Faithfulness versus “Ashamed of My Words”

faithfulnessFaithfulness to abide in the doctrine of Christ will be rewarded by fellowship with God and Christ (2 John 1.9). Not to be faithful to the doctrine of Christ will cause us to be lost. In Luke 9.26 our Lord presents a strong warning which ought to be powerful enough to unsettle or humble even the most strident and pride-filled sinner! Christians likely need to consider the warning as well, because it is possible for you and me, in one way or another, to exhibit the shame our Lord condemns. The very idea of doing that for which Jesus gives this warning is entirely repulsive to any lover of truth, yet Satan presses us continually to do it. Listen to Jesus’ words—For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

DO NOT Be the Person Who Does not Value Faithfulness…

Who is the person Jesus will reject when He comes again? The person who is ashamed of Jesus and His words is that person. When Jesus comes in His glory is the time that He will be ashamed of such a person. This is a clear reference to His second coming. Elsewhere we are told that there is coming a future day in the which ALL men will be humbled to acknowledge that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords—1 Timothy 6.15… Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

That day is coming, but, sadly, it will be too late for the vast majority of those who have lived their lives on earth. All men do not make that acknowledgment at the present time. The fact of the matter is that MOST do not and will not make that acknowledgment. Jesus lets us know that such will always be the case—Matthew 7.13… Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.

If someone rejects the words of Jesus now, and continues to do so unrepentantly, this same one faces JUDGMENT by those very words (John 12.48).

We think about the many examples the Old Testament provides of those who were not ashamed to be identified with God and His Word (cf., Romans 15.4). Those great examples–many of them mentioned in Hebrews 11–encourage us to “Stand Up for Jesus.” To learn from them and increase our courage is a great blessing.

David Serves Well as an Example of the Courage and Faithfulness WE Need…

Consider the incident in 1 Samuel 17 with young David [Dr. Floyd Jones in Chronology of the Old Testament, p. 94 suggests David’s age was 18-20]. Evidently he was the only Israelite sufficiently proud of God’s name and His people to risk battling Goliath. Goliath presented his challenge morning and evening for 40 days. (v. 16). The Bible tells us that The Philistine said… I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together (v. 10). David recognized that the unanswered challenge of this uncircumcised Philistine was a reproach to Israel and was an act of defiance against the armies of the living God (v. 26). David told King Saul—let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine (v. 32). David was not ashamed of his God and was confident that God would bless him with a great victory (v. 37), which He did (vv., 46-51). What a mighty victory David’s great courage produced!

Can we determine to allow David’s complete lack of shame for His God to be our stance? This will keep us away from following the example of his brethren who cowered in shame before Goliath. In our time, people disrespect the words of our Lord and castigate them to an alarming degree. It will likely be increasingly difficult to stand strong in the words of Christ without ridicule and opposition. Let us distinguish ourselves with the courage of David in giving our defense (1 Peter 3.15). Let us find ourselves NOT fitting the description Jesus warns about in Luke 9.30.

Faithfulness Will be Rewarded on Judgment Day!

We should consider Paul’s exhortation to Timothy—2 Timothy 2.10-12… Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us. There is coming a day when the most important matter our hearts will consider is our own faithfulness to our Lord.

The reward for faithfulness will be GREAT. But, Satan would have you and me to be ashamed of Jesus. He smiles when we refuse to take a stand for truth. Satan wants us lost with him in hell forever and ever. That is our end if we are ashamed of the words of Jesus. Never should Jesus say of us:  that we have been ashamed of my words.

Consider studying also: Cain’s Complaint.

Most Pleasing Potentiality

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Pleasing God is a most pleasing potentiality! It is definitely possible! In searching with my daily companion, Logos Bible software, I have found eight Bible texts which present what surely I would label as “A Most Pleasing Potentiality.” What is that? I refer to that most pleasant “state of being” when THE LORD delights in me! How do we attain it? How is it described? Just HOW can I go about pleasing God?

First, let’s consider two of the descriptive passages: Numbers 14:8 and Deuteronomy 10:15. What is it like when God delights in you? Joshua and Caleb inform us in the Numbers passage that He provides a rich reward to those in whom He delights. It will be a land flowing with milk and honey, to describe this state in a Hebrew figure. Those are the very words of Joshua and Caleb as they sought to still the people. That which would DELIGHT His people was the reward which God would provide to those in whom He delighted. This ought to be a point for you and me to ponder as we contemplate the heavenly home we are promised. A second simple, but awe-inspiring result of God’s delight in man, is that He will love them (Deuteronomy 10:15).

Now let’s consider the HOW TO. Truly, one of the most interesting and inspiring passages I came across in this search is this one—But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD (Jeremiah 9:24). Perhaps this verse is telling us that the Lord delights in His own lovingkindness, judgment, and right-eousness, but that is not what it seems to me He is saying. Rather, I think God delights in the PERSON who understands and knows that God has those qualities. I want to be among that number and I hope that you do as well.

In my interpretation of Jeremiah 9.24, I am saying that THESE THINGS, in which God delights, refers back to the understanding and knowing and glorying of the person who does know Him accurately. This causes me to want to study more carefully what God has revealed to me about Himself in the written word. God has revealed Himself to us because He actually delights in us KNOWING who He is!!! This passage reveals to us a way to accomplish pleasing God.

Next, consider this text–The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight (Proverbs 15:8 KJV). Is it really true that Almighty God delights when He hears upright folks pray to Him? That is exactly what this text is telling us. Do you want to make God smile, do you want to bring delight to the God of Heaven? Just go to your prayer closet and that splendid task you are accomplishing. Does that not cause you to want to spend more time in prayer? Yes, if I have the right relationship with God and I spend time praying to Him, I am pleasing God!

Proverbs 11:1 reads: “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.” I remember a time when we shopped for groceries and one small item had been hidden from our view and the view of the cashier by the five-gallon water jug we had just refilled. When we got the cart to the car, Diane noticed it and went back into the store to pay for it. Guess what. God delighted in that small transaction!

We can make a choice between being an abomination to the Lord or to be His delight (Proverbs 11:20). Having lying lips versus dealing truly provide the very same alternative (Proverbs 12:22). How wonderful it is to choose the right way and bring about this most pleasing potentiality.

For the last passage, we must enter the United Kingdom Period of Bible History. The first king of the United Kingdom was Saul. 1 Samuel 15 is likely one of the most familiar chapters of the entire book to most of us. Here we have the great judge and prophet Samuel heavily into discipline mode with Israel’s first king. If anyone ever needed that discipline, it was Saul!

Samuel received the most clear-cut and unambiguous instructions regarding the actions God demanded His people to take toward the Amalekites. Also, God told Saul the reason for the actions He demanded. Yet, Saul comes up short of following the commands of God, though he did indeed claim to have performed the commandment (v. 13). Further, when Samuel questions the claim Saul makes about his obedience, Saul tries to use the “End Justifies the Means” approach (v. 15). In addition, he shifted the blame to the people (vv. 15, 21).

Then the prophet thunders out the verdict of God Almighty: And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king (1 Samuel 15:22-23).

King Saul teaches us a valuable lesson about pleasing God. Do you wish to bring delight to the Creator? There is nothing complex about it— SIMPLY OBEY HIS VOICE! Let us be challenged by the beautiful response of the Apostle Peter and say to the Lord, regarding whatever command might be given: AT THY WORD.

Meet Temptation with Christ

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In Luke 4.1-13 we have the record of Jesus being tempted of Satan. Though He was tempted, He never yielded to temptation (Hebrews 4.15). What a marvelous example we have to follow: our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2.21)! We ought often to thank God for this blessing.

We will not fare as well as did our Lord in meeting temptation (Romans 3.23). However, we do have the ability to resist temptation and we CAN be successful in our battle with Satan and S-I-N! Three points should make this clear to us. Please study the references attached to these points…

  1. We have a HEAVENLY EXAMPLE (Luke 4.1-13).
  2. We have a HEAVENLY ASSURANCE (1 Corinthians 10.13).
  3. We have a HEAVENLY PRESCRIPTION–Revelation 3.10. The saints at Philadelphia were commended by the Lord. They had kept His word of PATIENCE. That word means: “to continue to bear up despite difficulty and suffering … to put up with…” [Louw-Nida]. God’s Word is that which makes it possible to resist temptation (Psalm 119.11).

An “entire alphabet of help” (26 total) from Scripture to resist temptation…

In order to meet temptation with Christ, we must. . .

  • A.  “Keep the word of Christ’s patience” (Rev 3:10).
  • B.  Know the Bible (Psalms 119:11).
  • C.  Be godly (2 Peter 2:9).
  • D.  Look for the way to escape temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • E.  Remember Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32).
  • F.  Use the “Spiritual EPA” (Philippians 4:8).
  • G.  Follow the Example of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11).
  • H.  Pray (Matthew 26:41).
  • I.   KNOW that we are ABLE to resist (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • J.  Don’t allow temptations to discourage and then destroy (1 Peter 5:6-7).
  • K.  Refuse to allow Satan to create doubt in your mind about what God has said or what He really means (Genesis 3:4-5).
  • L.   Refuse to believe Satan’s lie that something good will come from doing something evil (Genesis 3:4-5).
  • M. Do not allow Satan to use your God-given ability to envision, visualize, and fantasize to create a picture of the pleasure of sin–these pleasures are ONLY for a season (Genesis 3:4-5; Hebrews 11:25).
  • N.   Remember that when God says NO to something it is NOT to diminish your pleasure, but to ENHANCE it (John 10:10).
  • O.  Remember this world is not your home (1 Peter 1:17).
  • P.   Think about the NEW ways God can use you as you choose not to yield to temptation (Hebrews 11).
  • Q.  THINK about how much might be riding on the decision you are about to make (Matthew 16:26).
  • R.   Realize that it is OK to be angry about SIN (John 2:13; Mark 3:5)–Personalize the enemy:  SATAN.
  • S.  Beware of your STRENGTHS (1 Corinthians 10:12).
  • T.  Shift your energy from preoccupation with life’s inconveniences and your own pain to GOING TO WORK FOR THE LORD–Put on the Lord Jesus (Romans 13:14).
  • U.   Know that the way out of temptation is THROUGH it–Patiently endure it and do so with JOY (James 1:2).
  • V.  Understand that the Bible speaks of SINS OF IMAGINING (e.g., Matthew 5:27-28).
  • W. Do not waste time devising evil plans or making provision for the flesh, BUT rather put on the Lord Jesus (Romans 13:14).
  • X.  Do not forget about the OMNISCIENCE OF GOD–Some day all that you thought was secret and hidden will be made manifest and made known (Luke 8:17).
  • Y.  Appreciate and use the DISCERNING POWER OF GOD’S WORD (Hebrews 4:12).
  • Z.   Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Life on this earth is filled with trials, temptations, and disappointments. In order to live the best way it is possible to live here, we must be determined to:  MEET TEMPTATION WITH CHRIST.

Cain’s Complaint

Captions.GodDidntSayNotToOne of the most important and basic aspects of ascertaining Bible authority is to understand what might be labeled: The Law of Exclusion.  If a person understands clearly this important principle, his acceptance of other truths of the Bible is greatly aided.  Whenever we have an opportunity to help someone understand this wonderful principle, we OUGHT to avail ourselves of that opportunity.

The fact is that this principle is illustrated in many ways throughout the Bible.  We will not be lacking in ways to help other people understand this important principle if we are familiar at all with our Bibles.  We certainly should not be surprised at this fact, of the abundance of material on this important subject, because the Bible contains all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3).  Let’s notice together how Cain’s Complaint helps us understand this principle.

In the very beginning of God’s dealings with mankind, we find the law of exclusion at work.  Consider the account of Cain and Abel.  We know that Abel offered his sacrifice by faith (Heb 11:4).  We know also that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17).  Therefore we must conclude that God gave instruction to these brothers about the sacrifice which would be acceptable.  However, one of these brothers had respect for the law of exclusion and one of them did not.  What was the result of Cain’s disrespect for the law of exclusion?  Well let’s read it from God’s word: “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell” (Gen 4:4-5).

How did Cain disrespect the law of exclusion and thus cause God to have no respect for his offering?  It is very easy to see that Cain made a substitute.  He did not appreciate, at the time, the fact that when God speaks there can be no substitute.  Man’s part is to do what God commands and to refrain from attempts to make substitute.  How did Cain feel after God “had not respect for” his offering?  The Bible says that “his countenance fell.”  One version says: “his face became sad.”  Have you ever seen a disobedient little child hang their head in shame?  This is similar to what Cain did here.

Cain’s lack of respect for the law of exclusion was the fundamental cause of his sadness and the rejection of what he had to offer to the Lord.  God will not allow man to make substitutes for His will.  Why cannot men today learn the lesson of the law of exclusion?

Do you know what God called that which Cain did?  God referred to Cain’s substitution–his lack of respect for the law of exclusion–as SIN!  Let’s listen in on God’s conversation with Cain–“And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee [shall be] his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (Gen 4:6-7).  There is a way that is right and it leads to acceptance with God.  There is a way that is wrong and it involves SUBSTITUTING man’s will for God’s will.  This way of substitution, this way of neglecting the law of exclusion, is a way that is called SIN! There were consequences for Cain’s lack of respect for the law of exclusion.  There will always be consequences for neglecting the law of exclusion!

Can we be instructed by Cain and his neglect of this law?  Cain went his own way.  Cain made the substitution.  Cain was told by God what he did wrong.  Cain would not receive instruction about his own wrongdoing, but set about to “get even” by attacking the one who did show respect for the law of exclusion, his own brother.  Cain’s way is much too familiar in the religious world today!

When we cry out today of the need to have Bible authority for all that we do, that cry is met, in far too many instances, by “Cain’s Complaint.”  Cain’s Complaint, in effect was: God didn’t say not to offer “the fruit of the ground.”  Men today, when confronted with this principle, cry out: “The Bible doesn’t say not to __________.”

How can men expect to be well pleasing to the God of heaven when they are unwilling to be instructed by plain teaching in God’s word?   Please don’t ignore it in your life.

At Thy Word

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In Luke 5.5 we have Simon Peter using the words of the title above. He did not come close to understanding the reason for letting the net down, as the Lord had just directed him (he openly questioned its wisdom), but he would do so at His word. He presents to us here one of the most remarkable instances of unquestioning obedience that is to be found in all of Scripture. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net (Luke 5.5).

I found some interesting comments about this incident from the late and great Bible scholar, Franklin Camp. He writes…

When one considers that Christ was a carpenter and Peter a fisherman one can imagine Peter’s thoughts. Just think of a carpenter telling a fisherman how to fish. It is even more suggestive in view of the fact they had fished all night and caught nothing. I think I can sense how Peter felt. It is as though he would say, “I do not think it will do any good, but we will do what you say.” The way to overcome doubt and questions about divine commands is to obey what the Lord says. Think what would have happened if Peter had just flatly refused to obey. Christ would not have forced him to let the nets down.

Discipleship is a challenge to faith. A disciple is a learner. Christ is the teacher. One does not learn by refusing to do what the Lord commands. Multitudes have found to their joy that blessings come when faith accepts the challenge and launches out in obedience to His will [Franklin Camp, Studies in Luke, Thomas Eaves, editor, p. 68-69].

I really like brother Camp’s statement: The way to overcome doubt and questions about divine commands is to obey what the Lord says. That seems to me to be quite a simple and yet elegant approach to life. The fact of the matter is, we will NEVER go wrong in following that prescription.

If we will only partake of the spirit of obedience demonstrated on this occasion by Simon Peter, we will certainly be the winners as a result! The result for Peter was that he hauled in such a multitude of fish that the nets began breaking (v. 6) and the boats began sinking (v. 7). The result for us is that we will live eternally in the beautiful home of the soul (John 14.1-6).

I have always been moved by the words Peter exclaims after seeing the Lord show His great power in the field which was Peter’s specialty. Listen to his statement of awe: Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Luke 5.8). Peter seems to me to be acknowledging that he was unable to show Jesus the respect and reverence He deserved and that he thus was not suitable to be in Jesus’ presence.

Thankfully, the Lord intervenes with words of encouragement to Peter, James, and John: Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men (v. 10). Read a little further and see that Peter, James, and John were ready to forsake all and follow Jesus (v. 11). They knew well that one who could do what they had just seen done would be able to provide anything they might possibly need.

Notice also, brother Camp’s statement: Multitudes have found to their joy that blessings come when faith accepts the challenge and launches out in obedience to His will. On one occasion an attempt was made to praise the mother of Jesus. His response at that time was to redirect the praise: Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it (Luke 11.28). The importance of unquestioning obedience to the will of the Lord needs to be emphasized more and more.

What advantage you and I have as we open our Bibles and have so freely available the amazing, completed, written, revelation from God! We can read about this miracle performed by Jesus and so many more. John tells us that there is a REASON for the recording of such powerful signs—John 20.30-31… And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Having LIFE through the name of Jesus is dependent upon believing that Jesus is the Christ! When we truly believe that fact, is it really any challenge to behave in the same way that Peter did in giving such a faithful response to the Lord’s command in Luke 5.5? Let us be challenged by the beautiful response of the Apostle Peter and say to the Lord, regarding whatever command might be given: AT THY WORD.