Salvation by Grace Alone, Simple Family-Integrated Worship

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Articles, devotionals, study guides, and other writings from Pastor David Wise and other select writers.

Parable of the Sower

One of the most important parables that Jesus delivered for us in his ministry is the Parable of the Sower (or the Parable of the Soils). Jesus delivered this parable in 3 of the 4 gospel accounts in Matt. 13:1-20, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15. Here we find the teaching of Jesus of multiple responses to the word by children of God. Some in the way side are deceived by Satan before they understand the word. Some in the stony ground shoot up very quickly, but don’t have strong roots or good moisture and fade away in tribulation. Some in the thorny ground bring forth fruit but then get distracted and consumed with the world and are choked out by thorns. Then, we find varying degrees of fruit in the good ground, some bringing forth 30, 60, or 100-fold. God is glorified when we “bear much fruit” (John 15:8). There are many obstacles that can diminish our abundant fruitfulness in the kingdom: Satan, tribulations, thorns, riches, lust, cares, and pleasures. Therefore, we must be vigilant to beat back these obstacles to bring forth abundant fruit to glorify Jesus Christ. We will find that the word of God is the remedy for all these obstacles restricting our fruit-bearing. We need to understand and keep the word of God to beat back Satan, discouragement, and thorns in our life to bring forth abundant fruit to glorify our Lord.

An Expected End

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jer. 29:11)

This verse in Jeremiah 29:11 is used very often in Christianity today to teach that God has “a future and a hope” for all people in this world to encourage seeking the Lord’s will. Oftentimes, it is even used to promote guaranteed prosperity in this world, that we will only have peace in our lives if we are truly following God. Instead, the proper interpretation of this verse, and our life experiences as well, shows that this world is the opposite of peaceful and our path in life will rarely be easy. What is our response to the tribulation and challenges in this life? We faithfully endure suffering in bondage now looking forward in hope to our final “expected end” in heaven with our God. Jesus promised us tribulation in this world (John 16:33). The Old Testament Israelites in Babylon knew well the tribulation and suffering that bondage inflicts upon God’s people. However, in the midst of bondage, pain, and suffering, we are given hope. We are given hope of a better day; hope that after the suffering of this world, there will be a restoration of perfect peace in the promised land with our God. Let us serve God faithfully in bondage today, looking expectantly towards the everlasting peace we will receive in our eternal expected end in heaven.

Following Your Heart

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23)

The mantra of the world tells you to “follow your heart”. That can be very dangerous advice for the Christian to follow their heart if they are not aligned with God’s word. The heart of the natural man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). Therefore, in the church, we are prone to make the bold, universal statement “DO NOT follow your heart”. While we certainly need to caution against “blindly” following your heart, I would say that is not entirely scripturally correct. We see that for the born-again child of God, the Lord has given you a new heart. This new heart from God is not deceitful and wicked but is pure and made in the image of God within us. We must certainly discern the thoughts and burdens of our hearts in prayer and by consulting God’s word to ensure that God is guiding our hearts and that Satan is not deceiving our hearts. God does guide his children by the burdens of our heart. Therefore, we don’t need to blindly follow our hearts, but instead, we need to discern our hearts and God’s will through prayer, faithful counsel, studying God’s word, and godly wisdom.  

Mosaic Law Summary Reference Guide

Reading through the four primary books of the law – Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – can be an arduous task sometimes. It can be difficult to know what the whole law says on each individual subject since there are verses on each scattered throughout all four books. I attempted to compile a verse reference guide for the law by each topic. Hope this can be beneficial to you in the study of God’s word.

Click here to view and download a PDF copy of the Mosaic Law Summary Reference Guide

The Value of God’s Word

“7) The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. 8) The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9) The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 10) More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” (Ps. 19:7-10)

In Psalm 19, after a discussion of the gospel of creation that is uttered in every language (v.1-6), the psalmist David then turns his attention to the gospel we have given unto us in the written word of God (v.7-14). We see 6 concise statements from v.7-9, describing the word of God in different ways, the purity of God’s word, and the effects of God’s word. As we consider the amazing value of God’s word in our lives, we must ask ourselves, how much do we really value and love God’s word? Scripture repeatedly declares that we should value God’s word above gold, yea above much fine gold. Do we really value God’s word above material wealth in this world? I’m afraid for many of us (myself included most of the time) the answer is a definitive “No!” We will consider the amazing value of God’s word in our lives and hopefully will treasure God’s word as our most valuable possession in our lives. May we crave the sweetness of God’s word above honey or the honeycomb (or whatever your favorite food is to satisfy your sweet tooth). Let us pray that God will bless us all to fall in love with God’s word together.

Bible Reading for 2022

As we begin to make New Year’s Resolutions for the upcoming year in 2022, arguably no resolution is more important than a renewed commitment to the reading and study of God’s word. We hope you will embark with us on this one-year Bible reading plan designed to read your Bible all the way through in the next year.

Click here to view and download a PDF of the 2022 One Year Bible Reading Plan

To aid you in reading God’s word, you might consider downloading this Bible Timeline of the Old and New Testament to place each passage of scripture in the appropriate historical context.

Click here to view and download a PDF of the Biblical Timeline of the Old and New Testament

Much People In This City

“9) Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10) For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.” (Acts 18:9-10)

When Paul arrived in Corinth and was facing some opposition to the gospel, he seems to have gotten afraid and discouraged. The Lord came to encourage Paul with boldness to not be afraid to preach the gospel because God already had “much people” in this city. Not only were there born-again people of God already in Corinth but there wasn’t just one or two; there were “much people” of God in this city who needed to hear the gospel. Knowing God already had a people in this city was not a “deterrent” to evangelism but was a tremendous “encouragement” to greater evangelism for Paul. Knowing that salvation is by grace alone with no action of man contributing to eternal life does not discourage us from preaching, but rather it encourages us to know that God already has a people who need to know that he has saved them from their sins. There are God’s people who are already “ordained to eternal life” (Acts 13:48) in our cities who need to know the gospel. This should be an exciting encouragement to us to boldly preach the gospel in our local communities, knowing there are God’s people there with quickened hearts who need to know that Jesus Christ has already saved them from their sins on the cross.

Zeal of Thine House Hath Eaten Me Up

“15) And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16) And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17) And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” (John 2:15-17)

Jesus Christ was consumed with zeal and passion for his house, and the church today should be consumed with zeal for his house as well. In his first trip to Jerusalem, Jesus was so consumed with zeal for God’s house that he purged it of everyone who was there for the wrong reason. As the disciples of Christ, we must follow Jesus’ example in all things in our life. We must follow Jesus and have a greater zeal and devotion for God’s house. The majority of Christianity today is lukewarm or frigidly cold in devotion to God and to the church. We might go through the motions or give the pretense of religion, but truly we are cold in our zeal for the church. We must heed the admonition to the lukewarm Laodicean church to “be zealous” (get hot, start boiling over) in service to God. Jesus Christ set the standard that we must follow. We must be passionately and zealously consumed with Jesus Christ and consumed with a zeal for God’s house.

The Son of Consolation

“And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus.” (Acts 4:36)

During this blessed time of outpouring of charity in the early church, there were many that sold their possessions and gave the proceeds to the church. One of these men who sold his land and contributed the proceeds to the church was Joses. We know Joses much better in the Bible as Barnabas, which was his surname given to him by the apostles which means “the son of consolation”. Barnabas had a great gift to encourage and exhort the brethren in the Jerusalem church; so much so that the apostles named him “the son of consolation”. We need to follow Barnabas’ pattern to console, encourage, and admonish the brethren in the church. We should be publicly known and identified by our exhortation of others. Even more so, we look to the God of all Consolation and Jesus Christ as our Son of Consolation, to console and encourage our soul.   

What Will We Know in Heaven?

How much knowledge of the events on earth – either in the past, present, or future – will God’s children have when they go to heaven? This is a very common question, especially when a loved one passes away. Unfortunately, some people approach this question with more sentimentality than scripture. Your loved ones are not looking down on you from heaven, disappointed when you make poor decisions or cheering you on when good things happen. Their focus in heaven is not sitting as a spectator in the bleachers watching our lives play out on the earth. No, heaven is consumed with the worship and glory of God. While those in heaven are not focused on the events of earth, scripture does indicate that they do have special knowledge of the events of this world, even knowledge of future events on the earth. We will still have memories of our lives from here in this world, and then we will be able to view those events through the perfect perspective and will of God. Scripture does show that we will know our loved ones in heaven, although our relationships will be different there as the entire elect family of God. While we cannot fully comprehend exactly what heaven will be like, we need to make sure to view heaven through the lens of scripture. We hope to consider some verses together that hopefully can provide a more precise view of exactly how much knowledge of earthly events we will have in heaven.

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