23). The urgent and tearful cry of that hurting father was, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (v. 24). No doubt we often need to plea for such help. Join me in this prayer that the Lord will grant us greater faith in Him.

Oh Lord, God, we cannot know the end of a thing. We do not have certainty about the plans of our days. Forgive us when we try without consulting You. Forgive our blundering efforts to make something happen. We love You, and we want to please You, but our lives are so caught up in the things of this world. Help us, Lord. Help us to know how much we need You. Help us to see the real values of eternal things. Give us a greater awareness of Your Holy Spirit. Give us a holy awe of Your Word. Drive us to our knees more often, Lord. Keep us close.

Oh, our Father, purge us from the ungodly. Separate us from the sins that hinder and blind us. Meet us in the halls of our heart and sanctify us there. And then, Lord Jesus, embolden us for the work ahead. Provide our daily bread. Cleanse us of our sins and enrich our fellowship with the saints. Clothe us in the armor of God and place us where we must stand. Enable us to resist the enemy in the faith, that we may see his strongholds crumble and his minions flee. Grant us a fruitful harvest and an effective ministry, in Jesus’ name. Amen. HMM III

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