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county-courthouseTHE PURE AND WISE AND EQUAL ADMINISTRATION OF THE LAWS FORMS THE FIRST END AND BLESSING OF SOCIAL UNION

WHAT DOTH THE LORD REQUIRE OF THEE BUT TO DO JUSTLY AND TO LOVE MERCY

EQUAL AND EXACT JUSTICE TO ALL MEN OF WHATEVER STATE OR PERSUASION RELIGIOUS OR POLITICAL

THAT THE COMMONWEALTH MAY HAVE A GOVERNMENT OF LAWS AND NOT OF MEN

These are the words that are engraved in the perimeter walls of our county courthouse.  I had the occasion to read them again last night.  The first time I stopped to read those words, they fascinated me.  This time, they bothered me.  In particular, what bothered me was the word “justice.”  For as I stood reading those words, I had to admit to myself that I don’t know what true justice is.  I can tell you what I believe justice is in my mind, but how do I define true justice?  As I stood outside staring at the engraved words, I was speechless.  I felt as if I was standing before a judge, with all the evidence presented against me, and the judge asked me what I think the verdict should be.  In my heart, and out of pure selfishness, I would blurt out “NOT GUILTY!” Truth, however, which is what I claim to desire, says “I am guilty.”  The verdict, then, is that I am guilty of not knowing what true justice is.  It should be noted here that the etymology of the word “verdict” explains that the word is formed from two roots: ver, meaning true, and dit, from the verb to say. An accurate transliteration of the word verdict would be a true report.

The following parable is an example of true justice.  It is found in the gospel of Matthew, in the 20th chapter.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. And after agreeing with the workers for the standard wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When it was about nine o’clock in the morning, he went out again and saw others standing around in the marketplace without work. He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and I will give you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and three o’clock that afternoon, he did the same thing. And about five o’clock that afternoon he went out and found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why are you standing here all day without work?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go and work in the vineyard too.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give the pay starting with the last hired until the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each received a full day’s pay. 10 And when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each one also received the standard wage. 11 When they received it, they began to complain against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last fellows worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us who bore the hardship and burning heat of the day.’ 13 And the landowner replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am not treating you unfairly. Didn’t you agree with me to work for the standard wage? 14 Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last man the same as I gave to you. 15 Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

I have read this parable many times, and have received greater understanding since I have heard the gospel of the kingdom of God.  But as I pondered this parable again in light of the words engraved upon the walls of our county courthouse, I was humiliated.  I knew that I would be one of the first to say “Lord, that just isn’t fair!”  For how could it be fair that some workers had toiled all day in the heat of the sun, while others, who stood idle all day, come in at the last hour, do a little work, but earn the same compensation?  Of course, I had to realize that I was viewing this parable from a very jaded, temporal perspective, instead of from a true, eternal perspective.  For if the reward is eternal citizenship in the kingdom of heaven, then the amount of time one spends laboring in the vineyard of this life is of little relevance.  I should be rejoicing that one performed any labor in the landowner’s vineyard, and that we both have equity in this spiritual commonwealth.  Instead, the selfish, corrupt heart of mine prohibits me from seeing the truth, and I want merely my own brand of justice – “pay more to the one who worked more!”

Lord, have mercy upon my tarnished, shallow soul.  Forgive me for petitioning you to exact my own perverted brand of justice.  Forgive me for attempting to know better than you what truth is.  Forgive me for not exhibiting the mercy that you have shown me, when true justice would demand that I receive no mercy at all.

Book coverHere is what one person wrote upon reading A Glimpse of the Kingdom:
“By the way I enjoyed the book—I like how you thoroughly explained basic kingdom principles. The inclination at times when you go over basics is to gloss over them because you assume people know it. But I really like how you broke things down without being too technical. You wrote for the reader and not to show off your knowledge which is what I believe some writers do at times.”

This book is written for YOU, so that you may have a better understanding of the story that is written in the Bible.  Order your copy today by visiting www.ronmosbybooks.com.

left hand right handOver the next few days, I want to share with you some truths I have learned about the significance of the left hand and the right hand as it pertains to the Bible and the kingdom of God.
For a long time, there was a passage in the gospel of Matthew that troubled me.  In the passage, the Lord Jesus is speaking to His disciples:
Matt. 6:“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
My thought, when I read this, was how can my left hand not know what my right hand is doing?  How can I hide something from myself?  Christ’s instruction confounded me, and I was unable to obtain what I believed were substantive answers.  I looked in many of my Bibles and found no references to any passages in the Old Testament, and in my prayer time the Lord was silent on this matter.  However, as I began to learn more about the kingdom of God, I knew this passage had greater significance that what I understood.  I knew that I had to continue seeking, for I remember the promise of Christ:  Ask, and it shall be given, seek, and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened.  So I began to seek, and as I was seeking in the Old Testament, the passage that began to open up my understanding was in the book of Jonah:
Jonah 4:11 “And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
Here, God is speaking to Jonah, and explaining to him that there are people in Nineveh, a city of Gentiles, that do not know their left hand from their right hand.  Here, clarity began for me.  There is an inference in this passage that Jonah, a Jew, understood the distinction between the left hand and the right hand.  The people of Nineveh, however, were not Jews.  They would not have been aware of any such distinction because God did not reveal such a distinction to Gentiles.  His teachings and instruction were given to Israel only, and no other nation. Now, I had to find out what this distinction is, and why it is so important in the kingdom of God.
TOMORROW:  What I learned about the left hand and the right hand, and subsequently about myself as it pertained to giving and the kingdom of God.

large2 Cor. 11:But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
The simplicity of our faith is this: what God promised, he fulfilled in Christ Jesus, whom God raised from the dead.  Simply put, if we say we love God, then we believe he fulfilled the promise that he made to the Jews to give them a kingdom.  That kingdom came in the form of Christ Jesus, who died and was raised to life eternal by God.  This is the faith of Abraham, which is why all who submit to Christ Jesus are called the seed of Abraham – not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit of God.  That is the essence of our faith.  Such a simple and complete recipe needs no further additions, especially the doctrines and teachings of man.
There is a beauty in such simplicity, much like the beauty of saying only what is necessary and nothing more.  Adding anything more to the message is akin to adding strokes of paint to a finished painting.  The painting gains nothing, since it was already complete.  In truth, adding what is unnecessary only serves to take away from that which was a finished work.  This is what happens when we complicate the gospel and complicate our faith.

Tomorrow: Understanding the importance of the title Christ

“Why Peter did not hang himself as did Judas ?”
Matt. 27:5 “And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.”
judas
The easy way to respond to this question would be to say “No one knows.  Any answer to this question would be pure speculation.”  If we delve deeper, however, we see certain principles in this question that can help us in our pursuit of the kingdom of God.  First, we must ask the question why did Judas betray Christ?  We know that there had to be one to betray Christ in order for that which was prophesied to come to pass.  Did Judas know that he himself was the one which would betray Christ?  No!  Judas had no forethought that he would be chosen as one of the disciples, then be the one to betray Christ Himself.  Also, Judas’ name is not mentioned at all in the Law and the Prophets.  So what is it that Judas represents?  Paul addresses this question in his letter to the Romans:
Romans 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.  17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.  19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?  20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?  21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
The New Life Version reads as follows: Romans 9:16 These good things from God are not given to someone because he wants them or works to get them. They are given because of His loving-kindness.17 The Holy Writings say to Pharaoh, “I made you leader for this reason: I used you to show My power. I used you to make My name known over all the world.” 18 So God has loving-kindness for those He wants to. He makes some have hard hearts if He wants to.  19 But you will ask me, “Why does God blame men for what they do? Who can go against what God wants?” 20 Who are you to talk back to God? A pot being made from clay does not talk to the man making it and say, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 The man making the pots has the right to use the clay as he wants to. He can make two pots from the same piece of clay. One can have an important use. The other one can be of little use.
The key to this passage is that God chooses how he will utilize his creation.  From the same lump, mankind, one vessel can be made unto honour, or great use, and another unto dishonour, or little use.  The vessels themselves don’t even know their own use!  In our finite minds, what seems to us to be great use, may in reality be of very little use.  This is why it is important for us to discern spiritually what is happening.  What looks to be a great work in the flesh may in truth be no work at all; conversely, what appears to be futility in the flesh God may be doing to accomplish his will.  In truth, both Peter and Judas betrayed Christ.  Both fulfilled prophecy.  Yet, both responded differently to their actions.  Peter was chosen to be a vessel unto honour by God.  It was because of Peter’s preaching that 3,000 were added to the church.  The humbling truth is that we don’t know how our lives will unfold.  We can say with our mouths that we love God, and like Peter we may boast that we would never betray Him, but what happens when we approach that crossroad?  Is it possible that our utter failure in that moment can be used to fulfill God’s will?  Then, how do we respond?  Do we respond in the flesh, or do we humbly bow ourselves and ask for forgiveness from the ever merciful God?  Judas responded in the flesh, and judged himself, while Peter grieved but continued to press forward in spirit.  In truth, we can learn a great lesson from this question.  Our humanity will continue to fail us and fail God until the day our bodies expire.  Yet, we must persist in spirit to press toward the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus.  This is why we must, on a daily basis, do our very best to crucify our flesh, in order that God may be able to use us to accomplish his will. For only God knows who was created as vessels of honour and vessels of dishonour.

Luke 23:42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

What did Christ christ_thievesmean when He said these important words?  Today, we will examine these words in the context of other passages to determine if our belief conforms to what the Bible actually says.  First, let us consider what our Lord Jesus told His disciples prior to His crucifixion:
John 14:1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”  Notice Christ declared that He will return at a later time to take His disciples to be with Him.  In other words, Christ was going ahead of the disciples to prepare the place for them.  He did not imply at any time that the disciples would go with Him.
Next, consider what Peter said in Acts 2:

Acts 2:34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

Peter made it clear that David did not ascend into heaven.  Instead, 1 Kings 2:10 says “Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David.”
Finally, Paul encouraged the Thessalonian saints with these words:
1 Thess. 4: 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
So when the Lord Jesus returns, those who are asleep in Christ will rise first.  Even more important, notice what Paul wrote to the saints: “For we believe that Jesus died and rose again.”  Our belief is that Christ ascended into heaven after God raised Him from the dead.
In light of these passages, how should we understand the statement Christ made to the thief on the cross?  To interpret Christ’s statement as saying “today, I am going to paradise and I am going to take you with me” would not be consistent with other passages in the Bible.  An understanding that would be consistent would be to interpret Christ’s statement as saying “this day, I am making a declaration that at the appropriate time, you will be with me in paradise.”  Paul admonished us not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  Believing the gospel of the kingdom is the first step in transforming our minds in order that we may understand what was written.

Romans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in hibenefits_of_suffering1-320x280s glory.
“Christ suffered so that I wouldn’t have to.”  This statement is one of the biggest fallacies in Christianity.  There is nothing written in the New Testament that supports such a notion.  Conversely, we find numerous passages that indeed do show us that suffering is something that is expected of us as children of God.  In truth, Christ suffered first so that we may learn how to suffer through His example.  His death, burial and resurrection were prophetic examples of what we are to do: we are to put to death our old man, bury it, and walk in the newness of the Spirit of God.  We no longer belong to ourselves; indeed, we are now owned by a new landlord, which is Christ.  The land that Christ owns is our bodies.  Our bodies are no longer to yield to our fleshly desires; rather, we are to yield to our Lord Jesus Christ, who instructs us through His words in the New Testament, as well as the Holy Spirit. Is this a simple process?  Quite frankly, no.  This is why Christ said that unless a man takes up his own cross, that man cannot be His disciple.  In other words, in order to become a disciple of Christ, we must be willing to deny ourselves.  How do we learn to deny ourselves?  Through suffering.  In truth, it is that willingness to suffer that proves we are worthy of our citizenship in the kingdom of God:
2 Thess. 1:Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.  All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.
As you meditate on this season in which we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, remember that He did not merely die for you, but rather He taught you by example how you ought to lay your life down and be raised up as a new person in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Mark 14:27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’  28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”  29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”  30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”  31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

Stations-4-peter-7It’s so easy for us to boldly declare that we will never deny Christ.  After all, we love Him so much!  When we are called into service, we won’t hesitate to respond.  It’s the least we can do since Christ has done so much for us.  But what happens when it comes time for us to perform?  We fail miserably.  When Peter’s time came to be proven, he was unable to pass the test.  Do we intend to fail?  Absolutely not!  In fact, we usually envision ourselves executing our grandeur plans to near perfection.  What we actually do, however, usually pales in comparison to what we believe we will do.  Christ was admonishing Peter that Peter shouldn’t be so hasty to think that highly of himself.  Paul also admonishes us in the same fashion: Romans 12:For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Take time today to examine yourself.  While you may be quick to boast with your mouth that you will never deny Christ, how may your actions scream “I do not know the man!”  Do your actions say you are ready to be crucified with Christ, or do they say that you are refusing to be crucified with Christ?

1 Kings 1:anointing32-40 ( KJV ) 32And king David said, Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. And they came before the king. 33The king also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon: 34And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon. 35Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne; for he shall be king in my stead: and I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah. 36And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say sotoo. 37As the LORD hath been with my lord the king, even so be he with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David. 38So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon king David’s mule, and brought him to Gihon. 39And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon. 40And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.
This process of anointing the king with oil was also called unction. This process was not religious by any means; it was a governmental process of declaring that the man who received the anointing was the one that would ascend to the throne.  The one anointed had been declared the king, and this anointing was made public so that others were able to witness who would be next to sit upon the throne.  Additionally, the oil used to anoint the kings was called chrism, and it is from that word that the word Christ is derived.  So when the Lord Jesus asked Peter who did Peter say He was, Peter declared “you are the Christ,” meaning “you are the One anointed to ascend to the throne.”  Likewise, when we use the term “Christ,” we too are declaring that the Lord Jesus was the One anointed to receive the throne.  The thief on the cross recognized this as well, when he pleaded to the Lord Jesus “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” The thief saw that the Lord Jesus was the One anointed to receive the kingly power, which is why the Lord bestowed great favor upon the thief in his last moments.  This is what it truly means to declare that Jesus is the Christ.

Col. 2:10 (KJV) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

eca065a7abdfdf65e4d086835a755cf4There is wholeness in Christ Jesus that one cannot experience apart from Him.  Apart from Christ, there will always be areas that are unfulfilled.  The condition, however, is that one must be in Him in order to experience such completeness.  This is the irony that the world will never be able to understand.  How is it that one can be without material things, yet completely satisfied?  The answer lies in where your heart is.  A heart that is in Christ knows that He supplies all of our need, and that heart is content with little or plenty. We are content because our citizenship is no longer of this world.  We recognize that our life is not defined by the things we possess.  The question you must ask yourself is, do I believe in Christ apart from Him, or am I truly in Him?