|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on June 25, 2017 at 1:20 AM||comments (0)|
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. (Genesis 3:15)
Although the scriptures do not command us to make promises to God, we who believe in the Lord have the liberty to make various kinds of promises. It is permissible to express our devotion to God through promises, if they are in dependence upon His character and capacities. "I will love You, O LORD, my strength" (Psalm 18:1). It is also acceptable to make godly confessions through promises that are based on His promises to us. "He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.' " (Hebrews 13:5-6)
We are even allowed to make predictive promises concerning the details of our lives, if they are subject to God's will. "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that" (James 4:15). Still, the work of God in lives hinges upon His promises to us. In fact, our God is characteristically a God of promises.
The fact that our God typically works through promises is seen as early as the third chapter of the Bible. There, God made a very strategic set of promises. "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." These prophetic promises were addressed to Satan, but they were given in the hearing of Adam and Eve. Of course, they were recorded in the scriptures for everyone else to consider thereafter.
These promises revealed some of the consequences of spiritual rebellion, as well as announcing God's remedy for the sin of man. "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed." These words declare the inevitability of spiritual warfare, as well as the certainty of the cross of Christ.
The inevitability of spiritual warfare is a major theme in scripture. This warfare is documented throughout the word of God. "Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel...Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?...So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world" (1 Chronicles 21:1; Acts 5:3; and Revelation 12:9). Nevertheless, the cross of Christ would provide victory over the enemy and escape from this sinful world, for all who would embrace it: "Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age" (Galatians 1:3-4).
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on June 21, 2017 at 3:20 PM||comments (0)|
Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us…In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. (Hebrews 6:17-18; Titus 1:2)
One benefit of living by the promises of God is related to something that God cannot do. He is unable to lie. "It is impossible for God to lie." This "inability" actually magnifies His greatness, while bringing to us great assurance.
This "inability" of God is linked here to His promises. We who live by faith are "heirs of promise." We inherit the blessings of God by trusting Him to fulfill all that He has promised to do. These promises offer everlasting life and are anchored in eternity past: "In hope of eternal life which God…promised before time began." Now, here in time and space, God wants to deeply impress us with the unchangeable character of His will: "Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel." He wants us to be fully assured that He will not declare one thing, and then later change His mind and do something else.
In order to provide us with solid assurance, God coupled His promise with an oath. People make oaths, attempting to convince others of their reliability. They swear by something greater than themselves. "For men indeed swear by the greater" (Hebrews 6:16). However, "when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, 'Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you'" (Hebrews 6:13-14). This marks an amazing condescension on the part of our Lord toward us. We might say that He somewhat lowers Himself down to our level (which He would fully do in the incarnation, becoming a man). He uses a common human custom in order to grant us an assured understanding of the reliability of His commitment to us.
The assurance that we receive in this unusual communication is likened unto a "double certainty." The "God, who cannot lie," makes a promise and an oath, "that by two immutable things…we might have strong consolation."
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on June 18, 2017 at 2:05 AM||comments (0)|
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come…Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. (Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:16-17)
Just as an approaching shadow points to the arrival of the person casting the shadow, so the law pointed to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus (with His abounding grace) is the substance that the law foreshadows. "The substance is of Christ." Jesus is the one who brought "the good things to come."
One of these "good things" that Jesus brings by His grace is the full rest seen in the shadow of the Sabbath. The law of God called for a day of rest every week for His people. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD" (Exodus 20:8; 31:15). This shadow provided regular physical rest for the Israelites. However, it pictured the substantial rest (true spiritual rest) that Jesus brings us. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29). Jesus is now the daily Sabbath rest for all who humbly depend upon Him. "For we who have believed do enter that rest" (Hebrews 4:3).
Another of the "good things" that Jesus provides by His grace is the full fellowship that is foreshadowed in the Tabernacle of the Old Covenant. The Tabernacle reveals God's desire to dwell in the midst of men. "Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle…just so you shall make it" (Exodus 25:8-9). This elaborate portable tent was to be set up right in the middle of His people. "You shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the Testimony…they shall carry the tabernacle…and camp around the tabernacle" (Numbers 1:50). The priests of the tribe of Levi would encircle the Tabernacle, with the other tribes of Israel encamped around them. This is a significant shadow: God dwelling in the middle of His people. Yet, something far more substantial than this shadow is fulfilled in Christ. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt [literally, "tabernacled"] 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). Now, this same Jesus has made the church collectively, and our lives individually, the tabernacle of His presence among men! "Do you not know that you are the temple of God...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (1 Corinthians 3:16 and Ephesians 3:17).
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on September 25, 2016 at 2:00 AM||comments (0)|
Manasseh... did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel... And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. Therefore the LORD brought upon them... the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. (2 Chronicles 33:1-2, 10-11)
Manasseh was another king who walked in prideful rebellion against the Lord. "He did evil in the sight of the LORD." His pride was even more shocking than Nebuchadnezzar's (who ruled in Babylon), since Manasseh ruled in Jerusalem and had been raised by a godly father, King Hezekiah.
Manasseh was heavily influenced by the remaining presence of the godless nations that dominated the land before God gave it to Israel. His evil was "according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel." The spiritual behavior of these Canaanite nations was abominable in God's sight. They indulged in licentious worship of idols on the hills and mountains. Manasseh "rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them" (2 Chronicles 33:3). Manasseh also brought idolatry into the very Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. "He also built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, 'In Jerusalem shall My name be forever' " (2 Chronicles 33:4).
The nations that preceded Israel in the land were even engaged in sacrificing their children and seeking demonic guidance. Shockingly, Manasseh also "caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists" (2 Chronicles 33:6). Actually, Manasseh brought more evil into the land than his abominable predecessors. "So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel" (2 Chronicles 33:9). Lovingly, the Lord reached out to this pridefully rebellious king. "And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen." The ultimate result of this persistent resistance was humiliating and painful captivity. "Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon."
|Posted by Terri on January 21, 2015 at 3:25 PM||comments (1)|
"...A faithful man shall abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich [at any cost] shall not go unpunished..." ~ Proverbs 28: 20 (AMP)
It always pays off in the end to be faithful. God will honour and bless faithful business dealings, faithful stewardship with our money, and faithfulness in helping others out, faithful with our 'gifts', faithfulness to our spouse.
God sees the faithful attitude of our hearts and will bless us as a result of it. We cannot be faithful to God and His ways if we have a love for this world's riches. One will dominate the other. In our pursuit of riches often others get hurt.
When we have been faithful in all things,
God abundantly pours out His blessings
© By M.S.Lowndes
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on January 18, 2015 at 6:40 AM||comments (12)|
Righteousness through Christ in Sanctification
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4)
How wonderful it is to be "justified freely by His grace" (Romans 3:24). Yet, what disappointment and discouragement awaits us, if we do not learn that God desires to sanctify us freely by His grace as well. This plan of God, as we should expect, hinges upon the work of Jesus Christ.
In matters of justification, as well as sanctification, the law has a weakness. This weakness is that natural human resources, the flesh of man, cannot live up to the standards of God. Thus, to accomplish what the law could never accomplish the Father sent his Son. "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son."
Jesus came as a man and died on the cross to eradicate the consequences of sin. This death of Christ certainly provided justification for all who would believe in the Lord Jesus. Yet, the next verse reveals that through His sacrificial death on the cross progressive, practical sanctification is available day by day through faith in the Lord. "That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
The word "walk" makes Romans 8:4 a verse on sanctification, not justification. Justification takes place with the first moment of faith in Christ. Sanctification continues step by step, day by day, throughout the life of a believer.
Think of this grand truth. God's grace provides a way "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us." Remember, that heavenly demand is "be holy," be like Christ. This transformation of life takes place daily in the life of any believer who does "not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." If we renounce the natural resources of man and trust in the Lord Jesus step by step through life, His Holy Spirit accomplishes His sanctifying work in us by the grace of God.
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on January 13, 2015 at 12:05 AM||comments (0)|
The Law Producing Accountability for Sin
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God... For by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19-20)
God's law speaks to those who are under the law. This would certainly include the Jews, for the law of God was given to them in writing (first engraved on stones by God, then written on parchment in the Holy Scriptures). Yet, the law speaks to the Gentiles as well, since they have it inscribed upon their consciences. "[The Gentiles] show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness" (Romans 2:15). Thus, every Jew and every Gentile begins life under the law.
Remember, when the law speaks, it is saying, "be holy, be loving, be perfect." The result of all people having received this message (either externally in writing, or internally upon the conscience) is that "every mouth [is] stopped."
What would we say if we stood before God, and He evaluated our lives by His law? How could we answer if God said, "Here is your life; here is My law; now, give an account of yourself." Our "mouths [would be] stopped." We could provide no excuse, explanation, or justification.
The law produces accountability to God. And this accountability is universal. "All the world [is] guilty before God." There are no exceptions. Everyone in all the world is included. The law of God reveals to all humanity what sin really is.
Sin is not a cultural phenomenon. It is a divine revelation of what is absolutely unacceptable before God in light of His holy character. "By the law is the knowledge of sin." Man would have no insight into this matter were it not for the law of God. "I would not have known sin except through the law" (Romans 7:7a). Murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting are all revealed to mankind by God's law. "For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, 'You shall not covet'" (Romans 7:7b). Through God's law we are all accountable to Him for our sins.
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on January 12, 2015 at 4:10 AM||comments (0)|
The General Ability of the Law
Then the LORD delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken... You have heard that it was said... But I say to you... . (Deuteronomy 9:10; Matthew 5:27, 28)
Although the law of God is unable to justify or sanctify, it does have some strategic ability in God's plan for man. These verses from the Torah and the Sermon on the Mount help us reflect upon this matter. These two profound sections of the Bible pertain to the law of God. Torah (Hebrew for law) refers to the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy. These books give an extensive explanation of the message of God's law. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) includes Jesus' clarification of man's understanding of the law.
When these portions of the Bible are read, studied, or taught, the general ability of the law is at work. In these passages the very character and will of God are revealed. The message related to those "two tablets of stone" spoke of God's character, "I the Lord, your God, am holy." The summary of this message expressed God's will for man, "be holy." The details of the message indicated what holiness would be like in conduct toward God and in relationships with others. Jesus' words would eventually extend this message of holiness even into attitudes of the heart.
The law of God is His standard for spiritual measurement. By His law, God measures holiness in people's lives by revealing His will, which is based upon His holy character. This is why all of us "fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We don't measure up to God's holy standard.
The measuring instruments of man are a helpful illustration of the law. When a tape measure is used to evaluate the height of people, it measures growth or reveals the absence of it. It does not produce human growth. So it is with the law of God. The law describes and measures what God wants lives to look like. It does not cause such spiritual growth to appear. Only God's grace at work in our lives is the sufficient dynamic that produces spiritual growth.
|Posted by Terri on January 7, 2015 at 8:55 AM||comments (1)|
"...The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light. But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness!..." - Matthew 6: 22-23 (AMP)
Often you can tell whether there is 'light' or 'darkness', 'life' or 'death' within someone when you look into their eyes. The eye certainly is a lamp of the body.
What we look at and dwell on affects who we are inside. It brings darkness into our souls. In the end it deadens our consciences. It's getting harder than ever in our society to keep our eyes sound, but not impossible. We just have to make the right choices!
When the world corrupts your eyes,
You've lost your focus on Jesus Christ!
© By M.S.Lowndes
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on December 25, 2014 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
A Biblical Example of Spirit-led Praying
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him. (Colossians 1:9-10a)
As we have seen, the Lord calls us in various ways to pray without ceasing. Every day in every way, every issue of life is to be engaged through continual, Spirit-led prayerfulness: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:18). In addition to this extensive call to prayer, the word of God also gives us heavenly insight concerning the general content of our prayers. Our next two meditations reflect this by offering a biblical example of Spirit-led praying.
The Apostle Paul prayed consistently for the believers at Colosse: "do not cease to pray for you." God's will was the primary issue the Holy Spirit impressed Paul to pray about: "to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will." Such praying will ultimately lead people into the word of God, where the will of God is revealed. "This is the will of God, your sanctification...in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:18). Truly understanding God's will requires heavenly insight: "in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." Of course, this is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13).
The Lord does not inform us of His will merely for our curiosity. Knowing God's will is to lead to living God's will: "that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him." Our Lord desires that we walk in a manner that is appropriate for identifying with Him and His great gospel of grace. "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27). He wants us to be interested in what pleases Him, not what pleases self or the world: "proving what is acceptable [well-pleasing] to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:10). The Lord wants to work in us the heart seen in David's Messianic confession. "I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart" (Psalm 40:8). Bringing the will of God into the heart of man is what the new covenant of grace accomplishes. "I will make a new covenant...I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts...who also made us sufficient as ministers [servants] of the new covenant" (Jeremiah 31:31, 33 and 2 Corinthians 3:6). Living in prayerful dependence upon the grace of God will make us true "servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart" (Ephesians 6:6).