Friday, February 18, 2011

1 Corinthians 13:1-7 : How Love is Truly Defined

Good evening and God bless. It seems so time since I have had the joy of expositing God's Word. I must say what a joy of all days to get an opportunity to do providentially speaking it is on Valentine's Day. When you consider the Scriptures and how they are to be regarded by the Christian it makes senses of my joy. For as the Psalmist declares,"Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day." (Psalm 119:97,ESV) Consider it is also written,"As a deer pants for flowing streams,so pants my soul for you, O God.My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.When shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 42:1-2,ESV) Just one other though I could state more,"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" (Psalm 34:8,ESV).

So with these in mind today as everyone is full aware it is Valentine's Day. This is the day where many spend sometimes...well, sadly more money is invested than love. By this I am stating people will spend crazy amounts trying to display how they love someone and yet most really say is honey this is what your worth to me or even more sad this is the most love they show to that significant other. Do you think I'm kidding or being ill out of being single? No, I have seen this,both from being a lost person from before my conversion and as a redeemed saint. It really does sicken me for on one day we see a cheapening of love, a perversion of love, and not to mention a continually waxing cold of true affection in a heightened sense. This doesn't mean these same actions don't occur at other times I'm just stating they happen at a heightened sense due to today being a holiday.

So some may ask or even a huge number what is love John and who defines? Well, first and foremost I will say two great questions. I will also say in addition that is the need for examining a popular Biblical text often preached around this holiday. While there would be nothing wrong to preach out of it,I do believe there has been harm due to not treating the text with proper biblical hermeneutics. This is gathering from the text what it is saying and not placing on it meaning from what we believe it is saying nor letting cultures standards dictate. So with this introduction I shall seek to exposit 1 Corinthians 13.Here my goals are this first and foremost to glorify God. Following and naturally according to that I seek to define what love is and isn't along with who defines it.

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. [2] And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. [3] If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.[4] Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant [5] or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; [6] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. [7] Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

[8] Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. [9] For we know in part and we prophesy in part, [10] but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. [11] When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a

child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. [12] For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know inpart; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.[13] So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Let me go ahead and make this remark I will give some background seeing as we need to understand some things of which the Apostle Paul is addressing in his letter to the Corinthian churches. For anyone who has done any reading through the book of 1 Corinthians can see there were certainly some problems/issues and Paul was addressing them via this letter. Another thing to consider when reading this chapter keep in mind the context. While I love chapters,verses,etc. I do believe sadly today people don't read much in context and instead think thoughts end at a chapter or in particular area simply because it goes to the next chapter. Hence the reason I have stated numerous times 2 Timothy 2:15,its importance for all Christians not just Pastors. The truth is indirectly there are those who seem to see a particular passage and don't see how it can apply to them when the truth is all of Scripture is beneficial and helpful to the Christian not just the parts that you want. Holy writ is not Ryans and you pick what you want,but instead all is inspired by God for as it is written,"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."(2 Timothy 3:16-17). Now yes I agree most certainly a Pastor needs it for those means when shepherding the flock entrusted to him by God along with the leadership,but make no mistake about it God does correct His people through His Word not just on Sundays. Another benefit for all Christians to spend time in study of the Word is to be able to discern between truth and error. For if you are growing in grace and in the knowledge by continual study will not error be clear. What I mean by this is that by spending time in His Word when confronted by any circumstance or situation you will examine things in light of the Holy Scriptures and if what someone brings before you contradicts His Word then you shall know it is falsehood. Does this mean we won't ever make errors? No,but instead it prepares for it is also written,"but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy,always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil." (1 Peter 3:15-17)

So now 1 Corinthians 13. In verses 1 through 3 notice a point which the Apostle is drawing out. Here he first states if "I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,but have not love..." You see this similiar repetition in the following verses. The Apostle is making a very clear point those things if not done in love mean nothing. They are nothing,but noises as verses states. Emphatically he is showing us that without love of which he will describe in the proceeding verses you will gain nothing, you are nothing and honestly just simply wishing to draw attention to yourself. To clarify what is meant by you are nothing or as the Apostle states in verse two I am nothing, this is stating that absolute hollowness of who the person is without love. That is they are vain and absolute shallow for their concerns and worries only are for them. They have a love,but it is a perversion in that they love themself and that is not love,but self-glorifation which seek to place oneself upon the throne. It's sad,but believe it or not this is the truth of many in this world and to hit home closer in this country.

So what is love? Well, the Apostle Paul gives us the very nature of love by describing the embodiment of love. As we know God is love so when he is describing this perfect and true love we see how God loves.A love in which we should seek to imitate as Christians. Do I do so in perfection? No,but I pray Lord help me to love this way so I may display your love to others. For it is written,'A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” '(John 13:34-35)

In verse 4 the Apostle starts with Love is patient. That is,it is enduring. Honestly my friends when I get that far I must admit I think of how many times I've come up short in that area. What continues to amaze me is despite how many times I've been impatient God has shown such long suffering toward me. I am amazed not because it shocks me based out of surprisal,but purely I don't feel so deserving. My friends His love shows such patience which I truly believe breeds humility within us. By this I mean when a Christian reflects on how God has dealt with them in situations they are brought low and seek to apply this to others. This is being conformed to the image of Christ Jesus in these moments I do believe. Next following this in the same verse we read love is kind. This of course goes hand in hand with His patience. This draws my mind to Hebrews 12 where it is written,"And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,nor be weary when reproved by him.For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? " (Hebrews 12:5-7) God treats us as His children, though discipline isn't fun we know He does so out of love. For consider this,if we were not chasten this would indicate most likely we are not His and that we would not have peace with Him meaning His wrath would still be upon us. Does the weight of this understanding make you rejoice saint, knowing He punishes you not just to get a laugh as wicked men presume,but for His glory and your good and it is in His nature to act in such a way being He is perfect,Holy, and never changing.

Moving forward we have love doesn't envy or boast; it isn't arrogant. What I find amazing is with the holiday(Valentine's Day) where people go to such extravagants we see quite the opposite of what the Apostle is revealing here. For so many envy, that is they wish for something to be theirs which is not theirs in such a self-centered fashion is what they practice. They become consumed with anything,but love. In fact what literally follows is boasting in self. How do they manifest this? They do so by trying to buy various expensive items or trying to draw attention to self. They do not give any glory to God in any manner. In fact it even sickens me to hear some of the boasting I've heard for it literally is one of boasting in sin. So what is the Apostle Paul describing here, a love that does not say so to speak look at me. Instead we read of a humble and genuine love. One that is sincere and the reason it doesn't envy is because those for whom it shows affection belong to it. For remember God is love and His people have been His people since before the foundation of the world. How do I know this for it is written,"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."(Ephesians 1:3-10) So that love which is true which only God truly displays always is not envious for He is deserving of all our love for consider what He has done for us and for us to even give our attention to another in the place of God is quite absurd and very ungrateful in deed.

Continuing further the Apostle Paul further unveils what Love is, that it isn't rude. This is I find quite perfect as the Apostle stated in verse 4 of it being kind. For here Paul is continuing to emphasize that it is something that is not passive,but active. For consider the definition of being rude is to act in an impolite way deliberately. This implies and gives notion for an action which is done so actively. So when the Apostle Paul states that love isn't rude. Here we see that in this continued unveiling of this true love that its actions are those which deliberately show care to others without thought of what they shall receive. Let us consider just a few passages in regards to this for just a moment. First in Paul's epistle to the Philippians,"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:3-4) Following this verse it states in verse 5 something which I believe we know and is obvious,but nonetheless something we should constantly remind ourselves of,"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus," (Philippians 2:5a) That is having the mind of a servant leader and not thinking of self first. That is seeking to have your actions and thoughts line up with Scripture not what feels good or what the culture thinks is good. Men especially take note of this as we are called in our roles and not cower away,but truly be a man among men according to the Scriptures. For it is written,"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her," Consider this speaks in no way how the world would place value on relationships for in it we see care for one another. I pray this probes deep in your thoughts when you say the words I love you, that you are not looking for something back, but sincerly do it. I hope also when I state this that no man nor woman draws from that sentence that love should not be reciprocated between two people. One other passage to consider is in Paul's letter to the Christians in Rome which says,"Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up."(Romans 15:2) Once again noting the emphasis being on considering another and seeking their interest and welfare. Opening this thought up more the Apostle states," it is not irritable or resentful"(1 Corinthians 13:5b). Here I believe is an extension of when he states it isn't rude for when you consider the words irritable or resentful someone who is rude would fill both of those descriptions to a T,but this true love isn't bothersome,but actually a delight. I believe the words of the Apostle John are quite applicable here along side with the Psalmist,"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. " "Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day."(1 John 5:3,Psalm 119:97)

Moving into verse 6 Paul continues to unpackage what true love is by stacking so clearly something I believe Scripture has said in other ways,but here the Apostle is to some degree stating it in a more blunt way. Here he says," it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth." Here he is making it quite clear that true loves does not rejoice with that which is wrong nor that which isn't the truth. My friends it this was clear the first time I expound this section of Scripture and still I see it. That of which I speak is true love does not rejoice in iniquity. This is why it sickens me to not only see how degraded this holiday is treated,but also what people say and declare to be love. Let me just cite a few passages of Scripture to make my case,"For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;evil may not dwell with you."(Psalm 5:4),"The LORD tests the righteous,but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence."(Psalm 11:5),"And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them."(Leviticus 20:23), and "There are six things that the LORD hates,seven that are an abomination to him:haughty eyes, a lying tongue,and hands that shed innocent blood,a heart that devises wicked plans,feet that make haste to run to evil,a false witness who breathes out lies,and one who sows discord among brothers." (Proverbs 6:16-19). Does it not seem clear God does not nor will He ever rejoice in that which is evil. So for those who pin the word love to something which has no resemblence of what He defines as love,but actually opposes is sick. So what does love rejoice in, well, I believe Christ said it best in the Gospels,'God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” ' (John 4:24) This is what the Father rejoices in truly worshiping Him we are expressing our love to Him. For do we not do so when come as a corporate body on the Lord's day and give adoration in our singing,in our prayers(Philippians 4:6) and our communing with God as the Word is preached to us.

Following this comes a verse I believe to very familiar with most if not all evangelicals is verse 7. Here we see three particular characteristics of love. First the Apostle Paul says it bears all. Wow, what a statement. My friends I ask how much do we bear with towards those whom we love? Instead I say sadly we instead are not patient as I mentioned earlier which lends to us not bearing with them and in essence we do not show this love which Paul is describing. Consider how God described Himself to Moses,'The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.” '(Exodus 34:6-7) Now you may ask how is it the LORD is both one who bears yet does not let the guilty go unpunished. I believe a section in the book of Romans will shed light on this quite well,"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:22-26) Since there is none as in this same chapter of Romans who are declared to be righteous than it is clear God must be the one to justify for who else has any grounds? No for all stand before God guilty.

Then we have it believes all things. This isn't an indication that it is a naive spirit or guillible. No this indicates trust and walks hand in hand with bears all things for to bear all things you must believe all things. How else shall a man and a woman last in a marriage if not founded upon Christ and believe He shall get them through any trial or tribulation? Lastly in this verse love endures all things. My friends consider passage of Scripture,"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."(Romans 8:28),"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6),"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil,for you are with me;your rod and your staff,they comfort me....Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever."(Psalm 23:4,6) Here we see just a few of the many examples throughout Scripture of the guarantee that His love doesn't fail,but endures. This doesn't mean we won't suffer. It doesn't even mean we won't have times of trial,but it means as it is written,'“I will never leave you nor forsake you."' (Hebrews 13:5b)

My friends, my brothers and sisters I do hope this has been a source of encouragement this evening. Let not the world dictate that which matters most(1 Corinthians 13:13),but instead be lead by His Holy Word.

Good night and God bless,

John W. Whybrew III

Monday, October 4, 2010

Update - Oct. 4, 2010

Good day and God bless. It seems so long since I have logged on here and left anything. In fact as I saw it was during the summer. Well, since that time I did post a devotional via facebook,but have been busy with school and work. Not to mention reading a number of books. I'd recommend some for all Christians and others I'd recommend based upon a Christian's desire and where they are in their walk. It isn't these books were not edifying or profitable,but there are some books which I don't believe would be helpful for a young believer as the material is really beyond their understanding. For example I have read The Forgotten Trinity by James White which is a great book on the doctrine of Trinity. While there are places it is difficult to some measure with the Greek in it. Still I could recommend it as one Dr. White explains it well enough for those desiring to understand could really grasp this book front to back. Not only that this doctrine is fundamental as it is a central Christian tenet. Then on the hand one of the other books I read is the KJV only Controversy by James White. While an understanding of textual variations is great to understand when dealing with men and women who hold this position, it is not something every Christian needs,but at the same time I will not hold a brother or sister back if they desire and can grapple with the subject with understanding. These are just a couple books and I must say the time has been encouraging and Lord willing hope to get back to writing on here on a regular basis. Do hope all my brothers and sisters who follow me are doing well and know my prayers are with you. Good day and God bless.

In Christ,

Friday, June 4, 2010

Update - June 4,2010

I apologize for anyone who has been waiting for me to write. Between college and life sadly I've not been able to write a devotional in some time. I am currently studying in preparation for a devotional series. Lord willing it should be up and I will post it on here and my other blog. I will post the link later. Keep me in prayer while I continue to study and know I have you my brethren in prayer as well.

Good night and God bless,
John W. Whybrew III <><

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Update - Please read if you follow this blog

Something I thought about last night specifically,but it has been on my heart for sometime is I haven't been able to post daily. Now granted none of us know what each day holds nor can always have time to post due to various obligations. I'm not making excuses by any means,but speaking more on the realities and truths of life. Instead I've decided to start another blog which I will post the link to either in this posting or in a separate. The reason I've decide to start a new blog is one, this title says Daily Devotional and sadly I've not been able to post daily. I still plan on posting devotionals,but I believe under this heading it does give the impression or pretense of a daily posting. As I've continue to mature in the faith I've seen and been convicted I can not nor can feel at peace to just post in a brief time a devotional. I say this as I want to both provide in the devotional edification for the saints and possibly conviction. I know many times myself as I've heard the preaching of the Word both conviction and encouragement wrapped together. This is not uncommon and so if it does we as believers should not feel uncomfortable or angered at preachers or those presenting. Instead we should examine things in light of Scripture and seek to conform our lives to the Word and not conform the Scriptures to our lives. In addition I've found my preparation and study time for each devotional has grown. I venture this may vary with people,but I will not and I can not handle God's Word with lightness so I feel it requires the utmost important in time of preparing one's self even in this matter of a devotional. Thank for the few who do follow and I pray these devotional of the past have been edifying and encouraging to you. Lord willing my new blog should be soon and my first devotional should follow as I'm currently preparing.

Good day and God bless,
John W. Whybrew III <><

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Blessed Are They Which Are Persecuted For Righteousness' Sake ( Matthew 5:10-12 )

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12


Good evening and God bless to my brethren it has been some time since I last wrote and in fact the last I wrote it was 2009. Now we are nine days into the new year and already I've seen a great deal of blessings. As I've told different people at different times as I see blessings everyday. Truly when a younger believer my idea of a blessing was material and granted that is a blessing,but now nearly three years since the Lord saved me I've continued to see more things as blessings. From seeing friends and family to drawing breathe another day to live and serve Him. The point I wish to draw is we as believers are blessed truly for being called His. So tonight I'm going to finish with the last beatitude, the last of the eight blessings in which the Lord talks about in the beginning of His sermon on the mount.Now as I've stated previous and as I believe I've come to shown. I want to go in deep and show the blessing of being persecuted. Now I know right off hand that doesn't too wonderful, much less sound synonymous with the word blessing, but I pray by the end you all with be edify and this brings God glory. Now let us dig into the text.

Starting in verse ten we have, blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake for theirs is the kingdom of God. Well, this to me in some manner of speaking needs to be understood. What I mean by this is that everyone wants to know about their calls, their blessings, who am I going and other such related question in the context of biblical understanding, but sadly in American Christianity persecution barely comes across. In fact the best knowledge we have here is it happens in other places, we might have read it in Foxe's Book of Martyrs or hopefully they have read of the persecution in the scriptures. Sadly the reality persecution is not to well understood and while one needs not spend their whole life digress on it they need to have a grasp of what it is. While in other parts it may involve physical harm, in our part of the world it is happening via censoring of material and limiting what can be taught in schools. Not to mention think of what someone in our country is thought of for thinking of the biblical view of marriage. In fact My brothers and sisters consider what the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy," Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. ( 2 Timothy 3:12 )" To me that sounds very inclusive as of we, all those who follow Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. Consider the very words of the Lord himself,"Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. ( John 15:20 )"

So yes this is a reality and we must not wear rose tinted glasses. Now please don't think I sound harsh or rough out of being mean,but quite different out of love. I feel it important to remind my brethren that these times will come,but let me assure you this that while these times will come know this we have comfort in knowing the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us( Hebrews 13:5 ). These persecutions while trying and quite difficult are always meant for refining and to bring God glory. Consider what James wrote in his epistle,"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. ( James 1:2-4 )" Another point I'd like to note is what the Lord says that theirs is the kingdom of God. So despite the fact they so suffer persecution theirs or their reward is the kingdom of God. This reminds of passage in Matthew where the Lord says,"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? ( Matthew 16:24-26) " Another words the Lord was very clear there is a cost to discipleship. He made it quite clear that no man, no person could be His disciple that loved other things, even their life more than Him. Hence we see the blessing in being persecuted for in it we partake in the sufferings of Christ and know this as well He also shall comfort us as well and give us strength through it.

Now I'm going to move on to verse eleven to something in particular Christ notes of the persecution. First off know this just as He was persecuted so shall we be reviled as well as I stated earlier that the servant is not above his Lord. Next the Lord goes on to say they shall speak falsely about you for My(Jesus) sake. Consider these words from the Apostle Peter's first epistle,"If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. ( 1 Peter 4:14 )" Notice the point while it may seem that your getting an injustice done to you, remember ultimately whom they will have to stand before and unless they repent and trust in Christ alone to save them they are just storing up wrath. My friends one thing I've come to feel for the lost is great pain. What I mean by that is I pray for them to come to saving knowledge. For my brethren we know what the scriptures say about those who not found in Christ where they shall be cast. Instead of getting angry and seeking revenge let us pray for them. Remember the Lord avenges His own and just as the verse says evil is spoken of on their behalf and on yours God is glorified. This is not because were special in a manner of speaking,but remember our lives are to be living sacrifices( Romans 12:1)

Moving on to verse 12, the Lord says to rejoice and be exceeding glad. Just think about it, blessed are those persecuted for righteousness' sake, reviled, and all manner of evil spoken of about you, but then the Lord says rejoice and be exceeding glad. I believe we can begin to have a clearer understanding that unless a person is truly converted they won't see the blessings in this beatitude much less the rest of them. The reason for this is simple for this is quite simple they will be thinking carnally. So while it seems odd to the carnal mind the spiritual mind understands blessings. It see reason to rejoice and be glad. For it knows its reward is in Heaven. Look at what the writer in the book of Hebrews writes, " For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. ( Hebrews 10:34)" The writer clearly depicts what the Lord is stating to rejoice in these trials for the reward you have in Heaven is better and not only that it is eternal or as the writer writes, an enduring substance.

The Lord then goes on to mention the persecution of the prophets and that they shall persecute you as well. This should be noted for us today. As I stated earlier we here in America don't have as firm of grasp on this topic as we think we do. My friends here it more mental than physical and with that sadly there are those reacting in wrong measures. My friends after recently reading through some of the book of Acts it was most encouraging to read how they responded to persecution in the very beginning. The response was boldness. They didn't cower back or tried to compromise. No they were bold and continued to preach the Word. Now some will say we are still preaching the Word today or we have religious freedom. What most Christians in America don't realize is they aren't nearly as bold as they think. We don't call things for what they are for fear of persecution. We do this for a number of reason,but we need not do this. Instead we need to stand boldly and adhere to Truth of the scriptures no matter what it costs us. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians in his second letter," Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.( 2 Corinthians 12:10)" I realize the stances I take on issues will go over like a lead balloon, but I seek to please God and not man. This means I shall suffer persecution for the scriptures assure this,but praise God for He will never leave me nor forsake me and give me the strength to endure through the various trials.

In closing my brethren I pray this has been edifying to you and may you take this in. Consider the blessing spoken of here in Matthew 5:10-12. Realize as the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in his second letter to him all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. It will happen, we know not when or how, but instead let us just pray for the strength to endure and ask to be used in it for God's glory and His praise as it would be good in His eyes. Let me leave you with this passage from the book of Hebrews for encouragement my brethren:

"By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;

Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;"

( Hebrews 11:24-25 )

Good night and God bless,
John W. Whybrew III <><

Monday, December 21, 2009

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. ( Matthew 5:9 )

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Matthew 5:9


Good evening and God bless my brethren. We are literally a few days away from Christmas and how the weather in my neck of the woods is quite chilly, but ever thankful for the blessings of family and friends whom I shall see during this time. I pray that during this time may this devotional encourage you during this holiday season. May we continue thinking about how God sent His only Son to die for sinners like us. Truly may we take every opportunity we have to share the gospel with family, friends and any other person whom the Lord may put along our paths. May we boldly declare this gospel and say as the Apostle Paul said so clearly to the Christians at Rome in that epistle," For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. " For truly we have the best gift to share this holiday season, not a gift card, not a new pair of shoes,but the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of God unto to salvation to everyone who believes.

Tonight I continue in the beatitudes and I must say what a blessing it is to continue expounding this with you my brothers and sisters. For truly these are blessings. Tonight I move on to the seventh of the eight beatitudes the Lord mentions and here He says," Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. " Alright so now let us dig into the text.

First off we have blessed are the peacemakers. For starters as stated in a previous beatitude on blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy we understood that the blessing of not only showing mercy,but first being showed mercy. So the same goes here. By nature we are not peacemakers in fact by nature we are children of wrath( Ephesians 2:3 ). Doesn't sound like the type who is going around making peace with anyone much less with God. Well, I'm sure some may argue and say well John they seem peaceful by its very definition. Now let me take you over to another passage of scripture and then re-examine that thought in light of it," Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ( John 14:27 ) " What I'm saying is this are they truly at peace or temporarily at comfort. For truly a person can seem at peace,but unless reconciled to God, they only have temporary comfort for as it is written those who do not believe the wrath of God abides on him. That doesn't sound peaceful at all in fact quite scary in reality.

So now in light of this think about what the Lord has done for those of us who are blessed to be called these peacemakers. Consider some passages of scripture which show us just how we are reconciled to God through Christ Jesus. That by first being shown peace,by having peace made between us and God through Him we then seek to do so in our very lives. First off let us consider what it says in Romans chapter 5 verses 6 through 11, " For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. " Now I'll take you over to 2 Corinthians 5 verses 19 through 21 where again you will see the Apostle Paul echoing something quite similar," To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Once again you see the point Paul is drawing here is that God reconciles man to himself through the person and work of His son, Jesus Christ. It is Christ whom makes it possible for there to be peace between a man and God. Consider yet another section of scripture," And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.( Colossians 1:20 ) " Truly as I've had the opportunity to tell a youth group of whom I find dear to me I know love and mercy for God showed them both to me first. The same is true of peace. For us whom can say blessed are those who called the peacemakers. Those who have been reconciled by Jesus Christ.

So what exactly does it mean to be a peacemaker. Well, let me expound on that a bit as not to get it confused with what some may think it to be. To be a peacemaker is to not be one who compromises nor one who is weak. I believe when the thought of someone being peaceful they often think of someone who is quiet and reserved,but let us consider a few passages of scripture and see what Holy Writ has to say. First let us start in Jude," Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. ( Jude 1:3 ) " Now right off I'm sure some may ask how does this passage fit in with topic of peace. Well, my friends as I stated a peacemaker is not a person who compromises and us being witnesses for the gospel that surely shouldn't be the case. As Jude most certainly indicates we need to contend for the gospel. Friends to contend to fight for it. This is to defend it and to not give in pressure. Yes we are peacemakers in the sense we share the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,but we must at the same time contend for this gospel and not at all compromise it. Think about what I said earlier, may we boldly declare it as the Apostle Paul said in his epistle to the Christians at Rome,"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16) " You may say is it necessary to post that passage again and I say yes. For we need to be reminded that one we need never to be ashamed of this glorious message in which we proclaim to this world and two that it has the power of God unto salvation to all whom believe.

So what are basic applications of this blessing in our life. I find an example in 1 Peter chapter 3 verses 10 and 11," For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it." Another words peacemakers, us who have been reconciled to God through Christ Jesus will seek peace in all our relationships. You know it is truly been a blessing to see how men and women alike are much different in their handling with people after Christ comes in their lives changes them and continues changing them. How they handle situations and people in general. I'm by no means saying they are perfect,but when you look at the total picture you see where they do things in such a different way. Even when they make errors and come short watch how when brought under conviction they seek to make peace. Not because they want to look perfect,but truly they want to be more like Christ. They see their imperfection and say with the Apostle Paul I press on.

Now moving on, let us look at what the Lord says in the second half," for they shall be called the children of God." I must say what a blessing it is to be first of all reconciled to God. For in this first beatitude we in some measure covered justification. More than that, those who have been reconciled or made at peace with God are to be called the children of God. This comes about through adoption and what a blessing to be adopted into God's family. First let us go to the gospel of John to examine the depth of the beauty of adoption, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ( John 1:11-13 ) " Let me first off say notice how it says He( Jesus) came unto his own, that being the people of Israel and they received Him not. Sadly the people of Israel for the most part did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Sadly today there are many Jewish people who don't. I don't say this as an attack,but as an honest fact. In fact at the wailing wall there are those praying for their coming Messiah. The fact is He came and He is coming again. Now moving on in those verses even though there were those who didn't receive Him, those who did believe in Him they were given the right to become the sons of God through adoption in Jesus Christ. Think hard on what verse 13 says , "not of blood, nor of the will of flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."Here in the first chapter of John,the Apostle John truly gives and clearly shows the deity of Christ. In this passage I believe we see a point, which in chapter three is shown in much greater detail and that is of regeneration. That is that man does not work with God on this,but this is a supernatural work done by God and by God alone. Think it it talks not of blood, meaning natural birth and then nor of the will of flesh, nor the will of man, thus here driving home the point that this is a work of God in this redemptive process. Consider the words of the prophet Jonah,"But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. ( Jonah 2:9 ) "

So you may say well, so we are called children of God so what were not the children of Israel called this too. Well, let get to this as I do believe it needs to be addressed and understood to some measure. Let me draw two passages from the New Testament which I believe will really help tie things together and I pray will bring clarity and edification to the saints. First let us go to the gospel of Matthew and see what John the Baptist says to the Pharisees and Sadducees, " But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire ( Matthew 3:7-10 ) " Then let us also look at Romans 9 and what the Apostle Paul says to the Christians at Rome," Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.( Romans 9:6-8 ) " The point I'm trying to drive home is not all Israel is Israel just as Paul states another words there were those among them who truly were counted among God's children and others who were Israelites by nationality. When you look at verse eight you really do get a clear understanding for it is the children of promise and not the children of the flesh. Scripture is quite clear in distinguishing two groups. Consider other examples the sheep and the goats, the righteous and the wicked and others. I felt the need to address as we need not think based on parents, family, or friends may we consider ourselves getting in to heaven. For that is exactly what the Pharisees and Sadduccess thought, they figured Abraham was their father so they were getting in on his coat tails so to speak, but the truth is, it doesn't work that way. You must repent and believe on the gospel, for it is Christ and Christ alone whom saves not man. For there is only one name in which you can be saved by and that is Jesus Christ. Sadly they never understood this and continued to get the wicked desires of their hearts. Friends please remember we need not think we have anything based on what family or friends have done,but instead look to Christ alone. For it is His perfect work upon Calvary in which secured our salvation.

My friends I'd like to conclude tonight by saying truly we are blessed to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and may we never forget it. May we instead over this holiday season reflect on the perfect work on Calvary and what Christ did for us. Reflect on what it means to blessed to be a peacemaker and by that blessing know you are called a child of God through adoption. My brethren may I leave you with some passage of scripture to meditate and chew on in reference to tonight's devotional.

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:"
( Romans 8:14-16 )

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:"
( Hebrews 12:14 )

"Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
( James 3:13-18 )

Good night and God bless,
John W. Whybrew III <><

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blessed Are The Pure In Heart: For They Shall See God ( Matthew 5:8 )

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Matthew 5:8


Good evening and God bless tonight I return back to the beatitudes what a blessing it was on Monday to return to writing after a semi-long hiatus. With school finally done as of last week I have more time and Lord willing I hope to be able to get back this on a more daily basis. Of course in addition to school keeping me from writing everyone knows shortly after writing my last devotional in November my grandmother had past away on Thanksgiving Day. Truly like I have shared with a number of brethren while the lose is tough, I am so thankful for the Lord's comfort that day and continued comfort. Truly we serve a loving and compassionate God. I've seen it not only during this time, but certainly with this being recently it surely does come to mind. Truly it was so beautiful how scripture flooded my mind and such peace overwhelmed me. It's not that I didn't stop loving my grandmother or lost reality,but truly I understood to such a greater depth of what it said in Matthew 5:4, "Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted." Truly between the text messages, kind heart felt comments, and prayers it was so humbling. Truly I really got to see a greater depth of how blessed it is to mourn for truly the Lord does comfort. So brethren know this while we will lose those whom we love, know this the Lord is the God of all comfort and will provide comfort in so many ways. Believe me once again this time of year has been rough for me and once again I have only grown closer to God. I am ever thankful to know I serve a most gracious and loving Heavenly Father. Now my brothers and sisters tonight I pray this devotional will both bring glory to God and edify the saints, you my brethren.

Tonight's text continues as I stated from the beatitudes as you there is eight beatitudes or eight blessings. Tonight is the sixth of eight and it reads, " Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Now I must say as a young Christian early on in my walk I would have taken a surface or skimmed answer,but now I want an answer with some meat on it. The reason I say this is too often when people have questions, biblical questions they get what I'd like to call elementary answers. Now granted there are some questions you can answer yes or no, like is Jesus the Son of God yes, but then again I can't stop there for to stop there the person may think we are polytheistic or plainly get confused on the virgin birth. The point is you must give an adequate answer when someone asks a question. Now granted and I've said this before we don't all have to be theologians, but I believe a thorough understanding of basic truths should be understood. If you can't explain the gospel to someone and your a Christian well there is a problem. Think about what 1 Peter 3:15 says," But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" I wonder does that leave any room for having excuses as to not having answers or instead does it call us to have an answer always. So my friends now I plan on giving you some meat on Matthew 5:8. I'm no theologian, but I want this to encourage you of the blessing that it entails and not just give you a shallow answer.

First off our Lord says blessed are the pure in heart. So what exactly is the Lord saying here. Well, let me first refer you to the book of Jeremiah where the prophet Jeremiah deals with the heart and let us see what it says, " The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? ( Jeremiah 17:9 ) " Alright from this very statement from scripture you see the very condition of our hearts. So this brings me to what must be done about the condition of our heart for obviously a wicked heart will not see God. There are plenty of passages in scriptures that indicate the end of the wicked. So how does one say I'm blessed for I'm pure in heart and I shall see God. Well, let me draw you back to the prophets, to the prophet Ezekiel," And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20)" God isn't saying He is going to physically take out their heart, no instead He will circumcise their once hearts of stones and they instead will be hearts of flesh. Hearts in which His law is written upon it and they will be His people and He will be their God. So yes truly the believer can say they are pure in heart in the degree that circumcision of the heart has occurred by the very work of the Holy Spirit.

To see this illustrated in the NT( new testament ) let me take you over to the book of Hebrews, "Let 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. ( Hebrews 10:22 ) " Here once again you see that we are by no means perfect,but it shows the condition of the heart,but it deals with faith as well. Notice what it says at the beginning of this verse let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. My friends to group that set of words together," true heart in full assurance of faith" I do believe there is a point being addressed. For look at the following verse,"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; ( Hebrews 10:23 )" What I'm saying is notice that the condition of our hearts have been changed so therefore we can place faith in the one whom did the work for He is faithful.

Next I'd like to move to what the Lord says in the second half of the verse," for they shall see God." Now that is most blessed to hear. Think about what Moses experience where he hid behind the rock and caught just a glimpse of the presence of God. For to see the face of God will kill a man. Now let be clear by this by no means am I saying God is a man. God does use anthropomorphism so as to relate and explain things to us. What I am saying that just as He said to Moses for to see my face or His glory would kill him(Moses). Read Exodus 33 and see the beauty of how the rock in which Moses hid behind pointed to Christ the Rock of Ages in which we find our refuge in. Understand this what Christ is stating in this beatitude is the blessing of being found in Him. That those found in Christ are spared from the wrath to come. For they shall see God. Think about a passage in the NT, in which Jesus is speaking to His disciples," 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. (John 14:8-11) " My friends to know the Lord is to know the Father for they are of the same substance. Jesus was making this clear to Philip hear that since he knew Jesus then he knew the Father as well. Sad as it may be, people do like to complicate things. Now granted the doctrine of trinity is deep, the fact is to Know God, you need to know His Son. For there is only one way to the Father and that is through the Son, for as it is written," Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. ( John 14:6 ) "

So yes the pure in heart will see God. Not based on anything good they have done,but based on the merit and perfect work of Jesus Christ. You know when we think of how blessed it is to say I'm pure in heart not because I'm perfect,but because the Lord has circumsized this once heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh,one with His laws written upon it. It really does bring one to an attitude of gratitude. It humbles and abases a man. Truly how beautiful it is to see the blessing to know God works in your life start to end. It is Him who is the author and finisher of your faith. So you can say as the Apostle Paul said be confident that He who began this work will finish it. My friends truly as we draw nearer to Christmas continue to reflect on how blessed those of us who have trusted in Christ and in Christ alone to save them. May we look to this season as a reminder that in the city of David, in the little town of Bethlehem a Savior was born and His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God. Please take every opportunity that presents itself to share the gospel and take part in the great commission.

Good night and God bless,
John W. Whybrew III <><