Is This Child Special To You?

By Paul Alberts

There are many kinds of darkness in the world. Spiritual darkness is associated with unbelievers, wickedness and Satan. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers … what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14 NKJV). “The way of the wicked is like darkness” (Prov. 4:19). When Paul spoke of his conversion, he quoted the Lord: “… To turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).

Because we are still in the world, we are not yet free from darkness. We give “thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:12-14). However, we find that we “wrestle … against the rulers of the darkness of this age” (Eph. 6:12). We may struggle in our walk personally too, as noted by John: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:6-9). Our behavior impacts our relationship with other believers as well as with God Himself. Therefore, we are strongly encouraged to “walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8).

God is light (1 Jn. 1:5), and He is its only source. His light dispels every kind of darkness; and we know it through the Lord Jesus. Simeon, as we read in Luke 2, took the Child Jesus “up in his arms and blessed God and said: ‘Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel’” (vv.28-32). This Child was very special to Simeon; is He – the One who is the Light – special to you?

Do The Lord‘s Offices Matter To Me?

By Paul Alberts

We find many things in the Bible about the offices of the Lord Jesus Christ: Prophet, Priest and King. This topic will be addressed in our Feature articles, but let’s just mention a few points now. In Scripture, individuals were anointed for these offices (a prophet, 1 Ki. 19:16; a priest, Ex. 30:25-30; a king, 1 Sam. 15:1). Anointing speaks of God’s choice (Lk. 4:18-19), and the oil used is suggestive of the Holy Spirit’s power (Acts 10:38). A prophet reveals God’s mind or thoughts; the priest represents man before God and God before men; and the king rules over a God-given domain. The Lord Jesus Christ is the supreme Prophet (Jn. 1:1-9,14; Mt. 7:28-29), Priest (Heb. 4:14-16) and King (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14).

We know in the world in which we live, holding an office implies authority. Generally speaking, a head of state has a certain amount of power or control over the things related to a specific country. The aspect of authority applies in other settings as well, including education or religion; although in the world, things in these three areas are horribly out of tune with the thoughts of God.

Before Him, it is the responsibility of officeholders to act rightly and for the good of the people. Government, for example, is to commend those who do right and punish those who do wrong (1 Pet. 2:13-14), which is a matter of serving rather than self-glorification (Mt. 20:25-28). The priest was to be a mediator for grace and mercy with holiness (Heb. 4:16), and the prophet was to teach truth through words and deeds (Lk. 24:19).

It stands to reason that those under one’s authority are to obey (Rom. 13:6). However, do we show through our comments and actions that we recognize the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ as Prophet, Priest and King? How do His roles in these offices truly impact our lives? These are important questions, for our responses will affect our lives today, our rewards for eternity, and the glory of the Lord our God.

May we be thankful for all that we learn about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Matters Need To Be Addressed

By Paul Alberts

Unsaved or saved, there are things that need to be addressed. For the unsaved, the central issue is salvation. Eternal separation from God and people awaits every person who refuses to accept God’s gift. The redemption of a soul is costly, but the Lord Jesus paid that price for all who will put their trust in Him. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10 NKJV).

For the saved, there are issues to be dealt with individually, in the family and in the assembly. Many of these things are brought up in articles this month, but I am reminded of a few verses in Hebrews 12: “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives’” (vv.4-6 NASB).

In addition, God will deal with the nation of Israel, His earthly people, in years to come. We see much of this in the prophecies of Scripture, especially in the Old Testament. One matter of great significance is Israel’s rejection of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (Jn. 1:11 NKJV).

What things do you need to address? Or, what is the Holy Spirit doing about your taking on things in your life that are not pleasing to God? It is not my desire to tell of things I am aware of in my own life, as recognized through reading the Bible, but I would ask that you pray for me. In fact, let us pray for one another. Certainly there are thousands who read this magazine who are struggling even at this moment in one way or another. Pray that the Lord would be allowed to do His work in the lives and churches of each one as to the matters that need to be addressed. He knows them all, even the ones in your own life.

To Him be the honor and glory in all things!

The Lord Jesus Suffered For You

By Paul Alberts

Everywhere we look, we see people suffering in some way. Suffering involves undergoing or enduring anything unpleasant; it does not have to be something major. As I type this article I feel a tinge of pain with every “i,” “k” and “,” for I have a paper cut at the tip of that particular finger. Walking through the neighborhood this morning I saw people who were suffering in far more significant ways. How are you suffering today?

The Lord Jesus suffered in many ways as He walked here. Ultimately, we look at what He experienced as He went to the cross and surrendered His life there for you and me. We are reminded of His prayers in the garden as He sweat, as it were, drops of blood. One friend betrayed Him while the others forsook Him and fled. Soldiers beat Him without mercy, then nailed His hands and feet to the cross. At the end of the three dark hours, we hear the Lord’s cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mt. 27:46 KJV). He cried out again and breathed His last.

Hymn writer G. A. Lucas wrote:

Thy suffering love, Lord Jesus,
Our hearts delight to trace;
The love that sought and claimed us,
In strong yet tender grace.

We think of Thy devotion,
Thy blest obedience rare;
Thy holy, deep emotion,
Thy grief that none could share.

Thus to our hearts Thou speakest;
Blest Lord, we hear Thy voice;
We know its charm, its sweetness,
And in Thy love rejoice.

We wait the consummation
Of love’s own work divine,
And now in adoration
We joy that we are Thine.

Can you honestly say that you belong to Him? God’s offer of salvation through the person who suffered for you, the Lord Jesus Christ, remains open today; accept it while you may!

The Enemies … Whose End Is Destruction

By Paul Alberts defines “opposition” as “the action of opposing, resisting, or combating; antagonism or hostility.” This implies something that is the work of an enemy. Certainly, there are many enemies of God, the Lord Jesus Christ and His people. They follow the direction of their leader: Satan. Sadly, many of the individuals whom he uses for his purposes are deceived: ignorant of the truth and what honors God – all of which is readily found in the Bible for those who take the time to read it.

We are thankful when we hear stories of any who come to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Up to that point they have all been in opposition to Christ, for Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Mt. 12:30 NKJV). Often, what God used to bring them, and us, to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus was the faithfulness of one or two Christians. Is God using you – or are you allowing God to use you – for the eternal blessing of another?

The Lord Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust … Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt. 5:43-45,48). In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse … Repay no one evil for evil … As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (12:14,17-21).

Obviously our attitude today is not to destroy the enemies, but it is to weep for those who “are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction” (Phil. 3:18-19).

So Much To Take In

By Paul Alberts

We all likely have certain verses or passages that we hold dear. For me, I find many of those jewels in Philippians, giving me much encouragement. God, by the Holy Spirit, directed men to write His thoughts (1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21) with an application to us, even though the true interpretation of a particular passage may be about others, such as the nation of Israel. However, God never changes; His love for us is constant. Therefore, treasured words from Him are to be found in every book of the Bible.

Early in Philippians, a letter written to the believers in Philippi, we find Paul telling about his remembrance of and praying for the believers there. Can we not take this to a more personal level between God and us? I am thankful to God for His remembrance of me, and for you too (Phil. 1:3). What about the Lord’s praying for His own – for us – as He did in John 17, like the apostle did for the saints in Philippi with joy (v.4)? Does that not encourage your heart? Will not “He who has begun a good work in you … complete it” (v.6 NKJV)? We could certainly go through Paul’s letter verse by verse and find a great many other precious truths. In doing so, we would see that they all are centered on the Lord Himself. He loves us, cares for us and died for us. The Lord now lives exalted in heaven. Oh, the riches of God’s grace toward us!

Philippians 4:8 gives us descriptions of things on which to meditate: things that “are true … noble … just … pure … lovely … of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy.” These words describe our Lord Jesus Christ! Let us not simply think of Him from time to time, but let us actually pause for a time and consider Him. He is altogether lovely (Song 5:16), and through Him the “peace of God … guards [our] hearts and minds” (Phil. 4:7) despite the turmoil of our world.

There is so much to enjoy in this short book – so much to take in. Slowly and carefully read the four chapters of Philippians for yourself and delight yourself in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Good For All Believers

By Paul Alberts

When a person plants a new tree in his yard, he will give it special care to be sure it grows and becomes strong. Unlike other, established plants on his property, the new tree may need extra watering and fertilizer during the first month or so to help it grow strong and healthy. Once a tree is well-rooted, it doesn’t generally need the same kind of care on a frequent basis, although some additional water and compost may still be good from time to time.

Our lives as believers are very similar. When we have just been born again, the Lord encourages and guides us by various means to help us take root in the faith. Writers this month seek to provide some advice, as led of the Lord, for individuals who are newly saved. If you are one of those individuals, we rejoice with you in this new relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. May you carefully follow Him, staying close to Him each and every day.

The articles in this magazine are valuable as well for those of us who are more mature believers. We need reminders to encourage us to continue walking in a manner pleasing to Him. The apostle Peter was not bashful about repeating points to the saints, for they were intended to stir them up in their faith. He wrote: “I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder … I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles” (2 Pet. 1:12-13, 3:1-2 NASB). Both Paul and Jude gave reminders in their letters as well. We need them!

Like a tree of any age, we need to be rooted in the source of life continually in order to avoid the dangers that exist, get through the hard times that come, produce fruit honoring to the Lord and prosper in God’s sight (see Ps. 1:1-3). May we take to heart the instruction from the Lord, which is good for all believers, and grow in Him to His glory!

Stretched Beliefs

By Paul Alberts

How often do we hear comments that fail to take into account the true value of something? There are many things in this world about which people battle for what they think is right, even though their expressed views are often based on nothing more than selfish pride or opinion. By contrast, those who base their position on an accurate interpretation of Scripture have a firm foundation for their convictions. The Lord Jesus is “the truth” (Jn. 14:6 NKJV) – there is no other. We should ask ourselves individually, “Are the principles I hold right before Him?”

Like a piece of clothing that has been stretched out, over time we can too easily lose the biblical accuracy in our beliefs. This may happen by going beyond what the Bible says about a matter, or we might compromise regarding scriptural instruction and fall short of what is right. Changes either way need to be corrected, for the consequences can be quite significant. Good or bad, our positions on matters will affect others. More importantly, will our Lord be honored and glorified by the views we hold and express that are outside of the teaching found in the Word of God? Of course not.

But how can we be confident of the accuracy of a view we hold? First, we must read, study and meditate on His Word. This is not a once in a lifetime activity, but a daily privilege to spend time in the Lord’s presence, learning as Mary did at His feet (Lk. 10:39; Acts 17:11). Second, prayer must accompany our desire to learn from Him (Mk. 10:10). Third, we need to realize that the Holy Spirit will teach us truth (Jn. 14:26) free of error – something that is not true of even the best Bible schools. Fourth, it is not possible to be seeking our own way at the same time as we are trying to learn what is right before God (Lk. 10:29). Finally, sin and its associated partners will prevent us, by grieving the Holy Spirit, from seeing the truth of Scripture (Eph. 4:30-31); they must be confessed (1 Jn. 1:9).

As the Word of God is presented in the articles this month, let us be ready to receive what He would open to us for our blessing and that of those near and dear to us – all to His glory.

A New Year’s Challenge

By Paul Alberts

Are you starting the New Year expecting to see the Lord before the year ends? That should be the hope of every believer. However, we are oftentimes so wrapped up in our activities and dreams that we lose sight of the fact that the Lord is coming. The Lord will first come for His own, meeting them “in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Th. 4:17 NKJV). This will be joyous for believers, however it will signal the beginning of horrible years for those remaining in this world.

If believers would be removed from this world today, the Holy Spirit, which influences the world by His presence in the lives of the Lord’s people, would be gone from this scene. Evil would advance quickly, into realms far worse than anything we see today. In three and one-half years, the worst days ever possible would begin, known as “the great tribulation.” This is the time when men and women will wish to die, but God will not allow it. Among other passages, Daniel 9 and Revelation 4-19 are two that tell about what is going to happen.

Continuing the thought of the Lord taking the believers to Himself today, in about seven years a war of wars would take place in which all the armed forces of this world would be conquered and Satan bound (Rev. 20). Then entering the 1,000 year reign of the Lord Jesus Christ over the earth after He returns again, the world will be exceedingly different, moving in a very short time from war to peace. Israel will then follow the Lord in belief, and evil will be addressed immediately, worldwide.

It would appear that any who hear the good news of salvation but do not accept it today would still have an opportunity later. However, that is not the case. All who do not accept the offer of salvation that they have already heard will face an eternity separated from God. Their condemnation is already determined, and they will end up in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (vv.7-15), forever in agony, being conscious of their sin and refusal to accept the Lord’s gift of salvation (Lk. 16:22-26).

In view of these facts ­ the things that are coming ­ what manner of people ought we to be today in holy conduct (2 Pet. 3:10-18)? May the words of Scripture challenge our hearts as we begin the New Year, and let us give to Him the first place in our lives (Col. 1:18).

We May Forget

By Paul Alberts

“So are the paths of all who forget God; and the hope of the hypocrite shall perish.”

—Job 8:13 NKJV

“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”

—Psalm 9:17

“Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.”

—Psalm 50:22

Getting people to forget God is one of the goals of the Devil. Unbelievers, deceived or distracted by Satan as to their need of the Savior, face eternity in hell. Is that your future? What about someone close to you? We cannot stress enough how important it is to accept God’s offer of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Believers do not face the prospect of hell, but there is significant loss resulting from missed opportunities to honor God at those times when we forget Him. Regarding our lives, all that is worthless in His eyes will be burned (1 Cor. 3:13-15). Yet by His grace we will be saved, having been indwelt by the Holy Spirit who sealed us as the guarantee of our inheritance in heaven (Eph. 1:13; 1 Pet. 1:3-5).

The dangers of today’s electronic age are quite significant, and many are very subtle. Therefore the Feature articles this month consider that subject. The Lord, who knows about all the perils we face, gives warning to keep us from stumbling. We thank God that there are many valuable uses for electronic tools and the Internet, which our writers this month also point out.

It is God’s will that we keep Him before us day by day. Birds are often singing during many of my early morning walks. High in the tree branches, it is as if they can see the sunshine of the coming day, and they rejoice anticipating God’s provision (Ps. 104:10-18; Mt. 6:26). How good it is to think about our God day and night, communing with Him in prayer (Ps. 1:2; 1 Tim 5:5). Like birds together in a tree, God has shown that collectively we should be singing His praises while remembering the Lord on the first day of the week, proclaiming His death until He comes (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).

Why do we need to be reminded to remember the Lord our God? Because there are times when we may forget.