Thursday, March 9, 2017

Welcome

March is now posted.

Check out the latest Bible Study on "Dispensations"

We will be posting the Glorious Gospel articles individually below. The previous month's publication will be found under the Archive tab as pdf's. We will begin posting some studies, as pdf's and as ebooks in the coming months.

There is audio from Grace Assembly Church services.

Pearls and Perils


Jack Davis


“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” - John 1:14,16-17.

In a study of the gates mentioned in scripture, I came to the gates of pearl. The Lord began to impress upon my heart some thoughts on the multiplied, manifold, layered grace of God. I was reminded that the believers access, acceptance, and abundance is all of the grace of God.

ACCESS: “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever  worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life” – Rev. 21:21,25-27.

God’s Lamb is for us the ladder between heaven and earth, our passport to heaven, the door of the sheep. He also requires complete access to our lives – Rev. 3:20-21.

“Blessed are they that do his commandments (wash their robes), that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” Rev. 22:14.

By sin man forfeited access to the Paradise of God and the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24). But praise God, Jesus has opened up the way into the presence of God for us. He being made sin, by the grace of God has tasted death for every man. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have ACCESS by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” – Rom. 5:1-2. In the verses following we find layered grace even in the five much mores. In verse 17, “…they which receive abundance of grace…shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”

ACCEPTANCE: Our placing as sons is “…according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” – Eph. 1;5-6. “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” – Eph. 4:7. We say with overjoyed hearts; “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” – II Cor. 9:15. We are urged to come boldly to the throne of grace in the time of need. The times of greatest need, and greatest danger are allowed for the development of God’s precious jewels. In the mighty hand of God, greater pressure serves to make His precious Jewels more and more precious – Mal. 3:17.

PEARL PRODUCING PERILS: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” – Matt. 13:45-46.

They that dive for pearls generally have very short life spans. If there were never any perils, there would never be any pearls. As we consider the man “seeking goodly pearls” to be a type of Jesus, we think of our Lord laying aside His royal robe, coming down from his glory to seek and save that which was lost. As we think of Him selling all, we are touched by the humility, deep poverty, and complete dependence that Jesus came to. Even though the outcome was known by the triune counsel before the foundation of the world, as much as it was possible, the Son of God placed Himself in great peril  to purchase His pearl of great price. He became that seed, that baby, that meek and lowly man that was crucified through weakness, but praise God He also lives by the power of God. His adversary was out to get Him and defeat Him at every turn. We rejoice that Jesus; “…having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it” – Col. 2:15.

“Shall a man give all the substance of his house for love?” It seems to me that a heart revelation of the value that Jesus has place on us should make a difference in how we value Him (Song of Sol. 8:7). If one would ask, Paul, what is Jesus worth to you? Paul would answer, “He is everything to me” (Phil. 3:7-9). In that Pearl of great worth we see a correspondence to Prov. 31:10 of the virtuous woman whose price is far above rubies. One may ask how is she made so precious, we may answer only by the grace of God.

ABUNDANCE: It is interesting that the pearl is not formed mechanically, but of a living organism. A grain of sand lodged in the shell of the oyster is repeatedly coated with layer upon layer of mother of pearl to protect the oyster from irritation.

Grace and peace are being multiplied unto us through the knowledge of Him who hath called us unto glory and virtue. I repeat part of the text: “And of his fulness have all we received, grace for grace” – Jn. 1:16. When we by faith receive the grace of God what do we gain? More grace. When we go before our Father’s throne with our need, in faith we get more grace. Several translations seem to amplify this thought, and I quote in part; favour upon favour, gift upon gift, spiritual blessing heaped upon spiritual blessing, hence layer upon layer.

If we are His purchased possessions, held in His almighty arms, why oh why the peril? May I suggest, would God not allow the peril for the development of the pearl? Paul said: “I am what I am by the grace of God…and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain.” He also urges us to not receive the grace of God in vain (II Cor. 6:1-2). He then seems to list some of the irritations, and the layering on of the grace of God (Vs. 4-10).

Shall perils separate us from the love of God?  Rom. 8:35. Perils are a very real part of our adversary’s operation to fill our hearts with dread. He is attempting to frighten us from wholehearted faithfulness to our faithful Lord, and to keep us from enjoying His everlasting love. The Father of lies is determined to convince us that we can be separated from the love of God. He would put us under condemnation, and try to put upon us the spirit of bondage again to fear. He would keep us from enjoying our sonship, the Spirit’s leadership, Jesus’ Lordship, and the believers heirship. Many dangers face God’s people and we could let the fear of them rob us and keep us from going after God’s best.

The route to the throne is perilous and thorn-covered, but praise God He wants us to know that nothing can separate us from His love. Nothing can pluck us out of His hands, nor erase us from His palms. For our life is hid with Christ in God, and He is faithfully working to make all things work together for our  good. We are wise to submit to His hand, totally trusting Him and give Him thanks. For the very things that Satan is using to try to defeat us, God turns around to use to complete us. He would conform us to the image of His dear Son.

Read II Cor. 11:24-30 and consider. Some of God’s people instead of growth, say that they wish they could be saved again and start all over, how sad. Others say that they don’t want to yield too wholeheartedly to the Holy Spirit’s fire for fear they might burn out. Well Paul didn’t halve to start all over, and He didn’t burn out. He says, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” We can’t afford to follow our own mind, nor can we trust fickle fleshly zeal, but we can count on holy fire. Paul here mentions seven types or varieties of peril. Then in verse thirty he tells of His attitude toward the Lord in these irritations, limitations, humiliations, vexations, privations, agitations, aggravations, and all the daily vexing detours.

“If I must needs glory, I will glory in the things which concern mine infirmities.” It is through such that God’s people come to know the grace of God in truth. These pearl-developing perils are allowed by God and accepted by us for the layering on, enveloping us in the power of the life of Christ. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory  in mins infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (envelop with another layer of grace) – II Cor. 12:9.

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” I Tim. 4:1. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God: having a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof: from such turn away” – II Tim. 3:1-5.

We know that we are in the last days, “latter times” are here, that Laodicean attitude abounds in lukewarmness, self-sufficiency, and spiritual ignorance. If you can’t run with the world, if you don’t fit in with the worldly  crowd in your assembly; thank God. Today, God’s work of grace seems to be winding up this Church Age. Perils are multiplying. These are in a sense dangerous, difficult, strength draining times. Thank God that these are also powerfully productive times for those that are receiving more and more and more of God’s marvelous grace, which is said to be the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life.
Jack Davis

What Does The Bible Say?




QUESTION: There are so many churches, How are we to know which one is right?

Answer: This is a matter of prayer, asking the Lord for His leading. James 1:5-6 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith…”. What is preached or taught should be tested by the Word of God. Study the Scriptures that you may know if their message is the Truth or not. The doctrine of God is Christ crucified for the sins of man and He was raised from the grave to give man new life. We read in John 17:17 of Jesus prayer to His Father, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy Word is truth.” I Cor. 2:14 - “The natural man understandeth not the things of God, for they are spiritually discerned.” But God has given His Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth – John 16:13. So then, through prayer and study of God’s Word the Lord will reveal the truth unto us. We will be able to understand what the churches teach. We will recognize by the Word who teaches the truth of God. See Acts 17:11.

Question: Will backsliders be saved?

ANSWER: Once child of God, always a child of God purchased by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. His fellowship with his heavenly Father will be broken by walking after the flesh, but his relationship remains unchanged (Secured through the new birth). A son of God eternally, tho out of fellowship. Jesus words in John 5:24 – “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Also John 10:28-30, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.”

QUESTION: What is meant by the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ”

ANSWER: His grace is the loving favor which He manifested in leaving the ivory places of glory and coming down to this sin cursed earth. He took upon Himself a body of weakness and humiliation, dependent upon His Father, a servant of God and man. Then going to the cross, dying as a transgressor, bearing the penalty of our sins, which is the judgment of the righteous God. II Cor. 8:9, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” That is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Eph. 4:7 “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” I Tim. 1:14 “And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” II Tim. 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
Earlene Davis

THE LAST DAYS


Anita Clark – Pastor

Carbondale, Kansas



"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" I Thessalonians 4: 16-17.

Apostle Paul warns us and gives us the signs of Christ’s soon appearing. II Timothy 3:1-5 states "This know also that is the last days perilous times shall come." I Timothy 4:1 says, Now the Spirit speaks expressly: that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils."

CROWNS PROMISED TO THE FAITHFUL IN THE NEW TESTAMENT – Apostle Paul and other writers of the New Testament speak of "crowns" being given to those who fully walk with God. These are rewards for those who yield to God, who walk according to the will of God. In II Timothy 4:6 Paul speaks of his departure from this life, "For I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous judge will give me at that day, and not to me only but to all them also that love His appearing."

In I Corinthians 9:24-25, Paul speaks of the believers running a race to win the prize. In verse 25 he says, "And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown (lit. a laurel wreath), but we an incorruptible." The believer’s race is his lifetime after he comes to know Jesus Christ as his Saviour. Salvation is by believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ by faith through grace alone. We run the race to win the rewards of being a Christian and the blessings of God upon our yielded lives. This will end ultimately with the yielded ones reigning with the Lord Jesus and wearing crowns. Paul also speaks of the "prize" in Philippians 3:14, where he says, I press toward the mark (goal) for the prize (award) of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

James, the Apostle says "Blessed is the man that endureth [to stay under, perseveres] temptation for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life., which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." And Apostle Peter says (I Pet. 5:4) - "And when the Chief shepherd [the head Shepherd] shall appear, ye shall receive [carry off, obtain] a crown of glory which fadeth not away."

TWO CHURCHES OF ASIA PROMISED CROWNS – Revelation 2-3 relates the letters to the seven churches of Asia. These churches represent conditions seen in the churches through out the time since Jesus was here on the earth and until right now. Only two of these churches were found blameless - walking in the light and being faithful to the Lord and His word. Not one word of blame was spoken by Jesus Christ the Judge against them. They are the Church of Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11) and Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13). To the Smyrna Church (Rev. 2:10) the Lord says, "... Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life." These people represent the overcomers mentioned of in I Thessalonians 4:13-18, who will rise up from death, when Jesus sounds that trumpet call. To the church of Philadelphia the Lord says (Rev. 3:10-11), "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of tribulation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold I come quickly, hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." These Philadelphia believers represent those believers, who are alive and remaining, awaiting the coming of Jesus, who are faithful and standing on the Word of God, who have run the race with patience.

Further down in Revelation 3:21 the Lord says, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne."

THE THRONE ROOM – Immediately, John is caught up to view the throne room of the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse one is very reminiscent of the call of I Thessalonians 4:16-17, where Jesus raises the dead in Christ first, then those who are alive and remain. Here John hears the voice of the Lord, "as a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither." Immediately, John sees the glorified Christ seated on His beautiful, dazzling throne. This is at the beginning of the seven years of tribulation. Christ is ruling in heaven. In verse 4 we see twenty-four thrones with twenty-four elders. "An round about the throne were four and twenty thrones and upon the thrones I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment and they had on their heads crowns of gold."

Here we see the fulfillment of all the Scriptures we have brought in this lesson about the believers having crowns and ruling with Christ. Note again Revelation 3:10,11 and 21. These twenty-four elders are not Old Testament saints or angelic beings, but representative of the overcomers of this Church Age. Further in the chapter, John saw Four Living Creatures who also represent the same group. Consider what the Scripture says in further verses.

THESE ARE BELIEVERS – Revelation 5:8-9 tells us that the Four Living Creatures and the Twenty-four Elders sing a new song, "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue and people and nation." Isn’t that plain enough. Only humans are redeemed from their sins by the blood of Jesus. Angels are never said to be redeemed.

SECOND – Revelation 5:8, They are holding "bowls full of prayers." In Verse 10, You [speaking of Christ] "... have made us unto our God kings and priests and we shall reign over the earth." The twenty-four elder side of these beings shows their reigning on thrones in chapter 4, while the Living Creature side of them shows the priestly side of their nature. Thus KINGS AND PRIESTS unto God.

THIRD – Twenty-four elders have crowns on their heads, which in Ch. 4:9 they cast down at Jesus feet. No where in Scripture, is there ever seen an angelic being with a crown, but in several places it states that believers will reign with Christ over the earth, and be given crowns.

FOURTH – they are called "Elders." No where in the Bible are angels called "elders." The Greek word for ELDER is pres-boo’-ter-os - this is a word used by Apostle Paul and other apostles as regards the church leaders or pastors - mature ones who stand fast and are rulers in the church. The promise to believers in the new Testament is "If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him" II Timothy 2:12.

FIFTH – "Clothed in white raiment." The angels who appeared at Jesus tomb when He was resurrected were arrayed with white garments, but also believers, when they received the Lord as their Saviour, are said to be clothed in white garments by the Lord. In the book of Revelation, it is recorded eleven times that believers in Christ are "clothed in white garments." These citations are Rev. 3:4,5,18; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9, 13,14; 15:6; 19:8,11 & 14. The white robes speak of the righteousness which is imputed to us when we are born of the Spirit. The Twenty-Four Elders clothed thus show that they are born again believers, as II Corinthians 5:21 states, "For He hath made Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, He who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

These believers are not just any believers, as some are only babes in the Lord. Some are carnal and walk after their flesh. But these are those who by the grace of God give their all in consecration as the saints in the Philadelphia and Smyrna assemblies - who had no fault found in them. They have run the race and won the prize of the high calling (Phil. 4:14). Christ means everything to them, and they are rewarded by the Lord, who will say, "Well done, thy good and faithful servant." Would you like to be one of this group in heaven. Yield now! He will do a work in you. He will keep His promise if you let Him have His way in your life.

Don’t Be Lazy


I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man. Proverbs 24:30-34

Proverbs often speaks about the slothful. It is quite easy to see the application to our lives here. Notice how he considered and was instructed by what he saw; the field and vineyard of the slothful (lazy person) overrun by thorns and nettles.

The field and the vineyard speak about our spiritual life, and the thorns and nettles speak to us about the cares of this world (Matthew 13:22). A field and a vineyard need constant care to avoid the weeds and thorns taking over. This is where the laziness comes in.

Many of God’s people are spiritually slothful (lazy). They do not want to tend to their vineyard. The Holy Spirit is the one who works in the vineyard, doing the pruning and weeding, but He uses the Word to accomplish this work. We cannot expect that the thorns (cares of this world) will be kept out of our lives if we do not take in God’s Word on a daily basis.

Notice the “man void of understanding;” one who has chosen to not lay hold of God’s Word. It is not possible to emphasize too much the importance of God’s Word in the life of the Christian.

The wall around the field speaks of the “wall” that guards our heart against the attacks of the enemy. We are often encouraged to guard (keep) our heart. Proverbs 4:5,6,23. We are told that if we put our complete trust in our Lord, His peace will “keep” our hearts and minds. Phil 4:7.

Spiritual laziness will bring about spiritual poverty. We have available to us the riches of Christ, but if we do not lay hold of them, we will end up spiritually poor. Not only is this a waste, it is dishonoring to our Lord who was made poor so that we might be made rich.

Our enemy wants us to be spiritually lazy, and encourages us to “fold the hands to sleep,” bring on a little slumber. So many of God’s  people are sleeping today. Paul warns against spiritual sleepiness. 1 Thes. 5:6-8. We are in a time where we need to be very vigilant.

Let us be spiritually awake and active, taking in God’s Word to keep our vineyard clean and clear of the cares of this world.

Gordon Crook

RUTH


Pastor Debra Isenbletter

Springfield, Missouri


Ruth 4:2-3 – “And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.”

We find Boaz sitting at the gate, he has waited for the other kinsman, seeing him, asked him to sit down. We see Boaz exercising his authority again. He “took ten men of the elders of the city.” To “take” means “to send for” or “to bring.” Either Boaz went and got these men or sent for these men. In either case, it was his word and his presence that drew them and they obeyed. There are two important facts about these individuals, who they were: they were “elders” and their number: “ten.”

These were “elders,” men of age and experience, they were men of authority. The elders held an important place and position in the community, they were respected for their wisdom and their age was not a disadvantage but an advantage. They were respected, listened to and were given a place of honor.

When God called Moses and sent him back to Egypt to deliver His people, the first individuals Moses was told to speak to were the elders. God told Moses: “Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers…appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you and seen that which is done to you in Egypt” (Ex 3:16). It was the responsibility of the elders to go to the people, and bring the message to them. They didn’t know Moses, but they knew the elders and their faith in God and Moses would be an example for them to follow.

When the Passover was instituted, it was the elders that Moses spoke to and it was the elders that were to take a lamb for their families, kill the Passover and put the blood on the side posts of the doors of the houses. (Ex 12:21). The responsibility for obedience fell upon the elders first; they were to teach those under them.

When Moses was overwhelmed with the burden of all the people as they journeyed through the wilderness, as he heard their complaints and cries, he told the Lord “I am not able to bar all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.” (Nu 11:14). The Lord’s answer was to tell Moses to choose 70 elders and He said: “I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with this, that thou bear it not thyself alone” (Nu 11:17).

We see the important place of elders in administering justice, in making sure the sentence is carried out. If a man guilty of murder fled from his crime to a city of refuge, it was the responsibility of the elders to turn him over to the avenger of blood and not be persuaded or moved by pity, but only by justice, they were to remember the innocent that had been slain. (Deut 19:12-13). From these examples we see the important place that elders had in the community, in each family and in each city.

We don’t know why Boaz chose ten. But he chose them. One commentator writes: “Probably the presence of, at least, ten elders was necessary to make a lawful public assembly, as among modern Jews ten are necessary to constitute a synagogue. (Centuries later 10 became the number necessary for a Jewish marriage benediction or an assembly, committee, or for a synagogue meeting).” What we do see is how simple this procedure was, it was not a lengthy, lasting weeks or months. It was settled without lawyers arguing back and forth. In the courts today imaging how long it would take to decide the matter.

These ten elders are important typically. First, ten is the number of responsibility according to ability. These men have the ability and wisdom to discern and decide and the responsibility to carry out that wisdom. Below is an excerpt from Biblical Numerology by CB Neidholt:

 “The Number 10 is the number of responsibility according to ability. When man accepts Christ as his Savior, learns God's Word, and yields to the Spirit's will [Rom 12 and Eph 4], then God will be responsible “to finish” the “good work” He began (Phil 1:6). God is responsible to “work in you both to will and do his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13).  Man has 10 toes and 10 fingers which he is responsible to yield to God for service (Tit 2:11-15; 1 Cor 6:19-20). Notice the 13 "tens" in Numbers 7, as to man's responsibility. The "ten servants" were responsible to God for the "ten pounds" [Luke 19:13-27].”

Ten is also the number of the 10 commandments and Sister Mary Bodie also points out that these 10 witnesses are a type of the 10 commandments (Ex 20:3-17). The 10 commandments are a witness of the failure of man, who tried and could not keep the commandments and they are a witness to the failure of the Law, which could only condemn, not redeem. Those that sinned under the law were judged by the law and pronounced guilty before God. (Ro 2:12 & 3:19-20).

Now the stage is set for a wonderful type to be unfolded. This kinsman that Boaz has called to the gate is a type of the Law (which cannot redeem) and the 10 elders are a type of 10 commandments of that Law (the standard that God uses). They will witness the actions of these two men.  Boaz is a type of Christ, in His obedience and ability to redeem. He will be able to do what this man cannot do. For only Christ obeyed each commandment and only Christ could redeem man. And it will be Ruth’s relationship with Boaz that shows the strength of one man and the weakness of the other. She has chosen Boaz, she has chosen the one who has the desire and ability to redeem her. We have chosen Christ, our Boaz, and only He has the ability to fully redeem us!

Ruth 4:3 – “And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's:”  Boaz addresses his words to the other kinsman, but everyone will hear this conversation, for it involves a legal transaction and a kinsman’s responsibility. Boaz will tell what Naomi had done (past tense) and what Naomi wants to do (present tense). Naomi is the subject of the conversation and it looks like on the surface it is about her alone.

Boaz states publicly what Naomi had done: “Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab.” What wonderful words concerning Naomi. She had “come again” to the land of Judah, she had “come back” to God; she had “come home” to Bethlehem; she had “returned” to her people. Boaz emphasizes what Naomi had done that were a positive testimony. They knew she and her husband had gone to Moab ten years earlier; they “went to sojourn” (Ruth 1:1) and once they entered into that country they “continued” there (Ruth 1:2) until ten years had passed. (Ruth 1:4). But now Naomi had come home, she had come back. She had left Moab because she saw God’s provision (Ruth 1:6) and because she acknowledged her need and her loss (Ruth 1:21). She had lost her husband and her sons and her wealth. She had come back in poverty and sorrow. But before Boaz says anything he emphasizes that Naomi had returned and that she was a child of God. He will only say that she has “come out of Moab,” he will not dwell on the time she spent there, only that she has come back and once he says this he goes on to the reason he is there.

Boaz states publicly what Naomi is doing: He says she selleth“ a parcel of land.” This statement in itself shows her need and her poverty. She is selling “a parcel” or “a portion” of land, not all the land but a portion of it. I believe this was a choice portion, a desirable portion, an attractive portion. She is doing this not because she wants to but because she has to. She is in need. Maybe she can’t pay the taxes or pay the bills, maybe she can’t afford to keep it, keep it up, or even use it as it could or should be used.

Boaz states publicly who this land belonged to: “which is our brother Elimelech’s.” He doesn’t say it belongs to Naomi’s husband, instead he says it belongs to “our brother.” This shifts the responsibility back to these two men. Boaz says “our,” showing both men have a relationship. Boaz says “brother” showing this is a close relationship. The word “brother” can mean “a male sibling:” It also means a “blood relative.” Lot is referred to as Abraham’s “brother” (Gen 14:16), he was his nephew. Laban called Jacob “brother” (Gen 9:15), they weren’t siblings but they were related.

We don’t know the exact relationship, only that it was a close one; close enough that they both had the responsibility of the kinsman-redeemer. What we do know is that Boaz will set before this man a proposition, show him his responsibility and give him an opportunity to fulfill their obligation as the kinsman-redeemer.
Continued next issue

ACTS OF THE APOSTLES


Verta Giddings

Sand Lake, Michigan



Chapters 6-7 – Stephen’s Witness

The church still had all things common as we found in chapters 2 and 4. As the church grew in numbers, taking care of all their needs became quite a job for the apostles to take care of, distributing the food and necessities for all those people. Some were neglected, and this brought dissatisfaction. Then the disciples (12 apostles) called believers together. They chose 7 men to take care of this problem of Grecians who had believed and the Hebrews themselves, since it seemed the Grecian widows were not being cared for as they ought.

Among the 7, were 2 we will hear more about – Stephen and Philip. Chapter 6, shows what kind of man this Stephen was. We find that all 7 were to be honest, full of the Holy Ghost, and wisdom. He is also shown to be full of faith and power. He went beyond just taking care of the tables. He also did great wonders and miracles among them – V. 8. Some started disputing with Stephen. Since they were not able to resist the wisdom and spirit by which he spake, they got people to lie for them, bring him before the council of the Jews’ high court, the Sanhedrin, saying Stephen had spoken words of blasphemy against Moses and against God. They claimed they had heard Stephen say that Jesus would destroy things in Jerusalem and change all the custom, brought in when Moses was in charge, under God, of the people – Vs. 9-14. All that sat there, watching him intently, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel – V. 5. It must have shone, like Moses’ face did (Ex. 34:35), or like Jesus’ face on the mount of Transfiguration (Mt. 17).

Chapter 7
Then the High Priest asked Stephen if the things they had said against him were true. He didn’t directly answer the question, instead he started preaching, giving them their own history. He showed that many of their great leaders had first been rejected, but later were proven to be God-given leaders. He showed that their ancestors worshiped God in many places, not just in the temple in Jerusalem. He started with Abraham. Notice he called God the “God of glory.” Here it says God appeared to Abraham. That was when he was still in another part of the country, in Ur of the Chaldees, in southern Mesopotamia. Joshua 24:2 says they served other gods – or idols. The Lord spoke to him and told him to leave that place and go to the land He would show him. He was to leave every one and everything behind and just go. Instead, Abraham and his whole family left that place and went on their journey. They stayed in a “part way” place until Abraham’s father died.

Then the Lord took Abraham and his wife on into the promised land – Vs. 1-4. Stephen stressed that God didn’t give him the inheritance then. He didn’t settle down, nor build an house. At that time Abraham had no child. He was promised one, however. God said that Abraham’s children after him would be in bondage, but would become a great nation. He gave him the covenant of circumcision (we call it promise). Abraham received this promised son, and grandsons, and great grandsons. The family did go into bondage in Egypt. We remember the story of Joseph and how God used him to deliver his people, Joseph was Abraham’s great grandson. After 400 years the family became great and was able to leave Egypt and return to the land God had given them – Vs. 5-16.

Stephen reminded them of Moses and how the Lord had worked for them in bringing them out of Egypt – Vs. 17-37. Just like Abraham, and just like Joseph, Moses wasn’t appreciated by the nation. Not until afterward did they see the value of each of these men. Stephen was proving something to them here. Abraham wasn’t born in Canaan. Joseph was taken out of the land and never returned there to live, and Moses never lived there. The point is this – “You don’t have to be in Jerusalem to worship God.” Stephen was not speaking against Moses, as they said. He valued him. The people of Israel didn’t value Moses, not his leadership. They even made that golden calf while Moses was still living. They later worshiped other idols.

Stephen spoke of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness which the Lord gave them – Vs. 44-45. Even this Tabernacle wasn’t in Jerusalem. Stephen then spoke of David, and of Solomon, who built the temple – Vs. 46-47. Then Stephen brought them right to their problem – Vs. 48-50. God made all these things. He wasn’t just to be worshiped there in Jerusalem. God cannot be confined to a certain temple, tabernacle, church, or any building.

Then he really “gave it to them.” He said they were stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, and they always resisted the Holy Ghost. Their fathers had done so, and so did they. Their fathers had not listened to the prophets, for they persecuted them. Then he specifically charged them with betraying and murdering Jesus. Besides they hadn’t kept the Law God gave them – Vs. 51-53.

That was too much for them. They were cut to the heart, but rather than repent like the ones did on the Day of Pentecost, they became so angry they gnashed on him with their teeth, stoned him, and cast him out of the city – Vs. 54-59. The ones who threw the stones put their clothes at the feet of Saul of Tarsus, a great persecutor of the believers. Later we will learn of him and how God changed his life.

How did Stephen react to all of this? He was full of the Holy Ghost. He looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God AND JESUS STANDING ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD. Praise the Lord, Jesus was alive and in heaven, and Stephen actually saw Him standing there! Stephen spoke right to Him and said, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” Then he kneeled down and died. Was he defeated? Absolutely NO! Stephen became the first one to give his life for Jesus There have been many since who have done this. He was faithful until death. He never denied Jesus. He will have a special crown for this. May we never be ashamed of Jesus who died for us. This great persecution only made the church grow.
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