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daily bread
Written by Pastor Mark Spitsbergen
Thursday, 24 December 2009 12:49
Luke 7:47 - For this reason I tell you: her sins which are many are
forgiven, because she has shown great love; but the one whom little is
forgiven loves little.

How much have you been forgiven? In reality, everyone needs the same
level of forgiveness. However, it is only when we encounter the presence
of Jesus that we become aware of our need. His splendor and purity has
the same effect on every man. Just as Isaiah, though he was a
consecrated and obedient prophet - when he saw the glory of God, he
cried out: "I am undone!" (Isaiah 6:5). Simon the Pharisee had reason to
trust in himself because of his religious practices; but he actually was
in need of forgiveness and redemption, as much as the woman who was a
sinner. Simon, like Saul of Tarsus, was blind to his sin and need for a
savior (Romans 7:12-20). Simon thought that he could trust in his
observance of the law and his religious practices; and was unable to see
the true condition of his heart. Jesus addressed the same blindness of
mind among the Pharisees, when they were unwilling to recognize their
sin (John 9:39-41; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Matthew 23:17-16; Ephesians 4:18;
1 John 2:11). Simon loved Jesus just enough to invite him to his house,
and he was forgiven just enough for Jesus to be willing to come.

Simon thought he was so much better than the woman; but his problem was
that he was unaware of the presence of Jesus, who would have revealed
his spiritual need. The Almighty God was in his house, but he was so
self-absorbed with his own religious practices that he was unaware of
his visitation. Had he only been willing to recognize who Jesus was, He
would have been overwhelmed with the same kind of love and affection.
Simon, just like many other Pharisees of his day, had no clue that the
condition of his spiritual nature was totally unacceptable to God. They
were unaware that the law was only a schoolmaster, that would train them
of their need for a change of nature (Ezekiel 36:26; Jeremiah 31:33;
Galatians 3:24; Galatians 4:2-3).

It was not the woman's love that saved her; but it was her faith (that
was expressed through her love) that saved her (Luke 7:50; Galatians
5:6). One of the shocking things about this interaction was that the
woman seemed unaware of her sin. She was a woman who was well aware of
the opinion of the Pharisees concerning her presence among them. She
knew that she was unwelcome in their house, and that they despised her
(Matthew 9:11; Mark 2:16). Yet, she was so overwhelmed by the love of
Jesus, and felt so comfortable and accepted by Him, that she not only
wept at his feet - but kissed them! Could there be a more perfect
description of how God empowers us to love Him, through His love for us?
"Herein is love: not that we loved Him, but that He loved us!" The
woman, so empowered by the love and acceptance that Jesus had for her,
moved past every obstacle of rejection to embrace the One who came to
seek and save those who were lost.
 
daily bread
Written by Pastor Mark Spitsbergen
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 10:44
1 John 2:17 - They went out from us, but they were not of us. If they
had been of us, they would have remained with us. Nevertheless it is
revealed that none of them are of us.

Betrayal and broken communion were evidence enough of the spiritual
state of these people. One of the primary themes of the first Epistle of
John is the love of the brethren, and the communion that results from
that love. Those who refused to remain in fellowship with the apostles
and their company were not in the Light (1 John 1:7); and were revealed
to be of the devil. The fellowship that we have with the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Spirit is equated to the fellowship that we have with
those who are begotten of God. If an individual does not have fellowship
with God, then he cannot have fellowship with those who are begotten of
God; and conversely if there is no fellowship with the brethren, there
is no fellowship with God. The epistle of 1 John provides the proofs of
fellowship to distinguish between those who are of God and those who are
deceivers.

Beloved, let us love one another.
 
daily bread
Written by Pastor Mark Spitsbergen
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 10:08
2 Peter 2:1 - Now there were also false prophets among the people, just
as also false teachers shall be among you: who shall sneak in
destructive opinions, also denying the Master who bought them; bringing
upon themselves swift destruction.

In order to grasp the identity of these false teachers that will be
among us, we must understand the false prophets that they are compared
to. The Greek word 'pseudoprophetai' is found 10 times in the
Septuagint. Although there is no actual Hebrew word conveying the
meaning of "false prophet," it is implied by the context. Of the 10
times that 'pseudoprophetai' is found in the Septuagint, it occurs 9
times in Jeremiah. It is in this context then that we can further
understand the impact of false prophets. Unfortunately, we discover that
the false prophets were accepted; while Jeremiah was rejected. Israel
was carried away with popular opinion; and refused to accept that they
were wrong, and needed to repent and conform to the sanctity of and
obedience to God's word.

The issue of God's controversy against His people has always been over
purity and obedience, rather than over minor issues or details
associated with style and ritual. Jesus warned us to beware of false
prophets, that look like sheep but are actually wolves (Matthew 7:15).
Jesus also identifies these false prophets as those who His rebellious
people spoke well of; warning His disciples to beware of such
expectations (Luke 6:26). Jesus credits these false prophets with the
ability to do great signs and wonders - thereby increasing their ability
to deceive (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22). John associates false prophets
with the antichrist power, that was already at work among the churches
in his day (1 John 4:1).

Although the Greek word for false teacher is only found here, Paul
describes false teachers in his Epistles to Timothy. The description of
false teachers is as follows:
1- They do not consent to the sound word of God.
2- They do not consent to the doctrines of godliness.
3- They create strife, envy, evil-speaking, and suspicion of others.
4- They suppose gain to be godliness (1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 3:6-7;
Titus 1:11).
 
daily bread
Written by Pastor Mark Spitsbergen
Monday, 21 December 2009 16:49
2 Peter 2:1 - Now there were also false prophets among the people, just
as also false teachers shall be among you: who shall sneak in
destructive opinions, also denying the Master who bought them; bringing
upon themselves swift destruction.

The Greek word that is used here (translated "sneak") is very
descriptive of how destructive heresies find their way into the
community of the church: they come alongside of true doctrines and less
harmful opinions. Although there may be opinions about the scripture
that are not destructive, one falsehood is the foundation on which more
destructive falsehoods are built. The word used here is a compound Greek
word 'paraeisago' - which literally means to "bring in along with" or to
"lead in along with others." Thus we catch a glimpse of the way that
false doctrines begin. These opinions are grouped along with Bible
facts, and become the subtleties by which wrong conclusions are derived;
and thus destructive opinions are precipitated.
 
daily bread
Written by Pastor Mark Spitsbergen
Saturday, 19 December 2009 13:54
Habakkuk 2:4 - Behold he who is lifted, 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).
 
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