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A Christian’s New Years Devotion

SIH STSTA ICONThe Jewish Civil New Year begins on the first day of the month of Tishri on the Jewish calendar.  This month equates to our calendar months of September/October.  It was during this one month time frame that the Jews were instructed to observe three New Year related celebrations:  Feast of Trumpets (1st), Day of Atonement(10th), and the Feast of Tabernacles(15th-21st).

As we study these three celebrations, we can learn much about preparing for our new year as well.

THE SCRIPTURE:

Lev 23:23-44; Nums 29:1-40

THE STUDY:

The Feast of Trumpets (Lev 23:23-25, Nums 29:1-6)

This feast centered upon the ritualistic sounding of trumpets used to call men to assemble before God.   Besides calling men to attention or assembly, in the Bible, the blowing of trumpets emphasizes a new beginning, with new responsibilities, brought about by God’s intervention:

  1. Giving of 10 commandments – Exo 19:16
  2. Day of Atonement – forgiveness of national sin – Lev 25:9
  3. Fall of Wall of Jericho – Josh 6:20
  4. Defeat of Midianties – Judg 7:18
  5. Ark restored to city of David – 2 Sam 6:15
  6. New moon  beginning of new lunar cycle, new time of worship and service – Psa 81:3
  7. Israel’s deliverance from bondage of Assyria and Egypt – Isa 27:13
  8. Taking Of His people to Heaven at Rapture – Matt 24:31, 1 Cor 15:52
  9. The Lord’s judgments during Tribulation period – Rev 8:13

The Feast of Trumpets helps to remind us that:

It is by the Lord’s grace that we are entering into a New Year which can be a new beginning for us all.  This includes putting past failures behind us and looking forward to a new set of opportunities and responsibilities and victories in our service to Him.

The Day of Atonement (Lev 23:26-32, Num 29:7-11)

This was a day set aside for the Jewish people to “afflict” their souls. In other words, it was a time set aside for coming to the Lord in humility asking for forgiveness for sins and a renewal of dedication for His service, putting Him first in their lives.

Just as in the Feast of Trumpets, there was a  series of offerings that were to be made:

  1. Burnt – picturing His death on the cross accepted by God  – Lev 1:1-17
  2. Meat – picturing His blessings given to us  –  Lev 2:1-16
  3. Sin – Picturing forgiveness of our transgressions against Him  – Lev 4:1-35
  4. Drink – Picturing His shed blood on our behalf  –  Nums 15:5-7
  5. Peace – Picturing His work brings about peace (rest, comfort, forgiveness) for us – Lev 3:1-5
  6. Taken together, these represent His death, and shed blood, resulting in our forgiveness, peace and other blessings.

This was perhaps the most important observance for the Jewish celebrations.  If anyone refused to observe this Day of Atonement they were to be cut off from the people, alienated from all areas of worship and service.

The Day of Atonement reminds us that:

We have a great need to deal with our past sins, putting them behind us, and securing our communion with the Lord.  We are to enter into a New Year of service humbly and in submission to the Lord’s will and way for our lives.

The motive for both of these should be His great sacrifice on our behalf.  When we consider what He has done for us shouldn’t we desire a close walk with Him, not hindered by unconfessed sin?  Shouldn’t we desire to be in submissive to His desires for us?  After all, aren’t both of these “our duty to do”?

We cannot over emphasize the absolute importance of communion and submission for the coming year ahead.  To deal with sin in our lives and then be submissive to will for the future is essential to living a victorious life in the coming year.

The Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:34-44, Nums 29:12-40)

The Feast of Tabernacles was an eight day observance (beginning on the 15th of the month and concluding on the 22nd day of the month).  During this eight day celebration, the Israelites were to give sacrifices unto the Lord and dwell in booths (tents).  It was observed to remind the Israelites of their dwelling in tents during their wilderness journeys following their release from Egyptian slavery.

The Feast of Tabernacles helps us to remind us that:

We are currently on a pilgrimage here on earth.  This is not our permanent home, like the Israelites who were traveling through the wilderness waiting for the Promised Land.  We are only strangers and pilgrims on this earth, waiting for our permanent, heavenly home.

When trials enter our lives this coming year we need to always keep in mind, our heavenly home awaits… our greatest need is to rely on our Lord and keep looking for our heavenly home.

Please note in all of these three celebrations, no work was to be done on these days, emphasizing the need to concentrate solely on the things of God.  We should take a break from all the distractions the world has to offer and take time to simply commune with our Lord.  What better way is there to start the New Year?

Also, in all three celebrations we find a command to convene (assemble) was issued, this would allow for a time of worship and also a time of encouragement to be passed from one Israelite to another as they prepared to face their New Year.

We, as well, should learn from this principle.  Take time to worship at a Bible- believing church and try to encourage other Christians to prepare for the coming year.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

To summarize our preparation for the New Year:

  1.  It is by the Lord’s grace that we are entering into a New Year which can be a new beginning for us all.  (Phil 3:13-14)
  2. putting past failures behind us
  3. looking forward to a new set of opportunities and responsibilities and victories in our service to Him.
  4. Entering into a New Year of service humbly and submitting to the Lord’s will and way for our lives.  (James 4:7-8)
  5. Recognize His great sacrifice on our behalf. (Luke 17:10)
    1. When we consider all He has done for us shouldn’t we desire a close walk with Him, not hindered by unconfessed sin?
    2. Shouldn’t we desire to be in submissive to His desires for us?
    3. After all, aren’t both of these “our duty to do”?
  6. Realize we are currently on a pilgrimage here on earth. We are waiting for our permanent, heavenly home. (Heb 11:13-16)
    1. When trials enter our lives this coming year we need to always keep in mind, our heavenly home awaits, our trials will only last for a season.
  7. We should take a break from all the distractions the world has to offer and take time to simply commune with our Lord.  What better way is there to start the New Year?  (Psa 63:1-7)
  8. Take time to attend a Bible- believing church  (Heb 10:24-25)
    1. We can worship the Lord
    2. We can encourage other Christians to prepare for the coming year.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Now is the time for you to put your life of rebellion against God and His Word behind you and begin the New Year as a new creature in Christ (2 Cor 5:14-21).    None of us know what the New Year will bring into our lives, however, the greatest insurance for the future is being a child of God (Gal 4:4-7).  He promises to His children that He will never leave nor forsake His children (Heb 13:5-6) .  If adopted into His family, you can be assured of His love, care, communion and intervention in your life, as well as a glorious eternity awaiting you. (Matt 6:25-24)

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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To All My Readers…

The Christmas Story Presented In Chronological Order

SIH STSTA ICONSince we have looked at the Christmas story from two different books in the Bible, I thought it was important to bring the two accounts together, in chronological order.  In this way, we can see how the two accounts fit together.

This is the entire Christmas story as presented in the two gospels, Matthew and Luke…

THE SCRIPTURE:

(Luk 1:26-56)

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

(Mat 1:18-24)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

(Luk 2:1-7)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

(Mat 1:25)

And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

(Luk 2:8-38)

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

(Mat 2:1-23)

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

(Luk 2:39-40)

And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

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This is the Christmas story.  This is what the Christmas is all about.  May the Lord richly bless you with peace and grace during this holiday season.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog.  I count it a great blessing and privilege to be able to present God’s Word to you.

My prayer is that, in some way, this blog has helped you to fulfill 1 Sam 12:24 …

“Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.”  (1Sa 12:24)

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

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Christmas Devotion:Christmas Story (Luke – 4)

SIH STSTA ICONHere is the conclusion of our verse by verse study of the birth of Christ.  In this blog entry, we will be looking at the conclusion of the account from Luke…

Part #1 – Luke 1:26-38

Part #2 – Luke 1:39-56

Part #3 – Luke 2:1-20

Part #4 – Luke 2:21-40

THE SCRIPTURE:

Luke 2:21-40

THE STUDY:

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

It was Jewish tradition for a child to be circumcised at eight days after birth.  This circumcision was a visible proof that the child was a part of the Jewish nation.  The child officially received his name at the time of circumcision.  In this case, the baby was named Jesus, “Jehovah our freedom” or “Jehovah our salvation” just as the angel had said.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

The ceremony described here had two basic parts to it:

  1. The law of purification applied to the mother of any newborn male child.  This time lasted for a total of 40 days (Lev 12:2-4).  The principle behind the need for this purification was because the woman had brought another man into this world. The male was looked upon as responsible for sin entering this world, and therefore the mother needed to be “purified”.  (Roms 5:12, 19)
  2. Also, a part of this ceremony was to bring to remembrance God’s grace in delivering the Israelites from the Egyptian captivity. (Exo 13:12).   This was done by separating the young child to the service of God.

The offering of animals was a key ingredient to this ceremony.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

A Godly priest, Simeon, was waiting for the coming of the Messiah.  Here, the Messiah is described as “the Consolation” or “the Comforter” of Israel.  He would be the One who would bear the sin burdens of His people, giving them rest and peace in the midst of a sinful world.

And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Once again, we see the Spirit revealing to man the true identity of the baby.  When Christ was presented to Simeon, he immediately recognized Him as both Savior of the people of Israel and a light that would open the sin blinded eyes of the Gentiles.

And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

Joseph and Mary were amazed at Simeon’s declaration about the Christ child.

And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Simeon spoke to Mary saying that the Jewish people would, at first during His earthly ministry, reject Him as their Messiah (the fall), but later as the gospel message spread, would come to a saving knowledge of Him  (the rising again).  His miraculous life would be a sign of His true identity as Messiah and God, which many people would verbally ridicule.

Mary, as she would watch her child being crucified would suffer as if a sword has passed through her.  This same crucifixion would reveal what was in the hearts of men.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.  And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Anna, a woman used of God to reveal His word, who was an older lady of at least 84 years,  but perhaps as many as 100+ years old.  She so frequented the temple that it was as if she lived there for most of her waking hours.  During this her time at the temple she was fasting and in prayer.  She, too recognized the baby as Christ and then thanked the Lord and then began telling others about the Messiah that had come.

And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Joseph and Mary stayed at Jerusalem until all of the demands of the ceremonial law had been met, and then they went back to their home in Nazareth.  It was there that Christ grew physically and emotionally as He showed an incredible knowledge of His Word and the application of it.

It is very difficult to understand how Christ, who was God Himself, could grow physically and emotionally,  but this was all a part of His humanity.

Throughout Christ’s young life it was obvious that the Lord’s presence and blessings were upon Him in a very special way; hence the phrase “and the grace of God was upon Him.”  The word “grace” is from a Greek word meaning “gifts”, “favors” or “benefits”.

This concludes our study of the story of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

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Christmas Devotion:Christmas Story (Luke – 3)

SIH STSTA ICONHere is part #3 of our series on Christ’s birth from Luke.

Part #1 – Luke 1:26-38

Part #2 – Luke 1:39-56

Part #3 – Luke 2:1-20

Part #4 – Luke 2:21-40

THE SCRIPTURE:

Luke 2:1-20

THE STUDY:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

Caesar Augustus was the ruler of the Roman Empire.  Israel was a part of that empire.  Augustus desired to tax the people of Israel, but before he levied the tax upon them, he wanted to count them.  Every male head of the family was to return to his ancestral hometown, with his family, to be counted in the taxation census.

Cyrenius was the Roman ruler over the area of Syria, just as Herod was the Roman ruler over the area of Israel.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

Joseph, out of necessity, returned to his hometown of Bethlehem, bringing with him his pregnant wife Mary.  King David was from Bethlehem, and Joseph was a descendent of David.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

During their stay in Bethlehem, Mary gives birth to the Christ.  Die to the great number of people ascending upon Bethlehem (all the male descendants of King David) there was no room for Joseph and Mary in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

The shepherds had their flocks in the field overnight.  In Israel, the night temperature was warm enough to keep the flocks in the field only in late spring through early fall (approx. May-Sept).  Probably, the time of Christ’s birth was not in late December, but much earlier in the year.

Why, then, do we observe His birth in late December?  This is simply a tradition of man that is not sanctioned by God.  The Catholic church began to celebrate His birth at this time of year to try to attract the Pagan worshippers who were observing the winter solstice at this time of year.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

The angel of the Lord (perhaps Gabriel) appeared to the shepherds and delivered to them a message from the Lord.   God’s presence (the person of the Holy Spirit) was clearly seen among the shepherds as they were given this message.   This same Holy Spirit enabled them to understand and submit to the coming of Christ.

The angel’s message was a joyous message telling of the coming of the Messiah, Christ the Lord.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

After the angels leave, the shepherds decide to make the trip to Bethlehem to see the baby Messiah.

Again, notice the faith of the shepherds willing to make this trip based on no proof except God’s message to them. They did not doubt the message, they said “let us now go… and see this thing…”.  They did not say “let’s go and see if the message is true.”

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

After visiting the child, they next began to tell others about Him.  In the same way, we first must hear the word of God, and then come to the Savior; and once we meet the Savior, we then are to tell others about Him.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

The message of shepherds was met with amazement by their listeners.  Mary, however, reflected on the message of the angels, all the events that had taken place, and the message of the shepherds.  Her  faith allowed her to accept all these things without astonishment and unbelief.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

The shepherds continued to tell of their experiences to all who would hear them.

We will conclude our study from the book of Luke in the next blog entry: Luke 2:21-40

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

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Christmas Devotion:Christmas Story (Luke – 2)

SIH STSTA ICONOur four part study of Christ’s birth in the book of Luke continues with part #2.

Part #1 – Luke 1:26-38

Part #2 – Luke 1:39-56

Part #3 – Luke 2:1-20

Part #4 – Luke 2:21-40

THE SCRIPTURE:

Luke 1:39-56

THE STUDY:

And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

Elizabeth was Mary’s cousin.  The angel had told Mary about John the Baptist’s conception in the womb of once barren Elizabeth (Lk 1:36).  A now pregnant Mary, acting on faith, makes the trip to Elisabeth’s house, anxious to hear about Elizabeth’s pregnancy and upcoming birth.

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb;

At the sound of Mary’s voice, the baby moved suddenly in Elizabeth’s womb.  Remember, one of ohn the Baptist’s greatest duties was to announce the coming of the Messiah to earth. (Luke 1:76-79) Here, we see John the Baptist announcing the presence of Christ in the room as Mary entered.  This was the first of many occasions where he would announce the arrival of the Lord.

How did an unborn child (John) recognize the presence of Christ in the womb of Mary?  It was through the divine enabling of the Holy Spirit who had filled John while in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15)

(Please note that even an unborn child is capable of fulfilling a God given ministry.  This speaks to the personhood and significance of the unborn child.  No one should say that an unborn child is simply a part of their mother’s body and does not have life in and of himself.)

and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.  And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Now we see The Holy Spirit filling Elizabeth, which in turn gives her the ability to prophesy.  Through the Spirit, due to the movement of John, she understands that within Mary’s womb was the Christ child. Elizabeth, describes the baby in Mary’s womb as “my Lord”, again this emphasizes the life and personhood of the unborn child.

 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

Mary’s great desire was to glorify her God for all that He had done for her.  Note she recognized His grace to her, giving her what she did not deserve “he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden”.  This was her motive for giving Him all the glory.  The more we recognize His grace in our lives, the more we see the need to glorify Him as well.

 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

She began to recount His greatness:

  1. He is mighty
  2. He does great things
  3. Holy is His name
  4. He is merciful
  5. He blesses those that fear Him
  6. He  is strong
  7. He punishes the proud
  8. He humbles the mighty
  9. He fills the hungry
  10. He keeps satisfaction from the rich
  11. He helps Israel
  12. He speaks to His people

And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

Mary then remains with Elizabeth before making the journey back to her home.

We will continue our study in the next blog entry: Luke 2:1-20

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

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Christmas Devotion: Christmas Story (Luke – 1)

SIH STSTA ICONWe will now continue our look at the birth of Christ by turning to the account in Luke.  We’ll be breaking up our study into four parts:

Part #1 – Luke 1:26-38

Part #2 – Luke 1:39-56

Part #3 – Luke 2:1-20

Part #4 – Luke 2:21-40

Today, we will start with part number one.

THE SCRIPTURE:

Luke 1:26-38

THE STUDY:

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

The angel Gabriel is used by the Lord to deliver the message to Mary.  Perhaps, Gabriel is the “Angel of the Lord” talked about in the Matthew account of Christ’s birth (Matt 1:20,24, 2:13,19)  Gabriel was also used by the Lord to deliver the Lord’s message to Daniel (Dan 8:16. 9:21)

 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The espousal was a legally binding promise to marry.  At this point in time, Mary and Joseph had promised to marry but they had not taken the vows nor had they consummated their relationship.

The word “virgin” here is from a Greek word that can mean three different ideas…“a maiden” or “an unmarried daughter” or “a woman who did not have relations with a man”.  How do we know which meaning is meant here? Context dictates the true meaning.

Contextually there are at least, three different proofs that Mary had never had relations with a man:

  1. Luke 1:34 – Mary’s response makes it clear that Mary had never had relations with a man.
  2. Matt 1:21-25 We are clearly told that her pregnancy was the result of the Lord’s divine intervention, this is why Joseph did not break the espousal agreement.
  3. Isa 7:14 – This prophecy was fulfilled by Mary’s pregnancy, it was a miraculous sign from God.

 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Here Gabriel tells Mary three different ideas:

  1. she was highly favoured – Lord had chosen to use her in a special way uncommon among  other women
  2. Lord was with her – Lord’s presence was with her in a special way
  3. She was blessed among all women – Lord had chosen to show her a measure of grace above that of other women.

And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

This greeting disturbed her, at this point she did not understand what would take place in her life.

 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

The angel calms Mary’s fears and then explained how the Lord would show her a special blessing above that of other women.  She would conceive and then give birth to a son.  This son would be named “Jesus” which means “Jehovah is our freedom”, “Jehovah is our salvation”  He would be both God and Savior of His people.

 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Truths about this God, and Savior…

  1. shall be great – Christ would be “High One” or One who is over all creation
  2. shall be called Son of Highest – He would be recognized as Son of Jehovah God
  3. Father will give Him David’s throne – God would give Him authority to rule over Israel of God (Gals 6:16)
  4. shall reign over house of Jacob eternally – His rule over Israel would be an eternal rule
  5. shall be no end to his kingdom – His rule is not limited to that of the Israel of God but over all mankind (Phil 2:10-11)

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

Gen 4:1 “knew” – intimate relations.  She knew she had never had relations this is why she was so confused.  How could she ever become pregnant? This is a proof that she had never had relations with a man.

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

The answer the angel gives to her is in direct response to her concern about how a virgin can become pregnant… Through the power of God the Father, and through the intervention of the Holy Ghost, Mary would conceive a child who would be the very Son of God.

 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.

To prove that this was a message from God and to prove that this miraculous act could be accomplished,  the angel points to another miracle, the conception of John the Baptist in the womb of barren Elisabeth.

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Mary shows her faith in the Lord and his word by submitting to His will and believing these miracles would be done.

In our next blog entry we will continue this series by looking at Luke 1:39-56

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

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A Christmas Devotion: The Christmas Story Explained Part 2

SIH STSTA ICONHere is part number two of our study of the birth of Christ as we find it in the book of Matthew.  If you remember, we had divided up the Matthew passages into two parts:

Part #1 – Matthew 1:18-2:10

Part #2 – Matthew 2:11-23

THE SCRIPTURE:

Matthew 2:11-23

THE STUDY:

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

The identity of this star is up to much debate ranging from the planet Jupiter, to an alignment of planets, or perhaps a comet or meteor.  Different scientists and scholars hold to different views.

One thing, I think, is important to remember… it was possible for the Lord to miraculous create a light in the sky to lead His people.  Remember the “pillar of fire” that led the children of Israel through the wilderness? (Exo 13:21, 14:24, Num 14:14, Neh 9:12 etc.) Could it be that this star was a miraculous act of God prepared exclusively for this one time showing to lead men to Christ?

And when they were come into the house,

Note they come into “the house” not into the stable.  Joseph, Mary and the Baby were no longer in the stable by the time the wise men arrived at Bethlehem.  Most people believe that it took as long as 1-2 years for the wise men to travel from Persia to Bethlehem.  Keep in mind, Herod’s decree was to kill all babies 2 years and under.  Why two years?  Could it be that was approximately how long the star had been appearing in the sky?  And that was how long it took for the wise men to travel from the east?

they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

At the sight of the baby, the wise men kneel down in submission to Him… a sign of their belief in God’s prophecies and the baby being the Christ, their King.  The gifts that were given to Christ was significant.  In the Bible, many times gold is symbolic of kings (Dan 3:1).   Frankincense was used as incense for worship picturing our communion with God (prayers arising to God from earth – Ex 30:34)   The myrrh was used for the embalming of dead bodies (John 19:39).   These gifts teach us that the baby was a King, who was sinless having perfect communion with His Father, and he would taste death for His people.

And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

The wise men then departed to their country (probably Persia), being careful not to go through Jerusalem where Herod lived.  You can see where the Lord gave them wisdom to understand the true person of Christ and to see through the motives of Herod.

And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

God the Father continued to care for Jesus and His family by warning them of the decree of Herod.  Probably this was the same angel that had appeared to Joseph in Matthew 1:20.

When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

From Bethlehem they went to Egypt, trying to escape from the decree Herod had issued.  This was in fulfillment of the prophecy (probably Hosea 11:1.)

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Herod’s decree is issued and heinous death of infants resulted… this was in fulfillment of the prophecy found in Jeremiah 31:15.

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.

Again, the Lord, through His angel,  directs the lives of this family by telling them to return to Israel at the death of Herod.

And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

They return to Israel.  But Joseph would not enter into the province of Judaea because Herod’s son had now taken the throne of his father.  The Lord then directs them to the province of Galilee through the use of a dream.  Please notice how God had gone before this young family every step of the way, leading and guiding them, always for their protection and safety.

And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

They settled in the town of Nazareth which was Mary’s home town (Luke 1:26).  This would be the fulfillment of the prophecy found in Isa 53:2-3.  Nazareth was a despised city, those who were citizens were looked down upon (John 1:46).  By Christ being given the title Nazarene, he was being looked down upon and rejected by many, just as Isaiah 53:2-3 prophetically described Him.

Please note that in the account of Christ’s birth in Matthew, we find prophecies of His origins to range from He came from Bethlehem, He came out of Egypt and He would be called a Nazarene.  Before Christ’s coming to the earth, NO ONE could have reconciled these passages.  It looked as if He was going to be born in 3 different locations!  However, once He came to the earth and lived His life, all three of these prophecies made perfect sense.

It is much the same with futuristic prophecies for us today.  Great care needs to be taken thinking that we have all the events of the future figured out.  Until these events actually take place, none of us can say for certain, exactly what the future holds for us.

We will continue our study of the Christmas story by looking at the account from the book of Luke in our next blog entry.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

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A Christmas Devotion: The Christmas Story Explained Part 1

SIH STSTA ICONWith the commercialized Christmas season upon us, I thought it would be good to remind us of the birth of Christ.  Over the next several postings we will be looking at both the account of His birth we find in Matthew and, later, the one that is found in Luke.

I’m going to break up our Matthew study into two parts:

Part #1 – Matthew 1:18-2:7

Part #2 – Matthew 2:8-23

THE SCRIPTURE:

Matthew 1:18-2:10

THE STUDY:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

An espousal is a legally binding engagement.  Back in the NT times, when the couple made it public knowledge that they are intending marriage, they became legally responsible to be faithful to one another.  Although they were not yet actually married, nor did they have marital relations; the law said they had entered into a legally binding agreement, and were to be held accountable if the did not uphold that agreement.

Mary, becomes pregnant during this time of espousal.  Therefore, in the eyes of the law, she appeared to be guilty of adultery, even though she was not yet married to her husband to be, Joseph.

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

 Although not married, according to the espousal law, Joseph was her husband.  Therefore, if he did not intend to go through with the marriage he must give legal grounds and have her “put away” (ie do away with his legal obligation to marry her – in other words, he was legally severing the espousal contract.)  However, because he still loved her, he did not want to put her to shame by using a public meeting to sever the espousal contract.  He opted for a private meeting with the city elders to sever the contract instead.

 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

The identity of this “angel of the Lord” isn’t specified in Scripture.  Some believe it is the same “angel of the Lord” that is talked about in the OT scriptures (Gen 16:7, 22:11, Ex 3:2, Num 22:22 etc).  Others believe this is a more generic term that is used for any angel that does the bidding of the Lord on the earth.  The identity of this angel is not of great significance to our story.  What is important is his message to Joseph…

  1. Fear not to go ahead with the marriage to Mary
  2. Mary has conceived through divine intervention of the Holy Spirit, she has not been unfaithful to you.
  3. She will give birth to a son
  4. You will call Mary’s son “Jesus”
  5. The reason for this name is to reveal His person and one of the purposes of His coming… – Jesus means “Jehovah is our freedom” or “Jehovah is salvation” .  In other words, in this one name “Jesus”, we learn that this baby would be God Himself (Jehovah), who would bring freedom from our sins (salvation) 

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

This is a prophecy found in Isa 7:14.  Here the name Emmanuel is Hebrew for “God with Us”.  When Joseph gave the baby the name “Jesus” the same truth was brought forth.  He was Jehovah (or God) with us.

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Joseph, by faith, accepted the message of the angel and then changed his plans to obey the angel.  This was true faith at work!   Every human indication was that Mary was unfaithful to him, but based on the message from God, Joseph chose to marry her, trusting the truthfulness of God’s message.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king,

“Bethlehem” is from the Hebrew language.  It means “House of Bread”.  This is the birthplace of Christ. Who is self described as the “bread of life” (John 6:32-51).  Truly, Bethlehem is the “house of bread”!

Herod, this was a family name.  There were many individuals who carried the name of “Herod”.  This man, in the account of Christ’s birth, was a man commonly referred to as “Herod the Great” or “Herod the first” or “Herod the Ascalonite”.

behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

The wise men were religious priests from Persia.  By their words and actions, we can see that they were acquainted with teachings about a coming King of the Jews.  Also, they were familiar with the role of the star (perhaps from Nums 24:17).  They had a submissive attitude toward this coming King, they were coming to worship Him and bring Him gifts, even though they were not Jewish but of Persian descent.   All of this seems to indicate it is possible they were actually worshippers and servants of Jehovah.

There is nothing in Scripture to indicate these men were currently practicing “astrologers” nor “mystics” nor “seers”.  It is much more likely they were highly educated scientists studying the heavens (astronomers).  The other possibility was that these men were reformed “astrologers” who were no longer practiced the sinful craft.  Keep in mind, these men appear to be in submission to Jehovah and His Christ.  It is this same Jehovah that makes it clear that astrology and mysticism is sinful and should not be pursued. (see my blog entry “Ask the stars… they will tell you”)

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

Herod, the current “King” of the Jews, was concerned at the news another “King of the Jews” was to be born.  This troubled him, so he gathered together his religiously educated counselors to find out more information.

And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

The counselors quote to Herod the prophecy found in Micah 5:2, which tells of Bethlehem as the birthplace of the coming ruler of Israel.   This Bethlehem was a very small village in the province of Judah (the southern portion of Israel).  That is why it is described as “the least” among the towns (princes) of Judah.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

Herod would use this information to calculate an estimate of the Messiah’s age, as He sent forth His decree to slay all infants two years and under (Matt 2:16).

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

Herod had no intention of worshipping Christ, he wanted to kill the Christ child.  Here, we see his deceit and his attempt to use the wise men for his own evil purposes.

To  be continued in part #2 of our study which includes Matthew 2:8-23.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

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Atheist Billboard: Tis the Season to Deny the Existence of God

SIH STSTA ICONAs the Christmas season approaches, Atheist billboards are beginning to pop up declaring that the virgin birth, and even God’s existence, is only a myth.  One example is this billboard…

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/11/atheist_billboard_near_lincoln.html

With all of this world’s mixed messages about the Lord’s person, His work, and even His existence; I thought it was wise to remind every one of some of the results of denying what the Lord clearly told us in His Word.

The Word of God addresses many subjects including:

  1. the proofs of God’s existence – (Psa 19:1-6, Jer 10:10-16, Acts 17:8-9, etc etc)
  2. the proofs of Christ’s coming to the earth and the work which He performed (Acts 5:29-33, Acts 2:29-36, 1 Cor 15:1-11, etc etc )

as well as many other truths that help us to understand who the Lord is and what He has done for us.

The Lord, by His grace and love, has revealed to us the serious results of denying what He has clearly told us in His Word.  May the Lord bless each of us with an understanding and acceptance of this crucial truth…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Heb 10:19-31

19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;…30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.31[It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

THE STUDY:

In Hebrews 10:19-25, we find the importance of not taking God’s gracious workings in the lives of His people for granted…

19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And [having] an high priest over the house of God;

The Lord has given sinful mankind the privilege to enter into His presence now (through prayer and Bible study) and throughout eternity (dwelling with Him face to face).   Although we are sinful, through the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ, we can receive forgiveness of sins and communion with Almighty, Holy God.  It is though His work on our behalf that He becomes our intercessor (or priest), standing between God and sinful man, working peace, communion and forgiveness on our behalf.

22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.23Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;)24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Because the Lord has brought us into a close relationship with Himself, we are to draw near to Him, knowing that He has cleansed us from our inward and outward sins.  This forgiveness was applied to our account when His Spirit applied the Word to our hearts and lives (Eph 5:26).

We are also to be telling others of His workings in our lives and we are to aid others to serve Him in love (by meeting together to worship, learn and encourage other Christians).

All of these acts of appreciation, we are to observe in a greater way because our time is running short.  Soon our God will be coming back to take us home and be with Him forever.

In Hebrews 10:26-31, we find the solemn results of rejecting the truth by those who are not His people…

26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

After we receive the truths God has shown to us, and then count them as being false, there is no reason to believe that the Lord has, or will, forgive us.  If we remain in a state of denial of His truths we should fear, knowing that we are facing the judgment that is prepared by God for those who are His adversaries.  This judgment includes God’s fiery indignation (burning wrath) upon those who oppose Him.

28He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Now our attention is turned to the penalty of breaking God’s laws given to the nation of Israel.  According to the law given to them… if there were two or three witnesses to the commission of a crime worthy of death, that was ample proof for execution.

We are to compare that type of sin with the rejection of Christ, His work and His shed blood.  After hearing of Christ and His great sacrifice and then counting that as untrue, worthless, or of no benefit, we commit a very heinous sin in God’s eyes.  It is as if Christ and His work is being tred underfoot, dirtied, buried and ignored.

Even if the initial receipt of the truth affects our life causing a worldly, outward, reformation (sanctification) , this is not proof of spiritual life being present.   Simple good works shown in the life is no guarantee of acceptance by God.

A heart of repentant faith in Christ and in His work is an absolutely necessity for the forgiveness of sins.  This type of belief cannot be turned from, nor denied. (2 Cor 7:9-10)

30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.31[It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The Lord is plain throughout His Word, not only is He a God of love and grace; He is also a God of justice.  The Lord makes it clear that He will send judgment and deserved punishment upon those who reject the kind, loving, gracious, most valuable work of His Son.

This truth will bring terror upon those who reject Him.  To deny God’s existence and work is to sentence themselves to an eternity of separation from God in eternal misery in the lake of fire.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For those who are saved…

Let us never forget all that our God has done for us.  He not only created us, but then He saved us from our deserved punishment  through the sacrifice of His Son.   How much more should we be motivated to serve Him after all He has done for us? (Rom 12:1-2)

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Please take time to, honestly and with an open heart, study God’s Word and come to an understanding of the many various proofs of God’s existence and His Son’s work on your behalf.

The Bible makes it plain that we have all sinned and are facing punishment for those sins. (Rom 1:18-21, 2:11-12, Acts 17:30-31)  This is why rejecting the existence of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, is tantamount to sentencing yourself to an eternity of suffering at the hands of a Just God.  (Rom 2:5, 2 Pet 2:9, 3:7, Rev 20:15, 21:8)

Things do not have to be this way, however.  This same God, who is just in punishing sin, is also a very kind, gracious and loving God.  He has sent His Son to the earth to save His people from their sins. (Matt 1:21)

Through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross, the payment for the sin debt of God’s people was made in full.

By turning from our disbelief, and by trusting in Christ and His work on the cross, we can find forgiveness for our sins and peace with God. (Rom 3:26-28, 4:17-25, 5:1-2, 15:13)

Oh, won’t you change your mind and attitude about God and Christ?   Won’t you believe that God and His Son exist, and that they have performed the necessary work to forgive you of your sins?  By looking to Him and placing your life and future in His hands you will be assured of a life of peace with God.

May the Lord bless you as you seek the truth about Him.

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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Christ or Santa Claus; Man, am I confused!

SIH STSTA ICONMost of us know the basic history of Santa Claus…

Nicholas, a 17-year-old Catholic priest, became known for his generosity toward those that were in need (especially children).  Following his death the Catholic church granted him the status of sainthood.  As the Catholic church began to celebrate Christmas, they included St Nicholas in their celebration.

As time progressed, due to the influence of the reformation, the person of St Nicholas began to be changed into a variety of characters.  Different nations began to form their own description and name for this generous person.  St Nicholas’s new names ranged from Father Christmas, Christmas Man, Pere Noel and many others.  The name most commonly used in our country, Santa Claus, came from the Dutch version of St Nicholas, who was given the name, Sinterklaas.

In the early 1800s, most of the specific features of Santa Claus were first developed by two different publications; Clement C. Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and Thomas Nast’s yearly drawings of Santa Claus in “Harper’s Weekly” magazine.

Finally in the early to mid 1900’s Coca Cola commercials were the first time Santa Claus was pictured with the all of his modern-day features.

http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/santa_claus.htm

During the years of this evolutionary process, Santa Claus became an inseparable part of the American holiday season.  The vast majority of homes in the US continue to include Santa Claus in their Christmas celebration.  According to an AP AOL News poll 85% of those polled believed in Santa Claus as a child.  Also, over 60% of homes with children believe that Santa Claus is “important” to their holiday celebration.   For an eye-opening look at the role of Santa in the American celebration of Christmas please go to the poll:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/23/AR2006122300225.html

Christmas, which mankind has set aside to celebrate the birth of Christ, in today’s time seems to center more on Santa Claus than on the Lord Jesus Christ.  So what gives?  Could it be, that the world has chosen to replace Christ with Santa Claus?  Is Santa Claus the secular version of Christ? Let’s take a look and see what similarities Christ and Santa share…

THE SCRIPTURE:

To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. (Isa 40:25)

THE STUDY:

In our text, the Lord is making the point that He is clearly exalted above all creatures, great or small.  Although this is a true statement, many times man tries to find replacements for Christ.  One of those man-made replacements is Santa Claus.

Here is a quick comparison of Christ with Santa Claus:

  1.  Comes in the Sky – Mark 14:62
  2. Has White Hair – Rev 1:14
  3. Wears Red Clothing –  Isa 63:1-2
  4. The Time of His Coming Is Unknown – Matt 24:43-44
  5. Knows All The Actions Of Humans – Hebs 4:13
  6. Can Be Present Everywhere – Jer 23:23-24
  7. Will Not Die – Rev 1:8
  8. Rewards Good / Evil  –  Rev 22:12, Rom 14:12 … Santa leaves gifts or coal
  9. Loves Little Children – Mark 10:14
  10. Described as Christ child – Luke 2:11-12…. Kris Kringle means “Christ Child”
  11. Says Ho Ho – Zech 2:6
  12. Answers requests made to Him – Matthew 7:7
  13. Belief in Him is necessary for gifts to be received – Hebs 11:6
  14. We Look forward to His coming – Titus 2:13

Need I say more?

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

As we celebrate this Christmas season, at the least, we need to be sure that our children understand the true meaning of Christmas.  We can all do this by emphasizing the role of Christ and minimizing the role of Santa Claus.

For some of us, we may decide to totally exclude Santa from our holiday celebration and center all of our attention on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  After all, isn’t that what He really deserves?

I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. (Isa 42:8)

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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A Thanksgiving Day Devotion

SIH STSTA ICONIt is commonly believed that the first Thanksgiving celebration took place in 1621.  This feast was attended by both Pilgrims and Indians who joined together to thank God for their bountiful harvest of the previous year.  This celebration was continued by the first American colonies, and later by the United States, as a time of thanksgiving for the blessings that God had bestowed upon the American people.

The official Thanksgiving Day holiday was started in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln, at the end of the Civil War, asked Americans to set aside the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving to God for the blessings He had shown to America (one of which was an end to the Civil War).

In 1939 FDR moved the holiday to the prior week.  He did this to help businesses by giving them a longer holiday shopping period.  Finally, in 1941 the fourth Thursday in November was declared by Congress to be the official holiday of Thanksgiving.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-proclamation-thanksgiving-day

Clearly, the Thanksgiving holiday began, and was continued, as a time to give thanks to God for the blessings He has bestowed upon our country and its individual citizens.  Most presidents in their Thanksgiving Day proclamation clearly declare that the day is set aside to give thanks to God for the blessings He has given to us. One example of this is George Bush’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation of 1990…

“Now, therefore, I, George Bush, president of the United States of America, do hereby call upon the American people to observe Thursday, November 22, 1990, as a National Day of Thanksgiving and to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us.”

http://homeschooling.about.com/cs/unitssubjhol/a/thanksday_2.htm

There can be no doubt, historically, Thanksgiving is a day set aside for giving thanks to God Almighty for His many blessings He has given to us.  As this Thanksgiving Day approaches let us be sure to verbally explain to the younger generations the wonderful history behind the celebration.  Also, let us be sure that we all have a true thankful attitude towards our God for all His manifold gifts of grace He has given to each of us.

Did you know that everyday should be Thanksgiving for the Christian?

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. “ (1Th 5:18)

Let’s see what the Bible says about “The Christian’s Thanksgiving Day”…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. (Psa 100:3-5)

THE STUDY:

In our text we find three basic questions about Thanksgiving answered:

Question #1 – Who are we to thank? – vs 3

“Know ye that the LORD he is God:”

  1. Our God is specifically identified as “LORD” which is the Hebrew word “Jehovah”.  This word teaches us that our God is “the self existent, eternal One”.    In other words, He is the One true God.  There are many false gods in this world; but, He is the only God that truly exists eternally.  (Psa 83:18, 1 Tim 1:17)

 “it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;”

  1. Our God is identified as our Creator.  He is the One to whom we owe our existence.  We owe our physical life to Him.  But we also possess our spiritual life because of Him. (Acts 17:28, John 17:1-4)

“we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”

  1. Our God is identified as our Leader and Shepherd. Here, the word for “people” is describing a tribe or a nation.  In other words, we are a part of the tribe or nation that He is leading.  Another way of putting it is we are like sheep that are cared for by a Shepherd.   He leads us, feeds us, and protects us throughout our life’s journey.  (John 10:25-30)

Question #2 – How should we thank Him? – vs 4

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:”

  1. We should verbally thank and praise Him.  To “thank” here is a word related to a choir of worshippers singing of His works.  To “praise” means to sing hymns exalting Him.  In other words, we are to verbally tell other people what He has done for us and, in doing so, place Him above all other people and gods of this world.  (1 Chr 16:8 )

“be thankful unto him,”

  1. Here we find our inward attitude is important as well.  Not only are we to verbally be thankful but we are to have a thankful spirit within us as well.  The word here for “thankful” speaks of extending the hand… much like an infant in need of their parent will hold up their hands asking to be picked up and taken care of.  We should always have an infant’s attitude recognizing our constant need of His care for us.  Truly without Him we can do nothing! (John 15:4-6, Acts 5:38-39)

“and bless his name.”

  1. To “bless” means to kneel down.  This speaks of our need to recognize His greatness and our need to be humble in His presence.  We bring ourselves to a point of submission and total reliance on Him when we sincerely say… “Not my will but thine be done” in all areas of our lives. (Luke 22:41-42)   This is the true submissive spirit of a thankful heart doing all in the name of Christ.  (Col 3:15-17)

Question #3 –  Why should we thank Him? – vs 5

“For the LORD is good;”

  1.  Why do we thank Him… Because He is a “good” Lord.  In other words, He is a God that does bountiful, beneficial works on our behalf.  He is a gracious God, working on our behalf even though we do not deserve His blessings. (Neh 9:17, Joel 2:13, 2 Cor 4:12-15)

” his mercy is everlasting;”

  1.  We thank Him because He is eternally merciful to us.  He shows us “mercy” when He withholds harm from us even though we justly deserve that harm to come upon us.  The greatest example of His mercy is an eternity in the Lake of Fire.  Even though we deserve an eternity in hell, He withholds it from those whom He has forgiven.  This is truly an act of His great everlasting mercy.  For this He deserves a lifetime of our thanks. (Psa 103:8-11)

“and his truth endureth to all generations.”

  1. Finally, we are told we should be thankful for His Word that He has given to us.  It is this timeless Word that holds the message of salvation, the keys to successful living on earth, and great promises of our eternity with Him.  Without His Word, we would all be destined for a life of spiritual failure as well as an eternity in hell. (Psa 119:105, Prov 6:23, Phil 2:14-17)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

As we take time to celebrate the Thanksgiving season, let’s remember to take a time out and specifically thank the Lord for all of His many blessings He has given to us.   Let’s tell others about what He has done for us.

“Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.”(1Ch 16:8-9)

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Take time out to read the Lord’s Word and see what He did by sending His Son to die on the cross and pay the price for the sins of His people. (Titus 3:4-7, Roms 5:8-11, 2 Cor 5:19-21, 1 Jhn 4:9-10).  After doing all of this for His people, surely we can do what He asks of us.

What is His desire for our life? We are to turn from our sins and our false beliefs and rely on the message of the gospel to show us the truth about the way of salvation….

“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”(Mar 1:15)

After turning to Christ and trusting in His work to save us from our sins, we can join with other true believers and say…  “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (2Co 9:15)

You may also like the SIH 2012 Thanksgiving Devotion: http://wp.me/pU88A-1t8

Also SIH is celebrating Thanksgiving the entire month of November 2012 with a series of much shorter daily devotions the series begins here: http://wp.me/pU88A-1rR

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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Getting Acquainted With God (Part #2)

SIH STSTA ICONIn our previous study we answered two questions concerning acquainting ourselves with God.

First of all, we answered the question “How do we acquaint ourselves with God”… we found the answer to this question was two-fold:

  1. By learning about Christ we can acquaint ourselves with God.
  2. Since Christ is no longer physically present on the earth, we should look to the Word of God to learn more about Christ, and by association, learn about God as well.

Secondly, we answered the question “Why should we acquaint ourselves with God”… we found a two-fold answer to this question as well:

  1. Our text promised “peace” to those who are acquainted with God. With peace, we can withstand the must violent storms that life can bring our way. Peace takes away worry and discord among those who serve the Lord.
  2. Our text also promised “good” or “grace” upon those who become acquainted with God.  With grace we can be assured of victory in our spiritual battles, as well as continued the strength to serve in any way in which we are called.  With grace, not only is our life on earth secure but our eternal life as well.

In this study, lets take a bit of time to see a few things the Word tells us about our God…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. (Job 22:21)

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! … Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isa 40:9-31)

THE STUDY:

In Isaiah 40: we find the prophet Isaiah attempting to show the people of Judah the true God of all mankind.  (note: “Behold your God” – vs 9 sets stage for rest of Isa 40:)  Isaiah was faced with a very difficult problem.  How can He describe a God who is so great that He cannot be described?   It is an extremely difficult situation.  Our God is so great, our human minds cannot comprehend His greatness.

Isaiah’s solution to this difficulty is to use earthly comparisons to help the people of Judah, and us, understand the greatness of God….

So as Isaiah phrased it; “Behold Your God”…

  1. He is a compassionate, caring, Shepherd
    1. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
  2. He is the great Creator of all nature
    1. Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
  3. He is all-knowing, the Origin of all wisdom and understanding
    1. Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?
  4. He is the Sovereign Lord and King of all nations and kingdoms
    1. Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.
  5. He is deserving of all worship… no sinful man can please Him with the works of man’s hands.
    1. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.
  6. He is unequaled by any false god.
    1. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.
  7. He has been revealed to mankind since the beginning of time through His creation.
    1. Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:
  8. He holds ultimate authority in heaven and earth
    1. That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.
  9. He is a God that judges sin
    1. Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.
  10.   He is indescribable.
    1. To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.
  11.   He is sustainer of all His creation.
    1. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
  12.  He knows us better than we do… none can hide from Him.
    1. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
  13.   He empowers and enables those who seek His face.
    1. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Now we can understand why the Bible says…

Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. (Psa 86:8-10)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

As we consider our Lord’s greatness let us appreciate Him for saving us and caring for us along life’s pathway.  Let’s have thankful hearts this Thanksgiving season knowing He has intervened in our lives and our past present and future is secure in Him!

“So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations. (Psa 79:13)”

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Please keep in mind this same great God has sent His Son to live life on earth and die on a cross so that anyone who comes to Christ might receive forgiveness for the times they have failed God.  Come to Christ realizing you can do nothing to save yourself from your sin.  Look to Him, realizing He is your only hope of forgiveness and a secure future in Him.  He promises that He will not cast you aside.  And as you approach this Thanksgiving season you can have a new sense of security, joy and peace knowing you have been forgiven of your sins…

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (Joh 3:14-18)

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.(Joh 6:35-40)

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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Getting Acquainted With God (Part #1)

SIH STSTA ICONTo be “acquainted” with someone is an interesting concept.  Basically, the term “acquainted” refers to getting used to someone.  Or perhaps, a better way to express the thought is “to attune your self to another’s thoughts, feelings and actions”.

Remember the old Newlywed Game TV show?  It aired back in the 60s and 70s with host Bob Eubanks.  I used to watch the show all the time.  It involved taking 4 pairs of newlyweds and asking them a variety of questions to see how well they knew each other.  At times, some of their answers were hilarious.  In some cases, one of the spouses would answer a question in the exact opposite way as their spouse.  How embarrassing!  It was as if they were admitting to everyone watching the show that they really didn’t know their spouse very well at all.   For a quick peek at the show, take a look at this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4DD_OyT-sQ

As impossible as it might seem, God’s Word tells us that we can become acquainted with Almighty God! Can you imagine what it is like to have lives attuned with the Sovereign Creator of all?  Let’s see what the Bible has to say…

In part 1 of our study we will see how and why we acquaint ourselves with God.

In part 2 of our study we will begin a journey to acquaint ourselves with God.

THE SCRIPTURE:

Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. (Job 22:21)

THE STUDY:

It is through Christ that we can become acquainted with God the Father…

“Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” (Joh 14:8-11)

When Christ was on the earth, mankind had a living and breathing revelation of God amongst them.  They could watch the actions of Christ and hear the words of Christ, which would allow them to become acquainted with the Father.   However, now that Christ is no longer physically present with us on the earth, how can we learn about Christ; and in doing so, become acquainted with the Father?…

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.  (Joh 5:39)

We can read the Word of God and learn about Christ and His life on earth.  The Old Testament is filled with prophecies and symbolism revealing Christ; likewise, the gospels in the New Testament are written records of His life on earth, while the remaining portions of the New Testament helps to explain in more detail what Christ taught and did while on the earth.

The key to becoming acquainted with the Father is by becoming acquainted to Christ through the Word of God.   The Word is the only reliable source of knowledge about Christ and The Father.

(Please note: It is possible to learn about God through the experiences in our lives.  However, MUCH CARE must be taken in our interpretation of our life events.   For example, following being tempted, I could say… “I have now learned that God tempts people, because I have been tempted.”  However, by interpreting my life experience through the lens of the Scripture, I come to realize that God does not tempt any man but it was a combination of my lust, Satan, or the sinful world that caused the temptation – James 1:13-14.

We MUST ALWAYS interpret any life event within the context of Holy Scripture.  This is of great significance.  The Bible must take priority over any life event that may seem to teach us a lesson about God.  If we do not do this, we can come to gross misunderstandings about how God works.  In the worst scenario, these misunderstandings lead to heretical teachings and the misleading of those who are sincerely attempting to acquaint themselves with their God.

I have found that it is a much safer practice to refer to the Word for all my knowledge about My Lord and the Father.  I have NEVER learned anything from my life experiences about the workings of God that the Word has not clearly declared.  My life experiences simply affirm what the Word says about my Lord.  As I learn more from His Word, I begin to see more of His intervention in my life.)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

A life attuned to God, is an absolute necessity for us to live a victorious life for Him.  As our text brings forth… if we are acquainted with Him, both peace and good (or grace) will accompany our life here on earth.  With peace, we can withstand the must violent storms that life can bring our way.  With grace we can be assured of victory in our spiritual battles, as well as continued the strength to serve in any way in which we are called.  Paul understood the importance of grace and peace for the Christian’s life. That is Paul wishes His readers “grace and peace” on many separate occasions. (Roms 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3, 2 Cor 1:2, Gal 1:3, Eph 1:2, Phil 1:2, Col 1:2,  1 Thess 1:1, 2 Thess 1:2,  1 Tim 1:2,  2 Tim 1:2,  Tit 1:4, Phlm 1:3)

By becoming increasing familiar with His Word, through study (Acts 17:10-11), meditating (1 Tim 4:13-15), and memorization (Psa 119:11), we can learn much of our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Heavenly Father.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

The first step to developing a close walk with the Lord is by trusting in Jesus Christ as your Savior.  By coming to a point of acknowledgement of the sin in your life, and your inability to do anything to bring about the forgiveness of your sin, you will realize your only hope is in Christ.

Then by placing your spiritual well-being into the hands of the Lord, He will intervene in your life, grant repentance and give you the ability to understand His Word.  This is the first step that is necessary for you to walk closely with your God. (Isa 55:6-7, 2 Cor 3:13-17)

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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The Worm, The Hook, The Great Deception

SIH STSTA ICONFor any of you who have ever fished, you probably know how Bill Dance feels in this video compilation of some of his greatest bloopers…. You’ll love it!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_BLggf-mqs

The Bible addresses the issue of temptation, by picturing it as a fisherman attempting to catch a fish.  Unfortunately, in this scenario, temptation is the fisherman (empowered by Satan, our flesh and the world) and we are the fish.  What is the purpose of temptation? To bring misery and death to those who choose to take the bait and be reeled in by the sinful forces of this world.

Here is what the Bible has to say about temptation and it’s results…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (Jas 1:13-15)

THE STUDY:

In our first text, we find the steps of progression from temptation to the actual act of sin:

Step 1:  he is drawn away of his own lust  We come into contact with something that appeals to our desires.  Much like a fish is attracted to the bait, due to its hunger.

Step 2:  and enticed.  Enticed means to deceive, mislead.  Much like the fish, after being attracted, does recognize the hook; but believes that the bait is harmless.

Step 3:  Then when lust hath conceived  the idea of conceived means to grasp or take.  Once the fish takes the bait, sealing his fate.

Step 4:  it bringeth forth sin  By acting to satisfy the lists within us, we now commit the sin and, of course, bring an act of sin into our lives.  The result of this sin? Death.  Much like the fish that now has taken the bait is reeled to its awaiting death.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

To avoid the commission of sin we need to derail the temptation to sin process anyway we can.

Here are ways to derail the process at each of the first three steps of the four step process:

Step #1 – If we deal with our lusts properly… our sinful desires will be weakened and the opportunity to full those desires will be lessened.

We will be avoiding as many opportunities to fulfill our sinful lusts as possible.

An example: If our lusts lead us to easily abuse alcohol, we should avoid going into bars or restaurants that serve alcohol.

Or, we can think refuse to dwell mentally on our lust and its fulfillment, weakening our lusts by starving them.

An example: Do our lusts trouble us in the area of coveting the possessions of others?  If we see something we desire that is owned by another, we should not continue to think on the items.  This stirs up our lusts and opens the door to covetousness.

Step #2 – We need to stop and think about the true results of the sin we are about to commit.  We will not see the bait as harmless but as something that will work death to us.

An example: How will this action affect me tomorrow, or next week, or next year?  How will it affect those around me?  What will it do to my testimony?

Step #3 – We need to seek the wisdom of God before we commit to actions we are unsure about.  Ny doing this, we will be directed away from committing sin and resolving to do what is honoring to God.

An example:  Before we commit to an action, we should seek out God’s Word and/or the Godly counsel of others, asking the question “What saith the Lord?”.

By derailing the process before the sin is actually committed, we will be avoiding future pain for ourselves and others around us; while pleasing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Before you can begin to win the victory over temptation in your life, you must first submit your life and desires to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This submission is an absolute necessity for the forgiveness of your sins and living a new life of victory over sin and death.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.(Jas 4:7-8)

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

(Rom 6:16-18)

To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

 If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Why?

SIH STSTA ICON“Why is the sky blue?”  “Why does a dog bark?”  “Why is ice cream cold?”  The list goes on and on.  When we were much younger, we were concerned about all the “whys” of life.  Sad to say in the process of getting our answers, we drove our parents to the edge of insanity!

However, something happened to many of us as we grew older… the “whys” of life no longer seemed to be as important.  As we grew busier in our life’s activities, we no longer were concerned about “why”.  This change resulted in cheating us out of a greater appreciation of the world around us.

When it comes to God’s Word, understanding the “whys” is an absolute necessity to grasp the entire truth that is being presented.  For this blog entry, I would like us to look at one example of this principle.   Let’s look at the answer to a very common question that is asked by many Christians…. “Why did the Lord forgive us of our sins?”

THE SCRIPTURE:

And you hath he quickened,… That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:1-7)

THE STUDY:

This Scripture text is basically answering two questions:

In verses 1-3 we have the answer to: “What was our condition before The Lord forgave me of my sins?”

In verses 4-7 we have the answer to: “Why did the Lord forgive me of my sins?”

Our study will begin with verses 1-3…

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;”

Before the Lord intervened in our life we were “dead in trespasses and sins”.  In other words, spiritually we were separated from God and unable to help ourselves.  We could no more give ourselves forgiveness and spiritual life than a dead corpse can give itself CPR and bring itself back to life.

“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:”

Before the Lord’s intervention, our lifestyle was one of disobedience and rebellion to the will and ways of God.   Although we may have lived moral lives, our morality was of no more value than that of filthy rags (Isa 64:6).   Why were they of no lasting spiritual value? Our moral actions were not done out of a heart of love for the Lord.

“Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind;

Instead of our moral works being done out of love for God, they were motivated by the lusts of our flesh and mind.  In other words, our moral actions were motivated out of a love for self and pleasure.  Our entire lifestyle was one of living for self gratification.

“and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

Our sinful nature, which we received from Adam, was deserving of God’s punishment.  We shared this same type of nature with all mankind.  Everyone, possesses this same nature within themselves. (1 Cor 15:22)

(Note on verses 1-3….Please notice these verses set the groundwork for the following verses 4-7.   Basically what we are saying is this…. Since I was in such a horrible condition (vs 1-3) why did the Lord ever make the time and effort to save me? (vs 4-7))

In verses 4-7…

So why did The Lord forgive us?

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,”

Reason #1

We are forgiven because of His mercy and His love for us.   In other words, He is willing to withhold our deserved punishment from us (his mercy) because He so greatly loved us.

“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”

 This is a quick review of our horrible condition before His intervention in our lives. This review is given to remind us that we didn’t deserve, nor did we earn, His love or mercy…. It is given entirely by His willingness to give us undeserved blessings.  These undeserved blessings include His forgiveness which saved us from the punishment of our sins.

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”

Reason #2

We are forgiven so we might live eternally with Him.  The Lord raised us from our spiritual death, so that we might share an eternity in heaven with Him.

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

Reason #3

We are forgiven so that The Lord might be glorified.  From the moment of our salvation, the Lord glorifies Himself in the lives of those He has saved.  Anyone who is truly saved, becomes a new creature in Him.  Because of this great inward change, our outward lives change as well. (2 Cor 5:17) This change glorifies Him.

Also, throughout eternity, our presence with Him in heaven will be a continual testimony of His grace and forgiveness that He has given to His people. (Rev 4:10-11)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

When Christians are asked “Why did the Lord forgive you of your sins?” their two favorite responses are… “Because He loved us” and “Because He wanted to go to heaven and not hell”.  In our above text, we saw both of these are true.

However, please notice the third reason why He chose to save us.  It is because He wants to glorify Himself in our lives.  This is so important for each of us to understand.  If we have been saved we are to serve Him with our lives.  By doing, this we are bringing to fulfillment His third desire … that He might be glorified.  (Eph 2:8-10)

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

If you have never received the Lord’s gracious forgiveness… you can see your horrible condition without His intervention in your life. Turn from your sins and turn to Him in faith, recognizing He is your only hope… He will not cast you aside. (John 6:33-40)

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If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Election Day Blues

SIH STSTA ICONWe’ve all heard of the “Wedding Bell Blues”  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkMhWQgkZ8c), a hit song by the 5th Dimension.  But have any of us heard of the “Election Day Blues”?  I’ve sure got a case of them…

This week, we will be going to the polls to vote in the 2010 General Election.  Our choices for candidates will vary between Republican, Democratic, Constitutional, Green, Socialist, Communist and other lesser known parties.  What a blessing it is to be able to participate in open elections for governmental offices.  Men have shed their blood to give us this right, and for this, I am thankful.  Our Lord has been so good to us allowing us to live in a free country such as ours.

In spite of the continued blessing of freedom, my discouragement stems from the fact that I truly believe that our country is headed downhill and, without an act of divine intervention, will continue on a course to utter spiritual ruin.

Our Bible gives us the only remedy for our national ills…

THE SCRIPTURE:

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.  (Pro 29:2)

THE STUDY:

Based on our text, the Lord makes it plain that our only hope is for our Lord to raise up Godly leaders who will look to Him for guidance and put His desires first for our nation. It breaks my heart when I realize there are very few men and women willing to do this in today’s time.

When was the last time you heard one of our public leaders stand up on the floor of Congress and ask for our leaders to meet together in prayer, to seek The Lord’s desires for our nation.  This is what our nation needs, and yet, I have NEVER seen this type of request come from anyone holding high public office.   How many leaders use Scripture to persuade those around them during a time of debate?   In the few cases, I’ve seen them use a verse from the Bible to support their stand on any issue, it was always presented as an afterthought, never as the central basis of the decision they have made.

Many of the candidates we have put into office claim to be a Christian, and yet how many have put Christ and His desires first once they get into office?   Abortions continue, the Word and prayer is continuing to be removed from schools, euthanasia is on the increase, and yet what is really being done about it?  For the sake of the electorate, many of our leaders give these issues lip service, but once in office they seem to do nothing about them.  So, I find myself giving them my precious vote only to be disillusioned after a few years of seeing them in office.  This is why I am feeling the “Election Day Blues”.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

The only hope for our nation is found in the Lord.  The Lord will have to raise up Godly men and women who are willing to not only mention His name, but follow His desires for our country.  What is our responsibility in all of this… I believe it is two fold:

  1. seek the Lord’s will concerning running for public office and taking a stand for Him. (Matt 16:24)
  2. pray for divine intervention in the coming elections and our national ills (2 Chron 7:12-15)

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Think about what is taking place in our country… Is it in better condition now than 20 years ago?  If not, ask yourself, Why is our country going downhill?  The obvious answer is that our country has turned from its spiritual foundation, the Word of God.  Just as a country’s condition worsens without God; so too, any individual who has left the Lord out of his life is headed for coming destruction.  Recognize your condition; turn to Christ; and recognize the need for His intervention in your life.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Mat 11:28-30)

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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Have We No Shame?

SIH STSTA ICON“Sir, have you no shame?” …This question is said to have been used during the questioning of Sen Joseph McCarthy by Joseph Welch during the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954.  In reality, this question was never posed to the Senator.  The actual quote from Welch is as follows… “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” (see  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_McCarthy)

Although this question may have never been asked in 1954…  I believe that now is its time.   What better question could bring into focus the current state of the world in which we live?

Today, the murder of unborn infants is justified by the excuse that the unborn are only a part of their mother’s body, when their DNA clearly shows they are a separate human being.

Today, we see the perversion of homosexuality becoming an acceptable lifestyle, while standing against this sin is being publically described as “bigoted” or “hateful” by “gay rights” groups.

The immorality of conceiving a child out of wedlock, is being trumpeted as valued female independence.  Deceit, in order to advance in the workplace, is now a fact of life and looked upon as a sign of being “aggressive” or “hungry”.

Cheating on the part of our professional athletes has become as common as the lies that are told to cover up the cheating.

The removal of God’s Word from our schools, public places and government is being explained as being “politically correct”, while in reality it is “spiritually wicked”.

A multitude of sins are excused away with no thought of assigning responsibility, nor punishing the wrongdoing.

The morals that used to receive honor and respect are now looked upon with ridicule and distain.

The list goes on and on.

Does our nation not see the shredding of our moral fiber, and the resulting shame we have brought upon ourselves?  Do we not, even now, feel the grave results of this type of behavior in our nation?  Do we not see how we have taken the morals graciously given to us from our Lord, and trampled them under foot?

Again, may I ask “Have We No Shame?”

THE SCRIPTURE:

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. (Jer 6:15-16)

THE STUDY:

Long ago the prophet Jeremiah, under the inspiration of the Lord, addressed this issue of a nation who no longer felt shame for their evil deeds.  In the context, Jeremiah addressed the Southern kingdom of Judah, by calling their attention to the heinous sin that had overtaken their society.  What was that sin?  They had left the truths God had given to them, and began living according to what seemed right in their own eyes. (Provs 30:12)   (The condition of Judah during this time period mirrors the condition of our country today.)

Jeremiah 6:15-16 is a short part of the message that The Lord had given Jeremiah to speak to the people of Judah…

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush:

 

One of the main problems in Judah was lacking sorrow for the sin they were committing.  They had become so hardened toward their Lord, that they were able to commit sinful acts with no shame, nor regret.  It was as if they no longer cared about their Lord’s desire for their nation, but had chosen to turn their back on Him.  In doing so, they were living according to their own set of morals and became blinded to the desires of their God.

 

therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

 

This is the path they had placed themselves on… the path of imminent destruction.  Remember, the Lord had graciously given them His law to aid them and keep them pure and safe.  The morals of the Lord are beneficial to those who live by them.   When Judah chose to turn their backs on His laws, they were turning their back on their own safety, security and aid.   The Lord would now allow them to continue down the path of their choosing until they would end up as captives to the empire of Babylon. Who was to blame for their downfall?… only Judah.  The Lord had shown them the way of safety, they choose to depart from it, and in doing so, they were writing their own ticket to captivity.

This is the exact condition of our nation… we are going down a path that will eventually lead to our downfall.  We can see this on every hand as our nation struggles with economic, political, security, environmental, and most importantly, spiritual ills.

 

Thus saith the LORD,

 

The Lord gives the only true solution to the problems that Judah was facing.  This solution is divided into three distinct parts:

Part #1Stand ye in the ways, and see

 

Recognize the condition they were in.  By looking back at their history and God’s past blessings to them, they would be able to clearly see the sinful acts being committed in their nation.  They could recognize how horribly they had trodden on His gracious acts for them.  By remembering the blessed times, they could see all the blessings that had slipped away, and the grave situation they were now facing.

Part #2 –  and ask for the old paths, where is the good way,

After seeing their need to turn from their wickedness, their next step was to seek out the truths of His Word once again.

Part #3and walk therein,

 

It is not enough for a nation to “go through the motions” of religion.  The truths of God’s Word must be applied by the citizenry.  As the members of the nation turn back to the old ways and realigning their lives to follow God’s Word, you have true national repentance taking place.

 

and ye shall find rest for your souls.

It is only this type of sincere, practical acceptance of the laws of God, that a nation can be delivered from its downward spiral of disobedience and loss of blessings.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For our Nation….

But they said, We will not walk therein.

What a sad conclusion Judah came to, after all of the Lord’s patience, after His grace and kindness towards them, they failed by not seizing their opportunity for repentance.  When push came to shove, they could not bring themselves to turn from their ways and seek to do what was right.

Just as Judah had reached a point of decision making before God, so, too, our nation is facing the same time of reckoning.  With the current economic, political and spiritual problems in our nation today, we now see the handwriting on the wall.  There is very little doubt as to what our nation faces if it continues on the path it has chosen.  Now is the time…  The Lord has placed before our nation a simple, yet extremely important choice, it can be summarized by the following two passages…

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! …

Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.”  (Isa 5:20-24)

“If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;…

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2Ch 7:13-14)

United States, which path will you choose to follow?

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If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Turn, Turn, Turn – Our Ever Changing World

SIH STSTA ICONThe 1960’s group the Byrds recorded a hit song “Turn, Turn, Turn”.  This song is based on a section of Scripture found in Ecclesiates 3:1-8.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ga_M5Zdn4

Basically, these verses tell us that God’s plan for mankind is constant change.  This means that events are constantly changing around us, nothing on this earth can be expected to last, nor can it be expected to possess eternal value.

The Byrds named this song “Turn, Turn, Turn” to reflect the ever changing nature of the world.  However, they did not realize that by entitling this song “Turn” they were also giving us the key to stability and eternal security in the midst of this ever changing world….

THE SCRIPTURE:

And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luk 24:46-47)

THE STUDY:

Our text can be divided into 2 parts:

Part #1 – vs 46 –

This verse teaches us the basis of true peace, contentment and security in the midst of an ever changing world… the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on behalf of His people.

Thus it is written,

The basis of our security on this earth is a subject covered in great detail throughout the entire Bible.  Both Old and New Testaments are filled with prophecies, historical accounts, and personal testimonies of the Lord Jesus Christ, His work while on earth, and the results of that work.

and thus it behoved

The Greek word translated “behoved” is a word that means “it was absolutely necessary”, “binding to fulfill a purpose”.  In other words, what Christ accomplished as He lived, died and arose was a work that was absolutely necessary to be performed.  He was bound to perform this work if His people were to be saved and made secure.

 

Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

This work of Christ involved, His suffering and death at the hands of the Jews, the Romans, and by implication, each one of us.   He suffered and died for the sins of His people so that they might be saved. (Matt 1:21)  We all have sinned, and therefore, by implication, are responsible for the suffering and death of Christ.

Christ’s suffering and death on the cross was an absolute necessity to pay the price for the sins of His people (Col 1:20-23, Col 2:13-15)    Then, Christ’s resurrection was the proof given to man that His sacrifice was acceptable to God to pay the price for the sins of His people. (1 Cor 15:12-18)

Together these works of Christ (His death, burial, resurrection, and their proofs, make up the gospel “good news” of Christ 1 Cor 15:1-8).

Part #2 – vs 47 –

This verse teaches us of our need to turn to Christ to receive His salvation and security.

And that repentance and remission of sins

Here, the word “repentance” comes from a Greek word defined as “to turn”, “to reverse” or “to change”.

In other words, salvation will only come to those who are willing to turn from their sin and their unbelief.

In Mark 1:14-15, Jesus Himself issues an invitation to those who see their need of forgiveness, communion and security from God.  What was His call? “Repent ye and believe the gospel”.

He was telling sinners everywhere that they were to turn:

  1. from sin to His service (they must come being willing to give up their sin and be willing to now obey Him.)
  2. from rebellion to submission (they must be willing to no longer live for themselves but now be willing to submit to His will for their lives.)
  3. from disbelief to faith in Him (they must leave their doubting and denial behind and come to acceptance of His existence, Deity and work on their behalf.)

This is the type of “turning” that the Bible prescribes for anyone who sees their sinful condition and desires forgiveness from the Lord Jesus Christ.  This “turning” works faith in our hearts as our attitudes about sin, Christ, and His Word changes we come to a point of belief in Him.

 

As Christ intervenes in our life He turns us from sin to Him and, in doing so, grants us remission for our sins.  “Remission”  means “to deliver” or “to grant freedom from”.  Much like a rescued slave is delivered from their captivity and granted their freedom, Christ does the same for the truly repentant.  (Gals 4:3-7)

 

should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

This message is so important Christ has given a command for us to take this message of “repentance and remission” to everyone on the face of the globe.   Why? Everyone has sinned and is in the need of a Savior.  (2 Tim 2:25-26, Acts 17:30)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

We should always have thankful hearts, realizing Christ gave us the ability and led us to repentance entirely based upon His grace….  (Jer 31:18, 2 Tim 2:25-26).  Lets serve Him today from a heart filled with appreciation for all He Hass done for us!!!

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

The call of Christ is plain “repent ye and believe the gospel”. Turn to Christ and trust Him with your sin, your life, your needs, your goals… and your eternity.   It is only through turning to Him and trusting Him that you can receive forgiveness from your sin, peace in the midst of a turbulent world, and security knowing you are headed for an eternity with Him in paradise.   (Romans 6:, 2 Cor 4:)

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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Halloween Part #5 – The Series Summary

With the Halloween holiday just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to take time to study the history and characters surrounding the holiday.

As Christians, we have the responsibility to…

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1Th 5:21-22)

So with this as our motive and the desire of our hearts, let’s end our 5 part series on Halloween:

  1. A Study of The Halloween Celebration (All Hallows Eve)
  2. A Study of The Death Symbols – Skeletons, Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Frankenstein, Vampires, and Bats
  3. A Study of The Sorcery Symbols – Witches, Black Cats, Spiders, Werewolves, and Full Moons
  4. A Study of The Necromancy Symbols – Séances and Ouija Boards
  5. A Summary of Our Study On Halloween

May the Lord be glorified in our study….

THE SCRIPTURE:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2Co 6:14-18)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:1-2)

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.  (Jas 1:27)

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1Pe 1:13-16)

Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. (1Co 8:7-13)

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. (1Co 10:31-33)

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Php 4:6-9)

THE STUDY:

In our previous studies we have seen 4 basic principles concerning the Halloween festival:

  1. The festival of Halloween’s history is connected with the belief that the spirits of dead men walk the earth, it was observed in preparation for the worship of “the Lord of Darkness”,  it was held to appease and secure peace with these spirits for the upcoming year.
  2. The death symbols of Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Vampires, and Bats all were connected to the spirits of the dead which did not immediately go to their eternal state, but were able to dwell on the earth, avoiding the judgment they were facing and wreaking havoc among earthly beings.
  3. The sorcery symbols of Witches, Black Cats, Spiders, Werewolves, and Full Moons were related to  the casting of magical spells and incantations that affect mankind.   Also, the worship of false gods through idols derived from God’s creation (moon, planets, etc) was associated with these symbols.
  4. The necromancy symbols of Séances and Ouija Boards has the purpose of communicating with the spirits of the dead.

 

The Halloween festival, its related characters, and their connection to the occult, are very important considerations in the examination of our level of participation in the holiday.

Some areas of our examination should include:

  1. Are we properly separating ourselves from the sin of this world by participating in the Halloween festival?  (2Co 6:14-18)
  2. Is our level of involvement in Halloween considered “conforming” (molded into the shape of) or “fashioned” to this world? (Rom 12:1-2)  (1Pe 1:13-16)
  3. Is the Halloween celebration “spotting” our testimony for the Lord? (Jas 1:27)
  4. Is our participation in Halloween causing our weaker brothers to “stumble” in their walk for Christ?  In other words, are they encouraged to make bad life choices based on the example we are setting? (1Co 8:7-13)
  5. Can our participation in Halloween be done for the Lord’s glory? (1Co 10:31-33)
  6. When we are participating in this celebration can we be having our minds on that which is true, honest, just etc.? (Php 4:6-9)

Over the years, I have seen four basic “levels” of participation in Halloween by God’s people:

  1. A total participation which involved decorating and dressing up with any of the symbols our study has examined. Along with participation in trick or treating and other exclusively Halloween activities.
  2. A participation that involves decorating and dressing up but avoiding demonic images and using only more benign symbols like princesses, cowboys etc. while still participating in trick or treating etc.
  3. A participation in “Harvest” or “Fall” parties on a date other than Oct 31st that totally exclude the Halloween title and avoid all aspects of the holiday (no trick or treat, no costume wearing etc.)
  4. No celebration of any type.  No decorating, no costumes, no parties. They treat the holiday just like any other day.

Which do I believe is the proper approach?

  1. First, let me emphasize that every Christian must decide for him/her self as to the level of participation in Halloween activities.  There is no ‘thus saith the Lord’ on the subject.
  2. Remember, participation in Halloween is NOT participation in the sins it represents.  In other words, you can participate in Halloween and not be guilty of the sins of necromancy, the casting of spells etc.
  3. The question for the believer is … by participating am I appearing to condone these activities that Halloween symbolizes?  Am I placing upon myself the appearance of approval or indifference to those activities? By participating am I saying…. “Hey its no big deal” ?
  4. So what do I think?
    1. Please remember, it really doesn’t matter at all what I think, all that matters is what God’s Word says.  However, for the sake of you who are reading this, I need to take the time to explain what I believe…I think a full participation in Halloween, with costumes and decorations that include the occult symbols is a very questionable stand for a Christian to take.  My feeling when it comes to my service to the Lord is …”it is always better to be safe than sorry”.  If you have a question about an action.  Don’t do it!
    2. By removing the occult symbols out of the Halloween celebration is certainly a big step in the right direction. “The appearance of evil” is basically being removed from the issue. However, the activity of trick or treating and wearing of any costume does have less obvious occult implications.  But certainly, this is a far better than our first option. Also, by participating in trick or treat, it opens the opportunity for witnessing by distributing tracts and pocket sized Bibles with the candy that is passed out to children who come to your door.  The Christian considering this option will have to weigh the gospel going out against the indirect occult association of Halloween.  For me, this is a very difficult decision to make.  I can easily see both sides of this option.
    3. I see no problem at all with the last two options of a harvest party or no celebration at all. Both are totally benign options that have no occult connections whatsoever.

If you would like to have more information about the proper Christian role in Halloween please take a look at: http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/1126.  This is a link from Bro John McArthur’s website and well worth our time to read it. (A special thanks to Sharon A. for sending me this link, it’s a good one!  It is much appreciated.)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

So let me end this study as I began this study by saying can we, as Christians, say our participation in Halloween aligns itself with (1Th 5:21-22) “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

May the Lord lead each of us to an understanding of His will and an attitude of understanding and temperance towards other Christians.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

The greatest need that we all face in our lives is the need for the forgiveness of our sins.  We all have sinned and come short of our Lord’s expectations for us.  If you have never been saved, Halloween should not be your main concern, but concern about your sinful condition should take priority.  How do we find forgiveness of our sins and peace with our Lord?

The Lord gives us clear teaching on the way of salvation:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  (Joh 14:6)

 

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Act 4:10-12)

 

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1Pe 3:18)

 

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  (Rom 5:1-2)

Turn from your sins and come before the Lord, and trust only in Him for your salvation.

If you would like further information about salvation please refer to the page on my blog entitled “How to have a relationship with God”.

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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