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The Story of Glory

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Everyone was in deep shock. I longed for Bobby’s relatives to know our all-wise, sovereign, and loving Savior. “At times like these,” I acknowledged, as I began the funeral message, “you can be tempted to doubt the love of God when actually, an assurance of how much God does love you is what you need to carry you through this time.” I then preached on why a loving God would become a Man—a sermon suited for Christmas but delivered to grieving people in hopes of teaching them about a God they did not know. Christmas wonderfully displays God’s character and plan. In the incarnation of Jesus, God became Man. If we could truly  understand that magnificent feat, we could understand God. John 17 displays that story of glory. To thoughtfully read this longest recorded prayer of Jesus is to enter the Holy of Holies and hear God talking to God—Son to Father. We stand in awe and see the reasons He so deserves our praise and obedience because of who He is. HIS GLORY AS FATHER The night before He went to the cross for us, Jesus prayed, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory  …

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‘For My Name’s Sake’

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Iam Charlie Perry’s great grandson. That fact may not mean much today, but in my small hometown many years ago, it meant plenty. Charles H. Perry was a man of impeccable integrity. He was highly esteemed by everyone who knew him or did business with him, and his reputation as a godly Christian followed him everywhere. People knew him to be kind, friendly, scrupulously honest, and always willing to lend a helping hand. And if you were blessed enough to be related to Charlie Perry, you reaped the benefits of being associated with his good name, as my mother will attest to even today. A good name extols a person’s character. The more reputable the individual, the better his name. King Solomon wrote, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches” (Prov. 22:1). Why? Perhaps because a reputation lives even beyond the grave. God has a “great name” (1 Sam. 12:22). Fifteen times the phrase For My name’s sake appears in the Bible (NKJV). God’s name extols His character. His integrity, reputation, holiness, and even His glory are all closely linked to His name. And often God acts to sanctify His name and prevent it from being …

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Didn’t Know Who You Were

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Christians sing! And well we should because we have much to sing about. The Christmas season will soon be upon us, and everywhere— from the terraced vineyards of Bethlehem to churches the world over to carolers serenading on city streets and families gathered home in festive celebration—songs of the nativity will fill the air. Their lyrics endure because they spring from a reality found first in Scripture as a promise spoken through the prophet Isaiah: For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6). The promise became history centuries later when shepherds, tending their flocks outside little Bethlehem, were visited by an angelic emissary heralding the news that the promised Child had arrived: And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (Lk. 2:9–10). Isaiah’s “us” described Israel’s ultimate inheritance …

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The Unfathomable Christ

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You are about to read one of the most enlightening passages in all of Scripture. In it, the apostle Paul disclosed the unfathomable truth and magnificence of Jesus Christ. Paul expounded on Christ’s deity; His equality with God the Father; and His eternality, incarnation, humanity, humility, servanthood, voluntary death on the cross, exaltation, victory over the supernatural forces of evil, ascension, and universal authority over all of creation. Jesus’ incarnation is the greatest miracle revealed to mankind, and no one can fully comprehend it. At the name of Jesus, heaven and earth will eternally bow and confess Him as Lord, to the glory of God. All of these truths are divinely revealed in Philippians 2:5–11: Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name …

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Apples of Gold—September/October 2016

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Isaiah 49 says, “You are My servant, O Israel. You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth” (vv. 3, 6). Many Hasidic Jews believe they are the servants of God, chosen by Him to spread His salvation to the ends of the earth. Wearing their long beards, payot (curled side locks), black hats, and black clothing, they go to people and introduce themselves as prophets of God. Unfortunately, they convince many that the Hasidic path is the right path to God. In reality, they do great harm because they are leading people far away from the God of Israel. Recently, I ran into one of my neighbors who had received some of their literature. She told me she was honored to have met a prophet and that he gave her something special. “What did he give you?” I asked. She then showed me brochures and rabbinical books. Since I have helped her and her family many times with household repairs and electricity problems, she felt comfortable asking me about the literature. “People can write all they want to  confuse you,” I said. “But what people write is not important. What God has written—that is what matters.” I …

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The Coming Captivity

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Thirty miles north of Jerusalem, in what most people call the West Bank, lie the ruins of Samaria, ancient capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. Though the area today is closed to tourists for security reasons, the biblical city’s exposed foundations still stand, a silent witness to the accuracy of the prophecies that open the book of Micah. Delivered before Assyria’s three-year siege of Samaria (725–722 BC), Micah’s first prophecy was to the northern kingdom, which Assyria finally destroyed in 722 BC. But he addressed his message to “all . . . O earth” (all people everywhere). God’s punishment of Samaria, as well as the southern kingdom of Judea, was to be a lesson for everyone; and all humanity is called to attest to the fact that the Lord’s judgment is just. “Hear, all you peoples! Listen, O earth, and all that is in it!” (Mic. 1:2). The Lord is pictured as “coming out of His place” and walking on the mountaintops (vv. 3–4), a visual that speaks of His majesty, power, and overwhelming presence. Since most cities were built atop tall hills and accessible mountains, it also speaks of His destruction of those cities. Samaria’s walls were massive …

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The Peter Principle

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Asignificant parade of years has passed since my grammar school days in a small Michigan community. The crucial national election looming before us in the United States has prompted me to look back at the time when electing class officers ignited excitement throughout the student body. The voting protocol varied: cardboard ballot boxes for the upper classes, an eyes-closed show of hands for the younger. The procedure was simple. A bit of campaign rhetoric, followed by heads down and hands up for your favorite candidate— which was usually dictated by friendship or popularity.What do you do when the Bible says one thing and the government says another? Follow the principle the apostle Peter gave us. Civility was a high priority. No smear tactics. As a matter of fact, it was customary for candidates to show respect by voting for their opponents. After the outcome, congratulations went to the winner from those who failed to win the day. Today it all may seem like a quaint exercise in make-believe to create a brief respite from the heavy doses of reading, writing, and arithmetic. But grammar school electioneering was actually an initiation into a lifelong privilege known only in free societies where …

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Waiting For Deliverance

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It’s election year in America, and again many are hoping for new leadership to restore the glory of our country. We think if only we get the right leaders into positions of influence, then perhaps we can adjust the direction of our ship. Micah’s prophetic message to Judah more than 27 centuries ago warns us otherwise. A contemporary of Isaiah, Micah was concerned about both of the Jewish kingdoms but focused mainly on the southern kingdom of Judah. He saw the total and obvious abandonment of Yahweh’s Law and worship in the north, yet he spoke to the less obvious—but equally sinful—abandonment in the south. Micah’s first sermon (chaps. 1—2) proclaims that the judgment of the ungodly (Israel) affects the godly (Judah). Like an infectious virus, the sin of the northern kingdom spread to the southern kingdom. Idolatry, immorality, and injustice had pervaded Judah. Micah’s second sermon (chaps. 3—5) proclaims that judgment is coming. Though God has promised ultimately to deliver and exalt Israel through its Messiah, this promise does not prevent intermediate punishment. Micah warned the Judeans their corrupt leaders would bring devastating judgment. Yet He also reminded them of God’s promise to bring a perfect leader—the Messiah—to shepherd …

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O Little Town of Bethlehem

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The prophet Micah wrote during extremely difficult days in the history of the Jewish nation. Crime was rampant, greed was everywhere, Judah’s leaders were cruel, and righteousness was nowhere to be found. So God was preparing judgment. Yet despite everything, He inspired Micah to encourage the nation: Someone special was coming, and He will change the world. Micah 5 begins with a prediction of Jerusalem being besieged by invaders from Babylon1 but quickly moves into one of the most important, well-known Messianic prophecies in Scripture, giving hope and assurance of better things: But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. And He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; and they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth; and this One shall be peace (Mic. 5:2, 4–5). The Jewish people were being oppressed, robbed, and defrauded by their leaders. But someday God will give them a righteous …

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Hear! O Israel

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THE BOOK OF MICAH is one of the 12 Minor Prophets in the Bible—minor not because of content but because of size. The Minor Prophets cover similar themes as the other Prophets, but they also emphasize social justice and true worship. The books are shorter than the Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings); the Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel); and the works of Moses, who was also a prophet (see Deuteronomy 34:10 and Luke 24:27). Moses’ books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) are labeled Torah (Law). Micah is also one of the nine pre-exilic Minor Prophets, meaning it was written before the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 586 BC and the Babylonian Captivity. The remaining three are post-exilic, written after some of the Jewish people returned from Babylon. The prophet Micah came from Moresheth (Possession) in the rolling foothills of the Promised Land, about 23 miles southwest of Jerusalem, near ancient Philistia. The area was also called Moresheth-Gath (Possession of Gath), not to be confused with Mareshah, a few miles away. Moresheth is also 17.5 miles west of Tekoa, the hometown of the prophet Amos, whose ministry 50 years earlier …