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phkrause

November 1, 2019
Fear of the Lord
“Then had the churches rest . . . and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” (Acts 9:31)

There is something of a paradox in this requirement to “fear the Lord.” On the one hand, we “have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear” but have received “the Spirit of adoption” (Romans 8:15). On the other hand, we are told to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Our text insists that we are to be “walking in the fear of the Lord.” Obviously, the context illustrates a lifestyle of godly behavior that is produced by our attitude toward God’s sovereign majesty and unique holiness as the Creator and Sustainer of all things. We should “worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth” (Psalm 96:9).

It is clear that the “beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7), the “beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10), and the “instruction of wisdom” (Proverbs 15:33) are founded in the fear of the Lord. It is also clear that the fear of the Lord is that which mimics God’s hatred of “evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward [perverse] mouth” (Proverbs 8:13).

But the one who fears the Lord also knows “strong confidence” (Proverbs 14:26) and has an unwavering satisfaction in his or her life (Proverbs 19:23). Indeed, such godly fear promises to prolong our days (Proverbs 10:27) and to be a “fountain of life” that keeps us from the “snares of death” (Proverbs 14:27).

Knowledge of God should produce a “godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28) as we serve in the Kingdom—fear of His power and holiness and omniscience—yet also provide a steadfast rest in the knowledge that we are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), gifted not with timidity, but with a spirit of “power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). HMM III

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phkrause

November 2, 2019
Guard Your Heart
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

The Hebrew word nasar, here translated “keep,” carries the strong idea of protection or guarding. It is used 10 times in Psalm 119 to stress the necessity of “keeping” (guarding, protecting) the various kinds of instructions in God’s Word: “testimonies, statutes, laws, precepts, and commandments.” Everything written down by God is worth guarding.

In our text, the importance of guarding our hearts is emphasized since it is the source for the “issues of life.” Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45). Our “heart” is indeed the key to much in our life.

It is no wonder that the first commandment of all is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30).

Here are a few important principles that we must guard if our hearts are to produce the good “issues of life.”

“He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart” (Psalm 15:2) will live forever with the Lord of heaven and earth. HMM III

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phkrause

November 3, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: True Character Revealed
“And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.” (Mark 14:3)

A few days before Passover, after the Lord Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus returned to Bethany with His close friends. Simon the leper offered his house as a gathering place (John 12:1; Mark 14:3; Matthew 26:6). We are not told who Simon was, but he might have been the only one of the 10 lepers who had been cleansed who actually came back to thank the Lord (Luke 17:17). This supper was a chance for Simon to show his appreciation for the Lord’s ministry.

Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were at the dinner. Martha was serving. She had been gently admonished by Jesus sometime back (Luke 10:41-42), yet she still held to what was familiar to her, giving what she knew to give—her personal service to the Lord.

Mary, on the other hand, took “a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. . . . Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, [said,] Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” (John 12:3-5). This may be a hint of Judas’ family. If he is Simon the leper’s son, then we are shown a huge disparity between the father, now healed, and a bitter son who “was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein” (v. 6).

Martha, the servant; Mary, the generous disciple; Simon, the grateful host; and Judas, the bitter thief—all followers of the Lord on the surface. One, however, is not present to learn or to fellowship, but to advance his own agenda. HMM III

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phkrause

November 4, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: Taxes and Tithes
“Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:17)

In His last week of earthly ministry, Jesus confronted efforts by religious leaders to discredit His teaching. Furthermore, they wanted to catch Him in such a clear violation of public policy that the Roman government would imprison Him and silence the impact He was having on the population of Jerusalem.

Matthew records the question asked by the corrupt scribes and teachers, but Jesus knew it didn’t reflect their real intentions. They flattered Him with platitudes about seeking truth, but they really wanted an excuse to not pay taxes and a way to accuse Jesus of rebellion against Rome.

“But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:18-21).

Both sides of this debate are brought up in churches today. Some would deny the government the right to tax its citizens to support policies that are not moral (abortion) or to pay for unjust wars (Vietnam, etc.). Jesus said that “Caesar” has the right to demand tribute whether or not we agree with its use.

Others insist that since the law is no longer in force under the New Covenant, our giving is not mandated, and the “tithe” amounts to whatever the conscience deems appropriate. Jesus told the Jewish leaders they ought to tithe all they were prospered by but not leave the “weightier” issues alone (Matthew 23:23). On this matter, we are to pay taxes to our Caesar and our tithe to God as commanded. HMM III

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phkrause

November 5, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: The God of the Living
“And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” (Mark 12:26)

The Sadducees were the “liberal” party of Judah’s leaders. They wanted to expose Jesus as an unscholarly and unskilled teacher who was unable to answer difficult theological issues. They did not believe in any form of resurrection, so they concocted a story about a woman who had been widowed seven times. Mosaic law demanded that a brother of the deceased husband marry the widow and name the firstborn son after the husband who died “that his name be not put out of Israel” (Deuteronomy 25:6).

This fictitious story was designed to trap Jesus in an unsolvable problem. The Sadducees said, “Last of all the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore . . . whose wife of shall she be of them?” (Mark 12:22-23). They got much more than they sought. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:29-30).

Two major doctrines are clarified by Jesus’ response. “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-32).

The proof of the resurrection rests on the tense of the Greek verb “to be.” Scripture is accurate and authoritative even to the minute detail of verb tenses. HMM III

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phkrause

November 6, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: The Great Commandment
“Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matthew 22:35-37)

The Pharisees had come together to test how well Jesus understood the Mosaic law. They wanted Him to verify what the greatest law was since they prided themselves on knowing all there was to know about the law. After quickly and correctly quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5, Jesus then quoted Leviticus 19:18: “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:39-40).

When the Pharisees were quiet, Jesus asked them: “What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?” (Matthew 22:42). The Pharisees strongly promoted the false idea that the Messiah would come from the line of King David to put down the Roman rule and establish again the Davidic kingdom. This was critical to prove from the genealogical records the Jewish right to rule Jerusalem. The Pharisees immediately said to Him, “The son of David.”

Quoting Psalm 110:1, Jesus asked them: “How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying: The LORD [Yahweh] said unto my Lord [Adonai], Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matthew 22:43-45). This play on the Hebrew words in the psalm makes the Lord Jesus not the “son” of David but the Lord and Master of David.

In His earlier interaction with the Sadducees, Jesus silenced them with a single word (“am”). Again, He used just a single word (“Lord”) to answer the Pharisees. HMM III

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phkrause

November 7, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: Hypocritical Religious Leaders
“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:13)

Jesus condemned both the Pharisees and Sadducees for the same problem, though the two groups were very different. The Pharisees were like the legalists of our day and the Sadducees like the liberals. Both camps claimed to believe in inspiration and prided themselves on their knowledge of Scripture.

However, both groups were focused on power and authority rather than on the teachings of Scripture. There was no desire to honor the Creator and be agents of witness. The Pharisees developed a vast system of rules to force their followers to behave in a certain way. The Sadducees sought favor with the Roman officials. Jesus’ opinion of them was clear.

  • Matthew 23:15: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”
  • Luke 11:52: “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.”

Their error was consciously twisting the truth of God with interpretations that distorted the message of Scripture. The Pharisees added extra requirements that were “burdens grievous to be borne” (Luke 11:46). The Sadducees denied the glorious hope of the resurrection, denying a core principle of the gospel. As Paul pointed out to the Corinthians, that false doctrine would make “all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). May God keep us from such confusion. HMM III

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phkrause

November 8, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: Gifts from Fools and Blind Leaders
“Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?. . . whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?” (Matthew 23:17, 19)

The temple was the center of the Old Covenant. The Levite’s income and temple’s upkeep were derived from an elaborate system of tithes and other offerings defined in Leviticus.

By the time the Lord Jesus entered His ministry on Earth, the regulations God initiated had been turned into an intricate web of demands designed to coerce people to give. Jesus confronted the leaders and exposed their wickedness.

  • Matthew 23:23: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
  • Matthew 23:27: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
  • Luke 11:43: “Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.”
  • Luke 11:46: “Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.”

This kind of hypocrite seeks his name in a bulletin, a plaque on a wall, a brick in a walkway, or a wing in a hospital or museum, and is indifferent to the quiet background work of ministry that embraces judgment, mercy, and faith. The Lord regards the condition of the heart far more than the deed. HMM III

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phkrause

November 9, 2019
Messages from the Messiah's Life: Warnings on Prayer
“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” (Matthew 6:5)

Our Lord sometimes contrasted the habits of the religious leaders of His day with that which was expected of His followers. On this occasion, Jesus warned that prayer to the Father in heaven was never to be performed publicly to impress men but rather to be privately presented to the Father seeking His blessing and reward.

Nor are we to use “vain repetitions, as the heathen do,” expecting to be heard for the “much speaking” (Matthew 6:7). Many religions use prayer wheels, hypnotic chants, or formatted prayer rituals to expedite the process.

“Vain repetitions” is the translation of battologeo, which means “to stammer” or to “repeat endlessly.” Paul told Timothy that he must “shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16) and to “refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7).

The widow whose “continual coming” wearied the unjust judge (Luke 18:2-5) is not to be used as an example to constantly repeat prayers, as is often incorrectly suggested. But rather, “men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). It may seem like we are repeating the same things in our prayers over and over again. Yet, we are instructed to pray “always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18). HMM III

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phkrause

November 10, 2019
Delight in the Law
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)

Most Christians feel that God’s law is harsh and burdensome, and they rejoice that God’s grace has set them free from the law. The fact is, however, that the law should be a joy and delight to anyone who really loves the Lord. Even Paul, the great apostle of grace, said: “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22). “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). David testified that “the law of the LORD is perfect, converting [or ‘restoring’] the soul” (Psalm 19:7).

The majestic 119th Psalm contains no less than 25 specific testimonies to the benefits of the law. For example: “Blessed [i.e., ‘happy’] are [those] who walk in the law of the LORD” (v. 1). “Great peace have they which love thy law” (v. 165). “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (v. 18). “Thy law is my delight” (v. 77).

That God’s law was not set aside when Christ came is evident from the first mention of the law in the New Testament: Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law. . . . Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18). That the law was not for Jews only is suggested in its first mention in the Old Testament: “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you” (Exodus 12:49).

The law cannot save, of course: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). But “Christ . . . redeemed us from the curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13) when He died for our sins. His law (which now includes the entire Bible) is no more a burden but a delight—restoring the soul and bringing true success and great peace to those who love it. HMM

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phkrause

November 11, 2019
Peace, Peace, When There Is No Peace
“They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14)

This indictment by the prophet Jeremiah of the false prophets of his day could easily find a parallel today. The charge was repeated (8:11), so Jeremiah evidently considered it important. The prophet Ezekiel later leveled almost the same indictment against the false prophets of his time: “They have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace” (Ezekiel 13:10).

Almost every person would prefer to live in peace, of course. The word itself has become almost an ironic cliché. Our annual observance of Veterans Day (originally called Armistice Day) wistfully expresses the hope that when the current war is settled, it will be the final war, and thenceforth there will be “peace, peace.” The word “armistice” is from the Latin and means “arms standing still.”

But there is no real peace; there were numerous wars back during Babylonian times and Roman times and medieval times and all times! Even today there are dozens of small “wars and rumours of wars” going on in any given year (Matthew 24:6) and will continue to be so until Christ, the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), comes back to “speak peace unto the heathen” and to establish His kingdom of peace “even to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10).

In the meantime, James reminds us of our personal guilt: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1). And Paul exhorts: “Finally, brethren, . . . be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11). HMM

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phkrause

November 12, 2019
The Called
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

This great promise has been an immeasurable source of strength and comfort to Christians, especially during times of trial. It is specifically directed, however, only to those who are “the called.”

Recognition of those who are “the called” is best achieved through their synonymous description as “them that love God.” There are also numerous other Scriptures that further describe them. There are two Greek words (each occurring 11 times) that specifically refer to those who are members of this select group: One of these words is kletos (“called”); the other is klesis (“calling”). Another very important term is ekklesia, meaning “called out,” which occurs 115 times and is almost always translated “church.” That is, a true church is composed of people who have been specially called by God out of the world system, then joined together in a local church to fulfill the purposes of their divine calling.

“Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (1 Corinthians 1:26). No I.Q. test, or physical exam, or social standing is used as a criterion; neither are any human achievements. “[God] hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9).

God’s call was strictly by grace, according to His own eternal purpose! The means by which God calls is the gospel: “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:14). No wonder, then, that we can know that all things work together for good on behalf of those whom God has called, and who therefore love God! HMM

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phkrause

November 13, 2019
The Eyes of the Lord
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Since God in His essence is Spirit (note John 4:24) and is omnipresent, one might wonder how He could have physical eyes. The fact is, however, that the Bible frequently refers to His eyes. In fact, this phrase, “the eyes of the LORD,” occurs no less than 21 times in the Bible.

While this is hard to understand in one way, it is wonderfully clear when we remember God is omnipotent and omniscient, as well as omnipresent. “He that formed the eye, shall he not see?” (Psalm 94:9). We may not be able to understand the actual seeing mechanism of spiritual eyes; nevertheless, “the eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).

The prophet Zechariah reminds us not to “[despise] the day of small things,” for they will be observed by “the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:10). The phrase is used first of all in connection with those terrible times when “the wickedness of man was great” and “the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:5, 11). Yet God could still see righteous Noah there. “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8), and he and his family were saved through the awful worldwide Flood.

The last usage of the phrase is in Peter’s epistle, quoting Psalm 34:15: “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:12). We do well to remember always that one of the great names of God is “Thou God seest me” (Genesis 16:13) and then conduct ourselves accordingly, aware that our God is indeed watching us with deep love and concern. HMM

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