Sleeping When The Lord Comes

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch! (Mark 13:31-37)

Sleeping When The Lord Comes

There’s a great day coming, and this great day will be unlike any event in the history of the earth. Thousands of years ago, God formed the word with the breath of His word. The world is held together by that word reserved for judgment on the final day. Jesus said heaven and earth will pass away. As Creator, He knows the fate of the earth, moon, sun, and innumerable stars that fill the heavens. The Earth is the only place where life dwells in the vast universe of space, and on this tiny rock spinning around the sun, billions of souls live unaware of a fateful day that will change their lives for eternity. In a moment faster than the eye can blink, with the deafening sound of eternal judgment, the universe, including planet Earth will melt in the heat of divine righteousness as God brings to a close the history of humanity. The Lord has returned as promised.

The day of the Lord took on many forms over the centuries. In the days of Noah, the day of the Lord began with the heavens bursting forth in water and the fountains of the deep filling the world until all life on earth was dead except eight souls. For the nation of Egypt, the wrath of the Lord was unleashed upon the most powerful nation on earth through the plagues and destruction of the army of Pharaoh. Other countries would suffer the same fate as the Lord God brought judgment against those who stood against Him: Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Israel would suffer the day of the Lord twice; first, against the northern tribes and then the captivity of the southern tribes. Jesus spoke of the day of the Lord coming against the city of Jerusalem. In 70 A.D., the Roman general Titus destroyed the once city of God, including razing the Temple.

Writers in the early church warned of the coming of the wrath of God. Two thousand years have passed, and nothing has happened. The population of the world continues to be oblivious to the firm reality that aside from death, a day is coming that will destroy all life on earth. In the destruction of the heavens and the earth, all men will be dissolved in eternal fire. Only a few will experience a new birth in eternal life, while the majority of souls will face the abyss of Hell and eternal darkness and fire. The great day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. There will be no warning, no signal, and no announcement of His coming. Every day is a blessing because there is no guarantee another day will come.

Jesus declares the day of the Lord is kept secret from everyone – including Himself. The Son of God does not know the day His Father will determine the end of humanity has come. Deciding to destroy the world is the divine judgment of the Lord God Almighty and Him alone. What Jesus wants His disciples to remember is the day of the Lord is unknown, and the faithful must be on guard and alert so they will not be caught unprepared. Three things are necessary to prepare for the day of the Lord: take heed, watch, and pray. Taking heed is setting life in order to be pleasing to God. Watching for the Lord is rising each day in the hope the Lord returns that day. Praying is a vital part of a watchful life as God hears the voice of His children seeking His love and mercy.

The most important part of the Christian’s life is never to be found sleeping, unaware, surprised, and unprepared. No one knows the day of the Lord, but remaining awake for His return will be a blessing of joy rather than the horror of unpreparedness. Keep a good watch and pray. Long for the day the Lord will return. If He does not return in your lifetime, death will be a blessing to preempt that day, and the same joy awaits. Take heed, watch, and pray – for the day of death can come suddenly. Let that day be a day of joy. Watch.

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What I Can Become With God’s Help

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The story is told of Michelangelo, the famous Italian sculptor, standing before a rejected block of marble that builders had cast aside. Staring intently at the block of marble, someone asked Michelangelo what he was looking at. “An angel,” he replied. What he had discovered in looking at the block of marble cast aside was what he could bring out with a mallet and chisel. To others, the block of marble was a rejected stone; to Michelangelo it became a masterpiece.

It would seem that when Jesus chose the twelve apostles, He was not looking as clearly at what they were but at what they could become. On the surface, these twelve men were Galilean fishermen, a zealot, a tax collector, and two brothers known as the “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:14-19). How could these men possibly be the future of the Kingdom of God to take a message of salvation to a lost world? Except for Judas, they became ambassadors of the good news of Jesus Christ to which later the apostle Paul would write, “Not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven” (Colossians 1:23). They became all that God wanted them to be because of God working through them.

It is easy to focus on who we are instead of what we can become. We are the rejected stone that God saw promise in. In the Garden of Eden, God saw the blessing of bringing salvation to the creation that had rebelled against Him. Through Jesus Christ, we are made whole in the “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Peter tells us we are an “elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:9). This is not because of who we are but what we have become in Jesus Christ.

Our lives are changed by the power of God working through our thoughts, speech, actions, and motives. This change is a metamorphosis of our character of sin to our realization of hope. What I can become with God’s help is only limited by what I desire Him to work in my life. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Allowing God to work in my life will bring about significant changes in every aspect of my character.

Many people who lived reprobate lives before obeying the gospel are changed beyond recognition because of what God has done in their lives. Consider the changes in Saul of Tarsus, who became (with God’s help) the apostle Paul (Philippians 3:4-6). If these changes can be made in Saul, what great wonders can happen in my life? “What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him” (Romans 8:31,32). How wonderful the promise of God to give us all things in Christ. With God’s help, I can hear those precious words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter” (Matthew 25:21).

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Noah Believed In The Grace Of God

And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the Earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the Earth. Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.” (Genesis 6:13-14)

Noah Believed In The Grace Of God

The early days of the Earth did not produce a righteous nation of people. Following the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, men grew worse and worse in their desire to please themselves through the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, and the lust of the eye. Nothing was held back. Filling themselves with every kind of unrighteousness, the world exploded with evil, causing God to decide something had to be done. It grieved the heart of the Creator to see how His creation had turned their back on His love, mercy, and grace. As the Lord gazed upon the hearts of men, He found few that were righteous. Noah was such a man the Lord saw favor and grace.

Living in such a corrupt world would seem impossible, but Noah and his family were determined to serve the Lord with all their hearts. Raising three young boys in such an environment would have been a monumental effort. Noah and his wife instilled in Ham, Shem, and Japheth a love for God. The influence of Noah reached to the women who married his sons. The family of Noah was the only island of holiness in a world filled with the flood of wickedness. As a light shining in a dark place, Noah’s family stood firm for God and His word. The Lord looked upon the Earth and saw the evil that had taken the hearts of men. He decided to kill everyone on Earth except the family of Noah. They found grace in His eyes.

Grace is only found in the mind of God. Gazing upon a wicked world, the Lord decided He would destroy everyone. Noah was unaware of the mind of God. He had no way of knowing the plan of God and the reason the Lord would destroy the world. Noah served the Lord in faithfulness without the knowledge of the coming destruction. Grace is first served when God comes to Noah and tells him of the imminent destruction. It must have been a blow to Noah to consider the number of people that were going to die at the hand of the Lord. Trying to understand a global flood was beyond his comprehension. God’s grace was without definition in the mind of Noah as he viewed the word of God. The world faced extinction and destruction.

Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. God comes to Noah to tell him something he could not know apart from divine revelation. The kindness of God warned Noah of the impending doom, and then grace told Noah what to do to be saved. After God tells Noah what He plans to do, Noah may have wondered how he would save himself and his family. Would they move to the tallest mountain in the world and hope for the best? How could Noah survive the great flood that would kill all mankind? Noah had no answers. God’s grace had the answer.

Telling Noah what was coming did not save him and his family. God’s grace demanded a plan of salvation. Grace is of no value if there is no means of redemption. Noah was told to build an ark and construct it in a specific way. God’s grace gives Noah the plan to save himself and his family, but Noah is still not saved. Believing God will destroy the world and accepting that building an ark could save him is now how the grace of God could save Noah and his family. The grace of God must be obeyed. Moved with godly fear, Noah prepared an ark for the saving of his household. Grace alone did not and could not save Noah. It was within the power of God to build the ark for Noah, but that was not the will of God. Noah had to build the ark, which must be constructed precisely as God instructed.

Noah believed in the word of the Lord and built the ark exactly as determined by the will of God. When the flood came and destroyed all whose nostrils were the breath of the spirit of life, Noah was in the ark as God commanded, along with his family. Grace saved Noah, and obedience to the word of God saved Noah. Without the grace of God, Noah and his family would have perished in the flood. If Noah refused to build the ark, he would have doomed his family to perdition. Grace and works saved Noah. He believed the word of God and obeyed His command. God’s grace has determined the world’s fate again, and the Lord has given instructions on what a man must do to be saved. When men reject the will of the Father, they reject the only ark that will save them. Obeying the word of the Lord will put a man in Christ, where the grace, mercy, and love of God are found. No obedience means no salvation. Thank God for His grace. Are you doing His will?

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Taking Time For Self

However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. (Luke 5:15-16)

Taking Time For Self

The ministry of Jesus was an exhausting work of preaching, teaching, healing, and traveling from region to region. When Jesus would come into an area, the word spread the teacher and healer was there, and multitudes flocked to Him. On a few occasions, over five thousand people gathered to hear the teachings of Jesus. As Jesus touched each diseased person, laid His hands on the blind and mute, and restored untold numbers of people to their health, the energy was sapped out of Him, and He grew weary. There was not only the physical toil of His ministry but the incredible intensity of the purpose of His mission. He knew what He came to do. More than once, He would tell His disciples He would go to Jerusalem and suffer many things and then be killed. Jesus was fully aware of what suffering awaited Him, and He was constantly remembering when the hour would come. He pressed on. And He seldom slowed and missed opportunities to teach others.

On more than one occasion, after teaching and healing multitudes of people, Jesus would withdraw Himself to a quiet place for meditation and thought. He would go to a mountain and pray all night. Sometimes long before the sun’s rising, Jesus went out by Himself to a solitary place and prayed. There was a time when the people wanted to make Jesus their king, but Jesus left them and went to a mountain to be alone. He also went into the wilderness to be alone with His Father in prayer. Jesus needed to take time for Himself. He made it a practice in His busy ministry to carve out time away from the crowds so He could be alone. Judas knew where to find Jesus on the betrayal night because the Lord often went to Gethsemane as a place of prayer.

Life can be filled with a lot of activity. There never seem to be enough hours in a day. Everything that needs to be done is seldom done, and schedules are straining under the weight of too much work to be accomplished. People live hectic, rushed, and chaotic lives that never seem to slow or calm down. Excuses are given why there is little time for self-meditation, prayer, a study of God’s word, or fellowship with those of like precious faith. There are ballgames, concerts, practices, parties, shopping, lawn care, fixing broken things, filling out the honey-do lists, recreation, and checking every form of social media that vies for constant attention.

The endless activity of life consumes people who cannot go through an hour of worship to the Lord Holy God without checking their phones for social updates. When the invitation song is sung, phones light up to see what was missed in the last 54 minutes. Social media has stopped couples from sharing, children of learning, and society in general from taking time for themselves. There is no time. The irony is that someone will say they need to get away and be by themselves but cannot leave their phones. Life is consuming. It is overwhelming. Minds are filled with the constant beehive of activity ad nauseum.

Jesus took time for Himself. If the Son of God knew the importance of going to a quiet place to be alone (and no cell phone), what makes any human being think they should not need the same – and more? Life is not as busy as it is presented to be. We create life to be what it is, and we allow life to run our lives into the ground with never-ending activity. Jesus took time for Himself – we must take time for ourselves. There is a time to remove yourself from the hectic pace of a hurried life and spend time alone in prayer with God. The Lord is not interested in your cell phone. Leave it alone for a few hours (or more) and prove you are not addicted. God needs your time – alone – all by yourself. Is life busy? Find a mountain or wilderness and GO by yourself and be ALONE. You will be amazed how refreshed you will be.

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Was The Thief Baptized?

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

Was The Thief Baptized?

No criminal in human history has received more press time than the man crucified next to Jesus. When Jesus was led to Golgotha for crucifixion, two other criminals were crucified. In the beginning, both men reviled Jesus. The unrepentant robber taunted Jesus that if He were the Messiah, to save Himself and the two of them. But the other rebuked his fellow robber declaring they were guilty of their crime, but the man in the middle had done nothing wrong.

The scriptures are silent on how much the man knew about Jesus before they were crucified, but it is certain he recognized Jesus as a man who was innocent of the crimes leveled against Him. Above the two thieves bore the titles of thieves and robbers. Pilate had inscribed above Jesus the charge, “This is the King of the Jews.” The conduct and demeanor of Jesus struck the robber as it would later impress upon the Centurion in charge of the execution. There was a penitent heart in the robber. Jesus knew the man’s heart and saw a pure motive in seeking forgiveness. The expression of mercy and grace is eternal, and it finds Jesus, barely able to speak after hours on the cross, whispering to the man by His side, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.”

There are few acts of mercy found in scripture as profound as the moment the Son of God looks upon the face of one of His creations and gives him peace. Jesus is saving men before He dies. His act of love is a message of incredible grace with the promise of eternal life. As the author of salvation and the adjutant of the divine law, Jesus served the purpose of His Father to forgive men their sins. This was not the first time He had forgiven sins. When the four friends brought their ill friend to Jesus, letting him down through the roof, Jesus shocked the religious elite by telling the man His sins were forgiven. Answering their hearts of blasphemy, Jesus proves He can forgive sins by healing the man of his paralysis immediately. Jesus can forgive sins according to His divine will. That is how powerful the Holy Spirit preserves the story of the thief on the cross.

Sometimes men are uncomfortable with acts of divine mercy. Trying to explain the reason Jesus forgave the thief on the cross, the idea is suggested that possibly the thief had been baptized under the baptism of John. Nothing in scripture suggests the thief had any dealings with John and his disciples. Denying the power of divine forgiveness, a solution to the quandary of how Jesus could forgive a man is answered with reference to the need to be baptized by John. It is unclear why the baptism of John is always suggested when the disciples of Jesus baptized more than the disciples of John. Why not appeal to the thief being a disciple of Jesus and baptized by one of the Lord’s disciples? What purpose does the suggestion of the thief being baptized have to his salvation?

When the thief was crucified, baptism was not essential for salvation. The Law of Moses was still in effect, and nothing in the Law required immersion in water for salvation. Was Lazarus (of the story of the rich man and the beggar) saved because he had been baptized under John’s baptism? The scriptures only tell that Lazarus was a beggar laid at the rich man’s gate, and the beggar went to Paradise. Why suggest he was baptized when the scriptures do not say? During the early days of the church, the Holy Spirit tells the story of Paul finding twelve men who knew only the baptism of John. If the thief was baptized under John’s baptism, why did the Holy Spirit leave that detail out? The only answer is the men have sought to justify a powerful divine act of mercy and explain away (or suggest) the thief was baptized under John’s baptism.

It is a dangerous course to suggest an argument of defense by an indefensible position of suggesting an assumption without any body of proof. The thief did not have to be baptized for Jesus to save him. After Jesus died and rose from the dead, entrance into the kingdom of God was accomplished through the waters of the death, burial, and resurrection of the penitent soul. The journey of the thief to Paradise has no bearing on the will of God today. Let the story of Jesus forgiving the thief stand on its own merits of divine mercy without propping the story up with false assumptions. Today, salvation can only be found by doing the will of the Father.

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Satan Is Subservient

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. (Revelation 20:1-3)

Satan Is Subservient

There is no doubt that Satan is a formidable foe. The apostle Peter describes the devil as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He is the adversary. Jesus calls Satan the Father of lies and a murderer from the beginning. The devil does not stand for truth because there is no truth in him. Paul describes the power of Satan as fighting against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, and against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Satan is a force to be reckoned with as powerful and destructive. But the devil is subservient to the will of God.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, penned by the apostle John, is a powerful testimony to the embattled saints of God’s kingdom that the Lord God reigns, rules, and controls all things under His will. Satan is no exception. To the human heart, the devil is a powerful enemy. In the eyes of God, Satan is under His will to do the bidding of the Godhead. The book of the Revelation could be summed up with the battle cry of victory, “We win.” So much attention is given to the minutia of the details of John’s final message that lost in the trivial pursuits of useless arguments is the reality that Satan has no choice in matters of divine judgment. God is in control, not Satan. The Lord God rules, the devil has no power before God.

As the Revelation begins to close, John reveals the fate of Satan and his minions. An angel took hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan and bound him for a thousand years. God tells us an angel has the power to bind Satan. There is nothing the devil can do or say about what the angel does. Satan is subservient to the will of God. The angel cast Satan into the bottomless pit. He shuts the devil up in the bottomless pit and sets a seal upon the pit. An angel binds Satan and limits his power. All of this was accomplished by an angel of the Lord.

Satan does not have free reign to do as he wishes. He operates within the sphere of authority allowed by God. Yes, he influences people to do evil, and most of the world is under the sway of his deception. But John tells us the truth about Satan, and that is the reality the devil is nothing more than a servant, a lowly slave, a nothing being who has limited power. He can be bound, thrown into a pit, and locked up. His power can be limited. Jesus taught the disciples to ask God to lead them not into temptation and to deliver them from the evil one. Satan complained that the Lord had put a hedge around Job, and he was correct. Every faithful child of God has a hedge surrounding him with the army of the Lord standing on the mountaintops, ready to do battle. Satan knows his power is limited.

The victory message of the Revelation becomes much clearer when John writes of the final demise of Satan. There is no guesswork of what will happen to the devil and his angels. It is not left to the wisdom of men to know what happens to the devil on the final day. An angel can bind and control Satan. The day is coming when the devil will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. He will be tormented day and night forever and ever. There is nothing he can do to change this reality. He is not powerful enough to overcome the will of God. When the Lord decrees Satan will be punished in Hell for eternity, that word will come to pass in complete fulfillment. Satan will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone when God tells him.

There is much to know and understand about the old serpent, the devil. John encourages the faith of the saints by reminding them that the faith residing within them is greater than he who is in the world. If a man thinks the devil can defeat him, he is correct. God tells us that the devil can be defeated. We must believe that and practice that faith. Through the power of God, Satan will be caused to flee from us. It is possible to bind the power of the devil. Humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

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On The Wings Of Eagles

And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:3-6)

On The Wings Of Eagles

When God created man and placed him in the garden, the heart of the Lord desired to commune with His creation and share all the manifold blessings of His immense storehouse with the world He created. Everything was beautiful in the garden. God and man walked together in the cool of the day. Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. Fear did not fill the world. In the place called Eden, Paradise reigned supreme. Satan tempted Eve, and falling prey to his scheme, the woman disobeyed God and gave the forbidden fruit to Adam. The world created by God was now destroyed by sin, and man was cast out of the garden.

Cain killed his brother Abel. The heart of man grew worse, and humanity was destroyed in a flood save eight souls. Men struggled to find peace and happiness as they sought after their own desires. Men like Abram stood above the world to seek the will of the Lord to find happiness. God showed His power and might to those who followed Him proving His benevolent love for them. God’s promise to Abraham to provide land, nation, and seed began to unfold by divine will when Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah. Isaac and Rebekah gave birth to Jacob. The children of Jacob became slaves in the pagan world of Egypt. God had not forgotten His promises to Abraham and heard the plight of the children of Jacob.

Egypt was the world’s superpower, and the Hebrews were no match for the Egyptian might. Enslaved for generations, the descendants of Jacob could do nothing but languish in the misery of slavery in a cruel world. They could not save themselves. Only the Lord God could deliver them from Egypt, and with His mighty hand, He delivered His people. First, the Lord God destroyed the nation of Egypt through ten powerful plagues. When the Egyptian army tried to recapture the Hebrews at the Red Sea, God destroyed the army in the sea. Egypt would never be a great nation again.

When the Hebrews arrived at Mount Sinai, the Lord reminded them of His mercy and grace. God wanted the people never to forget what He did to the Egyptians. He told Moses to remind the people their deliverance was like salvation on eagle’s wings brought forth by the hand of the Lord God who saves. The Hebrews did not escape Egypt on their own accord. God delivered them. He brought them out with majesty and power to be His own special people. The Lord tells Moses that He brought Israel to Himself. That is where He wanted Israel to be – in the presence of God. All God has desired for His people is to dwell with them and commune with them.

God tells Moses that He will bless Israel with all the bounty of His grace if only the people obey His voice and keep His commandments. If the people served the Lord, they would be a special treasure above all people on the earth. They must obey His voice and keep His commandments. All the earth belongs to the Lord God, who will bless all who follow Him. Israel was given a choice. They chose to refuse the blessings of God. The history of Israel unfolds the rebellion in the people’s hearts as they did not hear the voice of God and refused to obey His commandments. Israel was no longer the special treasure of the Lord. Like Adam and Eve, they turned their back on the blessings of God.

Israel was delivered on the wings of eagles from Egypt through the grace of God. Jesus Christ came into the world to remove the weight of sin from the shoulders of men on the arms of a cross. God did mighty works against Egypt, but His greatest work was found at a place called Golgotha. It was there He destroyed the power of Satan. Through the blood of His only begotten Son, God promised to raise sinful man up from the depths of destruction if only he would hear His voice and obey His commandments. Men refuse. On the wings of eagles, God has provided the avenue of grace to save men from His wrath. When men hear the voice of God and obey His commandments, they become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Jesus died to build His church where all the saved are found. Come to the voice of God. Obey His commandments. Let God deliver you through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

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Thank The Lord He Is God

A Psalm of Thanksgiving. Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100)

Thank The Lord He Is God

There is reason for a man to rejoice and be thankful. It does not come from the elements of human wisdom, carnal pleasure, wealth, or fame. A heart full of thanksgiving comes from acknowledging the Lord is God and that man is created for the glory of God. Every nation on earth is established by the will of the Creator. The world and the expanse of the universe are held in the palm of God’s hand. Life is created by the Lord. All of the knowledge of men from time beginning are molecules of the smallest atom compared to the vast storehouse of wisdom contained in the mind of God. God is Lord. Man is not.

The Lord is God. It is a powerful yet simple statement. There is no need for elaboration. He existed before the world was created. By the spoken word, the firmaments were established, seas created, animals formed, and man created in the image of his Creator. The sun, moon, and stars all abide in their place because the Lord is God. Life begins, and men die in the cycle of life. Generations come and go, and there is nothing new under the sun. God remains the same. The Lord that spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden is the same Lord that now speaks to men through the written word. All the attempts of human wisdom to discredit the Bible are broken hammers against the anvil of God’s word. God is Lord. Man is not.

Man is created by the power of God and not by his own power. Through the wonders of science, human wisdom has opened the vistas of the human body to the levels of DNA and molecular understanding. But man cannot create life and extend life at his whim. A baby born as a male child will always be a male child, regardless of the science of human wisdom. Trying to change the gender of a human is an impossibility because God created the DNA for the specific gender of the child, and no laboratory can reach into the power of creation to change that. It is God that has made man, not man that has created himself. All men are the people of God through creation. He is the Creator Shepherd who controls all things as all things exist in Him. God is Lord. Man is not.

When a man understands his place in the world and the dominance of God as Lord, he is filled with thanksgiving. The Lord is good, and His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. Human wisdom is fickle. The wisdom of God is true and righteous. Men fail; God never fails. There is gladness to serve the Lord because He is God, and through His knowledge, the heart can find peace, joy, happiness, and contentment. Thanksgiving comes from seeing that the Lord, He is God, and He is in control, and He knows and understands – so why worry? Having a thankful heart will remove the pain of worry. This begins by allowing the heart to know the Lord, He is God – and man is not. Now you have a reason to sing praises to the Lord. Rejoice. The Lord, He is God.

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Serving The Wrong King

But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15)

Serving The Wrong King

Among the Jewish hierarchy, the chief priests were a powerful lobby of the high priests proper, the ex-high priests, and members of privileged families from which high priests were drawn. As members of the Temple worship, the chief priests represented the elite among the spiritual leaders of Israel. They were law scholars and devoted adherents to the word of God. If anyone understood the importance of Hebrew law, the chief priests would fill that role. The conflict between Jesus and the chief priests was born from the spirit of envy that developed over the years of man’s corruption of the office of the chief priests. Religion had become stale, formal, and filled with the pride of those in power. The chief priests served only by name as they had long abandoned the righteous principles of the law.

The chief priests aligned with the Pharisees, elders, and religious leaders to kill Jesus. There was nothing more important to the Jewish leadership than the death of the man from Nazareth. They would stop at nothing to get their way. After a few appearances before the Sanhedrin and the High Priests, Jesus was brought before the Roman court of law under Pilate. The Romans allowed the Jews to stone their brethren, but public execution like crucifixion had to come from the Romans. Succeeding in bringing Jesus before the Romans, they had to convince the governor that Jesus was worthy of death.

Pilate tried to free Jesus, admitting the innocence of the man they charged with treason. The chief priests (and others) stirred up the crowd to demand the crucifixion of Jesus. The crowd was creating a small riot demanding that Pilate deliver Jesus to be crucified. When Pilate asked if they wanted him to crucify their king, the chief priests made a startling statement. They shouted that they had no king but Caesar. It was a great ploy to use against Pilate forcing his hand to crucify Jesus. At the same time, the chief priests denied their loyalty to the kingdom of God. The setting was faithful to the character of the religious leaders. They gave up their faith to force Pilate to kill their adversary.

Shouting that they had no king, but Caesar allowed them to destroy the man they hated, but in 70 AD, the king they gave their allegiance to (Caesar) destroyed them. How ironic that the plea of the chief priests became their prophetic end. They refused to acknowledge Jesus as Christ, the Son of God, giving up their faith in God as their king to receive a temporal and pagan king. In defiance, they gave up all hope of a Messiah. When the heart abandons truth, all that remains are the remnants of a lost promise. The madness of their hatred for Jesus led them to destroy their faith in God.

Caesar comes in all forms. Men reject the kingdom of God for wealth, power, glory, pleasure, fame, and the pursuit of the doctrine of me only. They shout as the chief priests that they have no king but what they desire and want. There is no time for God. Life is too full to waste energy on faith, truth, and the gospel. There is no need for the church. Religion is ridiculed. The Bible is laughed at. Any image of God is removed. Nothing changes from generation to generation. Men still cry out, “Crucify Him, crucify Him. We have no king but ourselves.” Jesus died. God raised Him from the dead. The Jewish nation ended in 70 AD. Jesus still reigns and rules. He is still King. Caesar has long been forgotten. Which king will you serve? Who is your king?

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Jesus – The Universal Language

Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. (John 19:19-20)

Jesus – The Universal Language

Everything about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ testifies to the completeness of the plan of God to redeem man. Three crosses represented redemption, rejection, and redemption. The Son of God, hanging between heaven and earth, seeks to bring all men to the Father. Suffering would bring hope. Death brings life. The joy of the cross becomes the joy of salvation. There are images throughout the story of the cross that is emblazoned on the scriptures as testimonials of the will of God to save all men.

It was customary for an inscription to accompany a condemned man. Jesus had a title placed on His cross so that all passing by would know His crime. He was not a murderer, rebel, zealot, or political foe. Pilate wrote above the head of Jesus, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The chief priests and Jews took exception to what Pilate wrote, but he would not be dissuaded. He had grown tired of their meddling. What he had written would stay. Jesus said He was King of the Jews, and that is how Pilate ended the story. Pilate’s phrasing was a powerful sermon to the truth, which had been denied earlier when Pilate sought for truth. Standing before him was the Son of God, who had all authority. Placing the title above the head of Jesus affirmed (without Pilate’s recognition) that Jesus Christ was King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The language Pilate used was not by chance. Jesus came in the fullness of time when the gospel would have a greater course of success than at any time in history. Everything was in place for the Son of God to come to earth and the church to spread through the world. One of the reasons the church would grow so quickly was the absence of language barriers. Pilate wrote the title above Jesus in three languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The title was meant to be read. Latin was the legal and official language of the Roman Empire. Hebrew (Aramaic) would benefit the people of Jerusalem of the Hebrew faith, and Greek for everyone who did not understand Hebrew. Jesus was the king for all men of all languages.

The irony of the act of Pilate was the man he condemned to die was the One who came to a place in Shinar where early man wanted to build a tower to the heavens and confused the language of humanity. The Lord had seen what man would do and scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth. The name of the place was called Babel because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there, the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the earth. Thousands of years later, Pilate wrote a title in three languages showing that God sent His Son into the world to bring all men back as one to the Lord God. Under Jesus Christ, men could be united. The gospel would be for everyone, regardless of skin color, nationality, and language.

When early men wanted to build the tower of Babel, they worshipped themselves. Jesus was raised up on a hill called Golgotha to show men worship belonged to God alone. The gospel was not for the Jew alone but for everyone. It would not matter if someone were Jew or Gentile, free or slave, male or female, young or old. All those who would come to the man at Golgotha could find the grace of God. There is no language barrier to the love of God. The Bible has been translated into every language known to man. Three languages bore the testimony of Jesus Christ that day. The language of love was established when God raised His Son from the dead.

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You Were Not Willing

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Matthew 23:37)

You Were Not Willing

The city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. General Titus brought the Roman Army to Judea and, after a five-month siege, destroyed the city and the Temple. It would end the Jewish nation, never to be restored. The prophets and Jesus Christ foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. When Jesus was near the end of His ministry, knowing He would go to Jerusalem to die, He wept over the city and the future fate of the citizens. It was a painful lesson of God’s grace and man’s rejection. Throughout the history of Israel, God extended immeasurable grace to His people through the voices of the prophets. He pleaded with them to return to Him, but they refused. Jesus stood before the great city of the Lord’s heritage and could only see the city through His tears.

There was nothing more deeply felt in the heart of Jesus than to protect the innocent of Jerusalem. Jesus expressed an endearing love for the people as he exclaimed His desire like a mother hen protecting her chicks under her wing. He wanted more than anything to see the people find blessing in God’s love. His Father had done so much for Israel. Jerusalem would fall in forty years, and there was nothing Jesus could do. The fate of the holy city was sealed. He desired to gather the people together to Him, but there was a problem. The people were unwilling to submit to the grace of God.

A stark contrast is found in the picture of Jesus standing before the city. The Son of God wept for the city, sincerely desiring to save them. He had the power to keep His people safe, but this would not happen. Thousands of people would be slaughtered in the conquest of Jerusalem. Jesus could not save Jerusalem because the people were unwilling to repent. Shortly after Jesus stood before the city weeping, He was taken to Golgotha and killed. In a matter of days, the people would pour out their wrath against Jesus, crying out, “Crucify Him, crucify Him. We have no king but Caesar.” The people He had wept over killed Him.

The human heart more easily blames God when it is their own rebellion. Jesus pointed out the flaw in the Jewish nation as the cause of the misery that would come. Jerusalem was destroyed because of the refusal of the people to accept Jesus as the Son of God. They had long fought against the word of the Lord, unwilling to subject themselves to His authority. When the judgment came in the form of the Roman army destroying the city, the only ones to blame were themselves. They were unwilling.

People refuse to believe in the Creator. They reject the Bible as the divine word of God. Misery accompanies a society that rejects God as men pursue their godless desires. Trying to make sense of their heartache, men blame God and accuse Him. The truth lies in the words of Jesus. The hearts of the people are unwilling to submit to God. Jesus told a parable of those invited to a wedding feast, and many were unwilling to come. When the Jews sought to kill Jesus when He healed a man on the Sabbath, Jesus reminded them that they were unwilling to come to the Lord to have life. When men stand condemned before the Divine Judge, it will not be the grace of God that is lacking or the love of God with empty promises. All men will be judged whether they are willing to submit to Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Most are unwilling. Are you?

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No Baptism, No Covenant, And No Hope

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12)

No Baptism, No Covenant, And No Hope

Circumcision was nothing to trifle about. God made a covenant with Abraham that was clear and demonstrative. He told the aged patriarch that circumcision was the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham. Every male child in his family must be circumcised. On the eighth day of the child’s life, he must be circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin as a sign of the covenant between God and the people of Abraham. The uncircumcised male child will be cut off from the people because he has broken the covenant of the Lord. Abraham understood and obeyed. At the age of ninety-nine, Abraham was circumcised along with his thirteen-year-old son, Ishmael, and all the men of his house. None were excluded. If anyone had refused to be circumcised, they would have been cast out of the family.

The Law of Moses included the commandment of God to circumcise every male child at the age of eight days. Every male born to a Jewish family was circumcised to establish the covenant of Abraham. Without the act of circumcision, there would be no covenant, and without the covenant with God, there would be no hope. Circumcision became a problem in the early church when Judaizing teachers taught unless one was circumcised according to the custom of Moses, they could not be saved. When the apostles, elders, and leading men among the brethren discussed the matter, it was concluded, according to the Holy Spirit; circumcision had no bearing on salvation. No commandment was given in the early church, requiring anyone to be circumcised to be saved.

Paul uses the teaching of circumcision to make a strong point about how salvation is found in Christ. He had argued to the Roman brethren the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was the same fashion of the need to be baptized in water. Like Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, the penitent individual dies to his sins, is buried in water, and is raised up in newness of life to a new creation. Writing to the saints at Colosse, the apostle Paul affirms with no doubt the relationship of being in covenant with God and baptism. The circumcision Paul speaks of is not the literal cutting of the foreskin but the operation of the Spirit on the heart.

In Christ, one is circumcised with the circumcision made without hands. The circumcision of Abraham was a physical act of mutilation. Being circumcised in Christ is a spiritual act of purification. Baptism is putting off the body of sin by the circumcision of Christ. When someone is buried in Christ, they have cut off the foreskin of damnation in having their sins washed away. A man is buried with Christ in immersion (baptism), in which they are raised with Christ through faith in the working of God.

When Abraham was told at the age of ninety-nine to circumcise himself, his son, and all the men in his house; did he argue and fuss and debate the issue? What will cutting off some foreskins have to do with eternal life? Abraham believed in the working of God. He obeyed. Paul declares that baptism is circumcision in the kingdom of God. When a man refuses to be baptized for the remission of his sins, he denies the working of God. Without baptism (circumcision), there is no covenant, and if there is no covenant – there is no hope. If you have not been baptized into Christ for the remission of sins, you have no hope. Faith alone cannot save. Grace alone will not save you. Obedience to the working of God is the only hope you have. Have you been circumcised in Christ?

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Would You Eat Peanut Butter For Forty Years?

And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” (Numbers 21:5)

Would You Eat Peanut Butter For Forty Years?

The children of Israel had a complaint against God. He had made them eat peanut butter for nearly forty years, and they were tired of it. It was provided to them free of charge without any effort on their part. They did not have to grow peanuts from seed. There was no need to harvest the peanuts, shell, cook, mash, and create the ingredients for extra-crunchy peanut butter. The only thing they had to do each day was wake up, and the peanut butter was there. They had plenty of water to wash it down. In the forty years the people walked around the wilderness, peanut butter was provided so they would never go hungry. And they never went hungry. There was never a day when they could complain to the Lord for food and water. God provided everything the people needed for life – food and water.

Eating peanut butter for forty years was a test. Shortly after leaving Sinai, the people complained about the food. They complained to the Lord, and He became angry. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and many people died. The people wanted meat to eat. They remembered the fish that was in abundance in Egypt when they were in bondage. The bounty of their Egyptian bondage was so severe they said they had to eat cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic; or at least that is how they wanted to remember the oppression of the Egyptians against them. As their hearts turned back to Egypt, they loathed the peanut butter God gave them. They felt like they were shriveling away to nothing, eating all that peanut butter.

Years later, when they were going around the land of Edom, the soul of the people once again became disheartened eating the peanut butter. They complained to Moses he had brought them from the palaces of Egypt to die in the wilderness with no food and water. The peanut butter was a loathsome and worthless meal. As the Lord heard their continual complaints, He sent serpents among the people, killing many. God provided everything they needed to sustain life. They had never known the hunger of the real Egyptian experience. God humbled them and made them feel the pains of hunger so He could feed them with peanut butter, which they did not know, nor their fathers knew. The reason God gave the people peanut butter all those years was to teach them life is not about peanut butter but God’s care for them.

It would be hard to imagine eating peanut butter for forty years. You know, of course, God gave them manna (along with water and quail) and not peanut butter. Imagine being told you had to eat peanut butter for forty years. After the first few weeks, it might become tiresome. The problem with the children of Israel and the manna was they failed to see God gave them what they needed, not what they wanted. If they ate the manna, they would live. It would not be a sirloin steak or a rack of ribs or a big piece of coconut cream pie, but they had food to live on. God was showing them how to trust Him as He provided manna for them every day without fail.

God understood how tiresome the manna could be, but it was life. It came from God’s storehouse of blessings. Man does not live by the selfish desires of his fleshy wants. Only when men become dissatisfied with the blessings of God as monotonous and boring do they die. Jesus told Satan man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. If the only thing a man had to eat was peanut butter for the rest of his life, he would have food. God gave the people manna. They needed to be thankful. He gave them all the water they needed and threw in some quail. The lesson is this: everything came by the hand of God! They still complained.

When we become focused on our own needs and wants, we can easily fail to appreciate all the blessings God has given us. The house may not be the best, but it’s a home. Our jobs may not be what we dreamed of, but we have a job. Life may not be the ultimate fulfillment of everything we dreamed of, but if we are content in the Lord Jesus Christ, what else is there? Eat the peanut butter. Be thankful. It could be liver.

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When Herod Met Jesus A Second Time

Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. (Luke 23:11)

When Herod Met Jesus A Second Time

The dynasty of the Herods fills the pages of scripture. Herod the Great ordered the slaughter of the young males in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. His son, Herod Antipas, murdered John the Baptist. Herod Antipas had heard of the fame of Jesus but never met Him. He wanted to see Jesus, and the opportunity never came. When the early church began, Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great (the son of Aristobulus, whom Herod had put to death), had James killed. Agrippa would die a horrible death of worms for taking on the glory of God. Three Herod families filled the land with violence, hatred, and murder. The second Herod finally had his day when he could meet Jesus face to face. It would be a day he would never forget.

After His arrest, Jesus endured the trials by the Jewish leadership and was taken to Pilate. Hearing that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate pawned Jesus off to Herod, hoping to wash his hands of the case. Herod was excited to see Jesus as he had desired to meet him. Herod had been hoping for a long time to see Jesus perform a miracle. When the Lord came before King Herod, he asked Jesus question after question, but Jesus refused to answer. All the while, Jesus stood before Herod; the Jews shouted their accusations against Him. Jesus remained silent. Herod was not accustomed to men ignoring him and called his soldiers in to punish the man from Nazareth.

Herod began to mock and ridicule Jesus. His soldiers treated Jesus with contempt. As men of war, they had no compassion for the little man in front of them who remained silent. Their insults were cruel as they spit upon Him, slapped Him, laughed at Him, and cruelly taunted their victim. They put a gorgeous robe on Him to make the picture more humiliating. Tired of their taunts, Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate, thinking he would never see Jesus again. Jesus was condemned to die and crucified as an enemy of the Roman state. Herod probably read the report and was glad to have the matter settled.

The rule of Herod did not end well. He was banished by Caligula and died in exile around 39 A.D. On the scale of human history, Herod Antipas was an insignificant part of Roman history. He and his soldiers had the Son of God standing before them, and they treated Him with the most contempt and vile manner as any despot. What changed was when Herod and his men woke in eternity and saw face to face the One they had treated so cruelly. They were no longer taunting, jeering, spitting on, slapping, or laughing. The dark reality of torment lunged before their faces as they stood before the great I Am. He was their victim in life, but now He is their judge.

Herod thought he was a man of power, and, for a time, he was. What makes the stories of despots so futile is the realization that when they stand before the Creator, they are dust. The mercy and grace of God were offered to these men, but they refused. They treated men cruelly and viciously, but a day of judgment is where a greater One judges them in righteousness and truth. There is much sorrow and pain inflicted by men in this world. God does not forget. When Herod saw Jesus the second time, Herod was on his knees. Jesus did not treat Herod with contempt. It saddened the heart of the Lord to see the despot kneeling before Him, but God’s wrath is against all ungodliness. The cry of those in darkness will fill the vastness of eternity when they meet the One who judges all men.

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God Got Angry

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore, I was angry with that generation and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.'” (Hebrews 3:7-11)

God Got Angry

It is easy to think of the Lord God as a kind, benevolent old man with white hair sitting on a white throne, smiling at the world and passing out harps to little angels circling His throne. Everything known about God is found in the Bible, yet the imagination of human wisdom has recreated God into an image of the totem of human wisdom. The Bible is full of the love of God, His mercy and grace, and His benevolent spirit. There is no doubt about the goodness of the Lord. What is often overlooked for purposes of denying the truth of God’s character is the truth that God can get angry and punish His creation.

The reason the severity of God is not accepted is that it makes men accountable for their actions. If God is only a God of love, man can do whatever he wants to do, and God will love him and accept him. Nothing is further from the truth. It does not matter how a person lives; everyone goes to heaven. Men struggle with the notion that God would send anyone to a place of eternal torment because that is beyond the wisdom of human reasoning. How could a God so full of love be so cruel to damn a soul to perdition? A loving God can never become so angry He would destroy His creation.

Human wisdom cannot accept the anger of God because men refuse to accept the Bible as the divine word. The history of Israel is preserved in scripture to lay bare the failure of human wisdom and make clear the demonstrative anger of the Lord against those who oppose Him. Blame does not begin with God but with Israel. It was the nation of Israel that hardened their hearts in rebellion. The people of God tested the Lord, tried His patience, and refused to obey His word. God is the one who parted the Red Sea and rescued the Hebrews. It was by the power of God the Amalekites were defeated. Israel never lost a battle in the forty years of wandering, except when Israel made a futile attempt to invade Canaan at Hormah. God provided food, water, and clothing for forty years. Israel still rebelled with all the signs God gave them.

God was angry. The Hebrew writer testifies to the word of the Holy Spirit that God became angry with Israel and made a decision that would change the people forever. Israel turned their hearts away from the Lord. They refused to do what God told them, and He punished them. The Lord God swore in His wrath the rebellious would not enter the promised land, and they did not. Everyone from the age of twenty years and above died in the wilderness. The only two men who did not die were Joshua and Caleb. God was angry and punished His special people. Yes, God will punish those who do not obey His word. That judgment has not changed.

The history of Israel is left for men to read and understand the goodness and severity of God. There is much about the love of God that saves men, but there is much about the wrath of God that will destroy the disobedient. No one gets a free pass to eternal life because they are good, religious, or breathing air. The only people in heaven are those who follow the will of the Father. God’s wrath is real. There is a place called Hell. It is prepared for the devil and his angels, but it will be full of the majority of humanity because men refuse to obey God. The anger of God is real. Take note. Wake up. Jesus came to take away God’s wrath, but His sacrifice means nothing if you do not obey His word. There is a great day coming. Prepare to meet your God.

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The Devil Can Be Beaten

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

The Devil Can Be Beaten

Fear can only be measured by the amount of courage we lack to stand against something bigger than ourselves. The devil is a powerful and consuming adversary that stops at nothing to devour his prey. When the prey stops praying, fear takes hold, and the soul is lost. Satan convinces the heart there is no hope, no answers, and no power to resist him. That is a lie. It should not surprise the people of God when the devil lies, as he is the father of all lies. The truth lies in the eternal fact that when the people of God are alert and watching out for the great enemy, he can be beaten – and badly.

There is little doubt Satan is like a hungry and devouring lion. He cares not whom he consumes, and his greatest delicacy is the soul of God’s people. Prowling like a lion, ready to pounce with a roar that brings fear into his victim, the devil uses his wiles and deceits to destroy faith, hope, and trust. The devil can be beaten when the heart stands firm against him with strong faith. Everyone suffers under the hand of the devil. From the moment he first spoke to Eve in Eden until the final day when Jesus Christ returns with the heavenly hosts of angels, Satan will find ways to destroy righteous hearts. God wants His people to know Satan is defeated. He will be defeated in judgment when the Lord casts the devil into a lake of fire, which is the second death. Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels – and he knows it. Before that time, he will make every effort to take as many people with him as possible – and he is doing an incredible job. Most people fall prey to his wiles because they do not know Satan is defeated and can be beaten.

Faith assures the heart that God is greater than Satan. The Father does not make idle promises. He has said He will not allow His people to be tempted beyond their ability to resist. There is a hedge placed around the family of God to protect them. When the little foxes of doubt and despair come into the heart, the hedge of protection is compromised. Satan begins to whittle away at the heart. The Christian must be sober and stay alert with vigilance. The devil is walking about. Stand firm against him and resist him. He can be beaten. Standing steadfast in the faith of Jesus Christ will protect the heart from the devil’s wiles.

When the roaring lion of Satan’s breath blows its evil deceit in your face, stand firm and look the devil in the eye and tell him he is beaten. Shake your righteous fist in his face and tell him to go away – and he will – he has no choice. He can be resisted. Satan can be beaten. The devil is not greater than the spirit of faith residing in the heart of God’s righteous people. He will chip away at our lives, seeking to destroy us, but there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Satan plants seeds of doubt in our minds that must be destroyed. Jesus did not die to offer a weak promise of hope but a courageous faith of trust, knowing that I am a child of God and Satan will not have his way with me. Get away from me, Satan. You are beaten. You are defeated. You are crushed. It is not I that lives, but Christ Jesus that lives in me.

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Three Point Life Sermon

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)

Three Point Life Sermon

Many nuggets in scripture are designed for a simple pattern of learning. The scripture divisions are always interesting, and there is nothing to indicate how and why Robert Stephanus (1551) chose to divide the New Testament as he did. Chapters and verses have made it easier to study the Bible. Often a single verse will present a basic lesson on Christian living. It is much easier when it becomes a three-point sermon. Three things are noted in the ninth verse of Romans 12: real love, abhorring, and clinging. Living by these principles (commands) will change the heart to be devoted to the will of the Father.

Love is the basis of human relationships. There are many definitions of love expressed in many different ways. The Greek language effectively divided the word into concrete ideas to discern the correct meaning. In the English language, the same word is used for many opposite ideas of what love is. A man can be in love with his wife and love her apple pie, but those two loves are supposed to be different from one another. The love Paul writes about in Romans 12:9 is the Greek, ‘AGAPE.’ This type of love differs from the ‘PHILEO’ love, similar to the English word for ‘friendship.’ A Christian’s love for others is the spirit of goodwill toward all mankind. Paul explains this kind of love must be sincere and honest love.

It is easy to love in a spirit of hypocrisy. Showing love or telling someone of their love can be couched within a heart of mistrust and hatred. The smile on the outside can mask the hatred on the inside. Love must be complete. Words do not suffice when love is expressed. Action rather than words best define love. Jesus said He loved the word, but until He gave His life on the cross, He had not expressed that divine love. God loved the world and showed His love by sending His Son. How can the love from a child of God be any less? Love should not be pretended to or unfeigned.

The second point is the appeal to abhor or hate what is evil. That is simple. There is little to unpack from the message. If something is evil – hate it, despise it, run away from it, and consider it vile. Abhorring something is not disliking something. To abhor a thing is to look at it with complete disgust and to be repulsed by it. There are things in life that, by their nature, are detestable. Evil is to be considered something that is not a laughing matter; it is not acceptable even if approved by society, or ‘just the way the world turns’ kind of thing. Evil is evil and should be abhorred immensely. Any middle ground of evil is the broad way of falsehood.

In response to evil, the Christian must hold tightly to that which is good. Hating one thing and loving intensely something else is how responsive the heart must be to putting wickedness out of the spirit and embracing all that is righteous. Clinging to something is to embrace it with a tight hold. The Greek word comes from the idea of glue or sticking to something. When the heart clings to all that is good, love will be without pretense, and evil will find its place on the dung heap. Goodness will rule the heart. All that the eye can see is the goodness of a thing.

It must be noted the only way to love without hypocrisy, abhor evil and cling to that which is good is to know how to affect these attributes in the heart. Love is defined by how God defines love. Evil is determined by the mind of God. Righteousness and goodness can only come from the Holy Spirit. Loved defined by the world fails. The world calls evil good and good evil and cannot be trusted. When the child of God seeks the word of God in his life, he will find the answers to love, evil, and what is good. Then, and only then, can he be found pleasing to the Father. Do you need a life formula? Have sincere love, run away from evil, and embrace goodness with all your might.

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Reading The Law Every Seven Years

So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.” (Deuteronomy 31:9-13)

Reading The Law Every Seven Years

Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he brought the children of Israel to the borders of Canaan a second time. Four decades earlier, the people rebelled against God when they did not believe the Lord could deliver them from the hand of the people of Canaan. Moses would not be allowed to enter the promised land and gave the nation’s leadership to Joshua, son of Nun. God promised to fight for the people to destroy all the nations as He did to Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites and their land, which He destroyed. The people needed faith and courage that God would fight for them, giving them victory on every hand. All the promises of God were true and faithful. The Lord would never leave them or forsake His people.

Before crossing the Jordan, Moses wrote the law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, and to all the elders of Israel. The Law of Moses was the word of God instructing the people in their obedience to the will of the Lord. It contained all the requirements and blessings of God’s overshadowing plan to bless Israel above all nations of the earth. If the people obeyed the word of the Lord, God would bless them immensely. The warnings against disobedience were harsh. When Moses delivered the written law to the people, he included a caveat that was a part of the law. Every seven years, at the Feast of Tabernacles, all Israel must come before the Lord and listen to the law read to them. All of the men, women, and children and the strangers among them must gather together to hear and learn to fear the Lord God through the reading of the law. The reading would remind them to observe all the words of the law. This reading was not a choice but a command that must be obeyed.

A secondary reason for the reading of the law was to teach the children who did not know the word of the Lord. Every generation would hear the whole law read in its completeness at the end of each seven years. If a man lived to be seventy years of age, he would have heard the reading of the law seven times. Children would listen to the reading of the law. Husbands and wives had no excuse to understand the law. Masters and slaves heard the law being read. Young men and women learned the blessings and penalties of the law. Hearing the law every seven years would help to engrain the message of God within the hearts of the people.

The history of Israel does not indicate how long this practice was kept, but it is evident by the failed efforts of the nation; the reading of the law every seven years did not take long to be forgotten. Israel’s history is what happens when the word of the Lord is ignored and put aside. During the period of the Judges, every man did what was right in his own eyes. King Saul did not take much stock in reading the law. Solomon allowed his foreign wives to hinder his reading. During the days of the divided kingdom, few kings knew the law. Israel was destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Jesus Christ established His church and gave the law of God to His people. It is evident by the example of Israel the need for continual reading of the law. Every Christian should make it a permanent part of their life to read the word of God. They should not wait every seven years to read the book. A daily meditation on God’s word will create healthy, vibrant, faith-filled lives. Children who grow up with parents who do not read the Bible to them are many, which is why young people walk away from God. They never saw Him in their homes. Reading the word of God is where faith comes from. If there is no reading, there is no faith. Israel was given as an example of what happens when a generation comes that does not know the law of God. Read the Bible. Your eternal life depends on it.

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What The World Needs Are Broken Hearts

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)

What The World Needs Are Broken Hearts

Devout Jews from every nation came together in Jerusalem as they had done for centuries. The Day of Pentecost was one of three feasts requiring an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This feast was during the barley harvest, lasting until the end of March in the lower Jordan Valley to the beginning of May in the mountains. It was also called the Feast of Harvest. Seven weeks after the death of Jesus, the city of Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims from every nation under heaven. When the Holy Spirit came upon the twelve apostles with a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind filling the whole house, a large crowd gathered to see the spectacle. They were amazed to hear the Galileans speaking various languages and preaching about a risen Christ.

The apostle Peter took center stage, explaining what was happening fulfilled the prophecy of Joel. He continued to explain that Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God by miracles, wonders, and signs, was the promised Messiah whom God raised up to sit at the right hand of the Lord. Peter explained how David had foretold the coming of Christ. He affirmed that God had made Jesus both Lord and Christ. The multitude responded to the powerful message from the apostle Peter. Luke records that the people, hearing these words, were cut to the heart and begged Peter to tell them what to do to be saved. They had killed the Prince of Life, the Holy One, and the Just One.

Peter tells the multitude to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins. The promise of the Holy Spirit was given to all who obeyed the word of the Lord. On that day, three thousand people were baptized for the remission of their sins. They gladly received the words of the apostles and obeyed. And they continued to devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and fellowship, and the Lord’s Supper, and to prayer. The early church had begun with three thousand open-hearted, receptive, excited, and devoted people.

What makes the story of Pentecost so remarkable is the open hearts of those who obeyed. Three thousand seems a large number, and while it is an incredible crowd to begin the church, many more thousands did not obey. What made these saints special was the kind of heart they had. Many people had a hard heart on that day, refusing to submit to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The open-hearted Jews readily accepted the truth as the word of God. There was no argument or dissent in the simple sermon of Peter. They were cut to the heart when they realized they had killed the Son of God. There was no effort to rest on their religion as a reason to refuse the invitation of Peter. No one argued salvation by faith only or grace alone. When the three thousand were baptized, they were immersed; not sprinkled or poured and misted with water.

On the Day of Pentecost, three thousand open hearts obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ without delay. That same sermon is preached today, and people reject it as salvation by works. Hearts are not as tender as they were on the Day of Pentecost. The invitation of Jesus is given, and few respond. It is not because the gospel has been diminished, but the hearts of the people have grown hard. False doctrines like “just accept Christ as your personal Savior” are readily accepted because the heart is hardened to truth. Those devout Jews two thousand years ago had a heart that changed the world. What the world needs now is a heart willing to listen to the word of God and respond. When will men stop arguing with God? It is a no-win situation. The word of the Lord remains the same. “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” What will your heart do with this?

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Male And Female

And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning, ‘Made them male and female.'” (Matthew 19:4)

Male And Female

There is no doubt the moral compass of the world has turned social norms upside down. The acceptance of the free sexual identification platform forces on the stage of human opinion an awareness of those who wish to “identify” in whatever passion they desire. In the 70s, it was the hippie movement for open sexuality. This has now born the grandchildren of a culture identifying themselves with a long list of letters representing whatever fetish their flesh desires and calling themselves by names derogatory to the natural order of things. A transvestite is a person, especially a male, who adopts the dress and often the behavior typical of a woman for emotional or sexual gratification. The dilemma of those who identify themselves as transvestites must clarify they are ‘trans’ because they cannot call themselves males any longer, although at birth they were males. Each time they identify themselves as ‘trans,’ they admit they were born male.

God created an organized and efficient world that has existed for thousands of years in the same manner and the same order. Boys and girls are born every day. Men and women live in every community in the world. Women can get pregnant, but men cannot. There is a difference in the anatomy of males and females. Men generally are stronger physically than women. God created man first and then formed woman from man. Adam called God’s creation “Woman” because she was taken out of man. There are only two kinds of humans that become obvious with minimal effort.

Because of the self-serving, hedonistic, pleasure-seeking passions of the human spirit, efforts are made to justify the lifestyles of those who desire same-sex, immoral, and decadent identification. The final irony is that at the end of the day, a person who identifies as a transvestite is merely a man wanting to be a woman; they try to deny the difference between a man and a woman. Every person is born a male or female. They are not born transvestites or homosexuals or adulterers or sodomites, or pedophiles. These passions come from the fleshly desires to go against nature created by God. When the Lord created man and woman, He designed their bodies so uniquely that when an archeologist finds skeleton remains, they can determine whether the deceased is a male or female by examining the bones. It does not matter what kind of clothing they had on or how much makeup they wore; the bones tell the story of male and female.

God said He created male and female. Moses wrote the story about males and females. Jesus confirmed the words of Moses when He declared, in the beginning, there was only male and female. Denying the identification of male and female denies God, the Holy Spirit, the Son of God, and the Word of God. One thing is sure: to reject the identification of males and females is to deny eternal salvation. The individual may enjoy his pleasure here in this life, but denying God will sentence them to the endless darkness of perdition. Sadly, common sense is more prevalent to answer the question, but the appeal must be made to the reality of God’s word. The Lord created male and female. That’s it. Nothing more.

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God Will Make You Laugh

And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore to him—Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.” She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Genesis 21:1-7)

God Will Make You Laugh

Many things in life are impossible and without answers. Sometimes a thing may seem impossible, but through the fortunes of life can be achieved. The four-minute mile seemed impossible, but it happened in 1954 and is now the standard for all male professional middle-distance runners in several cultures. Landing a man on the moon was beyond the imagination of human wisdom. Neil Armstrong stepped on the Moon on July 20, 1969. The power of human wisdom achieved the impossible. When something is genuinely impossible, nothing within the framework of man’s knowledge, power, and technology can achieve it. Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon, but it was impossible to walk to the Moon. A man can’t live in the sea without an artificial device to give him oxygen. Contrary to today’s culture, a man can’t give birth to a child. God created only the woman for that role.

In the arena of impossibilities, a ninety-year-old woman cannot give birth to a child. This is especially true for a man one hundred years old. Before the flood, men lived nearly a thousand years. After the flood, life expectancy changed. Giving birth to a child could only happen when the woman’s womb was full of life. In the creation of Eve, God ordained a time when the womb would no longer bear children. When the Lord first appeared to Abraham and told the patriarch he would be the father of a great nation, Abraham was seventy-five. Sarah was sixty-five. When Abraham was ninety-nine, God appeared to remind him of His promise of a great nation. God tells Abraham He would make him the father of many nations. He tells Abraham that Sarah will have a son and be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be from her. Sarah was eighty-nine at the time God spoke to Abraham. Abraham fell on his face and laughed.

God can make a man laugh. Abraham was feeling the pains of living for almost one hundred years. He believed in the promise of God, but to consider the possibility of him having a son at his age was an impossibility. He suggested God consider Ishmael as the son of promise. Abraham had good reason to think it was impossible to bear a son. And he was correct. At this time, the womb of Sarah was dead, and Abraham’s body was dead, so far as having a son. Abraham and Sarah couldn’t have a son. Modern medical science could not have changed the impossibility. The condition of Abraham and Sarah was permanent. And then God made Sarah laugh.

Soon after telling Abraham that he would have a Son, God sent three angels to Abraham to inform him of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. As the men sat with Abraham in his tent, they reaffirmed the promise of a son. Sarah had been busy making provisions for the men when they asked Abraham where she was. Abraham said she was in the tent. They told Abraham according to the time of life, Sarah would give birth to a son. Sarah was listening at the tent door and when she heard what the man said, laughed within herself at the possibility of a child being born to her. She knew she had passed the age of childbearing. Hearing the news, she laughed within herself. She could not believe it. The angels knew she had laughed and reminded Abraham that nothing was impossible for God.

Nine months later, Sarah gave birth to Isaac and laughed. She had a baby at the age of ninety. It was the impossible made possible by the God of impossibilities. Her laughter was the amazement at what God’s power can do. It must have been an amazing thing for everyone to see a pregnant ninety-year-old woman walking around and then hear of her son’s perfect birth. Everyone was laughing – seeing the power of God to do the impossible. She bore Abraham a son in his old age. At the age of ninety, she nursed her son. Sarah laughed with wonder and joy at the power of the Lord. No one could believe it, but it was true.

The possibility of a ninety-year-old woman giving birth to a healthy baby boy remains impossible. Human wisdom will never craft medicine or technology to allow this. The virgin birth of Jesus was the highest of impossibilities made possible by the power of God. These miracles are among a host of signs of what God can do if the heart is willing to laugh and believe the impossible. Not to laugh in derision, but belief. There is nothing God cannot do to change a person’s life. The grace of God saved Paul. The magicians in Ephesus gave up their trade and burned their books worth millions of dollars for Jesus Christ. Paul refers to saints at Corinth as fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners. They were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus Christ. Impossible? Not with the power of God.

There is nothing in your life God cannot make possible. You may face the impossible. Let God change your impossible to possible. If He can give life to a ninety-year-old woman to give birth to a son in her old age, what kind of possibility can He accomplish in your life? Trust in Him. Seek His power. Trust in His grace. Let God make you laugh.

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How Could They Say That?

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:12)

How Could They Say That?

The members of the body of Christ in Corinth were in a dilemma. Paul referred to them as a church of God. They were called those who had sanctified themselves to Jesus Christ. The letter is addressed to those who were the saints of God. Their example was known everywhere as those who called on the name of Jesus Christ. The Corinthian church was enriched in everything by Christ. As people of God, they had been called into the fellowship of the Son of God, Jesus Christ the Lord. In his letter, the apostle Paul refers to the Corinthians as brethren multiple times. For all practical reasons, the church at Corinth was a model church with all the proper credentials of the pattern of New Testament teaching.

Paul commended the church for their good character as a church of God. Still, he began a long discourse rebuking, chiding, admonishing, instructing, and seeking to correct many false ideas that had permeated the church. Among the many issues facing Corinth, Paul tries to understand how some brethren in Corinth taught there was no resurrection of the dead. There are many things fundamental and essential to the doctrine of Christ. Believing that Jesus was the Son of God is paramount. Accepting that Jesus was crucified on a cross, died, and was buried, arising on the third day, was without question. The whole tenor of faith rested upon a risen Savior. If Christ did not rise from the dead, faith was futile. It is impossible to be a baptized believer if one does not accept that Jesus rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of God.

Remarkably, there were those in the Corinthian church that did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. The text does not indicate they denied the resurrection of Jesus. They were teaching the impossibility of the resurrection from the dead in its general sense. Gnostic influences may have led the Christians to try and explain how a man could rise from the dead, what body he would have, and how a person could live in a spiritual body. Paul would address all of these questions. It seems they were trying to unpack the wisdom of God with the tools of men, which is an exercise in futility. Paul will explain through the Holy Spirit the nature of the resurrection, but there are still many questions at the end of the day.

Obviously, if there is no resurrection of the dead, all the stories in the Old Testament and the stories of Jesus and His disciples raising the dead were lies. The greatest lie would have been the resurrection of Jesus – if the dead do not rise. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, faith would be useless. Go home and eat, drink, be merry, and die. There is no purpose to life – if there is no resurrection from the dead. Everything a Christian lives and dies for is useless when the resurrection is denied. There were saints in Corinth who were abandoning their faith for the wisdom of men.

When men turn away from Bible study and prayer, their hearts fill with the wisdom of human reasoning. In time, left unchecked, this will lead the simple-minded away from the only truth that will save them. It is hard to imagine people of God teaching there is no resurrection from the dead. To hear that taught today would be incredible but not surprising. The people of God deny many basic tenets of the gospel—obedience, marriage and divorce, righteousness and holiness, church leadership, and worship. The church of Corinth was a place of great trouble because they began to listen to the wisdom of the world instead of the message of the cross. There is no hope in the cross if there is no empty tomb. An empty tomb means that all of God’s people receive a tomb that will be emptied one day for an eternal crown. Praise God and come quickly, Lord.

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Three Things True

For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (Matthew 16:27)

Three Things True

The Bible is the story of Jesus Christ from Genesis to the Revelation. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John unveil the nature of the Son of God in earthly form. Throughout His ministry, Jesus told His followers He would go to Jerusalem and be betrayed. He would be mocked, spit on, flogged, and then killed. On the third day, Jesus said He would rise again. Jesus was arrested, crucified, and rose on the third day. The work of spreading the gospel of redemption was given to twelve men. After forty days, Jesus ascended to His Father. The apostles carried the message of Jesus Christ until every creature under Heaven had heard the good news. A vital part of the message of Jesus was the belief He arose from the dead and that He was coming back.

It seems the early disciples believed so strongly in the return of Jesus they thought He would return in their lifetime. After two thousand years, He has yet to return, and no one knows when God will send His Son.  Jesus affirmed three things to be true. First, He was coming in the glory of His Father. Second, He would be accompanied by the hosts of angels. Third, all souls will receive the divine judgment of salvation or condemnation upon His return. No man knows the time of the return of Jesus, but there is no doubt that day will come when least expected, like a thief in the night.

Jesus said He was coming back. The angels testified Jesus was returning. Paul and other writers wrote to the first-century disciples encouraging them to continue in the faith with the knowledge that Jesus would return. There is nothing more specific than the second coming of Jesus. Paul described the return of Jesus with a great noise and the instantaneous destruction of Earth and the hosts of heavenly planets and stars. Nothing will be left. All will be burned up in a giant conflagration. Some people believe in a rapture where Jesus returns secretly. The only thing right about that false doctrine is that Jesus is coming back, but there is nothing secret about it. Every eye will see the Lord coming. There will be no one who does not hear the shout of the archangel and the trumpet of God. Rest assured – Jesus is coming back.

When Jesus returns, He does not return alone. He will come in the glory of His Father with His angels. A heavenly host of divine beings will attend Jesus. Angels have always been a vital part of the redemption story. One angel in one night killed 185,000 trained warriors. Angels have cared for God’s people, and when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying, an angel appeared to Him from Heaven, strengthening Him. Jesus died on the cross, but He returns with a host of angels. The world rejected the Son of God, and one day the Son of God returns with the authority of Heaven. A carpenter’s son, considered a criminal, was mocked, spit upon, beaten, and crucified, and when Jesus returns, He will be the Son of God as the eternal Judge of all men. He is coming back, but He is not coming back alone.

When Jesus returns, all men will be placed before the judgment bar of God to receive the things done in the body, whether good or evil. Everyone will receive their reward according to his works. Salvation by faith alone will not be a measure. The salvation of the soul will be according to the works of men in the context of their obedience. Judgment will be measured by faith, grace, mercy, and love but also obedience, works, action, and diligence in doing the will of the Father. For most people, the return of Jesus will be a day of dread. There will be no joy, happiness, or excitement when the trump of God sounds. The return of Jesus ends human history and begins eternal terror for those unprepared. Few will be saved. Only a few will be happy to see Jesus. Most men reject the word of God. Jesus will judge all men according to divine truth. Most of humanity will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. The few who are saved will enjoy the blessings of eternal life. Jesus is coming. He is bringing angels. His judgment will be complete. Are you ready for Jesus to come – today?

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The Man In The Cave

Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day. (Genesis 19:36-38)

The Man In The Cave

At the entrance to the cave sat an old man carrying years of disappointment and heartache. He sat in a reflective mood looking back over his life wasted for something he could not attain and gaining everything he did not want to get. His life began in a beautiful family of God-fearing, devoted people to the one true God. As the nephew of Abraham, Lot was privileged to sit at the table with the patriarch of a great people. His aunt Sarah was a beautiful woman inside and out who showed her faith in God. When his grandfather Terah told the family they would leave the Ur of Chaldee to go to Haran, Lot gathered his family and joined the procession. While in Haran, Terah died, and as the oldest son, Abraham became the family patriarch.

The journey for Lot was not completed. God came to Abraham and told him to leave his country and his father’s house to a place the Lord would show him. Abraham obeyed, and Lot went with him. Traveling in the company of Abraham was a time of great faith for Lot and his family. The influence of Abraham and Sarah was pleasant. Lot would travel with Abraham to Egypt and then return to the land of Canaan. Abraham was very rich in livestock, silver, and in gold. Lot was also a wealthy man enjoying many of the fine things of life. Being associated with a godly man like Abraham enhanced the life of Lot tenfold. Abraham was a man of great faith.

When the herdsmen of Abraham and Lot began to dispute where their flock could graze, Abraham offered a compromise to his nephew. Abraham did not want strife between him and Lot over the herds of animals. In the act of mercy and grace, Abraham gives Lot a choice of where he desires to live. Abraham could easily have told Lot where to live because, as the family patriarch, Abraham was like a king. Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan that was well watered everywhere. The land was like the Garden of Eden. In a moment of greed, Lot chose the best land for himself. He should have honored the headship of Abraham by begging his uncle to choose first, but Lot could only see the prospect of prosperity before him. Lot and Abraham separated.

At first, Lot pitched his tents as far as Sodom. Lot knew the reputation of the cities of the plain. Sodom was a place of exceeding wickedness and immorality. This was not a secret. The area around Sodom and Gomorrah was exceedingly sinful and corrupt. His years with Abraham should have told him to turn away from such a place, but in time Lot moved his family into the city and became a community member. The righteous soul of Lot was vexed daily with the world he had moved his family, but he never took them away. He continued to live in a city filled with homosexuality at every level. His judging rebuke went unheeded by the people. But Lot remained in Sodom, and his family made a home there.

The old man in the cave looked back and realized he had given up everything for the pottage of riches, prestige, popularity, and what he thought was important. His uncle Abraham had been blessed far removed from the influence of Sodom. When the kings came against Sodom and Gomorrah taking the people hostage, including Lot of his family, Abraham came to rescue them. Did his uncle exhort Lot to leave Sodom? The record does not tell, but Lot returns to Sodom. He faced certain death as a captive save for the bravery of Abraham. Living in Sodom was a dangerous decision, but he returned to his wicked city after he was released. Now he sat with head in hand, lamenting his choices. God had sent His angels to protect him and his family. He saw the grace of God with his wearied eyes, but it was too late.

When Lot and his family fled the city of Sodom, Lot’s wife turned longingly to her home and was immediately killed by the hand of God. The angels warned against looking back. Sodom had become the home of Lot’s wife, and she looked back and became a pillar of salt. Lot’s decision cost him his wife. When he and his daughters fled to the mountains, they sat in terror as the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah and overthrew the cities of the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. Their world came to an end. When the old man in the cave looked out the entrance to the two little boys playing in the sand, his heart was crushed to know his grandchildren were his children. Believing no man was left on earth, the two daughters of Lot got their father drunk and conceived children by him. The man sitting in the cave with his head in his hands looked over his life and saw all the wasted opportunities and the shame of his decisions. A righteous man was living with the consequences of unrighteous choices.

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The Moon

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the Moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? (Psalm 8:3-4)

The Moon

Located 238,900 miles away, the Moon is the solitary satellite revolving around the Earth every 29.5 days. The Moon has a diameter of about one-quarter that of its parent planet. It lacks any significant atmosphere, hydrosphere, or magnetic field and consists of an uninhabitable rock surface. Created on the fourth day, God placed the Moon in the night sky to rule the darkness. The greatest influence of the Moon is the gravitational pull on the tides worldwide. God placed the Moon in orbit around the Earth precisely and perfectly, which has continued non-stop since the fourth day of creation. Adam and Eve were the first to see the beauty of the Moon in the night sky. The phases of the Moon have guided the people of Earth from the beginning. Throughout history, the Moon has been worshipped and revered.

On a clear night when the Moon is shining brightest, the Earth is filled with the radiance of the Moon’s glow. This is a misnomer because the Moon cannot create light. The Moon’s only purpose in shining in the darkness is the reflection of its larger parent, the Sun. God ordained the Sun to rule the day and the Moon to guide the night. The only light given off by the Moon is what is reflected from the glowing of the Sun. Nothing is redeeming in the Moon’s character that allows it to shine of itself. Every ounce of light glowing from the Moon is a reflection. Examining the character of the Moon shows it to be nothing more than a piece of rock floating in space. Nothing can grow on its surface. It influences the Earth, but that is because of its proximity to Earth and the magnetic pull. All the light of the Moon originates from the Sun. The beauty of a moonlit night is because of the light of the Sun.

There is a lesson about the child of God found in the story of the Moon. Men are created in the image of the divine for the glory of God. There is nothing inherently good in the nature of man, and he can only find his true worth when he realizes the only glory he can share is the glory of the reflected Son of God. The Moon has a purpose, but it has no light. A child of God has a purpose, but they can only fulfill the purpose designed by God when they reflect the light of Jesus Christ in their lives. That light will vary from time to time. The closer one comes to Christ, the brighter the light. A diming Moon suggests a further distance from the Sun. When the influence of a man lessens in the eyes of the world, it is because they have distanced themselves from the glory of Jesus.

Few things in life are more fulfilling than waking to an early dawn to see the soft reflective light of the Moon hanging gently in the sky. On a night when the Moon is full, it is a glorious time of contrast as the darkness is thrown away for the glory of the Moon. There are few things in life more complete than when the Christians let their light shine among men so they can see the glory of God. The darker the night, the brighter the reflection. Everything about the life of a Christian is the amount of reflection of Jesus Christ. Let your light shine among men so they may see your good works and glorify God.

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Faith And Prayer

Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?” So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:18-22)

Faith And Prayer

The humanity and deity of Jesus are found in the story of the fig tree. During the final days of His life, Jesus returns from Bethany to Jerusalem when He notices a fig tree by the road. As it was morning and He had nothing to eat, He went to the fig tree for a quick breakfast. To His surprise, what He thought was a tree burdened with figs was a tree barren of figs with only leaves. He said, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away. If Jesus were all deity (God), He would have known immediately if the tree had figs or not. His humanity desired food, and He walked to the tree expecting to find fruit. When there was no fruit on the tree, Jesus cursed the tree, and it immediately withered away. This astonished the disciples who witnessed the event. Using the opportunity to teach a lesson, Jesus taught them about faith and prayer.

Jesus performed miracles by the Finger of God, the Holy Spirit. He healed all manner of diseases, walked on water, raised the dead, rebuked evil spirits, and performed signs and wonders before the people. His power was not limited to exercising miracles simply through the force of the Holy Spirit but His deep connection with the Father. Prayer was a central part of His life. There were many times Jesus would find a quiet place to pray. When it was time to choose the twelve apostles, He prayed the whole night. Offering prayers to the Father cannot be rote arrangements of words and thoughts without the power of God gleaming on its surface. True prayer is presented with a heart entirely devoted and committed to the Father.

When Jesus prayed for the tree to die, He exercised an avenue of faith established with His Father learned since childhood. The lesson taught to the disciples was to move away from the ordinary prayers of a humdrum spiritual kindergarten to prayers that can move mountains. Jesus told His disciples they had the power to curse a tree or say to Mount Hermon to be cast into the sea, and it would be done. The object lesson was not for the men to go around cursing trees or throwing hills and mountains into the sea. Jesus was teaching the need to feel the power of mountain-moving prayer. Faith must believe in the character of prayer that God always answers prayers, and His answer is always “yes.”

What makes praying difficult is that God seldom gives the answer to prayer sought by men. When we say God always answers yes in prayer is to understand that prayer is accomplished according to the word of the Lord. The yes answer by God may be perceived as a no statement from the Father, but if He knows best what His children need, His answer is always the right answer; thus making it always a yes answer. That is power. Jesus is teaching His disciples to realize the power of prayer that can move mountains.

Accepting and believing that God will always give the better answer will change the manner of praying in the heart of the humble. God is not a vending machine where someone can demand a certain outcome. When a man bends his heart to the will of the Father in deep and faithful prayer, he will know and believe God will always answer that prayer. The answer is not how prayer is measured. Prayer is measured by faith. Allowing God to work through the avenue of prayer changes the petitioner’s heart. Find a fig tree and pray about it. You will be amazed at what happens next.

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The Return Of Jesus Christ

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

The Return Of Jesus Christ

There is nothing more exciting than thinking about the day Jesus returns. It will be a day unlike any day in the history of the world because the history of the world will end. The day Jesus returns is when everything that man knows about life is destroyed in the blink of an eye. This will not be a day where an earthquake demolishes a town or destroys a region. It will not be a tsunami that wipes out a town on the coast or a volcano erupting in a massive ball of fire like Krakatoa. The day the Lord returns is when the sun, moon, and stars are obliterated into a vapor in an instant. All the stars. The big bright moon and the burning sun will disappear instantly. As for the earth, it will be pulverized into a vacuum of empty space. No more seas and no more mountains. Every human being on the face of the earth (in the billions) will immediately know the same thing – Jesus Christ has come back.

The first-century Christians lived in a unique time of history. Many of the early Christians had been with Jesus during His ministry. Some had witnessed His death, and many more His resurrection. People were living in the church’s early years that could testify to being with the resurrected Christ. Everyone knew Jesus had returned to the Father just over a month after His resurrection. What remained in their hearts was the promise He would return. It seems the disciples’ minds rested upon the notion Jesus would return soon – in their lifetime. They all died without Jesus coming back. Two thousand years have passed, and Jesus has yet to return. This does not change the promise that He will return. Jesus Christ is coming back.

Paul explains the coming of the Lord. First, there is no doubt the return of Jesus is ordained by the Father. Jesus taught it, the early church embraced it, and the Father assured the persecuted saints of the Revelation the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would be victorious. Believing Jesus died and rose again assures the heart that God will bring with Him all those who have died in Christ (asleep in Jesus). The word of the Lord declares Jesus Himself will descend from heaven with a shout. Not quietly or by stealth or by some raptured false notion of unawares. Whatever the voice of the archangel is will be heard by every soul. The trumpet call of God is included in the loud announcement of the coming of the Lord. That should be sufficiently loud enough to wake the dead and the living – all of them. When Jesus returns, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. The dead in Christ rise first. Then, together with them, all those who remain alive on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

There is comfort in the knowledge of the coming of the Lord. For most people (the majority), this day will be one of terror and horror. To those in covenant with God, the coming of Christ will be long desired and longed for and welcomed with spirits filled with eternal joy. The day will come. It all becomes a matter of who is ready for the day. There will be no second chances. The coming of the Lord will bring an end to all things. Nowhere in the Bible is the doctrine of the Rapture taught because this will never happen. Those who are waiting for the Rapture will be surprised when it all ends in an instant at the coming of the Lord. It will be a noisy affair with God’s shout, voice, and trumpet sounding. To the child of God, it will be a blessed welcome home. The coming of Christ will be better than death. What follows the return of Jesus is the Father wiping away the tears and sorrows of this life and the destruction of death in the second death. Jesus is coming back. Lord – come now.

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