Devotional for April 2019

“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord. His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain – as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” “For even hereunto were ye called – because Christ also suffered for us – leaving us an example that ye should follow in His steps – who did no sin – neither was guile found in His mouth.” [Hos.6:3; 1Pe.2:21-22]

A wonderful Bible teacher named, J.C. Philpot, so aptly wrote: “There is one feature in true religion perhaps not much insisted upon, but not the less real and genuine; which is this, that all true religion brings the soul into vital and immediate contact with God. False religion – on the other hand – only sets the soul at a distance from Him.” He goes on to say: “the saints of God breathe forth their desires after the Lord.” Then, a little later he concludes by saying: “In opposition to this – there is no mark stamped upon false religion more evidently and plainly than this in that it sets up a false god – an idol god – not perhaps a wood or stone representation – but a god adapted to the carnal mind – suitable to the natural heart – in a word, such a god as we see in all ages – blind, fallen man has worshipped. Thus, were you to analyze and examine all false religion – whatever its name or nature – you would find this feature stamped upon it, that it set up a false god for the true God – a false faith for true faith – and a false righteousness for a true righteousness – and thus worships an imaginary – an idol god – instead of the true and living God – the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.” In regards to these things, Philpot ultimately says: “Now we may be well assured, that nothing short of the work and teaching of God in the heart can ever pull down this false god – and set up in its place, ‘the only true God and Jesus Christwhom He hath sent.’ [Jn.17:3] ”

These observations by Philpot (1802-1869) are amazingly relevant to true believing sinners today! And, this is precisely what our text above from Hosea 6 is talking about. Sinners-saved-by-grace who have been quickened by the Holy Spirit and regenerated by a revelation of the Truth of the Word of God. It is these — who have truly received – by the grace of God – a genuine love of the pure Truth of the gospel of the glory, only, of the Lord Jesus Christ (2Th.2:10). And, it is these – that are the ones who are being referred to by the 1st person plural pronoun we in Hos.6:3, when it says: Then shall we know…”. In addition, this divine clarification is even further “pin-pointed” and described by the next phrase: if we follow on to know the Lord!

There are whole lifetimes of following Christ that are being described in this one phrase! This is referring to the same thing that Ro.8:14 descriptively declares when it says: As many asare led by the Spirit of Godtheyare the sons of God”. And, who exactly are the many? The same as referred to from Acts 13:48: As many aswere ordained to eternal lifebelieved”. These are the same that are also being described from Eph.2:10: For we are His workmanshipcreated in Christ Jesusunto good works which God hath before ordainedthat we should walk in them.”

Truly following in the footsteps of Christ our Lord – is – growing in grace, and in the knowledgeof Him — as our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ – as we go! [2Pe.3:18] So, when we are being led by the Spirit of God, we can be assured that – by God’s saving grace – we shall be constantly goingand growing” — according to His will and plan to save us! Praise His Name!

We shall be looking even more closely to that which Hos.6:3 means when it says: His going forth is prepared as the morning”; and also: He shall come unto as the rain”.

For Christ’s Glory Only!
John Carpenter

Devotional for March 2019

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more – unto the perfect day.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord. His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain – as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” [Pr.4:18; 1Jn.1:9; Hos.6:3]

The first text above declares the sure and certain – even the predestined – path through this fallen world – that is being followed by all of those that God the Father has given to His eternal, beloved Son — for Him to be both, justand the justifier of himwhich believeth in Jesus[Ro.3:26]  Every true – “born from above” child of God has been, by the sovereign grace of Christ, delivered from “all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish” and have genuinely received the love of the truth, that they might be saved[2Th.2:10]. The pathof the just – is a path that is divinely illumined in the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ! [2Co.4:6] The ongoing prayer of our hearts becomes that which is written in Ps.25:4-5: Show me thy ways, O Lord, teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me. For thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”

The second text above declares the announcement of a descriptive if clause that reveals a divinely induced and motivated pure gospel reception and reaction. This descriptive declaration is something that happens to us by virtue of a divine “cause and effect” reality.

The Word of God makes it clear that we all – without exception – come into being in this world being active lying transgressors from our mother’s womb! [see Is.48:8 and Ps.58:3] Nevertheless, by the gracious work of God the Holy Spirit – effectively using the holy Word of God – we are made to see the sinners that we truly are – and we are granted God’s grace of repentance – and our hearts become broken and contrite — due to the reality of our sins – and we, therefore, confess our sins(or, say the same thing that God does about our sins unto Him). God does all this to us — for us (for our good). Therefore, we – by His enabling grace – fulfill that which is spoken of from Phil.2:12-13: Wework out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that worketh in youboth to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Then comes to pass the divinely initiated and instituted cause and effect reaction that this text describes: We confess our sinsand “…God is faithful and just to forgive us our sinsand to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Praise His Name! We most definitely want to be regarded by God in this world as His faithful “confessors”.

Then we come to the third text – which actually describes, once again, the genuine leading of the Spirit of God as we live and walk through this sinful world [Ro.8:14]. We shall not be able – at this juncture — to sufficiently mine all the rich treasures that are being put forth in this particular verse in Hosea. So, we will reserve doing so with next month’s prayer letter. But, for now let us attempt to make just a couple of simple, sound observations. In keeping with the other two texts – along with what we have already said in conjunction with them: What may we therefore conclude? Right at the very outset, the answer to this question is obviously going to be in the same vein that we have been looking at in the last couple of month’s newsletters. Where are we right now as far as being led through this fallen-in-sin world? Are we being led astray by the error of the Wicked? Or, are we being led by God the Holy Spirit? [2Pe.3:17; Ro.8:14] Let’s examine this further in next month’s prayer letter…        Amen

For Christ’s Glory Only!
John Carpenter

 

Devotional for February 2019

“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. (13) For if ye live after the flesh – ye shall die; but, if ye – through the Spirit – do mortify the deeds of the body – ye shall live. (14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of Godthey are the sons of God. (15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear – but ye have received the Spirit of adoption – whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spiritthat we are the children of God…” [Ro.8:12-16]

We noted last month the two contrasting realities that in one way or the other describes each one of us – in that all people — are either being led away with the error of the Wicked[2Pe.3;17] or, they are among the as many as are led by the Spirit of God[Ro.8:14]. This gives us the “big picture”! And, I think we all know in which group we want to be found. Therefore, let’s concentrate on the Ro.8:12-16 portion of scripture which describes in more detail all of us who – by God’s sovereign graceare being led by the Holy Spirit of God through the darkness of this law-cursed and fallen world — directly into an holy and heavenly eternity.

Vs.13 draws a conclusion from what has been presented from Ro.8:1-12. It says: we are debtors”. But, to whom exactly are we indebted? And, more importantly, do we even possess the capability to remit ourselves from the debt that we owe? Well, as far as the first question is concerned, the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul identifies who it is that we are indebted to in two ways. First, by how he addresses us. He calls us, brethren” – or, in other words, we are his fellow family members in Christ. And second, the Spirit through Paul dogmatically eliminates our being indebted to ourselves – or, to our own fallen fleshly nature of thinking and living! This is explicitly described in vs.5-11. We are not debtors to think and walk according to our fallen-in-sin flesh. For if we think and walk in accordance to the flesh – it is certain we shall die! [see vs.6] But – all praise and glory to God – if we, through thinking and walking in accordance to the influence and power of the Holy Spirit – and, by Him, do mortify [or, put to death] the sinful deeds of the body of our flesh – then we shall live! [see vs.6] This is precisely in conjunction with our being led through this passing-away-world by the Holy Spirit. It is thinking and living by the leading of the Spirit of Godthat identifies us as truly being the children of God! This is exactly the message  that’s declared from vs.14. And, this gives a dogmatic “No” answer to the second question above in regards to whether or not we even possess the capability – from ourselves and for ourselves – to remit ourselves from the debt that we owe. Beloved – therefore — behold the manifestation of whom it is that we are obviously forever indebted to – that One to whom we owe the eternal salvation of our very souls! We are forever indebted to the Spirit of Christ, our God!

Vs.15 descriptively declares that we have not received – from our loving and gracious Savior/God the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of Adoptionwhereby we cry, Abba, Father.”! This is a particularly significant blessing that signifies that one has been eternally and assuredly included in the eternally accomplished atonement. The atonement that has been perfectly performed by the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ! That which is presented here in Ro.8 up to this verse — and on through vs.16 – is the same theme as presented to us from Gal.4:4-7 (check it out).

How is it, then, that we come to know that we are among all those whom Christ has eternally redeemed? The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit  – that we are the children of God…” The “Spirit of Adoptiontells us so! Praise His wonderful Name! Thank you, Lord! Amen.

For Christ’s Glory Only!
-John Carpenter

Devotional for January 2019

“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before – beware lest ye also – being led away with the error of the wicked – fall from your own stedfastness.” [2Pe.3:17“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. (13) For if ye live after the flesh – ye shall die; but, if ye – through the Spirit – do mortify the deeds of the body – ye shall live. (14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God – they are the sons of God. (15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear – but ye have received the Spirit of adoption – whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” [Ro.8:12-15]

All who are alive on this earth – in this world – right now – are, one way, or another — being described in these two particular portions of God’s Word. We are either being led away with the error of the wicked, or we are being led by the Spirit of God. Therefore, there are two things we must never lose sight of – or, two things we must never forget: First, we must never forget where  it is that we are; and Second, we must remember that we are all being led from here to eternity by one of two influential ways of thinking! In regards to the first premise of where we are – of which we should constantly be conscious — we are in this lost, dark, trial-and-sorrow-filled, sinful and cursed world. Yes, this world truly is (just as Ps.23:4 describes) — the valley of the shadow of death” – and, we are all – one way or the other — being led through it. And, this world is not our friend. 

The context of 2Pe.3:10 describes the firey destruction and end that this fallen-in-sin world is inevitably hastening toward. The Holy Spirit of God, through the apostle Peter, so graphically and explicitly tells us: But the day of the Lord will comeas a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the elements shall melt with a fervent heatthe earth alsoand the works that are thereinshall be burned up!” This event will take place the same day that the Spirit through John describes from Re.20:11: And I saw a great white throneand Him that sat on itfrom whose facethe earth and heaven fled awayand there was found no place for them!” This present world has been, and right now is – literally passing away right before our eyes — unto its just and righteous perdition that will most certainly come to pass at the all-glorious and all holy return of the Almighty Lord Jesus Christ.

As true believers and followers of the Lord Jesus, we – by God’s grace – have an unbreakable, eternal relationship with Him. It is Christ – and Christ alone – that will get us safely through the dark and evil “death-valley” of this world! Praise His wonderful Name, what is descriptively declared from 1Jn.5:19 rings completely true for us: And we knowthat we are of God(lit.) and the whole worldin the Wicked One lies.” It is no wonder why 1Jn.2:15-17 imperatively warns us to: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the worldthe love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the worldthe lust of the eyes, and the pride of lifeis not of the Father, but is of the world! (17) And the world passeth awayand the lust thereofbut he that doeth the will of Godabideth forever.”

It is the way of this world to think of, and bring in, a New Year with a spirit of revelry and riotous activity. But, this is the common way of wantonness in which the Wicked One leads his captives! Nevertheless, let us, by the Holy Spirit of grace remember and heed His divine exhortation: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immovablealways abounding in the work of the Lordforasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vainin the Lord.” [1Co.15:58]

For Christ’s Glory Only! – John Carpenter

Devotional for December 2018

“And without controversy, great is the mystery of Godliness: God was manifest in the flesh…”“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…”“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God – sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (4) that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us – who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”“But when — the fulness of the time was come – God sent forth His Son – made of a woman, made under the law, (5) to redeem them that were under the law – that we might receive the adoption of sons. (6) And because ye are sons – God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” [1Ti.3:16; Jn.1:14; Ro.8:3-4; Ga.4:4-6]

Each one of these scripture references descriptively declares the single most significant and most wonderful occurrence in the whole of the history of fallen-in-sin humanity! An event that would be completely constructed and perfectly performed by the eternal, all-powerful and all-constraining love and grace of God! For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son[Jn.3:16] This marks the historical event that would be God’s fulfillment of His promise that there would come into fallen humanity the Seed of the woman – who would crush the head of the Serpent. The revelatory reality of the incorruptible Seed of the Word of the Truth of the everlasting gospel is that this Seed of the woman would be the holy incarnation into the likeness of sinful flesh of the eternal and almighty Son of God! We know Him from our sin-poisoned history as the holy Savior — our Lord Jesus Christ! 1Jn.3:8 announces unto us: For this purpose the Son of God was manifestedthat He might destroy the works of the devil.”

It was the wicked evil plan and purpose of the subtlety of Satan to surreptitiously corrupt – and thereby kill — along with Adam and Eve – all their children as well! And, at first sight, it seemed  that he had successfully done it! For the Word of God says: For as in Adamall die[1Co.15:22] For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God[Ro.3:23] And, For the wages of sin is death…” [Ro.6:23]  Therefore, do each of these descriptive declarations include every single fallen-in-sin person that makes up the whole progeny of Adam and Eve!

Nevertheless, 700+ years before the actual birth of Christ, the same Word of God foretold these words: But thou BethlehemEphratah(!) – though thou be little among the thousands of Judah yet out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been of oldfrom everlasting!” [Mic.5:2] The word, Ephratah  means: Fruitful. The announcement that the Holy Spirit makes through His prophet, Micah, is that in the little town of Bethlehem there would be born and come forth — the eternal Fruit of the incarnation into the likeness of sinful flesh – the eternal Son of God. He would be the promised Seed of the woman who would also be the eternal sovereign Savior Son of man. He would come from eternity into the history of fallen humanity in the fullness of time to fulfill God’s perfect purpose. He is the one whom we know as the Lord Jesus Christ – the King of kings and the Lord of lords! He is the one whom we also come to know as being our sovereign, Savior Substitute! His life and death and resurrection has made for us a holy and perfect redemptive propitiation for our sinful souls! The Word of God descriptively declares: But of Him are ye in Christ Jesuswho, of Godis made unto uswisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemptionthat according as it is written: he that gloriethlet him glory (only) in the Lord.” [1Co.1:30-31] If it’s not all Christ – it’s all wrong! Praise His Holy all-glorious Name!

For Christ’s Glory Only!

–John Carpenter

Devotional for November 2018

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus – who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law could not do – in that it was weak through the flesh – God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh — and for sin – condemned sin in the flesh: (4) that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us – who walk not after the flesh – but after the Spirit.” [Ro.8:1-4]

What a truly grand statement of the word of the truth of the gospel of God’s great grace this portion of scripture proves to be! It more than merits yet another thoughtful consideration. Why? Because it descriptively declares the undeniable evidence of what Christ’s holy workof His holy walk of lifein and through this unholy worldhas eternally accomplishedfor all those which have been placed in Him. The blessed holy work of the Triune Savior/God – works out works in – and works through all those which this text declares are in Christ Jesus – a most wonderful eternally saving miracle. It is this work that has produced not only their eternal standing before Him – but their personal and individual walk through this sinful, fallen world. A walk following after the blessed Holy Spirit of God. What a wonderful gospel declaration!

Dear ones, this is the special spiritual experience  that we should earnestly be praying to be made apparent – not only in and from our own lives – but also in and from the lives of each other. For this is the description of the vibrant and living relationship that the eternal Savior Son of God enters into with each one of His true believers. This is what being genuinely born from above produces in a sinner. They are daily – even hourly – being successfully and effectually led by His Holy Spirit – through this world of the valley of the shadow of death – all the way — into the heavenly bliss-filled reality of the Savior’s blessed eternal presence.

It is our walk after – or, according to – the Holy Spirit of Christ our God – that becomes the manifestation of our having been – by God’s grace alone – completely redeemed and remitted from the dreaded eternal, but just, condemnation of the law of sin and death”. Which law — rules and reigns over our ever present – in this world — sinful flesh.  Why is this true? Because we, by the grace of the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, walk anew — according to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus! It is this that brings to pass the reality of the living proof of the written statement of God from Ro.6:14, which says: For sin shall not have dominion over youfor you are not under the lawbut under grace!” And, its all because of the eternal accomplishment of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ! Praise His Holy Name!

This, in turn, is why the apostle is inspired by the Holy Spirit to explain unto us that which he does in vs.3-4> For what the law [of sin and death] could not doin that it is weak through the flesh [i.e. our sinful flesh] — Godsending His own Sonin the likeness of [our] sinful fleshandfor sin, condemned sin in the flesh [i.e. His flesh] (4) that the righteousness of the law [of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus] might be fulfilled in us [who are in Christ, and] who [as a result of His Holy work] walk not after [or, according to] the flesh, but after [or, according to] the Spirit.”

There are even more distinguishing details delivered in Ro.8:5-13 that graphically demonstrate the striking difference between these two. It is these differences that serve  to lend weight to the context of Ro.8:14: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God!” Amen.

For Christ’s Glory Only!
John Carpenter

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