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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

“O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart — These, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51.15-17). This passage by David certainly has a connection to Hosea's statement that God desires mercy and not sacrifice. We will continue to explore the meaning of the term sacrifice in Hosea's statement, the same statement that Jesus cited on at least two occasions (Matthew 9.13 and…  ( Click for more )

When God said through Hosea that He desired mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6.6), what did He mean? Was He saying that sacrifice was against His will and hence, sinful? Or, is there a meaning that is consistent with the rest of the scriptures as to how God feels about sacrifice and mercy. Our task today will be to try to discover the meaning of this phrase from Hosea, a phrase that was later picked up by Jesus Christ and repeated at least two times (Matthew 9.13 and Matthew 12.7) during His ministry.

Perhaps a biblical account that predates Hosea by a couple of centuries will…  ( Click for more )

If we are to “...go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,'” (Matthew 9.13) then we are surely going to need to learn what the words mean that comprise the phrase. Today's message will take a cursory look at the word mercy in an effort to assist in learning what the passage meant to which Jesus referred.

The word mercy is not unique to either the New Testament or to the Old. It was used frequently in the Old Testament scriptures as well as in the teachings of Jesus. In addition, several people who met Jesus asked Him to show mercy toward them.…  ( Click for more )

The principle that Jesus stated was not new. From of old it had been true that God desired mercy and not sacrifice (see Hosea 6.6, Matthew 9.23, and Matthew 12.7). Jesus merely emphasized the principle and made application of it to those who would condemn Him for consorting with “...tax collectors and sinners.” Of course, the particular class of Jew who questioned His social conduct was the Pharisees, a self-righteous sect that seemed to delight in flaunting their spiritual superiority! Our message continues today as we extend our look at Jesus' words as quoted from…  ( Click for more )

If there were someway to miraculously cause everyone to pay attention to a particular text, I would will it to be so with today's text, Matthew 9.13. I know that my efforts surrounding this verse are just that, they are my efforts, and as such, are limited to my own human frailties. However, I would suggest that there is something moving and majestic about this passage that makes it worthy of long and prayerful attention by even the most devout and studious lover of truth.

First, we quote the verse in context: “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting…  ( Click for more )

"For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.." (1 Peter 2.15-16). This expression "cloak for vice [evil]" occurs but once in the New Testament. The term is used here in a prohibitive way, i.e. believers are told something that they ought not to do. A close examination of this text will reveal some interesting and helpful results.

A "cloak for vice" simply stated is a cover-up for evil. The thing that ought not…  ( Click for more )

January 9, 2024

"But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins.' Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (1 Peter 4.7-10). The phrase of emphasis here is: "And above all things have fervent love for one another."

Peter states unequivocally why love is so important "For 'love will cover a multitude of sins.'"…  ( Click for more )

January 2, 2024

Yesterday we read how a man that was blind from birth was given his sight by the Lord Jesus (see John 9). Today, we will read where this same Jesus took away the sight of a man who had been able to see all his life. On the surface, this might seem a paradox, but behind it all was the Lord’s intent to give a tremendous blessing to both of the men. Our study today will focus on this second man and the sequence of events that brought about his life changing blessing.

“As he [Paul, the apostle to be] journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him…  ( Click for more )

“Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the…  ( Click for more )

“Therefore the sisters [Martha and Mary] sent to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love [Lazarus] is sick.’ When Jesus heard that, He said, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” (John 11.3-5).

It is interesting that the two sisters, both of whom were the objects of the Master’s affection, simply identified their brotheer to Jesus as “…he whom You love.” They spoke as if Lazarus were the…  ( Click for more )

Do you think you know the world’s most deadly poison? Well, I’ll admit right up front that this is sort of a trick question. You see, the world’s most deadly poison is not one which affects the central nervous system, or the cardio-pulmonary system, or the digestive system, or the liver, or the kidneys, or any other physical organ; the world’s most deadly poison is one which affects the mind and hence the soul.

Actually, there are many, many instances of mind poisoning in the scriptures, but one is explicitly identified by that phrase. Consider the following:…  ( Click for more )

We know what He [God] will do because we know what He did! That is the crux of Paul's argument as he affirms that “...all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8.28). What did He do? He proved His love beyond all human expectations or potential! The proof that He yet works incessantly on our behalf lies in a knowledge of how He worked in the past!

I am convinced that God will labor just as hard for one soul as He will for a million. His love is without dimensions when it comes to His creation.…  ( Click for more )

The past is, from a purely human viewpoint, the best predictor of the future. In the world in which we live, the future of things (such as housing sales, the weather, a baseball team's performance, entertainers, automobile reliability, human behavior, etc., etc.) that matter to us are predicted using the past.

The past is not a perfect predictor, but it is the best that we have. The disclaimer that appears on investment portfolios (“Past performance not a guarantee of future performance”) spells out in no uncertain terms the uncertainty of using the past to predict…  ( Click for more )

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8.28-30).

The question of the moment (at least within the focus text), is this: “How do we know that all things work together for good?”…  ( Click for more )

Thank God for Unanswered Prayers was a huge number one country hit for Garth Brooks in the 1990’s. The entire basis for the song is the fact that we just don’t always know what is best for us, even in our prayers. Beyond that, it is also an indisputable fact that God always knows what is best. That is precisely Paul’s point in Romans 8.26 when he says, “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought…” If we knew how to pray perfectly and we knew what to pray for, we would have much of the battle won. However, we are human! We do not know…  ( Click for more )

Our focus text reads: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8.26-27).

With fear and trembling we enter this brief study! We enter it this way for a number of reasons. First, we enter it with such awe because of the specific subject matter (i.e. God, the Spirit,…  ( Click for more )

“I have some good news and I have some bad news. Which would you like to hear first.” This line has been the lead in to countless comedy routines. Jesus didn't ever use this phrase to the best of our knowledge, but He surely experienced times when He could have said it. Today's message centers around a passage that well could have been a “Good news – Bad news” scenario.

“Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then…  ( Click for more )

No peeking! Play fairly! Guess who or what I am.

“The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, From the beginning, before there was ever an earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills, I was brought forth; While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, Or the primeval dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, When He drew a circle on the face of the deep, When He…  ( Click for more )

Our study today will be essentially a word study, but with a couple of twists. I promise you it won't be dull, so I beg you to stay with me. Specifically, we will look at a Greek word which appears only four times in the New Testament. We will consider the ways this word is translated and used in Scripture.

The first usage we will consider occurred as Paul was writing about a particular religious error of the day. The passage of interest reads, “...not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase…  ( Click for more )

An axe and an adze are tools that are frequently used for hewing. Sometimes the hewing process is intended to give an object a desired shape and at other times hewing is simply intended to divide or chop an object in two. Now hear God's word through Hosea: "Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth." (Hosea 4.5).

This an example of Hebrew parallelism. To hew Israel "by the prophets" is parallel to "I have slain them by the words of My mouth." God's prophets were spokespersons for Him; the words which they…  ( Click for more )

Some of God’s actions cannot be mimicked. All of man’s actions, on the other hand, are capable of being repeated (or even bested) by others with time. Man, by definition, acts within the natural realm. God, on the other hand, is capable of acting within both the natural and the supernatural realms. That is why there is a class of actions that are truly miraculous in nature; they occur in the natural realm and simply cannot be accounted for by natural forces. Today’s message will point out the significance of this difference in our lives.

First, we will begin…  ( Click for more )

Pat and I were recently privileged to see some wonderfully scenic landscapes and seascapes in the state of Maine. I know we used the word beautiful repeated to descripe the things that we saw, but physical beauty really is quite subjective. I knew of a person who was actually frightened by trees and saw them as an ugly reminder of an unhappy past. When we speak of beauty, we usually realize that it is a matter of perspective. However, we need to realize that even the most breathtaking and glorious earthly objects are nothing when compared to the features of a world yet to be revealed.…  ( Click for more )

To “Owe no one anything…” according to Paul’s written admonition (see Romans 13.8) is but one of the moral and ethical rules that ought to govern our lives. However, the believer is in debt from the time he or she commits the first sin until death takes us away. This debt is not a material indebtedness from which we can extricate ourselves by working really, really hard; it is a spiritual debt that can only be erased by the biblical application of God’s grace to our lives.

However, the point that I wish to make just here is this: The lifelong indebtedness…  ( Click for more )

September 12, 2023

No one has to tell you, the reader of this article, the importance of words. Verbal communication is as old as mankind and it is one of the unique and significant differences between humanity and other living creatures. Just as human communication via words differs substantially from the various forms of communication that are existent in the animal kingdom, so God's word differs from man's. Today we will highlight how different a word is from God when compared to words of human origin.

“Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his [Peter's] wife’s…  ( Click for more )

We hear a lot about truth. Witnesses in legal proceedings are duty bound to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Under many circumstances, consumers are advised of certain facts under the truth in lending laws. Children are taught the value of truth and the honor that inheres with always telling the truth. Truth is a small word that packs a tremendous wallop when it comes to our lives, our country, our society, our economy, and most importantly to our spiritual welfare.

“Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him,…  ( Click for more )

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