Category Archives: Morning Thoughts

Philip Conley's Morning Thoughts

Morning Thoughts (Hebrews 13:16 – “Well Pleasing a Perfect God”)

“Well Pleasing a Perfect God”

Hebrews 13:16, “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

This morning, our broken, fallen world seems to slip day by day further into the clutches of darkness. Even looking at the denominational Christian world – as opposed to the reprobate ungodliness of the world in general – things are slipping that were steadfast in days gone by. How many professing Christians could only be called nominal at best? To be a Christian is to literally be “Christlike.” How Christlike is it not to pray without ceasing as He did? Do we resemble Christ when our bodies are not presented regularly in worship as His was? He referenced His own Book repeatedly, and does it resemble Him when our knowledge of His Book is but mere fragments and crumbs? Broken creatures we are, but He has endowed us with the power and ability to do better. Christian deportment seizes upon this opportunity and ability to emulate the Master in our lives to His glory.

One of the stark reminders that I have every day is what a great sinner I am. This is not a proud statement but an objective declaration of fact based on years of observation. As a lifelong attender of God’s house with many years of Bible study coupled with it, another stark reminder comes brilliantly to the surface that shows just how much grace outshines and exceeds sin. When you read and study God’s word, it becomes obvious and apparent that God is perfect and demands perfection. What was the problem with the law given to Moses? Was it an inherent problem in God’s law? No, for Paul tells us in Hebrews 8 that the fault was with the people not the law given. God’s law demanded perfect obedience, and imperfect people failed that injunction repeatedly – as we still do today. So, what reminder do we have as disciples of the Lamb that outshines the great sinners that we are?

In our study verse, Paul is concluding his rich treatise of Hebrews by giving the closing arguments about why our worship in this era and age is better than the worship of the Old Testament days. He references in Verse 10 of this chapter what we have today that they had “no right” to in their day. All the order of worship then pales in comparison to the order of worship today. Reason? Christ has come and fulfilled all that the old order pointed to, and now today we can look back with thanksgiving and appreciation for His work giving glory to His name. (Verses 13-15) These sacrifices and offerings are simple in thought, but our fallen nature that we still wrestle makes the application difficult so many times. We feed the old flesh with all of its affections and wicked desires. Whether lust, envy, bitterness, pride, etc. we find ways to nurture these infernal weeds rather than fostering the care of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost in God’s kingdom. (Romans 14:17)

However, when we put forth the effort to put down the old man and his affections and put on the new man, we find ourselves in a blessed condition wherein we have true fellowship with our God and His dear people. This bond and experience far outshines any earthly experience we could hope to have. The view outstrips the gaze from the highest natural mountain. The happiness it engenders exceeds the highest earthly pleasure. When God comes down by His Spirit to anoint our preaching, eat at the table with us, and whisper sweet peace with His still, small voice, we find a scene that renders peace in a chaotic world, joy in the midst of suffering, and the revived hope of a better world to come. These experiences come when we offer sacrifices and offerings to Him as Paul here declares. Our doing good and communicating these things brings such scenes to view. To communicate in this way literally means to live it. We do not just say it. Rather, it tattoos itself with a lasting imprint upon our lives. People who know us see us as joyful, peaceable people who know and love Him and His family.

If you kind reader have experienced such scenes as here described, you understand that words cannot capture the whole of the experience. To try to tell someone about it seems futile, which is why the 1st century invitation “Come and see” is still so relevant and applicable today. But think back upon those times. Think of the preparations of the heart that preceded them. Think of the effort that went on while engaged in them. Whether it was study, prayer, and meditation beforehand or singing, prayer, and attentiveness while in them, how perfect were your sacrifices and offerings? How good has your study ever been? How good has your worship ever attained? No honest minister ever says he preached a perfect sermon. No honest member of the Lord’s church believes their local assembly is perfect. We still have imperfections and problems that plague us, even in the best of beautiful situations in Zion.

God has not changed. He still demands perfection, and as such, we still owe it to Him. Do we deliver? Our only hope is that Jesus delivered it on our behalf so that we would be blessed to live with Him forever. And yet, consider the grace for today. As you study today, pray today, meditate upon His goodness today, none of it is perfect. When next you meet in His house to worship Him publicly, none of that will be perfect. Is this what a perfect God deserves? Should such meager offerings be acceptable to Him? I would reckon that most of us have standards for others that are less than perfect that we get distressed about when they are not met. No one likes to be let down. Sometimes we take it badly when we think someone is capable of more and yet not giving it. God knows exactly what we are capable of giving and how much we do not do. He knows how much better our service could be than it is. Friends, here is the heart of the gracious observation from a lifelong churchgoer and Bible student.

Knowing all these things and what He is not getting from us, Paul here tells us that God is well pleased with these efforts. Not just pleased. Notice the specific nature of it. God is “well pleased” with real thank offerings and sacrifices of praise. When we in honest hearts give Him praise for His mercy and grace, God is well pleased. When we render thanks for the great work that Christ made on our behalf, God is well pleased. When we resolve ourselves to do better than we have been doing, God is well pleased. When we forgive those that have wronged us, God is well pleased. When we strive above all other enterprises in our lives to shine forth the light of Christ to bless others, God is well pleased. Every time we make a decision that is truly Christian, God is well pleased, for it reflects back an image akin to His Son. Does God deserve more than we have ever given Him? Absolutely! And yet, His grace is so noble to broken creatures to visit us so richly with His pleasure! I do not know about you, but such a thought of God’s continual visitation with His people here and regular condescension to men of low estate makes me desire as the songwriter said, “Want to love Him more.” A perfect God will never get perfect praise from His people this side of glory, and yet He is well pleased with efforts that we strive to give Him according to His pattern. Wow!

In Hope,
Bro Philip

Philip Conley's Morning Thoughts

Morning Thoughts (II Peter 3:1-2 – “Consistency of the Message”)

“Consistency of the Message”

II Peter 3:1-2, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:”

This morning, mankind chases after the next “happening thing.” Recently, I had a conversation with a fellow minister in which we both marveled at why certain things in the world held sway and appeal with people. We both agreed that ultimately the answer lay within the realm of the event or situation being the happening thing. It was a circumstance that was important in the eyes of the world. Being in the midst of it made you involved. You were seen. You were important. More often than not, these types of things deal with something that is fresh and new. Natural man is fascinated by newer things, and being on the leading edge of it swells his importance in his perspective. These days, religion is unheralded, and orthodox religion is even less heralded. Old fashioned ideas and concepts have seen their day.

The message of Scripture is patently different. Peter’s thought in our study verses is one that brings me much comfort personally as a minister. When a minister attempts to bring a message to God’s people, there are many things that occupy his mind: 1. First and foremost, is it sound?, 2 Is this being led of the Spirit, 3. Is it thought out?, and 4 Is this the right time and occasion for this particular message? We must follow our impressions to the best of our ability for #2 and #4 and trust those impressions are heavenly. We spend hours trying to fulfill #3, but the greatest concern that a minister has is keeping the ground of his mind hedged in areas that are sound according to Scripture. One of the great helps in Scripture that God gives us is a consistency based on the consistency of His nature. God is not duplicitous or fiendish. What He says endures. What He declares does not change. Therefore, we can expect messages today to be consistent with messages of yesteryear to fulfill the injunction of soundness.

Peter’s exact point in these verses is to remind his readers of some things. Notice in verse 1 that he is not attempting to present something new. Rather, he desires to stir up their pure minds by way of “remembrance.” Remembrance can only be had with something that we already knew. Peter has no misgivings that his audience already knew these things. He just wants to remind them of those same things (indeed the theme for this 2nd epistle). The reason Peter knew that they already knew these things is because he had written his first epistle in the same vein of consistent thought that this one has. But, he – in verse 2 – is able to point further back too.

Peter’s first epistle is consistent in thought with this second one, but Peter references the other apostles too. Later in this chapter, Peter will mention Paul by name as writing consistent things to what Peter also wrote. (Verse 15-16) However, Peter goes further back in verse 2 as well. By implication, Jesus is included as well as the prophets of the olden times. Consider this long line. From the prophets in Old Testament times, through the Master, and down to His apostles, the message has been consistent and true. The various declarations of men throughout the centuries all point to the same things and bring to light the same commandments. Therefore, ministers today have the obligation to preach and teach these same things to be part of this long and consistent line.

Though the illustration does not bear up completely due to the nuance of language and culture, I have said before that my hope is that if Paul, Peter, or some man of God from the times of Scripture was to walk into one of our services today it would look familiar to him. Whether the order of the service or the heart of the message, our pattern and thoughts should mirror what they had and experienced in their day. With the world consistently looking for new things and following after the most recent fad, the household of faith should take great comfort and safety in a message that has endured generation after generation through various cultures and dispensations.

When I was a boy, I used to wonder why preachers harped on certain subjects the way they did. Some of the subjects and passages described had such a passion and fervency to them when the men introduced and preached them. As I have grown older and now declare these same things, it made me reflect on my mindset then. The passion and energy is first and foremost because it is the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, but going back to matters 1-4 above, it is Spirit led, thought out, and still relevant for this time. With the world desiring something new, the church still has what she has always had. What she had then is still good for her now. As one of my dear fathers in the ministry told me, “What works in the world will kill the church, and what works for the church will kill the world.”

Though this message is consistent, true, and hopefully declared plainly, notice that Peter did not use the exact same words as Paul, who did not use the exact same words as Jesus, who did not use the exact same words as the prophets. The message was not a copy of the same clich├ęs, buzzwords, and catchphrases to be consistent. It is consistent due to the heart of the testimony being the same. We can grow stagnant in things that are true. Recently, I was given a very sweet compliment after preaching a pair of discourses in another state. A minister came up to me after the 2nd service and said, “I talked to my son after you preached a meeting down there last year. When I asked him what you preached about, he said, ‘Doctrine, but Pop, it was fresh.'” With tears in his eyes, he said, “That’s what it was today. It was the same gospel story, but it was fresh. That’s what our people need. The same thing, but always served fresh.” Amen and amen dear brother. That is truly what sheep food is all about. I love food analogies, and there is not much I prefer in this world next to a good steak. However, I want my steak freshly cooked, properly seasoned, and served hot. I want the gospel to be that same good piece of meat but freshly cooked, properly seasoned, and served with the unction of the Holy Ghost. When these things are met, our message will be consistent and clearly in the same line of faithful men who have been declaring it from long ago.

In Hope,
Bro Philip