|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 (7)|
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).
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on December 16, 2014 at 1:45 AM||comments (0)|
Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace
The God of all grace... to the praise of the glory of His grace... the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ... the Spirit of grace. (1 Peter 5:10; Ephesians 1:6; Hebrews 10:29)
Our Lord God is "the God of all grace." God's comprehensive and infinite grace is characteristic of all the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The Father will be honored forever for His grace, so we read: "to the praise of the glory of His grace." The Son makes that grace available to all who believe, so it is called "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." The Spirit applies that grace in the hearts of those who follow Jesus Christ, so He is called "the Spirit of grace." Grace is found in God alone. Therefore, one must relate rightly to the God of all grace in order to receive all that He desires to give us in fulfilling His purposes and glorifying His name.
The fundamental manner for relating to the God of grace is the developing of a personal relationship. Getting to know God is what life with the Lord is all about. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3). In fact, knowing the Lord is man's ultimate treasure in all of creation. Everything else that competes is to be considered as loss. "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:7-8). It is not surprising then that getting increasingly acquainted with the Lord is the way that His grace impacts our lives. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2 Peter 1:2).
As we are getting to know the God of all grace more and more, He is developing in our lives two strategic relational realities: humility and faith. We have looked at these two spiritual qualities many times throughout our meditations. Repeated reflection on these two realities is appropriate, since they unfold the practical heart of living daily by God's grace. "Be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble'" (1 Peter 5:5). God's grace is given to those who "walk humbly with [their] God" (Micah 6:8). Likewise, faith accesses grace. "We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:2). Walking in humble dependence is the way to relate rightly to the God of all grace.
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on December 16, 2014 at 12:15 AM||comments (0)|
God Freely Giving, Man Humbly Receiving
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?... What do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it? (Romans 8:32; 1 Corinthians 4:7)
The Lord's plan for rescuing and transforming lives by His grace is established upon the Son of God being given for us as a sacrifice for our sins: "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." This gift of God's Son assures us that God will also give us with Christ everything we need. "How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" God's giving is to be coupled with man's receiving. As God is freely giving to man, He wants man to be humbly receiving from Him.
Every blessing that we have was received from God. "What do you have that you did not receive?" There is no other source from which we can receive true spiritual benefits than the Lord above. "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven" (John 3:27). The joy of having Jesus dwelling in our lives as the children of God became true by us receiving Him. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). The fact that we are now reconciled to God and are no longer His enemies is based upon us receiving the gift of reconciliation. "We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Romans 5:11). The privilege of serving the Lord in ministry is a gift of grace to be received: "the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). The spiritual gifts that we need for enablement in our ministries is another blessing received from the Lord. "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another" (1 Peter 4:10).
From initial salvation to growth and service, all that is needed must be received from the Lord. This is an encouraging reality. Yet, it is also a humbling truth. It leaves no room for us to glory in ourselves. "Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it?"
|Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on December 14, 2014 at 4:25 AM||comments (0)|
Jesus Given for Us to be Given to Us
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:10)
As the ultimate free gift of God's grace, Jesus was given for us (dying for our sins): "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all" (Romans 8:32). Moreover, He was given for us to be given to us (that He might express His life in and through us).
We began as enemies of God. Certainly, we were lost and condemned. Yet, our situation was even worse than that. Our lives worked against the purposes and plans of God: "And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works" (Colossians 1:21). Our evil thoughts and activities set us against the Lord in both mind and deed. The only way that we could become the friends of God was for Jesus to be given as a sacrifice for us. "When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son." The Lord had to deal with our dual problem of sin and unrighteousness. "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Father graciously placed our sins on His Son that He might give His righteousness to us. For all who would believe in Christ, this brought the precious gift of reconciliation (the turning of enemies into friends).
Even after this rich grace of reconciliation, the Lord had "much more" yet to give us. "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." What remained after Jesus being given for us (for our reconciliation) was for Him to be given to us. This is related to Jesus coming to dwell within us that we could be "saved by His life." Why do the friends of Jesus still need to be saved? Well, His followers would be persistently threatened by the world, the flesh, and the devil. They would still be vulnerable to such matters as, temptation, doubt, fear, fruitlessness, distraction, inadequacy, and more. How then would they be saved? This ongoing rescuing work of the Lord would be "by His life" — by Jesus living in and through His people. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). Jesus was not, and is not, susceptible to any of these threatening issues. When He is allowed to express His life in and through us, each of us finds all that we need all of the time. This astounding statement is true, because "Christ is all and in all" (Colossians 3:11).