Saturday, August 23, 2014

MEEKNESS IS NOT WEAKNESS BUT GREATNESS - PART III

We now continue in this third installment on MEEKNESS . . .
Walking worthily is walking in meekness (and lowliness) accompanied by longsuffering and forbearing one another in love. What does this “forbearing” mean? It's loving the unloveable for the sake of the LORD Who loves them. By grace, having the power to 'put up with' those that irritate and bother us, dying to self and expressing God's love towards them. Meekness is not weakness!
PHIL. 2:2-3
2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
'Others-centered' is how some put this; someone once said that the secret of J.O.Y. is Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. The meek people are the joyful people, seeing God's will accomplished through their lives submitted only to the will of God.
1 TIM. 6:3-11
3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Those who would not acknowledge the truth of Scripture, and Scripture alone but rather seek to supplement God's Word with their own wisdom, according to these verses is an ignorant fool! Those who are meek will not seek their own gain, by their own means, aggresively seeking their own promotion and betterment in life (such aggression will only lead to ruin according to vs. 9-10); but remain in a place of contentment with only the essentials of this life: food, water, raiment, a place to lay one's head down at night: common commodities and not overt opulance! 
2 TIM. 2:24-26
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Gentleness is the trademark of meekness and from such an attitude, one will find that others (generally speaking) are teachable, and even the unteachable will (or at least may) find themselves receiving instruction! The meek of the LORD will have compassion on the lost, foreseeing their spiritual condition, that is, ensnared by the enemy who victimizes them at his whim.
JAMES 1:21-22
21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
The meek after receiving the engrafted Word, that is, making the truth of God's Word part of your heart and life, like the roots of a tree entering the soil and receiving its life-giving nutrients (PSALM 1:2-4). The meek will say, "Thy will in my life, not my will be done Oh LORD!"
1 PETER 3:4, 15
4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 
15 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
Think of some costly heirloom you may have in your family, something highly valued and treasured, a thing of beauty and admiration. This is how the LORD sees the meek and quiet spirit! As a precious and costly ornament, highly valued by the Most High! 
Now that we have examined some of the New Testament passages, lets turn our attention to the One about Whom this Holy Book is all about (As it states in Psalm 40:7): Jesus Christ.
The MEEK MESSIAH
MATT. 11:28-30
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 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.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
What can we learn about our Messiah here and the meekness He exhibits?
We learn that He is approachable, for He says “Come unto me” - the meek are approachable, non-threatening, not intimidating or daunting. We learn that He is gracious, for this is God Himself bidding sinners to come! 
He calls out with a promise of rest; we labor and are heavy laden with the works and weights of sin (Romans 6:23 - “The wages of sin . . .”). We also labor in religious toil, desperately and hopelessly longing to find rest and relief from the curse of sin.
We also learn that God Almighty is willing to serve us and invites us to enter into servanthood with the attitude of meekness as a guide. The yoke is that oval shaped wooden device that collars a beast, usually a mule or more especially an ox to a plow for agricultural purposes. 
The four Living Beasts surrounding the very Throne of God represents the four-fold aspects of God the Son: the faces of the Eagle – denoting His deity; of the Man – denoting His humanity; of the Lion – denoting His Kingly office; and of the Ox – denoting His servant-hood (REV. 4:7).
In the LORD's invitation to take His yoke upon us, we understand that this is a double yoke, which is built not for one, but for two beasts. So if we accept this invitation, we are yoked together with the LORD, Who takes the brunt of the load in this ministry; thus His yoke is easy for us, and His burden is light. This is the blessedness of ministry, that we are welcome to partake of service with no one less than the LORD God made flesh, and in partnership with Him, learn of Him! 
What do we learn of Him? That he is meek and lowly of heart: such is obvious to us that know Him: He is the Holy and Almighty Creator God and yet here He deigns to lift up and slip over His neck, a yoke of servant-hood!
2 COR. 8:9
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich
PHIL. 2:5-8, 9-11
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
To the same degree that the Holy God the Son humbled Himself, by taking on the sins of the world, to that same degree God exalted Him!
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
MARK 9:33-37
33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?
34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,
37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
Humorous! The disciples were snagged! Caught in the act of bickering about who should be the greatest! BUT NOTE that the LORD doesn't rebuke them for their desire to be great; He merely instructs them HOW TO PROPERLY GO ABOUT IT! Note vs. 35!
The meek shall willingly be the servant of all, and count themselves as last! The one that demonstrated this the best is the LORD Himself which is why His is the Name above all names and exalted above all others! 
Meekness is not weakness, but GREATNESS in the KINGDOM of GOD! 
Three passages from ISAIAH for your own homework, then a couple more references and we are done here: write these references down:
ISAIAH 11:1-5; the 53rd and the 61st Chapter. 
*As you read these passages look for the attribute of meekness in the LORD's ministry, and knowing now what we do about meekness, look to see how these things could be accomplished WITHOUT meekness! Also look to see how we acquire meekness as a result of the LORD's ministry to us!*
JOHN 18:19-24
19 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine.
20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.
21 Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.
22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?
23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?
24 Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.
As far as I can tell this is one of the first times Jesus was physically struck by His enemies; or at least one of the very first times. 
Yet we are fully aware of the tremendous, the insurmountable, the inconceivable agonies that He endured: the multiple beatings, the scourging with the cat o' nine tails, the crown of thorns, the deprivation of food and water, the agonizing fear of finally having the sins of all humanity placed upon Him which would result in His being separated FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME IN ALL ETERNITY from His Father! 
Not to mention the full brunt of Holy wrath that God the Father poured out on His Son when once He became the sin-bearer for humanity!
Yet, never a protest, never any resistance from Jesus; always a compliant, yielded, willing, earnest and zealous response from our LORD to do the Father's will which He subsisted on the way that we subsist on food (JOHN 4:34). That is meekness! Great power in the Word made flesh Who fashioned the universe, wielding all the power necessary for its construction and yet He didn't ever use this power to defend Himself or deliver Himself from this fate! He trusted His heavenly Father in all things.
I spoke earlier of the culture of God's kingdom yet to come: how meekness will be an integral part of that culture and how such meekness is born in us, God's children by His Spirit. All the characteristics (not just meekness) of God's love as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23 is what God is looking to develop in our own character, in making us a godly and spiritual people.
As we look over the world, and we see how corrupt, how proud, how arrogant and selfish and uncaring the earthly rulers in our governments conduct themselves, we may ask the question: Who is worthy of the office that they hold?
Yet as we look at JESUS we see every single quality necessary for good and proper leadership; He is the Servant-King, the very One whose hands fashioned galaxies was the One that stooped down and with those hands washed dirty, smelly feet. The very One who fashioned the forests of all the world and all the mountains was the very One Who hung on a cross of wood fashioned from those forests and impaled with nails of iron forged from those mountains!
He Who humbled Himself to the death of the Cross, God has exalted above all as the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords! And this is one of the reasons why the LORD is working such character in our lives – to make us, His church proper and effective servant-kings who shall rule and reign with Him!
REVELATION 5:9-10
9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
INDEED, Meekness is not weakness, but greatness fashioned in us by the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in our yielded lives as we follow our LORD Jesus Christ from here to heaven! 
Below is a link to the second half of this teaching as delivered at The HOUSE of TRUTH Fellowship. This incorporates some of the last articles verses and teachings along with all the rest as seen here in part III.

Friday, August 22, 2014

JEWELS from the GOSPEL of JOHN - LAW vs. GRACE: JOHN 1:14

The following is a series of short exhortations, brief commentary and writings to convey thoughtful meditation on God's Word. I have chosen the Gospel of John as the subject. These articles will not run contiguously on this blog but peppered throughout and in the midst of other articles (though some might be posted consecutively). I pray that these will be a blessing and an edification for the saints.

JOHN 1:14
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The LORD Jesus said that if we have seen Him, we have seen the Father (JN. 14:9); He is the perfect representation of God, the very image in fact (COL.1:15) of God. Before the days of photography, even as far back as biblical times, shipments delivered from overseas of recently purchased items required some form of identification so that the rightful owner could be known. The merchant would write down a description of the purchaser, complete with any distinguishing characteristics (a tatoo, a scar, a lop sided ear, two different colored eyes, etc) so the person on the docks, claiming the item could be properly identified. That's the Greek word employed here for "image" in COL. 1:15.
Jesus Christ is the perfect description of God; essentially being Deity Himself. We have covered this in a series on TTUF entitled: JESUS IS GOD

This GOD that we know and love took on flesh and blood; The Word Incarnate, we say, meaning the Person of Christ Who is fully God and fully man, and not an amalgam of parts from both. Jesus is not merely possessing grace and truth, but is full of such.This is His glory that we beheld and what a glory it is! We shall spend eternity peering into its limitless depths and insurmountable heights and fall under such with a devoted love and inspiration to worship HIM!

Grace is considered unmerited favor, or getting something you don't deserve; as opposed to justice, which is getting exactly what you deserve. Mercy is between these two extremes: not getting what you do deserve.
The Law of God is all about justice, but in its divine sense, which is perfect, absolute, immutable, non-negotiable justice. This looks to the merit of an individual as the basis for blessing and favor; their integrity, their obedience to the Law, their moral standard of righteousness, etc. compared to and held up against the standard of the Holy Law of God, and thus horribly and utterly deficient!

Grace is all about the merit of Jesus Christ, His integrity, His obedience to the Law, His moral standard of Righteousness (all perfectly flawless!) - and bequeathing it to sinners. While we are entirely undeserving of such, if we repent of our sinful lives and conduct, and receive Christ by faith by believing the GOSPEL, we have the Righteousness of Christ attributed to our account (and their sin attributed to the account of Christ, our sin-bearer and Lamb of God, sacrificed on the Cross on our behalf!)

ROMANS 8:1-4
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

The Law is holy and perfect, because it is GOD's Law (could it be otherwise then?) but the problem with it, is not with the Law itself but ourselves: The Law was "weak through the flesh" that is, we are as sinners incapable of following and obeying it. This transference of God's holiness and our sinfulness between Jesus Christ and sinners respectively in what verses 3 and 4 above describes, is all about.

We as redeemed sinners, now saints of God are capable of fulfilling the RIGHTEOUSNESS of the Law not by our own obedience empowered by our will power and determination, but by the Spirit of God that dwells in the hearts and lives of every born again believer and disciple of Christ!

The Law of God is truth, just as the grace of God is likewise truth. The truth of the Law reveals our sin and sinful nature (1 TIM. 1:9; ROM. 7:5-11) but can do nothing to bring us salvation; that is where the grace of God comes in! The Law will be able to convince us that we cannot find salvation and approval from God on our own merit; it will lead us to Jesus Christ and the truth of His grace, where we may find salvation in the Gospel (GAL.3:21-26).

There is a general sense in which the word "Law" is used in Scripture that has a connotative meaning, rather than the denotative meaning of the Law, as in the Law given by Moses on Sinai. You can see this usage in such places as Psalm 119.

PSALM 119:1-7
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

Note the various words used here: "...law...testimonies...precepts...statutes...commandments...judgments..." All of these words have different shades of meaning, yet in a connotative sense, they all refer to the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures full of grace and truth, and we will not disparage the Law of the LORD in the least! Neither shall we speak disrespectfully of the Law of Moses either; we will only assert that we as the church of Jesus Christ are not under the Law of Moses, but under the grace of God:

ROMANS 6:13-15
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

Herein is a wondrous and beautiful mystery: that the Law of God that demands absolutely perfect holiness from us in order to gain His approval - and the grace of God whereby we sinners may find the Way to God (JN. 14:6) have met together in the Person of Jesus Christ, our sacrificial Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world as He was offered up on the Cross at Calvary! To transform sinners who were under the Law's curse into saints that are adopted by the LORD God as His own (adopted) children! GLORY TO GOD!!

PSALM 85:10-11
10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11 Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

GAL. 4:4-7
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

MEEKNESS IS NOT WEAKNESS BUT GREATNESS – PART II

Now, continuing with this series on MEEKNESS, let us examine other Scriptures before we proceed onto what the New Testament, particularly the words and deeds of the LORD Jesus Christ (the latter half of Part II and then Part III).
Finally, let's go through these seven passages from the Psalms on meekness:
We have three consecutive Psalms here in Psalms 22, 23 and 24: they form a kind of trilogy where Psalm 22 looks back to the Cross and the Lamb of God sacrificed for our sins; Psalm 23 is of our present reality, where the LORD is our [Good] Shepherd (As in John 10:11, 14) and we shall have no want; Psalm 24 speaks of that time yet ahead when Jesus returns as King of Israel. Yet even here in Psalm 22 we have this promise and a hope for the meek:
PSALM 22:26
26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
The meek shall partake of the bread of Life, Jesus, and obtain eternal life (JOHN 6th chapter, esp. vs. 51).
PSALM 29:8-9
8 Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.
9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

LUKE 18:16-17
16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.



The meek, like little children, have an awareness of their ignorance, of not knowing, and humble enough to receive teaching and assume that others in authority are truthful. Small children are typically not skeptical or unbelieving of adults; they readily believe and trust their word. They are meek in this way and for the seeker who is meeker than the world, God will guide them and teach them.


PSALM 37:9-11
9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace


How fascinating to me that all the rich and powerful of this world, these financial kings that rule across borders and are able to maneuver nations and global events, who always seek after more power to control as much of the world that they can, will be utterly cast down and left with nothing except the condemnation of God in holy judgment and eternal damnation! While the meek and lowly of the Earth, shall inherit the Earth, as they place their faith in the LORD Jesus! And that's all they have to do! The high and exalted are brought down low in judgment and the lowly are exalted (IS. 40:4; 1 PET. 5:6).
PSALM 69:30-31
30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
31 This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.
32 The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God


JER. 29:13 states that we shall seek and find God if we do so wholeheartedly; MATT. 5:8 states that the pure in heart will see God. Here again is the promise that the humble (or meek) will live that seek God!


PSALM 76:7-9
7 Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?
8 Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still,
9 When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah


The meek have the promise of salvation from the LORD from the coming judgment and the wrath of God that's to be poured out upon all the inhabitants of the Earth!
PSALM 147:5-7
5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
6 The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.
7 Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God


Here again the same concept of God casting down the proud and wicked and lifting up the meek and humble.
PSALM 149:
4 For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.
5 Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand;


Who of us as saints DON'T want to be pleasing to the LORD? The meek are certainly those who are pleasing to Him and He shall beautify them with salvation! “Beautify” here is to glorify, to embellish, to gleam. Same word used in ISAIAH 60:9.

Singing aloud upon their beds, joyful in the glory of God – saints can have a 'spiritual opera' in their bedrooms for the LORD! And the two edged Sword – what is that? The meek, God will teach from His Word and receiving such truth from and learning of Him causes us to rejoice!
Meekness is not something that can be produced by the proud; it is against the nature of sinful man to inherently desire humbleness, humility and meekness. The abasement of self is contrary to the natural inclination for self-exaltation, to acquire power for oneself in fulfillment of the desire to be 'a god'.
It was the very opposite of meekness that led Eve to take of the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The serpent claimed God was 'holding out on them' (Eve and her husband Adam), not allowing them greater power. Yet the serpent promised that they would have their eyes opened to this secret knowledge and become as gods.
1 JOHN 2:16
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
When they accepted this satanic invitation to rebellion and sinned against the LORD, the nature of sin became their own. While we as Christians recognize this as the beginning of evil, sin and death in the human race – the quintessential curse of our world there are secret societies as well as religions such as Mormonism and Hinduism that see the serpent and his promise as a blessing!
This is why pride and meekness are in a sense, opposites:
PROVERBS 16:17-19
17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.19 Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

ISAIAH 2:12
For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
ISAIAH 13:11
And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
PSALM 147:6
The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.
LUKE 18:14
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
In the Old Testament, the word used for the most part in the Hebrew for “meek” and “meekness” is anayv and it means “depressed, gentle in mind or in circumstances (needy, esp. saintly); meek, humble, poor, lowly, very meek. This word appearing almost exclusively in the poetical passages describes the intended outcome of affliction from God: that is, humility. In its first instance it referred to the objective condition as well as the subjective stance of Moses (NUM. 12:3).”
In the New Testament, the Greek words most commonly employed are praoites and praetes. Praoites simply means, “gentleness; by impl. humility, meekness.”
Praetes means, “mildness, humility, meekness; it consists not in a person's outward behavior only nor yet in his relationship with his fellow men ... Rather it is an in-wrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good and therefore without disputing or resisting it is closely linked with humility and follows directly upon it. Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12. It is only the humble heart which is also the meek, and … does not fight against God [nor] struggle and contend with Him.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

JEWELS from the GOSPEL of JOHN - ALL GOD's CHILDREN: JOHN 1:11-13

The following is a series of short exhortations, brief commentary and writings to convey thoughtful meditation on God's Word. I have chosen the Gospel of John as the subject. These articles will not run contiguously on this blog but peppered throughout and in the midst of other articles (though some might be posted consecutively). I pray that these will be a blessing and an edification for the saints.



JOHN 1:11-13
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12 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:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
If the Old Testament could be likened unto a symphony, each of the books, from the Torah, to the Psalms and the prophets could be presented as thematic movements that incorporated into the whole orchestration a sense of building momentum and expectation. One could sense the oncoming crescendo about to explode at any moment, when suddenly, after the musical movement of Malachi . . . all goes silent.
That silence prophetically speaking lasted about 400 years! No prophet appeared to Israel all during that time until the coming of John the Baptist . . .
And then with a flourish and a glorious cascade of musical wonder, the entire orchestra, conducted by the LORD God Himself erupts in an awe-inspiring piece that reveals the Messiah of Israel! The very One that the Scriptures point to (JOHN 5:39) appeared to "His own" people Israel, keepers of the holy oracles of God (ROM. 3:1-3) and after waiting so long a time for their Messiah King, they rejected Him! They "received Him not"! 
This was a wonder to me when I first read the Bible, but I was also taught that this was already prophesied; such passages as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 spoke eloquently of the suffering Messiah, just like other passages viewed Him as a conquering Messiah (such as ISAIAH 63:1-3 and PSALM 2). Some rabbincal writings saw the contrast between these two aspects of suffering and conquest so sharply that they concluded that there must be two Messiahs: the Meschiach ben Yosef and the Meschiach ben Dawid. What they hadn't considered is that there is in fact, one Messiah, with a two fold mission: the One Who would come humbly as the sacrificial Lamb of God (JOHN 1:29, 36) and then to return as the glorious and supreme Lion of the Tribe of Judah (REV. 5:5). 
It's when the LORD Jesus Christ returns to this world, defeats the anti-Christ and his armies at Armageddon (refer to the verses in ISAIAH 63; also 2 THESS. 2:8; REV. 19:19-20) and His feet touch down on the Mt. of Olives - the very spot where He ascended into heaven after His resurrection (How poetic of God! See ACTS 1:9-11) that Israel will receive Him as their King, LORD and Savior (and by faith in Him, the Spirit of the LORD will finally indwell His people according to EZEKIEL 36:26-27)!
Yet between the first Advent of Christ and the second, there is this mystery known as the church (EPH. 5:32), composed of Gentiles and Jews together, no longer separated but becoming a whole new spiritual people (EPH. 2:15). These are souls both repentant and redeemed by our blessed Redeemer! These are the "as many as received Him" as referred to in our text from John . . .
12 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:
There are some Christians that seem to disparage this idea of new birth; they look rather to sacrament (baptismal regeneration, a false doctrine) to explain this phenomena or attribute such things as only a matter of believing faith and negate the actual spiritual dynamic of the indwelling of the Spirit (actually we who are the church are inhabited by the Father and the Son as well; COL. 1:27; JOHN 14:23).
Likewise there are many who mistakenly believe that we are all God's children; and yes, we are all God's creation, but we are a fallen creation because sin entered into the human race via Adam and Eve and so our 'family lineage' as it were with God was severed. Sin in general, like iniquity specifically, will always sever us from the LORD (ISAIAH 59:2) in one way or another. In the case of Adam, his sin condition, his fallen nature was passed onto his children - the only humans who ever came into this world without sin was Adam and Eve! There is only one other exception: The Lamb of God Himself, who was without sin or blemish of any sort (1 PET. 1:19; 2 COR. 5:21).
As we receive Christ by faith, accepting His substitutionary death for our sins, He Who is our sin-bearer - we are indwelt by His Spirit, having all of our sins (past, present and future) forgiven by the washing of His blood (REV. 1:5; 7:14) and are authorized and and declared by God as His adopted children, sealed by the Spirit of God (2 COR. 1:22) and enter into a relationship whereby we call God our Abba Father (ROM. 8:15), the LORD Jesus Christ as our LORD, Redeemer, Elder Brother and Supreme Friend of all friends, and the Holy Spirit as our personal Comforter, Helper and Teacher! We who have "believed on His name" inherit this right, NOT by our own good works, but by the grace (EPH. 2:8-9; TITUS 3:5) - the unmerited of favor of God, as provided for by the LORD Jesus Christ and His dying for our sins on the cross! 

ACTS 4:11-12
11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
1 COR. 15:1-4
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Note that phrase: "believe on His name". This entails far more than intellectual assent to the LORD Jesus Christ, in some sort of philosophical adherence to Christianity. This means far, far more than a mere belief in God's existence (JAMES 2:19). This is a saving faith and belief ON the LORD Jesus Christ; that is, a determined and express decision that by faith one will trust that Jesus Christ is the satisfactory sacrifice (That which is called "propitiation" in Scripture; see ROM. 3:25; 1 JOHN 2:2) that God the Father deems sufficient as payment for our sins. This is the GOSPEL (follow this link and see an awesome presentation!) and one must receive by faith the truth of this message, the truth of the New Testament which is sealed by the blood of Christ (MATT. 26:28). 
Repentance (turning away from a life of sin and placing your heart in God's hands in surrender) and believing the Gospel (MARK 1:15) will bring you from a state of spiritual death and deliver you from membership as one of the children of darkness (EPH. 5:8; 1 THESS. 5:5; COL. 1:13) and created in the heart of the believer a blessed state of spiritual life (JOHN 1:4; 14:6) and membership as children of light and the kingdom of God (JOHN 3:3-5).
We are the children of God, born again, directly as a result of God's intentional will (see vs. 13 of our text)! AMAZING! If you have not yet received Him: the LORD Jesus Christ personally, then please don't hesitate to do so! For more on the G.O.S.P.E.L. - Gods Omnipotent Salvation Proclaiming Eternal Love/Life, have a look at this article FROM the MIND of FIRE. If you have any questions about the Gospel or life as a Christian, please email me at the address provided on this blog (About Me and Contact Info located on the right hand bar under the GOT VISION video).

May the LORD truly bless and keep you! The next installment will be based on JOHN 1:14-17, and entitled LAW vs. GRACE. Until then, Keep your eyes on the skies and don't believe the lies! Jesus Christ returns soon in the skies! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

MEEKNESS IS NOT WEAKNESS BUT GREATNESS – PART I of 3



"Late twentieth-century Western culture does not hold meekness to be a virtue, in contrast to the ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman world, which placed a high premium on it. This dramatic shift in values is problematic for contemporary biblical translation. Most modern versions replace the noun 'meekness' by 'gentleness' or 'humility' largely as a result of the pejorative overtones of weakness and effeminacy now associated with meekness. These connotations were not always predominant in the word, for ancient Near-Eastern kings were not reluctant to describe themselves as meek in the same context in which they described themselves as mighty kings. What has prompted the discrepancy between the biblical and contemporary attitudes toward this virtue?
"There are two essential components for this quality to come into play in the Bible: a conflict in which an individual is unable to control or influence circumstances. Typical human responses in such circumstances include frustration, bitterness, or anger, but the one who is guided by God's Spirit accepts God's ability to direct events (Gal 5:23; Eph 4:2; Col 3:12; 1 Tim 6:11; Titus 3:2; James 1:21; 3:13). 
"Meekness is therefore an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are wisely seen by the individual as only part of a larger picture. Meekness is not a resignation to fate, a passive and reluctant submission to events, for there is little virtue in such a response. Nevertheless, since the two responses, resignation and meekness, are externally often indistinguishable, it is easy to see how what was once perceived as a virtue has become a defect in contemporary society. The patient and hopeful endurance of undesirable circumstances identifies the person as externally vulnerable and weak but inwardly resilient and strong. Meekness does not identify the weak but more precisely the strong who have been placed in a position of weakness where they persevere without giving up. The use of the Greek word when applied to animals makes this clear, for it means "tame" when applied to wild animals. In other words, such animals have not lost their strength but have learned to control the destructive instincts that prevent them from living in harmony with others.
"Therefore, it is quite appropriate for all people, from the poor to ancient Near-Eastern kings, to describe their submission to God by the term "meek" (Moses in Num 12:3). On the other hand, this quality by definition cannot be predicated of God, and therefore constitutes one of the attributes of creatures that they do not share with their Creator. Nevertheless, in the incarnation Jesus is freely described as meek, a concomitant of his submission to suffering and to the will of the Father (Matt 11:29; 21:5; 2 Cor 10:1). The single most frequently attested context in which the meek are mentioned in the Bible is one in which they are vindicated and rewarded for their patient endurance (Psalm 22:26; 25:9; 37: 11;76:9; 147:6; 149:4; Isa 11:4; 29:19; 61:1; Zeph 2:3; Matt 5:5)."
~ Samuel A. Meier
How contrary this conduct is from what we see in the world! This world values assertiveness, even aggression, and boldness. They write books like, “How To Win Through Intimidation”; they have seminars by which participants are trained to believe that “they are winners who will overcome any obstacle by sheer will and power” and climb the ranks of success, trampling on any one who gets in their way! They believe that they are the captain of their own fate and gods of their own worlds. They hold to the ego-centric belief that “Its All About Me!”.
As we have just heard from Samuel Meier, meekness is not weakness, but strength being reined in; its being tame and not wildly out of control. We would see one facet of meekness as being temperance, a nature of steady, consistent mildness that is not given to rashness or outbursts of violent emotions.
We're going to examine this subject of meekness in three parts. First we shall consider what the Old Testament has to say about meekness and then next week we will turn to the New Testament where we shall also focus on the Person of JESUS CHRIST as the paramount example of meekness, itself being a modus operandi of sorts of the King as well as His kingdom.

I believe that in our age and culture of self-gratification and seeking for one's own goals and ambitions, the virtue of meekness is greatly needed. Even among Christians who struggle with this notion of “dying to self” have need of meekness. Even I myself, as a Christian of nearly 34 years now find that I am in need of greater meekness - so, a timely message to be sure!


OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLES AND REFERENCES TO MEEKNESS -
Where is meekness first mentioned in the Bible? One of the biblical rules of study is something called 'The Law of First Mention' and this refers to the first place in Scripture where something is mentioned and that this first reference is in some way significant.
For example 'love' as a word is first mentioned in connection with Abraham where God commanded him to take his son, Isaac, whom he loves to the place that God would show him and there offer him as a sacrifice (GEN. 22:2). Why is that significant? Because it mirrors perfectly JOHN 3:16 where the LORD GOD offered up His own Son that He loves, for a world that He loves and desires to redeem!
First place where 'meekness' is mentioned is in the book of Numbers, referring to Moses:


NUMBERS 12:1-8
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
2 And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.
3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
4 And the Lord spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.
5 And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.
6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?



The LORD becomes angry with and rebukes Aaron and Miriam for their words, and judges Miriam with leprosy! He defends Moses and declares how he bears the authority of no mere prophet who receives dreams and visions, but one with whom the LORD speaks “mouth to mouth” and one who can actually behold “the similitude of the LORD”! These are some of the aspects of meekness: faithfulness, not defending one's own honor or reputation and allowing the LORD to defend; meekness doesn't get offended or retaliate. Meekness is willing to forgive those that offend us: Moses was asked by Aaron to pray to the LORD on her behalf and he does (NUMBERS 12:13).
** It should be noted that Moses revealed to Israel that the LORD God would raise up a Prophet “like unto himself” (DEUT. 18:15), and this is of course in reference to the LORD Jesus Christ in Whom we have the paramount example of meekness, bar none. We will look into in the upcoming segment of this article . . .



Another couple examples of meekness in the Old Testament: King David of the Psalms and the prophet Jeremiah:



David at this point in time had already assumed the Kingdom of Israel according to the will of God (but was suffering hardships as a result of his sin with Bathsheeba – his own house was in disarray and his son Absalom was challenging him for the throne); King Saul had been slain in battle previously (mortally wounded by the enemy, then slain by his own hand, with a little assistance from his shield bearer) and one of his offspring has come to insult the reigning king:



2 SAM. 16:5-12
5 And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came.
6 And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.
7 And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial:
8 The Lord hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the Lord hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.
9 Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head.
10 And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?
11 And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him.
12 It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day.



Again, like with Moses, we see no retaliation from David against his enemies. No answer to the false accusation that David murdered his predecessor (though as we know, David was guilty of 'murdering' Uriah, husband of Bathsheeba); only a trust in the LORD that He would “requite me good for his cursing this day.” Such meekness forgives personal wrongs while looking to the LORD Who will judge and to the day of Judgment when all such wrongs will be dealt with.
An interesting side note from the New Testament: Peter asked the LORD how often he should forgive his brother, providing an answer already of “seven times”; probably feeling pretty good about such a generous number and perhaps hoping for commendation from the LORD for it. The LORD's answer no doubt shocked him! Not until 7 times but 70 x 7! (MATT. 18:21-22)
Where have we heard this multiplication before? In Daniel Chapter 9 we read about “the seventy weeks that are determined upon Israel” (verse 24), and at the conclusion of those 70 'weeks' (shabuwahs in the Hebrew, meaning weeks of days, or weeks, or months or years; in this case its years or 70 x 7 = 490 years). It's the last week, or as prophecy experts call it the 70th week of Daniel that the LORD Jesus returns to establish His reign and judge the people.
And then immediately after the LORD's response to Peter, we see Him giving a parable about a returning Lord, who proceeds to judge his stewards.
King David relented then of any revenge upon the Benjamite that cursed him, surrendering justice to the greater King of Israel when He arrives! That is meekness!
Then we have Jeremiah -
JEREMIAH 26:8-15
8 Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.
9 Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.
10 When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king's house unto the house of the Lord, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the Lord's house.
11 Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.
12 Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard.
13 Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.
14 As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.
15 But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.


We see the same attitude, the same heart of meekness in the prophet with no intent of retaliation against their threats. Some might see vs. 15 as a threat, but really its a warning borne out of compassion, the prophet not wanting to see them with more innocent blood on their hands and incurring an even more severe judgment!
Some more about meekness from the Old Testament Scriptures:
ISAIAH 29:18-19
18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.
19 The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.


Again, another passage speaking of the ministry of the LORD in healing during His earthly ministry and healing the sick, but this shall be realized on the grandest scale when once He returns (on “that Day”) to take up the throne of His father David and establishes the kingdom. Here the blind can do nothing to bring sight to themselves nor can the deaf help themselves to hear, neither can the meek do anything to increase their joy or the poor, but their joy shall be increased at the arrival of “the Holy One of Israel”. That is the legacy of the meek – not the proud of this world – the increase of joy when the Messiah returns!
Here's one reference from the book of Zephaniah:
ZEPH. 2:1-3
Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired [Israel];
2 Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord's anger come upon you.
3 Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.


The meek will not be judged and condemned by the LORD, but hidden “in the Day of the LORD's anger.” Those who are meek are not prone to a life of sin and rebellion, are not self-willed and obstinate – they are tender towards and obedient to the will of the LORD, seeking to please Him and not concerned with pleasing any one else (GAL. 1:10): even if by refusing to please and obey others, they incur their wrath. Meekness is not weakness but a strong determination to please the LORD regardless of personal endangerment (Consider Stephen's conduct before the Sanhedrin in Acts 7; regardless of their power to hurt and destroy, he remains faithful and pleasing to the LORD).

Here we will end part One of this three part series; we shall continue with Part II next time! In the meanwhile, if you would like to view this video on which this teaching was based you can do so here, courtesy of The HOUSE of TRUTH Fellowship, where I attend service.