The Greatest Day

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. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)

The Greatest Day

There is coming a day that will be the most important day in the history of the world. It is not the first day of creation or the day of the flood that destroyed all life except eight souls. The history of Israel filled with miracles, wonders, and signs is not the focus of the day that will take place. Two thousand years ago, the birth of Jesus heralded the unfolding of the mystery of God that would be completed more than three decades later when Jesus died on a cross. Through the resurrection of the Son of God, the Father’s love filled the earth, but that was not the most important day in the history of the world. There is coming a day that will be culmination, fulfillment, and completion of the divine plan of God when Jesus Christ descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God.

A day yet to come will be the greatest day in the history of man because it will be the fulfillment of God’s grace. Jesus is coming back the second time because He came the first time. The birth of Jesus was an incredible day of glory when God sent His Son into the world to live as a man of flesh. When Jesus rose from the dead, the mystery of the Father filled the earth with the gospel message of salvation. The world changed when Jesus came. Time is measured by the life of Jesus. The hope of the world is found in the only way, truth and life given to humanity. God’s word is the only avenue of truth that men can know. Still, a day is yet to come that will eclipse all of these events. Jesus is coming back.

The great day of the Lord will be when the Father sends Jesus Christ to the realm of men with a great noise. There will be no silent entrance for Christ as if an unknown rapture occurs. The shout of God will pierce the earth as no sound has ever been heard. It is not known what the voice of an archangel sounds like, but the nature of its description easily convinces men it will be something everyone will hear in deafening tones. The same can be said about the trumpet of God. A trumpet is a loud and piercing instrument. There is no trumpet made by men that will match the sound of God’s trumpet. Everyone from all four corners of the earth will hear the trumpet of God – vociferously.

Those who have died from the beginning of time that are faithful to the Lord will rise from their graves: Abel, Adam, Eve, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, Habakkuk, Dorcas, Timothy, and the innumerable hosts of God’s elect. Then all the faithful Christians living who have obeyed the word of the Lord will not see death but be caught up together with the dead to meet the Lord in the air. This will be the greatest day because that is where the saved will always be – in the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God’s plan is complete. Jesus confirmed the will of the Father by His death. God glorified the Son in the resurrection. Finally, the world comes to an end, and all the saved gather before the Father, and eternal glory begins. What a day that will be. That will be the greatest day. Lord, come quickly. Are you ready?

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Aesop said, “It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.” When we are not facing the lion face to face, it is easy to say what we would do. Our bravery is sometimes measured by how far away we are from the threat. The farther we are, the braver we become. Our talk may become louder and full of heroic deeds – until we really face the danger.

Courage is defined as “That quality of mind which enables one to meet danger and difficulties with firmness; valor; a human quality which keeps one going in the face of opposition or danger.” I like the word “valor” – it has a crystal ring to it. Valor is the medal given for those who have shown their courage under heavy opposition and difficulty. We honor such heroes because they were willing to face the danger for us – face to face.

Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Paul had just mentioned his own “doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions … what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me” (vv10,11). The Lord was able to deliver Paul from all those persecutions. Courage brought Paul to the feet of the Lord to seek his blessing and help in these times. Paul was willing to face these trials face to face knowing that he could do “all things in Christ.”

It takes courage to live the life of a Christian. Courage is the mettle that suggests an innate capacity for meeting those persecutions with the resolve to win the victory. C. S. Lewis said, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.” The strength of tea is found only when it is in hot water. Our faith is found when we have to endure the troubles of life. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:1-6).

We need tribulations to make us strong. Courage is what brings us through. Courage is the force that brings us face to face with the lion – feeling the breath of his anger – smelling the foul odor of his existence – feeling the force of his power all around us – and yet say to him, “Satan, I reject you!” “Resist the devil, and he will FLEE from you” (James 4:7). Our troubles will bring about patience. Facing the trials of life with courage will help establish hope. The source of our courage is found in the Spirit. We are able to continue in the face of hardship because Jesus did not die for us because we had courage, but rather we were without strength and needed courage. Only He can give us the victory!

The Japanese have a proverb that says, “Unless you enter the tiger’s den, you cannot take the cubs.” Courage is the spirit that takes us to the very den of Satan and defeats him. Daniel had the courage to face the den of lions (Daniel 6), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had the courage to face the fiery furnace (Daniel 3), courage fills the pages of Hebrews 11 and the faithful of God. “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).

Andrew Jackson said, “One man with courage makes a majority.” Stand firm in your faith before God and Satan will fall. It will take much courage to bear the battle cry of the forces of wickedness but stand we must with courage in our hearts. The victory is ours.

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It Matters Who You Listen To

So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20)

It Matters Who You Listen To

Peter and John had gone to the temple at the hour of prayer when they met a man lame from his mother’s womb. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, they healed the man and the people were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Using the miracle to teach the people, Peter and John taught the people about Jesus and the resurrection. Not everyone rejoiced at the good fortune of the lame man. The priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon Peter and John and arrested them, placing them in custody.

On the next day, Peter and John were brought before the Jewish council to explain their actions and what they were teaching. Peter boldly defended the healing of the lame man explaining that the miracle was performed through the power of God. It was only a few months earlier these same Jewish leaders condemned to death Jesus of Nazareth but God had raised Him from the dead. Salvation came through Jesus Christ and none other. The miracle of healing the lame man was a testimony to the message of a risen Christ whom the Jewish leaders rejected. There would be no other avenue of salvation apart from the gospel of Christ. The Jewish leaders recognized the boldness of Peter and were unsure what to do. They threatened Peter and John not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. Peter and John answered the council with courageous conviction when they asked them if they thought God wanted them to obey the council rather than Him. There was no question in the minds of Peter and John. They would listen to God. There was no reason to listen to the council.

The Jewish council knew a notable miracle had been done and there was no way to disprove it. Like the days of Jesus, no one could deny the miracles when Jesus healed every known disease, cast out demons, raised the dead, and performed wonders and signs. They tried to attack His teaching but failed every time. The infant church began to experience persecution when the Jewish leaders warned Peter and John to stop teaching the risen Christ. Soon after, the twelve apostles were arrested, beaten and warned to stop teaching Christ. Saul of Tarsus brought terrible persecution against the church seeking to destroy it. For nearly two hundred years, the first-century church existed under the heavy hand of Roman persecution. Throughout the years of persecution, the faithful saints refused to listen to the words of men and listened only to the word of God.

Peter and John laid the foundation for truth when they declared they would only listen to the word of God. There was no doubt in their minds who they would follow, who they would listen to, and what they would preach. Men sought to oppress them, but they spoke louder. Many saints died for the faith, but their voices grew louder. Nothing the world could do would silence the word of God because His people were listening to Him – not the world. Two thousand years later, the church remains firmly grounded across the globe because the faithful listen to Him. There is only one book that tells the will of God and that book is the Bible. Jesus is the only way to eternal life, the only truth that will guide men to the Father, and the only life that will return sinful man to his place before God. Salvation is found in those who listen to the word of God. Open your ears to His word. Listen for the voice of grace telling you the story of Jesus Christ. The word of God is truth. Listen to it.

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Growing The Word

Growing The Word

Two million dollars is a lot of money. Three or four million dollars is not a small sum. Few people attain the opportunity to enjoy millions of dollars in life. Businesses can be crushed if they lose millions of dollars. Precious artifacts worth millions of dollars can seldom be replaced. The capital city of the Roman province of Asia was Ephesus, famed for the birthplace of two painters, Apelles and Parrhasius, and the philosopher Heraclitus. Ephesus was also widely known for its culture of magicians who conjured the arts of magic and amulets of parchment with inscriptions that, when read (as was believed), would help to avert evil.

The apostle Paul spent almost three years in the city of Ephesus. He reasoned and persuaded the things of the kingdom of God in the synagogue and many converts were brought to Christ. God worked unusual miracles by the hand of Paul. Among the converts were a great number of magicians. Like Simon the Sorcerer in the city of Samaria, they realized the power of God was true and their magical arts were nothing more than a ruse. Converting to the gospel of Christ, the faith of these new Christians manifested itself in an incredible manner. They brought their books of the magical arts together and burned them in the sight of everyone. When the total amount of the books was weighed, the sum was fifty thousand pieces of silver, equaling millions of dollars worth of books.

It is difficult to give an exact number to the value of the books in modern currency but putting the amount in the context of two to four million dollars would not be far off the mark. This was more than a lifetime’s wages. The gospel of Christ so changed the lives of the Ephesian magicians; they willingly, voluntarily, and with no regard to monetary worth – burned books worth millions of dollars. And the question is asked, “Why?” Their lives had changed. Money was not the most important goal in life. There can be little doubt the unconverted magicians must have been incensed at the destruction of the magical books. The world looked upon the act of the new Christians as a cultish act of incredible stupidity. But not to the Lord God. He saw their faith. The example of their courage resounded throughout the halls of the Divine.

The action by the magicians had an impact on the city of Ephesus. There would be detractors who would argue against such action. What made the greatest impact was that because of the courageous faith of the new Christians, the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed over the hearts of the people. The word of God grows in many ways. When Saul persecuted the church, saints went everywhere preaching the word. Later, as the apostle Paul, the gospel was spread throughout the whole world as he went from city to city and region to region preaching, teaching, and establishing churches. The word of the Lord grew.

In the city of Ephesus, the word of God grew because of the actions of a group of new Christians who boldly showed their faith in the presence of all by burning rare and expensive magical books worth millions. It would have been a good showing to burn a few hundred dollars worth of books but this act was beyond the pale. As a result of an active faith on the part of the former magicians, the word of God touched the lives of many people. Luke does not tell how many came to know Jesus Christ because of the book burning but one can only imagine. If one soul was saved, it was worth billions of dollars. The world was shocked by the burning but many people saw the power of the gospel and wanted to share in that grace. They realized the hope of eternal life far outweighed the worth of millions of dollars.

The word of the Lord can grow in every community when the lives of saints reflect a sacrificial spirit of devotion to God. Many churches struggle to bring people to Christ and in part, it is because of the lives of its members. They are unwilling to sacrifice their lives to serve the Lord and the world takes notice. For many saints, their lives are seldom unlike the habits of their lost neighbors. Growing churches are filled with Christians who are ready to “burn the books,” not in the literal sense but in the willingness to dispose of all those things that hinder growth in the body of Christ – no matter the cost. Burning the books burned the bridge back to the world. The former magicians declared their allegiance to the Lord God. Can we do any less?

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The Hope Of Heaven

We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel. (Colossians 1:3-5)

The Hope Of Heaven

If life were nothing more than a futile exercise of so many years and then death; with no promise or hope of anything beyond – what would be the point of living? The world can be a harsh climate of pain and suffering. There are good days and there are times of despair. Youth is the spirit of a never-ending life, with old age a realization of the brevity of life. There are injustices filling the canvas of the toils of this earth where some are blessed and others never find joy. The young can die (and do) and the old must die. For many, life is a brief experience of living with all the gusto that one can get out of life and dying with little to care for. There can be a pointless existence in how people approach their lives and find little comfort or joy.

Renewing a hope of heaven will change a person’s life in ways he could never find in the futility of human wisdom. Sadly, many Christians live mediocre lives, seldom thinking about heaven. Eternal life is the answer to life. There is nothing to live for if a man only exists on earth, dies and that is all. What would be the purpose of life? Why have any joy? Where would the value of life be found? Heaven changes everything. It gives hope that there is something to hope for, long for, and live for in the face of a harsh world. A hopeless life rejects the idea of a loving and compassionate Father who sent His only begotten Son to open an avenue of hope in eternal life. Who has the greater life – the man who rejects God or the man who embraces the hope of God.

Heaven is not just a place to be; it is a place to long for. Whenever eternal life is achieved, everything in life will be forgotten. Death is not a final moment but a beginning point when the true value of life is realized. God created man as an eternal being housed in a mortal frame. Man does not possess a soul – he is a soul. The earthly frame of flesh is but a temporary tabernacle that begins to decay the moment it is born. Living one hundred years is by all testimony from those who achieve the centenarian mark nothing but a vapor. Methuselah lived to be 969 years and he died – so what? Life is not about the number of years lived but the realization there is life after death and the joy of Heaven is what makes living hopeful.

Many things can discourage the soul if life on earth is all there is. Renewing a spirit of hope in the promise of eternal life changes the outlook of life to be something bright and joyful. Heaven is a prepared place for those preparing to be in a world of eternal promise. Suffering is lessened, failures are overcome, and the trials of life only strengthen the resolve to receive that heavenly promise. Thinking about heaven comes from prayer. Faith is built up when learning about eternal life. Love is found in the bond of saints united in the eternal cause. The hope which is laid up in heaven fills the soul with the presence of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Reading the word of the truth of the gospel of peace describes a place called Heaven. It is real. God has prepared it. Jesus died to make it possible. Heaven awaits those who look beyond this world for something that is indescribable. Lord Jesus, come quickly.

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Edification And Prayer

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 20-21)

Edification And Prayer

God has granted to His children the blessing of coming before Him and seeking blessings and petitions according to all He has promised. It is a most incredible offering of a loving Father to allow sinful creatures to stand in His presence, seeking forgiveness, mercy, and love. Prayer is the avenue of grace where the Creator invites His creation to talk with Him and commune with Him. Prayer is one of the highest blessings a child of God has with the Father. It is exclusive. All men can seek God but not all men can receive the blessings of God through prayer. Praying in the Holy Spirit is reserved for those who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit in baptism. Only children of God can ask for the blessings of the Father. The love of God is the blessing of sins washed away and a covenant established between men and God.

Faith comes from hearing the word of God. Prayer is an expression of that faith. The power of prayer is the edification it brings to the spirit when brethren pray for one another and with one another. Prayer is where the Holy Spirit strengthens the soul. Faith without prayer is a dead faith. Prayer without faith is a lost cause. Building one another up in the faith is where prayer connects the spirits to one another and to the Father. In the struggles of life, edification and prayer partner to strengthen one another in the bond of peace. Growth comes from the desire of the saints to help each other grow in Christ, praying together to share the challenges of life, and remaining steadfast in the love of Christ. Prayer is a natural part of war and going to war against the wiles of the devil requires much prayer and edification.

Praying in the Holy Spirit is not a miraculous manifestation. Every Christian received the gift of the Holy Spirit when they were baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins. The Holy Spirit bears witness the individual is a child of God. Prayer is the expression of faith found in the love of God granted by the mercy of Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Renewing the spirit of a devoted prayer life changes the up-look and the outlook of the child of God. Building oneself up in faith begins with prayer, talking to the Father, sharing with the Son, and filling oneself with the Holy Spirit. The natural response is to share this joy with others, leading to the building up of the church, who also learn the power of edification and prayer. Saints united in prayer is a force Satan cannot defeat. Every time a knee is brought down in prayer, the citadels of Satan fall.

The world can be dark and frightening, with many things to bring fear and consternation. Satan continually seeks to infuse his spirit of apathy, despair and distrust into the heart of God’s children. Fighting back against the wiles of the devil comes from the edification of united hearts in prayer who have renewed their spirits in the Holy Spirit. Standing against Satan with the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son will always end in glorious victory. A holy faith begins with prayer. The love of God exalts in prayer. Looking for the mercy of Jesus Christ is found in prayer. Eternal life? Answered in prayer. Renew a desire for prayer. Pray without ceasing.

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Seeing The Heritage Of God Above

And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage. (Deuteronomy 4:19)

Seeing The Heritage Of God Above

The children of Israel were plagued with the influences of their Egyptian bondage all their lives. Within weeks of being delivered by the hand of God from Pharaoh, the Israelites are bowing before a golden calf. Idolatry destroyed the nation of Israel and Judah and God punished them. Israel was given a law to tell them how the world began and who made the world. They rejected the word of God. The Lord warned them against following the practices of the nations around them who worshipped the gods of the sun, moon, and stars. This was an abomination to the Lord God who made heaven and earth. All of the hosts of heaven were not put there for men to worship as gods but as a testimony to the power and majesty of the One who made them.

Moses warned the people of Israel that when they felt driven to worship the hosts of heaven, to remember the Lord gave the sun, moon, and stars as a heritage to them. Everyone on earth is privileged to see the starry hosts of the heavens. No matter where a person is on the planet, the skies are filled with the handiwork of the Lord God. The sun streaks across the sky in the day and the night fills with the speckling shimmers of stars innumerable. Modern technology cannot count the billions of galaxies filled with billions upon billions of stars. There is no number of stars known in the heavens, yet God has a name for each one. The sun, moon, and planets in the heavenly neighborhood of earth are all the exact distance from one another so that life can exist on one planet filled with human beings.

The heritage of God is above. A tragedy has come in the modern world where people spend more time inside than out. With all the advancements of comfort and convenience, few know of the stars above. Life becomes so busy; few have time to stop and smell the roses or look to the heavens and see the heritage of the Lord God. The world is a testimony to the hand of God. It goes unseen. Wrapped up in the carnal world of self-indulgence, the heritage of the Lord is ignored. Children seldom see the stars. It is a vast world shouting the handiwork of the Creator who has given all men His thumbprint so they can know Him and worship Him as Lord. God wants His creation to look up and find Him. He is not far from anyone, but they have to look for Him. The heavens declare His glory, but if a man never looks above, he will never see the heritage of what God has given him. Take time to see God in the world. The beauty of His creation, the majesty of His universe, and the eternal nature of His highest creation: man. Then, come to know why God gave the heavens and earth as a heritage: Jesus Christ.

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Renewed In The Spirit Of Your Mind

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24)

Renewed In The Spirit Of Your Mind

The human body is an amazing machine of daily renewal. Unaware to most people, human skin goes through a renewal process on a 14-day cycle. Skin cell turnover is a repetitive process helping the body maintain a healthy layer of protection. This design was not by accident but purposed by God when He created the human body. Life comes from renewal. God created the body requiring fuel to help this renewal process. Without nourishment such as food and water, the body will die.

A Christian is a person of daily renewal and change. Like the human body, the spiritual man is evolving and changing. God designed the spiritual man to need nourishment and renewal which without either will bring death. Jesus described the new birth as the beginning of the spiritual man. Immersion in water is the moment a person becomes a child of God as a babe. Babies need lots of nourishment to grow. Spiritual babies need lots of spiritual food to grow in Christ and, like the human body, will never stop needing to feed the body to grow. Daily renewal is very important to the growth of the child of God.

When a man obeys the gospel of Christ, he learns he is lost and realizes that without the blood of Jesus, there is no hope. To be a child of God, a man must first learn Christ. This comes from hearing the words of Jesus Christ and accepting the teaching of the Lord. Truth resides in Jesus Christ. This truth is the manna from heaven and without this manna, man will die. When a man learns Christ, he discovers things he must put away in his life. Coming to Jesus is on the terms of the Divine, not the whims of man. The former conduct is corrupt and must be put away. Deceitful lusts are not part of a healthy diet for the growing child of God. Renewal begins by learning Christ and, through that knowledge, what must be put away that is deceitful.

The growing Christian has a renewing mind. Nothing is more important than the spirit of the new man to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. As a baby develops, the mind is examined to make certain the child is growing cognitively. If a child exhibits signs of slow learning or the inability to learn, alarms are raised and concerns raised. When a man reaches twenty years of age and still has a child’s mind, there are concerns. In the spiritual man, the mind must be renewed, or there is danger. The renewal of the mind comes from putting off the former conduct that hinders the growth of the child of God. Righteousness and holiness are the manna of God’s word to help the child of God grow in grace.

Renewing the mind is a daily exercise. It begins with putting away all those things that hinder growth and filling the mind with a healthy diet of the fruit of the Spirit. To learn Christ is to learn how to change the spirit from a worldly and carnal mind to a spirit-filled heart seeking the will of God in every part of life. This is a process of renewing, reminding, rekindling, and restoring the heart of man to God. Resolutions should not be made at the beginning of the year but the beginning of the day. Renew the spirit of your mind.

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Seeking The Lost

Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Luke 10:2)

Seeking The Lost

The commodity of lost souls has never been lacking. At the beginning of time, there were only two. That changed quickly, and soon, the world was filled with the ungodly and the lost. A flood destroyed everyone on the face of the earth except eight souls in the ark. The world returned to the bounty of lost souls filling every niche and corner of the globe. Eight billion souls fill the modern world and according to Jesus, most are lost. The vast majority of the eight billion do not believe in God and less believe Jesus is the Son of God. There is no lack of someone who needs the truth of the gospel.

Jesus sent His disciples into the world to preach and teach the kingdom of God. He told them they were like sheep in a world of wolves. It would not be an easy task. There would be hardships, difficulties, and many would reject the teaching of Christ. The seventy went out and worked as hard as they could to share the message of Jesus. Returning to the Lord, they had joy and fulfillment. They were able to subdue the demons and Jesus exclaimed He saw Satan fall from his perch of rebellion. It was possible to take the war to the devil and defeat him. Nothing is said about the number of converts, but there was no doubt the seventy turned the world upside down.

Sending the disciples into the world was like sending workers into a field for harvest. Seeking the lost begins by seeing there is a harvest waiting to be gleaned. The fields are white to harvest. There is no lack of opportunity to share the gospel with others. The world has not changed from the Garden of Eden. Evangelistic efforts are hampered by those who believe no one in the world will listen anymore. Hearts are turned away from telling friends and neighbors the story of Jesus Christ. Was the world in the day of Jesus a better place than where disciples find themselves today? The world of Jesus was dominated by a cruel and oppressive government filled with sexual perversion, political assassination, and a government that could send soldiers into a town and kill all the male children two years and under with impunity. During the early days of the church, Jewish leaders persecuted and killed Christians, yet the church grew into the thousands. When the church was oppressed for nearly two hundred years, the work of teaching others the gospel did not stop. It gained momentum. Seeking the lost has always been the work of the church.

Satan uses everything in his power to stifle the evangelistic work of the church. He is content to allow a church to exist as long as they do not seek the lost. The devil convinces weak minds that no one wants to listen to the gospel, everyone is settled in their own faith, and the work of seeking the lost is useless. This is a lie. Jesus said the harvest is white to harvest. The problem does not lie in the lack of souls to save; but in the souls who lack the love to save lost souls. There are plenty of people to share the story of Jesus with, but the laborers are few. Renewing a spirit of seeking the lost begins with praying for more laborers to go into the field to harvest lost souls. Will the church allow a pandemic to stop the work of God? The early disciples were warned, beaten, threatened, and killed because they taught the lost the story of Jesus. They never quit. Nothing could stop them. The time has come to rise from the ashes of apathy and neglect and return to the work of seeking the lost. Look around. They are everywhere.

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Servitude Increases Faith

And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ” (Luke 17:5-10)

Servitude Increases Faith

The world frowns on servitude. Slavery has become a vile word of degradation and oppression. There is justification for the negative view of slavery, but there is also a cost of losing a sense of the most important relationship man shares with God. In the New Testament world of Jesus Christ, servitude was a common practice, embraced by the world as necessary and with purpose. Jesus used slavery to show the connection between His Father and His disciples. Paul alluded to slavery as a pattern of the child of God. When Paul wrote to Philemon about his servant Onesimus, he exhorted him to receive him back as a servant but now as a Christian. Servitude has a vivid lesson to teach about what it means to be a Christian.

The apostles came to Jesus seeking greater faith. They wanted to increase their faith. There are many lessons Jesus could teach to help the twelve develop a stronger faith in God and the work of the kingdom. The lesson He gave was unexpected and powerful. First, Jesus reminds them of the power of faith. Like a tiny mustard seed that grows to great heights, faith can empower the heart of men to say to a mulberry tree to be uprooted and cast into the sea. The point Jesus was making was not for the twelve to go around throwing trees in the ocean, but that is the nature of faith. It can accomplish great things. When the twelve heard this application, they probably shook their heads in agreement understanding the great power found in faith.

Then Jesus switches the story completely and tells the twelve a parable that must have rocked them to their core. Jesus describes a common practice with slavery. A man has a servant who toils all day under the hot sun plowing or tending sheep. Finishing his work, the slave comes in from the field for some relief. The servant would like to sit down and eat, but that is not his station in life. After doing all the work in the field, he must now come and prepare the supper for the master, serve the meal to the family, and then afterward eat his meal. Will the master thank the servant for all he has done? Indeed, not.

The story of the unprofitable servant is a harsh reality of faith. Slavery is a dark subject for humanity, but when it comes to a relationship with the Creator of the universe, man is nothing more than an unprofitable slave. At the end of the day, all men are servants of the Most High God and, at best, unprofitable servants. Faith comes from knowing who God is and where man finds himself with the Lord. God created man; man did not create God. The Creator holds the universe in His hand; man holds a clod of dirt. There is no comparison to the majesty of God and the creation of humanity. God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, which is the measure of God’s love. Faith comes from knowing that all man can do is present himself before the great I AM as an unprofitable servant. It is then, and only then, can the soul of man see the need to be a servant to others. Pride is foolish because there is nothing to be proud about.

This year is a time of renewing the spirit of serving others. Two thousand years ago, the greatest Servant came and died for the world. There is no greater sacrifice than the death of Jesus Christ. Faith comes from knowing we are all unprofitable servants who do not deserve the grace and mercy of God. Let this year be a time to be a servant to others. The person you help is your fellow servant. When we have done all we can do, we are unprofitable servants who have done our duty.

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Two Kinds Of Homes

The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just. (Proverbs 3:33)

Two Kinds Of Homes

It is a rather terse view of the home, but the Lord describes two kinds of homes. There is a home where the wicked reside and a home of the just. The Lord does not suggest a home is wicked when it is filled with all types of carnalities, immorality, and debauchery. While these are included in the meaning of a wicked home, any home that does not serve the righteousness of God is a wicked home. A wicked home does not qualify its existence by following the will of the Father. There is often a misapplication of the term “wicked” to mean a horrible sin of some kind. But the idea of a house where wickedness abides is a home filled with materialism or avarice. The contrast is a home that is filled with a righteousness from God.

The curse of the Lord is against the home where God is not the central theme, the first principles of righteousness are not followed, or the commandments of the Lord are kept. A home can be religious and be wicked. Jesus said in the sermon on the mount that faithfulness is doing the will of the Father. Many will claim they are religious, but Jesus will disavow them if they do not obey the word of the Father. A wicked home does not abide in the word of God. They do not serve God as the Creator and deny the rule of Christ in their lives. The writer of the proverb is very blunt in his analysis of the only two kinds of homes God recognizes.

A spirit of renewal brings to light the need to restore the home as God designed. Adam and Eve were put in the Garden of Eden as a blueprint of the home. A man and a woman define a family, and that marriage is to be for life. Any deviation from this pattern is a wicked home. If children are born into the family, more blessings are given when taught to love the Lord God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and bodies. Homes, where children are not taught about God are wicked homes. There is a need for renewal to return the home to the place it was intended – a haven of God-loving people who serve the will of the Father, who know the word of God and have a love for the heavenly Father.

There are so many things that attack the home. A wicked home can be a good home with good people but the home has no interest in serving God. The Holy Spirit distinguishes between two homes where the world rules the wicked home and God rules the just home. Every home has an altar and the kind of altar in the home will either be the worship of self or the worship of the Lord. God blesses the home of the just. This home is seeking the righteousness of the Lord in everything they do. There is a strong desire to pattern the home after the will of the Father. Husbands love their wives as Christ loves the Church. Wives submit to their husbands as the church submits to its head – Christ. Children obey their parents in the Lord because the way of the Lord leads them in truth.

Worship is a central part of the home. First, worship begins with studying God’s word in the home. The Bible is not a dust collector but a soul possessor. Husbands and wives seek the will of God to know how to love one another. The home is guided by parents who love the word of God. Every decision is tempered with what does God desires. Prayer is the central incense of worship in the home. Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters know how to pray because the home is filled with prayer. Worship in the home is highlighted when the family assembles with the saints. Children should never have to wonder where they will be when the church is meeting. The just home is where assembling with the saints to worship is common practice. Wicked homes spend more time in the world than doing the will of the Father.

The Lord will bless the home of the just. Renewing the spirit is rekindling a love for God in the home. There are many things the world will bring against the family. When a home is built on the rock of Jesus Christ, nothing will be able to shake the foundations of a godly and just home. God’s blessings will ensure the safety of all those who rest entirely on the hope of eternal life. There are two kinds of homes: wicked and just. You live in one of those homes. Is God blessing you?

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Renewing A Spirit Of Worship

You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it,” says the Lord of hosts. “And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?” says the Lord. (Malachi 1:13)

Renewing A Spirit Of Worship

Israel had survived the bondage of Babylon and returned to Jerusalem through the providence of God. The temple was rebuilt and within one hundred years, the city walls were established again. Life returned to normal but it was not as it had been before. The temple had been completed in 516 B.C. Worship was restored but it lacked a fervency. There was little interest in the spirit of worship. Nehemiah had infused a desire to rebuild the walls and accomplished the impossible task in fifty-two days. Still, there was a sense of despair among the people and the prophet Malachi was sent to renew a spirit of worship in the people.

A spirit of indifference overshadowed the hearts of the people. After one hundred years, the people were no better off than when they were first taken captive. They blamed God for their troubles and began to neglect the commandments of the law in offering sacrifices that were lame, blind and diseased. The priesthood accepted the vain worship without question. Worship was a weariness and bothersome to the people. They stopped bringing their tithes to the Lord, robbing Him of His due. Divorce was rampant. Worship was nothing more than a ritual to endure until the people could return home and pick up their carnal lives. As a result of this disparity, the Lord would remain silent for nearly four hundred years until the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.

Worship has always been about the heart. The Law of Moses required many rituals to be performed but the Lord did not desire the sacrifices of animals to please Him. He wanted to know the hearts of the people. Men can be robots going through the motions and doing what was required by the letter of the law, but without the spirit of true worship, it all becomes vain and useless. Prophets like Malachi sought a revival among the people. There was a need to renew the spirit of worship.

Difficult days can dampen the hearts of worshippers. There are days it is tough to have a mind to worship. When times are hard and the world is engulfed in a crisis, sometimes worship becomes a victim of the despondency and despair of the heart. Nehemiah inspired the people to “rise up and build” and changed Jerusalem’s landscape. Malachi reminded the downtrodden that God had not abandoned them and they needed to renew their hearts with full devotion to worship.

A reflection of worship is found in daily living. The way a man lives has much to do with how he approaches the throne of God to praise Him. Worship is criticized because it does not inspire the heart when the real problem is nothing the other six days of the week lead to worship. A renewal to worship begins in the home. If the word of God is not first in the home, it will not be first in worship. When God is not glorified in the family setting, there can be little joy in the gathering of God’s family. Renewing a spirit of worship is rekindling a love for the word of God in praising the glory of the Father and honoring the Son of God. The church is returned to its place of honor so that worship is filled with the adoration and praise of the Divine.

The past two years have been hard on everyone. Churches have suffered under the weight of the pandemic and hearts have become discouraged. The need for renewal is the cry of the spirited souls who are ready to rebuild the walls of faith and restore the joy of worship before the great God and Father of the church of Christ. Worship is central to the restoration of the Lord’s work. Let the church of the Lord ring loudly the praises of the Lord who has remained constant in His care of His people. Worship like you have never worshipped before. Praise God. Really praise God. Join hands. Let’s worship.

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Give Honor To The Church

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28)

Give Honor To The Church

The value of an object is determined by the price paid for it. In 2004, the painting Boy With A Pipe, painted by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, was sold for $104.1 million. A manuscript of Leonardo Da Vinci sold for $30,802,000 in 1994. In 1999, the 70th home run baseball by Mark McGwire sold for $3 million. When the apostle Paul met with the Ephesian elders at Miletus, he warned them to oversee the church of the Lord as watchful shepherds because of the dangers of apostasy that could creep in among them. The reason was that the church had a value on it that could not be calculated. It was not measured by the brick, mortar, or stone. The church of God was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ. There was no higher price to be paid for the church.

Jesus had promised to build His church. He often spoke of the coming kingdom and instructed His disciples about the nature of the kingdom. After the death of Jesus, the apostles gathered in Jerusalem, where on the day of Pentecost, Peter opened the doors of the kingdom for the Jews and introduced the Gentiles to the gospel a few years later. Luke writes that God added to the church daily those who were being saved, beginning with the three thousand of Pentecost. Great fear came upon the church after Ananias and Sapphira were struck down. Saul of Tarsus persecuted the church to foreign cities. Later, Paul would be the evangelistic mission of establishing churches throughout the Roman Empire. John addresses the Revelation to the seven churches of Asia with admonitions and judgments from the mouth of God.

The church is maligned as an “organized religion” and rejected as unnecessary. The church becomes a warm blanket of security for many people when a need arises. Most people only see the inside of a church building when they are sprinkled, spoused and sorrowful. Birth, marriage and death are the three reasons people go to church. Most churches bear different names, follow conflicting doctrines, and give allegiance to a host of leaders or beliefs. Unity is not found in the world of churches, although many claim unison of purpose. The world’s general attitude is that the church is a prosthetic that is helpful when a crisis comes but otherwise is good for nothing.

Jesus Christ died for the church. The special value of the church must be found by the price paid for it. It cost the blood of God’s Son to redeem man and build the church. If the church is not essential, the blood of Christ is of no value. The church has an eternal value attached to the blood of God’s Son. It is the most valuable thing in the world without reservation. No amount of gold, silver or precious jewels can match the worth of the church. The early disciples went everywhere, establishing churches in every community. There has never been a time since the beginning of the church on the day of Pentecost the church has not existed. The church is over two thousand years old without interruption and it was bought with the blood of Jesus Christ.

When the value of the church is recognized, greater respect and honor are given. It is sad when the children of God treat the church as if it were a community organization like the Kiwanis Club or Rotary, or Boy Scouts. These are good clubs to be involved with but not the focus of life. Everything about the church is everything about the life of the Christian. The church is foremost because it was bought with the blood of Jesus. Nothing will come before the work of the church because of its worth. The value of the church is precious to the saint who wants to do everything they can to exalt the church and its work.

There are certain characteristics of the church that must remain sanctified by the word of God. When the church is viewed from a casual view and anything can distract from the obligations of the church, its value in the eyes of the person is diminished. One of the New Testament teachings is the assembly of the saints as a body of Christ on the first day of the week. Habitual absence disrespects the church, disavows the blood of Christ, and insults the Holy Spirit. Coming into worship with a carnal mind destroys the harmony of the purpose of the church. Jesus died for the church for a reason. He will present the church to Himself as a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things. The church will be holy and without blemish. Respecting the value of the church sees the worth of the church through His blood. It cost Jesus His blood. Can we consider the church any less?

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To Whom Shall We Go?

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:66-69)

To Whom Shall We Go?

Following the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus leaves the multitudes to a mountain where He can be alone. That evening His disciples got into a boat for Capernaum. When the boat was about three or four miles from land, Jesus came walking to them on the water and joined the disciples in the boat. Immediately, the disciples and Jesus arrived at Capernaum. The next day, the multitudes from the miracle of five loaves and two fishes found Jesus in Capernaum and were upset He did not tell them where He was going. They had not come to Jesus to hear more of His preaching but to be filled again with the wonderful meal of the day before. Jesus rebuked them for their misplaced allegiance and seeking after perishable things rather than that which is everlasting.

Jesus begins a lengthy discourse on the true manna from heaven. The miracle of the feast the day before was one of many signs Jesus did to show the world He was the Son of God. It was never the intention of God to send His only begotten Son into the world to feed the hungry. Miracles involving food demonstrated the power of God through Jesus Christ. Raising the dead did not take away death. Healing every disease, including leprosy, blindness, and those blind, maimed, deaf and crippled, did not remove the flesh’s infirmities. The miracles of Jesus were pointed to the evidence the man from Nazareth was the divine Son of God.

Jesus tells the crowd He was the bread from heaven and the bread of life. He shocks them with a language they did not understand when He told them unless they eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, they would have no life. The people were so focused on the five loaves and two fishes of yesterday, they could not hear the message of eternal life Jesus was offering them. They were offended by the teaching of Jesus and complained it was hard to accept. From that time, many of the disciples of Jesus turned and walked away. They refused to follow Jesus. Turning their backs, the doubters denied Jesus. Jesus looked at His twelve apostles and, seeing their faces, asked them if they were going to leave Him also.

The apostle Peter had a moment of truth as he watched large portions of disciples turn away from Jesus. It must have grieved Peter’s heart to see the crowd turn away from Jesus. When the Lord asked the twelve if they would leave Him also, Peter knew the answer. To whom would they go? Where would they find a man who was like Jesus? No man could show God’s power or teach with the authority of the Father as Jesus. Peter knew in an instant there was no other man that would give them eternal life. Jesus Christ was the only way Peter knew to walk. The man from Nazareth spoke the only truth. Life could only be found in the words and the power of Jesus Christ. Peter considered no other options. Jesus Christ was the only one that could bring hope and life.

Jesus alone had the words of eternal life. Peter did not look to Abraham or Moses for answers. The apostle would not accept his own words as life. Simon trusted in the only man who was the Son of God and that man was Jesus Christ. There was no one else to go to. The miracles of feeding five thousand, walking on water, instant travel and every other miracle witnessed by the apostles convinced them beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the Son of God. There was no other way to go and no other man to follow. Their minds were made up to follow Jesus and Jesus alone.

The world seeks answers in all the wrong places. Technology exalts the wisdom of men, science touts the accomplishments of human ingenuity, and the philosophies of men make gods out of their creators. Jesus is the Son of God and there is no other place a man will find answers to life. Many have turned away from Jesus, desiring to find happiness in every place void of God. All that is found is a desert of futility, decay and ruin. Fulfillment in life is only found when one comes to Jesus Christ and accepts Him as the bread of life. The world is a vast expanse of desert and the only place of life is the oasis of God’s word. Jesus is the bread of life and the living water of life in the oasis of God’s love. Until men come to the only source of life, they will die in the burning heat of the desert. When Peter said, “To whom shall we go,” he pointed out the only hope anyone has to find fulfillment in life comes from the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He has the words of eternal life.

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What It Means To Love God

Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. (Mark 12:28-30)

What It Means To Love God

There are many things that can be loved. Inspiring music can stir the soul and a love for music will fill the heart with intense feelings. Food can be loved as much as a person can have a deep preference for certain dishes. People talk about loving to take long walks, enjoying quiet moments in solitude, or immersing themselves in a good book. Love can be casual, it can be intense, and it can be misguided. The many definitions of love can fit inanimate objects to animate objects of desire. It is difficult to define love with a singular meaning as it is best described by the one defining the term.

God desires men to love Him. The meaning of love and how men express that love is as varied as the way men view God. A totem represents an image created by man to define God, thus expressing his meaning of love for God. Love is often a casual acquaintance as a friend enjoys the company of another but without any commitments. God is accepted as a friend without obligations to commit to His word or keep His commandments. Loving God can be measured by the expectations of the Lord showing favor for man, rather than the other way around. God becomes the puppet of man’s desire.

Love for God is seldom without bounds. A man will declare his love for God as long as there are no commitments involved in that love. The world is full of men and women who say they love God and seldom show that love through their lives. God becomes a casual friend or the kindly old man in the 1977 movie starring George Burns. Love for God is bound by the fickle desires of a carnal heart trying to serve two masters. Jesus said it could not be done. Love for God must be complete, whole, absolute, and without reservation. Either a man loves God, or he does not. His words will not define his love. The action of the heart is where the motive of love begins.

When a young couple falls in love, they long to be with one another almost every minute of the day. It is seldom hard to find things to talk about, share together, and there are not enough hours in the day to find time for them. Everyone knows they are in love because they talk about each other often, which shows in their lives. Their faces light up when they see one another. They share everything together. The kind of love they have is a deep feeling of intense longing. They radiate love for one another. God does not want men to love Him. He desires for men to fall in love with Him. There is a world of difference between loving God and falling in love with God. A man can love something without falling in love with it. Marriages filled with problems stem from two people who love one another but have never fallen in love with the other. God wants men to love Him but only in terms of falling in love with Him.

Loving God is an emotional bond that is felt, seen, heard, and exhibited every day in a person’s life. They long to listen to the voice of God through daily meditation on the word. The will of God is foremost in their decisions as they seek to please the God they love. Prayer is a big part of the life of one who is in love with God. They can’t stop talking to the Father. It is not hard to find something to say to God because of their love for Him. Jesus plainly said that a man who loves the Father would keep the commandments of the Father. Why? Because he loves God and desires to please Him. Love radiates in every part of a person’s life because of their love for God. As a couple in love, everyone will know the man and woman who is in love with God. It shows. It manifests itself. It shines in the heart. Do you love God, or are you in love with God? It makes a difference.

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I Love The Word of God

Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. (Psalm 119:97-104)

I Love The Word Of God

Life can be filled with dark clouds and a foreboding future. Every generation faces challenges that seem insurmountable. Worries and fears fill the soul with a crushing feeling of defeat, draining the spirit of energy and hope. Satan finds vulnerable souls in those dark days of despair to ply his trade of deceit, deception, and defeat. The first thing God created was light, which is a testimony to the purpose of man’s existence. God did not create man to live in darkness but in the light of His presence. Adam and Eve were placed in a garden of paradise that filled all their needs. They could walk and talk with the Lord God in the cool of the day. There were no dark clouds, doubt, or fear. That came when Satan deceived the woman and sin overshadowed the world.

The first thing Satan challenged the woman with was the word of God. When Eve accepted the deceptive words of the devil, the soul of man fell. Every generation faces the question of what to do with the word of God. There has never been a time when God has not revealed His will to His creation. The word of God has given man hope, promise, protection, and guidance. God said that man could find life when he obeys the word of the Lord, or he will find death in disobedience. The psalmist illustrates the power of God’s word to renew the spirit to the image of the Father.

Love is a profoundly emotional feeling. The psalmist declares a love for the word of God. It is not a passing fancy or a seasonal expression of casual acquaintance. He loves the word of God. This loves comes from a daily meditation on the story of God’s love, His grace, mercy, and kindness to mankind. Loving the word of God is a priority in life. Every day spent in God’s word is a day of renewal. The spirit finds a refreshing spirit in the pages of the word of God. Through a study of the Bible, a man can have a greater understanding than his enemies, his teachers, and the ancients. The Bible tells a man what he is, why he is on the earth, and where he is going when he dies. There is no book written by man that brings hope to the soul as the word of God – the Bible.

The world can be a dark place with fear. There are uncertainties highlighted by the pandemic of a virus that has changed the landscape of humanity for generations to come. One message that has not changed and cannot be challenged is the word of God. There must be a spirit of renewal to return to the old paths of God’s word for hope. What this generation is experiencing is not new to the problems men have faced before. It is impossible to know what dangers the psalmist faced when he penned the great psalm of God’s word. What is clearly defined in his message is that loving the word of God will renew the spirit to soar like eagles and trust in the will of the Father with greater hope. Renewal begins with love – a deep love – for the word of God. Then the spirit can be renewed to love God more, honor Christ, and be a person of joy in a world of darkness. Allow the word of God to shine deep in your heart this year. Let’s renew our spirits in the word of God.

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The End Of Another Year – And Yet

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:34-36)

The End Of Another Year – And Yet

December brings the end of twelve months with three-hundred-sixty-five days completed in a calendar year. Each year is marked by the increasing number from the time of Jesus Christ. Whether one believes in God or accepts Jesus Christ as His Son, the yearly calendar reflects the acceptance that the Son of God changed the world a little more than two thousand years ago. Jesus taught about time. He knew his place on earth was limited and would accomplish the Father’s will. Throughout His teachings, He warned of the coming of the Lord and reminded His disciples the day would come unexpectedly.

In the days of Jesus, there was a two-edged sword in the warnings of a coming day. For the Jews, the end of their nation would come as the day of the Lord. In 70 A.D., the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, effectively ending the existence of the nation of Israel. In a broader lesson, Jesus was talking about a day that has yet to happen. Like in the days of Noah, a great day of the Lord is coming that will impact every soul on earth. Unlike in the days of Noah, no one will escape the destruction. Jesus warned of a day when the world will come to an end – not by the hand of human waste or misuse – but the hand of God. The lesson Jesus wanted men to take heed was that no one would know when that day would come.

Another year has faded to the halls of yesterday. Twelve months end and a new year begins. The Lord did not come. He has not come this year and life continues uninterrupted. The warning of Jesus is how easy it becomes to let the things of life dull the senses about the reality that Jesus is coming back. There is a warning to take heed or watch out when life becomes so comfortable that no concerns are given to prepare for a divine certainty. The carousing and worries of life dull the senses. Jesus does not want the day to catch anyone unaware but sadly, it will.

The new year brings a flurry of resolutions and promises. Two things that should be at the top of the list are watching and praying. The Lord did not come this year and He may not come next year; it could be another two thousand years before that day comes. What is indisputable is that one day He will come and few will be prepared. The day of the Lord does not seem real any more than the day of death. One of the certainties of life is death’s reality, yet everyone is surprised by it. This new year will be filled with funerals of those who thought to live to midnight who die at 11:30. Death is so real and so ignored. The day of the Lord will come one day. It will come unexpectantly and without warning. Live each day watching and preparing for His coming and while the day will surprise you, His glory will not. Enjoy the new year. Watch. Pray.

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Speaking From The Mouth Of The Lord

Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 36:11-12)

Speaking From The Mouth Of The Lord

The work of preaching the word of God carries an incredible burden of responsibility. There is nothing purer than taking the message of the divine to instruct the human heart of its needs, obligations, and requirements. When God created man and woman, He gave them instructions. The Lord spoke to them and told them what they could do and not do. There were many blessings in the Garden of Eden and there was a penalty for disobedience. God relayed His word to Adam and Eve so they could know and understand His will. Those first words came from the mouth of God. Throughout the history of mankind, God spoke to the fathers by various methods and means. Sometimes the Lord would speak directly to the man, reveal His will through visions and dreams, but most commonly transcribe His will for all to read. Ultimately, the will of the Lord came from the mouth of God.

Zedekiah was one of the final kings of Judah when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem. The king tried to flee but was caught by the Babylonian soldiers and brought before Nebuchadnezzar. His sons were killed before his eyes and then Nebuchadnezzar had Zedekiah’s eyes burned out. The king of Judah was taken to Babylon, where he died. Zedekiah followed the pathway of evil, refusing to listen to the words of Jeremiah, the prophet. His demise came as a consequence of rebellion against the preaching of Jeremiah. The gravity of his sin was that refusing to heed the preaching of Jeremiah meant that Zedekiah refused to listen to the words coming from the mouth of God. Jeremiah was not preaching a message of human origin or something the prophet dreamed up. The message of Jeremiah came from the mouth of God.

Preaching the word is declaring the voice of God. The Bible is the divinely revealed message of God and to obey the words of the Bible is to obey the voice of God. Refusing to submit to the words of the Bible is refusing to listen to the words coming from the mouth of God. When men begin to pick and choose which parts of the Bible they will believe, they decide which part of the mouth of God they will accept or reject. The word of God is settled in heaven and no man can change it. There should be a holy reverence to the teachings of the Bible because what is found between Genesis and the Revelation is the mouth of God. Hear it to be wise. Believe it to be saved. Tremble if you refuse. Fear when you ignore it. Zedekiah did not humble himself before Jeremiah, the prophet who spoke from the mouth of the Lord. Do not make the same mistake.

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God Is Almost First Place

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:33-34)

God Is Almost First Place

The sermon of Jesus on the mountain was a powerful preamble to the constitution of the kingdom of God. In many ways, there is little new in the message as principles laid down from the foundation of the earth were reestablished in the minds of the disciples in a manner they could not expect. When Jesus finished his sermon, the people were astonished. They had heard similar preaching but nothing to the power of the words of the Christ. Fundamental statements of truth reminded the people what God has always demanded and expected of His people: obedience. This obedience came with a price and the price was high. There was no room for error or failure to obey. What Jesus laid out in the sermon was the nature of His Jealous Father.

Seeking God requires first place. There can never be a half-hearted devotion, almost a disciple attitude, or a seasonal interest in the will of God. If there is not complete devotion to the kingdom of God, there is no devotion. Seeking first the kingdom of God was not a suggestion. It was a clear mandate eliminating everything else. This can be a little confusing because many things in life are very important. A man must be a faithful son, husband, and father to his family but that is not the most important. Women serve the same obligation to be faithful daughters, wives, and mothers and like the man, this is not the most important.

From the beginning of time, God required the man to work and labor with his hands. Jobs are essential and necessary for the livelihood of the family. Throughout scripture, the Holy Spirit forbids a lazy spirit and if a man refuses to work, he should not eat. God said that! Seeking first the kingdom of God places our jobs off the number-one spot of importance. Obeying the government is required by the child of God but seeking the kingdom of God comes first. Friends are an important part of life. Recreation is helpful to bring comfort to life and enjoy some time off. Spending money for the creature comforts of life can be a blessing. But seeking first the kingdom of God is putting everything far down the list of importance.

Jesus preached a bold message. He was clear in his teaching as He sought to bring the people’s minds back to the word of God. There was a need for the people of God to repent and change their view of God. John the Baptist began his ministry with the preaching of repentance. Jesus began His Father’s work with the message of repentance. It was not the people who had left God for some pagan idol. The preaching of the word of God had grown soft and God was not first in the hearts of the people. To serve Jesus Christ, first place was the only place.

The preaching of the gospel has softened on the essential character of putting God and Jesus first place. Christianity has become an accepted part of the fabric of society as casual as the Jews of Jesus’ time. Families struggle because God is not first in their lives. Husbands and wives find themselves embroiled in discord from a spirit that never put the word of God first. Jobs are more important than assembling with the saints. It has become an acceptable practice for Christians to forsake the Lord’s supper to go to their jobs. This can happen for weeks or months. Assembling with the saints takes less importance as friends, recreation, jobs, and couch sitting church disciples take precedence over serving God first.

Seeking the kingdom of God first is trusting the Lord will care for all the needs of His children. The birds of the air testify that God knows and cares for His creation. What is there that man must worry about that is not in the hands of the Lord? Nothing must come before my service to God. Without exception. Putting the word of God first is abiding by His will first. Seeking God first brings a high price of devotion but the reward is eternal. What is first in your life? Or rather – WHO is first in your life?

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Oh, That Men Would Give Thanks To The Lord

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! (Psalm 107:15)

Oh, That Men Would Give Thanks To The Lord

There is no limit to the goodness and mercy of the Lord. With the sun’s rising to the refreshing bounty of the rains that nourish the earth and the abundance of blessings given to all men, God has shown His glory for all humanity to see, know, and honor the Creator. Life is filled with the mercies of the Lord on a daily basis. The breath of life is a gift. Earth is a domain settled in its place among the stars affording the singular place in the universe to support life. The seas abound with life as the skies fill with the creations of the Most High God and across the wide expanse of earth, creation unfolds the glory of God. There is nothing that man lacks. He is provided everything needed for his happiness.

Beyond the created world, man possesses an intellect that allows him to have dominion over all creation. He is the master of the world as he fills the earth to subdue it. Only man is created in the image of the Divine and this places him above all creation to know and appreciate the Creator. God has given to humanity His word. Through the knowledge of wisdom possessed only by man, the eternal nature of God is revealed to all men. Animals die and cease to exist. Man will die but will never cease to exist. He continues in a world of eternity. Only man shares the nature of God. Since the beginning of time, the Lord has revealed to all men what they must do to be pleasing before their Creator. God has never left man alone to his own devices without instructions on how to save himself. The word of God has always been available for every man to know.

Creation declares the glory of God and the revealed word confirms the nature of God. It is responsive for men to give thanks to God for His goodness and to acknowledge the wonderful works God has done for all men. Everything the Lord provides satisfies the soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord. There is abundant evidence of the hand of God in creation and through the written word the Father has revealed every nature of grace in Jesus Christ. No man can stand before the Lord and suggest he did not know there was a God. No man will present themselves before the holy character of the Father in ignorance. Most men deny there is a Creator and few believe the word of God but both are real and everyone must acknowledge that truth. Denying the universe was created by God does not change the word of God. It only makes a man a sad creature deluded with his own grandiose visions of human wisdom. Oh, that all men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness.

The tragedy of the human heart is the ungrateful spirit. Denying praise to God is foolish. Refusing to see the rising sun as a testimony to the power of God darkens the soul. Rejecting the Bible as the word of God dooms the spirit to eternal darkness. Joy and happiness can only be found when men give thanks to the Lord of His goodness and for His wonderful works that He has done. The soul can only be satisfied by acknowledging God as Creator and abiding by His word as the only guide for the heart. Then – and only then – will life be complete, whole, and satisfying. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord. Let that joy begin today. Praise God.

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Closed On Christmas But Open On Sunday

I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:9-11)

Closed On Christmas But Open On Sunday

Yesterday was Christmas. Today is Sunday. Yesterday was a holiday. Today is the first day of the week. Christmas allowed families to gather together away from jobs and other distractions as a holiday. Almost all businesses were closed on Christmas – even Walmart. Major chains of restaurants closed their doors for Christmas. In most communities, the sidewalks were rolled up and hardly anyone was on the road. Christmas is on a list of about six major holidays where much of the nation shut down, including New Years Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.

Today is the day following Christmas and except for courageous companies like Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby, businesses return to normal with everyone opening their doors. Sunday has become the forgotten day it used to be remembered for. Calendars no longer reflect Sunday as the “first day of the week” but put Sunday as a “weekend” stuffed with Saturday at the end of the week. There is a total disregard for the “day of worship and rest” that was considered the importance of Sunday for many generations. On any Sunday, long streams of cars headed off to church and people dressed in the Sunday best walked to the community church. For many years, communities followed blue laws on Sunday prohibiting all activities except religious. Those laws have died with the horse and buggy.

The one thing that has never changed in the dichotomy of human nature is how he demands certain things for himself and denies the requirements of the God who made him. Imagine the outcry if Christmas was canceled as a holiday. There would be stiff resistance to cancel Christmas. Today is the first day of the week and most people have little concern for the Lord’s Day. What is more tragic is that many Christians did not want to work on Christmas but have no qualms working on the Lord’s Day week after week. They expect and demand days off on holidays. Missing the assembly on the first day of the week has become an accepted pattern in the church of the Lord.

Sunday is the Lord’s Day and will always be His day. The Holy Spirit set forth a pattern of worship delivered by the Father; the first day of the week is a day of remembrance. Early disciples followed the divine pattern of meeting to worship on the first day of the week (known as the day after Sabbath). God’s word has not changed. The Lord said nothing about Christmas, yet men give more honor to an erroneous day of frivolity than God’s command. Everything will return to normal today because Sunday is not a holy day anymore in the eyes of most people. The unfortunate thing is that while the world rejects God’s will, Christians act as if Sunday is a day of choice; as if they can assemble or not assemble. They will use their jobs as excuses to forsake the assembly and would not dream of working on Christmas. When Jesus returns, Christmas will be taken away with all the other pagan nonsense of human wisdom. The Lord’s Day? That will be some day on that day.

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Asaph The Prophet And Jesus

All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 13:34-35)

Asaph The Prophet And Jesus

The style and methodology of Jesus’ teaching were not a new discipline for the Jewish people who were familiar with the writings of the prophets. Reading the works of Moses and the prophets embodied how Jesus presented the word of His Father. His message was very different from how the Jewish leaders taught the holy scripture, for Jesus taught with authority. The book of Matthew is addressed to a Jewish audience and throughout the gospel, the message of fulfillment is clearly defined. No other book identifies the expression of fulfillment more than Matthew.

When Matthew begins writing about the parables of Jesus, he notes that Jesus did not speak to the people without using parables. Not all the parables of the Lord are found in the gospels as John notes in his book, the world could not contain everything Jesus said and did. There are less than fifty parables found in the teachings of Jesus. Those that are found fulfill the message of a prophet named Asaph, who was a psalmist and seer of the Lord during the days of King David. Asaph, a Levite, was appointed by David over the service of song at the Tabernacle until Solomon built the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.

The psalm which Matthew quotes is Psalm 78. This psalm is not considered a “Messianic Psalm,” but nonetheless has implications of prophecy attached to Jesus. The psalm of Asaph is a critical review of Israel from the covenant of God with Jacob to the promise of salvation in Mount Zion and the coming of a shepherd. God provided everything Israel needed and yet Israel continued to rebel against Him. The Hebrews never lacked food, water, clothing, or protection. God’s wrath punished them through the wilderness wanderings. Warnings of the punishment against Egypt did not sway the people’s hearts. A generation of people died in the wilderness because they rejected the word of the Lord. Judah was chosen over Joseph and David was chosen as the shepherd of God’s people.

Jesus’ teaching with parables was not merely a style of teaching that fulfilled prophecy. Matthew takes the very heart of Psalm 78 to illustrate the message of God to the world as His mercy, grace, love, wrath, punishment, and salvation in the One who was the Lion of Judah and the Son of David to be the redemptive Savior of the world. Like Israel, most would reject the teachings (parables) of Jesus. Rebellion characterized the people of God, and the world would not only reject the work of God’s Son – they would kill him. Jesus fulfilled scripture when He spoke in parables as the Messenger of the Divine who uttered things kept secret from the foundation of the world. All of the teachings of Jesus are the summation of the scheme of redemption set forth before time began.

The parables of Jesus are not just enjoyable children’s stories. Buried deep within the recesses of each line is the eternal message of hope in the Shepherd who came to give His life for His flock. The words of Jesus are life and eternal life will not be found outside the teachings of God’s Son. Asaph was a prophet who wrote about the work of the Messiah. The people of Jesus’ day heard the parables of Jesus to know the will of the Father. Every word of the Bible is delivered to the world to know and believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. It could easily be said everything between Genesis and the Revelation is the greatest parable ever written.

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The Penalty Of Error

And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. (2 Samuel 6:6-7)

The Penalty Of Error

It is one of the saddest stories in the Bible but one of the most profound. David had become king, and Jerusalem had been conquered. The ark of God had been at Kirjath Jearim since the Philistines returned it in the days of Samuel. King David wanted to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem with great fanfare. They set the ark of God on a new cart driven by two men, Uzzah and Ahio. When the procession came to a threshing floor, the oxen stumbled and it looked as though the ark would fall. Uzzah put out his hand and took hold of the ark to steady it. The anger of God was aroused against Uzzah and he was struck dead. Uzzah died there by the ark of God.

David had mistakenly moved the ark in a manner forbidden by the Lord. Many years earlier, when the Philistines returned the ark to Israel, they put the ark on a new cart drawn by two milk cows. The cows brought the ark to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh. There the wood was used to sacrifice the cows and the Levites came and secured the ark. Because the people looked into the ark of the Lord, more than fifty thousand people were killed by the hand of the Lord. The penalty of their error was to do what God forbade.

Uzzah died because of his error. An error is not a mistake. It is flagrant disobedience to the word of God. The story of Uzzah has challenged human wisdom to understand why God took such a rash action against a seemingly innocent act. What is lost in the story is the purity of God’s word and the expectation of complete obedience to the word of God. There is no margin for human wisdom to change the word of God. The fact remains the ark was being transported in a manner forbidden by God. It was to be carried on the shoulders of the priests and was not. David became angry because of what happened and then he became afraid. He knew why God killed Uzzah.

The word of God has suffered abuse from the beginning of time. Satan changed a small part of God’s word to deceive the woman. The Lord has always been very plain in His commands with the expectations of obedience from the heart of men. There has never been a time God has allowed men to change His word without penalty. Error is everything that stands against the word of God. When men follow error, they engage in the error of Uzzah, who, for good reasons, did something forbidden. Does it make a difference to the Lord? Ask the fifty thousand plus seventy who died when they looked into the ark or Uzzah who took hold of the ark of God. Jesus acknowledged that God’s word was truth and there was no other truth. Anything that is not found in the word of God is error. And you know the rest of that story.

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Peter Challenged God’s Word

I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me. When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But I said, “Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.” But the voice answered me again from heaven, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” (Acts 11:5-9)

Peter Challenged God’s Word

The Law of Moses was stringent regarding eating certain foods. There was a long list of foods considered clean and unclean. Any beast that did not chew the cud and have a split hoof was unclean. Catfish were unclean because they had no fins or scales. Birds like vultures were prohibited because they lived off the carcasses of dead animals. All creeping things were unclean if they did not hop. The devoted Jew was cautious about eating only foods authorized under the Law of Moses. God wanted His people to be separate from the Gentiles and restricting certain foods impressed upon the people what was holy and unholy.

Peter was the epitome of the devout Jew. He declared he had never eaten anything common or unclean. While Peter was staying in the city of Joppa, the apostle had a vision. He was very hungry and saw the heaven open and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. He immediately recognized the animals as unclean. A voice told him to kill and eat but he refused. The voice told him a second time to kill and eat and he again refused. Peter was not going to be swayed away from his convictions. He was determined to hold his course in keeping the word of the Lord.

The diligence of Peter is a commendable trait to pattern after as one of courage, faith, fidelity, and obedience. It was clear the animals on the sheet were forbidden by the Law of Moses. Peter forcibly resisted the voice that told him to kill and eat. What Peter failed to appreciate in his diligence to hold tight to his beliefs is the realization the voice was from God, not man. The vision was a parabolic lesson about what Peter was about to do. Three men arrived at the house in Joppa to take Peter back to the household of Cornelius, who would become the first Gentile converts in the infant church. Peter understood this later as he recounts the experience to those in Jerusalem.

God told Peter to do something that was not in accordance with the Law of Moses. On the surface, his actions were right, but Peter failed to acknowledge that the Lawgiver permitted him to kill and eat and he should have done so. Abraham was told to take his only begotten son, Isaac, and offer him as a burnt offering. Where has there been acceptance of human sacrifice in any law given by the Lord? Never. God asked Abraham to do something that was against every fiber of righteousness. Abraham did not question God. He took his son and placed him on the altar, preparing to kill him and then burn his body as a sacrifice. Abraham obeyed the word of God without question.

The lesson of Peter and the unclean animals was illustrative of the opening of the kingdom to the whole world. There is also a deeper lesson about obeying the word of God. Peter argued with the demands of God. Like Abraham, Peter should have acted as if God’s righteousness would be established even if he did eat the unclean animals. God set aside the death penalty facing David and Bathsheba because He was the Lawgiver and had the right to set aside the penalty. Obedience is obeying the word of God whether a man understands it or not.

Many refuse to obey the will of the Father because they do not understand what a little water has to do with salvation. Why should anyone remember the body and blood of Jesus on the first day of the week? What profit is there to live the Christian life when there is so much more to do in life? Human wisdom tries to usurp the word of God, making it fit the carnal nature of the world. When God speaks, men should not question but obey. This does not create a zombie world of morally controlled robots. It becomes the character of a faithful heart to hear the word of God – and obey. Why? Because it is God’s word. Peter soon realized what God wanted him to do and never turned back. Listen to the word of God. Stop arguing with God. You will never win.

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The Holy Land

Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you. And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!” (Zechariah 2:11-13)

The Holy Land

Zechariah is the prophet who is tasked, along with Haggai, to encourage the returning exiles to stop delaying building the second Temple of the Lord in the broken-down city of Jerusalem. Nearly seventy years prior, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the Holy House of the Lord. Under the decree of Cyrus, king of Persia, the people were allowed to return to Jerusalem to build the house of the Lord God of Israel. The captives returned to Jerusalem, and work on the Temple began with the foundation being laid with great joy. However, the opposition would stop the building plans for nearly sixteen years. Men like Haggai, Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and Zechariah tried to instill a devotion to return to the building.

Haggai focused his preaching on those devoted to the Lord, while Zechariah addressed the souls who were not as dedicated. The Temple must be built. It was not that God desired to dwell in a building, but He was working through the people to reestablish the people of God in Israel. God had promised a remnant would return and a greater kingdom would come in the days of the fourth king (Rome). Building the Temple was part of the restoration of the land. The people must repent of their lack of faith and trust in the Lord and allow Him to be a wall of fire around them. When the Jews returned to Jerusalem, they built the Temple first. The walls were not rebuilt for another 94 years. God must be present first before the walls are built.

In the third vision of Zechariah, the land of Palestine is called the “Holy Land.” This is the only time in scripture the term is used. It is fitting to call Palestine the Holy Land because this is where the Lord has established His covenant with the world. Abraham took Isaac as a sacrifice to the land of Moriah. The ark of the covenant was called the holy ark. Jerusalem is known as the holy city of God and the holy mountain. Those who possessed the land were to be holy people as they followed the holy word of God. All the nations around them would see Israel as the apple of God’s eye and a holy nation devoted to Him. Zechariah sought to bring the people back to the relationship of holiness in the holy land to honor the glory of God.

The geography of the Holy Land is the testimony of the untold number of events that are told in the Bible in that small space of land. No place on earth is filled with more history and stories that go back to the beginning of time. God used that stretch of land to show the world His forbearance, love, grace, longsuffering, and love. Jesus Christ was killed on a tree outside the holy city of Jerusalem. The Holy Land was a place of sanctification. It was ravaged through the years with wars and cruelty. It is still called the Holy Land, but the significance was lost to its title nearly two thousand years ago.

God called the land the Holy Land because it was a place He would establish His covenant with all the world in Jesus Christ. There is no significance to the land now because the nation of Israel ceased to exist in the First Century. The Jews are no longer the chosen people of God. Jesus Christ has brought Jew and Gentile together in the covenant of grace through His blood. The true Holy Land is found in the geography of the kingdom of Christ or the church of Christ. Landmarks, rivers and seas do not determine the boundary of the Holy Land in Christ. Today, God’s Holy Land is the church, stretched out worldwide in great metropolitan cities to quiet mountaintop buildings where the saints meet.

The church is the manifold wisdom of God so that all nations can know the one true God. As a holy people, the saints of God establish a parcel of holy land in their communities as examples of the righteousness of truth. Husbands and wives shine forth as people of God, workers in factories and offices exemplify the character of honesty, integrity, and fidelity, local congregations of God’s people are busy sharing the gospel with their neighbors. The Holy Land. It’s you.

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How Jesus Prepared To Die

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. (John 13:1-4)

How Jesus Prepared To Die

Death was not a stranger to Jesus. As Creator, He knew the sadness of death was born from the tears of sin. When Abel was murdered by his brother, death became real to all humanity. Methuselah enjoys the notoriety of the longest recorded man in history but the scriptures say he died. When God brought the flood upon the earth, untold millions of souls perished. Disease, famine, wars, inhumanity, natural disasters, and life itself loudly ring the chimes of time that death is inevitable. Cemeteries are stark reminders of something no man can change. Everyone has a tombstone with their name on it.

The knowledge of death has not been the struggle with the human spirit. How to prepare for death is the more pressing concern. Since the beginning of time, men have searched for the proverbial fountain of youth. Few find answers in the wisdom of men. Jesus knew He was going to die and He knew how He would die. What prepared the Son of God for His death was the knowledge He shared with the heavenly Father.

Jesus knew the Father had given Him authority over all things. The relationship between Jesus and His Father was the endearment of trust. Jesus came in the flesh born of a woman. He had to learn to walk, talk, and learn about the Heavenly Father. Jesus was tempted in all points yet without sin. At the beginning of His ministry, Satan tried to deceive the Lord with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. Jesus attached the wiles of the devil with the word of God. Throughout the life of Jesus, the word of His Father was foremost in His speech, words, thoughts, and actions. The Holy Spirit empowered Jesus to perform miracles, heal all diseases, and raise the dead. Jesus had complete power over the demon world. Satan was subject to the will of the Son of God.

The day before Jesus would die on the cross, He gathered with the twelve apostles a final time. He would wash the feet of the twelve to show them the true act of love was found in being a servant. Judas watched as Jesus washed his feet, knowing what he was about to do. Jesus knew what Judas was going to do and when. The events of that night were constructed according to the authority of God, the will of the Son of God, and the blessing of the Holy Spirit. Nothing happened that did not fall under the sway of the redemptive plan to save mankind. Jesus knew what was about to happen was the will of His Father.

Jesus prepared to die because He knew two things: He had come from the Father and He was going back to the Father. Before time began, Jesus was with the Father. Coming to earth, Jesus knew He would live in the flesh and suffer the temptations as all men do but a day would come when Jesus would be nailed to a cross and die. He knew this. It was not a mistake or a cleverly crafted plan by the Jews. The death of Jesus was according to the will of God. What gave Jesus comfort to face such an ordeal was to know He came from God and that death was nothing more than the avenue for Him to return to the Father. He faced death knowing it would bring Him closer to seeing His Father face to face. With confident courage of faith, Jesus went to the cross and died. And then Sunday came.

Death is a fearful thing to face. Most men dread it. A Christian can face death with a joyous spirit knowing that with the authority of the word of God, promises have been made that transcend the joys of this world. Like Jesus, who knew the Father had given Him all things, the child of God can live knowing that God has made eternal promises and that God cannot lie. Through the word of God and faith in the promises of God, life is not as precious here as the life found in eternity. Death is no longer feared when the Christian knows that he is created by the hand of God and that death will take him to see the Father face to face. Jesus knew that He had come from the Father and was going to God. The fear of death is removed when the heart of love knows they come from the Father and they are going to God. Then, death is a welcome guest. How you face death will be how you face life. Be prepared to die but do so with joy.

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Worry Serves The Wrong Master

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (Matthew 6:24-27)

Worry Serves The Wrong Master

The nature of humanity lends itself to focus on one thing and this is how God has created man. While multitasking is a gift of the human will, it boils down to a choice of serving the will of God or the will of the human spirit. Man has always been a free moral agent. Adam and Eve had a choice and allowed the spirit of mammon to rule their hearts. Sin is the harvest of the field of avarice. Confidence in the fleshly side of man is the predominant desire that turns the heart away from serving the will of the Father to the carnal desires of the moment. Eve looked on the forbidden fruit with a passion of desire that could only be whited by disobeying God. Her love for the flesh overpowered her love for God.

It is a profound truth that man cannot serve two masters. The heart of man is singular in its nature. When a man seeks to serve God and mammon, he falls into the trap of hypocrisy. There is no room for God when the heart is filled with the desires of the world. Loyalty is not divided – it is singular. If a man decides to serve the desires of the flesh, he removes himself from the will of God. The Lord will not allow a man to say he loves Him and at the same time devote his life to the needs of the flesh. God is a jealous God and His name is Jealous because He cannot and will not accept anything less than total allegiance from men. It is impossible – with bold assertion – to serve God and mammon. Men try it all the time and fail without exception. Trying to serve God and mammon is like trying to walk backward to the moon.

Worry is the excessive concern for things of the world. An inordinate concern for the things of life can take the heart away from trusting in the blessings of the Father. Life can be difficult and demanding and Satan has no greater desire for men to spend their lives worrying about and fussing over the minutia of things that have no significance. Life for the worrier becomes an obsession with what to eat and drink and what to wear and matters of no lasting value. The heart is taken away from God and men begin to serve mammon rather than the Creator. Jesus put a ‘therefore’ between the admonition of God and mammon and the need not to worry to emphasize the hypocrisy of trying to love God and trusting Him so little. Covetousness comes from trying to serve two masters. Worry springs from trying to serve two masters. Fear fills the mind when God is no longer the master of life.

There are many things to be concerned with in life. God promised to feed the sparrows but He never suggested He would bring the food to the nest. There is a need to work and labor to care for life but the overabundance of trust in the things of mammon leads to the people of God filling their lives with an inordinate desire and concern for life. There are many in the church of the Lord that have allowed a fear of a virus to consume them with anxiety and distrust of the care of God. It is sad to watch children of God cower at home with fear refusing to obey the will of the Father. Life has become a pattern of fear. Serving mammon will not bring joy. Worrying cannot add one value to life. Jesus appeals to the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns because God takes care of them. We are far more valuable to God than the birds. Can all my worries add a single moment to my life? When I serve God and reject mammon, I will see more clearly the protective care and blessings of the Father. Worry serves the wrong master.

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