Acts 14:4

Swirly lines and chandelier. Vermont State Capitol.

Sunday, 5 February 2023

But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. Acts 14:4

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

After the Jews poisoned the minds of the brethren, the previous verse noted that Paul and Barnabas stayed in Iconium for a long time speaking boldly. Along with their words, the Lord granted them signs and wonders to be done by their hands. With that, it next says, “But the multitude of the city was divided.”

The Greek word is schizó, a schism. This shows that the signs and wonders were not enough to convince those who simply refused to believe. And more, those who believed did so based on hearing the word of God, as Acts 14:1 plainly noted –

“Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.”

It is obvious that the signs and wonders, then, were given to edify those who believed, but they also were intended as a sign to those who did not believe, something that actually hardened their hearts as happened with Pharaoh in Egypt and as is seen elsewhere. This is what Paul poignantly indicates in 1 Corinthians 11 –

“Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” 1 Corinthians 11:22-25

Because of the faith of those who believed, and because of the hardness of those who refused to believe, “part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles.” This is not at all unlike what will occur in Thessalonica –

“And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.” Acts 17:4, 5

The Jews have a knack for placing themselves carefully within a society in order to influence its workings. This is not just in the times of ancient Rome, but it has continued, even until today. As Lionel Blue said, “Jews are just like everyone else, only more so.” In other words, whatever they put their hand to, it will be just like others, but with a boost of steroids added in. This trait resulted in their ability to divide Iconium, and it was based on their rejection of the name of Jesus. It was a division that began in their own land as He walked among them –

“So there was a division among the people because of Him. 44 Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.” John 7:43, 44

Life application: There are innumerable people who believe that God continues to provide signs and wonders in the world today, coming to people in their sleep and telling them they need Jesus, or appearing to people in the deep recesses of the jungle and telling them that missionaries are coming who need to be listened to.

These stories are as common as lies from the left, but are they based on reality? It has been clearly shown that the signs and wonders that Paul and Barnabas exhibited did not convert the Jews, nor did they convert the Gentiles who sided with the Jews. Rather, they are a sign to them and will stand as a testimony against them. But those who believed did so based on the word of God that was spoken to them.

This is exactly how Paul says people are converted today. Sharing the gospel and the word is the means, the mode, and the method by which man can be saved. The Bible, the word of God expressed on pages of paper stamped with ink, is the sign to the world that condemnation already exists in humanity. It is the word that documents how we got in this mess, it is the word that explains what God has been doing to get us out of it, and it is the word that reveals His coming in human flesh in the Person of Jesus to make it possible for man to be saved.

To claim that God is going around His completed word to effect His purposes is self-defeating. It means that the very purpose that the word was compiled for isn’t effective in accomplishing what it was intended to do. Those who spread these falsities diminish the work of God in Christ, they diminish the work of God through the word, and they are trusting in the words of man rather than the words of God. It is not a good place to be.

All men, saved and unsaved, will stand before God for judgment. Those who are unsaved will have the Bible to speak against them. Those who are saved will have the Bible to judge their faith and their deeds. On that day, the word of God alone will be the standard. Why would anyone believe that it is any different now? Have faith in the word, speak out the word, and share the gospel with those who are perishing. God has chosen this method for man to be saved. Trusting that He will show up in someone’s sleep is simply punting to Him the ball you should be carrying.

O God, help us to think clearly about how we handle Your word and what our responsibilities are in relation to it. Help us not to get drawn into the lies and deceit of those who make things up out of their own heads. Instead, help us to have confidence in Your word and to stand on it as it is written. In this, we will be effective in doing what You have instructed us to do. Amen!

 

 

 

Acts 14:3

Fancy chandelier in Vermont State Senate. Probably soaked the taxpayers pretty good.

Saturday, 4 February 2023

Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. Acts 14:3

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, it noted that the Jews of Iconium stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned the minds of the brethren. With that, Luke continues with the words, “Therefore they stayed there a long time.”

Unlike in Antioch of Pisidia, it appears the Jews in Iconium were not as quickly riled up as those in Antioch. And so, Paul and Barnabas stayed. These Gentiles had believed (Acts 14:1). As such, they were counted as saved and in need of proper instruction and discipleship, just as the Lord had instructed. Without being threatened, they stayed and provided just that.

It is certain that if they were expelled, but a church had been set up first, Paul would have written to them instead. This is what happened in Galatia, for example. The Judaizers went in and poisoned the minds of the believers. Because of this, Paul wrote to them words of correction. It also will happen in Antioch of Syria in Acts 15. In that case, a council will be held to resolve the matter. No matter what, Paul did his utmost to ensure that those he evangelized received proper instruction. As for their time in Iconium, Paul and Barnabas were “speaking boldly in the Lord.”

The Greek reads epi, or “upon the Lord.” Their words were reliant upon the Lord. The word translated as “speaking boldly” has only been seen thus far in Acts 9:27-29 when referring to the words of Paul –

“But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him.”

The word signifies to be frank and confident in what is said. This would obviously be the case if they were reliant upon the Lord for their words. It was as if the Lord was speaking through them. This is poignantly seen in the next words, “who was bearing witness to the word of His grace.”

The words are in the singular and the reference is to Jesus. The Greek literally reads, “the [One] testifying upon the word of the grace of Him.” Paul and Barnabas were reliant upon the Lord and so the Lord testified through His word of grace. That testifying was accomplished by “granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

This was for the set purpose of establishing the truth of the gospel among these believers because their minds had been poisoned by the Jews. The Lord promised that His apostles would be given everything they needed to accomplish their task. The book of Acts bears this out. When it was necessary to establish their authority or to continue their work, the Lord worked miracles through them. But this was not an authority that came at their will. Instead, it came from His.

In the case of those at Iconium, there was a need for this to come about, and the Lord worked accordingly, validating the ministry of Paul and Barnabas and the reliability of His word as expressed through them.

Life application: Notice that the words above say that the Lord was “granting signs and wonders to be done.” There are times when the apostles healed or raised the dead. And there were times when they could not do these things. The gifts were at the will of the Lord, and they came to provide validation of the work of the Lord or the fact that His word was being properly expressed through these apostles.

Today, this type of thing is wholly unnecessary. There is no need for a validation of the Lord because the word of the Lord has been given. It would be contradictory to both the word and to the process of salvation, which is by grace through faith, to provide such things today.

There is also no need for a validation of the veracity of a ministry or a preacher today. The word provides for those things as well. If those who are listening to a teacher or preacher want to know if what they are hearing is true or not, they simply need to go to the word and study up.

Unfortunately, that takes time, effort, and contemplation. These are things that people do not want to give. It demonstrates a failing in the hearer, not in the process as given by the Lord. It is so much easier to say, “I got a sign from the preacher,” or “I received a prophetic word from Pastor Providence.” That is easy, it takes any burden off the individual, and life can go on in ignorant bliss. But, again, this is contradictory to the word itself.

This does not mean the Lord does not work the miraculous in response to prayer, but the results will always be left for the faithful to accept, by faith, that it was the Lord who accomplished what occurred.

Those who believe the Lord is working in overt miracles, signs, and wonders today have failed to think through the process of what God is doing in the world. Why would He give his word just to go around the word He has given? He would not. There is a purpose for these demonstrations of His workings in redemptive history, and they find their end in the completed canon of Scripture, the Holy Bible. Learn the word and you will do well, avoiding the pitfalls and traps that have brought harm to innumerable souls.

Thank You for Your word, O God. It is just what we need to convey the message of the gospel to the world, and it is fully sufficient to do so. You are working through people who are willing to expend themselves for this purpose, and You are validating Your presence among those who believe through the word You have provided. What more do we need to accomplish this awesome task? Only for You to be with us in the process. And we know You are. Your word tells us it is so. Amen.

 

 

Acts 14:2

Left side of room, probably the senate. Vermont State Capitol.

Friday, 3 February 2023

But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. Acts 14:2

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Paul and Barnabas are in Iconium, having gone together to the synagogue of the Jews. In speaking there, it said in the previous verse that a great multitude both of Jews and Greeks believed. Now, the narrative continues, saying, “But the unbelieving Jews.”

The word translated as “unbelieving” is apeitheó. It signifies “to refuse to be persuaded.” It is, therefore, the withholding of belief. It is a word that is often translated as disobedient. But in the case of the word of the Lord, the two thoughts are really synonymous. To not believe the word of the Lord is to be disobedient to the word of the Lord, even if there is no command involved. This is because the word of the Lord is fixed.

If something is certain to be the word of the Lord, such as the message Paul and Barnabas are conveying, then to not believe is to disobey. To believe, but not act is also to disobey. To believe and to act is to be obedient. If something is presented which is not the word of the Lord, the Book of Mormon, for example, to believe is to be disobedient to the Lord.

The parameters are already set, such as Galatians 1:6-8. There, we have been told that any other gospel than the one preached by the apostles, and which is now recorded in Scripture, is anathema. Therefore, we are to reject it. In the case of these Jews in Iconium, they have heard the true gospel and they have been disobedient by not believing it. Because of this, they “stirred up the Gentiles.”

Here is a word used for the second and last time in Scripture, epegeiró. It signifies “to rouse upon.” In other words, their influence is used upon the minds of the people to stir them up against the message that has been conveyed. The only other time it was used was in Acts 13:50 where the same thing occurred –

“But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up [epegeiró] persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.”

The apostles gained a foothold among the Gentiles through the presentation of the gospel, and the Jews – probably out of jealousy – then troubled the minds of the Gentiles, twisting the words of Scripture against the truth. As it next says, “and poisoned their minds.”

The word translated as “poisoned” signifies “to harm.” The Jews damaged the minds of the Gentiles. They had believed and then they were told what they believed was false. This is just what Paul writes about in 1 Thessalonians 2 –

“For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.” 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

In that case, they forbid Paul and his companions from speaking to the Gentiles. In this case, they have called into question what was spoken to the Gentiles. But the same attitude is behind both. As for the poisoning of the minds of the Gentiles, Luke next records that it is “against the brethren.”

The attack is personal. Rather than directly attacking the message, they have maligned the integrity of the believers in some way. Maybe they said they were unqualified. Maybe they said they were heretics. Whatever the reason, personal attacks were levied against them. The next verse will show that the Lord was with them. He was there to defend the word that was being carried by His apostles.

Life application: Nothing has changed in the past two millennia. There are those who attack those who carry the true gospel, and there are those that defend it. Sometimes, it is necessary for someone who is rightly teaching the Bible to include a verbal attack against the false teacher as well, explaining why the person is not to be trusted. In such cases, that attack should be based upon a deviation from the word.

In other words, an unjustified attack is known as an ad hominem fallacy. The words mean “to the man.” Such attacks are directed at the person instead of their doctrine. This is improper. One might say, “Pastor Joe is a false teacher. He lives in a million-dollar house and drives a Mercedes Benz.”

Those things are irrelevant. They say nothing about the doctrine of the person. Unless the amount of wealth a person has or the lifestyle he leads is somehow connected to his false teaching, it is simply a red herring intended to harm the person without any reason behind it. However, if the doctrine of Pastor Joe is incorrectly centered on money to make him rich, and if that can be substantiated, then calling this out is justified. All such things must be based on the word. If they are, then what is wrong is properly highlighted.

This was seen in the previous chapter where Luke recorded that “the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city.” He was highlighting that the intent of the Jews was to maintain control over the wealth and influence of these people. From the context, it can be inferred that they already had this control, and they simply didn’t want to lose it.

Have care in how you deal with such things. Once one enters into fallacious attacks or diversions, the argument is tainted. Ask yourself, “Does this have any bearing on the word?” If it does not, do not bring it up, or do not allow it to affect you if others have brought it up.

Lord God, help us to think clearly and rationally as we evaluate Your word and how it is presented by others. Also, help us to rightly defend it, not getting caught up in improper discussions or misdirection away from what is right. May we consider all things in light of what You have presented in Your word, allowing it to be the standard for our thoughts and conduct. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 14:1

Senate (I think). Vermont State Capitol.

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. Acts 14:1

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Paul and Barnabas had been expelled from the region of Antioch of Pisidia. Following that, they went to Iconium. With that remembered, Luke next records, “Now it happened in Iconium.” The distance from Antioch of Pisidia to Iconium is about 100 miles. It is apparent that once there, they immediately sought out the next place to spread the message of the coming of Christ, because it next says, “that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews.”

The first and most obvious thing to discern from this is that the words of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:46 were not stated concerning the future after leaving Antioch –

“It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.”

Rather, they meant that they would turn to the Gentiles in that area and have nothing further to do with evangelizing the Jews at the synagogue in Antioch. Paul’s first evangelism, wherever he went, was to the Jews. His ministry to the Gentiles is one of predominant focus, not exclusivity. His first attempt, however, was to convince the Jews of the coming of their Messiah in the coming of Jesus.

Going to the synagogue was a logical place to start their efforts because there were both Jews and Gentiles who gathered there. This was seen at the synagogue of Antioch, and it will be the case again in Iconium in the words which begin with, “and so spoke that a great multitude.”

Iconium, being a sizeable city, obviously had a large synagogue. It was a marvelous place to first herald to the people the good news about Jesus. And even if many Jews rejected the message, it would still be heard by the proselytes who attended. From there, they could pass the word to others in the Gentile community. This is obvious because the great multitude was comprised “both of the Jews and of the Greeks.”

The Greek is simpler, saying, “both of Jews and Greeks.” The term “great multitude” may indicate that before the Sabbath Paul and Barnabas had already started to evangelize whoever they came across, telling them to come to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Or it may be that there were often a large number of Greeks who attended. Either way, the effect of their words was that a great multitude of both Jews and Gentiles “believed.”

This is the standard word used throughout the New Testament to indicate saving faith in the gospel, pisteuó. Among seemingly innumerable other times, it was used by Jesus in John 3:16. It is what is said of the believers in Acts 2:44, Acts 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and so on. It is the word of saving faith of Romans 10:9, 1 Corinthians 15:2 & 11, and Ephesians 1:13.

Because of this, there is absolutely no reason to suggest that the word means anything other than “belief unto salvation” for those Jews and Greeks now being referred to. A few points about this are necessary to understand the importance of the event –

  • The message spoken by Paul and Barnabas was the gospel and its effects were exactly the same for Jews and for Gentiles, meaning that belief alone is the requirement for salvation.
  • Like in Antioch of Pisidia, there is no record of tongues or other signs having come upon the believers.
  • Baptism is not mentioned here or in Antioch, showing that it is not a necessary part of salvation. And yet, it would be an argument from silence to say that the new believers were not baptized. It would be a false inference.

These and other points of doctrine are clear indicators that the continued record of Acts is a descriptive account of what occurred. Not everything that happened is recorded, but those things that are recorded are there to reveal truths about the effectiveness of the gospel alone to save.

Further, the events are not normative. If they were, for example, it would be required for every evangelist who entered a new city to go to the local synagogue in order to speak to the Jews. That cannot be inferred from the narrative, nor would it be logical to make this conclusion. Further, the epistles say nothing of such an approach.

Life application: Quite often, what is not said in an account can teach us as much as what is said. Nothing that is essential for doctrine will be left out, but not everything left out is necessarily unimportant.

As noted above, there is nothing about baptism or speaking in tongues recorded here. It simply says that Paul and Barnabas spoke and the people believed. This is perfectly in accord with Paul’s words elsewhere in the epistles, such as “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

It is faith that saves. If speaking in tongues was a necessary proof of salvation, it would be incompetent of Luke to not record tongues being spoken in each instance of salvation recorded in Acts. But he only records such signs at key points in the ongoing narrative. This is true with baptism as well.

Despite this, the requirement to be baptized as spoken forth by Jesus does not need to be recorded unless it is a formal part of the salvific process. As it is not always recorded, it is obviously not. And yet, the absence of recording the event does not mean that it did not happen. Rather, it can be assumed that it did because it was a command of the Lord. This is no different than the absence of recording the taking of the Lord’s Supper.

The Lord’s Supper is commanded by the Lord, and it was practiced by Paul constantly, as can be inferred from his words in 1 Corinthians 11:25, 26. And yet, it is never mentioned in Acts. Hence, it is a command of the Lord that was obviously carried out by Paul among his converts, and yet it is not something that necessarily needs to be highlighted.

Consider these things and ponder what God is doing, why certain things are recorded regularly, why things are only highlighted at certain times, and why some important things are not even mentioned. Remember that Jesus’ commands are applicable to all when they are spoken in the proper context, such as the Lord’s Supper and baptism. Remember that the epistles set forth doctrine for the church. Also remember that Acts is a descriptive account that sets forth a normative practice at times, but not at all times. As such, care must be taken to know when things logically follow and when they do not.

Lord God, help us to think clearly about how You have presented Your word. May we consider what You are saying and why You are saying it. Also, help us to overcome our biases and presuppositions so that we will be properly grounded in what is right. May Your hand guide us in such matters, and may You be glorified through our lives as we adhere to Your word. Amen.

 

 

 

Acts 13:52

Fancy stuff. Vermont State Capitol

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:52

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, Paul and Barnabas “shook off the dust from their feet” against those who expelled them from the region. They were now set to continue elsewhere with the evangelization of those they encountered, but they had made a life-changing difference in many while in the region of Pisidia, as testified to in the final words of Chapter 13 which begin with, “And the disciples.”

This is not referring to Paul and Barnabas but to the converts in the area, both Jew and Gentile. The word translated as “disciples” is mathétés. It signifies a learner or a disciple. It is thus not referring to Paul and Barnabas who provided the instruction, but to those who received it. That it is a word that refers to both Jews and Gentiles is most poignantly revealed in Acts 15. There, when referring specifically to the Gentiles, it says –

“Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: ‘Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples [mathétés] which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.’” Acts 15:6-11

The noun mathétés is not used after Acts 21, but the verb from which it is derived, manthanó, is used by Paul in nine of his epistles. If one learns, he is a disciple. The idea is that those now referred to by Luke are those in the region of Antioch of Pisidia, both Jews and Gentiles, that had received the gospel of Jesus Christ. With that noted, Luke records that they “were filled with joy.”

This is the exhortation Paul will later write to those in Thessalonica and elsewhere, saying, “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). These disciples apparently didn’t need the exhortation but were simply filled with joy because of the freedom they now found by being in Christ. Along with that, Luke completes the verse and the chapter, saying, “and with the Holy Spirit.”

Again, this is as stated elsewhere by Paul, such as –

“Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:16, 17

As for the whole thought of being “filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit,” the verb is both imperfect and it is in the passive or middle voice. The meaning is that they were filled and continued to be filled (the imperfect tense), and they were both agents of the action and yet concerned with the action (middle voice).

In other words, the Spirit acted upon them as they interacted with God through the knowledge they possessed. The joy and the filling came about by the mutual relationship that was occurring in their lives.

Life application: Why is it that we may be lacking joy and the filling of the Spirit? It is because we have lost focus on what it means to be saved. When we are saved, at that moment in time, it becomes the main issue of our life. We let go of our sin, acknowledging it before God and placing it on Christ. The burden and the debt were lifted from us, and we experienced the knowledge that God had done this for us, apart from any effort.

That brought the joy and the filling of the Spirit. Eventually, we allowed this current life to overtake our thoughts. We struggle at work, we fight with family or friends, our faithful dog dies, or we have our car repossessed. In this, we are no longer filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Why? Because it is no longer the central focus of our existence. This is not how our life is to be conducted.

Rather, the most important event in our life occurred the moment we came to Jesus. Since that time, and forevermore, nothing will come to pass that can exceed the weight and marvel of what took place. The problem isn’t that the moment is over and gone forever. Rather, our focus has turned from that key and pivotal event.

Instead of having the attitude that existed then, our eyes, our attention, and thus our lives are redirected to that which is of less value, and we are consumed by the world once again. Rather than “Work is such a burden, but it is nothing compared to Jesus,” we collapse under our own misery.

Rather than “My wife says she is leaving me, but Jesus will never leave nor forsake me,” we have placed this temporary and earthly relationship above the Lord. Rather than “I miss Fido so much, but Jesus gave him to me for a span and I am so grateful for those years,” our thoughts are consumed with this loss as if the dog is more important than the relationship we have with God in Christ. This is true with any earthly relationship or possession.

The key to joy is not focusing on what this world offers, no matter how great it was or how great it might be. The key to the joy the Bible speaks of is to know that God saved us, He is there with us, and we are guaranteed to have a restoration that is beyond anything we can imagine at this point. God has done it, God is with us now as we await its completion, and God will bring us to that state of completion, without fail.

This is the heart of joy in the Lord. And this is why so many Christians are so miserable in their walk with Him. They either have had their eyes redirected from what Jesus has done, or they believe that what Jesus has done is conditional. Who can have joy and be filled with the Holy Spirit at such times? Rather, FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS and be ASSURED OF YOUR SALVATION because the word assures you of it. Be FILLED WITH JOY AND WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT all your days. To the glory of God who is with you as you continue this walk to glory.

Heavenly Father, forgive us for diverting our eyes from Jesus and looking back to this temporary, fallen, and even dirty existence. We have the purity of Christ before us, and yet we cling to that which is hopeless and miserable. And, Lord God, forgive us for questioning Your word and the salvation that You have granted to us. It is no longer about us, but about Jesus, when we call out to You through Him. Forgive us for such a faithless attitude. Redirect us and reassure us, and we will be sound in Christ once again. Amen.