Do not wait for the hearse to take you to church.
Rev_2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Do not wait for the hearse to take you to church.
Rev_2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
John Greenleaf Whittier is credited with creating the phrase, “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been.” The now famous truism was penned by the writer in 1856 in an extended story poem entitled “Maud Muller.” It was a beautiful work, centered on a fair young lady who was very poor meeting a handsome young judge and fantasizing about what life might have been for her had she the fortune to be his wife.
My sixth grade class was required to memorize the poem, and to create a scrapbook depicting the several scenes it contained. Incidentally, “The Ancient Mariner” was another such requirement. Central lesson points were permanently embedded in young minds to serve us all well in the years ahead. Doubtlessly, youngsters of today miss much of what was an excellent education back then.
Life holds a number of memories of critical decisions that directs one’s path. Sometimes those decisions are good, and sometimes not so good, leaving one to wonder, and perhaps say, “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been.”
In the course of everyone’s days, there is an appointment so universal that no one escapes it. The writer of Hebrews states it this way: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27. Death is certain, and the judgment will not be to determine the final disposition of the never dying soul, but position in it. But no one should ever come to that place with the mournful lament of himself, “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been!” Jesus assures eternity in heavenly bliss for all who accept Him as their personal substitutionary payment for sins as noted in the very next verse in Hebrews 9:28, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
It is extremely late on the cosmic clock as it notes the calendar year 2020. Do those numbers reference your foresight as well as the year? Are you saved? Are you actively serving God in a New Testament Church? Will you be one of the pitiable crowd who eternally mourns, “It might have been?”
Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.
the sister of Lazarus also had a sister named Martha. Mary was a
common name in Biblical times. Consequently, that name appears often.
What most people remember about Mary the sister of Lazarus is that
she chose to sit at Jesus feet and learn of heavenly things rather
than concern herself with food preparation. That choice brought
rebuke from Martha, but praise from Jesus.
A more notable deed that Mary did is also recorded in the gospels. Near to the time of Jesus’ betrayal and subsequent crucifixion, He visited the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary as He had done several times before. On this occasion, Mary brought out a box of very expensive ointment and anointed the body of Jesus. Again, there was criticism. Some of the apostles wondered why the waste when the ointment could have brought a handsome price in the market place and the money given to the poor. But again, Jesus upheld her actions, knowing her true motive. She had anointed Jesus body for burial, something no one else had done or even thought about.
Because Mary put Jesus above earthly things and chose to learn of Him, she was given spiritual insight, and she comprehended things others had not. Therefore she was enabled to provide special service and honor to Jesus and that was so right!
Mary’s opportunity was not singularly hers. Others were there. Others had followed Jesus. Others had heard Him speak of being crucified. But it was Mary who understood and did what she could.
It is much the same way today. Everyone has access to a Bible. Everyone can be saved. Everyone can gain much spiritual insight into the things of God if they dedicate themselves to gaining it.
Moreover, one can be sure that even the best of deeds done from a pure heart will suffer criticism. Sometimes that comes from those who consider themselves to be close followers of Jesus. However, it is what God approves that is important.
Mary and her deeds were incorporated into the Word of God, and every generation since has knowledge of her. She was a shinning example, and while she enjoys heavenly rest, those wonderful deeds still multiply and follow her to God’s glory and her eternal reward.
One day the same will be true of all of God’s people who put Jesus first in their life. This will make the Judgment Seat of Christ a most rich and rewarding event for all such disciples, and that is so right!
William A. Dillard
the pages of the Old Testament comes the divine record of the cost of
attempting to serve God man’s way instead of strictly God’s way.
The incident is referenced three different places to underscore its
notice: Leviticus 10:1; Number 3:4 and 26:61. Nadab and Abihu, sons
of Aaron offered strange fire before the Lord which He had not
commanded. Immediately, God caused them both to die instantly. Now,
let us examine this unusual incident a little closer.
Were the priests to use fire in the service of the tabernacle? Yes, they were. They must use fire at the altar of sacrifice. They also used fire at the altar of incense. However, for specific didactic purposes, explicit instructions were given as to how this was to be done. Obedience to the instruction sanctified the Lord in the sight of all Israel, but disregard for the instructions did just the opposite. Nadab and Abihu were one up on God: they had a better idea than what they were told to do. It cost their life.
But wait a minute, modern man says. Fire is fire, so what difference does it make? It seems the Old Testament God is harsh and cruel. Well, that is indeed the mindset of most modern religionists. Perverting Gods instructions to do things man’s way is called “iniquity” in the Bible. God will not have it.
But, it seemed so nice and certainly more palatable to the general populace to make things nicer….put in a little incense….make a little more show. But it is not what God commands, neither is it what God will accept.
Well, that certainly would not happen today, thanks to the grace of God. Yes, the teaching period of the Law is done. The adult period of Grace is ours. But does not one’s actions as an adult have weightier consequences? If one spends any time at all with Jesus’ sermon on the mount, Matt. 5-7, he will know the answer is a definite yes.
It is for this reason that the oft New Testament call to God’s people is to be vigilant, to be sober. The incident of Nadab and Abihu forever testifies that man must not, cannot, serve God man’s way, but strictly God’s way. Too much is made of a supposed liberty to interpret scriptures differently. After all, many claim a right to their opinion. But the truth is that no one has a right to an opinion on God’s Word. It is not of any private interpretation, and means what it says. It may seem nice to exclude the blood of Jesus, or the supposed radical burial in water for baptism by substituting sprinkling and being added to a church roll. But as drunken as the world may be on man made religion and the enticement of materialism, the God we all must face is indeed the very God Who took the life of Nadab and Abihu who dared to defy the explicit instructions of God to do what seemed “nicer” to them. Indeed, modern Christians would do well to consider again Hebrew 10:31 and 12:29.
Bro. Hess has given a good presentation on the law
Being the God who knows everything, is the same God that gave the Law as is recorded throughout Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. So did the all-knowing (omniscient) God really think that it was possible for man to be able to keep the whole law without messing up at all? If so, why would He give such a law that would condemn those who broke it to death, physically and spiritually?
Look at what James wrote in James 2:8-11. If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
So what does this tell us? Any one infraction of the Law, regardless of whether one considers it a “small” infraction or not, it still pronounces us as guilty and therefore, we have missed God’s mark of perfection, which is what is called sin. What are we told in Romans 6:23? For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So, in this respect, the Law worked against man in that it showed man what God considered as sin and therefore man is guilty if he breaks the law in any way. Man has absolutely NO excuse for doing ANYTHING that God doesn’t want him to do. The Law, that Paul wrote about in Colossians 2:14 is called “the handwriting of ordinances”. What did he say about the law? “.Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; So why did God give us a Law “that was against us and contrary to us”?
Here is what Paul stated in Romans 7. In verse 7 Paul said that “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. In his early years, Paul THOUGHT that what he was doing was right in the sight of God and that he was safe. But when the law was revealed to him, it was by the law that he knew what God considered to be sin. Now look at what he said in Romans 5:20. ” Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
The law exposed sin in such a way that it gave sin a broader perspective in the mind of man. The Jews did not fully understand how big sin really was in God’s eyes. They considered, as many do today, that there were “little” sins that didn’t carry as much weight as the “bigger” sins. But in God’s eyes there are NO “little” sins or NO “big” sins. Sin is sin. So the law made it possible for man to see just how “BIG” ALL sin was in the eyes of God. And as such, sin of any kind had the overall penalty of death. Therefore, the necessity of “GOD’S GRACE” became more important and necessary to a man. We see these words when we read all of Romans 5:20-21. “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
In Galatians 3:10 Paul wrote “ For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” In Galatians 2:16 we read, “ Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.“ Then on to Galatians 2:21 where we read, “ I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” And what about what Paul wrote in Romans 3:20? “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Isaiah 64:6 gives a message of no hope when it comes to what we can do of ourselves. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
So seeing what we have read in these references, what really WAS the purpose of the Law?
(1) As we saw in Romans 5:20 and 7:7 God gave the Law so that man would be able to see sin through the eyes of God. Sin was “bigger” than man realized.
(2) As we saw in Galatians 3:10; 2:16,21 ; and 3:20 the law was totally impossible to keep to the point of gaining righteousness in God’s eyes.
(3) Isaiah’s message from God was that our best “good” doesn’t even come close to bringing us to God.
But look at the beautiful information that Paul gives us in answer to the question, “What really was the purpose of the law?”. In Galatians 3:23-25 we read these magnificent words. “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”
Notice these words; “…kept under the law, …”we were imprisoned under the law. Those words were followed by “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ,”the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ.
Man needed something to show him how helpless he was in being able to make it possible for him to come into the proper relationship with God. The law was what God used to show man that he needed a MEDIATOR between himself and God. Jesus Christ was that Mediator. ” For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; ” (I Timothy 2:5). Jesus was the One and only Way to the Father. Jesus was the REAL truth in physical form to point man to the Father. Jesus was the only one who could give man the spiritual, eternal life that was necessary to prepare man to meet and live with the Father. No human being can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ.
I hope and pray that this lesson has answered the question “What really was the purpose of the law?” for you.
MARCH 21 – Which Way
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
We are all traveling a journey of a lifetime. Where we end up depends on the choices we make. The journey between the beginning and the ending is determined by what guides us. There are only two paths to living and two endings that will take place. There is the path of the world which many take because it fits the desire of the natural carnal nature. We also have available the path that God has laid down for us, a spiritual relationship with the Son and a spirit led path. It is important to choose a path wisely.
It is the way in which man is born. Job knowing God made this statement, “Job_5:7 Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” This is a description of the natural man without God. Isaiah had some astute words to impart about the life of man in his natural or carnal condition. “Isa_50:11 Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” What we have at birth is a sin nature that needs to be cleansed.
They see many walking in this way. Man’s propensity is to follow the crowd and be accepted as one of the crowd. Even in rebellion against the crowd, the rebel joins another crowd, not for the better and sometimes for the worse. They will put their interests in what the others find interesting. They will join the fads that others begin. If they find a need for spirituality, they will join with whoever meets their desires that allow them to be what they want to be.
It is an easy way to walk in. They will be encouraged and congratulated when they look like everyone else. They will find that the world’s philosophy will reward them even when they are in the midst of struggles and disappointment. When families are falling apart, people are struggling with addictions, they are told it is not their fault. They swing around the truth that every person is responsible for their own actions.
It is a way which is profitable to self. There are times when some find this wicked type of life to be profitable. This profitability could be financial or a position of power. It can be profitable until death rings life’s doorbell. This time of facing death is a very disconcerting time for the carnal natural man. There is fear and uncertainty involved in dying with no hope.
How shall we know this way of death? It is the way of sin. It is the course of this world. It is the way of indifference to the things of eternity. It is the easy path of the world in ignoring God and His Son Jesus Christ. The offer for forgiveness stands and is ignored. It is a free gift and is spurned. Those that have received Jesus as Savior have a brighter future at death than the natural carnal man.
What is your relationship with the Lord? Are you still a natural man or have you been cleansed by the blood?
MARCH 8 – I will wait till my change comes
Job 14:14 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
What blessed event Job is talking about. He had great joy with family and friends till tragedy struck. Now we find a life full of sorrow and sadness. Friends came but at this point, they were very condemning and not much comfort. He had lost riches and a comfortable life. He had lost his children and even his wife said to curse God and die. Now his friends are telling him how great a sinner he is. This is a miserable life.
I remember when I brought my father home to spend his last days with me and my wife. He was on dialysis three days a week. This would wear him out. There were times after dialysis I would tell dad, I need to stop at this house and spend a few minutes talking to these people. His mild dementia might prevent him from remembering my name, yet he realized this was God’s work. His reply was always, you go ahead, I will wait right here for you. There were two prayers he prayed. “Lord take me home.” He knew this old world was not his home.” The second prayer was, “Lord if you are going to leave me here, give me my health so I can serve you.” He never prayed restore my health so I can enjoy the pleasures of this world. The time he was on this earth, he called it “tenting and tabernacling.” In other words, he considered his time here as being temporary.
Job knew that time on this earth is only for an appointed time. God had set a time for man. Job knew where he was going at death. He knew there would be a change. Some of you were something on your wrist that counts your steps. Job said that God numbers his steps. That is a recognition that God knew him intimately and knew every sin. We must realize that God has an intimate knowledge of us. He knows our thinking and our motives. He knows that one day we will stand before Him. We will be judged. May we stand before him having served Him faithfully and served Him his way.
Serving God in spirit and in truth is our work on earth.
THE RESOLVES OF JANUARY
William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
Here it is! It is not known just what it may bring, but 12 months of time is laid out before terrestrial creatures. They will be filled with something, and there lies within a large majority of folks a deep desire to fill it with things that are choice, more important, noble, lofty goals for the betterment of self and of others. The question is: “do you own this allotment of time, or does it own you? Nothing short of death will stop its progress for each of us. So, how wise it is to own it instead of it owning us.
Resolutions frivolously made are easily discarded and much of the time they are made with a sense of humor, devoid of any intentions to see them become reality. A favorite newspaper cartoon strip is titled “The Born Loser.” I usually read it first for the humor it provides. One January cartoon depicts the born loser’s wealthy boss stating a resolve to give up his pink caviar imported from the Caspian Sea. He then asks the born loser what he resolves to give up for the year. He replies in jest that he is giving up the very same thing!”
The problem with New Year resolutions is that they are made by so many who lack the resolve to carry them out, even if they are fairly simple, doable ones.
In contrast, there are resolutions of spiritual resolve that are carried out with great precision because they do not depend on human abilities or the novelty of a New Year. Rather, they are brought to fruition through the power of Almighty God to Whom is looked for heavenly power and strength. These in stark contrast to human will, are made through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, and empowered by the same.
Therefore, just what is the deep desire of your heart that you really want to see happen in yourself and/or in the life of others in 2018? Find a secret place and talk it over with the Heavenly Father Who can do exceeding abundantly above all that we think or ask. Surely, this is what the songwriter had in mind as the words of the beloved hymn were written:
“I am resolved, no longer to linger, charmed by the world’s delights. Things that are higher, things that are nobler, these have allured my sight. I will hasten, hasten to Him, hasten so glad and free, Jesus, Jesus, greatest highest, I will come to thee!”
Coming before the Lord in a repentant attitude will yield a level of awareness, understanding, and peace of life that no fleshly resolution could ever bring. It brings one to the fountain of life and power whereby spiritual maturity, and increased hope may flourish: even to God’s garden of tenderly cultivated, nourished, and fruit-bearing saints in His church, the pillar and ground of the truth!
It is the pastor’s desire to be a better pastor, teacher of God’s things. His desire also includes the joy and peace of all whom he knows by the maturity and happiness gushing forth from the Holy Word of God. So may it be!
William Andrew Dillard
“DYING, THOU SHALT SURELY DIE”
The phrase, “Dying. thou shalt surely die” is a literal translation of the Hebrew words revealing the penalty for eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The serpent capitalized on the words, assuring Mother Eve that she would not immediately fall down dead from eating of the forbidden fruit. Additionally, there was good food to be had and knowledge to be gained. Of course, he purposely did not reveal that unlike God, she would not be able to always choose the good and shun the evil. What subtlety in his lies!
So, with sin now incorporated into the basic makeup of the species, it is appointed unto men once to die. Hebrews 9:27. Is there anyone who could successfully argue against this consistent process? Every hospital testifies that men get sick and die. Every cemetery shouts that it is appointed unto men once to die. Every undertaking establishment says that it is appointed unto men once to die. Old age, and the loss of mental acumen bears witness that it is appointed unto men once to die, so death reigns on planet Earth without respect of persons. The Bible is plain in declaring that the last enemy of mankind to be destroyed will be death. 1 Cor. 15:26.
But GOOD NEWS! For those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, death has indeed been destroyed as the enemy. Jesus soundly defeated it on the cross long, long ago. He not only defeated it, He made it to lay down at our feet and patiently wait for the nod of God to become our transport from the terrestrial to the celestial.
Consequently, there is no fear of the grim reaper in the eternally young heart of the redeemed. Neither is it waited upon with dread. Conversely, the Father of Spirits is fellowshipped in increasing intensity in the full realization that should the Lord Jesus not appear bodily in His glorious second coming, the hideous monster of death will become a limousine to carry us over into the higher dimension in style to the shout of throngs of awaiting saints constituting the grandest welcoming committee imaginable, and in their midst is the blessed Son of God by whose Word, Work, and Authority we enter that heavenly home.
But until then, sin continues to raise its ugly head and we do what we would not. Thus does the reality of its penalty exercise itself in all of us: “Dying, thou shalt surely die.”