19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?
20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Read these two verses of scripture carefully; all of verse 19 is being spoken by “they” and all of verse 20 is spoken by God. Notice that “they” will say that a people should seek their God. This is why the Bible teaches us that we should try the spirits (1 John 4:1); because even those who have no light, no connection to God will still speak of God. The problem is that they will mix God with speaking to spirits and speaking to the dead and pretty much anything else that human imagination can dream up. Thankfully, the Lord provides us with the only method we need to test what people tell us of God- If they speak not according to the “Law and Testimony” (The Bible), don’t believe them. That was true when the Lord told Isaiah to write it, and it’s still true today.
2 Timothy 2:20-21
20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
-The idea of sanctification is one that often trips up a Christian. The confusion comes not from what sanctification is, but rather what we make it out to be. The word “sanctify” literally means “to separate” or “to set apart” and has the idea of being put aside for a special use. The more we are set apart from the worldly and common, the less we identify with them and the more easily we can be led of the spirit. If we get so focused on the idea of simply living perfect, we will inevitably get frustrated when we fall short of that high mark. A sanctified Christian is not one who is faultless; it is simply one who has been separated from the things of the world and groomed for the Master’s use.
2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
-We have not because we ask not. The best kept secret in the Christian life. It is promised that we will have heartache and tribulation in the world (John 16:33), but how much of that heartache might we be spared if we simply asked the Heavenly Father for reprieve? We are likewise blessed beyond measure, but how much more blessing could be ours if we simply asked the one who is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”? (Ephesians 3:20) We all have jobs to do on this side of eternity; opportunities to bring glory to God in Heaven. Having said that, remember that in any situation, the best thing you can do is not to witness, not to argue, not to strive in our own strength; the best thing we can do for ourselves and everyone around us is to pray.
4 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
-Lest we get jaded and take for granted the indescribable gift of Salvation provided by the Lord, let’s take a moment to reflect on exactly what the Lord is saving us from. Hell is a real place. It’s not a myth or an allegory designed to explain the torture of a life separated from God; it is a very real place of fire and brimstone. There, eternal torment and punishment await all those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no “purgatory” to temporarily punish and cleanse those who are stained with sin, we are either bound for Heaven or doomed to Hell. If that thought scares you, please understand that it’s supposed to. That is exactly why Jesus here tells us that we should be very afraid of God, the only one who can save or condemn. But rejoice!! Jesus would not have issued this warning if there was no way to escape the consequences. The Lord Himself laid down His life to make a way for us to escape Hell. To accept Jesus is to accept Heaven, to reject Jesus is to embrace Hell; it really is that simple and God is the last person who wants to trick you. All of eternity hangs on one simple question, “Will you accept this precious gift that the Lord wants to give you?”
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
-This is an important teaching to remember for Thanksgiving. In this season, everyone is looking for a reason to be thankful and expressing that appreciation in feasting and celebration. While it is true that the whole world has cause to be thankful (for God is good to the just and the unjust- Matthew 5:45) those of us who are saved have extra cause to be thankful. It follows that just as Jesus taught that our righteousness should exceed the righteousness of the world; so too should our thankfulness exceed the thankfulness of the world. The Lord has given and forgiven much; we should love and praise much in return. (Luke 7:47) By the way, if you haven’t trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior- hurry up so you can celebrate with the rest of us!
1 Thessalonians 5:18
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
-The idea of being thankful is high on everyone’s list this time of year. We are often asked to share what we are thankful for, but I think a better question would be who are we thankful to? When you give thanks do you have someone in mind deserving of your gratitude or are you just throwing thankfulness vibes out into the atmosphere? If you think about it, the idea of expressing gratitude is really a two-party deal; thankfulness, by nature, should be directed towards a benefactor. James 1:7 teaches that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights”. If you have been blessed and feel grateful, remember that it wasn’t the indifference of a cold universe that provided your blessings, it was the Lord.
2 For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.
3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
4 The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
-“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” You may have heard this passage referenced or this question asked to describe times of extreme trial or evil. It’s a good question and one that’s designed to make us think. But never forget that the Bible is not a book of questions, it is a book of answers. The answer in this case is set up in the very next verse, “The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven“. You don’t have to be discouraged if the foundations crumble; you don’t even have to be discouraged if the walls crumble and the roof falls in- God is still on the throne. God doesn’t need a foundation because He is a Foundation; He is our Rock and our Fortress (Psalm 18:2); He is our Corner Stone and Sure Foundation (Isaiah 28:16). So remember the question, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” It is not rhetorical; it is very real and if it hasn’t come up in your life already, it will. What answer do we give? The same answer Jehoshaphat gave when he felt the walls falling in around him- “Neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon [God].” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
-In any trip of significant distance, it becomes important at times to stop and take a rest. The problem we sometimes face is that it seems easier to hold onto our resting point instead of continuing on as we should. I realize that the journey can be wearying, but the thing to remember about the Christian life is that the best is always yet to come; the end is always better than the beginning. Wherever you’ve decided to rest and then decided to just keep resting, remember that the Lord has better things for you. Don’t stop where you are- PRESS ON!
1 Kings 18:36-39
36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.
-Elijah’s prayer, which was quickly answered by God, provides great insight and guidance that can be applied to our own prayers. Twice between verse 36 and 37 Elijah proclaims that the reason for his request is so the people may know that God is God. This is why God does the things He does and why He doesn’t do the things He doesn’t; so that we may know and believe. Sometimes that means raining fire down from Heaven, sometimes that means whispering in a still small voice. There is a lot of hardship and injustice in the world and it would be easy to question God for allowing it; but the fact is we don’t know enough to discern how certain events, even “bad” events, might move people to trust in the Lord. God may heal a person of sickness because He knows it will make someone believe. Another time God may not heal a person of sickness because He knows seeing that person faithfully carry that sickness will make someone believe.
2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
-In Scripture, Salvation is more than once likened to water; an apt picture considering some of water’s qualities. Water can go everywhere and can be found all over the world; likewise there is no place on Earth beyond the reach of God’s saving power. Water can be found free for the taking, yet none but God can truly claim to own it; similarly Salvation can be freely had by all (Revelation 22:17), but only God Himself truly holds it. Perhaps the most compelling reason is this: regardless of a person’s race, gender, heritage or background, everyone needs water or they will die; likewise everyone, regardless of race, gender, heritage or background, absolutely needs the Lord’s Salvation or they have no hope of life.