Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Cowardice of Dissembling (Dissimulation)



Galatians 2:1  Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. 2  And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. 3  But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 4  And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5  To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. 6  But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: 7  But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8  (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9  And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. 10  Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. 11  But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12  For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13  And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

Paul suffered much from the legalists. He defended the true gospel of grace against the Judaizers
who promoted strict adherence to the works of the law to attain or ensure salvation.

When he returned to Jerusalem for a conference with the Apostles, they at first acted as if they were in complete agreement with his ministry, rejoicing with him that Gentiles were being saved. But when the legalists came around demanding that gentile believers jump through Jewish hoops, the pillars of the faith suddenly switched their tune to appease these legalists. Rather than standing with Paul in defense of the gospel of grace, they remained neutral and didn't have Paul's back in the debate regarding grace vs works.

This infuriated Paul and he had it out face to face with Peter for his wishy-washy fence straddling in order to appease men.

It got so bad that the cat-got-your-tongue disciples caused even Barnabas, a true grace guy, to be persuaded toward legalism.

To dissemble is what happens when a person bites their tongue when they are compelled speak up. It causes them to act as if they are in league with the enemy to keep the peace.

Obviously, there is a time to speak and a time to shut up. But when the gullible are in the balance, the truth must be voiced with conviction, lest the weak get carried away with the error.

And that brings us to you and me today, in our realm of influence. We should be vigilant and conscious of the need to boldly speak up when error is presented and others are in danger of being drawn into heresy.

As Paul indicated in Gal 1:10, His job is to persuade men and please God, not the other way around.

I see it played out on social media. When a person posts some innocuous picture of a birthday party or anniversary, the "likes" pop up like prairie dogs in the summer sun. However, post a gospel friendly meme and the prairie dogs give way to crickets.

What to do? Dissemble and hide who and what you are and what you stand for to placate your FB acquaintances? Or do you continue to be a witness, attempting to persuade others to come to faith in Christ?

At work, at the break table, when the filth starts flying, do you speak up for decency or do you meld into the furniture like a chameleon into the foliage? To become invisible when you ought to show your colors is cowardice. When a matter arises and your convictions are challenged, do you capitulate or do you express what you know is the truth?

I am certainly not suggesting a believer act like a jerk, I am saying we must speak the truth in love when it is called for.

Ecc 3:1,7  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: …a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

Monday, June 11, 2018

I'll Take Door Number One Please!


There is only one way into the sheepfold, through the Door, Jesus. John 10:1



There is only one way to abundant life, Jesus. Jn 10:10



There is only one way to have eternal life, Jesus. 10:28



The enemy offers several doors,



Deceptive religion. There is only one true faith, all others are hatched in the pit of hell.



Drugs and Drink. Life is brutal! We wonder how a person can navigate all the sorrow without the Lord. Easy, the enemy blinds the lost from the truth and then dulls the pain with mind altering substances.



Dames and Dudes. If Slew-foot can distract wayward sinners with pleasure, passion and the promise of love, then, he supposes, they will never settle for simple faith in an invisible God. 



Deification of Self. If a person becomes self-sufficient in his or her abilities, inherent goodness and vast worldly knowledge, they would have no need of outside interference of their autonomy.



Dollars and Distinction. Money buys popularity and if you can gain enough notoriety on this earth, who cares about floating around on a cloud strumming a harp for all of eternity?



Have you seen “Let’s Make a Deal?” Do you recall the sound made when the poor sap chose the wrong door and received the gag prize? Wha, wha, wha, whahhhhh!



There is only one Way and one Door, everything else is just the gag. The devil is behind all the wrong doors. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Spirit of God at Work on Mount Everest.



Romans 8 is the Magnum Opus of Scripture. It is the richest, most encouraging chapter of the Bible. It is the apex of holy writ. Indeed, rare air is breathed on this mount.

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, DaVinci's Mona Lisa and Beethoven's 5th pale in comparison to this great work.

And it is the Spirit of God Who we find intricately woven throughout the fiber of this powerful passage.

Verse one should put a smile on every believer's face. This verse should quicken our hearts, put pep in our steps and lift our spirits.  "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

When we see the word "therefore," we must always check the previous thought. What we find in the entirety of the 7th chapter of Romans is... So Much Frustration!

Imagine, the greatest Christian to ever lace up his sandals is conflicted to the point of abject frustration. "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

And on the heels of this declarative exasperation we find a powerful resolution...Rom 8:1 "No More Condemnation!"

Volumes could be written regarding Romans 8 without ever stepping on the toes of other authors’ comments. But here is my brief musing concerning the Spirit of God's presence in the chapter and in the life of the believer. 

We believers are:
*Spirit led, vs 1, 14
*Spirit emancipated, vs 2
*Spiritually minded, vss 4-7
*Spirit indwelt, vs 9
*Spirit quickened, vss 10-11
*Spirit adopted, vs 15-17
*Spirit assisted, vs 26
*Spirit interceded, vs 27
*Spirit sealed, vss 33-39

Isn't that encouraging? My heart is racing. My lungs are filled with the rarified Himalayan air of the Bible’s highest mount.

Thank you, Spirit of the Lord, for filling this chapter and for doing a great work in me and my fellow believers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Blessed Christian Greetings


1Co 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
1Co 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
1Co 1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
1Co 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
1Co 1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;


Paul was so gracious in his salutations to the brethren of various churches. Here, he bestows wishes of God's grace, peace and enrichment upon the Corinthian believers.

But what is easily overlooked is that another brother accompanies Paul in this Apostolic blessing, Sosthenes.

This saint is worthy of some consideration. That blessed brother's name "Sosthenes" means "safe strength. And, there is much in a name. Read what Jamison Faucett Brown has to say about this man's Christian history...

Associated by Paul with himself in the inscription, either in modesty, Sosthenes being his inferior [Chrysostom], or in order that the name of a “brother” of note in Corinth (Acts 18:17) might give weight to his Epistle and might show, in opposition to his detractors that he was supported by leading brethren. Gallio had driven the Jews who accused Paul from the judgment-seat. The Greek mob, who disliked Jews, took the opportunity then of beating Sosthenes the ruler of the Jewish synagogue, while Gallio looked on and refused to interfere, being secretly pleased that the mob should second his own contempt for the Jews. Paul probably at this time had showed sympathy for an adversary in distress, which issued in the conversion of the latter. So Crispus also, the previous chief ruler of the synagogue had been converted. Saul the persecutor turned into Paul the apostle, and Sosthenes the leader in persecution against that apostle, were two trophies of divine grace that, side by side, would appeal with double power to the Church at Corinth [Birks].

May the lot of us believers rise to the level of our brother Sosthenes. Might others find in us a safe strength. May we be counted worthy of the title, "Trophies of Grace."

Friday, May 18, 2018

More Than a Brother.

John 7:5 For neither did his brethren believe in him.

Imagine, growing up in the same household with Jesus, witnessing a perfect sibling, never disobedient, never mean, never unkind, intolerant of sin and mischief and yet forgiving, obedient to parents, helpful to others, skilled in carpentry, proficient in the Scriptures, loving to all, respectful of others, deeply spiritual, constant in prayer, happy in spirit, content in life, joyful in setbacks, victorious in spirit, and yet, two of His brothers never bothered to believe in Him!

Messiahs show up in other families. You never expect them to sleep in your bedroom or eat your mother's matzah. You don't suspect that God in the flesh changed your diaper or wiped your snotty nose. You can't believe, like your sisters have, or a couple of your brothers did, that your babysitter, though He never left you, nor forsook you, is the Almighty.

I mean, how can you expect to be wearing Hand-me-downs from the One Who wore robes of righteousness?

God is good, God is great! But really, how could these two boys suspect that they were thanking their own brother for their food when they bowed at the supper table?

And so, they went on throughout their lives rejecting the notion that their Brother could double as their Savior. They were so close to the Tree of Life, the Branch, the True Vine, that they couldn't see the forest of His divinity.

And that reminds me of kids who grow up in church, teething on the back of the pew in front of them, turning their Sunday school classrooms into chaos, occupying the van's back seat on the way to youth camps and teen activities. And they never come into a personal, vital relationship with the One they have casually known all their life.

It makes me think of the seminary student whose Bible has become his textbook. The wonderful words of life are, at worst mere mistranslations, or spiritualized allegories or, at best, memory verses.

I also consider the minister who serves the Lord via Bible study, sermon prep, hospital and shut in visitation, but ceases to grow in his relationship with his Redeemer.

As with His siblings, Jesus is our elder Brother. He is always there for us, caring for us, loving us, wishing for a deeper relationship than blood siblings. He desires that we be best friends, sticking closer than brothers. He offers to be our fortress, our sanctuary, our advocate, our prayer-hearing, miracle-working, saving, healing, encouraging God.

Can you look beyond the familiarity of a familial relationship and believe that the God of glory is in your home, your room and wants to dwell in your heart by faith?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

"Nanny Nanny Boo Boo"

Wine is a Mocker

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Wine (in snarky mocking tone):
"Jesus drank wine."
"Cheers!"
"Just a glass or so every day with supper is okay."
"As long as it's in moderation."
"Jesus turned the water into wine."
"Oh, you tee-totalers!"
"Paul told Timothy to drink wine."
"It's sophisticated to drink wine."
"A fine red wine with a thick juicy steak can't be beat!"
"But the Bible says wine is a medicine, a sedative, a joy, a gift from God...drink up!"
"The alcohol will cook out."

23:31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Wine (with condescending tone): "You stupid wino!!!"

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Gods and Goats

Acts 14:18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.

Oh what a difference a verse makes!

In verse 18, Paul and Barnabas are doing all they can to dissuade the Lystrans from cutting up a calf as a sacrifice and doing obescence to them.

The city was divided, those who chose to maintain their paganism and those, both Jews and Gentiles, who received the message of the Gospel and believed.

But just one verse later, the apostle's detractors were present in force to silence these Gospel preachers once and for all. The Judaizers persuaded the pagans to pummel Paul with stones, thus sending him on to glory, resulting in the original version of "90 Minutes on Heaven."

One moment, they were the gods, the next, the goats. Oh how fickle people can be! Paul desired neither the calf nor the cuts, the sacrifice nor the stones. He only desired free course in doing the work of God.

Believer, soul-winner, preacher, missionary, can you relate?? It seems, in our work, we go from preaching to a receptive crowd to being confronted by some curmudgeon about our use of a Greek word.

One day we are winning a few souls for the kingdom, the next, we are called on the carpet for choosing the wrong color of carpet.

On the one hand, we rejoice in a miraculously answered prayer and on the other, Satan is buffeting us with a thorn in the flesh.

One side of the coin has us rejoicing in worship, the flip side has us stewing over a difficult budget.

And the rollercoaster never ends until we behold the Lord face to face.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Heart Prepared

Proverbs 16 and the heart
1¶The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

Here we see an iteration of the words of our Lord in Matt 12:34, ...for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.

If our heart is properly prepared, that is, it is the abode of Christ by His holy Spirit, and is principled by the Word of the Lord, then the tongue will bring forth the heart's overflow.

Four types of hearts are shown in this chapter:
The Proud heart - vs 5
The Planning heart - vs 9
The Prudent heart - vs 21
The Pliable heart - vs 23

God, let my plans for this day be inspired by your Word and your Spirit. I pray that my heart would a repository of your wisdom and prudence. And finally, Lord, keep my mind and heart open to the lessons you have for me today. Amen!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

An Active Relationship - Psalm 63

I often hear of others who KNOW they are saved. They know they have Jesus as their Savior, but they admit that they really don’t have much of a personal relationship with Him. I am afraid this is something all of us must develop. Relationships are developed by spending time with each other and sharing each other’s hearts. Please bear these in mind as you consider this simple outline of the 63rd Psalm.

Note the title of the Psalm - [[A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.]]
David was on the run…again! It is hard for us to imagine living this way. If nothing else, it would get our prayer lives on track. But really, aren’t we all on the run? We are running in circles, running to keep up, running to pursue dreams, running from our past, running to put out fires, running, running, running.

May I suggest that, rather than running, we become active in productive ways, building our relationship with Him? Here is what we find David actively doing, while on the run…

We find him:
Seeking   1
Thirsting   1
Longing   1
Seeing   2
Praising   3
Blessing   4
Lifting   4
Remembering   6
Meditating  6
Rejoicing  7
Following  8
Rejoicing  11
Swearing  11
Glorying  11


Let’s actively pursue the God Who is always pursuing us. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What is He to Me

Psalm 62. What is He to Me?

My Hope 1
My Salvation  1
My Rock  2
My Defense 2
My Stability 2
My Expectation  5
My Glory  7
My Strength 7
My Refuge  7
My Power 11
My Reward  12

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

"Jesus is Beside Himself."

Mark 3:21 And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

He is beside himself???

Jesus' own friends were so concerned about the abuse of their Master, pressed into service, restless days and sleepless nights, lack of sustenance, disease all about, that they talked one another into the belief that He didn't realize what He was doing.

Who were these friends? Well, there were his new friends, the disciples. Then there were his neighbors - because he lived in Capernaum now. And possibly even some of his family.

Contrast the concern of these well-meaning friends with the spite of the enemies who accused Him of being demonized.

But His reasoning in 23-29 proved all of them misguided.

23 And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.
27 No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. 28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:


Truth is, it is Satan who is beside himself, and, to be honest, it is often we who are beside ourselves. He knows exactly what He is doing at all times. Best to take our hands off the wheel and cede the controls to Him. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Jesus in the House

Mark 2:1-13
When Jesus is in the house:
1. The house is filled. In this case, it was filled with people, but in any case, if He is present, the house is filled with all that He is. Vss 1-2
2. There is faith in the house. Took some work, but faith made it happen. Vss 3-4
3. There is forgiveness in the house. Vs 5
4. There may be fury present. Vss 6-7. Any work of God will be met with the enemy's wrath.
5. There is a certain amount of fashion! Vs 12, "We never saw it on this fashion." The  "fashionable" church goer isn't concerned about a change of clothes, but a change of life.

It would do us well to bathe every get together with prayer, pleading for Him to be present in the house.