James. Thru the Bible #53 J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 120 pages. [Source: Bought] First sentence: The Epistle of James is the first in a group of epistles customarily called General Epistles, which includes James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, and Jude. ...
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96. James and more...


96. James


James. Thru the Bible #53 J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 120 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Epistle of James is the first in a group of epistles customarily called General Epistles, which includes James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, and Jude. They are designated as general or “catholic” epistles in the sense that they are universal, not being addressed to any particular individual or church, but to the church as a whole.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably twenty or so of his commentaries. Most recently Hebrews.

I really am LOVING McGee. This has been the best idea--to correspond my Bible reading with commentary reading.

James is a little book with a BIG, BIG, BIG bite. McGee's bite is mighty as he shares his insights on James.

Quotes:
  • The question is often asked whether the Christian is to experience joy in depth in all the trials and tensions of life. Very frankly, the answer is no—that is not what James is saying here. It leads to unreality to say that you are reconciled to the will of God when troubles come to you when you really are not reconciled. People piously say they have accepted God’s will yet go around with a long face and weep half the time. My friend, you are not reconciled to the will of God until you can rejoice.
  • Trials are meaningless, suffering is senseless, and testing is irrational unless there is some good purpose for them. God says there is a reason for them, and it is a good reason. “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” (Rom. 8:28).
  • I must hasten to add that this does not necessarily mean that we will understand what purpose God has in it. This is the test of faith. We walk by faith and not by sight. Someone in the Middle Ages said, “God nothing does, nor suffers to be done, but what we would ourselves, if we could see through all events of things as well as He.”
  • It is patience which will make you a full-grown Christian, but how does God produce patience in you? The very interesting thing is that patience is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. You will never become patient by trying to be patient, but neither will the Holy Spirit place it on a silver platter and offer it to you as a gift. Patience comes through suffering and testing.
  • “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” You will never be a “perfect”—that is, a complete, fully mature—Christian without patience. Some Christians therefore have never really grown up but have remained babes.
  • I made the statement as a pastor one Sunday morning that there were more babes in the church service than there were in the nursery downstairs. I tell you, I didn’t get too many laughs from that comment. The difference, however, is that the babies in the nursery were beautiful, but the ones sitting in the church service were not very pretty.
  • God must send us trouble so that we learn patience, which will also produce hope and love in the lives of men and women.
  • When I teach the Book of Proverbs I liken it to a young man who is considering the catalogs he has received from different universities—among which is the University of Wisdom. Here in the Epistle of James we find a different school—the School of Hard Knocks. That is the school most of us are in today.
  • William Penn, the man from whom the state of Pennsylvania got its name, made this statement: “No pain, no balm. No thorn, no throne. No gall, no glory. No cross, no crown.”
  • Someone else has expressed it like this: “If I must carry a burden, Christ will carry me. Sometimes we must be laid low before we look high. In ourselves we are weak, even where we are strong. In Christ we are strong, even where we are weak. It’s not how long you’ll live, but how you are going to live.”
  • One year a flood washed out the wooden bridge on which the Santa Fe railroad crossed the river. They replaced it with a steel bridge, and when they completed it, they brought in two locomotives, stopped them on top of the bridge, and tied down both of the whistles. All of us who lived in that little town knew for sure that something was happening. We ran down to see what it was—all twenty-three of us! When we got there, one of the braver citizens asked the engineer, “What are you doing?” The engineer replied, “Well, we built this bridge, and we are testing it.” The man asked, “Why? Do you think it’s going to fall down?” That engineer drew himself up to his full height and said, “Of course it will not fall down! We are proving it won’t fall down.” For the same reason, Jesus was tested to prove that you and I have a Savior who could not sin. God cannot be tempted with sin, and God will not tempt you with sin.
  • Is temptation sin? Of course it’s not sin; the answer is definitely no. It is when the conception takes place—when the thought in the heart is carried out in action—that temptation becomes sin.
  • Martin Luther expressed it in this novel way: “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.” Sin is the consummation of the act inwardly and outwardly.
  • Now we rationalize sin today. We rationalize our bad tempers. We rationalize our gossip. We rationalize a lot of polite sins, and we even rationalize gross immorality; but the Bible calls them sins.
  • God is not on a yo-yo like a lot of Christians are today—up today and down tomorrow, and round and round they go.
  • “Let every man be swift to hear.” Swift to hear what? To hear the Word of God, of course. After you have been begotten by the Word of God, you are not through with it. You are going to grow by the Word of God. You have something that is living, powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword (see Heb. 4:12). Oh, how we need to be alert and quick to hear the Word of God.
  • “Slow to speak.” God gave us two ears and one mouth—there must be a very definite reason for that. There is a real danger of our talking too much.
  • Christians need to be very careful not to reveal their ignorance of the Word of God. Listen to Him. Yes, the Bible says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,” but we need to be very careful what we say.
  • My friend, God isn’t asking anything of you until you become His child. But to those of us who have become children of God, He says, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
  • The Bible is not a popular book today. It is the best seller but the worst read.
  • Many years ago in eastern Tennessee the story went around about a mountaineer’s contact with some tourists who had camped in the hills around his area. Because the mountain folk didn’t see many tourists in those days, when the tourists left, this particular mountaineer went to look around the area where they had camped. He found several things they had left behind, including a mirror. He had never seen a mirror before. He looked into it longingly and said, “I never knew my pappy had his picture took!” He was very sentimental about it, of course, and took it home. He slipped into the house, climbed up into the loft and hid the mirror. His wife saw him do that but didn’t say anything. After he went out of the house, she went up to see what he had hidden. She found the mirror, and when she looked into it, she said, “So that’s the old hag he’s been running around with!” May I say to you, it is so easy to read the Word of God and to think it is a picture of someone else. It is a picture of you, and it is a picture of me.
  • The most difficult people to reach are those who are the most poverty-stricken and those who are the richest; it seems to be almost impossible to reach either class with the Word of God.
  • The problem today is not between political parties, and it is not even between the races. The problem in the world is the imbalance of wealth.
  • How we need to recognize today that it is sinful to think that we are better than someone else and to look down upon others. It does not matter who the man is, before God that man is on the same plane as you are.
  • we need to come to the Cross and accept Christ as our Savior.
  • Another story is told that took place in London when a great preacher, a very fine young man, by the name of Caesar Milan was invited one evening to a very large and prominent home where a choice musical was to be presented. On the program was a young lady who thrilled the audience with her singing and playing. When she finished, this young preacher threaded his way through the crowd which was gathered around her. When he finally came to her and had her attention, he said, “Young lady, when you were singing, I sat there and thought how tremendously the cause of Christ would be benefited if you would dedicate yourself and your talents to the Lord. But,” he added, “you are just as much a sinner as the worst drunkard in the street, or any harlot on Scarlet Street. But I am glad to tell you that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, will cleanse you from all sin if you will come to Him.” In a very haughty manner, she turned her head aside and said to him, “You are very insulting, sir.” And she started to walk away. He said, “Lady, I did not mean any offense, but I pray that the Spirit of God will convict you.” Well, they all went home, and that night this young woman could not sleep. At two o’clock in the morning she knelt at the side of her bed and took Christ as her Savior. And then she, Charlotte Elliott, sat down and, while sitting there, wrote the words of a favorite hymn “Just As I Am”: Just as I am, without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! Just as I am, and waiting not To rid my soul of one dark blot, To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come! And then the final stanza: Just as I am—Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come!
  • How then are we going to reconcile Paul and James? As someone has said, “Paul and James do not stand face to face, fighting against each other, but they stand back to back, fighting opposite foes.”
  • The story is told that the Devil had a meeting with his demons to decide how to persuade men that God was nonexistent. Since they themselves believed in His existence, they wondered just how to do it. One demon suggested that they tell people Jesus Christ never really existed and that men should not believe such fiction. Another demon suggested that they persuade men that death ends all and there is no need to worry about life after death. Finally, the most intelligent demon suggested that they tell everyone that there is a God, that there is Jesus Christ, and that believing in Him saves, but all you have to do is profess faith in Christ and then go on living in sin as you used to. They decided to use this tactic, and it is the tactic the Devil uses even today.
  • The tongue is the most dangerous weapon in the world. It is more deadly than the atom bomb, but no careful inspection is made of it. Some wag made the statement that it was a miracle in Balaam’s day for an ass to speak, but today it is a miracle when he keeps quiet. Someone else pointed out that it takes a baby two years to learn to talk and fifty years to learn to keep his mouth shut.
  • I believe fervently that the most dangerous thing in the world is the tongue. I think the church is more harmed by the termites within than by the woodpeckers on the outside.
  • Frankly, it is frightening to realize that God will judge us for the way in which we teach His Word, and we will be under His condemnation if our teaching is wrong. My friend, the more opportunity you have to give out the Word of God, the greater is your responsibility to God Himself.
  • My friend, I am of the opinion that if you had a tape-recorded message of everything you have said this past month, you would not want the world to hear it.
  • A brother of Henry Ward Beecher, a pastor in upper New York state, had a clock in his church that never would keep accurate time. So this man put a sign under that clock which read: “Don’t blame the hands. The trouble lies deeper.” This is what we need to recognize in ourselves. What we call worldliness is just the hands of the clock; the real trouble lies deeper.
  • Someone once asked Thackeray, “Why don’t you have some wonderful heroes in your novels? You always present little people.” Thackeray replied, “I hold a mirror up to nature, and I do not find heroes among mankind. They are filled with littleness and pettiness and strife and sin.” When you get to the end of Vanity Fair, Thackeray does a masterly thing. He says, “Come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out.” That is man. As Shakespeare said, he “struts and frets his hour upon the stage.” Man is filled with worldliness.
  • Since World War II there has been a breakdown of the wall of separation between the church and the world. The separation that many had practiced was legalistic and, I think, unscriptural. The church was like the little Dutch boy who was keeping his thumb in the dike. Then, in the aftermath of the war, along came television, lawlessness, immorality, and juvenile delinquency; first the beatniks, then the hippies, then dope and marijuana, and the philosophy of existentialism. A tidal wave swept over the dikes of separation, and even the little Dutch boy was washed away.
  • There is no simple answer to the question: What is worldliness? But I am going to let James give what I think is his very definitive answer. What is worldliness? James says that worldliness is strife and envy. We need to go back to chapter 3 to pick up his thoughts. In James 3:16 we read, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” That is worldliness. And worldliness in the church has produced all the cults, denominations, factions, divisions, and cliques which have arisen and abound in the church today. Selfish desires, James makes it very clear, lead to war. This spirit of strife is worldliness; it is not Christian, and it is not the Christian approach. These are the things which represent the old nature. A man must be regenerated by faith in Christ and be indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
  • What is the cure for worldliness? It is prayer. It is, therefore, faith in God. The apostle John put it like this, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). The answer is to trust in God absolutely, to go to Him in prayer and commit to Him that which is in your heart.
  • Sin is never to be treated lightly. When I hear a Christian make light of sin, I have a sneaking notion that, on the side, when nobody is looking, he is indulging in sin. You are not to treat sin lightly, my friend; you are to mourn over your sins. The problem today is that Christians are not mourning over their sins.
  • We are told in the Word of God that covetousness is idolatry; it is the worship of things. But selfishness is when you worship yourself. There is a lot of that going on today; in fact, it is even being taught as a Christian virtue. We are told that we are to have great respect for ourselves and great confidence in ourselves. But the Lord Jesus said, “… without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
  • If you think that by changing a political party you will somehow get a good deal for the poor, you are wrong. I don’t mean to be a pessimist, my friend, but you simply cannot look to mankind, to men who are grasping for power and money, and expect them to act righteously.
  • It would be very embarrassing if the Lord should come while you are sitting in judgment on someone else. You would suddenly find yourself in His presence with Him judging you.
  • The afflicted are to pray. The merry are to sing psalms. Some people go to church and then try to work up some enthusiasm. We ought to have the great passion and enthusiasm in our hearts even before we go to church, but we do not need to put on a false front.
  • If you say that it is God’s will for every Christian who gets sick to be healed, you must agree that the logical conclusion of that line of thinking is that the Christian will never die. He will be healed of every disease which causes death. May I say, that is ridiculous.
  • It is a cruel hoax perpetrated upon simple believers that it is God’s will for all to be healed.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    


95. Hebrews 8-13 (Thru the Bible #52)


Hebrews 8-13 (Thru the Bible #52) J. Vernon McGee. 1978. 168 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Epistle to the Hebrews is of such importance that I rank it beside the Epistle to the Romans (which is excelled by no other book).

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably twenty or so of his commentaries. Most recently Psalm 42-89. 

When I started reading Hebrews, I didn't realize that it would be split into two commentaries instead of one! So I didn't make a note of individual chapters. So there's a small chance that the quotes will go beyond chapter 7 of Hebrews--though I *think* I might be familiar enough with chapter 7 to recognize the transition.

ETA: I was NOT able to after all! I imagine that it's a blurry mess between separating what is in the two separate commentaries of Hebrews. But long story short, read BOTH commentaries yourself. 

I really am LOVING McGee. This has been the best idea--to correspond my Bible reading with commentary reading.

Quotes: 
  • Our dogmatism comes from this Book. That is the reason the writer to the Hebrews said in Hebrews 10:39, “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” There are only two ways to go. Either you are going backwards, or you are going to go forwards.
  • You can believe a whole lot of foolish things, but God doesn’t want you to do that. He wants your faith to rest upon the Word of God.
  • If you learn to trust God when the sun is shining, it is easier to trust Him on the day when there are dark and lowering clouds in the sky and you are in one of life’s storms.
  • My friend, I say this very candidly, the most important thing you can do is to witness to your own family—not by everlastingly giving them the gospel, but by living it before them and letting them see that you have a reality in your life.
  • Walking by faith will cause all of us to recognize that as children of God we are just pilgrims and strangers down here on this earth.
  • Faith looks out yonder to the future. And the child of God today is looking to the future.
  • I would say that one of the greatest dangers in the Christian life is the peril of just remaining stationary, of doing nothing.
  • When someone becomes lost in the extreme cold of the far north there is grave danger of freezing to death. The first step in that process is to fall asleep. You have to fight sleep, and you must keep moving or you will freeze to death. In a spiritual sense, the danger is the same for us as believers. We have to force ourselves to stay awake and keep moving forward in our relationship with Christ. Otherwise we will just fall asleep.
  • Christ is the way to God, and along the way the Christian as a soldier is to stand firm, as a believer is to walk, but as an athlete, he is to run the race.
  • We also hear people say, “Give your heart to Jesus.” Well, my friend, what do you think He wants with that dirty, old heart? Read the list of things He said come out of the heart (see Matt. 15:19). They are the dirtiest things that I know. He didn’t ask you to give your heart to Him. He says, “I want to give you a new heart and a new life.”
  • We need today the conviction of sin, to know that we are sinners. We have made salvation a very jolly affair. An evangelistic crusade today is just too ducky; it’s so sweet, and it’s so lovely. I don’t see people come weeping under conviction of sin.
  • Don’t think you can play fast and loose with God and get by with it.
  • “Brotherly love” should be translated as brother love. The writer of this epistle is writing primarily to Hebrews, but what he has to say has application to us. Both Jew and Gentile have been brought into one body, the body of believers. The cement, the Elmer’s glue, that holds us together is brother love—not brotherly love, but brother love. We are not to love like brothers, but we are to love because we are brothers.
  • When He has given us new hearts and washed us white as snow, we are brothers, we are in the family of God, and we are to love one another.
  • “Jesus Christ.” There is no accident in the Word of God; that is, no word is ever used carelessly. Jesus is the name which links Him with mankind. It identifies Him as the most wonderful person in this world. Christ is a title which speaks of His messianic mission to this earth—He is God manifest in the flesh. “Jesus Christ”—how marvelously these two are meshed together here. He is Jesus Christ, and He is the same.
  • Jesus Christ is the same, but we need to understand how He is the same. He is the same in His character, in His person, and in His attributes, but He is not the same in place or in performance.
  • Right now He is up yonder, but some day He will come as the King to the earth to establish His kingdom. He has not yet called His church out of the world, but some day He will do that. You see, Jesus is not the same in place and performance, but He is the same in His attributes.
  • Today, your sorrow is His sorrow, and your joy is His joy.
  • In everything but our sins, and our evil natures, He is one with us. He grew in stature and in grace. He labored, and wept, and prayed, and loved. He was tempted in all points as we are—sin apart.
  • Today my one ambition is to know Him and to get out His Word—I cannot think of anything better to do.
  • Nothing in the world is going to build you up but the Word of God. The Word of God will build you up if it brings you to the person of Christ, and only the Holy Spirit can take the things of Christ and make them real unto you.
  • For years while I was in the ministry I heard it said: “Come to the banquet. We are going to have some marvelous Christian fellowship.” No, you’re not, my friend. You are just going there for a good time and to fill your little tummy. The only place you can have real Christian fellowship (koinōnia) is around the Word of God. It is the Word of God which brings you to the person of Christ and enables you to see Him in all His glory.
  • When Christ died it was for the fact that you and I are sinners. Not only do we commit sin, we are sinners by nature, and He took our sins on Himself that He might give us a new nature.
  • Many people today are wrapped up in “churchianity,” thinking that because they are members of a church they are saved. They need to get away from ritual and religion and come to Christ.



© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    


94. Hebrews 1-7


Hebrews 1-7 (Thru the Bible #51) J. Vernon McGee. 1978/1996. 152 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Epistle to the Hebrews is of such importance that I rank it beside the Epistle to the Romans (which is excelled by no other book).

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably twenty or so of his commentaries. Most recently Psalm 42-89. 

When I started reading Hebrews, I didn't realize that it would be split into two commentaries instead of one! So I didn't make a note of individual chapters. So there's a small chance that the quotes will go beyond chapter 7 of Hebrews--though I *think* I might be familiar enough with chapter 7 to recognize the transition.

I really am LOVING McGee. This has been the best idea--to correspond my Bible reading with commentary reading.

Quotes: 
  • To read it is to breathe the atmosphere of heaven itself. To study it is to partake of strong spiritual meat. To abide in its teachings is to be led from immaturity to maturity in the knowledge of Christian truth and of Christ Himself. It is to “go on unto perfection.”
  • Although I cannot be dogmatic about the authorship of Hebrews, I can say very dogmatically that we are dealing with the Word of God—that which the Spirit of God has given to us.
  • My friend, if the created universe is not saying something to you about a Creator, there is something radically wrong with your thinking.
  • We say that the Lord Jesus Christ is the revelation of God because He is God. He is not just the printed material; He is the steel engraving of God because He is the exact copy, the image of God.
  • The Lord Jesus Christ provided the cleansing for our sins. This, by the way, is the only purgatory mentioned in the Bible. He went through it for you and me; there is no purgatory for anyone who trusts Christ because He purged our sins. He has paid the penalty for them. The one who comes to Christ receives a full redemption and complete forgiveness of sins.
  • Prayer is not to persuade God to do something that He didn’t intend to do; prayer is to get you and me in line with the program of God.
  • And Christ is at the right hand of the Father, ever living to make intercession for us. We can obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
  • I don’t think we have guardian angels. Some people say, “Oh, but we need to have a guardian angel.” Let me ask you a question: “Are you a child of God?” If you are, you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, who is the third Person of the Godhead. What could a guardian angel do for you that He couldn’t do for you?
  • My friend, we have to do with a living Savior! Let’s just push the angels aside because we don’t have to go to God through angels.
  • The Psalms have more to say about Christ than they have to say about any other person. It is a H-I-M book—it was the hymn book of the temple, but it is all about Him; it is praise to Him. You have a more complete picture of Christ in the Psalms than you have in the Gospels.
  • Oh, that we might be conscious of the fact that there is a living Christ at God’s right hand at this very moment! He is more real than I am, because when you read these words, there is no telling where I will be.
  • I have a representative in heaven; I have someone there who represents me. I don’t know about you, but I get the feeling that in my state capital and in my national capital those who are elected to represent me are not representing me at all. They are all out for themselves and their own little pet programs, and it doesn’t make much difference to them what happens to the public. The only time they are interested in me is when I vote, and then I become the darling of the politicians. Then you and I are the intelligent public who cannot go wrong, provided we vote for them!
  • There are many ways that seem right to men. In California you can hear about as many ways as you want to hear. If you are looking for a religion, you will find one in California. If you don’t find one that you like, you can start one, and I will guarantee that you will find some followers who will go along with you. There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end are the ways of death. How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation? What do you do to be lost? Nothing. You can be lost by neglect.
  • If you could convince me that God has decided to remain aloof from man, and all He did for this lost world was to pitch the Bible down here, and as He sits in heaven, He looks down on man and says, “It’s too bad you are in such a mess; here is a Book, and I hope you can work your way out,” then I am prepared to turn my back upon Him. But that is not what God did. He came down to earth and took upon Himself our humanity. Because He suffered and died upon the cross, I am prepared to trust in Him. I am prepared to love Him because of what He has done for me and all lost mankind. 
  • Anyone today who attempts to eliminate the Lord Jesus from the prophets, therefore, is contradicting the interpretation that the Holy Spirit has given in the New Testament.
  • The Lord Jesus came to earth and took on a human body. He is able to sympathize with you and me. I don’t care who you are or where you are, He knows you and He understands you—not just because He is God, but because He became a man. He knows exactly what you and I are going through today.
  • Christ made a mercy seat for you and me to come to. And, my friend, what we need is mercy. God has a great deal of it available to us because Jesus made a mercy seat, and you can go there and get all you need. I don’t know about you, but I need a whole lot of it, and after I have used up a great deal of it, there is still plenty of it for you today.
  • Someone sent me John Wycliffe’s Golden Rule of Interpretation. John Wycliffe lived from 1324 to 1380, and although that was a long time ago, I think his Golden Rule is still gold; it is not tarnished at all. Listen to his Golden Rule: It shall greatly help thee to understand Scripture if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, and to what intent, under what circumstances, considering what goeth before and what followeth.
  • The Sermon on the Mount, apart from the redemption we have in Christ, has made more hypocrites in the church than anything else. Folk today teach the ethic and say we are to keep the commandments of the Sermon on the Mount! My friend, only through the redemption in Christ can we even approach that standard.
  • How many Christians today, how many church members really study the Word of God? The Book of Hebrews is going to tell us that the Word of God is quick and powerful.
  • There are certain things that you and I would do well to fear—“Let us therefore fear.” I wish there were more concern among believers today about ignorance of the Word of God. There are very few believers who are afraid of their ignorance of the Scriptures.
  • You and I live in a mean, wicked world. This world is not a friend of grace; it is not the friend of believers. Many of us have not discovered that yet.
  • “The word of God.” There are some expositors who consider the “word” here not to be the written Word, but the living Word who is the Lord Jesus Christ. However, in Scripture the written Word is called the living Word. I believe the reference here is primarily to the written Word of God. As the written Word reveals Christ—it is a frame that reveals the living Christ—the reference here could be to both the written and living Word. Quick is “living.” The Word of God is living. “Powerful”—the Greek word is energes, meaning “energizing.” The Word of God is living, and it energizes. “Sharper than any two-edged sword.” I had a professor in seminary who said to a group of us young preachers: “Remember when you preach the Word of God that it is quick and sharp, but it is a two-edged sword. It will cut toward the congregation, but the other side is going to cut toward you. Therefore, don’t preach anything that you are not preaching to yourself.” I have found many times in my ministry that I am preaching to myself. The sermon might not have been for anybody else, but it was for me.
  • The greatest discipline a preacher can have is to go through the Bible book by book with his congregation. That is a discipline which even if it does not help the congregation, it will surely help the preacher.
  • The Word of God was written over a period of fifteen hundred years, by about forty-five different authors, some of whom had never heard of the others. Yet they are all in agreement. They all present the same great story. They all present a glorious salvation. May I say to you, no man is in a position to sit in judgment on such a remarkable book.
  • Nor can any man sit in judgment on the Bible, my friend. You really don’t know enough to sit in judgment on this Book. This Book surely sits in judgment on us. It is sin that keeps men from Christ today. It is not intellectual problems of the head, but it is problems in the heart which keep men from God.
  • The Word of God gets down and deals with the nitty-gritty of our hearts. It gets down and meets us right where the rubber meets the road, right down where you and I live and move and have our being.
  • “Eternal salvation”—the only kind of salvation He offers is eternal. If you can lose it tomorrow, then, my friend, it is not eternal. It is some other kind of salvation. But He offers only eternal salvation.
  • It is not a question of your ability to hold on to Him; it is His ability to hold on to you. He says here with the infinite wisdom and full authority of the Godhead that He can hold us and that they who trust Him shall never perish. The question is: Is your hope fixed in God who is all-powerful, or in a god who may suffer defeat?
  • It is a serious thing to have accepted Christ as Savior and then to live in sin, to nullify what you do by being a spiritual baby, never growing up, doing nothing in the world but building a big pile of wood, hay, and stubble. Oh, how careful we should be about our Christian lives. And we cannot live the Christian life in our own strength. We need to recognize that Christ is the vine. If we have any life, it has come from Him, and if there is any fruit in our lives, it comes from Him.
  • “He ever liveth.” It says, first of all, that Christ is not dead, but He is living. Right at this very moment He is alive. We emphasize the death and resurrection of Christ, but we ought to go beyond that. We have to do with a living Christ. We know Him no longer after the flesh. We know Him today as our Great High Priest at God’s right hand. He died down here to save us, but He lives up there to keep us saved. “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.” He is able to keep on saying you. “To the uttermost” means all the way through. He is able to save us completely and perfectly.
  • He is also “separate from sinners.” He is like us, yet unlike us. He could mix and mingle with sinners, and they didn’t feel uncomfortable in His presence, but He was not one of them. His enemies accused Him of associating with publicans and sinners. He sure did, yet He wasn’t one of them. He was separate from sinners.
  • Let’s sit at Jesus’ feet. Let Him be a reality in our lives. When you left the house this morning, did you take Him with you? Were you conscious of His presence? He is in heaven serving you, friend! Christ is your intercessor.
  • Isn’t Jesus real to you today? Quit being a little baby that has to be burped all the time. Grow up! Come into the presence of the living Savior.
  • Oh, may God take the veil from our eyes, and may He make Jesus Christ—in all of His power, and in all of His salvation, and in all of His love, and in all of His care for you—a true reality!
  • If the death of Christ over nineteen hundred years ago was not adequate, then nothing is adequate. God is not going to do something else to redeem us.




© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    


93. Psalms 42-89 (Thru the Bible #18)

Psalms 42-89 (Thru the Bible #18) J. Vernon McGee. 1997 (really earlier). 192 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Psalms 42–72 comprise the Exodus section. As in the Book of Exodus, we will see God’s people in a strange land, a suffering people away from the Land of Promise. The heel of a dictator is on them.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably twenty or so of his commentaries. Most recently First and Second Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

McGee loves/loved the book of Psalms. He loved it while he was on earth and I am sure he is still loving it up in heaven. The book of Psalms is traditionally arranged in five books. McGee associates each section or book of Psalm with a book of the law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This is a completely novel concept to me. But I'm open to the insights he gives in his commentary.

In this book, he will focus on the "Exodus" (Psalms 42-72) and "Leviticus" (Psalms 73-89) sections of the Book of Psalms. 

Quotes: 

  • My friend, man is alienated from God; he needs more than the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments show us that we are sinners, and we are in rebellion against God. We have no desire or capacity for Him. We need, therefore, to be born again. We need to be brought into the family of God and to the place where we can say, not just as a verse in Scripture but from our hearts, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.”
  • I don’t know if you have ever prayed this prayer or not, but I have said, “O God, don’t let a dictator arise in the United States.” There is grave danger of that. We need to ask God to deliver us from deceitful and unjust men. I certainly don’t want him ruling over me, and we have had quite a few like that in our history. I am afraid the condition of our nation is due to the leadership and internal problems.
  • Today we are to pray for those who deceitfully use us; we are told even to love our enemies. That is a very difficult thing to do, but we can turn our enemies over to the Lord. We are not to avenge ourselves because the Lord says, “… Vengeance is mine; I will repay …” (Rom. 12:19).
  • I think we ought to be realistic, not idealistic. He will have to come in power and wrath against a world that is in rebellion against Him.
  • Notice, the Lord is riding to victory, and here are the three planks of His platform: truth, meekness, and righteousness. Do you know of any candidate today who uses these three planks in his platform? The candidates don’t sound meek to me, and I wonder about the truth of their statements, and righteousness—well, the whole motive is to get elected, not to do right.
  • How this poor nation needs a candidate who will speak truth, who exhibits a little meekness, and who goes all-out for righteousness. These are eternal principles of our Lord’s kingdom. No president, leader, dictator, or king has ever come to power on this platform in the history of this world.
  • “If you wish to astonish the whole world, tell the truth.” That is the way our Lord is coming to power—it will be startling.
  • My friend, believers should be praising God—not complaining! At Christmastime we sing the song, “Joy to the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King.” That is not a Christmas hymn at all; it refers to Christ’s second coming and should not be relegated to a seasonal section of our hymbook.
  • We are to leave the world. We are not to love the world. We have been saved out of it. We are to cling to the Lord.
  • [Ps. 46:1–3]. This is a very wonderful promise. Someone may challenge it and ask, “But how do you know it is true?” Well, it is true because the Bible says so. But it is more than theory with me. I have tried it and found it to be true.
  • Everyone has trouble, but God’s people find God sufficient in time of trouble. Psalm 46 was Martin Luther’s favorite psalm. When he wrote that great Reformation hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” he probably had this in mind. God is our refuge, and our strength, and a very present help when we are in trouble. Men down through the ages have found this to be true.
  • “Be still, and know that I am God.” With the knowledge of this blessed truth we can be calm in time of trouble. There are storms blowing outside today. We are living in a mean old world, a wicked world. Tremendous changes are taking place.
  • Sin is always complicated. It never is simple. And there are several words that David uses to describe his sin. In the Scriptures God uses many more words than this to describe sin, by the way. Sin is that which is complicated; it is goodness that is simple.
  • There are questionable areas on which the Bible is silent, I grant you, but there is also clear-cut black and clear-cut white.
  • There are people who think they are all right, but they are not sensitive to sin. They are like the man in the far North who, as he got colder, wanted to rest. He felt very comfortable sitting down. But those with him knew what was happening to him—he was freezing to death. They wouldn’t let him sit down but kept him moving so he would not die. Today there are many sitting in our churches so cold and so comfortable that they do not realize that in God’s sight they are sinners.
  • Every time you find forgiveness in the New Testament, the blood of Christ is close by. God never forgives sin apart from the death of Christ. Never. Never. God is not forgiving sin because He is big-hearted. He forgives because His Son paid the penalty. And now with open arms He can say to you, “I can extend mercy to you because My Son died for you.” Oh, David knew the way into the heart of God. David says, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” It is the application of the death of Christ to the life.
  • David said. “Create in me a new heart,” and the word create means “out of nothing.” In other words, there was nothing in David’s heart that God could use. He was not asking for renovation or reformation. He was asking for something new. Sometimes we hear the invitation, “Give God your heart.” May I ask you, “What do you think God wants with that old dirty, filthy heart of yours?” He doesn’t want it. God is not asking anybody to give Him his heart. He wants to give you a new one. That’s what He wants to do.
  • We think we are all right. My friend, God cannot clear the guilty, and He says you and I are guilty before Him. The only way he could save you and me is to give His Son to die. For the worst sinner in the world that is all that is needed. And this is the way you and I are saved also.
  • When was the last time you wept over your sins? When was the last time you cried out in the night because of your failures? Thank God, there is forgiveness with Him. But there needs to be confession on our part.
  • “My tears have been put into thy bottle.” A note in The New Scofield Bible concerning this subject says, “Sometimes, in olden days in the East, mourners would catch their tears in bottles (water skins) and place them at the tombs of their loved ones”—to show how much they had grieved. Let me add to that something John Bunyan, the tinker of Bedford, said, “God preserves our tears in a bottle, so that He can wipe them away.” When I read that, I wished I had cried more. We need to weep more. Matthew Henry said, “The tears of God’s persecuted people are bottled up, and sealed among God’s treasures.”
  • There are so few people who are praising His Word that I am going to try to make up for them.
  • I want God to be merciful to me. I don’t want Him to be just with me and righteous. If He is, I am going to get a whipping. I want Him to be merciful and gracious to me. He is that kind of a God—rich in mercy. He has enough for me—and I am going to require a lot of it—but there will be enough for you also.
  • All many of us do is turn in to the Lord a grocery list of the things we want. We ask Him to take them down off the shelf and give them to us so we won’t have to go through the checkout stand and pay for them. I think that attitude has killed prayer today. I believe in the organization, the mechanics, and the arrangement of prayer, but I also believe prayer should come from the heart. You seldom hear that deep heart cry in prayer any more, but you will find it in David’s prayer.
  • What a comforting picture of God! He is a shelter from storms. He is a strong tower to protect us from our enemies.
  • I once had a little card sent to me bearing a message that seemed rather important, so I kept it. Here it is: “True prayer is the Holy Spirit speaking in the believer, through the Son, to the Father.” That is prayer; it is real prayer. “My expectation is from him.”
  • My friend, meditating upon God’s goodness is a lot better than counting sheep!
  • “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” That is the purpose of man on earth. Why do you and I exist? Are we here only “to eat the meat and fish and leave behind an empty dish”? Is that all man is supposed to do? No, man is to glorify God. We glorify Him when we get His Word out. We glorify Him when we preach the gospel. We glorify Him when people are saved. But the purpose is to glorify God.
  • Next to Psalm 22 it is the most quoted psalm in the New Testament. Psalm 22 deals with the death of Christ; Psalm 69 deals with the life of Christ. Psalm 22 is number one on the Hit Parade of the New Testament as far as quotes go, and Psalm 69 is second on the Hit Parade. It is quoted in the Gospel of John, in Romans, in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts. 
  • Friend, there are just two kinds of people in the world today. There are lost people and saved people—redeemed sinners and unredeemed sinners. You can distinguish quite easily which group you are in.
  • Because my memory is not very good, and God knew it wouldn’t be. I can imagine that God said, “By the time McGee gets to this point in the Book of Psalms he will have forgotten all about Psalm 40, so I’ll repeat it.”
  • The Book of Leviticus emphasizes two things: that God is holy and that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins—the key words are holiness and sacrifice. These two words will also figure largely in this Leviticus section of the Book of Psalms.
  • You cannot come to Christ and accept Him as your Savior and continue to live as you did before. If you do, I cannot believe that you were saved in the first place. That is the explanation, and I feel that we need to hold to that rather tenaciously in our day.
  • We are in the presence of God on the basis that He has cleaned us up. When we receive Christ, we have forgiveness of sins; we are washed—it is a washing of water by the Word of God.
  • We are not only washed by the blood of Christ, but we are washed by the Word of God. The Word of God sanctifies us, and then we want to walk well-pleasing to Him.
  • Although I don’t have the answer, I know the One who does, and He has told me to walk with Him by faith. He tests me by putting me in the dark. Then I’ll reach out my hand and take His. In His Word He tells me that I can trust Him. Someday He will explain the whys of life to me.
  • The way in which the Devil works is subtle. His attack today is not a frontal one. He attacks the men who stand for the Word.
  • There is not much difference between the Israel side and the Arab side as far as their relationship to God goes, and there is not much difference between that land and the United States. In fact, I think the United States is in the worst spiritual condition, yet we are telling the world how things ought to be done. Because of our own failure I believe our nation should be in sackcloth and ashes.
  • My friend, when you start judging someone, you are acting for God, and you are a god when you have taken that position of judging.
  • I am fearful of our nation with so many godless people seeking office. They know nothing of the background of this country which was founded upon the Word of God; they are not in spiritual tune with the founding of this nation.
  • The big problem in our contemporary society is not so much with the criminal as it is with the judges and the breakdown of law and order. It is strange that the breakdown of law and order has begun with the law profession and not really with the criminal element.
  • Someone has asked the question, “What is worse than going to hell?” The answer given by a great preacher in the South years ago was this: “To go to hell and recognize the voice of your son and ask, ‘Son, what are you doing here?’ and hear him answer, ‘Dad, I followed you!’ ”
  • “Mercy and truth” haven’t met each other in our day. “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other”—they aren’t even on speaking terms today. One of the reasons we cannot have peace in this world is because we do not have righteousness in the world. Things have to be right, my friend, before there can be peace in the world.
  • We need to be taught God’s way and His truth. Our hearts need to be united to fear His name.
  • How much of our lives is not spent in positive evil, but frittered away and lost in countless petty diversions which spoil effectually the positiveness of our testimony for God! How few can sav with the Apostle [Paul], ‘This one thing I do.’ We are on the road—not at least, intentionally off it—but we stop to chase butterflies among the flowers, and make no serious progress.
  • The psalmist’s prayer that preceded it is, “Teach me thy way, O LORD,” which is, I think, the solution for a wandering, divided heart. The first thing that the apostle Paul said after he was converted was, “ … Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? …” (Acts 9:6). The psalmist had the answer, “Teach me thy way, O LORD.” And the Lord has promised to teach His children, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye” (Ps. 32:8).




© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    

92. Welcome to the Journey


Welcome to the Journey. A Baptism gift. Bob Hartman. Illustrated by Raffaella Ligi. 2021. [March] Lion Hudson LTD. 40 pages. [guess on my part, but there are at least 36; since most picture books are either 32 or 40, I went with 40] [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Welcome to the journey. It began long before any of us were born. God made the universe, and everything in it: stars and starfish, planets and polar bears, moons and monkeys. 

Bob Hartman's new picture book celebrates baptism, welcoming children to the Christian faith and the church family. It presents a mini-gospel lesson or two, chiefly about creation, the fall of man, and the coming of a Savior, Jesus Christ. The book concludes by reminding little ones that they are now part of a community--the church. "Welcome to God’s church–that’s what we call the great, big, worldwide family of people who follow Jesus. We are here to help you on your journey, to encourage you, to teach you, to love you, and to support you. For we are all on this journey together. A journey that you joined today, at this time and in this place. But a journey that began before time and will carry on for ever! "

I liked this one. I did. For a short, sweet little book, it covers the basics. It isn't comprehensive enough to cover every little thing you'd want your child to know about the faith. But it's beautifully illustrated. Ideally, the book covers things you'd definitely definitely want your child to know before being baptized and not just on the day of.

I'm not sure if the book is targeting those that believe in infant baptism or believers baptism. Or perhaps both?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    

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