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Friday, November 20, 2009

Gospel preachers, follow the Preacher's example

Ecclesiastes 12:9-11

And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

Keying in on verse 11:

I pray today for my preacher brethren, that your preaching: 1) comes from the throne of the "one shepherd", the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls! 2) May it "goad", prick, cut, divide, warm, and soften the hearts of your hearers, and 3) may it "fasten" to their hearts and minds and in due time bear precious fruit in their souls, some thirtyfold, some sixty and some hundred!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above you heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ecclesiastes 7

I bolded the verses that jumped out at me.

1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.
6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

7 Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.
8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.

11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun.
12 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

13 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?

14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.

15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.

16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?
17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?
18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.

19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.

20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:
22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

23 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.
24 That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?
25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:
26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.
27 Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account:
28 Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.

29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

No More Sea

from the pen of Bro. Mike McInnis


And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Revelation 21:1-4

John bears testimony that he received this Revelation of JESUS CHRIST (see Rev.1:1) while he was on the isle of Patmos, (see Rev.1:9) just off the coast of Greece. In John’s characteristic humility he does not go into detail about how he came to be there but does mention that it was for “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev 1:9)

History bears record that John was banished to this somewhat deserted island for preaching CHRIST, (which was deemed subversive by the government) by the emperor Domitian around 95 AD. There is one high point on the island from which the mainland (Greece) could be seen on a clear day. One can only imagine the exiled John looking longingly, from time to time, over that expanse of the Aegean Sea which separated him from those churches which he had by the grace of GOD established in Greece. He desired to be with the people of GOD, (see I John 3:14) who are the body of CHRIST.

Thus we see him writing of that new heaven and new earth which the LORD showed him, and commenting that there was “no more sea”. I believe he meant that there was nothing to separate the people of GOD from one another, but most importantly no bars of separation between him and his LORD. The LORD JESUS, had told HIS disciples that it was a necessity that HE go away and that they could not accompany HIM at that time. But HE promised that HE would prepare a place for them and that HE would come back to get them. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John14:3)

Thus with this promise firmly planted in his mind, we can imagine the exultant joy that must have gripped HIM as the LORD showed HIM this Heavenly Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, prepared as a bride for her HUSBAND. For he saw there not bricks and stone but those whom Paul said “HE would bring with HIM.” That city of GOD is a people chosen, redeemed, and prepared to dwell everlastingly with HIM who loved them before the foundation of the world and has hid them in the palm of HIS hand. (see John 10:28,29)

The entire life experience of the sons of GOD in this world is but a preparatory work for that which is to come. The elect angels have never experienced sin, along with its corruption, and they can but look on with wonder and amazement at the unfolding of redemption as it remains a complete mystery to them. They worship and glorify GOD daily but they can have no true appreciation of the redeeming work of CHRIST in the behalf of HIS chosen people as those men can, who have known what it is to be lost and separated from GOD.

Those who are the objects of CHRIST’s redemption shall forever praise HIM for that which HE so freely performed for them. “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” (Rev 5:9)

What a glorious privilege indeed to be included in that number for which CHRIST laid down HIS life as a sacrificial LAMB. That man who has never been acquainted with the depths of his own sin and his total unworthiness to dwell in the presence of the LORD, could never have any appreciation for what CHRIST has done. Yet those who know themselves to be unworthy of the least of the LORD’s mercies shall rejoice and glorify HIM forever for such an unspeakable gift as the purchase and bestowal of eternal life upon them. Those who are worthy of death are presented in the courts of heaven as having never sinned, so great is the work of CHRIST in their behalf. (see Rom.8:29-34)

So John speaks of this heavenly city coming down and sees it not as some unpopulated metropolis but rather as a “bride adorned for her HUSBAND”. This city is indeed that bride, which is the church of JESUS CHRIST, made ready for the unending wedded bliss that can only exist between a bride whose love has been earned, and the ONE who purchased and loved her as HIS own body. (see Eph.5:22-33) This marriage is described as one in which:

HE will be their GOD. A look at the history of the nation of Israel reveals that they were constantly going after other gods and engaging in idolatrous practices. One of the greatest laments of the true Israel of GOD is that they find themselves prone to disobedience and unfaithfulness. That day is coming when all of their unbelief and this wicked flesh shall be put off and HE shall be their GOD and they shall be HIS people. (see Rom. 7:14-25)

HE will dwell with them forever. There has never been a time revealed unto men when the LORD has not had a perfect and unbounded love for those whom HE chose in CHRIST. According to HIS purpose HE subjected them to the rigors of sin and the law and ultimately to the separation which such a course of action brought to pass. (see Isa.59:2; Rom.3:23) John sees this barrier of separation removed, (no more sea) and now there being no impediment to their enjoyment of HIS presence forevermore. For while HIS affection for them has never waned or changed in anyway, their ability to completely rest in HIM shall reach its unending climax in the ages to come when they see HIM face to face.

There will be no more death, pain, sorrow, or crying. This earth in which we dwell is but a lowland of sin and sorrow, it is a valley of suffering by the direct design of HIM who works all things together for good to those who are the called according to HIS purpose. But it is only a temporary stay for those whom Peter describes as “as strangers and pilgrims” (1Pet 2:11) in the earth. Though the people of GOD are in the world they are not “of it” and freely confess to be looking for a city which hath foundations. They mourn their sin daily and long to be free from this “body of death”. That which they desire shall be brought to pass when CHRIST shall come to claim HIS purchased possession and wipe their eyes forever.

The former things are passed away. We are all, without exception, sinners.(see 1John 1:8) Thankfully the LORD JESUS CHRIST came into the world to save sinners. HE has not failed in any wise to accomplish that task, even though we see not all things yet put under his feet (see Heb. 2:8) for the last enemy to be destroyed is death. (see I Cor. 15:26) Now we are certain that death itself has been stripped of its power by HIM who has triumphed over it openly, but we are yet subject unto death in order to fulfill HIS purpose. The certain hope of the resurrection is that which is the great hope of the sons of GOD for we know that even the state of death upon the people of GOD is but a temporary condition.

“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Co 15:54-57)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wind grabbing

Ecclesiastes 1
with a few of my added Ramblings

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Solomon identify's himself, these are his thoughts, as he was moved by the Holy Spirit, probably written in his later years. Written after he himself had lived and experienced a life of vanity.

2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

The 'all' refers to all worldly things, all men's great plans, purposes and labors.
'Vanity' is that which is empty, worthless, fruitless and unsatisfactory.

3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

How true regarding the 'eye' and the 'ear'; we cannot see and hear enough. We might taste, hear, and handle enough but even when we are tired and worn we never seem to 'see' and hear' enough. We can sit and stare and listen and still gain nothing.

9 ¶ The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

12 ¶ I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.
14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

Solomon gave himself to seeking out all things (see 2:1-11) and he concluded all is "vanity", empty, unsatisfying, and like trying to catch the wind. The phrase "vexation of spirit" is literally 'feeding upon wind'. Go ahead, step outside and grab some wind today.

He found out with all his wisdom and seeking that there are things man cannot change, "crooked cannot be made straight". Think about it, with all our science so-called and all our vast technology we are still not able to cure many diseases, we cannot (naturally) add to the height of a man or change the color of their skin. Much less, are we able to change our own hearts.

16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.
17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. (grabbing the wind)
18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

I hear you Solomon, think of all the cynicism in the world today, most of it gotten from to much "wisdom" and "knowledge". Guilty, I am!

Oh, what I wouldn't do to go back to that time in my life when I first learned of my precious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. When I desired to know Him, to love Him and follow Him. Somewhere, along the way, a little here and a little there, I sought out worldly wisdom and worldly knowledge and it brought nothing but grief and sorrow to my soul and to those around me. Empty wind grabbing, that's what I did and what I am still prone to do.

I hear the apostle John say, "sin not"! I read Peter's admonition with fear; "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness." I cry with the apostle Paul "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

And I ask, what else does the word of God say? It does say "sin not" but then John writes; "And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." The apostle Paul writes "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." In another place Paul wrote; "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

May God forgive me for all my 'wind grabbing'. Lord, I pray for mercy and grace to help me in time of need. In the name of my High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

May I close with this;

"But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.