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daily bread
Written by Pastor Mark Spitsbergen
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 16:44
1 John 2:5 - But whoever keeps His word, truly in him is the love of God
perfected. This is how we know that we are in Him.

The word 'agape' (love) is defined by its New Testament application as
divine love, or the love that God loves with; thus "the love of God."
The usage of 'agape' in classic Greek is rare. When it is found, it is
neither dramatic nor colorful. It was usually translated "to like,
prefer, be content." However, when it appears in the New Testament
Greek, it defines the kind of Love that the Father has for the Son; and
the kind of Love that the Christian has since the Paraclete has come to
dwell in them (John 13:34; John 14:15,21; John 14:31; John 15:10,12;
John 15:17; John 17:23). This kind of love does not have a human origin
but is purely divine, flowing into and out of us by the presence of the
Holy Spirit.

Raymond Brown writes: "Agape is not a love originating in the human
heart and reaching out to possess noble goods needed for perfection; it
is spontaneous, unmerited, creative love flowing from God to the
Christian, and from the Christian to a fellow Christian." (The Epistles
of John, pages 254-255) The Hebrew word for love is 'ahav', and is
translated in the Septuagint exclusively by 'agapan'. Jeremiah writes
that love comes through a circumcised heart (Jeremiah 31:33; Jeremiah
4:4). Proverbs says that God loves us as a father loves his son
(Proverbs 3:12). Perhaps the closest example to the New Testament usage
of 'agape' is found in the Hebrew 'chesed', in Exodus 34:6. The Hebrew
word 'chesed' means "covenant love" or "loyal unfailing love."
 
daily bread
Written by Pastor Mark Spitsbergen
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 13:29
Habakkuk 2:4 - Behold he who is lifted up, his soul is not upright in
him; but the righteous shall live by his faith.

What is faith? At its foundation, faith is trust in God. It is trusting:
that what God said He will do will surely come to pass. One of the great
modern-day tragedies is that many people in church think that faith is
merely a set of subjective views of God and of life. To many, faith is
little more than their individual preferences and philosophical beliefs.
However, these are not what faith is! Faith is supplied to us by God,
and begins in our lives by simply trusting God. How do we trust God? We
believe what He has said in His word. As we walk with God, there is an
ever-increasing supernatural supply of faith given to us by the Holy
Spirit. The grace of God has provided us with a proportion of faith
(Romans 12:6). As we are faithful to God with what He has given, we are
supplied with more!

If you are going to walk uprightly before the Lord, then you are going
to have to believe what God has said - and trust that He will not fail
you. Paul quoted Habakkuk 2:4 in the New Testament to establish that the
saints of God must live by faith, if they are to be numbered among the
righteous (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). When we consider
the Hebrew word that is used in this passage (emuna) and what it means,
we come to a better understanding of the foundational meaning of faith.
The Hebrew word is translated "steady or firm" in Exodus 17:12. It is
used in Deuteronomy to describe God's total dependability, and is
translated "truth" (Deuteronomy 32:4). It is used to describe God's
faithfulness in 1 Samuel 26:23, Psalm 36:5; Psalm 40:10 and Lamentations
3:23. It is also used to describe God's works and His words in Psalm
33:4; Psalm 119:86 and Psalm 143:1. God, who is faithful, expects to see
those who have entered into relationship with Him remain faithful to Him
as well (Proverbs 12:22; 2 Chronicles 19:9).

Keeping in mind that Paul used Habakkuk 2:4 as the basis to describe
being made righteous by faith, we come to understand more about the
relationship between obedience to God and trust in God - that must exist
in those who have been brought into relationship with God. We may safely
say that faith is a faithful trusting in God's promises. It is also
faithfulness on the part of the believer to know that God is faithful to
do those things which he has promised to do (Hebrews 10:23; Romans 4:3;
Galatians 3:6; James 2:23).
 
daily bread
Written by Pastor Mark Spitsbergen
Monday, 28 December 2009 08:30
Romans 7:6 - But now we are released from the Law, being dead to that
which held us as slaves; in newness of Spirit, and not in the old way of
a written code.

Paul is not describing his regenerated life in Romans 7:7-25. If he
were, then we would be faced with a dramatic number of contradictions -
beginning with his own writings. A few of the first things that we have
to understand is that Paul was not under the Law, but under Grace.
Therefore, the effects of the Law and its dominion described in verses
7-25 were no longer relevant to him. Secondly, Paul was not in the flesh
but in the Spirit; and therefore no longer bound to the dictates of the
flesh described in verses 14-25. Also, Paul was no longer dependent upon
the inability of the flesh or human ability to keep the law. Rather,
because of Grace, he had been filled with the Spirit; and now by the
Spirit did by nature those things contained in the Law (Romans 8:4,9;
Ephesians 4:24; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18). Paul viewed being under the Law
as equivalent to being under sin; and because he was set free from sin,
he was also set free from the Law. Therefore, because of the new life in
Christ Jesus, he was liberated to live the life of Christ, by the
Spirit; no longer being subject to either sin nor the Law.

One of the confusing things about Romans chapter 7 is that Paul speaks
in the present tense in verses 14-25. What we must realize though - is
that he is reflecting on what it was like to live dependent upon the
Law. He began his discourse by declaring that he was no longer under the
law, the flesh, nor the domination of sin (Romans 7:1-6). It is
important to recognize that Paul uses the first person past tense in
verses 7-13 and then, while talking about the same subject of being
under the law, shifts to the first person present tense. Whether one
wants to consider this an autobiographical style, or a unique usage of
the "historic present" tense; this is secondary to the fact that Paul is
clearly talking about the life that he had once lived under the Law.

There have been those who have twisted what Paul said, and made the
removal of the Law a removal of prohibition against sin (Romans 4:15;
Romans 5:13; Romans 7:9). But to conclude such a thing is to ignore the
many situations where God judged mankind before the Law was given. Adam
and Eve were not under the Law, but their disobedience was judged. All
of the world was judged in the days of Noah because of their sins. Sodom
and Gomorrah knew nothing of the Law of Moses, but their sins and
iniquities were met with the righteous judgments of God; and their
cities were reduced to ashes. All of these people and nations were all
held responsible for their sins, even though they knew nothing of the
Law of Moses. Thus it is incorrect to say that for a person to be guilty
before God, he must know what sin is with respect to the Law of Moses.
Furthermore, now that the Law has been removed, there is a greater
demand to live free from all sin - and to be servants of righteousness!
(Romans 6:13-22). Paul made a clear distinction between those who know
God, and those who do not. He defined this difference by the fruits of
sin unto death; or fruits of righteousness unto God (Romans 6:21-22;
Romans 7:4-5; Philippians 1:11). Paul made it very plain for all of us
to understand that those who commit the 17 works of the flesh have no
part in the kingdom of God, nor inheritance with Christ (Ephesians 5:5;
Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

We are released from the Law and are married to Christ; so that through
the miracle of salvation we can be conformed to the image of Christ, and
walk in the righteousness of God (Romans 3:21-22; Romans 8:29; Romans
10:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Today the Laws of God, that were once only
written on tables of stone, are written on the tables of our hearts and
minds by the Spirit of God; so that we may do them (2 Corinthians 3:3;
Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10; Hebrews 10:16; Ezekiel 36:26-27).
 
daily bread
Written by Pastor Mark Spitsbergen
Saturday, 26 December 2009 14:35
Colossians 1:13 - Who has delivered us from the authority of darkness,
and translated us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son.

The whole notion and concept of redemption is revealed to us in the
deliverance of Israel from Egypt. As certain as Israel was delivered
from the rule and authority of Pharaoh, we have been delivered form the
rule and authority of Satan. Concerning the absolute defeat of Satan and
his power over us, Jesus said: "Now is the judgment of this world; now
shall the prince of this world be cast out" (John 12:31). Paul spoke
with such finality in 2 Timothy 1:10, when he said that Jesus had
"abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through
the gospel." The death of Jesus on the cross was the means by which
Satan's power was destroyed: "Through death He destroyed him that had
the power of death; that is the devil" (Hebrews 2:14).
 
daily bread
Written by Pastor Mark Spitsbergen
Saturday, 26 December 2009 14:34
Isaiah 9:6 - For a child is born to us: a Son is given to us! And the
government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jesus was born for all of humanity. He left all of his Glory and Majesty
to become a child for us. Because God so loved the world He gave us a
Son. When Jesus entered into the world there was no room for Him among
the crowds of busy people. When the angels of heaven appeared to
announce the single greatest event in the history of men, they did not
come to the mighty of the earth; but to the poor shepherds who quietly
tended their flocks. The Dayspring from on High came to be a light to
the gentiles; and to be the glory of the people of Israel (Luke 1:75-78;
Luke 2:32). He has come to give light to them who sit in darkness and in
the shadow of death, so that all mankind might know the way of peace
(Isaiah 9:2). He came to deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, so
that we might serve God in righteousness and holiness all the days of
our lives! He came to become everything that we are, so that we might
partake of His divine nature and be one with Him!

His name is wonderful in authority and power; it is the only name given
whereby men might be saved (Acts 4:12). Everyone and anyone who calls
upon the wonderful name of Jesus will be saved (Romans 10:13; Acts
2:21). Every tongue shall confess and every knee shall bow before the
wonderful name of Jesus. The name of Jesus is not just Wonderful; He
Himself is a Wonder beyond all human comprehension. He is the
personification of counsel, being the One who has brought the answer to
every need of every man. He is the Mighty God who humbled Himself, being
born of a virgin and fashioned in the likeness of sinful flesh. He has
come as the Champion of man, the Hero of Heaven, and the One who
conquered death and hell: Jesus the Mighty God. Jesus is Immanuel; who
is not only God-with-us, but God-in-us today (Colossians 1:27; 1 John
4:4; John 14:23; 1 John 3:24). Christ Jesus, who is the Eternal Word, is
also the Everlasting Father; though unique from His Father, yet One in
majesty and glory (John 17:5; John 17:21-23). As the provider of
salvation and ruler of the government of God, He is a father to the
nations and to His people Israel (Isaiah 22:21; Psalm 72). And finally,
He is the Prince of Peace! He is the one who has come and imparted -
unto all those who would receive - the divine peace of the Holy Spirit.
He has given a peace that goes far beyond world peace, or any peace that
may be found in the world; He has given us an undiminishing peace that
nothing can take away. Until Jesus came there was no peace; but at His
coming the angels shouted: "Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth
peace good will towards men!"
 
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