Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Daily Bible Reading - November 13, 2018

Today's Reading:

James 2

Jeremiah 23-24

Psalm 130

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

Today I'd like to focus on the subject of living faith, which James talks about in chapter 2:

James 2:18-24 - "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?... Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

To understand living faith, we must first understand "Grace". But Grace is one of the most misunderstood words in the Bible. But before we begin, we must back up one step more, in order to lay a proper doctrinal foundation.

Surprising as it may seem, it isn’t possible to talk about Grace without first talking about the Law. So, we will begin our study of living faith (faith that works) with the Law of God.

 The word Law in the Old Testament is translated from the Hebrew word Torah.  According to the Strong’s definition, the Torah is not only the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20, it is the whole Pentateuch, or first five books of the Bible.

The Bible clearly indicates that the Torah will be an important part of the last days. In fact, teaching the principles of Torah and reminding the people to keep them is the final Elijah Message.
Malachi 4:4-5  "Remember ye the Law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the Statutes and Judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of Yahweh."

But when most Christians hear that the Law of Yahweh is still important and should be obeyed, they protest, “Wait a minute! We’re not under the Law! We’re under grace! We’re free from the Law.

Of all the Bible writers, Paul is perhaps the most misunderstood. Oddly, this man who studied Torah under Gamaleel, is often seen as the reason for nailing the Law to the Cross.  Yet, this misunderstanding only happens when we isolate certain texts and ignore the rest. Taken all together, Paul’s writings and teachings clearly support obedience to the Law as part of living faith. In fact, this is how Paul explained Grace. 

According to 1 John 3:4, sin is the transgression of the Law.  With this in mind, let us consider Paul’s statements in Romans 6:18 & 20:
Romans 6:18 & 20  "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness... For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness."  

We become the servants of righteousness when we are made free from sin. And while we still fell prey to sin, we were free from righteousness!  So if transgression of the Law makes us free from righteousness, that doesn’t sound like Grace does away with the Law at all! 

Many Christians today firmly believe that obedient works are a thing of the past.  We only need to believe in Yahshua, and we’ll be saved.  But, if this is true, the devil is saved!
James 2:19-20  "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"  
So rather than jumping to dangerous conclusions about "Grace", which just might make us free from righteousness, let’s slow down and let Paul define "Grace" himself. This he does very well in Romans chapter 6. 
Romans 6:1-2; 15-18  "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that Grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?... What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the Law, but under Grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."  

Understanding Grace is a big deal. If we don’t understand it, we may lose out on the final outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  This is because the Fire of Blessing doesn’t just automatically fall on everyone. Only those who are preparing for it, will receive the Pentecost Fire soon to fall.

This is why the Bible tells us time and again to get ready for the Latter Rain!
Hosea 10:12  "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek Yahweh, till He come and Rain righteousness upon you." 
When the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the apostles, 3000 people were converted in one day.  The Holy Spirit was on those anointed ones so mightily that people came flocking to Yahweh from all directions. Even some of the former persecutors became converted.   

We can learn what the final Pentecost will be like by reading the book of Acts. It will be just like that again.  And just as the Gospel was carried to the world after the Holy Spirit fell upon the apostles, so the final outpouring of the Holy Spirit will begin the last Gospel call. 
Acts 1:8  "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." 
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is a lot like lightning.  Lightning is one of the most powerful and spectacular natural events. Here are a few, amazing, lightning statistics:

A bolt’s current is up to 30,000 Amperes

Lightning strikes with 1,000,000+ Volts

In less than 1 second, lightning heats the air up to 15,000-60,000 degrees F (that's 8,315-8,871 degrees C) The rapid air expansion causes thunder.

Science has uncovered an amazing fact about lightning. It starts on the ground! This is because the positive ions must be gathering on the ground and begin rising upward to form what scientists call a channel or upward leader. Then the ions in the clouds become attracted to the positive ions on the ground.  Lightning strikes down the channel prepared by these ground ions. Lightning doesn’t strike randomly. It only strikes through channels initiated from the ground!

In the same way, we cannot receive Yahweh’s spiritual Lightning (outpouring of the Holy Spirit) until we have prepared for it.   

Did you know that the biggest spiritual lightning inhibitor is unconfessed, unsurrendered sin?  In fact the Bible tells us plainly that when we are idolatrously involved with our old man of sin, Yahweh withholds the Latter Rain from us!
Jeremiah 3:3  "Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead (spiritual prostitution is having a "love affair" with our old man of sin - letting sin reign instead of walking in victory and being faithful to Heaven), thou refusedst to be ashamed."   
This point is echoed in Jeremiah 5:23-25:
Jeremiah 5:23-25  "But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone. Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear Yahweh our God, that giveth Rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: He reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest. Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you."
So what do we need to do to prepare to receive the Latter Rain? 
Leviticus 26:3-4  "If ye walk in My Statutes, and keep My Commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season..."

In fact, the gentle early rain, which prepares us for the powerful lightning-filled latter rain experience, is the principles of Torah.

Deuteronomy 32:2  "My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass."  
What does Yahweh mean by doctrine and speech? When we look these words up in Strong’s Concordance, we find that Doctrine is “instruction” – Torah literally means “Yahweh’s Instructions.” And “speech” is “Yahweh’s Commandment.”   
 Clearly, the Early Rain which prepares us to receive the Latter Rain is understanding and living by Torah.

But most Christians have missed the importance of the Law by misinterpreting Grace. Grace is usually defined today as “unmerited favor.”  But, this is not the Biblical definition of Grace. 
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, this picture accurately depicts Grace.  Grace means “Yahweh camped within you.” 

For Israel, they experienced Grace when Yahweh dwelt in their midst.  And what sort of dwelling does the Father require? Can it be a vile and unholy place? Of course not! God does not camp in an unfit place.   

The Bible tells us that our bodies are the temple of Yahweh.  We are to be the holy place where He dwells. His Presence is a refining one. He calls us to purity and total submission. This practice of being totally surrendered to God, having turned away from our old man of sin is living Grace at its essence. And as we live in His Grace, we are also demonstrating living Faith - Faith that Works!

Daily Bible Reading - November 12, 2018

Today's Reading:

James 1

Jeremiah 21-22

Psalm 129

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

In James 1 we find great encouragement to understand and live by the Truth found in Yahweh's Word. Truth is symbolized by Light. And the Light of Truth is the single greatest Gift which Heaven bestows upon mankind. Without the Light of Truth, we are doomed to stumble in darkness and to ultimately be lost. 

Messiah Himself is the embodiment of the Light of Truth. He was the Word which was made Flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1-14).
Matthew 4:12-16  "Now when Yahshua had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up." 
John 8:12  "Then spake Yahshua again unto them, saying, I Am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of Life."
The Word is also the Scriptures, which shine the Light of Truth to all who study and receive it:
Psalm 119:105  "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." 
When we read, receive, and live by the Word, we have the Light of Truth in our lives and homes. To fail to obey God's Word, or to twist it in our understanding, is to lose the "good" and "perfect" gift of Truth given from the Father of Light:

James 1:16-17  "Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

A deeper insight into what it means to "err" versus walking in the Light of Truth is found in the linen robes of the priests, and how the worn out ones were used to make the candle wicks. 

Yahweh's ordained priests were instructed to wear robes made of white linen as they carried out their priestly duties in the Sanctuary. The white linen represented the righteousness of Christ, which clothes the people of God and is the "righteousness of saints" (Revelation 19:8).

When the priestly, linen robe could no longer be worn by the priest, it had one final use. The white linen was twisted into wicks, which were used in the Sanctuary menorah (7-branched candlestick). Naturally, as the twisted linen was used as a wick, it was ultimately burned up.

It is from this process that we get the Hebrew word for "wicked"! In the connection of the word "wicked" with the twisting of the linen we find a powerful explanation of wickedness. To be "wicked" literally means to take something which was righteous (the white linen of the priest's garments symbolized righteousness) and to twist it!

One powerful example of this twisting - doctrinally - has been repeatedly demonstrated by the papal power. Powerful spiritual warfare principles have been twisted by the papacy to support the confessional and to support the idea that the Mother Church has the authority to change the Law of God.

There are several principles of spiritual warfare that the papal power has twisted. One of them is the principle of the Keys - which gives us authority (in Christ's Name and Blood) to bind the powers of darkness.
Matthew 16:19  "And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven."

According to papal Rome, since the Body of Christ has been given the "Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven", our authority to "bind" and "loose" includes determining which Laws are "binding" - or which parts of Yahweh's Laws we wish to loose - or dispose with. But this is a twisting of the Truth.

The principle of the "Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven" is a righteous principle, instigated by Yahshua Himself. Like the white linen, it was originally right and righteous. But possessing the spiritual warfare "Keys" to bind demonic powers in our Saviour's Name and Blood (Jude 1:9; Matthew 18:18-20; Matthew 10:1) does not give anyone authority to change the Law of Yahweh or alter His Word. Twisting this principle to sanction altering the Law of God is a grevious error!
Deuteronomy 4:2  Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. 
Deuteronomy 12:32  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. 
It is strange how slight twists can totally change a doctrine from pure to tainted! But a "little" change sure does make a big difference! Thus, James' warning is especially timely:
James 1:16-17  Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.


Daily Bible Reading - November 11, 2018

Today's Reading:

Philemon 1:1-25

Jeremiah 19-20

Psalm 128

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

Today we read the short book of Philemon. It may be short, but it is noteworthy. So, since we both start and finish reading it today, I will take this opportunity and focus my attention on Philemon.

Let's begin with the backstory (the story behind this book). Paul had labored to bring the Gentiles of Asia Minor to Messiah. During his third missionary journey, there were many converts in Ephesus as a result. One of the people who was converted by Paul in Ephesus was Philemon.

Philemon must have been only visiting in Ephesus, as he is a wealthy slave-owner from the nearby city of Colossae (Philemon 1:19). We know that Philemon was a Christian because Paul refers to him as his "beloved brother" and as a "fellow worker" for Christ.

In Philemon, Paul wrote a letter to this Christian man. One of the main reasons for writing it was that one of his slaves - named Onesimus (pronounced "own-si-mus") - had apparently stolen some money and had run away to Rome. 

In Rome, where Paul was a prisoner (around AD 60 or 61), Onesimus had run into Paul, who then lead him to Christ. Following this, Paul sent Onesimus back to Colossae, returning him to his master, Philemon, with a letter which we now know as the Book of Philemon.

The message was simple. Paul urged Philemon to show the same love and forgiveness which God had shown him to the formerly difficult, but now-converted slave. Paul did not minimize Onesimus's sin. But in this letter we see the beautiful transformation we all experience as we transition from slavery to kinship in the love of God. 

There are many valuable lessons to gain from the book of Philemon. First, the relationship of Onesimus to Philemon demonstrates the responsibilities in an employee-employer relationship of today. Second, the book of Philemon highlights the importance of forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not come easy and - as in the case of Onesimus and Philemon - many times we are called upon to forgive someone who does not deserve our forgiveness. But, just as God forgives us, undeserving though we be, we also ought to forgive our offenders.

I invite you to think about it...  Are there any who have done you wrong? Like Onesimus, have they wrongfully taken something that doesn't belong to them? Have they disrespected your authority? Have they done or said things that shouldn't have been done or said? If so, Paul's letter to Philemon is a call for you today. In Christ, forgiveness is a blessing that is given even to the undeserving. Like Paul, I encourage you to be more concerned with helping that erring one to find Christ than in making them right their past wrongs done against you.

Luke 6:36-37  "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven."