Verse of the Day

Daily Devotion 

By:  Bro. Bob Maynard
 

13 August 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 3:11 NASB  in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Question: What is the ultimate goal of every religion in the world?  Why do we have people from every nation, tribe, language and culture seeking a god or gods?  What does the human race hope to achieve in the end for all of their worship and sacrifices?  This VOTD answers those questions.  Every religion in the world “hopes” to achieve or to attain the resurrection from the dead.  But in the end, just like in the Olympic races, there can only be one winner.  And that winner is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Why do I know that?  Because Jesus is the only one who gave Himself on a cross that I might have life.  And I can only have that life by faith in Him.

I want you to see how we got to this final verse, the ultimate goal of every Christian.  Paul starts off this verse with a very unique thought: in order that I may attain.  In other words, Paul had to do something to attain the resurrection from the dead.  So the first question is: What did Paul have to do to attain it?  The ONLY way to attain the resurrection from the dead is to do the same thing that Paul did.  So what did he do just prior to this verse?  Here it is:
Philippians 3:7-10 NASB
(7)  But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
(8)  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
(9)  and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
(10)  that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;

I want to give you the condensed version of what Paul is saying:
1: Stop trying to save yourself by being a good person hoping to be good enough to be saved.
2: Repent of your sin.  Confess it to God and ask Him to forgive you of your sins.
3: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior. 
4: Start living your life in faith in Jesus.  Righteousness in God’s sight only comes to us as we believe in Jesus and let Him direct and live His life through us.

I want you to know and understand that there are going to be many disappointed people on that final day.  Jesus said it this way:
Matthew 7:21-23 NASB
(21)  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
(22)  “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
(23)  “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

So the question now is: What makes the difference between a person who attains the resurrection from the dead and goes with Jesus into heaven and those who don’t?  The answer comes down to those people WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS and those who don’t.  Now here is the hard part to understand: LAWLESSNESS can be good things that are done.  Look at verse 22 above: Those who are practicing LAWLESSNESS are the ones who are doing good deeds: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  Bottom line: Your good works are not what save you.  Your good deeds that are done in the flesh are filthy rags in His sight.  Your good deeds done by your righteousness will lead you straight to the pit of hell. 

But on the other hand, righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith will save you.  Righteousness that God the Father will reward to the person who has faith in Jesus will attain the resurrection from the dead and go with Him to paradise.  Here is the simple fact of the difference between the two types of righteousness: Righteousness which is of the flesh is directed by the individual. They do what they think is right and best.  But the righteousness which is directed by faith is of God.  They are trusting Him to direct, mold and control their lives as He burdens their hearts to do His will.

One day every knee will bow and every tong confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.  And one day we will give an account of what we have done.  Some will stand and say: Look at what I have done and say such things as I have prophesied in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles.  Others will say:  Lord, I have no righteousness of my own.  The only righteousness I have comes from my faith in Jesus.  My righteousness comes from God on the basis of faith in Jesus.

Bottom line: Which kind of righteousness do you have?  Is your righteousness something that you have done and are proud of?  Or is your righteousness nothing that you have done but something He has done through you?  The type of righteousness that you have makes all the difference in the world.  If you have the right kind of righteousness, then in the end you will attain to the resurrection from the dead and go to be with Jesus in heaven.

Lord, I am nothing but a sinner saved by your love, grace and mercy.  Lord, I confess: I have no righteousness of my own.  I cannot make any claim to anything that I have done that has produced any good result.  It all comes from you.  My faith in you is the only thing that I hold onto.  You are my righteousness.  Lord, please use me and direct my life this day.  Lord, I love you.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

 


12 August 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 3:10 NASB  that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;

Goals.  What is your life’s goals?  Just as I said yesterday, that the verse for yesterday was the “heart” of every Christian’s life, so today is the “goal” of every Christian’s desire in life.  You know what a goal is, don’t you?  It is what you seek to achieve.  It is what you want to become or to do or to be in life.  It is as Webster’s says: The end or final purpose; the end to which a design tends, or which a person aims to reach or accomplish.

Now I know that there are a lot of goals in this life but I am strictly talking about a Christian’s spiritual goals in this life should be.  And I want you to know that as we think about these Christian spiritual goals, we are all at different levels.  Just as no two people are alike, so our levels of attainment to reach these goals are not the same either.  We all learn and grow at our own pace.  Just as you cannot push a rope, so you cannot push a person to become more spiritual without some repercussions.  

First, Paul says his goal is that I may know Him.  As I have said in the past: How do you get to know someone?  By spending time with that person.  You get to know how they think, how they act, what they desire and what they do to please God the Father.  So it is with Jesus.  How do you get to know Him?  By spending time with Him.  Now I am not talking about just a little bit of time, like reading the VOTD time.  No, no.  I am talking about LOTS and LOTS of time.  Like ALL the TIME with HIM.  You say to me: That isn’t possible, Bob.  Well, I say to you: wrong.  You can take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ if you want to!!!  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB).  The only reason you think you can’t do that is because you haven’t tried.  And the only reason that you have tried and failed, is because you tried to do it in your own strength and not the strength of the Lord.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13 NASB).  Here is the “real deal.”  First, recognize that you can’t do it in your own strength.  Ask Him to enable you and help you.  Second, call on Him to give you His thoughts and His ideas about what you are doing or going to do.  Thirdly, evaluate, in light of the Bible, your thoughts that you believe come from Him.  Discard those unholy and impure thoughts and concentrate on the holy and pure thoughts.  Next, ask Him to help you understand what He wants you to do.  Then, do what you know to do is right, holy, pure and true.  Let me warn you.  Some of the things that God burdens your heart to do are scary but when we walk by faith depending on His power, it is amazing what He can do through us.  And it all happens because we have a desire that I may know Him.

Next, Paul says that he has a desire to know the power of His resurrection.  This goal in Paul’s life was real and displayed itself in a mighty way in many of the miracles that happened in Paul’s life.  The Holy Scriptures even tell is that: God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out (Acts 19:11-12 NASB).  Now I am not even remotely suggesting that the same things will happen to you if you seek to know the power of His resurrection.  What I am saying is that you will “see” the power of His resurrection when you seek to know Him.  Now that is not “double talk.”  That is His spiritual power of His resurrection at work in you when you believe in and trust in Him.  He has all power in heaven and earth.  He is in you.  He can put all that power to work ONLY when you place ALL of your faith, hope and trust in HIM. 

Let me see if I can explain it like this.  Let’s say you are on one side of a deep, steep canyon.  And you want to get to the other side of the canyon.  But the only way from one side of the canyon to the other side of the canyon is a narrow walking bridge suspended by two ropes with a narrow wooden walkway.  Question is: How are you going to get to the other side of the canyon?  The ONLY way is to put all of your hope, trust and faith in the “rope bridge” to get to the other side.  You have to put your life in the hands of the rope bridge.  So it is with Christ.  When you trust Him and the power of His resurrection then you are trusting Him to “exercise His will” in your life.  You are calling on Him to guide you and direct you so that you can be obedient to Him in all things.  And the result is that you will know the power of His resurrection because you will see the miracles that He can perform in your life to keep you going in the direction He wants you to go.

Next, Paul tells us that one of his goals was to know the fellowship of His sufferings.  Life has a lot of bumps.  Life has a lot of pain, sorrow and sufferings.  But thank God, we don’t have to go through it alone.  We can know the fellowship of His sufferings.  Again, our Lord Jesus Christ has experienced anything and everything that we can or ever will suffer. The Bible tells us that: For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15 NASB).  And here are the blessed facts about His suffering: For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:18 NASB).  My friend, He can comfort you in your suffering.  He can ease your pain.  He can ease your sorrow.  He can make it so that you can work through the sufferings.  So, one of the Christian goals is setting their mind on things above so that they can know the fellowship of His sufferings.

And the last thing that Paul gives us in our VOTD for our life goals is that we want to be conformed to His death.  What does this mean?  It simply means that we want God’s will to be done in our live even right up to our death.  At no time do we shy away from the fact that there are going to be hardships, trials and tribulations in our lives.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Psalms 23:4 NASB).  A true Christ follower seeks to be obedient to Christ in everything, just as Jesus was even right before His death when He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane: … not My will, but Yours be done.”  (Luke 22:42 NASB).  The power of being conformed to His death is not found in how long you live or how wise you are but in the degree of your faith in Him.  As we place our faith in Him we grow stronger and stronger in our ability to trust Him in all things.  As you exercise your faith in Him, then you grow stronger in faith in Him.  With the result that you can be conformed to His death by trusting in God the Father in all things, even death.

Lord, I am so weak but I want to be so strong.  Lord, I recognize that my goals need to be more like you and less like the world.  Lord, help me to place my hope, trust and faith in you, all day and in every way.  Lord, I want to be found in you, pleasing you and doing only those things that you want me to do.  Lord, please enable me and keep me from the wicked one.  Help me to see, know and understand your will so that I may do it.  Lord, I love you.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard



11 August 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 3:9 NASB  and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,

In your body, what is the most important organ other than your brain?  Which one organ do you depend on the most?  Now I know that they are all important and you need each one because they all have their functions but if you were to pick one that you considered the most important, which one would it be?  Of course, it would be your heart.  It is your heart that pumps the blood that keeps the other organs alive.  It is your heart that keeps your blood flowing to your muscles.  It is your heart that you depend on to circulate your precious blood to your brain and other vital organs.  And it is your heart that you desperately need to keep your body functioning properly.  For without your heart, you don’t have life, physical life that is so precious we will go to great lengths to preserve it.

This verse is what I call the heart of the gospel.  I know that John 3:16 is the verse that we all know the most and is the most quoted.  But for a Christian, this verse gives the message of the life blood of the gospel.  This verse “should be” the goal of every Christian, every born-again believer on this planet.  Why?  Because it is the heart of the message of each person seeking to know and to please God.  This VOTD should be the hope, dream and goal of every person that names the name of Christ as Savior and Lord.

First, a believer wants to be found in Him.  If I went looking for you and found you, I would describe where I found you.  I found you in the back yard.  I found you in the kitchen.  I found you in your office at work.  I found you in your car.  Do you see what I mean?  Your surroundings describe where I found you.  So it is with what Paul is telling us: He is saying where he wants to be found when God the Father seeks him.  Paul is saying where he wants to be.  He wants God the father to find him in Christ.  And just to make things clear, to be found in Him is saying the same thing as doing the will of Christ.  Doing what Christ Jesus wants him to do.  To be found in Him is the same thing as to say “being a part of Him.”  When you are in the car, you are going where the car goes.  When you are in the garage you have access to everything in the garage.  You are found in the garage, so you are a part of the garage.  Do you see what I mean?  I pray and hope that you do.  Because it is so vitally important to be found in Him.  Because unless you are in Him the rest of the verse doesn’t work.  For without Him, you can do nothing.

Next, Paul tells us what he does not want.  He does not want: having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law.  He does not want to have something he has done on his own as considered righteousness.  That is the “world’s religion.”  That is what the false gods want you to do.  They want you to seek to establish your own righteousness.  Keep the rules so that their god may bless you.  They say: Keep the laws that we establish so that you can be proud and brag about all the things you have done.  The religions of the world say to its followers: Stay in the lines so that we can call you a good little boy.  But not so with Christ.  We do not want to have a righteousness of my own derived from the Law.  We want Freedom.  It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1 NASB).  And I know this gets a little confusing but remember: For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13 NASB).  And: Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God (1 Peter 2:16 NASB).  The bottom line message to this part of our VOTD is that as a Christian, we are not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law. 

Next, we find the Christian’s goal: A Christ-followers righteousness comes through faith in Christ.  It is not the believer’s righteousness, but that which is through faith in Christ.  A believer does not establish their own righteousness by keeping the law, but by placing their faith, hope and trust in Christ.  It is Christ that is righteous.  It is Him that is holy and pure.  We are nothing but sinners.  We are un-holy.  So how does Christ’s righteousness become our righteousness?  By faith.  Here is what the Holy Bible says to you and me: But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness (Romans 4:5 NASB).  He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB).  I pray that the Lord will give you understanding into this.  But again, the thought is that it is not our righteousness but Christ’s righteousness in us.  And we only receive His righteousness by faith in Him.

And the last phrase in our VOTD only strengthens what we have said previously: the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.  My friend, without Him we have NO righteousness.  But on the basis of faith in Him, God gives us His righteousness.  You ask me: How does He do that?  My answer: I don’t know, but I believe it.  Bottom line….. It is all by faith.  And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6 NASB).  Your reward and my reward for seeking Him is that the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith in Christ, is credited to our account.  God sees you are righteous because you are found in Him.

Lord, here am I, a sinner.  You tell me that if I will repent of my sin and place my hope, faith and trust in Jesus that you will forgive my sin and credit me with righteousness.  Therefore Lord, I confess every sin that I can remember and even the ones I can’t remember and I forsake them.  I confess that I believe Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world.  I place my love, hope and trust in Him that He might make me pure, clean and holy in your sight.  Lord, I ask you that you might live in me and use me for your good will and purpose, today and everyday henceforth.  Lord, I love you.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard



10 August 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 3:8 NASB  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

How many of you remember what you had to go through to get your first car or your first home or your first big purchase of ________ whatever…?  Did it involve saving?  Did it involve working overtime?  Did it involve selling some stuff so that you could build your bank account?  Maybe, you had to wait a long time, maybe even years before you had enough to do what you needed to do.  Well, now let me ask you another question: Was it worth it?  Did your purchase live up to your expectations?  In the end, did all of your trials, blood, sweat and tears prove that it was worth the wait and the effort as well as the sacrifices you had to make?  I can tell you that in my case, the answer is a resounding YES!  Why?  Because I still get a warm glow in the pit of my stomach from all the fond memories I have from it.  It will always have a sweet spot in my mind.  I don’t remember any of the hardships or trials but I remember all of the joy and good memories I have of it.

Our VOTD is Paul’s account of what he remembers about coming to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul told us yesterday: But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:7 NASB).  All those things he gave up for the value of knowing Christ.  And today he continues the line of thought with: More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  In other words, knowing Christ Jesus is of more value than all of those “things” that the world puts value on.  Pride and boasting have no place in the kingdom of God.  And what Paul is saying, all of his pride in his family heritage, his training and involvement in the Jewish religious system are of no value in knowing Christ Jesus his Lord. 

What did Paul give up?  What was his sacrifice to know Christ?  Paul answers that question in the next phrase in our VOTD: for whom I have suffered the loss of all thingsPaul gave it all up.  He was starting at the bottom of the heap.  He had nothing when he came to know Christ.  In fact, he goes on to tell us that the things that he used to have high value in his life, now had no value: count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.  You know what rubbish means… It means garbage, trash, things that you throw into the junk pile.  That’s how he now thought about his old life of pride in the flesh.

Now let’s turn the looking glass on ourselves.  What do you value?  What is precious in your sight?  What are your hopes and dreams?  My friend, if your hopes and dreams are in physical things or physical rewards or even earthly attainments, I am afraid that you are putting your hopes in the wrong things.  But if you feel the same way Paul does in knowing Christ Jesus my Lord is the most precious thing in life, then you are on the right track.  You see for Paul, the things of this world had no value because he had found something of far more value than anything he had known before.  Jesus said it this way: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field (Matthew 13:44 NASB).  And then He gives us another example when He says: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it (Matthew 13:45-46 NASB).  You see the kingdom of God is worth more value than all those things that Paul had in his life.  And I might add, the knowing Christ Jesus as our Lord is of more value than anything we might possess or own or attain.  The problem is for most of us: We just don’t see the value.  We don’t understand His worth or comprehend the blessings that we will receive from “getting to know Him.”

You saw the blessings and the value of buying your first car.  You were willing to put in time, energy and effort to be able to purchase it because you saw its worth.  Now what we need to do is start trying to understand the value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  Ask the Lord to show you His worth.  Ask Him to show you His value.  Ask Him to show you how blessed you can be if you get closer and closer to Him. 

Now let me warn you… If you pray that prayer and really meant it, then some things are going to start happening in your life.  You are going to have to make some sacrifices.  Just has you had to put time, energy and effort into being able to buy your first car or your first big purchase, you are going to have to put in some time, energy and effort to get to knowing Christ Jesus your Lord better.  You are going to have to put more time into prayer.  You are going to have to put more time into reading your Bible.  He might be telling you that He wants you to go on a prayer walk.  He might tell you that you need to put more time in at Church.  He might be telling you to do any number of things…. But one thing is for sure…. You are going to have to sacrifice some of yourself for Him.  But in the end, we come to know the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus as our Lord.

Lord, I want to know you better.  I want to grow closer to you.  I want to become more like you.  I want to give myself to you.  Lord, I pray that you might instruct my heart and mind on how I can grow closer to you and become more like you in all things.  Lord, I am so far from being anything like you.  You are holy, righteous and pure.  I have a dream that someday I may become more of what you are and less of what I am.  Lord, I love you.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard



9 August 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 3:7 NASB  But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

Let me list some things that are obvious.  Paul starts this verse off with: But whatever things were gain to me.  So the immediate question that comes to mind is “what things?”  Here they are: These are the things that are highly prized in the Jewish religion: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless (Philippians 3:5-6 NASB).  Do you know what all these things produce?  They, one and all, produce PRIDE.  They all make you stand tall and say such things as: …  ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ (Luke 18:11-12 NASB).  Do you know what pride produces?  It produces bragging, self-promotion and righteousness in our own sight.  It says to self: Look at what I have done.  Look at how good I am.  Look at what a blessing to others I am.

But do you want to know what true righteousness in Christ produces?  It produces humility, gentleness and even self-unworthiness.  Here is what true righteousness does and says: “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!‘ (Luke 18:13 NASB).  Jesus says to those who have true righteousness: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:3-9 NASB).

So the question comes to mind: What am I supposed to do when I start thinking that I have some righteousness in me?  How am I supposed to handle it?  What am I supposed to do with it?  I would suggest that you do the same thing that Paul did with his righteousness.  What did Paul do with his righteousness?  Here it is in our VOTD: those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  In other words, all those things that are highly prized among worldly religions, Paul counted as loss.  His attainments that were according to the flesh: his birth, his upbringing, his heritage, his training, and even his zeal for the way of man’s worship of God, Paul counted them all as loss.  Now you might still be asking yourself: But how do I count them as loss?

The mind is a complex instrument.  The Bible says about man: for as he thinks within himself, so he is … (Proverbs 23:7 ISV).  My friend, how you think about yourself, makes all the difference in the world.  If you think about yourself with pride and boasting, then you are thinking about yourself wrongly.  But if you are thinking about yourself with humility and giving credit where credit is due, then you are thinking about yourself correctly.  What do I mean by thinking about yourself with humility and giving credit where credit is due?  Let’s define humility.  Webster’s says it is: In ethics, freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one’s own worth. In theology, humility consists in lowliness of mind; a deep sense of one’s own unworthiness in the sight of God, self-abasement, penitence for sin, and submission to the divine will.  In other words, without God, you do not have life, breath or intelligence.  Everything you have comes from Him.  It is just as the Bible says: For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:36 NASB).  So if you are going to boast, boast in the Lord. so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  (1 Corinthians 1:31 NASB).  For only He is pure, righteous, holy and good.  And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone (Luke 18:19 NASB).

Now, my friend, when you boast in the Lord and give Him the credit, then I believe you are giving credit where credit is due.  So the next time someone wants to praise you and give you all kinds of accolades, then you need to give credit where credit is due by pointing out the fact that “without Him, I can do nothing.”  “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:5 NASB).  We need to all remember that Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18 KJV).  We need to Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you (2 Timothy 1:14 NASB).

Remember: Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8 NASB).  And the sin of self-righteousness can set in at any time.  Little children, guard yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21 NASB).  And that is especially true for the idol of self-righteousness.

Lord, help me to always keep a proper prospective of myself and the gifts you have given to me.  Lord, help me always give you the credit for any good that others might see in me.  Lord, you have been so good to me and given me so much.  Help me, burden my heart to help others less fortunate than I am.  Help me to always point them in the direction of the cross so that they may see Jesus and the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Lord, I love you.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

 


8 August 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 3:6 NASB  as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

This verse continues the thought from the previous two verses:
Philippians 3:4-5 NASB
(4)  although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:
(5)  circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;
Paul is listing his qualifications as to “righteousness” according to the law, or according to man’s standards.  Those qualifications that man has put in place as righteous, pure and good.  Those man-made qualifications that put you in a right standing with God.  Paul only list two things qualities that were highly prized in the Jewish religion and we shall look at both.

Let me make an obvious statement: The religious Jews hated the Christians.  And any religious Jew would not walk across the street to give a Christian the time of day.  In fact, they would pass by on the other side just as they did to the man who fell into the robbers hands: Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. “And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. “Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side (Luke 10:30-32 NASB).  So when Paul was listing his qualifications that was highly prized among religious Jesus he says: as to zeal, a persecutor of the church.  In other words, if you want to talk about “gung-ho” people, Paul was at the top of the heap. 

Zeal was highly prized in the Jewish religion.  There are several verses of scripture that reference this word or thought.  He said, “Come with me and see my zeal for the LORD.” So he made him ride in his chariot (2 Kings 10:16 NASB).  My zeal has consumed me, Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words (Psalms 119:139 NASB).  He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle (Isaiah 59:17 NASB).  Even our Lord had zeal when He cleansed the temple: And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.” (John 2:14-17 NASB).

But there is a problem with Paul’s zeal before he became a Christian.  It was “not according to knowledge” when he was a persecutor of the church.  It was just as he said later on when he wrote the book of Romans: For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:2-3 NASB).  And then Paul goes on to explain that For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4 NASB).  In other words, we don’t establish our own righteousness through zeal.  Christ is the believer’s righteousness.  He is the one who is righteous.  He is the one who is pure, holy and righteous.  And through faith and faith alone His righteousness is imputed to us.  That is why when God the Father sees us, He sees us as holy, pure and righteous “in Christ.”  It is Christ’s righteousness and not our own.  That is why Paul’s zeal was no good.  He needed Christ’s righteousness.

There is a second phrase in our VOTD that we want to think about and that is: as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.  In other words, what Paul was saying, his deeds, his works and his legalistic doings which are in the Law to make him righteous in God’s sight according to human standards: found blameless.  By all human accounts, Paul was a good as it gets.  He lived a perfect holy, pure and good life according to man’s standard.  It was much like the rich young ruler that asked Jesus a question: A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  (Luke 18:18 NASB).  And Jesus said to him: “You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'”  (Luke 18:20 NASB).  And the man answered and said: And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”  (Luke 18:21 NASB). 

You see that is the problem with “self-made” religion.  We think and we tell ourselves that we are righteous in the Law and found blameless.  We tell ourselves that all these things I have kept from my youth.  But the problem is that the Spirit convicts us that there is still something wrong.  We might be like the rich young ruler that Jesus said needed to go and sell his possessions and get rid of his greed: When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich (Luke 18:22-23 NASB).

There is still one verse that keeps coming to mind that I must share with you again and again because it tells us where we are at with our righteousness: For we have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially, like a leper], and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away [far from God’s favor, hurrying us toward destruction] (Isaiah 64:6 AMP).  My friend, the ONLY way we will ever be righteous in God’s sight is to clothe ourselves in Christ’s righteousness:  But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Ephesians 4:20-24 NASB).

Here is the bottom line for all of us who name the name of Christ as Savior and Lord: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (Romans 13:14 NASB).

Lord, please help me to always remember that my righteousness according to the law is nothing more than filthy rags in your sight.  Help me to remember that anytime I think that I am getting good in your sight, my eyesight is on self and not on you.  Lord, help me to always remember that I am to be a doer of your word and not a hearer.  Help me to always remember that without You I can do nothing.  Lord, I want be found in you, clothed with your righteousness and not my own.  Lord, I love you.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard


 


7 August 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 3:5 NASB  circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;

When you go to apply for a job, what is one of the first things that the future employer asks for?  Why your resume of course.  Why do they want that?  It is because they want to know your background, your qualifications, your work experience and of course, your education.  All of those things go in to help determine “your potential” as a future employee.  If the employer doesn’t have that information, then it has a harder time determining whether or not you are going to “succeed” in their work environment.  Because it is difficult to determine your potential for success or failure, many companies have gone to “staffing agencies” to help them determine who is right and wrong for potential employment.  And even then, they still have to “screen” the people who are sent their way from the staffing agency. 

So, how does all of this relate to our VOTD?  Well, Paul, the great missionary and apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, is giving us his fleshly resume.  He wants you to know what is NOT important as a Christian, so that later on he can share with you and me what IS important to Christ.  Just as when you list facts on your resume for a potential employer to determine your job worthiness, so in a similar way Paul is listing his worldly, fleshly facts so that you can know what he counts as loss for Christ: But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:7 NASB).  Let’s look at these facts and see what we can learn to help us better understand how to think as Christians and try to learn what is valuable in Christ’s mind.

First, Paul says that he was circumcised the eighth day.  This means that he had Godly parents and came from a good Jewish home.  His parents were obedient to the Jewish laws found in the Old Testament and this was one of the most valuable assets that he could have.  Here is what the Old Testament says about being circumcised: God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. “And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. “And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. “A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. “But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” (Genesis 17:9-14 NASB).  As you can see from the Holy Scripture, this requirement was a foundation stone for the male Jew to be acceptable in the Jewish religion.

Next, we find Paul tells us that he was of the nation of Israel.  This simply means that Paul was born a Jew.  He had Jewish parents and he had Jewish blood.  If it looks, smells and tastes like bacon and comes from a pig, then it is bacon… All Paul is telling is that he is the real deal.  He is a Jewish man through and through.  And why is this important?  Because if you weren’t a Jew, then you would NEVER be considered, not even remotely considered, a godly person.  The Jews were God’s chosen nation and if you weren’t of pure Jewish stock, then you were a heathen, a reprobate, someone that God hated.  That is why the pure Jews hated the Samaritans, because they were not a pure Jew.  They were Jews that did not have a pure Jewish heritage.  They came from mixed marriages with heathen gentiles.  It is similar in our nation to: You must be “a natural born citizen” in America to be eligible to be President.  If you are born in let’s say in England, you can’t become President of the United States.  So, it was in the Jewish nation.  You had to be born of the nation of Israel, to be considered eligible to be one of God’s chosen people that He loves.

Additionally, Paul tells us that he is of the tribe of Benjamin.  Rank and privilege are everything in the Jewish society.  Just as in many of the animal kingdom’s pack animals, your parents determine your standing in the pack, so it was in the Jewish culture.  Not only do you have to be born a Jew, but your linage, determined your standing among the Jews.  In other words, who your parents were and what blood line they came from determined your standing among the Jews.  If your parents were lowly Jews, then you were a lowly Jew.  But if your parents were important and came from “good linage” then you were considered “better” than the rest.  So was being of the tribe of Benjamin important?  You bet it was.  Paul was considered one of the best of the best.  Why?  Because the tribe of Benjamin was “a tribe that was considered an aristocratic leader.”  It was like being born of the “royal family” of England.  You were part of the aristocratic party of Paul’s day.

So what does a Hebrew of Hebrews mean?  The Believers Bible Commentary defines this phrase as: he belonged to that segment of the nation that had held onto its original language, customs, and usages.  In other words, Paul kept all of the original Old Testament customs, laws, rules and regulations.  Here is how Paul described himself as he was making a defense to the Jews in Jerusalem:  “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today (Acts 22:3 NASB).  Paul, was not only of pure Jewish stock through his parents and his tribe, but he was pure Jew by his education and training.

And finally Paul tells us that he is as to the Law, a Pharisee.  Paul was telling us that he was a strict orthodox Jew as opposed to a Sadducee, those who had abandoned the doctrine of the resurrection.  What does an orthodox Jew believe?  Well according to Wikipedia it means that it is: considered by its adherents to be the only true expression of Jewish tradition.  In other words, a Pharisee is one who sticks to tradition and defies change in any form or fashion.  Jesus said of the Pharisees: “But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others (Luke 11:42 NASB).  Which should say to us as Christians, don’t be so strict in your beliefs that you can’t show love to your neighbor.

So, how do all of these phrases apply to us today?  What is the message that God has for us now?  I believe that God, by the power of the Holy Ghost, would say to each of us, it matters not what happened eight days after your birth, nor what nation you are born into, nor what tribe you are born into, nor how you were educated and trained, nor how strictly you practice your worldly beliefs, but it Greatly Matters IN WHOM YOU have BELIEVED right now.  Birth heritage can’t save you.  Genealogy can’t save you.  Parents can’t save you.  Religious practices can’t save you.  How you live your life can’t save you.  Guess what… NOTHING you can DO can save you!!!!  ONLY FAITH can SAVE you. FAITH in the person of JESUS: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 NASB).

Lord, I confess I believe you are the savior of the world.  And not just the savior of the world, but my Savior.  I place all of my hope, trust and love in you because you loved me and gave yourself for me.  Lord, please help me to live for you this day.  I ask you Lord to empower me to be the man you want me to be.  Help me to love my neighbor as myself.  Help me to do unto others as I would have them do unto me.  Lord, I want to do all of this because: I love you, Lord.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard



6 August 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 3:4 NASB  although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:

This verse is a direct result of the last phrase of the previous verse which says: for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3 NASB).  Paul is speaking in human terms in our current VOTD.  He is talking about how the world thinks and about what the world system, at that time the Jewish nation, values.  He does this for the next three verses also.  So be prepared over the next three days to look at things of value the way the world values things.

First of all, you might be asking yourself: “Why do I want to even know or think about what the world thinks about?  Why do I even have to consider such things?”  The answer is a simple one: You have to know how the opposition thinks in order to help them see “the Light:” Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”  (John 8:12 NASB).  And: “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”  (John 9:5 NASB).  Unless you know how the world thinks, you cannot correct the error of their thinking with the truth that is found in Jesus.  Jesus reminds us of this fact when He says: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life (John 6:63 NASB).

Now Paul was, as we say, from good stock.  According to the world’s standards, which was the Jewish nation at that time, he had impeccable background.  And he recognized this when he says although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh.  Paul will go on to describe his credentials in detail and give us convincing proof that he is well qualified to put confidence in the flesh.  But in the end, he will tell us that all of his confidence in the flesh is nothing because he says: More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Philippians 3:8-10 NASB).

Now my friend, I don’t want to get ahead of myself and spoil all the good stuff that leads up to this powerful statement, so we had better return to our VOTD.  Let’s ask our self a question: What does it mean to put confidence in the flesh?  Paul answers this question by stating his qualifications for righteousness in God’s sight in the next few verses.  He lists his fleshly accomplishments in terms of what the Believer’s Bible Commentary calls: pride of ancestry; pride of orthodoxy; pride of activity; and pride of morality.  In other words, to put confidence in the flesh is to say that something you have done, or something that you have accomplished either by birth or activity makes you righteous in God’s sight.  And hopefully we all remember the verse that tells us that … all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags … (Isaiah 64:6 KJV). 

Our flesh craves attention.  It longs for respect and wants to be recognized for its accomplishments.  That is why the world’s standards are based on a person’s efforts, such as who your parents are, what college you attended, what groups you are a member of and what position you hold in those organizations.  The world wants to know your pedigree and how you attained it.  The world asks such questions as: Where have you worked and what positions have you held.  The more important the positions that you have held, the higher respect you get.  The president of the company has more respect than the janitor of the company.  Not only does the world want to know what positions you have held, it also wants to know how smart you are.  That is why it is more important to go to Yale or Harvard than it is to go to your local community college.  The world’s standards are: Money, power and prestige.  If you don’t have it, then you don’t get more of it.

But what Paul is saying is that though he is far more qualified to put confidence in the flesh, he will not do so.  He reminds us of this fact when he says: If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more.  Paul had far more qualifications for righteousness according to the flesh than anyone else.  But he will share with us that he has counted all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  In other words, the word’s standards of money, power and prestige is of no value in God’s kingdom.  It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing:  “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life (John 6:63 NASB).

So the bottom line question comes to each of us: What is your value system telling you?  Does it tell you to value your accomplishments or your heritage or your education?  Don’t get me wrong, all of those things have their value and their place but not in the righteousness of God.  There is only one thing that makes us righteous in God’s sight: Christ:  and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith (Philippians 3:9 NASB).

Lord, help me to not only do right but to think right.  Lord, help me to have your value system for not only myself but for others also.  Lord, I want to be the man you want me to be and to think the way you want me to think.  And Lord, I know that I cannot do those things without your Spirit in me enabling me to be the man you want me to be.  So Lord I renew my commitment to you this day that I might be submissive to your Spirit as He leads me in the path of righteousness.  Lord, I love you.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard



5 August 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 3:3 NASB  for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,

Question: How do you define what something is?  Answer: By defining what it is, what it does and what it believes.  And that, my friend, is what we have in today’s VOTD.  We have a definition of what it means to be a true Christian.

Paul, in the power and infinite wisdom of the Holy Spirit defines what it means to be a part of the true circumcision.  When he uses this term, he is simply saying “those who are the true born again followers of the Living God.”  You can make almost anything and name it what you want to name it but there is only one brand that is the original brand.  You can make a computer and name it a Dell, but only the true Dell Company can make a Dell computer.  You can make a phone and call it an iPhone but only Apple can make a true iPhone.  Any brand that is NOT made by the original company is a phony-baloney brand, a knock-off of the original.  It should not bear the brand name of the original because it simply is not that brand and it is a fake if it bears that brand name.

And the same can be said for the Christian faith.  You can make a set of rules and call it Christian faith but only God can make a true Christian.  All Paul is doing in this VOTD is defining what God does when He makes a true Christian.  All the other religions of the world that God does not make, no matter how good they seem are phony’s and fake ways to get to heaven.  There is only ONE WAY to get to heaven and that is by being born into the family of God: He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who 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 NASB).

So in our VOTD, Paul defines three things that reflect what it means to be a part of the true circumcision, or a true Christian.  First: who worship in the Spirit of God; Second: and glory in Christ Jesus; Third: and put no confidence in the flesh.

Worship comes in all brands and manners and customs of religion.  Every religious system in the world has worship.  Even Satan followers have customs in their worship of him.  So, what does it mean to worship?  Webster’s gives several definitions to this term but one of the best terms is: Chiefly and eminently, the act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being; or the reverence and homage paid to him in religious exercises, consisting in adoration, confession, prayer, thanksgiving and the like.  But I want you to notice what the Holy Scriptures says about what true Christian worship involves.  True Christian worship is ONLY done in the Spirit of God.  In other words, if you don’t have the Spirit of God in you then you CANNOT do true worship.  So in order to have true worship you MUST HAVE the Spirit of God living in you.  How do you get the Spirit of God living in you?  You MUST BE born again: Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  (John 3:3 NASB).  Any worship by anyone that does not have the Spirit of God in them is not true worship at all.  It is just like the phony Dell computer or the fake iPhone.  It has the name but not the original manufacturer.  Therefore, it is not real at all but just a fake.  It has the name but not the power.

Second, true Christians do something that is unique to them.  They glory in Christ Jesus.  Have you ever been called a “Jesus freak?”  Then you are blessed.  Why would anyone call someone else that term?  Maybe it is because that is what they are talking about all the time: Jesus!!!  They are always talking about how GOOD He is and what He does in their lives.  How He has blessed them and how He watches over them.  They are constantly and consistently praising Him and adoring Him.  It matters not where they are or who they are with.  They will say such things as “Thank you Jesus!!!” or “Praise the Lord” or “God is so Good.” Now I ask you: Why would someone do and say all of those things about Jesus all of the time?  It is because they are filled with the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus.  Plain and simple.  When you are filled with the Spirit you can’t help but glory in Christ Jesus.  Why?  Because what is on the inside must come to the outside.  Scriptures say: “you will know them by their fruits” and the fruit of the Spirit of God in you is the glory in Christ Jesus coming out of your mouth.

Thirdly, true Christians do something that is unique to them.  They put no confidence in the flesh.  What does that mean?  It means that they do not rely on their mental powers or their talents and ability or their physical strength to get the job done.  They are relying on some ONE outside of them to put the finishing touches and blessings on everything that they do.  The worlds standards are the same: If you are smart enough or rich enough or powerful enough then you can get the job done.  But the true Christian has come to realize that is not so in their lives.  They have come to know that these Scriptures are true: The king is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, To deliver their soul from death And to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield (Psalms 33:16-20 NASB).  My friend, I hope and pray that you have come to this point in your life where you put no confidence in the flesh.  And if you haven’t come to that point yet, then you will be there some day because you will learn the truth that You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4 NASB).

Lord, I want to thank you for this verse.  Wow, what an eye opener it is to my soul.  My spirit praises you for only you are righteous, holy, pure and good.  And good you are.  You restore my soul.  You lead me in the path of righteousness.  Lord, I worship and praise you.  I don’t know why you are so good to a sinner like me but I know you are.  Lord, I want to be totally yours this day.  Use me for your good will and purpose.  I love you, Lord.

Yours in Christ,

Bob Maynard


4 August 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 3:2 NASB Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;
 
The very first instruction that Paul gives the Philippian Christians is that they need to Beware.  We talked a little about this term yesterday when we looked at what Jesus told us when He said: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15 NASB).  The message is clear to you and me in that we are not just to take things for granted and to believe that everything that has the name of Jesus on it is pure, holy, righteous and good.  No, no.  We are to do as the Holy Scriptures tell us.  We are to “test the spirits to see if they are from God.” Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1 NASB).
 
Now you might be wondering: “How do I test the spirits to see whether they are from God?” 
The next verses right after John 4:1 above answer this question: 
1 John 4:2-3 NASB
(2)  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;
(3)  and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
I like what the Believer’s Bible Commentary says about verse 2 when it says: And confessing Him means bowing to Him as Lord of one’s life. Now if you ever hear a person presenting the Lord Jesus as the true Christ of God, you will know that he is speaking by the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God calls on men to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and to commit their lives to Him. The Holy Spirit always glorifies Jesus.  To me, testing the spirits is a twofold process.  Not only does the person need to confess the Lord Jesus as the Christ of God that has come in the flesh as Savior and Lord of life but they also need to prove it by their fruit.  We are to be fruit inspectors just as Jesus says to us: “So then, you will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:20 NASB).  It is one thing for a person to say that they believe in Jesus, but it is an entirely different matter to live for Jesus.  Fruit is not what a person says with their lips, but what they say with their life.  Does their life reflect Jesus?  Just as the Holy Spirit “will glorify” Jesus, so the life that is lived in the power of the Holy Spirit “will glorify” Jesus also. 
 
Our VOTD goes on to say: Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision.  So, who are the dogs, the evil workers and the false circumcision?  Well dogs are related to wolves.  And since they are, is this not the same warning that Jesus talks about when He talked about “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves?  Paul gives us the same warning in Acts when he says: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them (Acts 20:29-30 NASB).  So to me, the dogs are those who would sow discord among the brethren and stir up strife and discord in the church.  Here is Paul’s definition of dogs though the word is not used in these verses, I believe it is applicable: If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain (1 Timothy 6:3-5 NASB).  Bottom line: Beware of anyone who preaches and teaches that godliness is a means of gain.  The “prosperity gospel” is not the gospel at all.  It is the “gospel of greed.”
 
So, who are the evil workers?  Here is the definition of evil workers: But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NASB).  And that is EXCELLENT advice: Avoid such men as these!!!
 
Lastly, who is the false circumcision?  To me, this is the circumcised religious Jews who condemned any “worshiper of God” who was not physically circumcised.  Paul had great debate with the Jews about the “new Christian” not having to be physically circumcised.  In fact, he had to go to Jerusalem to clarify why new believers did not have to be physically circumcised: Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue (Acts 15:1-2 NASB).  Bottom line: Circumcision is not a requirement for salvation.  Here is the message they sent to the church: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.” (Acts 15:28-29 NASB).  So, you are to beware of anyone who teaches you that you must be circumcised or do anything else to be saved.  Repentance and faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord is the only requirement for the question of: … “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:30-31 NASB).
 
Lord, you tell me to beware.  Lord, help me to always test the spirits to see if they are of you or not.  Help me to know the truth about others as many false prophets have gone out into the world.  Lord, I want to live for you this day.  Enable me, empower me to be the man you want me to be.  Help me to turn away from false prophets and turn to you for you are my refuge and strength.  Lord, I love you.
 
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard



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