Proverbs 11 8-11-22

A quick catch-up on the retina…

18 Truly the righteous attain life, but whoever pursues evil finds death.
Isaiah 6:9 (paraphrased) You are ever hearing, but never understanding; you are ever seeing, but never perceiving.

I was reminded by one of my readers that I had not finished our study on the eye. Although each part of the eye is important, it is the retina that does the actual “seeing.”

Even though the eye is small, only about 1 inch in diameter, it serves a very important function – the sense of sight. The eye is one of the most complex organisms in the human body. It is made up of many distinct parts working in unison together and in order for the eye to work at its best, all parts must work well collectively.*

I always thought of the retina as a small spot on the back of the eyeball. Come to find out, it’s the “Light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. It contains millions of photoreceptors (rods and cones) that convert light rays into electrical impulses that are relayed to the brain via the optic nerve.”*

The retina processes light through a layer of photoreceptor cells. These are essentially light-sensitive cells, responsible for detecting qualities such as color and light-intensity. The retina processes the information gathered by the photoreceptor cells and sends this information to the brain via the optic nerve. Basically, the retina processes a picture from the focused light, and the brain is left to decide what the picture is.**

The sheer complexity of the retina/optic nerve/brain interaction goes way beyond anything that Evolution can produce–given that it has some kind of agenda. Actually, evolution can’t have an agenda, unless we want to count the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that without outside energy, everything reverts to its most basic form. It’s the law of Entropy. The eye would not keep trying until it hit upon the right combination; it would be reabsorbed into the primordial soup. Not only that, but there is not body to support it (same problem). It takes a lot more faith to believe in macro-evolution than it does a Master Designer.

Let’s thank the Lord for His creativity and complexity.

Abba, I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. All I have to do is “look” at my eyes. Granted, I don’t see as well as my eyes were designed, but I know I will in the body You have prepared for me in Your kingdom. I can hardly wait (and not just for perfect eyesight)! In the meantime, may I serve You with all I am. Give me Your eyes to see opportunities of ministry in Your name and in Your power. Amen.

*AssociatedRetinaConsultants.com

**Retina Function, Healthline.com

Proverbs 4 7-4-22

Jesus had one theme: His Father’s love for us. Everything was borne out of that theme. “For God so loved the world…

Proverbs 4:1 Listen, my children, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.

The Father’s love for us is demonstrated through Jesus when He died on the cross,

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus was God in the flesh here on earth. If we want to know what God thinks of us, we need look no further than Jesus. Here are a couple of examples:

Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Mark 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Jesus loves us and has compassion for us. Since He is God, then God loves us and has compassion for us. If we want to be like God, then we must learn to love and be compassionate, too. Here’s what Jesus said,

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

In fact, Luke 6:36 gives it to us straight,

Luke 6:36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

We know from Romans 11:32 that, “God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” If God has mercy on everyone, I reckon that we should, too, don’t you?

Loving, compassionate, merciful…sounds like a tall order. Aren’t we glad we have His Spirit in and with us?

Abba, You have said that humanly speaking, it is impossible for us to fill this order, but with You, all things are possible. Please work in us Your love, compassion and mercy. Then we will be known as children of You, O God. Amen

Proverbs 14 5-14-22

We don’t need to see the whole picture to hear Jesus and respond to His directions.

Proverbs 3:5-7 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.

Yesterday, we learned that freedom in Christ frees us from following rituals and rules. We are already pleasing to God because we believe in Jesus. Today, we will look at the fight inside of us that goes on every day. It’s the fight to relinquish control to Him.

Galatians 5:13-14, 16-18 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

The Spirit in us reveals to us what is the next right thing to do. We don’t have to know why or how, especially the complexities of how each decision links with other decisions in our lives and the lives of others. Nor do we need to know what is wrong for others. We just need to hear from the Spirit for ourselves today. What we learn tomorrow may change the way we view things today, but that’s tomorrow. Leave it there. I am reminded of Jesus’s words,

Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The Bible is a great resource for learning how to be godly, but it is the Spirit within us to whom we must listen and obey. We cannot trust our gut or our intellect; only Jesus knows the right thing to do or say at the right time in accordance with all that connectivity I mentioned earlier. Still, we must decide to follow His leadership. That part is up to us.

Tomorrow, we look at putting off our old ways and putting on His new ways.

Abba, thank You for wanting to be intimately involved in our lives. Your Spirit makes all the difference in us knowing what to do and say from moment to moment. May we learn to live our lives walking in step with Your Spirit. Amen.

Proverbs 19 3-19-22

“You must make up your minds between two possibilities,” Jesus said. Will we bring out good things or bad things out of our hearts?

3 A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD.

Jesus calls us to decide. Will we trust or will we fear? Every situation has a point of crisis where we choose to trust the Holy Spirit or to give in to fear. We have this promise,

2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

If we have our line of communication open with the Lord, we will hear Him calling us to follow Him. Walking close to Jesus is the safest place to be! Now, regardless of the physical outcome, we know we are safe in His arms.

Speaking of being in His arms, I have a grandchild in mine! That’s all for today.

Abba, thank You for trusting us enough to allow us to make our own choices. We want to learn to be spiritually mature, lacking no good thing. May we grow to be just like You. Amen.

What’s Going On in the Supreme Court?

Senator James Lankford published his monthly letter and included some hearings going on in the Supreme court. He also included his view and why he views abortion as he does. Here is what he said:

Standing for Life at the Supreme Court

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in potentially the most consequential case for human rights in 48 years, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Court heard arguments from the Mississippi Solicitor General on behalf of Thomas Dobbs, the State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health and from attorneys representing, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The fight is about a Mississippi state law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of gestation. 

This case provides the Court with an opportunity to revisit the now infamous ruling in Roe v. Wade.

In Roe , the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that the Constitution guarantees the right to have an abortion until a child is determined “viable,” which was not defined then and which science has now established as a time very early in a pregnancy. The issue of abortion is very divisive in our culture, but this is an issue that was not resolved by Roe v. Wade. It was only made even more volatile.  

In the last 48 years, because of Roe, 62 million children have died by abortion in America. That is equivalent to losing the combined populations of Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Rhode island, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, West Virginia, Idaho, Nebraska, New Mexico, Kansas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Nevada, Iowa, Utah, Connecticut, Oregon, Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, and Oklahoma.

For some, abortion is about “choice” and “court precedent,” rather than children. I stand firmly on the side of the children in this debate. On Tuesday, during my speech on the Senate floor, I quoted Psalm 41:1, which says, ‘Blessed are those who have regard for the weak.’

I led members of the Senate Republican Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday to stand for life and to remind Americans that when a pregnancy test comes up “positive” it means that there is a baby in the womb, not just random “tissue.” This is not an argument about convenience. It is an argument over children. I have fought hard in the US Senate to protect the lives of the unborn, protect taxpayers from being forced to pay for abortions, and protect the conscience rights of healthcare providers. This week, it was the Supreme Court’s turn to protect the rights of the unborn. You can watch my remarks on the Senate floor in support of life HERE .

What is the Dobbs case, and why does it matter?

In 2018, Mississippi enacted the Gestational Age Act, which limits abortion to 15 weeks of gestation except in a medical emergency or what’s known as “severe fetal abnormality.” The Jackson Women’s Health abortion clinic in Mississippi sued the state over the law, and federal courts said the law violated a precedent set in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that the government couldn’t place an “undue burden” on access to abortion, a line abortionists have used to block many state laws that seek to protect women and children.

Babies at 15 weeks, the time Mississippi says should be the time limit to receive an abortion, have fingers, toes, a nervous system, and a heartbeat. They can suck their thumb and even are already right or left hand dominant. They are human beings who are very much alive and should never be discarded as “tissue.”

The Supreme Court has fixed its mistakes before.

In December of 1952 and again in 1953, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the legality of segregation brought by the Brown family from Topeka, Kansas. The Brown family was fighting against legalized segregation. At that time, segregation was fully protected by the Court’s decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896 under what became known as the disgraceful “separate but equal” legal standard, which haunted our nation for more than half a century until it the Court fixed it in Brown v. Board of Education. The nation still celebrates the Court righting that wrong in its decision to reverse “separate but equal.” I believe we will celebrate in the days ahead when the court made right the wrong created in Roe .

I understand that I have a Biblical worldview, and I believe every person is created in the image of God. Not everyone in Oklahoma shares my view of God and my faith. But I also firmly look at the science of life. The science is crystal clear to anyone who is willing to get past the talking points and actually look into the womb. At the moment of fertilization a new and distinct human being comes into existence. The child’s DNA is different than the mom’s DNA. In fact, it’s the only tissue in her body that has distinctly different DNA because it is a different person. Abortion is not just a medical procedure. It’s the taking of a human life.

I talked this week with an abortion survivor—one of thousands. Her name is Melissa Ohden. She is founder of Abortion Survivors Network (ASN) and is now in her 40s with children of her own. Melissa survived a botched abortion and was actually delivered alive during an abortion procedure. Her tiny body was taken by a nurse to the NICU of a hospital and she is alive and thriving today. You can hear my conversation with Melissa about her story of life and surviving an abortion HERE . It was remarkable to sit and talk with a person in my office who survived an abortion and see again that abortion is about real people.  

The Court decision that led to the death of 62 million children is what needs to be discarded.

Overturning Roe does not end abortion in America. It just allows each state to decide how they will protect the lives of children in the womb. Prior to 1973, each state had its own laws on abortion. In the future, we could have a patchwork of laws about abortion across the country, just like we do right now on homicide. In some states like Oklahoma, if a pregnant mother and her child are killed, the perpetrator faces two charges of murder—one for the mom, one for the baby. In other states, the law is different and only the mother is recognized as a victim.

I really believe, in the decades ahead, our nation will look back on the past 48 years of elective abortion with grief. In 1830, southern slave owners denied humanity to their slaves. In 1900, men denied women the right to vote. During World War II, the US rounded up Japanese Americans and put them into camps. All three of those were considered legal and appropriate at the time. Many fought changing all three of those decisions. Today, we see all three as national embarrassments. 

There was a time when the Court ruled “separate but equal” was somehow considered justice, but we realized six decades after the Plessy v. Ferguson case that ending segregation was actually justice in the Brown v. Board of Education case. I look forward to the Court deciding to fix the mistake they made in Roe v. Wade and turn our hearts back to our children, no matter how small.

For now, we wait six months to hear the decision from the Supreme Court. They will most likely release their opinion in June of 2022. 

This is Kelly Anderson and I approve of this message.

Feasting and Fellowship

This Sunday, our church is gathering for a feast. We will eat together and fellowship together after a time of worship. For some, it may be a time of remembrance of those who have gone on before us (bitter-sweetness), those who have left us (sadness mixed with prayers of hope), and the goodness of God for all of us through and in Jesus Christ.

Feasts are designed for us to remember:

  1. We are God’s and He loves us.
  2. He has a Plan for us and we are living in that plan.
  3. He has given us each other as family for eternity–yes, even that crazy aunt or uncle!
  4. Our fellowship with Him and in Him can never be broken.
  5. He has much more in store for us, so much more that we can’t even begin to imagine.

When God established Israel, he commanded them to observe three annual feasts:

  1. The Feast of Unleavened Bread in the Spring in commemoration of Passover.
  2. The Feast of Pentecost 50 days after the offering of Firstfruits (the first Sabbath after the Feast of Unleavened Bread).
  3. The Feast of Tabernacles (booths) in the Fall after the New Year had begun in commemoration of Israel living in tents (booths) in the wilderness, but also a reminder that the Promised Land (heaven for us) was coming.

There were other feasts, but these three required the attendance of every male, and the entire family often went together to celebrate. Jesus was crucified during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Holy Spirit came during the Feast of Pentecost; could it be that Jesus will return during the Feast of Tabernacles? It’s definitely worth pondering. Whether He does or not, His Return is the next great Event in Christian history.

So, as we gather with our families, our church families, friends, work associates, and any other thanksgiving gathering, let’s be in remembrance of God’s love for us.

Our Father in heaven, thank You for loving us, for Your mercy and Your grace, for Your provision and Your Presence in our trials and tribulations. As the shepherd was with the sheep in the valley of the shadow of death (headed from one green pasture to another), so Jesus is with us in our valleys. With humble, grateful, and thankful hearts we praise You and worship You through Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit as our Guide. Amen.

Birth and New Birth 11-22-20

The birth of Christ was a unique event: God coming to live in the body of a baby. Emmanuel means, “God with us.” Some people might think that because He was born that the Son didn’t exist before the Incarnation. Not So! Philippians 2:6-8 tells us that, “He, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped [hung onto], but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance of a man…As we can see, Jesus was with God BEFORE He came to earth. 

We get a clear picture of the Father’s Plan in Ephesians 1:3-4, “How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ. Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”

The same way that God came through Christ into the world, He comes into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Christ is born into our hearts even as we are born into Him! “…God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father.” Gal. 4:6 We tend to use the picture of baptism when referring to being born again, but Jesus eluded to this concept of being born in us when He was praying on the night He was betrayed, “My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father–that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.”

Did you catch the reason for the “One” concept? It’s meant as the very thing that makes Christianity unique–and desirable. Being one with God through Jesus makes all His followers one. This oneness is what attracts future believers to Christ.

The presence of God in the world had been promised since Adam, again through Abraham, then David, and was finally delivered through Mary. It is interesting to note that the Old Covenant was never intended to save, but to show our need of salvation. Romans 3:20 says, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” It is also interesting to note that Jesus spent three years reversing the physical consequences of sin in people. There are only two people mentioned in the Gospels whose sins were forgiven: the paralytic who was let down through the roof (Matthew 9:1-8), and the woman at Simon the Pharisee’s home (Luke 7:36-50). There is one man who Jesus warned to stop sinning after he was healed, and that was the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15). Jesus’ miracles pointed to His Godhood and fulfilled the prophecies about the Messiah. He, indeed, was who He said He was.

It wasn’t until Jesus fulfilled God’s plan that was first stated in Genesis 3:15, elaborated upon in Isaiah 53, and then fulfilled on the cross that the mystery of the Gospel came to light. Part of this mystery is about God living in us. Paul sums it all up for us in Romans 5:1-5, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God…because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” It’s as if the pillar of fire that led the Israelites in the desert exploded at Pentecost and came to rest on each and every believer! He, the Holy Spirit, now leads us from the inside. We have been reborn, remade, refitted for the holiness, which is the Spirit of Christ in us.

Just as Christ was born into this world, so we are born into Christ and He in us. Christmas is truly a wondrous time of year; most people just don’t know why. Maybe we can help them. As we share the Christmas story about the birth of Christ, let’s include the event of our own birth into God through Christ and how Christ has been sent to live in us.

The Incarnation in us is the PURPOSE of Christmas.

SS 11-1-20 Ephesians 2:11-18

SS 11-1-20 Ephesians 2:11-18

Audio Lesson

Let’s review 1 through 14:

  1. This letter is from Paul to the church in Ephesus, but also is a circular letter.
  2. We are blessed, chosen, holy and blameless, sons through adoption, all through the redemption we have received through the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
  3. The mystery: to bring all things under the authority of Christ, to unify heaven and earth.
  4. The framework of salvation was in place before the foundations of the world were laid. All who put their hope in Christ are for the praise of God’s glory.
  5. Those who believe are marked with the seal of God, the promised Holy Spirit, guaranteeing our inheritance until we are fully redeemed (glorified in heaven).

Now, let’s review 15-23:

  1. Paul’s prayer is our prayer for each other.
  2. That the LORD would give us spiritual wisdom and revelation,
  3. That the eyes of our heart may be enlightened in order to know
    1. The hope to which He has called us,
    2. The riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people,
    3. And the incomparably great power for us who believe.
  4. Jesus is seated at God’s right hand over every name and every rule and authority.
  5. God has appointed Him to be head of the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.

Now, let’s review 2:1-10:

  1. We were dead spiritually because of our transgressions and sin.
  2. We followed the ways of Satan, gratifying the cravings of our flesh with no regard to God or His covenant and laws.
  3. We were by nature deserving of His wrath.
  4. Instead, because of His great love, He made us alive with Christ! Saved by grace!
  5. We are seated with Him in heavenly places.
  6. Examples of His incomparably rich grace, expressed through Christ Jesus.
  7. Saved by grace, not of ourselves, so that no one can boast.
  8. We are His handiwork, His masterpieces, created for His pleasure and His will.

Now, for the lesson, read 2:11-18. In order to set it up, let’s look at some other passages:

  1. Mark 14:48-49 Scriptures fulfilled
  2. Matthew 3:1-3, 4-6, 7-10, 11-12 Fire and winnowing fork = Judgment
  3. Malachi 3:1, 4:5-6 Repentance and judgment
  4. Mark 12:1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12
    1. To whom was Jesus referring?
    2. What did He mean by “cornerstone? Read Psalm 118:22-23, 20, 25-27, Matthew 21:42-44
  5. Mark 11:12-14, 20-21

Let’s tie it all together. Christ Jesus came to bring salvation to all who believe in Him, but to bring judgment upon all who don’t. He expanded Israel to mean Himself rather than the nation or the land. Read John 15:1-2. He is the TRUE VINE. See how He ties in the fig tree? See how He ties in Israel? He expanded salvation to the whole world. Remember how God can raise stones up to be children? Remember how Jesus said at His Triumphal Entry that if the people didn’t praise Him, that the very stones would cry out in praise (Luke 19:40)? Those who believe in Jesus Christ are connected to the TRUE VINE: God has made the two one! “His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross…” Ephesians 2:15-16

Around the Tables:

  1. How do we have access to the Father (see Ephesians 2:18)? How do Jews have access to God (trick question)?
  2. Read verse 11. From which group do you hail (Jew or Gentile)? According to verse 12, where did we stand with God and Israel before Christ? Where do we stand now because of the blood of Christ (v13)?
  3. Why is “put to death their hostility” so important a phrase? How should we feel about Jewish believers?
  4. How should we feel and act toward those Jews who do not believe in Yeshua as their Messiah? About all unbelievers, whether Islamic, Buddhist, Atheist, Communist, etc?

You’ve Been Hurt

You’ve Been hurt.

I acknowledge that. Hurt people hurt people.
That’s what families are made of: Hurt people. They have been damaged by sin, by others, and many times led astray by the devil. They still have idols in their lives (things that they count on for security, success, and fulfillment). They can be conceited, proud, prejudiced, acidic and judgmental. If we focus on our families, our families will let us down—hard!
The same is true with friends, teachers, bosses, lovers, and even spouses. Our focus is to be on one Person alone, and that is Jesus Christ. HE is the only One who will not let us down. Christ calls us to look to Him. He has chosen to work with and through these imperfect people in our lives. He loves them. He even calls them His friends!
Here’s the irony:
You’ve been hurt.
I acknowledge that. Hurt people hurt people.
That’s what churches are made of: Hurt people. They have been damaged by sin, by others, and many times led astray by the devil. They still have idols in their lives (things that they count on for security, success, and fulfillment). They can be conceited, proud, prejudiced, acidic and judgmental. If we focus on the church, the church will let us down—hard!
But, Christ calls us to look to Him. He has chosen to work with and through these imperfect people. He loves them. He even calls them His friends!

Every Christ-follower is a part of His Church.
He calls us His Bride. He married us!!!

From the outside, church can be not very attractive, but from the inside, we have a fellowship that goes beyond anything we can have in this world! We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are FAMILY.
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!  1 John 3:1
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Ephesians 5:1
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. Ephesians 4:2-3
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. Hebrews 10:24
 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people [His children, His family] who are his rich and glorious inheritance. Ephesians 1:18

Concerning End Times

Concerning “End Times,” I have to ask myself this question, “What difference does it make in my daily obedience if I know the particulars of Christ’s return or not?”

I have come to a conclusion that we will not know the details of Christ’s Return until we see Him actually return. I believe that He has left the matter intentionally vague. When we postulate about HOW He will come, we tend to become divisive and argumentative when we are warned that those kinds of arguments are not beneficial:

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:3-5

I’m sure that Paul was referring to something particular, but it can certainly be applied to the “End Times” argument. Whether a person believes that:

  1. Times will grow darker and darker until Christ removes His church from the earth (the Pre-Millennial viewpoint),
  2. Times will grow darker even as the light grows brighter until Christ’s once and final return (the Amillennial viewpoint),
  3. Times will grow brighter as the Gospel spreads over all the earth and eventually overcomes evil, at which point Christ returns (the Post-Millennial viewpoint),

we ALL believe that Christ will come, that the Gospel is going forth, and that we have a job to do. To go beyond these truths ventures into subjecture.

If I were a bolt in the side of a ship, I would not care what kind of ship it was, nor where it was going–I just know that I’m on the Right Ship. My job is to hold the ship together at my little point, along with all the other bolts around me. Regardless of the weather, I am going to hold to the best of my ability, and I have it on good authority from the Builder that we will make it to harbor.

This illustration is how I see the End Times. God has kept the future vague on purpose, therefore let us not worry about the details, but remain focused on the task at hand, which is to be obedient to the Spirit in making disciples.

There is one other warning I would like to give, and that is concerning expectations. To settle on one of the above-mentioned viewpoints gives expectations that God doesn’t have to meet. These expectations can get in the way of us seeing what God is doing. They can also cause us to second-guess what God wants us to do or to interpret His commands wrong. Peter wove his way through the expectation-minefield in Acts 10 in the salvation of Cornelius:

  1. Peter had never eaten anything considered unclean (v.14), but God told him not to call anything (anyone) unclean that HE considers clean (non-Jews; v.15).
  2. He entered the house of Cornelius, who was a non-Jew (an Italian Roman), which was forbidden by Jewish law (v.25-28).
  3. The Holy Spirit fell on that household even as it did at Pentecost (v.44-46).
  4. Peter, who had no expectations at this point, took the next step and had them baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (v.47-48).

Our attitude should be the same as Peter’s when it comes to ministry. Let’s just do the next thing that we are asked by the Spirit to do. We can let God take care of how He will save His own and judge evildoers, thus we avoid polarizing controversies among Christ’s family members. We can take Paul’s own opinion on such matters:

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things [reaching for the prize He has for each of us]. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you [on an as-needed basis]. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Philippians 3:15-16

And, what is it that we have already attained? A pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Let’s get on with the business at hand of making disciples!

By the way, there is a fourth viewpoint and that is the “Pro-millennial” view, which is:

Whatever Jesus wants to do I’m for it!

In the words of an old professor, “If Jesus chooses to do things differently than I believe, I still want to go, don’t you?” [not an exact quote, but close]

 

Proverbs 21 6-21-20

Want to be like Christ? He tells us how. All we have to do is…depend on Him for everything–and do what He did.

3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

Romans 12:9-11 is a great place to start:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Let’s break it down:

  1. Focus- We need our attention to be on what is good. Keep our minds open to the presence and participation of His Spirit in everything.
  2. Diligence- Our devotion to Christ and to our brothers and sisters in Christ needs to be consistent. We should never give up. Maybe it should be called the Practice of Christianity (like practicing law or medicine).
  3. Action- If we are not moving forward, then we are drifting backward. “The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep them from going [drifting] down to the grave.” Proverbs 15:24
  4. Renewal- The Spirit gives us strength, tenacity, and determination to keep working at it. We are always successful, even if it’s just in the fact that we never give up trying. It counts.
  5. Reward- For this we look at verse 12: We will be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” These are characteristics of Jesus. We are most like Him when the Spirit creates these traits in us. How do we get them? Through practice, tenacity and determination; by not ever giving up.

I told the story of the two frogs the other day. I’ll tell it again:

Two frogs found themselves in a large can of milk out on the farm one day. They swam and swam until one of them gave up and “croaked.” The other kept swimming until he felt something under his flippers. It was butter! He swam a while more and then used the butter to jump out of the can. Tenacity won the day!

Our desire to please Jesus comes from His Spirit within us. As we struggle, He uses our struggles to recreate Himself in us. We become like Jesus! Is this good news? Yes and no. Yes in the fact that we are becoming like our Savior, but no in that we will continue to struggle. We can take great comfort in the fact that Jesus struggled His whole life here on earth. We also can take great comfort in His peace that He offers us along with His love and His joy. He also gives us hope, mercy and grace each time we need it–which is all the time (or seems like)!

Today, let’s worship our Savior and Lord with all our hearts and thank Him for winning the war for us ahead of time. Our battles now take on a whole new perspective.

Abba, may You continue to conform us into the image of Your Son. Jesus, You are our Hero! We want to be just like You. We worship You today, thanking You and blessing You as our Savior and our God. Amen.

Critique of #9 part two, Jesus Is Coming Soon 6-4-20

One of the things I like about posting is the feedback I get. In this case, I need to make some adjustments and clarifications to what I said. The blue print is what I have either added or changed from the original. The red print is either a link or is the subjective material.

Here is the second half of #9 of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips. [Jesus is coming soon]
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you. [Jesus is coming soon]
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways. [Jesus is coming soon]
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil. [Jesus is coming soon]

#9 Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready? Part 2

Yesterday, I made the statement that mankind will not know the hour, day, or year when Jesus is coming back, but we can know the season. Today, we look at His actual coming.

The best verses are in Revelation 19 where John describes the Second Coming:

9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords.

19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

Let’s break it down:

  1. The doors to heaven were standing open.
  2. Jesus was on a white horse as opposed to the donkey He rode into Jerusalem.
  3. His names are Faithful and True, the Word of God, King of kings and Lord of lords, plus there is a name that only He knows!
  4. His robe is dipped in blood–whose blood, it doesn’t say. It could be His; it could be His enemies’.
  5. The many crowns represent His sovereignty over all kingdoms.
  6. Saints that have died are with Him! They are dressed in white (the big tell), and they don’t have weapons–they don’t need them. Jesus strikes down His enemies with the sword of His mouth. How? The same way He created the universe with His words. He will pronounce words of judgement and voila! Done. Somewhere in this process, those saints meet up with their earthly bodies that are glorified and the saints that are still alive on earth join them (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
  7. The beast and the false prophet are cast into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 

If we were to keep reading, it just gets better and better!

There are other clues to the imminent return of Christ: This is how Satan does business:

  1. One world currency
  2. The mark of the beast
  3. Worldwide communication
  4. Treaties and kingdom coalitions. “We are focused on fruit while the world is focused on success.” Ricky Griffin

These we all have now. What we DON’T have is a peace treaty between Israel and her surrounding countries. Clinton tried it in 2000, but failed. President Trump initiated a peace plan in 2017 that is still underway. PEACE. That peace plan may be the very thing that allows Israel to build her temple.

There is another vie on the temple in Ezekiel 43-48. In fact, the LORD did away with the old sacrificial system with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. It’s very likely that He will NOT allow it to be reconvened. If so, then we must consider a different interpretation of the building of that temple.

1. It may be the specifications for the temple Zerubbabel built upon returning to Jerusalem after the deportation; there is not mention of it, but the timing is right.

2.It could be plans for Herod’s temple built in 6 BC, but he really just renovated and added to the current structure.

3. It could be a spiritual temple, which relates to the building of Christ’s kingdom using believers as “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5). If so, then the river that begins at the temple door and passes right by the altar (Ezekiel 47:1) could represent the Gospel: God’s gift of salvation (the temple door) through the shed blood of Jesus (the altar), that grows and fills the land (like a mustard seed-Matthew 13:31-32).

At the Second Coming of Christ, Jesus will renew all things, so we do not lay up for ourselves treasures here on earth, but heavenly treasures (Matthew 6:19-21).

How shall we prepare? Peter tells us how:

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way [the old world passing a way by fire], what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation… 2 Peter 3:11-12, 14-15

Solomon said it best, though, when it comes to evangelism:

10 If you falter in a time of trouble [don’t look back], how small is your strength [weak is your faith, double-minded is your heart]! 11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37-38). Let’s BE THOSE HARVESTERS!

One more thing: Each year, I get really excited when Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) rolls around. Why? I’m glad you asked! Jesus fulfilled four of the seven Jewish festivals, which, by the way, were instituted by God, with His death (Passover and Unleavened Bread), resurrection (First Fruits), and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). If He did it with the first four, I believe that He will fulfill the last three just as literally. The New Year is begun with the Feast of Trumpets, then 10 days later is the Day of Atonement, and then the Feast of Tabernacles/Ingathering. These easily translate into The Return, The Judgement, and Heaven. We may not know the day, hour, or year, but we CAN know the season! This year, Rosh Hashanah is Friday, September 18 through Sunday, September 20 (the trumpet can be blown anytime during these days). It seems a bit early according to other prophecies, but–who knows? Christ may surprise us all!

I believe that God is preparing His church for a final push; whether it’s global revival or gleanings, I don’t know. I believe that God is spreading His kingdom today at an exponential rate, especially in the middle East, Africa and Asia–anywhere there is persecution. I believe that He is training me for something specific. He has not revealed it to me, and probably won’t until it’s time or close to time to do whatever it is for which He is training me. In the meantime, I am staying close to Him with my eyes fixed on Him; I am writing down everything He is saying to me, and trying to memorize as much Scripture as I can. I am trying to whittle down my testimony and the Gospel presentation to their essential points so that I can share them quickly and concisely. And, I am praying for God’s Spirit to move in your heart and all who read my posts along with those who meet with me for prayer each Wednesday morning.

What is God calling you to do to prepare for what is coming?

Abba, I pray that You will impress upon the hearts of Your children what it is that You want us to do, whether it’s to get up earlier and read more in Your Word, to make lists of people and pray for them, or to talk to our neighbors, coworkers, and even random people to find out what their spiritual needs are–and then to meet them. May we all make ourselves available to You for WHATEVER You have for us to do. We are Yours. Do with us as You will. Amen.

Critique of #9, Jesus is Coming Soon, 6-3-20

One of the things I like about posting is the feedback I get. In this case, I need to make some adjustments and clarifications to what I said. The blue print is what I have either added or changed from the original. The red print is either a link or is the subjective material.

Here is #9 of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say:

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.

#9 Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready? Part 1

This entire section is under reconstruction. As new light has appeared on my horizon, I am seeing Revelation with different eyes beginning with its date of composition, which may have been around 65 A.D, in which case most of the events that happen in it are concerning the fall of Jerusalem and the complete destruction of the temple, thus putting a definitive end to the sacrificial system.

A premillennial dispensational view:

Believing like I do that John had his vision of Jesus and heaven in 90+A.D, Christians have been looking for the Return of Christ for over 1900 years. He said, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done [on account of Me].” Revelation 22:12. From our perspective, it would seem that he is dragging His feet. But, Peter explained that, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to [at least, an understanding of] repentance [with an opportunity to respond].” 2 Peter 3:9.

At the same time, Daniel, Jesus, Paul and John gave us some really good clues to know the season of His Coming. It is into those that we will delve today. Just be aware that mankind is not to know the day or the hour or even the year–but, we can know the season!

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. Daniel 9:25-26

This part is understandable as we look back on history. Jerusalem was rebuilt in 445 B.C. and Daniel’s seven “sevens” and sixty-two “sevens” equal 490 years, which just happens to be the year that Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He died that week. The next part, after the destruction of Jerusalem, becomes very vague:

 The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary [the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D.]. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Daniel 9:25-27

Since the temple was destroyed and has not been rebuilt yet, we can assume that this ruler is yet to come. For insight as to who he is, we go to Matthew 24:15, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—” and then to 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” 

Now we KNOW it hasn’t happened, yet. The interesting part is that since the miraculous revival of Israel in 1948 and her subsequent victories over her enemies, there has been a push to have everything ready for the temple when it is built for the fourth and last time–even down to the Red Heifer! Update on the Building of the Third Temple

Verses 6-8 describe how it will go down:

6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

There are many theories as to who the “One” is who now holds the antichrist back. I personally think that it is the Holy Spirit as He uses the Church to stand in the gap; this is where we stand today. Eventually, somehow, we get removed and the antichrist is finally free to do as he pleases.

Caveat: To know specifically how the antichrist will take over the world, read the following verses of 9-12. I think that you will see what I see: Control of the press, made-to-order miracles (like vaccines for viruses that were manufactured), manipulated video, and other such things. At the same time, I know that God doesn’t want anyone to perish, and if we fervently ask, He might grant another worldwide revival to thwart the evil one’s plans once again. People need Jesus more than ever before!

So far, we’ve just looked at what will happen to set up Christ’s Return. Tomorrow, we will look at His actual Return. Jesus said, “Watch out that no one deceives you…Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:4, 42. Let’s put our hope, our faith and our trust in Him. Let’s share our hope, faith and trust with those around us. LET’S SHARE JESUS!

Abba, I pray that this post will not scare anyone, but will motivate every Christian to be about the Father’s (Your) business. It’s time to scrap the “American Dream” and adopt a heavenly one. YOU ARE COMING SOON! We not only want to be ready, we want to be found as diligent, good and faith servants. Call us to the battle, LORD. Make us ready! Amen.

Critique of #8 We Owe a Debt to Israel June 2, 2020

One of the things I like about posting is the feedback I get. In this case, I need to make some adjustments and clarifications to what I said. The blue print is what I have either added or changed from the original. The red print is either a link or is the subjective material.

We dealt a little bit concerning this subject in yesterday’s post. “We owe a debt of gratitude to Israel and should help/evangelize them every chance we get, ‘For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the [Christian] Jews to share with them their material blessings. Romans 15:27.’”

For instance, in 1973, war was–yet again–declared on Israel. Prime Minister Golda Meir called President Richard Nixon and asked for help. According to reports, Nixon’s mother had raised him on Bible stories and had instructed him that if he ever had an opportunity to assist Israel, do it. Nixon told PM Golda Meir, “What do you need?” Here’s the scoop:

Nixon Administration initiated Operation Nickel Grass, an American airlift to replace all of Israel’s lost munitions. This was huge – planeload after planeload of supplies literally allowed munitions and materiel to seemingly re-spawn for the Israeli counter effort. 567 missions were flown throughout the airlift, dropping over 22,000 tons of supplies. An additional 90,000 tons of material were delivered by sea. How Richard Nixon Saved Israel

For a nation that is mostly agnostic or atheist, it doesn’t seem to deserve or even want our gratitude. Some denominations teach that Jews are Christ-killers. Technically, it was the Romans who crucified Christ, and the mob was more than likely seeded with rabble-rousers, much like the protests going on downtown. Not only that, it was for OUR sins that He hung on the cross. No one took His life; He laid it down. Here are Jesus’ own words:

No one takes it away from me; on the contrary, I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. This is what my Father commanded me to do.” John 10:18

So, no one killed Christ, yet we all killed Christ. To call a Jew a Christ-killer is the pot calling the kettle black.

The history of Israel is about the Coming of the Messiah. He was foretold in Genesis 12:3 in the prophecy of God to Abraham and explained by Peter in Acts 3:21-26:

19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’ 24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs [those of you who will receive Jesus as Messiah] of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your [spiritual] offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’

God is blessing all the nations through Abraham. How can He cut off His own people? The question is, “Who are Abraham’s children?” To say that the LORD has disregarded His people is to call Him a liar. The New Covenant that is spoken of in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and is reiterated in Hebrews 8:8-12 is the very covenant that He has made with us-all who trust in Jesus! In John 8:39, the religious leaders claimed to be Abraham’s children. Jesus told them that their father was the devil (v44). Galatians 3:7 says that those who believe in Jesus Christ are children of Abraham.

So, when we think of Israel and the Promise, we must always think of her and it as the root of the tree of salvation. An olive tree may die above ground, but its root system lives for thousands of years. In fact, the trees in the Garden of Gethsemane are claimed to be 1500 years old, but the roots may go back before Christ! If Israel and the Promise are our root, then Paul’s statement in Romans 11:17-18 is quite appropriate:

17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. [Even so, we are all equal in Christ (Galatians 3:26-29).]
NOTE: I have a shirt from Israel with verse 18 on it. It has a Star of David on it encircled by a fish. LOGO

One day, we ALL will live in Israel (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 with Acts 1:10-11), and eventually, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-4). Let us pray that Israel will awaken to their Messiah! The sooner they do (Isaiah 45:17; actually, the entire chapter is Messianic in nature), the sooner we get to go be with Jesus. Actually, it began in Acts 2 and has branched out from there. Those who are in Adonai will find justice and glory (Isaiah 45:17-25).

From Dr. Mitch Glaser, President of Chosen People Ministries:

“By way of reminder and as the leader of this historic mission to the Jewish people, I believe that Jewish people need to accept Jesus to have a place in the age to come (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, John 3:16–17). I do not believe that anyone is capable of keeping the Law to the extent that their human efforts would somehow satisfy God’s demands for righteousness, enabling the individual to enter heaven on their own merit. (Galatians 2:15–16, 3:23–25, Romans 10:2–4 ff.) Jewish people are saved by grace through faith, just like everyone else!”

Mark 16 The End of the Beginning!

The End of the Beginning-David Phelps

Here we are, folks. One more day and night until we celebrate the RESURRECTION! Actually, we celebrate it EVERYDAY, but it becomes even more real when we gather together on the birthday of the NEW COVENANT. I wish I could be with you in person, but “virtual Sunday’s Cool” will have to suffice. Be sure to join me on Facebook or ZOOM tomorrow at 11:00.

From tomorrow on, Jesus begins to spread the word of what is now awaiting all who trust in Him.

Jesus Has Risen

It started first with the angel, “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” v. 6-7

Next came the two on the road to Emmaus, Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us? v31-32 I LOVE the disciples’ description of what it is like to have the LORD explain Scriptures to them. I desire the same experience every morning! It’s why I get up each day. For what do you get up each day? I pray it is to have Jesus open your mind to Himself in the Scriptures.

Next came the rest of the disciples. He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 351 OT Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. v44-45

The rest of the REVEALING is where we come in: Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and [as you go,] make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The “I’m with you always” part is what the cross is all about! His continuous presence and participation in our lives is what He intended. Was it your intention when you asked Him into your heart? Today is a good day to tell Him that you are glad He did what He did and that He is where He is: IN YOUR HEART, and to ask Him to make His presence known to you throughout today and every day. Jesus’ Invitation for Sweet Fellowship

Happy Resurrection Day

Proverbs 15 3-15-20

Concerning the Coronavirus: A result of the Curse and sin in our world. Where is your trust? Is it in the LORD?

11 [Even] Death and Destruction (hell) lie open before the LORD–how much more do human hearts!

Nothing gets by God. This virus didn’t take God by surprise. Nor, do I think that it is the judgement of God–except in a general fashion. Sin carries its own judgement through its consequences. We must remember that we all have sinful tendencies:

ARROGANCE–> REBELLION–> SIN–> DESTRUCTION

When David was being pursued by Saul and evil men were keeping Saul updated of David’s whereabouts, he prayed/sang this prayer, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise; in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4. In other words, what can happen in this life that God doesn’t know about or can’t control the outcome? If even hell lies open before the LORD, how much more do our lives!

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced the trial of the fiery furnace. Their response to the threat was this:

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

The lesson of the Furnace is:

  1. Many times we are delivered from the fire = Our faith is built.
  2. Many times we are delivered through the fire = Our faith is refined.
  3. One time, we will be delivered by the fire (straight into the arms of Jesus)= Our faith will be perfected. [from Beth Moore-DANIEL]

In any of these circumstances, we can be assured that we are His and He takes care of His own. Consider this:

  1. If we avoid getting the virus, we praise God for His grace. We minister to those who do get it and encourage the fearful.
  2. If we get the virus, we praise God for the opportunity to spend some serious time with Him in our down time. We read His Word, pray, watch inspiring shows on tv, read inspiring books and magazines, stay in contact with people via internet as we encourage the fearful, etc. We enjoy His company! Also, don’t forget to be thankful and gracious to those who serve you while you are sick.
  3. If we die from the virus, what better fate awaits us than heaven and the presence of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ?!!!

As we can see, this virus is a win/win/win situation for Christians! Let’s use these circumstances to show the world what it is like to walk with Christ in confidence. May people ask us why we are not afraid, and may we tell them the three reasons listed above for our confidence. We have FAITH in God; we TRUST Him with our lives. It’s that simple.

That being said, let’s consider prudence: Many people have extenuating circumstances that need to take extra precautions. They are not necessarily acting out of fear, but out of wisdom. Here again, it comes down to the leading of the Spirit: What is HE telling us/them to do?

I pray that we all have a great day of fellowship with the LORD. I hope to see you at church. If not, we stream our service on Facebook and YouTube. Either way, have CHURCH wherever you are!

Abba, I pray for Your church today that we take courage in our confidence in You. You are Sovereign LORD. May we never forget that! I look forward to singing and praising You with my fellow Christians today; I look forward to praying with them and for them, studying Your Word together in haverim (the uniting of the Spirit in fellowship), carrying each other’s burdens, and ministering to each other in myriad ways. May it be a great day of lifting up the name of Jesus! Amen.

The Sacrifice

The man took the lamb from the flock and carried it to the altar. As he took the knife to slit its throat, he looked down into the round, black eyes of the lamb.

“I can’t do it,” he cried as the knife clattered to the ground. The man released the lamb to return to the fold.

But, the lamb did not move. Instead, it looked up at the man and said, “You must, for it is the only way for you to be right with Abba. He wants you to have fellowship with Him, and this is the only way.”

The man replied, “But, why must you give your life? What have you done to deserve such treatment?”

“Whether I die by your hand, by wolves, or by old age, I am still subject to death. All of nature is subject to frustration until Jesus returns and sets it free.”

The lamb walked closer to the man and continued, “If my death will foster His coming by showing you the depths of your sin, the lengths that Abba will go to get you back, and be a foreshadow of the death of my King, then I gladly lay down my life for you.”

With tears in his eyes, the man took the lamb and held it close. “Thank you,” he whispered, “and I am sorry. Maybe we will meet again in His glorious kingdom.”

As the lamb’s blood dripped over the sides of the altar, the man prayed, “Father God, receive this sacrifice in my place.”

The Father replied, “I do. Now come and have sweet fellowship with me. One day soon, I will be your Sacrifice. No more will I require nature to pay for you sin; I will do it Myself.”

The man fell on his face before the LORD and worshiped Him. “When, O LORD?”

“Soon, Joseph, soon.”

 

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

Proverbs 14 2-14-20

Jokes that mention the reproductive parts of the body are off-limits for Christians: They conjure up mental images.

This Valentines, we may be tempted to read and/or pass along jokes that get a little personal. As Christians who show Christ to the world, we must not take part in such activities. Here is why:

The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,
    but the folly of fools is deception.

We are giving thought to our ways. Those who say, “I don’t see anything wrong with it,” are not seeing it from God’s perspective and will be deceived. What IS God’s perspective on such matters? Let’s take a look:

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

There are several great lessons to learn from this passage, but we will focus on one, and that is what Christ did when presented with a woman who was likely in a compromised position and, possibly, attire. He redirected His focus by writing in the dirt! He didn’t address the woman again until they were “alone” (His disciples were with Him). Even then, His attention was on her spiritual condition.

We, too, must learn to redirect our attention when confronted with jokes, stories, movies, etc. that call unseemly attention to sexual anatomy and functions. Let us be prudent and “give thought to our ways.” Today is a great day to begin–again! We are never too old to learn new spiritual habits.

Abba, thank You for teaching me this lesson when I was younger (34ish) albeit in a rather rude awakening. I wish I had learned it through teaching rather than through an awkward experience. Oh well; the point is that I learned it! Help me keep my mind where it should be, which is on whatever You are doing, LORD. Happy Valentine’s Day to YOU, Abba. Thank You for loving me. Amen.

Proverbs 19 1-19-20

What we believe determines how we interpret events in our lives. Is God interactive in our day-to-day lives?

27 Stop listening to instruction, my child, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

The Spirit is constantly teaching us. He shows us great and mighty things in His Word; He reveals truth to us as we listen to people and observe events; He speaks to us through others as they share what He has revealed to them. The determining factor is how we are interpreting His teaching. As I see it, we have two filters:

Filter #1: Our own filter. WE are on the throne of our lives and WE make the final decision of what we believe to be true; WE decide what we want and what’s good for us. The problem with this filter is that we simply don’t know enough to make a logical, rational decision about anything. We don’t know the detailed and current (like, that day) history behind events or people; we don’t know what people are thinking; we certainly don’t know the future. How can we make an intelligent decision about anything? There are  two verses earlier in the chapter that apply:

2 Desire without knowledge is not good–how much more will hasty feet miss the way! I get a mental image of a young dog on a long leash…

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD. Somehow, it always winds up being God’s fault–or someone else’s fault, but never the person’s fault…

Filter #2: We allow God to be God in the world and in our lives. We trust that no matter what happens, HE is in control and will guide us through it, using us as He sees fit as witnesses for Him and testaments to His grace and glory. Even our deaths can bring Him glory! Jesus is using us to reach others, and that involves risk. He said that He would never leave us or forsake us and would carry us to His side. Let’s let that be our goal. There are two verses in today’s chapter that apply:

21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Let’s make His plans our plans.

23 The fear of the LORD leads to [true and everlasting] life; then one rests content [in the outcome], untouched [not bothered by] by trouble. Even death doesn’t scare us because we have a wonderful future in store for us on the other side!

Let’s “study to show ourselves approved, workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing and correctly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15. We will find that our faith grows much faster if we apply ourselves to learning His Word even as He reveals His will to us through His Word.

Abba, as we worship in our respective houses of worship today with our friends and family, may we focus on You and Your love for us, and Your plans for us. May today be all about YOU. Help us to use the correct filter as we study Your Word and hear from You through our pastors. “Speak to our hearts, Lord Jesus, speak that our souls may hear.” I am listening. Amen.

Proverbs 28 12-28-19

Trust Christ and quit trying to live life on your own. What’s the point in being a Follower if you’re not following?

18 The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe,
    but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit.

Let’s rephrase this verse: The one who walks with the Master is kept safe at Jesus’ side, but the one whose ways are all about themselves, doing things their way, have already fallen into a trap.

What kind of trap? The trap of self-dependence. We were never designed to act independently of the Spirit. Sin did that to us. Now, it is our job to quit doing things on our own and start allowing the Spirit to show us how to do things, to live life according to the Spirit.

26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,
    but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe and will prosper.

If we say, “I’m saved and that’s enough,” then we are missing out on the whole reason for salvation, which is to fellowship with the LORD, through which we learn holiness. There is a lot to be learned in this world that will apply to the next world. What and how, I’m not sure, yet, but I’m studying hard to find out! How about you?

Let’s suppose that you are on a long flight and the pilot says to you, “Come up here to the cockpit and I’ll show you how to fly a 747.” You agree and you both head up to the cockpit. You strap in and he begins to tell you what to do. As he does so, he explains what each button, lever and switch does. He explains the screens and what you’re seeing. You feel the monster of a plane reacting to your commands; you feel the mighty power at your fingertips and you’re hooked! The pilot turns to you and asks, “Would you like to fly with me and become my co-pilot?” How would you answer?

  1. “Sure! What do I do next?” He hands you a manual and says, “Let’s start by reading chapter one: ‘What Makes a Good Pilot.'”
  2. “No thanks. I’m content to ride in the back.”

Many Christians are content to “ride in the back” through life. They miss out on the relationship, the interaction, the connection with the Pilot of life, Jesus Christ. Let’s not be this kind of Christian. Instead, let’s pick up that manual–the BIBLE–and head to the cockpit with the Lord Jesus and learn to fly!

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good [His words], and you will delight in the richest of fare. Isaiah 55:2

103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

Abba, sitting down with You each day and reading Your Word is the highlight of my day. Unlocking the secrets stored up in each book, each chapter, even each verse is exciting! I love to read with the understanding that You give, which has come over time, time spent in Your Word when understanding didn’t come easily. But, as I experienced life and You called verses to mind, I began to apply Your lessons to my life. THEN I understood why it is important to “study to show myself approved (2 Tim. 2:15).” I must know the material before I can work on applying it with Your guidance. Keep teaching me, LORD. I have SO MUCH to learn! Amen.

Proverbs 22 11-22-19

As Christians, are we ready for “hard times”? Do we really lean on Him for life and strength? It’s important to know now.

4 Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.

In the Old Testament, it was all about obedience. Their relationship with the LORD was not nearly what God had in mind. People associated worldly blessings of health, riches and long life with God’s blessing. Little did they know that those things are always a means to an end and that each person’s health, riches and life span are determined by several factors, not the least being God’s plan for each person (also included are a person’s willingness and other people’s decisions).

The New Testament, though, is about God coming to live INSIDE each person. We become little mobile temples where God resides! On the day Jesus died–at the very moment He breathed his last– the veil in the temple was torn in two. From all I’ve read, this veil was 30 feet wide and 30 feet tall and about six inches thick. To tear this veil would have taken modern machinery (or a lot of animals yoked together), Yet it was torn from the top to the bottom. The significance of this event is displayed 52 days later at the Feast of Pentecost:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4

  1. This “place” was probably Solomon’s colonnade, which was an area of steps with columns; each place between the columns was called a “room.” This area was to the side of the court of the Gentiles and led to the marketplace. A strategic place for the Holy Spirit to come upon them, yes?
  2. Look at who all were there (1:13-14): The disciples and other men along with the women who went with Jesus and cared for the group’s needs (Mark 15:41). Mary, Jesus’ mother is mentioned as well as Jesus’ brothers (James and Jude and the others).
  3. They ALL were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in someone’s native language (v.6)–women included! The men went to the men’s court while the women went to the women’s court, both of which would be just past the Gentile court, which would have been filled, too. That is, if they even got out of the Gentile court…!
  4. The correlation has been drawn concerning the tongues of fire with the pillar of fire that was above the Israelites in the wilderness. That cloud by day and pillar of fire by night was the presence of God with the Israelites. ALL of them would have gotten the correlation, especially if it formed above them and then split into little flames that came to rest on each of them: 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

The point I would like to make from this event is THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD WAS IN EACH OF THEM. Salvation is NOT a decision we make with our heads; it’s a response to an invitation to come–or, rather, a request to enter. Without the Holy Spirit making Himself known through conviction, and many times a true presence, there is nothing we can do concerning salvation. With conviction comes our own conviction to give ALL to Christ. If left to our own decision, then we could be saved without giving up everything–and that’s what it takes to be saved.

What would happen if, instead of telling someone all the benefits of being saved, we told them how hard it was going to be, but that it is well worth it to have Jesus in them? Then, instead of asking them to pray a prayer, we instructed them to get alone, to fall on their knees and begin to give God everything as each idol, stronghold, and pet sin came to mind? What if we told them to cry out to God for His mercy until they felt Him come in and save them? Indeed, we would have fewer salvations, but the ones we got would be REAL!!! We would know it and they would know it!

I pray you have had an encounter with the LORD Jesus through His Spirit. I pray that You feel His presence in your life and that He talks to you through prayer, His Word, other Christians, and through circumstances. Our constant use and participation in these areas are true evidence of salvation.

Abba, may we take back the kingdom through bold witnessing and by turning up the fire, so to speak, on how a person gets saved. It has been watered down through the past century to the point that culture has crept into Your church. As our world becomes more and more polarized concerning Christianity, I pray that You will call us out as bold ambassadors for You. I look at what you have done in China and ask for that same boldness. I don’t ask for hard times, Abba, but I am ready for them thanks to You. May Your will be done. Amen.

Proverbs 17 10-17-19

Want to know what is in your heart? Give God time; He’ll show you.

3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.

We have a society that loves to commit to teams, groups, activities, studies, etc. and then grows weary, becomes bored, figures out it takes too much time and effort, or is offered a more interesting team, group, activity, study, etc. and quits the first for the second.

We have churches with people who love Jesus, but don’t know Him well enough to commit to Him. They are part of the church and will come occasionally, but family, vacations, work, games, etc. keep them out more than they are in.

We have Christians who claim to know Christ, but are not interested in taking the time each day to read His Word, to apply it to their lives, and to learn to hear His voice. Instead, they trust their own logic, their own fears, and their own–well, to put it bluntly, arrogance.

I can’t judge people’s salvation, but I often wonder if these people really have a working, walking relationship with the Savior. There’s one way to find out, and that is to be tested. We live in a fallen world and we all will face sickness, accidents, physical failure, and death. We live with fallen people and will face strife, adversity, relational failure, desertion, and even hatred–and that’s just from our families! WE WILL BE TESTED. Does God bring them on? He certainly has that right as Omnipotent God, but I think in His Omniscience, He sees our future and what is coming; He tries to prepare us for it, even avoid it if we will listen; still, He promises to walk with us through whatever it is.

What we must remember is that this life is all about our relationship with Him. He uses whatever comes our way to get us to interact with Him. As long as we live life on our terms, avoid consulting Him, ignore Him and His direction, and relegate Him to times of desperation, we miss the point of salvation. In fact, salvation may not have happened, yet.

Jesus was quite clear that to become His disciple, we must give up everything. NOW. When He asks.

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross [die to self] daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

When He says, “follow me,” He means like His disciples did: they left their families, their work, and their homes and went with Jesus. How many Christians have actually done that? Have you? Until that happens, we are untested. Until we are tested, we don’t truly know. Faith is a gift; it is based upon belief + action. The “gift” part is that God comes to us and says, “Do you trust me? Take My hand and come with me.” Our part is to take His hand and go with Him. It may be getting out of the boat on choppy waters; it may be into a fiery furnace; it may even be into a kangaroo court. Wherever it is, interacting with Him is worth more than ANYTHING in this world.

Forsaking All, I Trust Him.” This is the acronym of FAITH. Are you there, yet?

Abba, I know I’m preaching to the choir, but we all need to be reminded that it’s all about You and knowing You. Please continue to make Yourself known to me. If adversity, trial, and calamity are in my future, I KNOW You will carry me through them; please redeem them through Your grace by using them to refine me like silver, like fine gold. Purify my heart, O Lord. I want to be like YOU. Amen.

Proverbs 13 9-13-19

Doing what Jesus asks is what Christianity is all about. Are we listening? Are we even in the same room?!

(13) Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.

Our terminology has changed since Solomon’s time. We tend to think of the Spirit’s instruction and commands as urgings and suggestions. I think it’s because we know the LORD on such an intimate level that we see His love and gentleness and patience first. What we must do is look beyond His compassion to His Lordship and leadership.

We are called…by Whom? to what?

(6) And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. Romans 1:6

(28) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

We belong to Jesus Christ. We have been bought by His blood on the cross. He paid a heavy price for us. We should be grateful.

We have been called according to His purpose, which is to be extensions of Him to this world. He came to show us the way and to pay the price. He then returned to His place by the Father’s side. Through His Spirit, we were recruited to be His ambassadors in this world.

The Great Commission, given in Matthew 28:19-20, is usually translated, “Go.” A better way to look at it is, “As you go.” The idea is to be intentional about making disciples as we live our daily lives. The method we use is determined by the person to whom we are talking. Some people come from a Christian background and will understand the lingo we use. Some will come from a religious background that actually gets in the way of understanding because of twisted theology. Some will have no basis at all for comprehending what we are telling them. We must give the Spirit time to cultivate a willing heart. In the meantime, we are to DEMONSTRATE Christ’s love just as He did for us. (8) But God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

“But what if it costs me something?”

“What if it hurts?”

“What if it means watching a loved one suffer?”

“What if I die, or my loved one dies?”

First, let’s remember that Christ showed us the way as a Suffering Servant. Second, don’t forget that He has a NEW WORLD awaiting us! With NEW BODIES! Third, let’s look at the example left by the disciples:

(41) The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Acts 5:41 They had been flogged because they wouldn’t quit preaching the Name of Christ (verse 40). So, what did they do? Go and hide and never speak Jesus’ name again? NO! (42) Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. 

What we must do as modern day Christians is to quit living like we belong to this world and start living like we belong to Christ and His world. We start by yielding our lives to Him each morning–even before coffee!

Are you worthy? Paul–from prison, no less– exhorts the Ephesian church to (4:1) “live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (2) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (3) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Are we willing to do as Paul said?

Where do we start? In our homes. If we can do it at home, then we can do it anywhere.

At church. It’s the practice field for our faith. If we can do it there, then we can do it anywhere.

At work, the ballfield, the lake, the mall, while driving (for those inside our cars as well as outside), Walmart, etc. They are where the Gospel needs to be demonstrated.

Just so you know, I’m preaching to myself here. May we all heed His instruction and follow His commands.

Abba, I know what to do; now, give me the desire and the power to do it! In Your name and for Your name, Amen.

Proverbs 21 7-21-19

We are on day three of 21 Days of Deep.” We are learning to dive into God’s Word for more than just crumbs. Come with us!

2 A person may think their own ways are right [justified], but the LORD weighs the heart.

As we pick up the narrative in 1 John, we learn the key to knowing we are God’s children. If we love as He loves, then we are His. If we reserve the right to judge for ourselves, then we haven’t given Him all of who we are. Judgement comes from that part of us that is like God–we are made in His image–but is the very thing that keeps us from coming to Him. We must learn to give up our “right” to judge others and allow Him to be in control.

As always, read it here, but also read it in your own “real” Bible.

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister[b] is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister[c] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

SOAP

We’ve read the SCRIPTURE. Now OBSERVE it. What about it stands out to you?

Now APPLY it. How does it pertain to you?

PRAY. Ask the Lord to show you where you stand with Him and how to love as He loves. Be specific if specific people come to mind. Talk to Him and work it out. Repent (which means to make a course adjustment). Ask Him what to do next and then DO IT according to His timing and instructions.

Let’s enjoy His presence and participation in our lives today. We are His. REJOICE!

NOTE: I posted my commentary prior to this post. After you have prayed, I welcome you to read it.

1 John 2:3-11

There are eleven tests of salvation that I have counted in this letter. They are: 1:7, 2:4-6, 2:9-11, 2:15-17, 2:19, 2:23, 3:6, 3:10, 3:24, 5:11-12, and 5:18. Others may count more, but those are the ones I consider to be tests of salvation.

There are two verses pertaining to the anointing of the Holy Spirit. They are: 2:20 and 2:27. We will look at them later.

(3) We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. In John’s Gospel, he relates to us two commands of Jesus that he considers to be the highest commands. The first is John 6:29, where Jesus says, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” We must do exactly that: Take every word of Christ as the Gospel truth.

The other command is found in 13:34 where Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love [agapao] one another. As I have loved [agapao] you, so you must love [agapao] one another.” This word, agapao, means “godly love,” or “to love in a moral sense.” It is referred to as Agape Love, the love of God. The idea is to set aside our own feelings of love or hate and relate to people how God feels about them. How DOES God feel about them? John 3:16 tells us that He loves them so much that He gave His Son. Romans 5:8 tells us that even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Why? Because God loves us so much!

(4) Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. A person who is not interested in doing what Jesus has commanded is not really interested in Jesus being his Lord. He has not given his life over to Jesus, yet. It’s positional; that person is outside of Christ.

(5) But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: (6) Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. The key word here is “must.” If the Spirit lives inside of us, then we feel His desires as our own. He desires to obey through us, therefore we feel the compulsion to obey. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For Christ’s love compels us…” We feel that we MUST live according to the Spirit, which is to live as Jesus lived. It’s relational; we fight our desire to do His higher desire.

(7) Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. From the first time his audience heard the Gospel, which could be those who heard for themselves Jesus’ message or it could be those in Ephesus where John preached for many years, the message of the Gospel is the same: God loved us through Christ; we love Christ, therefore we obey Him by loving others as He loves them through us.

((8) Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. John is referring to the illustration of light being God and darkness being evil. He began his Gospel with it (John 1:1-4, 14) and expounded on it in 3:19-21. We are most like Christ when we turn away from darkness (sin and self) and turn to Him, our Light, anytime, everytime.

(9) Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Our litmus test is how we feel about others and how we treat them.

(10) Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. There is a difference between “love” and “like.” We can love a person without liking him/her. We always have that person’s best interests in mind concerning his/her spiritual state. We MUST depend upon the Holy Spirit to guide us in this matter because we don’t have the knowledge to know what to do, nor the desire or the power to do it.

(11) But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. When we decide for ourselves that a person is not worth loving, then we have usurped God’s throne and His judgement. We walk NOT according to the Spirit, and therefore are walking in darkness. We stumble around spiritually thinking that we are fine when in actuality we have succumbed to the ways of the evil one. We are “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” spiritually (Rev. 3:17). Jesus says, (18) “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire [of truth and trials], so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear [of righteousness  and living according to the Spirit], so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes [the Word of God, Jesus’ words], so you can see. (19) Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.”

Dear Lord Jesus, I ask that you would teach me to love as You love, to see each person as a soul in need of You. May I listen to Your Spirit as He compels me to be Your hands and feet, Your ambassador, to those around me. May I be Christ to Your children and to those who don’t know You so that they may see You clearly in me. Amen.

SOAP

I learned something the other day. I learned what SOAP is. Not the bath soap kind (although, it applies spiritually), but this kind:

S. Scripture- Read the passage.

O. Observation- Observe at least one thing in the passage that you believe God has for you to learn from it.

A. Application- Consider how you may apply this new knowledge to your life today or sometime this week.

P. Prayer- Pray and ask God to give you the knowledge and the skill, the opportunity, and the courage to do it. Ask Him what (and then wait and ponder), ask Him when (wait and ponder), ask Him how (wait and ponder), and then ask Him why (wait and ponder). On this last one, you may not realize the answer until AFTER you are obedient.

Statistically, if we do something the same way for 21 days, it establishes a habit in our lives. If we will “SOAP up” each morning, we will establish a GREAT spiritual habit with our Lord. We will find ourselves growing in our faith and knowledge (both factual and experiential). We may even move up to the next level of spiritual growth!

In the podcast, the speaker asked this question, “How long have you been at your current spiritual level?” If the answer is, “A while,” then he challenged us to get out of the shallows and take what he called, “21 DAYS OF DEEP.” That’s where we SOAP each day for 21 days with the intention of establishing the spiritual habit of SOAP. The goal is to move to the next level of spiritual development by sticking closer to Christ as we keep in step with Him.

NOTE: If you are interested in watching the podcast, text me and I will send you the link.

There are two passages of Scripture that apply. The one from the podcast is Hebrews 5:11-14, which says,

We have much to say about this [obedience through suffering and perfection (wholeness, completeness) through walking with, and becoming like, Christ], but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. (12) In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! (13) Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant [spiritually], is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. (14) But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves [by the Holy Spirit] to distinguish good from evil.

The key to this passage is time. The recipients of this letter had given up trying. The writer was urging them to restart the learning process. IT TAKES TIME.

The one I want to use is Ephesians 5:25-26,

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (26) to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word [our Bibles, God’s words],

When we put these two passages together, we get SOAP! The question we must ask ourselves, and I believe the Holy Spirit asks us each morning, is, “How much do you value the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross?” When we begin to understand just what Christ went through for us, when we consider His leaving heaven for our sake and live 33 years on planet earth to die on a cross and then rise again so that He could live in us and us in him, WE WILL TAKE OUR WALK WITH HIM SERIOUSLY.

Let’s go deep. Are you ready? Dive in!

DIVE by Steven Curtis Chapman

What I Have Believed All Along

Simple logic put me on the right path many years ago concerning when a human life begins. I asked myself, “What does it take for a zygote to be a human being?”

Later on, Dr. Duane Gish, Biologist, came to my church in 1991 and spoke to us about life and what the Bible has to say about it. I asked him my question and here is his answer (summarized):

The scientific approach to life is to answer these two questions:

  1. Is it human (does it have 23 chromosomes)?
  2. Is it alive (does it take in nourishment, excrete waste, and grow)?

If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then it IS a human life. Thus, the moment the sperm enters the egg and creates a zygote, it is a human life.

Do all biologists follow this logic? 90% of them do, according to a study done by Steven Jacobs! Here is the link to the article about his findings.

Steven Jacobs’ Survey

It is interesting to note that many who adhere to the scientific logic DO NOT support the Pro-Life movement. In fact, many become emotional and militant about Pro-Choice. It just goes to show that it’s personal and not objective. It also reveals a sinister mastermind behind Pro-Choice who disregards logic and truth to press his own agenda, which is to destroy anything God has made, particularly mankind.

Proverbs 11 7-11-19

Our hearts, by themselves, are full of wickedness; we want what WE want. Jesus wants to give us life, HIS life. Daily bread.

20 The LORD detests those whose hearts are perverse, but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

What makes a heart perverse? What makes our ways blameless? For these answers, we look to Jesus. There’s nothing like going to the Source for truth! Jesus proclaimed the end of the Sinai Covenant and announced a new way to God: Himself. His life and sacrifice on the cross are what mankind needs to be reestablished in right relationship with the Father.

Why was it so hard for the Pharisees to believe in Jesus and His message? It would have messed up their playhouse. How so?

Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead. Many Jews believed, but some went and reported to the chief priests and the Pharisees. They called a meeting:

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation [fulfilled in 70 A.D.].” John 11:47-48

They had things the way they wanted them. They were in control, both politically and religiously, and they didn’t want to give up any of that control.

Here’s what Jesus had to say about them:

“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them [by obeying the Sinai Covenant of Moses] you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me [the sacrificial system was set up to point to Jesus], 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5:39-40

What about us? We study the Scriptures, too. Does this mean that we will miss eternal life? NOT AT ALL! Jesus IS eternal life. As long as we seek Him in the pages of Scripture, we will find Him, and thus, eternal life. The religious leaders were keeping the Sinai Covenant of Moses. Jesus was introducing a New Way through Himself as the FINAL sacrificial Lamb. They simply refused to believe Jesus.

Let’s look at what Jesus taught:

  • He came to fulfill [complete] the Scriptures, not abolish them (throw them out). Matt. 5:17-18
  • He said that doing and believing are two different things. He wants us to BELIEVE in Him. “Do not work for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man [Himself] will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval [the Holy Spirit–same as us]. The crowd asked a very Old Covenant question: “What must we DO to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to [simply] believe in the one he has sent [Jesus].” John 6:27-29
  • Jesus hinted at the way He would die and thus fulfill the requirements of the law: “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission [forgiveness] of sin.” Hebrews 9:22. Here’s what He said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32

If we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of Man (see Daniel 7:13-14), God Himself (Immanuel), then we look to Him for salvation, for daily renewal, for answers, for strength and endurance–for ALL THINGS.

If we believe that He lives in our hearts, then we will inquire His opinion on every subject and every question. We will trust Him to give us the desire and the power to act on His opinion and His will for our lives. Here is the promise we are given by Him:

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Free from the bonds of sin! Free to love as He loves! This is what victorious Christian living is all about! Let’s work hard at believing Jesus by finding out what He said. His words speak to us today just as richly as they spoke to those who heard them 2,000 years ago.

Have a great time with the Lord this morning!

Concerning Extra-Terrestrial Life

I love the Marvel movies, Star Trek, Star Wars, and other Sci-Fi stuff. It stimulates my imagination and has neat effects. But, do I believe in extra-terrestrial life? Not at all!

With as many planets as there are in the heavens, doesn’t it make sense that there should be other planets that “just happen” to have life on them? No, it doesn’t, once we examine the purpose of earth and the different purpose for all the other planets.

This planet was CREATED by God for the express purpose of being the home for His creation, particularly mankind. Created in His image, we stand above all other creatures and are invited to have a personal relationship with God. Genesis says,

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the dep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:1-2

We must take God at His Word that the heavens, which includes all the other planets, were created for His glory AS THEY ARE. But, earth is different. God shaped it and grew it to be habitable for mankind. The story of mankind is about God reaching out to His creation in love and mankind spurning that love; it’s about God reaching out again through Jesus in love to give us the opportunity to come back to Him.

I read an article from Answers in Genesis about the notion of extra-terrestrial life. In the article, the writer, Dr. Jason Lisle, gave a very clear synopsis of the Gospel:

God’s plan of redemption is for human beings: those descended from Adam. Let us examine the conflict between the salvation message, and the notion of alien life.

The Bible teaches that the first man (Adam) rebelled against God (Genesis 3). As a result, sin and death entered the world (Romans 5:12). We are all descended from Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:20) and have inherited from them a sin nature (Romans 6:620). This is a problem: sin is a barrier that prevents man from being right with God (Isaiah 59:2), but God loves us (despite our sin) and provided a plan of redemption—a way to be reconciled with God.

After Adam and Eve sinned, God made coats of skins to cover Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). He therefore had to kill an animal(s). This literal action is symbolic of our salvation: an innocent Lamb (Christ—the Lamb of God) would be sacrificed to provide a covering for sin (John 1:29). In the Old Testament, people would sacrifice animals to the Lord as a reminder of their sin (Hebrews 10:3) and as a symbol of the One to come (the Lord Jesus) who would actually pay the penalty for sin.

The animal sacrifices did not actually pay the penalty for sin (Hebrews 10:411). Animals are not related to us; their shed blood cannot count for ours, but the blood of Christ can. Christ is a blood relative of ours, since He is descended from Adam as are we; all human beings are of “one blood” (Acts 17:26). Furthermore, since Christ is also God, His life is of infinite value, and thus, His death can pay for all the sins of all people. That is why only the Lord himself could be our savior (Isaiah 45:21). Therefore, Christ died once for all (Hebrews 10:10).

He goes on to explain that any life form not of this earth would not be related to us, thus making it disqualified from the sacrifice of Jesus. Not only that, but Romans clearly states that Jesus died once for all (Romans 6:10), so there could never be Him going to another planet to sacrifice Himself for them.

The real question is, “Is there life beyond this earth?” YOU BET THERE IS! Jesus offers us eternal life with Him in heaven! Now, THAT’S a truth that I can believe!!!

It’s an interesting read (if you like that kind of stuff). Read the entire article at:

About Extra-Terrestrial Life