Devotional for March 2018

“I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.” “I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me – even so know I the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also – I must bring. And they shall hear my voice – and there shall be one fold – one Shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down – and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” “I and my Father are one.” [Jn.10:11,14-18,30]

This teaching is directly from Jesus. This is where He declares Himself to be the Good Shepherd”. This is both a very simple and yet a profoundly solemn truth. For it specifically deals with the eternally covenanted atonement of all the sins of all His sheep. It is the carnal and perverse spin of fallen men that has propagated so much confusion concerning this portion of God’s Word. E.g., in vs.11 Jesus announces in no uncertain terms that He is the Good Shepherd”. Then He immediately adds: the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.”

The word that Jesus uses for lifeis the same word for soulin Mt.10:28 – from where Jesus declares: “…fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the SOUL: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both SOUL and body in hell!” In other words, dear ones, Jesus says that we should fear only God – for He is the only one who can do that!

Then the Lord Jesus continues in vs.14-18 by giving us some strong clues as to who truly are His sheep. The first of which is that there is an intimate relationship between Him and His sheep. He says from vs.14 that He intimately knows His sheep. Secondly, He says that He, Himself, is also intimately known by them. The loving intimacy of this relationship is made plain by the literal way that vs.15 describes it. Jesus says that the relationship between Him and His sheep is Just as the Fatherknows Him – and He knows the Father. The loving relationship between the Father and Jesus is Biblically famous! Vs.15 closes with Jesus restating that He, the Good Shepherd,gives His (soul) life for the sheep.

Next the Lord Jesus makes a remarkably wonderful statement. He says that there are other sheep that He owns – which are not of this fold; and them also He must (lit.) lead. These others come from every race – kindred – tongue – tribe and generation! Praise the Lord! Every single individual one of them will hear His voice! They hear the gospel of the glory, only, of the Lord Jesus Christ! And, Jesus goes on to descriptively declare that there will be one fold – with one primary Shepherd!

Then Jesus brings up yet again – His eternally atoning sacrifice for all of His sheep throughout the whole history of fallen-in-sin humanity. And, He declares that the everlasting love of God permeates all of it. He says, Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my (soul) life, that I might take it again. (18) No man taketh it from mebut I lay it down of myself. I have power (lit. I have sovereign authority) to lay it down, and I have power (lit. I have sovereign authority) to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father!” This is the commandment of the New Covenant – which is the covenant between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – which was entered into before the very foundation of the world. This is the foundation of God which is firmly and eternally sealed in that He intimately knows those that are His. These are His sheep for whom He sacrificed His soul in order to eternally save all theirs. (2Ti.2:19)

For Christ’s Glory Only!

John Carpenter

Devotional for February 2018

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction – and many there be which go in thereat: (14) because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life — and few there be that find it.” [Mt.7:13-14]
“For even hereunto were ye called because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow His steps…” [1Pe.2:21]

The words of Jesus in the first text above were spoken near to the end of His sermon on the mount. They are words that are obviously divinely used to set the stage for our drawing a mental picture of the coming day of judgment. The gospel (or, good news) of the glory, only, of the Lord Jesus Christ is replete with wonderful statements that describe a true believer avoiding an unfavorable personal experience in their individual judgment. Jn.5:24, Ro.8:1 and 1Jn.4:17 to name just three texts that prove this to be true.

It is obvious also from the context of the Mt.7:13-14 text that in that day of final judgment there are going to be some eye opening and foreboding realities. There will be many who thought they would be favorably received by our Lord – only to find out that they were wrong! Jesus describes the sad event from vs.21-23. He said, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And – in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then I will profess unto them – I never knew you.” [I.e. lit., intimately know them like a father knows his children, or a bridegroom knows his bride] Then, with foreboding finality He says: “Depart from me – ye that work iniquity.”

Sadly, it is these persons that prove to be examples of what God’s Word declares as a warning from Pr.16:25. Which text tells us: “There is a way that seems right unto a man – but the end thereof are the ways of death!” These persons that Jesus refers to here believed that they were living and walking through this fallen world as being true believers and ministers of the Lord. Their profession indicates that they regarded Jesus as being their Lord! Nevertheless, their lives were not being lived according to the Father’s will. This fact should make one stop and think!

How do we truly know that our lives are fulfilling the Biblical description of those whom Jesus refers to as those that, will do the Father’s will and enter into the Kingdom of heaven? The all important descriptive phrase in vs.21as: “he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”. The answer to how we can know that we are living and doing the will of the Father — centers squarely upon the person and work of the Holy Spirit of God. Why? Because it is the Spirit that bears witness with our spirit “that we are the children of God – and if children, then heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ”! For“…the things of God knoweth no man – but the Spirit of God.” And “As many as are led by the Spirit of God – these are the sons (or, the children) of God!”[Ro.8:16; 1Co.2:11; Ro.8:14]

The way for God’s fallen and sinful children in this world to enter into His heavenly Kingdom is very narrow and very hard to find. Indeed, it is a one man charted course – a one man forged pathway. Jesus is the only way, truth and life. No man comes unto the Father, but by Him. He is our one and only Savior. We desperately need the soul-quickening Holy Spirit to guide us in His footsteps through this world of darkness and trouble. We need the Word of God – I.e. the living Word of God – to be the shinning lamp unto our feet – from here to there! Praise His wonderful Name! Amen.

For Christ’s Glory Only!
John Carpenter

Devotional for January 2018

Remember the former things of old – for I am God, and there is none else – I am God and there is none like me; (10) declaring the end from the beginning – and from ancient times – the things not done. Saying, My counsel shall stand – and I will do all my pleasure (11)…yea, I have spoken it – I will also bring it to pass – I have purposed it – I will also do it!” [Is.46:9-11]

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us – but unto thy Name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake! (2)Wherefore should the heathen say: Where is now their God? (3) But, our God is in the heavens – He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.” [Ps.115:1-3]

Isn’t it wonderful to realize that our sovereign God has all our lives and times in His sovereign, almighty hand? In addition, isn’t it especially grand to understand that all the glory for all that’s needed for our eternal salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ has been completely and totally accomplished? Indeed, God is pleased because His eternal Son — our sovereign Savior and vicarious substitute has done it! That is what these texts of scripture are declaring unto us.

From the Isaiah passage – Holy God, Himself, heralds out to us that from eternity – in eternity — and for eternity, He has decreed and purposed everything that’s necessary where our eternal salvation is concerned. He tells us that His counsel – His plan — shall stand – or, (lit.) shall be accomplished. He does all according to His will and good pleasure! Nothing shall frustrate or hinder His plan. Why(?) – even because He, Himself, shall bring it all to pass. He, Himself, shall be the one that carries it out!

In fact, this is exactly what Ps.115:1-3 substantiates. All those, in this fallen-in-sin world that do not have ears to hear – nor eyes to see and who scoffingly declare: Where is now their God?!” – will all too soon discover that our God — who rules from the heavens all things after the counsel of His own will – has already done it! He has saved us and called us with a holy callingnot according to our worksbut according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world [or, lit., before time] began.” [2Ti.1:9

These are the pure truths of the gospel of the glory, only, of our Lord Jesus Christ! And, every new year – or, even every new day – of our journey through the maze of this fallen-in-sin world we should prayerfully remind ourselves of these wonderful things. This is a part of what the Word says from Phil.4:8 from where it exhorts us, saying: “…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good reportif there be any virtue, and if there be any praisethink on these things.”

May the Holy Spirit lead us all through every new day of the new year being ever mindful of who He is as being our great God and Savior. Who, Himself, is ever faithful to us – His true children – ever guiding and providing – protecting and preserving – for His Name’s sake and for His glory!

May we fit the description of Col.3:1-4 which says: If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (2) Set your affection [or, lit., your mind] on things above, not on things on the earth. (3)For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (4)When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory!” Let us praise His wonderful eternal Name for all His wonderful eternal works. May the Lord bless you and keep you throughout this whole year.

-For Christ’s Glory Only!
John Carpenter

Devotional for December 2017

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights – with whom there is no variableness – neither shadow of turning.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [Jas.1:17; Jn.3:16]

These two texts are a descriptive declaration of what God has wondrously given unto us! He gave to us His own beloved, begotten and eternal Son. He gave His Son to be the greatest love-gift that there ever was given, or that there ever could be given! He sent His precious Son to be a part of the very history of the population and progeny of this fallen-in-sin, law-cursed and wicked world. God sent Him to miraculously become the prophesied born-of-a-virgin-woman-Seed that would be manifested as the eternally redeeming Savior from all His people’s sins [Mt.1:21]! God’s eternal, only-begotten Son – became, and isour Lord Jesus Christ! Praise His all-glorious Name!

The announcement of the angel(s) of the Lord unto the shepherds on the very night that He was born in this dreadful world was Fear notfor, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of Davida Saviorwhich is Christ the Lord!(12) And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. (13) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: (14) Glory to God in the highestand on earthpeace, good will toward men.” [Lk.2:10-14]

The glad tidings that were announced that night unto the shepherds was the news of the arrival of the good and perfect gift of God’s eternal beloved Son — having become born and manifested in the “likeness of sinful flesh” [Rom.8:3]. This was the arrival of God’s fulfillment of His promise to provide the good and perfect Substitute and Surety for all His eternally loved and chosen ones in this lost world.

Make no mistake about it! It is a good and perfect need – that needs a good and perfect gift to meet it! And, the good news – the glad tidings – the gospel evangelistically declared unto the shepherds (and unto us) on that night was an even grander announcement that we could ever comprehend! It was the announcement of the arrival of the Christ of God – the Son of man who would also be the Son of God! Hallelujah!!

Our great Savior is also a goodSavior. We need to see this. Remember when the rich young ruler addressed Him as “good master”? Jesus asked him why he called Him good”. He told him there is none goodbut God. And, that’s true isn’t it? Concerning ourselves – the scripture says: There is none that doeth goodno not one[Rom.3:12]. Because we’re all hopeless sinners – we, therefore, need a goodand perfect Savior/Substitute like we have in God’s heaven-sent gift of His only-begotten Son. We need the God/man to do goodfor us, in us and through us – in spite of us. And, Christ Jesus is exactly that Savior!

He is also the perfectgift of God. He is the perfect Lamb of God! This means that He was sent into this world to be the perfectsacrifice for our sins. He was (and always will be) holy. This means it was impossible for Him to sin! Dear friends, it is impossible for us not to sin. Jesus taught: Be ye perfect for your Father in heaven is perfect”. Everything that we need – He is.

For Christ’s Glory Only!

– John Carpenter

Devotional for November 2017

“Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever. (2) Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? Who can show forth all His praise? (3) Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times. (4) Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people. O visit me with thy salvation; (5) that I may see the good of thy chosen – that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation – that I may glory with thine inheritance.” [Ps.106:1-5]

This Psalm – which declares the foreboding reality of historical Israel’s sinfulness and yet also God’s manifold mercies bestowed upon them — is a demonstration of that which is taught us from Ro.5:20-21> “Moreover, the law entered that the offence might abound, but where sin abounded – grace did much more abound: (21) that as sin hath reigned unto death – even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Consequently, therefore, this Psalm begins and ends with – “Praise the Lord!”. This is the first of the Psalms that are called the “Hallelujah Psalms”. And, as vs.1 goes on to say: We are to (lit.) give praise and thanks unto the Lord for His goodness…and His mercy…forever!

Next is a declaration of pure truth: “Who can utter the mighty acts (or, works) of the Lord?” How can fallen mortals adequately articulate all the wonderful miracles of the Lord? Especially those that describe the eternal redemption of His people by Christ. The conversion and perseverance of them displays the mighty power of God’s great grace! Only He is worthy of all our praise for the eternal salvation of our souls. [See Ps.40:5]

Vs.3 pertains to God’s righteous judgments when it describes: “Blessed are they that keep (or, observe) judgment…” Regeneration – which is only obtained by a work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God – quickens the eyes of our understanding to reveal to us that God’s judgment and will in all of our providences — is as Ps.19:9 says: “true and righteous altogether”. God’s righteous judgment on all our sins we understand and see by the grace of faith was executed upon our Savior,. He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. Hence, in and through Him – and Him alone — do we fulfill the description of the last phrase of vs.3: “…and He that doeth righteousness at all times.” I think it’s interesting that the first phrase describes all the blessed ones that observe God’s judgment, whereas the second phrase describes He that doeth righteousness at all times. The first may be us – but the last must be Christ our Savior and substitute!

Then comes the request of vs.4: “Remember me, O Lord, with the favor that thou bearest unto thy people – oh visit me with thy salvation.” This is not unlike the request of the thief on the cross to the immediate right of Jesus at Calvary. All of the true people of God can identify with the verbal exchange of that thief and Jesus. The Lord said unto him – “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise!” How wonderful is that!

Finally, vs.5 delivers the rest of the request that is started in vs.4. There are a total of four parts of the request to be remembered by the Lord. The first is seen in the last phrase of vs.4: “O visit me with thy salvation”. The next three are all found in vs.5: “that I may see the good of thy chosen” – “that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation” – “that I may glory with thine inheritance.” This echoes 1Pe.2:9> “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people – that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you…” into the light of life!

– For Christ’s Glory Only

John Carpenter

Devotional for October 2017

“The eternal God is thy refuge – and underneath are the everlasting arms…”

“Looking unto Jesus – the author and finisher of our faith – who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross – despising the shame – and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  [Deu.33:27; Heb.12:2]

Here are two descriptive declarations from the Word of God. The two were made in completely different times in the course of the history of redemption. Nevertheless, these two statements are speaking of one and the same person. The first declaration comes from the Holy Spirit inspired writings of Moses (circa 1451BC) and the second, from Holy Spirit inspired epistle to the Hebrews (circa 61AD).

The verse from Deuteronomy describes immutable God of truly having “no variableness – neither shadow of turning” [Jas.1:17]. In Him we are eternally secure – and upheld with His Almighty arms! Whereas, the verse from Hebrews describes the incarnated eternal Savior and Son of God, Jesus – who is, indeed, indwelt “with all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” [Col.2:9]. In Him all of God’s eternally loved and chosen and blessed in Christ have been placed from before the foundation of the world! Praise His Name!

The Deuteronomy text declares the unchangeable triune God as being the eternal habitation of His people – His redeemed ones. The text from Hebrews 12 declares the Lord Jesus Christ – the only sovereign Savior substitute that there ever was, is, or ever will be – as being the beginning and the end – the alpha and the omega – of our faith – of our truly believing in Him for our eternal salvation.

The Deuteronomy passage comes to us from Moses – who was an Old Testament type of Christ. Remember when God through Moses told the Israelites that He would raise up from their midst a prophet like Moses? God said, “unto Him – ye shall hearken” [De.18:15]. Then three verses later He told Moses again: “I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren – like unto thee – and will put my words in His mouth, and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him.” There’s no doubt about it, beloved, that prophet – like Moses – that God raised up – was Jesus!

The incarnated eternal Son of God – whom our history recognizes as being in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ is “the author and finisher of our faith” – just as He.12:2 declares Him to be!

It is He – according to Phil.2:6-8 – the Word says: “who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God (7) but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men (8) and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death – even the death of the cross!”

The Hebrews 12 passage clarifies for us – by telling us that Jesus “for the joy that was set before Him – endured the cross – despising the shame – and is set down at the right hand of God.” So, therefore, our victory is, indeed, in Jesus. We should sing that hymn at the top of our voices! He has done it all – and all our praise and love is due Him! The throne from which He rules over us is a throne of grace. “There is therefore, now, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesuswho walk not after the flesh – but after the Spirit!” [Ro.8:1] Having successfully purged our sins – our Savior sat down. Our eternal refuge is, indeed, in Him and in Him alone. Glory to His Name!

-For Christ’s Glory Only!

John Carpenter

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