Nov. 18. Redeemer to Reunite Man with God

Is. 59:1-60:22

Isaiah painted a bleak picture of sin and hopelessness. He explained that God was able to hear and to save them from their enemies, but that was not possible because their sins had separated them from Him. When a child of the Lord is mired in sin and all hope seems lost, he should realize that he cannot escape by his own efforts. Repentance and a return to God is the answer. The prophet looked ahead by inspiration and saw salvation for Zion. “The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob.” A new covenant would be made by the Lord. Through present day knowledge, we know that covenant was of the Lord Jesus Christ that superseded the Law of Moses.

Many of God’s prophets preached gloom and doom against His people. Isaiah’s words were beginning to be more hopeful. The glory of God would shine upon the dark gloom that had enveloped them. They would begin to amass abundant riches from their Gentile neighbors. Sons of their former enemies would bow before them. Those blessings would let them know that, “I, the Lord, am your Savior And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” Peace and prosperity would reign under the bright glory of God.

The prophet wrote in terms of the restoration of the physical Jerusalem. There was implicated also a spiritual Jerusalem that would arise as Jesus, the Son of God would shine upon His church. All nations would flow to it including the Gentiles. The message calls for all of God’s children to arise and shine as we reflect the glory of Christ.

#chronological-bible-study

Nov. 17. Additional Words from Isiah

Is. 56:1-58:14

There are two schools of thought among scholars regarding the author and time of writing of the final works of Isaiah. It is thought that they were written by an unknown prophet after the temple was restored. However, if one is to believe the power of God to foretell the future, it is probable that Isaiah himself with God’s guidance did indeed pen those final words that bear his name.

When the temple was first built by Solomon, eunuchs and foreigners/Gentiles were excluded from participating in any of the temple activities. With the temple rebuilding after the Babylonian exile, those rules would change. However, it was necessary for all people to be obedient to the laws of God. The future acceptance of all people in the Lord’s church can also be recognized in the prophet’s words. Leaders who cared for their own selfish interests instead of the welfare of the people were condemned.

Man has a long history of failing to recognize God as his Supreme maker and sustainer. Instead, many look to inanimate objects and worship them instead of worshipping the true God. The prophet spoke harsh words of condemnation against those idol worshippers. Some who claim to follow the Lord try to hold to Him with one hand while holding to idols with the other hand. Covetousness is also a form of idol worship. They are committing spiritual adultery. When those people cry out to God, He will say, “Let your collection of idols deliver you.” God’s inheritance is to the ones who put their trust in Him. “There is no peace for the wicked.” They are like a stormy sea with boisterous waves.

Many times in man’s attempt to obey the letter of the law outwardly, he is guilty of neglecting to care for other important needs in life. His inward man, the heart is not with God. There were many hardships that faced the exiles upon their return to Jerusalem from Babylon. As the leadership went about restoring the temple and city, they failed to care for those who were suffering those hardships. The prophet admonished them to, “Extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually…”

#chronological-bible-study

My yesterday, today and forever

And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.” (Mark 12:26-27 RSV)

А о мертвых, что они воскреснут, разве не читали вы в книге Моисея, как Бог при купине сказал ему: Я Бог Авраама, и Бог Исаака, и Бог Иакова? Бог не есть Бог мертвых, но Бог живых. Итак, вы весьма заблуждаетесь. (От Марка 12:26-27 Russian)

Most holy and wise heavenly Father ~ thank you, dear God, for your real-time presence in the mundane affairs of creatures made in your image. Along with all creation Lord, we acknowledge our faith in you as our blessed and only God in whom we trust for eternal life. You know my yesterday, today and forever as I beg you to keep me close to your heart as I strive to be more like Christ, your beloved Son. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

David Binkley, Sr. Gospel Minister

Cedar Key Church

#davidbinkley

Nov. 16. Joel Warns and Exhorts

Joel 1:1-3:21

Nothing is known about the prophet Joel except his name and his father’s name. It is likely that his prophecy was written sometime after Judah’s return from Babylonian exile. Admonitions were addressed to priests instead of directly to kings as other prophets had spoken. The prophet began by describing a horrific scene of destruction and hunger due to a plague of locusts that had destroyed their crops and pastures. There was no grain even for the temple worship. In the face of their devastation, Joel called for fasting and an assembly to cry out to the Lord for relief.

The swarms of locusts were likened to an invading army poised to destroy the enemy. Joel also compared their destruction to the day of the Lord when sinners will be destroyed. The prophet called for repentance and a return to the Lord. True repentance brings mercy and forgiveness from a just and loving God. Joel looked forward a few hundred years to a day in which God’s Spirit would be poured out upon those who would fully trust in Him. (Peter referred to this Scripture as he preached the first gospel sermon that resulted in the establishment of the Lord’s church in Acts 2:14-21.)

Israel was pictured as a weak people struggling economically among stronger wicked nations. They even sold their children into slavery. As they faced those dire circumstances, they remained God’s chosen ones. He allowed them to suffer because of their sins, but in the end those who oppressed Judah paid the price for their misdeeds. Joel pictured the final restoration of Judah and Jerusalem in terms of material blessings which are temporary. However, the final restoration of His people in the final judgment will be a spiritual home with Him forever in heaven.

#chronological-bible-study

Church as people of God

Perhaps it’s such a generic phrase that it gets frequently overlooked. But as I was doing some study in Portuguese yesterday, I noted that in a goodly part of our literature, we don’t include the phrase, “people of God,” in our lists of descriptions of the Lord’s church. Continue reading

#church, #church-descriptions, #people-of-god

Love on the rainiest of days

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:24-25 NIV)

Потому говорю вам: всё, чего ни будете просить в молитве, верьте, что получите, –и будет вам. И когда стоите на молитве, прощайте, если что имеете на кого, дабы и Отец ваш Небесный простил вам согрешения ваши. (От Марка 11:24-25 Russian)

O LORD my God ~ thank you, dear Father, in heaven for the sunshine of your love that is evident even on the rainiest of days. Direct my steps today in the direction of someone who has lost their way in life, and untie my tongue so that I will speak the essential gospel words of truth with love. Forgive me of my sins as I now forgive those who have harmed me. Break the cold hearts of those who have vowed to never forgive someone for a wrong they did long ago. Restore the joy of forgiveness in the worldwide church of Christ so that brotherly love may continue to be the banner of our existence. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

David Binkley, Sr. Gospel Minister

Cedar Key Church

#davidbinkley

Nov. 15. Wall Dedicated; Responsibilities Assigned; Nehemiah’s Final Reforms

Neh. 12:27-13:31

The completion of the Jerusalem wall and the genealogical registration of the people was a time for great celebration, reflection and resolution—confessions of transgressions and penitent promises. Timing was perfect for observing the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles. Prior to the dedication, the priests and Levites purified themselves and purified the people, gates and the wall. Activities included thanksgiving and singing praises to God. Two thanksgiving choirs were appointed to blend their voices in worship to the Lord. The first choir was led by Ezra as they walked on the wall to the right. Nehemiah followed the other choir as they walked on the wall to the left. Both choirs met at the Gate of the Prison where they united in songs of worship. Other temple responsibilities were also assigned to various individuals.

When Nehemiah had first left the household of King Artaxerxes, he had promised to return at a set time. He did return twelve years later. After an unspecified time back in Persia, he had persuaded the king to allow him to return to Jerusalem. During his absence from Jerusalem, the people had gotten lax in their observance of the commandments and had violated the covenant that they had made only a few years earlier. The high priest had even allowed the Ammonite, Tobiah, one of Nehemiah’s greatest enemies to occupy a room in the temple. They had begun to buy, sell and work on the Sabbath. Nehemiah was highly disturbed by those actions and immediately began to “clean house.” He tossed Tobiah’s household goods out of the room and had it cleansed.

The people were guilty of various other offences including marrying foreigners. Nehemiah was very strict in his adherence to God’s law. He ordered all profane activities to be stopped. His last recorded words consisted of a prayer to God. “Remember me, O my God, for good!” That should be the prayer and goal for everyone.

#chronological-bible-study

Remove distractions

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:34-35 ESV)

И, подозвав народ с учениками Своими, сказал им: кто хочет идти за Мною, отвергнись себя, и возьми крест свой, и следуй за Мною. Ибо кто хочет душу свою сберечь, тот потеряет ее, а кто потеряет душу свою ради Меня и Евангелия, тот сбережет ее. (От Марка 8:34-35 Russian)

O LORD my God ~ on this new day, I want to thank you, dear Father, for the crystal clear inspired words that Jesus spoke while on this earth created by your great genius and power. Bless every follower of Christ with renewed energy and stronger faith so that we are able to obey the great expectations you have for each Christian. Help me to deny earthly passions and desires in order to give wholehearted attention to carrying my cross as an obedient child. Help me Lord to think about today as if it is the only day I have to serve Christ as Lord. Remove the distractions of those who desire to pull Christians away from the greatest cause on earth of sharing the Good News far and wide. Save the Church established by Christ, from becoming just another earthly institution. Help me to eliminate those things or ideas that may threaten to pull me away from wholehearted service to Christ my Lord and Savior. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

David Binkley, Sr. Gospel Minister

Cedar Key Church

#davidbinkley

Nov. 14. Population Redistributed and Recorded

Neh. 11:1-12:26

Life in the restored Jerusalem and Judah was beginning to progress at a new normal. The Israelites had been governed by a king for several hundred years, but they were then under the governor, Nehemiah as he answered to the king of Persia. Isaiah and other prophets had spoken of another King who would set up a new kingdom. The people were expecting a new king at any time to lead them. That misunderstanding of the prophets and the purpose of the Messiah led them many years later to fail to recognize Jesus as that prophesied King. They were looking for someone of nobility who would lead them from an earthly throne.

Jerusalem as the holy city was responsible for the day-to-day activities of the temple. It was necessary to have a sufficient number of qualified men to provide those services. Volunteers were accepted for the work, but it was also necessary to cast lots for others to fully occupy the city. One-tenth of the people would live in Jerusalem and the other nine-tenths would dwell in other cities and villages of Judah. Nehemiah was careful to list those chosen for the various tasks in and around the temple.

#chronological-bible-study

Nov. 13. Ezra Proclaims Mosaic Law; People Respond in Repentance and Renew Covenant.

Neh. 8:1-10:39

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Even though the apostle Paul wrote those words to the Roman church (Rom. 10:17) hundreds of years later, it had been necessary for the Jews who had returned from exile to hear the word of God. The law that God had given to Moses during the wilderness wandering had been grossly neglected. Through God’s providence it had been preserved, but it had not been observed. With Jerusalem’s wall having been rebuilt, the people were in a joyous and receptive mood. About thirteen years earlier, Ezra had returned with about fifteen hundred men plus women and children and as priest had begun to restore their worship and government, but his work had not been completed.

As governor, Nehemiah was primarily responsible for civil law and Ezra, the priest was responsible for religious activities of the Jews. On the first day of the seventh month Ezra brought the Book of the Law of Moses and read to the people who were capable of understanding. He read from the book and various Levites explained it for several hours each day for seven days. If one fails to read and study the Bible today, he will be ignorant of God’s commands just at those Jews were during the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Upon hearing God’s commands and realizing their failure to observe His decrees, the people began to weep. That was a natural reaction, but they were told to rejoice instead of weeping. It was a time of feasting and it was good that they were finally learning of their responsibilities to their God.

The Feast of Tabernacles, a remembrance of the type of dwellings the Israelites had lived in during the forty-year wilderness wanderings had been neglected since the days of Joshua, Moses’ successor. They built booths or tents using various types of leafy branches. Those booths were placed on housetops open courtyards and other open spaces available.

While mourning in sackcloth and ashes, the Levites stood before the people and cried out to God in confession and repentance of their past rebellions. They proclaimed the one true God’s presence and glory from the creation to that present time. He had made a covenant with Abram/Abraham to make from him a great nation. Israel was that nation. The Levites acknowledged His mercy and care for them throughout the ages even as they were justifiably punished because of the hardness and disobedience of themselves and of their fathers. As they recounted their history as a rebellious nation, the Levites prayed for continued mercy and forgiveness. “And because of all this, We make a sure covenant and write it; Our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it.”

Nehemiah, the governor along with various priests, Levites, leaders and brethren placed their seal on the covenant with God. The people also agreed to the covenant under oath and penalty of a curse for breaking their oath. That covenant proclaimed complete obedience to the statutes of the Law of Moses. Sadly, history relates that they failed to keep that covenant.

#chronological-bible-study

Hugh’s News & Views (I Am A Christian)

I AM A CHRISTIAN

(Note: The following article was written by Dr. Cecil May, Jr., dean emeritus of the V. P. Black College of Biblical Studies at Faulkner University in Montgomery, AL. It appeared as his “Finally, Brethren” column in the October 2019 issue of the Gospel Advocate and is used here by the express permission of the Gospel Advocate company. I highly commend Dr. May’s provocative article to all).

I am a disciple of Christ; I seek to learn from Him and follow Him…but I am not a Disciple of Christ.

I am a methodist; I try to follow the biblical method…but I am not a Methodist.

I am a baptist; I have been immersed in water for the forgiveness of my sins…but I am not a Baptist.

I am catholic; Christ added me to His universal church…but I am not a Catholic.

I am part of an assembly of God; we assemble each Lord’s day…but I am not of the Assemblies of God.

I am presbyterian; my congregation is shepherded by elders (Greek, presbuteroi)…but I am not a Presbyterian.

I am episcopalian; my congregation is overseen by bishops (Greek, episcopoi)…but I am not an Episcopalian.

I am a member of a congregation which is Christian and independent…but I am not of the Independent Christian Church.

I am a member of the church of Christ; He built it and purchased it with His blood…but I am not Church of Christ.

I am a member of the church of God; He purposed it before the worlds began…but I am not Church of God.

By the grace of God, I am a Christian.

Hugh Fulford, November 12, 2019

#hughfulford #Christian

Nov. 12. People Registered by Genealogy

Neh. 7:4-73

Over the one hundred years since the first exiles had returned with Zerubbabel, the people had become much disorganized as a nation. Opposition from enemies and other various hardships had discouraged them from rebuilding Jerusalem and setting up a proper formal government. Nehemiah was a man of action. He began by organizing the people according to their genealogy. Since only descendants of Levi could serve as priests, it was extremely important to properly identify that lineage. Without the proper genealogical proof, they would be barred from any priestly duties. Others who were involved with the operation of the temple were also identified. Nehemiah began by using a registry of those first exiles who had returned with Zerubbabel. The population totaled more than forty-two thousand people.

The people were numbered and settled by the seventh month. There were three important events during the seventh month—Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles.

#chronological-bible-study

Nov. 11. Jerusalem’s Wall Rebuilt

Neh. 3:1-7:3

Organization. All of the people did not cluster together on one part of the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. They were divided into appropriate groups according to their abilities and convenience to their homes. Nehemiah was careful to record the names and responsibilities of the various builders.

When Sanballat and Tobiah heard of the work being done, they were furious and began to mock and jeer at the builders. “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.” Praying to God and arming themselves with spears, the Jews continued their work at rebuilding the wall and its gates. Half of the people stood guard with spears while the others worked. The only time that they took their clothes off was for washing. They “had a mind to work.”

Many times, good people have been oppressed by their rulers and leaders. The Jews of the Jerusalem ruins were no exception. They had mortgaged their lands to buy food and pay taxes. When they were unable to repay their loans, they had become slaves to their Jewish lenders. Nehemiah was enraged against the Jewish nobles and rulers. They had been freed from other nations, but were selling their brethren. As governor, he rebuked those men and ordered them to “…stop this usury! Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses…” During his twelve-year tenure as governor, Nehemiah refused the perks of the office because of the bondage of the people.

If the leader of a group can be removed, that group can become easier to defeat. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem formed a conspiracy to meet with Nehemiah and eliminate him as Judah’s leader. When he refused to leave the wall rebuilding, they sent another message accusing him of planning a rebellion against the Persian king to become Judah’s king. After having that claim refuted, they continued to conspire against Nehemiah. All of those attempts against his life failed. “So the wall was finished…in fifty-two days.” In spite of all of the opposition and even disloyalty among some of the nobles, the work was completed with the gates hung and security measures set into place to keep the city safe. God had been with them. Hanani had originally brought word of Jerusalem’s condition to Nehemiah less than a year earlier. Nehemiah placed him in charge of the city because of his faith and godly fear.

#chronological-bible-study

Nov. 10. Nehemiah’s Concern and Prayer for Judah

Neh. 1:1-2:20

During the month of Chislev (9th Jewish month) in the twentieth year of the king, word came to Nehemiah that the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem were in great distress. Even though the temple had been rebuilt and work had started toward rebuilding the city’s wall, that part of the work had been stopped by King Artaxerxes about twenty years earlier. Therefore, the wall was still broken down and the gates had not been replaced. In the eyes of their enemies, Judah’s God was unable to help them. Upon hearing that report, Nehemiah wept, mourned, fasted and prayed for many days.

Nehemiah, a prominent Jewish servant was serving as King Artaxerxes’ cup bearer at the time. One may put on a “happy face” and try to conceal his anxieties, but it is difficult to completely hide all evidence of sorrow. Artaxerxes observed Nehemiah’s sad countenance and inquired about his sadness. As the Jewish servant knew of the previous actions of the king regarding Judah, he was afraid and prayed to God. With his faith in God’s deliverance, he asked for letters of authority to be given to him that he might return to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall and gate. “And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.” Nehemiah was sent to Jerusalem by Artaxerxes to be governor of Judah.

After being in Jerusalem three days resting, observing various conditions and keeping his mission quiet, Nehemiah took other men with him in the night and surveyed other areas and gates around the city. With general conditions in his mind, he revealed to the priests and other leaders how God and the king had given him that work to do. Their response was, “Let us rise up and build.” However, most good works have their opposition. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, area governors of ancient enemy nations were their chief opponents. They began to ridicule their plans. Nehemiah responded, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us…”

#chronological-bible-study

Servants to share the burdens

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” (Romans 15:2-3 ESV)

Каждый из нас должен угождать ближнему, во благо, к назиданию. Ибо и Христос не Себе угождал, но, как написано: злословия злословящих Тебя пали на Меня. (К Римлянам 15:2-3 Russian)

O LORD my God, thank you for the healing power of your forgiveness that restores joy and peace to every fibre of our being. Grant us wisdom and courage, so that we will always offer ourselves as servants to share the burdens of our neighbors and encourage them in the same way as Christ, who never sinned, offered himself as a substitute for our many sins. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

David Binkley, Sr. Gospel Minister

Cedar Key Church

#davidbinkley