The Word of the Lord Endureth Forever

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The voice said, Cry.  And he said, What shall I cry?  All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.  The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever (Isaiah 40: 6-8 KJV).

For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.  The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever.  And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you (I Peter 1: 24-25 KJV).

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What is the First of the Ten Commandments?

FirstCommandment

What is the first of the Ten Commandments?  If you are a gentile, you will probably say, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”  If you have a Jewish background, you might say, “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

The Ten Commandments are spelled out in Exodus 20: 1-17 and restated in Deuteronomy 5: 6-21.   Do you see the first and second commandment in the first six verses of Exodus 20 (KJV)?

1 AND God spake all these words, saying,

2 I am the LORD thy God, which have bought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me:

6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

2 Commandment

From a traditional Christian point of view, verse 2 is the prologue to the Ten Commandments, and verse 3 is the First Commandment.  Verses 4-6 state the Second Commandment.

From a Jewish point of view, verse 2 is the First Commandment, and verses 3-6 comprise the Second Commandment.

I don’t have a strong opinion as to whether verse 2 or verse 3 is the First Commandment.  Either works for me.  What do you think?’

* I collect vintage postcards.  These are part of a series on the Ten Commandments (Copyright 1908, By The Rose Co.).

The Trinity

photoMA31382180-0001Many have tried to explain the Triune God in simple language using various analogies.  My favorite is water.  Liquid water is H2O.  Ice is H2O.  Water vapor is H2O,  Water, ice, and vapor are different forms of the same substance.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of the same substance as stated in the Nicene Creed.  Here is a sample of the many scriptures that support the Trinity.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (Matthew 28: 19 KJV)..

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1: 9-11 NIV).

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1: 1-3 KJV)

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (John 1: 14 KJV).

He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1: 15, 16 NASB).

“Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”   Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip?  He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say show us the Father?” (John 14: 9 NASB).

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you (Exodus 3: 14 KJV).

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am (John 8: 58 KJV)

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool (Psalm 110: 1 KJV)

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ?  whose son is he?  They say unto him, The son of David.  He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?  If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? (Matthew 22: 41-45 KJV).

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee (Psalm 2: 7 KJV).

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they, For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?  And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? (Hebrews 1: 1-5 KJV).

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9: 6 KJV)

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5: 19 KJV).

The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side.  Stop your doubling, and believe!”  Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20: 26b, 27 GNT).

Again the High Priest questioned him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed God:” “I am,” answered Jesus, “and you will all see the Son of Man seated at the right side of the Almighty and coming with the clouds of heaven!” (Mark 14: 61b-62 GNT).

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God’s glory and Jesus standing at the right side of God (Acts 7: 55 GNT).

We have not depended on made-up stories in making known to you the mighty coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  With our own eyes we saw his greatness.  We were there when he was given honor and glory by God the Father, when the voice came to him from the Supreme Glory, saying, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased!”  We ourselves heard this voice coming from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain (2 Peter 1: 16-18 GNT). See Luke 9: 28-36 also.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come (John 16: 13 KJV).

For no prophetic message ever came just from the human will, but people were under the control of the Holy Spirit as they spoke the message that came from God (2 Peter 1: 21 GNT).

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them (Acts 2: 1-4 NIV).

Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last (Isaiah 48: 12 KJV).

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds  of the earth shall wail because of him.  Even so, Amen.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1: 7, 8 KJV).

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.  And I turned to see the voice that spake with me.  And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.  And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.  And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.  And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death (Revelation 1: 10-18 KJV).

Balaam’s Prophesy

Balak, king of Moab, wanted Balaam (a greedy prophet for hire) to curse Israel, but as Balaam said, “I can only say what God tells me to say.”  Three times Balak tried to get Balaam to curse Israel, but he could not.  Here is a sample of his prophetic utterances:

“The nation is like a mighty lion; when it is sleeping, no one dares wake it.  Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed, And whoever curses Israel will be cursed” (Numbers 24: 9 GNT).

To read all of Balaam’s prophecies concerning Israel, read Numbers 23 and 24.

Why Did God Chose Moses to Lead the Hebrews out of Egypt?

photoMA31381361-0001Today as I was reading Numbers, a verse arrested my attention.  Moses was a humble man, more humble than anyone else on earth (Numbers 12: 3 GNT). The verse suggests a reason–perhaps the main reason–that God chose Moses to lead the Hebrews (along with many God-fearing Egyptians, by the way) out of Egypt.

It must have difficult for Moses to remain humble and to intercede for those who arrogantly criticized him.  In Chapter 12, we find that even Moses’ brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, complained about him.  Here is what God said about Moses in response to Aaron’s and Miriam’s criticism:

6 He said, “Hear now My word: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision.  I shall speak with him in a dream. 

7 Not so with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all my household; With  him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD” (NASB).

Can you imagine speaking with God mouth to mouth (some translations say “face to face”)?  Can you imagine beholding the form of God?  (See Exodus 33: 11-23.)

Clearly, humility is a key component in having a close relationship with the Lord.

Here is what Jesus said about humility: Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5: 5 KJV).  Here’s the same verse in the Good News Translation: “Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised!”


 

* I found the illustration of Moses and the burning bush in my grandmother’s copy of “The Holy Bible” (Southwestern Company, Nashville, TN).

THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT

photoMA31379820-0002This is the cover of my grandmother’s, Effie Bell Butler Wright’s, copy of “The Holy Bible” (The Southwestern Company, Nashville, TN.  I couldn’t find a copyright date, but my grandmother gave this Bible to her husband and family in 1910.

Most of what you read in the New Testament is also in the Old Testament.  Compare the following verses:

NEW TESTAMENT:

Jesus answered, ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and the most important commandment.  The second most  important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments” (Matthew 22: 37-40 GNT).

OLD TESTAMENT:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might (Deuteronomy 6: 5 KJV).

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD (Leviticus 19: 18 NASB).

Witnessing in the Marketplace

I want to share something that happened to me in the past twelve months that I believe was supernatural–a work of the Holy Spirit.  While shopping for clothes at a local thrift store, I heard a name in my head. (Instead of using the real name, I’ll use the name “Sawyer.”)  Immediately after I heard “Sawyer” in my head, I heard a man audibly introducing himself as “Sawyer” to another customer.  This arrested my attention.

The man’s speech pattern suggested that he was intoxicated.  I was convinced that the Lord wanted me to witness to him.  Why else would I have known the stranger’s name before I heard him say it?  Believe me, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t go near anyone inebriated.  But I knew what the Holy Spirit was prompting me to do.

I approached “Mr. Sawyer” slowly and made some mundane remark about clothes.  Before I knew it, the subject changed to spiritual matters.  He told me that he had gone to a Christian camp as a young man and learned the names of the books of the Bible in order.  Then he asked me a question about King Saul.  When I found the opportunity, I spoke with him briefly about his alcohol problem.  (The smell was overwhelming, which confirmed my suspicion.)  Then I asked him if he had ever accepted Christ as his savior.  He said no and started crying.  I led him in the sinner’s prayer and left.

I planted a seed that day and I pray that others will water it.  Also, I ask that every believer reading this post will pray for Mr. Sawyer’s spiritual growth.

I wish I could say that this sort of thing happens to me often, but it doesn’t.  In fact, I think this was a first.  Witnessing is easy when the Holy Spirit is involved.  I pray that all of us who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior will have these types of encounters every day.

We are living in the last days.  Time is running out.  The Bible says to make the most of every opportunity.  We must listen to God and follow His leading–not only in church but in the marketplace and everywhere else.  We are ambassadors for Christ.  May His light shine bright in each of us, so that others will be drawn to the light and desire a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the Messiah.  In Jesus name I pray.

Acts 15: Gentiles and the Law of Moses

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Acts 15 fascinates me.  The Messianic Jews were wondering what to do with the Gentiles that were coming to faith in the Messiah.   Here are some highlights:

Verses 1 and 2 state the problem.  Some men came from Judea to Antioch and started teaching the believers, “You cannot be saved unless you are circumcised as the Law of Moses requires.”  Paul and Barnabas got into a fierce argument with them about this, so it was decided that Paul Barnabas and some of the others in Antioch should go to Jerusalem and see the apostles and elders about this matter (GNT).

If you read all of Acts 15, you will discover that more than one group of Jews thought that circumcising Gentiles was necessary–but not for the same reason.  The first group (verses 1-2) thought it necessary for salvation.  The second group in verse 5 saw it differently. “Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses” (NIV). In other words, they believed that the Gentiles were saved by faith but they should nevertheless be circumcised and follow the law of Moses. This spawned a lively debate.

After hearing Peter, Paul, and the other debaters, James reached this conclusion.  “It is my opinion,” James went on, “that we should not trouble the Gentiles who are turning to God.  Instead, we should write a letter telling them not to eat any food that is ritually unclean because it has been offered to idols; to keep themselves from sexual immorality; and not to eat any animal that has been strangled, or any blood.  For the Law of Moses has been read for a very long time in the synagogues every Sabbath, and his words are preached in every town” (Acts 15: 19-21 GNT).

Notice that “the basics” were a combination of food laws and moral law.  James was confronting the paganism that was rampant in the Roman Empire, which involved drinking blood and having sex with temple prostitutes.  No doubt he was also influenced by verses like the following:  Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood–I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people.  For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.  Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood” (Leviticus 17: 10-12 NIV).

I find verse 21 in Acts 15 most intriguing:  For the Law of Moses has been read for a very long time in the synagogues every Sabbath, and his words are preached in every town.”  The implication is that Gentiles could go to the synagogue on the Sabbath and hear the Law of Moses read. The New Testament did not as yet exist and neither did the printing press.  Whenever Paul referred to the Scriptures, he was referring to the Old Testament.

He wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living, so that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed” (2 Timothy 3: 16 GNT).

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