Friday, 30 June 2017
THY WILL BE DONE
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1 Kings 17:1 --Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word."

Who was Elijah?  Answer: he was a prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  He came during the reign of king Ahab, who the scriptures say was the worse king that the northern kingdom ever had.  The guy was bad, bad news.  Now bear in mind that when the nation of Israel split, the land in the northern part of Israel, that the ten tribes claimed was actually the better piece of property.  The land was more fertile than that in the Southern Kingdom.  Phoenicia bordered the territory of the northern kingdom, and therefore commerce was easier.  All in all, the kingdom that Ahab had inherited was set for success; and materially it did succeed.  But this prosperity did not cause the people in the northern kingdom to worship the LORD, Yahweh.  Instead they descended into depravity, led by their king, Ahab. 

But let’s get back to Elijah.  What was his background; where did he come from?  Well, we are told that he came from Gilead which is one of the outlying areas of the northern kingdom.  Most of the action happened in the northern kingdom’s capital, Samaria; that’s where the movers and shakers hung out; that’s where the trendsetters, the beautiful people, led by Ahab and his queen Jezebel, did their thing; and their influence was palpable and spread throughout the kingdom—even to the Podunk area of Gilead--and Elijah noticed. 

After reading the above passage, we might think that Elijah is acting on his own initiative.  But he isn’t. He is actually telling the folks in the northern kingdom---that Yahweh, The Most High GOD is going to do-- just what He said He was going to do.  Now where did Elijah get this from?  Let’s look at Deuteronomy 28:15-24--

15 "But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. 16 Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. 17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 18 Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. 19 Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. 20 "The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me. 21 The LORD will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 22 The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish. 23 AND THE HEAVENS OVER YOUR HEAD SHALL BE BRONZE, AND THE EARTH UNDER YOU SHALL BE IRON. 24 THE LORD WILL MAKE THE RAIN OF YOUR LAND POWDER. FROM HEAVEN DUST SHALL COME DOWN ON YOU UNTIL YOU ARE DESTROYED.

So what can we say about Elijah?  Answer:  Elijah read and knew the scriptures and he had prayed about what he had read.  Elijah went to the LORD who confirmed to Elijah, that “yes, I am going to do just what I told Moses and your fore-fathers that  I was going to do if they would forsake me.”  Now let’s not mistake Elijah as a mean-spirited person.  No, he is someone who loves his people; and he is someone who loves and trusts GOD.  So Elijah, knowing that GOD is going to do what He has said He was going to do, goes to the capital of his country to warn his people.  Elijah knows GOD.

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Posted on 06/30/2017 4:40 PM by LarryG
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Thursday, 29 June 2017
TO BE HUMAN IS TO IMAGE GOD….
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Genesis 1:26-28

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

(The following excerpt is from THE UNSEEN REALM: Recovering the Supernatural worldview of the Bible, Michael D. Heiser)

…Genesis teaches us several things about the image of God—what I call “divine image bearing.”  All of what we learn from the text must be accounted for in any discussion of what the image means. 

1.  Both men and women are equally included.

2.  Divine image bearing is what makes humankind distinct from the rest of earthly creation (i.e., plants and animals).  The text of Genesis 1:26 does not inform us that divine image bearing makes us distinct from heavenly beings, those sons of God who were already in existence at the time of creation.  The plurals in Genesis 1:26 mean that, in some way, we share something with them when it comes to God’s image.

3.  There is something about the image that makes humankind “like” God in some way.

4.  There is nothing in the text to suggest that the image has been or can be bestowed incrementally or partially.  You’re either created as God’s image bearer or you aren’t.  One cannot speak of being partly or potentially bearing God’s image…..

…Humankind was created as God’s image.  If we think of imaging as a verb or function, that translation makes sense.  We are created to image God, to be his imagers.  It is what we are by definition.  THE IMAGE IS NOT AN ABILITY WE HAVE, BUT A STATUS.  We are God’s representatives on earth.  TO BE HUMAN IS TO IMAGE GOD….

We have value because GOD values us.  SELAH

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Posted on 06/29/2017 4:32 PM by LarryG
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Wednesday, 28 June 2017
CHRIST IS AT WORK IN LOCAL CHURHES
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Revelation 1:12-13,

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest…. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches….2:1.. "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 'The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

Christ JESUS is with us always; these were His last words prior to His ascension; and understanding this promise and what it means to believers and local congregations is critical.  He is with us continually; He actively guides the church, i.e. the local church; and the focus of the local church is JESUS. 

(The following is taken from DALLAS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY-Online Course-Revelation: week 3; https://courses.dts.edu/module-1/revelation-week-three/)

--Christ is at work in local churches (Revelation 1:12-13, 20; 2:1)

--The messengers are precious to Christ (Revelation 1:16, 20; 2:1)

--A key to endurance is a proper view of Christ

--The church is a lamp stand, not the lamp (Purpose of the church is to glorify Christ)

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Posted on 06/28/2017 4:28 PM by LarryG
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Tuesday, 27 June 2017
JESUS—THE BOTTOM LINE
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Revelation 1:6, 17-18 --  “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One”…… 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave….”

Here Jesus gives us some totally powerful information; information or guidance which is our anchor.  The Revelation of Jesus Christ is a book of hope; and that hope, will help us endure during this brief bit of time.  We are reminded of the first commandment or declaration of our existence.  “You shall have no other gods before me.”  Now why is that?  Pay attention to this; it is critical.  We can’t do this because there aren’t any other gods like our GOD; the entities that are trying to misdirect our loyalty away from GOD Almighty, cannot give life; cannot maintain that life.   They are not GOD; they are images, nothing more; and an image cannot really do anything. 

But we need to remember the third commandment or declaration: we cannot take GOD’s name in vain.  Now this goes way beyond swearing and cussing.  What this really means is that we must take GOD seriously.  Consider what JESUS is telling us in the above passage: He, GOD the Son, is the beginning and end of everything; and He is everything in between.  He has always existed; He was beyond the distant past; and He will be beyond the distant future.  He has always been alive and He always will be alive; He is the one who has the ability to give life and to take it away.  Now we cannot even begin to comprehend the dimensions of the life that we have in Christ; nor can we possibly understand what it means to really “die.”  But pay attention to verse 17 in which the GOD of the universe, the Almighty, the Creator of all things tells us—“Don’t be afraid.”  Think about this: He has us in His hand; He is there for us; and He is telling us—DON’T WORRY I HAVE THIS COVERED.

SELAH

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Posted on 06/27/2017 4:24 PM by LarryG
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Monday, 26 June 2017
THINKING ABOUT BEING THANKFUL
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Psalm 50:23  --The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!"

What does it mean to be thankful?  I guess we often think that this basically involves saying—thank you.  But I think it goes beyond that; and the explanation of what thankfulness toward GOD is found in the second part of the verse above.  Our thankfulness to GOD manifests in our actions; it’s not just a matter of” talking the talk;” it involves “walking the walk.”  We show our thankfulness by allowing Him to order our lives.  This brings to mind Romans 12:1, which tells us that our “reasonable sacrifice” is to present our bodies, i.e. our entire selves to GOD on a moment by moment basis.  This is profound because as we do this, as we allow GOD to order our lives—it glorifies Him; and He glorifies us with Himself.  This is big.  The more we follow Him, the more we come to understand Him and the unbelievable dimensions of our salvation.  Thankfulness is for our benefit.

Selah.

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Posted on 06/26/2017 4:19 PM by LarryG
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Sunday, 25 June 2017
MORE THAN WE CAN IMAGINE
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Revelation 21:3-4

 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. HE WILL DWELL WITH THEM, AND THEY WILL BE HIS PEOPLE, AND GOD HIMSELF WILL BE WITH THEM AS THEIR GOD. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

In a nutshell, this is what GOD had intended for mankind from the beginning.  GOD doesn’t want us to perish, to be destroyed.  We learn from the scriptures that GOD takes no pleasure in the death of anyone; and we also know from scripture that He doesn’t enjoy mankind mourning or enduring pain or crying.  But this is what we go through apart from Him.  He doesn’t want that.  But there is something inside our innermost being that drives us way from the One who gave us life and maintains that life.  Until this basic issue, this corruption, this fatal disease—until sin was dealt with, we could not come back.  But here’s the good news, GOD sent His Son, JESUS, to die for us, to shed His blood, so that the corruption of our innermost beings could be cleansed.  He promised to do that—and He did.  One day, we will see Him as He is; we will be in continual communion with Him; and there will be no more sorrow, no more crying.  When that time comes, we will look back and realize that it was all worth it; being with Him always, enjoying Him will be more than we ever could have imagined.  TRUST HIM.

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Posted on 06/25/2017 4:14 PM by LarryG
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Saturday, 24 June 2017
THE ENDGAME ILLUSION
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Proverbs 1:10-17

10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. 11 If they say, "Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; 12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; 13 we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; 14 throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse"-- 15 my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, 16 for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. 17 For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird, 18 BUT THESE MEN LIE IN WAIT FOR THEIR OWN BLOOD; THEY SET AN AMBUSH FOR THEIR OWN LIVES. 19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.

We live in a cause-effect reality.  If we think about it, it is apparent that it is a self-correcting reality.  We may have the freedom to decide what we are going to do, but GOD controls outcomes.  He created everything, in every dimension; He set in operation all physical, moral, ethical and spiritual laws that govern our existence; things are going to work as He has determined.  It has been said: “he who dies with the most toys-wins.”  Fact of the matter is that—he still dies.  Vanity of vanities.   Greed is not a good thing; it is futile to build an economy or society that is built on covetousness, greed, and lies.  Think about this: how does one steal from his neighbor and not set off a series of events, which according to this passage eventually lead to his own destruction.  It reminds me of the law of the big dog: the biggest baddest dog runs the neighborhood….until a bigger dog comes around.  Regarding wealth: maybe it’s illusory.  All of the world’s currencies are fiat currencies, they are backed by nothing.  Are we running after something which intrinsically has no value, that will ultimately result in our destruction, because of events we set in motion trying to chase the wind?  Well, the world moves on, time moves on, and we are seeing events come to fruition.  We’ll have to watch how the plot turns out, what happens to the characters.

SELAH

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Posted on 06/24/2017 4:11 PM by LarryG
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Friday, 23 June 2017
THE MECHANICS OF SALVATION
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Ephesians 1:13-14

 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.   WHEN YOU BELIEVED, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

What is the “gospel” and how does it relate to salvation?  Going back to the beginning, GOD promised that one day, the seed of the woman, would arrive who would destroy the serpent.  GOD was going to send somebody to take care of the problem.  The particulars of this individual were spelled out throughout scripture; he would be born in a specific place, in a specific way.  He would come at a specific time and; he would suffer and die for his people; and yet he wouldn’t die.  But the bottom line is that the sin problem would be taken care of. 

So this brings us back to the question: what is the gospel?  It simply means “good news.”  What good news?  Another simple answer: the Messiah has arrived and He did just what GOD said He was going to do.  This is the clear message of the first four books of the New Testament; it is the clear message of the apostolic epistles.  CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS.  JESUS IS THE MESSIAH!  When an individual decides or acknowledges that JESUS is the Messiah and places all of their trust in what Messiah did—then they are saved. 

I KNOW THAT JESUS IS THE MESSIAH, THE SON OF GOD—GOD WITH US—AND I AM TRUSTING COMPLETELY IN WHAT HE DID ON THE CROSS FOR ME.

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Posted on 06/23/2017 4:08 PM by LarryG
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Thursday, 22 June 2017
GOD WILL NOT BLESS WICKEDNESS
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Psalm 129:4-8

4 The LORD is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked. 5 May all who hate Zion be put to shame and turned backward! 6 Let them be like the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up, 7 with which the reaper does not fill his hand nor the binder of sheaves his arms, 8 nor do those who pass by say, "The blessing of the LORD be upon you! We bless you in the name of the LORD!"

GOD is good; He does the right thing.  He promised to save humanity, to redeem mankind; and He did.  What JESUS did, His death and resurrection “cut the cords of the wicked.”  JESUS ended our slavery to the wicked—Satan.  In this psalm the writer tells us that those who hate Zion, which is the mountain of GOD, the city of GOD, which is essentially the same as saying “those who hate GOD,” have been put to shame; they have been defeated.  They are worthless; they will produce nothing.  Everybody who sees them, who understands their worthlessness, their futility, will all come to the same conclusion: there is no blessing in them; GOD will not bless wickedness.  There is no blessing in hating GOD.

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Posted on 06/22/2017 4:04 PM by LarryG
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Wednesday, 21 June 2017
REMEMBER
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Deuteronomy 16:3

You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction--for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste--that all the days of your life YOU MAY REMEMBER the day when you came out of the land of Egypt.

We are on a spiritual journey; we haven’t arrived.  At least I know that I haven’t arrived yet.  Each day starts a new; and each day is another opportunity for our faith to grow, another opportunity to learn to trust GOD more and more.  But we don’t start out each day at ground-zero; we are actually equipped by GOD with the stuff that we need to begin each day.  What is that?  Answer: MEMORIES OF WHAT GOD HAD DONE FOR US IN THE PAST.  We need to think about that; our remembrances of GOD’s goodness and past faithfulness in our lives, these memories are our springboard into the next part of our journey. 

Selah

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Posted on 06/21/2017 4:00 PM by LarryG
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Tuesday, 20 June 2017
TIME
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Psalm 139:14-18

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; ALL THE DAYS ORDAINED FOR ME WERE WRITTEN IN YOUR BOOK BEFORE ONE OF THEM CAME TO BE. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.

Scientific research seems daunting. But if one has studied the scriptures and thought about what is being said, there is nothing to be afraid of.  Science validates the scriptures; it provides proof that what the Bible says about GOD is reflected in our reality.  Consider what is being said in the following quote about time:

“…Like this scaffolding in the cathedral, time is spread throughout the Cosmos with an invisible latticework to which all other particles attach.  This conception is actually fundamental to WHAT TIME IS AND DOES.  Granted, there is more to time than this underlying structure to reality—it has more properties, indeed it is “active” and not “passive”  in affecting matter, i.e., anything that is must be attached to it.  But first and foremost, time provides the universe’s discrete skeleton….

…Technically, what we find created is itself also a composition of time.  Time is the raw material of the matter and energy that dwell within it.” (taken from REVISING REALITY:  A Biblical Look into the Cosmos, S. Douglas Woodward, Faith Happens, 2016, page 194)

GOD ordains time; He puts it into motion; He apportions it to us and to all reality.  In doing so, He causes all things to come into reality, to come into existence at a specific point; He provides the energy or power to make this happen.  Think about this: everything existences at a particular location in TIME.  Energy is converted into matter when GOD declares it will happen.  There is a season or time for everything: this isn’t just a nice platitude; it’s a statement of reality.  Nothing exists that GOD did not ordain; and He ordained it to exist at a specific place and or material condition and a specific time. He powers everything up; He provides the matrix for all reality.   Consider the final part of the Lord’s Prayer—

FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY, FOREVER AND EVER.

Acts 17:26-27

26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,

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Posted on 06/20/2017 3:56 PM by LarryG
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Monday, 12 June 2017
HANGING WITH THE BAD BOYS
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Ezekiel 23:37-39

37 For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. With their idols they have committed adultery, and they have even offered up to them for food THE CHILDREN WHOM THEY HAD BORNE TO ME. 38 Moreover, this they have done to me: THEY HAVE DEFILED MY SANCTUARY ON THE SAME DAY and profaned my Sabbaths 39 FOR WHEN THEY HAD SLAUGHTERED THEIR CHILDREN IN SACRIFICE TO THEIR IDOLS, ON THE SAME DAY THEY CAME INTO MY SANCTUARY TO PROFANE IT. And behold, this is what they did in my house.

The 23rd chapter of Ezekiel is profound in that it gives us a perspective into the developing mindset of the nation of Israel as seen first in the northern kingdom and then in the southern kingdom.  One gets the impression that as they grew more prosperous; as they became materially wealthy, they developed a taste for hanging around with the “bad boys” in the neighborhood, first the Assyrians and then the Babylonians.  The “bad boys” are young, handsome, and wild and they dress in a fashion that really impresses the Israelites, who like to hang with them; they bring them into their nation, into their cities, into their homes.  But these bad boys don’t really care for the Israelites; no, they actually despise them and they take advantage of them.  The Israelites readily adopt the customs and practices of the Assyrians and Babylonians; but all this does is drag them further down into depravity, which the bad boys see as weakness, as a situation ripe for the picking. 

The passage above shows the result of this descent into depravity.  They begin to kill their children and as they are murdering their children, they basically keep going to the temple; in modern terms: they keep going to church.  Remember GOD’s instruction to Adam and Eve, to Noah and his sons.  What was the mandate that GOD gave them?  BE FRUITFUL or in other words, HAVE CHILDREN AND POPULATE THE EARTH.  What they are doing is essentially destroying themselves; they are openly defying GOD.  Here’s one more thing to think about: they have pledged their loyalty to other “gods” and in doing so, they have brought the children to them as food.  Wow!  But here’s the kicker: GOD tells us that THOSE CHILDREN DON’T BELONG TO YOU; THEY BELONG TO HIM!  GOD sees what they have done, what they have become, as defilement, as profane.  It is sickening.

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Posted on 06/12/2017 9:41 AM by LarryG
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Sunday, 11 June 2017
GOD LOVES ELIJAH
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1 Kings 19:1-18

1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow." 3 THEN HE WAS AFRAID, AND HE AROSE AND RAN FOR HIS LIFE and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. AND HE ASKED THAT HE MIGHT DIE, saying, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers." 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. AND BEHOLD, AN ANGEL TOUCHED HIM AND SAID TO HIM, "ARISE AND EAT." 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 AND THE ANGEL OF THE LORD CAME AGAIN A SECOND TIME AND TOUCHED HIM AND SAID, "ARISE AND EAT, FOR THE JOURNEY IS TOO GREAT FOR YOU." 8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.  9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. AND BEHOLD, THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME TO HIM, AND HE SAID TO HIM, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE, ELIJAH?" 10 He said, "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, EVEN I ONLY, AM LEFT, AND THEY SEEK MY LIFE, TO TAKE IT AWAY." 11 And he said, "Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. AND AFTER THE FIRE THE SOUND OF A LOW WHISPER. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. AND BEHOLD, THERE CAME A VOICE TO HIM AND SAID, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE, ELIJAH?" 14 He said, "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. FOR THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL HAVE FORSAKEN YOUR COVENANT, THROWN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND KILLED YOUR PROPHETS WITH THE SWORD, AND I, EVEN I ONLY, AM LEFT, AND THEY SEEK MY LIFE, TO TAKE IT AWAY." 15 AND THE LORD SAID TO HIM, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 YET I WILL LEAVE SEVEN THOUSAND IN ISRAEL, ALL THE KNEES THAT HAVE NOT BOWED TO BAAL, AND EVERY MOUTH THAT HAS NOT KISSED HIM."

It seems that we often ascribe superhuman characteristics to the men of GOD that we read about in scriptures; I think that’s how we often view Elijah the prophet.  It’s true that GOD used him in great ways.  But here’s something that we need to remember: ELIJAH WAS A MAN.  He was a man who could become afraid; he was a man who could be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.  He wasn’t a perfect man.  However, he did pay attention to what was going on in his culture and it bothered him; so he prayed; he went to the LORD; and the LORD used this simple man, essentially a hick from a Podunk town in the northern kingdom of Israel—TO DO SOME OF THE MOST OUTSTANDING ACTS OF FAITH THAT ARE RECORDED IN THE BIBLE.  But the Elijah that we read about isn’t a Charleton Heston-type of individual standing, imposing, invincible, without fear.  No, this man needs to be prepared every step along the way; his faith goes up; it goes down and every confrontation with the evil rulers of the Northern Kingdom—Ahab and Jezebel—leaves him exhausted.  But after every confrontation, after he’s been drained physically and emotionally, GOD wraps His arms around Elijah and brings him back.  GOD loves this man.  When we read the account in 1 Kings 19, and think about it, we get a different picture of our GOD; He’s compassionate; He’s patient; He knows what is going on with Elijah; and He knows what this man needs in order to go through the next task at hand.  We might also see that like a loving father, GOD listens to Elijah tell Him, that he, Elijah, is all alone, facing the world; everybody is against him, yadda, yadda, yadda.  It reminds me of an old song from the 60’s, A TOWN WITHOUT PITY: “The young have problems, many problems…only the young understand.”  And then your dad who hears this on the radio thinks to himself: “Uh huh, sure kid, only you understand what’s going on.”  Verse 18 in the passage above has to make you smile.  GOD has brought Elijah to a place of rest; He has nourished him; He has strengthened Him.  He’s also given Elijah some more examples of His power, of who He is and what He can do.  And then, He comes to Elijah in a quiet voice—ELIJAH, YOU’RE NOT ALONE.  You know, I can almost see or feel GOD smiling when he says this to Elijah; He’s not talking derisively to this man.  No, He loves this man.  Our GOD is something else!

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Posted on 06/11/2017 9:34 AM by LarryG
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Saturday, 10 June 2017
ABBA-FATHER
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Matthew 9:35-36

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 WHEN HE SAW THE CROWDS, HE HAD COMPASSION FOR THEM, BECAUSE THEY WERE HARASSED AND HELPLESS, LIKE SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD.

How does GOD see us? How does He feel about us?  Does He care about us?  All of these are pertinent questions; they are important questions; and I believe that the answers really determine how we look at reality.  We can either become totally despondent, if we see Him as totally uncaring about us; we can become like the character in the poem INVICTUS: bravely facing the black unknown by ourselves.  Or….we come away with a feeling of hope; we are filled with the joy of knowing that THINGS ARE IN HIS HANDS AND HE IS WORKING IT OUT; WE ARE GONNA BE OKAY.

The passage above provides us with some answers, some insight.  We know that in the reality we exist in there is pain; there is disease; there is sickness; there is affliction.  In other words: WE HAVE PROBLEMS—BIG PROBLEMS.  But how are we handling this?  Well, first consider that we are basically trying to handle life—WITHOUT GOD; were trying to do it “our way.”  But instead of all of us working together for the common good, we appear to be a gaggle going nowhere; were just spinning around, bumping into each other, fighting each other—aimlessly rooting around.  Is anybody helping us?  No, not only are we fighting and harassing each other, there would appear to be outside influences that are harassing us, kicking us, afflicting us and generally helping in the process of destruction. 

GOD doesn’t like this; He has compassion for us.  So what does that mean?  It means that He actually feels pity and distress over our situation and His deep desire is to alleviate our suffering. 

GOD DOESN’T WANT US TO BE DESTROYED!

Ezekiel 18:23

 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

Now this isn’t the only time we are told in scripture that.  GOD wants us to turn to Him.  What He has in mind for us is essentially-- GREAT; it is SUPER!  The apostles Paul and John tell us that we cannot begin to comprehend the good that GOD has intended for us.  But here’s the problem: were stuck in a rut, big time!  The rut keeps getting deeper and deeper and as it does we die more and more.  We are diseased; we are being mutilated; we are deformed; we are infected with something that is killing us; we cannot see over the edge of the rut.  So when GOD sees us, He is looking at us like a father watching his child die, something like a father watching his drug-addicted son or daughter. 

Call to Me—ABBA, and I will answer; call on my name and you’ll see that my hand is reaching out to you; come home.

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Posted on 06/10/2017 9:29 AM by LarryG
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Friday, 9 June 2017
APOSTASY—A GREAT REBELLION AGAINST GOD
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2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him: we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be easily upset in mind or troubled, either by a spirit or by a message or by a letter as if from us, alleging that the Day of the Lord has come. 3 Don't let anyone deceive you in any way. For [that day] will not come unless THE APOSTASY comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.

The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church at Thessalonica to reassure them that the Day of the LORD had not come; he wanted to assure them that they hadn’t missed it.  They had been enduring some pretty tough times; they had been going through some pretty severe persecution.  But Paul’s letter reminds them of what they had been told regarding the signs that would lead up to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Something would occur beforehand that was very significant, something that was going to be profound, something that would could not be missed.  He used the word “apostasia” to describe this event. Paul reminds them and us that the DAY OF THE LORD, the Second Coming of JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, will not happen until the “apostasy” occurs.

So what is “apostasia” or “apostasy?”  The New Living Translation describes it as is a GREAT REBELLION AGAINST GOD, A REVOLT, A FALLING AWAY, A TURNING AWAY FROM GOD, PEOPLE RISING UP AGAINST GOD, A DEPARTURE.  What is this suppose to look like when it occurs? 

It would seem that many think in terms of the apostasy as something that applies strictly to the church.  But this would seem to be too narrow because it appears to apply to all people not just church-goers; this word is used to describe a world-wide phenomena.  Recently I listened to a discussion of this word “apostasia” or “apostasy.”  The leader of the discussion talked about an expanded definition that went beyond the church; he talked about how the word “apostasia” or “apostasy” meant a DEPARTURE FROM BEING.  So what did that mean?  Well, consider that GOD has created everything and He has determined how things operate and the proper roles for everything and EVERYONE.  So, when the “apostasia” or “apostasy” would occur we would see people abandoning the roles that GOD had established for them.  In other words, men would abandon their roles as men,; women would try to depart from their GOD-ordained roles as mothers as wives; people would redefine what GOD had ordained as “the family; society would try to redefine what it means to be human.”  Apostasia or apostasy would describe a society, a world that was turning inside out; it would describe mankind totally rejecting GOD and the conditions of the reality that He has created; it is describing a world that is self-destructing.  Here is mankind raising its collective fist in GOD’s face and shouting “WE are going to make a name for ourselves; WE are going to define what we are!”  Before the Second Coming of Our LORD, mankind is going to nosedive into the gutter.   YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET!

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Posted on 06/09/2017 9:25 AM by LarryG
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Thursday, 8 June 2017
WHEN YOU REALIZE THAT YOU HAVE NOTHING-- THAT’S WHEN YOU HAVE IT ALL
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Matthew 5:1-6

1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.  2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 "BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. 4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

What does it mean to be “poor in spirit?”  It would seem that this isn’t someone who feels down in the mouth; who has no self-confidence, someone who doesn’t think they measure up to the world’s standards.  No, it has to do with someone who realizes that in terms of coming to GOD, making it to heaven—he or she has NOTHING—SPIRITUAL BANKRUPTCY!.  In other words, this is someone who has come to the realization that spiritually, internally, in their innermost being, they have no spiritual assets to put toward making the trip.  JESUS is talking about individuals who mourn because of the sin or corruption that they realize exists in them and in the world, a remedy for which cannot be found within them.  JESUS is also describing individuals who want to be good, who want to be righteous, who thirst for this not only in the world but in themselves; He is describing someone who has come to the point where  they have decided to put themselves totally under GOD’s control; they willingly submit to GOD’s authority.  But here’s the bottom line: when someone manifests these attitudes, they will not be disappointed.  When you realize that you have nothing, that’s when you have it all.  When you’re distressed and mourn because of sin in the world and realize that only GOD can handle this, GOD promises that you will be comforted.  GOD’s working things out and the result will be good beyond anything we can imagine. 

A blessing is an opportunity to experience the goodness of GOD.   WE WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!

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Posted on 06/08/2017 9:22 AM by LarryG
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Wednesday, 7 June 2017
GOD WANT US TO HEAR THE MESSAGE—BELIEVING OR ACCEPTING IT IS UP TO US.
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Luke 9:8-12

8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 HEAL THE SICK IN IT AND SAY TO THEM, 'THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS COME NEAR TO YOU.' 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. NEVERTHELESS KNOW THIS, THAT THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS COME NEAR.' 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

We can’t make somebody accept the gospel.  If somebody doesn’t see or think that there is a problem with sin, we can’t force them into thinking that way.  But JESUS is telling something that is profound here:  the Kingdom of GOD is near, GOD has brought it near, close enough to reach out and touch.  It doesn’t matter whether or not you want it; it is here.  If someone doesn’t receive the gospel, it won’t be because it wasn’t offered.  

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Posted on 06/07/2017 9:21 AM by LarryG
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Tuesday, 6 June 2017
ACCEPTING OR REJECTING THE GOSPEL
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(The following is taken from WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?, Dr. Harry Ironside)

THE GOSPEL ACCEPTED

Look at the result of believing the Gospel. Go back to verse two, "By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." That is, if you believe the Gospel, you are saved; if you believe that Christ died for your sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again, God says you are saved. Do you believe it? No man ever believed that except by the Holy Ghost. It is the Spirit of God that overcomes the natural unbelief of the human heart and enables a man to put his trust in that message. And this is not mere intellectual credence, but it is that one comes to the place where he is ready to stake his whole eternity on the fact that Christ died, and was buried, and rose again. When Jesus said, "IT IS FINISHED" the work of salvation was completed. A dear saint was dying, and looking up he said, "It is finished; on that I can cast my eternity." Upon a life I did not live, Upon a death I did not die; Another's life, another's death, Is take my whole eternity." Can you say that, and say it in faith?

THE GOSPEL REJECTED

What about the man who does not believe the Gospel? The Lord Jesus said to His disciples, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15,16). He that believeth not shall be devoted to judgment, condemned, lost. So you see, God has shut us up to the Gospel. Have you believed it? Have you put your trust in it; is it the confidence of your soul? Or have you been trusting in something else? If you have been resting in anything short of the Christ who died, who was buried, who rose again, I plead with you, turn from every other fancied refuge, and flee to Christ today. Repent ye, and believe the Gospel.

"O, do not let the word depart, And close thine eyes against the light; Poor sinner, harden not thy heart, Be saved, O tonight."

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Posted on 06/06/2017 9:14 AM by LarryG
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Monday, 5 June 2017
CHRIST'S DEATH - NOT HIS LIFE
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(The following is taken from WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?, Dr. Harry Ironside)

CHRIST'S DEATH - NOT HIS LIFE

I was preaching in a church in Virginia, and a minister prayed, "Lord, grant Thy blessing as the Word is preached tonight. May it be the means of causing people to fall in love with the Christ-life, that they may begin to live the Christ-life." I felt like saying, "Brother, sit down; don't insult God like that;" but then I felt I had to be courteous, and I knew that my turn would come, when I could get up and give them the truth. The Gospel is not asking men to live the Christ-life. If your salvation depends upon your doing that, your are just as good as checked for Hell, for you never can live it in yourself. It is utterly impossible. But the very first message of the Gospel is the story of the vicarious atonement of Christ. He did not come to tell men how to live in order that they might save themselves; He did not come to save men by living His beautiful life. That, apart from His death, would never have saved one poor sinner. He came to die; He "was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death." Christ Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all. When He instituted the Lord's Supper He said, "Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. . . This cup is the new covenant in My Blood" (1 Cor. 11:24,25) There is no Gospel if the vicarious death of Jesus is left out, and there is no other way whereby you can be saved than through the death of the blessed spotless Son of God.

Someone says, "But I do not understand it." That is a terrible confession to make, for "If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (2 Cor. 4:3). If you do not see that there is no other way of salvation for you, save through the death of the Lord Jesus, then that just tells the sad story that you are among the lost. You are not merely in danger of being lost in the Day of Judgment; but you are lost now. But, thank God, "the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost," and seeking the lost He went to the cross. "None of the ransomed ever know How deep were the waters crossed; Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through, Ere He found the sheep that was lost."

THE NECESSITY OF DEATH

HE HAD TO DIE, to go down into the dark waters of death, that you might be saved. Can you think of any ingratitude more base than that of a man or woman who passes by the life offered by the Savior who died on the Cross for them? Jesus died for you, and can it be that you have never even trusted Him, never even come to Him and told Him you were a poor, lost, ruined, guilty sinner; but since He died for you, you would take Him as your Savior? HIS DEATH WAS REAL. He was buried three days in the tomb. He died, He was buried, and that was God's witness that it was not a merely pretended death, but He, the Lord of life, had to go down into death. He was held by the bars of death for those three days and nights, until God's appointed time had come. Then, "Death could not keep its prey, He tore the bars away." And so the third point of the Gospel is this, "He was raised again the third day according to the Scriptures. "That is the Gospel, and nothing can be added to that. Some people say, "Well, but must I repent?" Yes, you may well repent, but that is not the Gospel. "Must I not be baptized?" If you are a Christian, you ought to be baptized, but baptism is not the Gospel. Paul said, "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel" (1 Cor. !:17) He did baptize people, but he did not consider that was the Gospel, and the Gospel was the great message that he was sent to carry to the world. This is all there is to it. "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures."

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Posted on 06/05/2017 9:06 AM by LarryG
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Sunday, 4 June 2017
The Seven Designations of the Gospel
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(The following is taken from WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?, Dr. Harry Ironside)

THE SEVEN DESIGNATIONS OF THIS GOSPEL are called...

1. The Gospel Of The Kingdom,

and when I use that term I am not thinking particularly of any dispensational application, but of this blessed truth that it is only through believing the Gospel that men are born into the Kingdom of God; We sing: "A ruler once came to Jesus by night, To ask Him the way of salvation and light; The Master made answer in words true and plain, 'ye must be born again.' " But neither Nicodemus , nor you, nor I, could ever bring this about ourselves. We had nothing to with our first birth, and can have nothing to do with our second birth. It must be the work of God, and it is wrought through the Gospel. That is why the Gospel is called the Gospel of the Kingdom, for, "Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3,7). "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. . . And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you" (1 Peter 1:23-25. Every where that Paul and his companion apostles went they preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and they showed that the only way to get into that Kingdom was by a second birth, and that the only way whereby the second birth could be brought about was through believing the Gospel. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom. It also called

2. The Gospel Of God,

because God is the source of it, and it is altogether of Himself. No man ever thought of a Gospel like this. The very fact that all the religions of the world set man to try to work for his own salvation indicates the fact that no man would ever have dreamed of such a Gospel as that which is revealed in this Book. It came from the heart of God; it was God who "so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He first loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:9,10). And because it is the Gospel of God, God is very jealous of it. He wants it kept pure. He does not want it mixed with any of man's theories or laws; He does not want it mixed up with religious ordinances or anything of that kind. The Gospel is God's own pure message to sinful man. God grant that you and I may receive it as in very truth the Gospel of God. And then it is called

3. The Gospel Of His Son

Not merely because the Son went everywhere preaching the Gospel, but because He is the theme of it. "When it pleased God," says the apostle, "who called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the nations; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood" (Gal. 1:15,16). "We preach Christ crucified . . . the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:23,24). No man preaches the Gospel who is not exalting the Lord Jesus. It is God's wonderful message about His Son. How often I have gone to meetings where they told me I would hear the Gospel, and instead of that I have heard some bewildered preacher talk to a bewildered audience about everything and anything, but the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel has to do with nothing else but Christ. It is the Gospel of God's Son. And so, linked with this it is called

4. The Gospel Of Christ

The Apostle Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost of the risen Savior, says, "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." And He speaks of Him as the anointed One, exalted at God's right hand. The Gospel is the Gospel of the Risen Christ. There would be no Gospel for sinners if Christ had not been raised. So the apostle says, "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:17). A great New York preacher, great in his impertinence, at least, said some years ago, preaching a so-called Easter sermon, "The body of Jesus still sleeps in a Syrian tomb, but His soul goes marching on.: That is not the Gospel of Christ. We are not preaching the Gospel of a dead Christ, but of a living Christ who sits exalted at the Father's right hand, and is living to save all who put their trust in Him. That is why those of us who really know the Gospel never have any crucifixes around our churches or in our homes. The crucifix represents a dead Christ hanging languid on a cross of shame. But we are not pointing men to a dead Christ; we are preaching a living Christ. He lives exalted at God's right had, and He "saves to the uttermost all who come to God by Him." The Gospel is also called

5. The Gospel Of The Grace Of God,

because it leaves no room whatever for human merit. It just brushes away all man's pretension to any goodness, to any desert excepting judgment. It is the Gospel of grace, and grace is God's free unmerited favor to those who have merited the very opposite. It is as opposite to works as oil is to water." If by grace," says the Spirit of God, "then it is no more works. . . but if it be of works, then is it no more grace" (Rom.11:6). People say, :But you must have both." I have heard it put like this: there was a boatman and two theologians in a boat, and one was arguing that salvation was by faith and the other by works. The boatman listened, and then said, "Let me tell you how it looks to me. Suppose I call this oar Faith and this one Works. If I pull on this one, the boat goes around; if I pull on this other one, it goes around the other way, but if I pull on both oars, I get you across the river." I have heard many preachers use that illustration to prove that we are saved by faith and works. That might do if we were going to Heaven in a rowboat, but we are not. We are carried on the shoulders of the Shepherd, who came seeking lost sheep When He finds them He carries them home on His shoulders. But there are some other names used. It is called

6. The Gospel Of The Glory Of God

I love that name. It is the Gospel of the Glory of God because it comes from the place where our Lord Jesus has entered. The veil has been rent, and now the glory shines out; and whenever this Gospel is proclaimed, it tells of a way into the glory for sinful man, a way to come before the Mercy Seat purged from every stain. It is the Gospel of the Glory of God, because, until Christ had entered into the Glory, it could not be preached in its fullness, but, after the glory received Him, then the message went out to a lost world. 

It is also called...

7. The Everlasting Gospel,

because it will never be superseded by another. No other ever went before it, and no other shall ever come after it. One of the professors of the University of Chicago wrote a book a few years ago in which he tried to point out that some of these days Jesus would be superseded by a greater teacher; then He and the Gospel that He taught would have to give way to a message which would be more suited to the intelligence of the cultivated men of the later centuries. No, no, were it possible for this world to go on a million years, it would never need any other Gospel than this preached by the Apostle Paul and confirmed with signs following; the Gospel which, throughout the centuries has been saving guilty sinners.

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Posted on 06/04/2017 9:00 AM by LarryG
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