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~2 John 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.

With today’s way of thinking, one may think that this verse is intolerant.  However, we absolutely have to recognize false doctrine and to stay away from it. We need to protect ourselves from these things. Otherwise, compromise begins to “set in” and we begin accepting other ways to Heaven. We know there are no other ways (John 14:6).

One cannot recognize what is false without first knowing what is true.  It is said that bank tellers are trained to recognize counterfeit money by having them handle real money.  The longer they touch and look at real money, the more likely they are to be able to pick out a counterfeit bill.  It is the same with false doctrine.  The more a believer is in the word of God, reading it and studying it, the more he will be able to recognize when someone is spreading false doctrine.  He will be able to recognize the devil’s lies.

What is false doctrine?  It is anything that denies the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, His deity, His death, burial and His resurrection.  It is doctrine that adds to what Christ has already done. False doctrine can also come in the way of “adding” to the Gospel of Jesus Christ by saying that His death on the cross was not enough but more is needed: good works in order to get to Heaven, denying He is the only way to Heaven and He is the only intercessor between God and man.

Don’t be left in the dark.  Study your Bible and read it daily so you can be able to immediately spot what is right and what is wrong.  Our world is not getting better and you will need to be armed with truth. Jesus, Himself, claimed that God’s words are truth and that His words would sanctify us – set us apart from the world!

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Be proactive, Christian! Don’t depend on other people to study God’s word! YOU are the one that has to make the effort – and that’s what it boils down to. People want instant everything (microwave popcorn, instant cash, etc.) but that just cannot be done with the Scriptures. It takes work – it takes time – it takes dedication.

~2 Timothy 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

~Acts 17:11  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

~Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. 

I have loved this verse for many years now. The Lord first gave it to me when I was going through some very difficult trials in my life. When God would speak to me through the Pastor’s messages, I did not like what I was hearing. I did not want to follow the guidance the man of God was clearly preaching. What he was preaching was too hard for me and I felt that it was too much to bear. Sometimes we look at our trials as a whole and get discouraged. This is what I did. I would look at the big picture, hear the preaching and think to myself that God didn’t know what He was asking me to do! Was I ever wrong!!

When the Lord gave Psalm 119:165 to me, it was as though He had reached down and hugged this child. He spoke to me through His word and said that if I love the Scriptures, nothing in it will cause me to fall or stumble. He would not ask me to do anything that would be bad for me. So, I obeyed the Lord through the preaching and did what was asked. The end result was one of great peace. All the fears I had of what might happen, never happened. I feared the unknown and feared what God would have me to do – all for nothing. The Bible assured me peace if I followed it and it was true!

I pray that you would glean from that testimony and apply it to your own life. I pray that you will see this verse as one that will bring life changing results to you. Let’s look at it and pick it apart this morning. The Greek word for “offend” is

H4383
מכשׁל מכשׁול
mikshôl mikshôl
mik-shole’, mik-shole’
Masculine from H3782; a stumblingblock, literally or figuratively (obstacle, enticement (specifically an idol), scruple): – caused to fall, offence, X [no-] thing offered, ruin, stumbling-block.

Noah Webster also defines the word in the same manner:

6. To disturb, annoy, or cause to fall or stumble. Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them. Psalm 119.

What a blessing this is. God’s word will never bring you harm, my friend. You may hear some hard preaching and refuse to apply it to your life because you feel it is too hard or it will create problems. But God’s word says otherwise. The Scriptures are not offensive. He would never give us something that would cause us to stumble – It only promises peace.

You may be thinking that you already know this. But let me ask you this. Have you heard a message recently where the Pastor says “A Christian should not be  _______!” (fill in the blank)? Were you guilty of whatever it was he said you should not do? If you were guilty, did you stop doing it? Or did you shrug it off. If you shrugged it off, you are sinning. And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jeremiah 3:15) God’s man has been given to your church to feed you from the Scriptures so you can grow in knowledge and understanding, my friend. The Holy Spirit cannot do a work in you if you are not going to respond to the message God has laid on his heart. The ‘guilty’ feeling you have inside is the Holy Spirit acknowledging that what you have heard is an area that God wants you to work on. When your Pastor brings your name up before God in prayer, is he able to do so with joy or with grief? If it is with grief, the Bible says it is unprofitable to you.

We all have an area in life where we struggle. Why do we think that ours is unique and is just too great to give up? Don’t be angry with the Preacher for preaching God’s word. If you are, Psalm 119:165 cannot be a verse you can claim. Instead, submit to the preaching and allow the Holy Spirit to do a work in you. There is nothing that you are experiencing right now that you cannot overcome, my friend. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

God promises peace and He gives peace. The only thing we have to do to obtain that peace is to be in His word. How hard is that? D.L. Moody once said, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.” If things are going wrong and you are overwhelmed, look at your Bible life. I have met Christians who are going through tremendous trials but I would never know it. These Christians are in their Bible and applying it to their lives as they glean God’s peace.

Why struggle when you can have that sweet peace that only God can give His children? He waits to give it to you. Why ignore Him? Spending time in the word of God and yielding yourself to it produces that peace. Your trials may not go away but the Lord will give you that peace which is beyond understanding! (Philippians 4:7) These negative people seem to enjoy living this way – constantly defeated. Do you actually enjoy the unrest in your spirit? Do you actually want to continue to live with such a dark cloud over you? Maybe you are the kind of person who loves the attention you get because of it. Believe me, the only attention you are getting is from people who are in the same situation as you are. You are like a person who is drowning – you are looking to others who cannot swim to help you. Instead, you should be looking to others who can provide you with a life preserver!

You can turn yourself around, you know. Sure it will mean setting aside time to read the Bible and study it. Sure it will mean that you will have to apply what you learn and give up those sins that God places on your heart. Sure it will take an effort on your part, but wouldn’t it be worth it? If you’re miserable, Christian, it’s because you choose to be miserable. The sad thing is that you bring down those around you, too. You will have much to account for when you stand before the Lord. Wouldn’t it be easier to submit to God’s word today? Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (Psalm 119:165)

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3)

LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us. (Isaiah 26:12)

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Proverbs 27:1

We don’t know what tomorrow has in store for us – no one does. No amount of clairvoyance can accurately predict what lies ahead. All we know is that we have today. Each day, beginning at 12 a.m., we receive 1,440 minutes for that day. Everyone gets the same amount of minutes – non more, no less.  Sadly, however, not everyone uses their minutes wisely. (Proverbs 24:5)

As my feet hit the floor when I get out of bed, my prayer should be that I use each minute the Lord blesses me with according to His will. Making myself available to God in this way allows me to see God’s will in each circumstance and event of the day. For example, if I get up late, I will rush to get ready for work and won’t take time in His word to prepare myself for the day. My thoughts won’t be centered around the Lord when my morning began with chaos.  In fact, my thoughts will be cluttered with worldly thoughts because I’m frazzled. If the Lord sends a soul in need my way, I won’t be able to recognize that need if my thoughts are occupied on my rough start.

Being ready and making myself available to the Lord to show me His will is an on-going process. What I get out of my time with Him and in His word will be in direct proportion to what I put in. Makes sense, right? Compare it to being in school and preparing for a test. If you were the procrastinating type that crammed the night before, chances are you would pass the test but you would not necessarily remember any of it the following week. The lazy person who didn’t study at all would fail the test for lack of knowledge (Hos. 4:6). Finally, the one who studied diligently throughout the class would pass AND would remember what was studied years later. If you compare yourself for the day’s tasks to that of someone studying for a test, in which of these categories would you fall? The amount of time you put in your Bible will be reflected in what you are able to retrieve when you need it most.  (2 Tim. 2:15)

What does this have to do with today’s text, you may wonder. We do not know if we will be alive tomorrow. To say that we will help a soul tomorrow and not prepare ourselves today is likened to the student who didn’t bother studying at all. How will we know when someone needs us if we are not even making ourselves available? Carpe diem, “Seize the moment,” says it all, doesn’t it?  The one who only reads his Bible right before visitations will only retain the efforts he put in. Only what was last read will be the first thing remembered. That’s not preparation at all! But the one who diligently read his Bible daily, studied, and committed verses to memory stands ready to accept any challenge that the Lord places in his path.

What am I doing with my 1,440 minutes every day? So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalms 90:12 (KJV) I am convinced that I won’t be used of God if I have not prepared myself! God won’t move me forward in His will if I am not faithful. Why would I give my child more responsibility if he/she cannot even perform the tasks I’ve already assigned?

We all have 1,440 minutes in a day – what we do with those minutes is up to us!

Psalm 108

A Song or Psalm of David. 1 O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory. 2 Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. 3 I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations. 4 For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds. 5 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth; 6 That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me. 7 God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. 8 Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver; 9 Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph. 10 Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom? 11 Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off? and wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts? 12 Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. 13 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.

I absolutely love David’s devotional time with the Lord, don’t you? It wasn’t a drudgery to him. It was a beautiful and special time to him. David incorporated music, song and praise in his devotional time (Psalm 108:1-2). He gave God the glory for all that was going on in his life (Psalm 108:3-5). What does David teach us?

  • His heart was fixed – this was not the heart of an unbeliever.  The unsaved do not think about God (Psalm 10:4).  Therefore, only the saved can have meaningful time with the Lord.  How fixed was his heart?  So much so, he had a song in his heart!  (Psalm 40:3) (Job 35:10)  Songs prepare the heart for a message, in my opinion.  Many times I have sung hymns before the Pastor gave the message and my heart was made ready to hear the preaching.  The Holy Spirit had already begun a work through the songs and the preaching completed it.  Why not use music in our devotional time?
  • He got up early – I think of my time with the Lord as my “tithe” of time.  Giving the Lord the first fruits of your time results in a blessing.  It is in the wee hours of the morning that I have found answers to prayers, special Scripture to meet a need and a special communion with my Lord.  Granted, new and young mothers have difficulty with this schedule because of their young ones.  But for those who do not have this restriction, quiet time early in the morning starts with a refreshed, rested mind and heart – one that is not hindered by the cares of the day.  If it was good enough for David, it sure is good enough for me 🙂
  • He praises his God – David prepares his heart and himself in the right spirit.  A heart that is filled with praise is not bitter.  How can we hear from the Lord if our heart isn’t right?  (Psalm 51:10)  Having a hymnal on hand should be a staple of the believer’s devotional time.  Open up to a hymn that praises God – there are so many!  One of my personal favorites is “How Great Thou Art”!  I don’t think I could ever get tired of singing this hymn to the Lord!
  • He acknowledges God’s character (Psalm 108:4-5) – When we acknowledge God’s wonderful traits, we are able to see these in how He deals with us.  For example, His mercy – without it, I would be in Hell.  Another is His eye for detail – I look at creation and am astounded!  God’s fatherly characteristics also bless me!  He guides me like a father would – like a Shepherd would (Psalm 23:1-4).
  • He acknowledges the holiness of God’s Word (Psalm 108:7) – what a blessing that this holiness of Word comes in verse 7!  Seven is the Bible number for God’s perfect nature, spiritual perfection and completion (Psalm 12:6-7).  The Creator of the universe can, did and will continue to keep and preserve His Word.  If we want to get to know Him better, then we must spend time in His Word and we will see His holiness throughout each page.  By reading and studying, we are convicted and taught – then we must acknowledge our sin, repent and learn.

I pray 2011 proves to be my best year in studying and learning from God’s Holy Word (2 Timothy 2:15)!

~Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

I came across this picture and chuckled to myself! What a funny looking tree, huh? I truly believe that there is a lesson from God in every piece of His creation. When I was in grade school Science class, we did an experiment on this very topic. We planted a bean in a cup filled with soil. We watered it, put it in the sun and watched how much it grew from day-to-day. We all know that all plant life grows toward the sun. When you shade a plant, it stunts its growth and slows the process. If the plant finds the smallest speck of sunlight, it will grow toward that sunlight. The tree in today’s picture doesn’t seem to have had a shade problem and I’m not certain why it’s so crooked, however, I think you see my point.

I wondered at how much our own spiritual lives are reflected in this picture! What circumstances would cause a new Christian to grow up crooked? Today’s text indicates that that the new believer is easily tossed about with wrong doctrine. He is easily deceived and sucked into false doctrine. Paul exhorts the Ephesians not to be like children! The only way to spot false doctrine is by knowing the true doctrine … by studying one’s Bible! Don’t study to be a man pleaser but study to show yourself approved unto God! God will reveal Himself and His doctrine to you if you are studious!

~2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

There are thousands of people on this planet who are preaching wrong doctrine. Just turn your TV set on and watch on any given Sunday. It is so sad that people are sucked into this spiritual vacuum and fall prey to these charlatans! They fall prey because they have not studied for themselves! It is easier for them to let someone else do the studying and they just follow! Letting someone else do your studying does not exempt you from studying for yourself! You will be accountable for your own actions. It may be easier for you to follow after someone else but you can be certain that you will be tossed about and carried away with every wind of doctrine, as Paul said.

Following after Christ is not easy. Christ never promised that being His disciple would be filled with good things and that you would prosper in wealth and in health. He did promise that you would prosper spiritually and that you would inherit eternal life, however! If wealth and health are in the future of every believer if they just believe, then Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is clearly a record of spiritually lacking people who have died and not prospered in their lives. It’s a sham to tell people this – it’s a money-making business! If people took it upon themselves to study for themselves, they would easily see the truth and the truth would set them free! Jesus said that the pathway to destruction is a wide path and many go through it. The Christian’s path is narrow but it is straight if he stays on it and reads, studies and applies what the Holy Spirit teaches him!

~Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Gleaning Gold:

~Matthew 13:23  But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Nuggets of Truth:

I love how Christ used word pictures, don’t you?  His teachings were always very clear because they appealed to the senses.  Everyone of His day knew how to garden or had someone at home who knew how to garden.

Good soil just does not happen.  It takes nurturing by the gardener: weeding, cultivating, fertilizing, etc.  As we cultivate our hearts, we need to remove the weeds which can overtake us.  Worldliness is the weed in the believer’s life.  Fertilizing our hearts with God’s Word will most assuredly bring good soil and will most assuredly yield bountiful fruit.

We are exhorted to read and study God’s Word many times:

~Matthew 21:42a  Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures,

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

~2 Timothy 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

~Acts 17:11  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

~Romans 15:4  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Why do you think it is so important to read and study the Bible?  First, it is there that you will find eternal life!  That’s the foremost reason.  Secondly, it is in the Word that we learn how to apply its teachings to our lives.  The Word provides everything we need for day-to-day living and how to deal with each trial and circumstance that comes our way.  We receive comfort, patience, peace and in turn we have hope.  Thirdly, the Word provides us with a foundation for our beliefs so we are able to recognize false doctrine when it is presented to us.

Refining the Gold:

~Luke 24:45  Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

~2 Peter 3:16  As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

God opens our hearts at the time of salvation by giving us the Holy Spirit.  It is He who gives us understanding of the Scriptures.  The unsaved cannot understand.  In fact, they “wrest” the Scriptures, meaning they pervert the Scriptures.   Our last two verses make it quite clear as to why this is so.  The believer receives understanding of the Scriptures because God is the one who opens their understanding.  The unbeliever does not possess the Holy Spirit and, therefore, pervert the Word of God and twist it to mean whatever they want.

God’s Word is final.  ~Psalm 119:89  LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

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