Wed, Mar 31st - 10:00PM
I Peter Epistle Study
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on Him shall not be comfounded.
Unto you therefore which believe He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner(2:6-7).
This comes straight from out of the Book of Isaiah, in 28:16. This stone is symbolic of Christ. Scripture makes this very clear. For those who believe, Christ is precious. The terminology used in these two verses is that of building walls to support weight in a building. Normally one stone was cut and placed in the exact corner where two walls met. It was the starting point for the entire building. So here we have the melding of a physical building and a spiritual building being erected. Christ, who was rejected by Israel, becomes the beginning of the church of God. Upon Him is everything else built in this new church. Upon Him everything else relies to be aligned properly in this new structure that God is creating. Christ is the beginning of His church, He sustains it, He feeds it, He draws new members to it. It is alive since it is composed of people and not of inanimate materials.
And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the Word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed(2:8).
Tradition has it that at the beginning of the construction of the Temple a very large, fine-looking stone came up from the quarry where the workers precut every stone to its proper shape and size. But the builders couldn't fit it in any place; so they moved it to one side. Because it ended up in the way they eventually pushed it down off of the hill in order to make more room for the other stones coming to them from the quarry. They forgot about it in their ongoing efforts to construct the Temple for Solomon. Finally, when all the stones had been placed and fitted into position, they sent word to the quarry, "Send up the corner stone." The only piece missing in the entire building was this corner stone. Word came back from the quarry, "We sent the corner stone to you at the beginning." Then they remembered that they had shoved it off of the hilltop! So with a great deal of effort they had to haul it back up to the top of the hill and they found that it did fit right into place. If this tradition is accurate, then it explains much about the verses before us. They rejected the corner stone and stumbled over it since it ended up in their way. But in the end they realized that it was what they needed.
The stone, which the builders rejected, has become the head of the corner. It is a picture of Jesus Christ. He came the first time and nation Israel rejected Him. His own people did not accept Him. Not only was He rejected back then, but we still live in a world today that rejects Him and stumbles all over Him. In our towns we celebrate Christmas, but we reject Jesus Christ at every turn. Friends, either Jesus is a stepping stone or a stumbling stone. You must decide which it will be for you.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light(2:9).
All believers in Christ are chosen, members of a new priesthood unlike the Levites. "Peculiar people" does not mean that we are oddballs or crackpots. It means that we stand out as being different from everyone else. We do not treat each other as the world treats people. We do not seek out revenge for wrongs as those in the world do. We are peculiar to those who are still lost because we think differently than they do, we see things differently than they do.
Four points need to be spotted here:
1) We are a "chosen generation," or an elect group. In the Old Testament God chose out a people to become His own. In the New Testament another elect group is called out to be His own: the church. Both groups were called holy nations, called to God to serve Him. Keeping in mind that Peter is writing to his own people, the Christian Jews in the Diaspora, he is effectively saying that because they have come to Christ they are a chosen generation, an elect nation, just as the children of Israel were elect at one time. The keys of the kingdom have been given to the church, and we today are to give out the gospel because the church is the chosen instrument of God. This honor has been bestowed to believers.
Vain attempts have been made to identify certain groups of people on earth with the ten "lost" tribes of Israel. Even if this theory were to be true, what of it? God has set aside Israel in His program and is working through the church of Christ. God has been doing a new thing for almost 2000 years now, His chosen people are those who have faith in Christ. Both Jew and Gentile are being brought into the sheepfold, a new relationship with God in His church.
We may say that we have come to Christ, but God says that He has chosen us from before the world began(John 15:16). I am His because He chose me and paid my sin-debt in full. God does not lose what is His. It means I have security beyond belief and imagination.
2) We are a "royal priesthood." Originally God had assigned all Israelites to be His priests. But they sinned and so He appointed one tribe to be His priests to serve Him in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. If you were of another tribe you could not be a priest serving God. Israel had a priesthood, today the church is a priesthood.
Each believer is a general priest. Since we belong to Christ we can come into His presence, into the holy of holies. We are members of a royal priesthood, children of the King. We are to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God, not physical ones.
3) We are "a holy nation." Nation Israel was never holy in conduct, and the same can be said of today's church. Is there any doubt in your mind on this? Catholic priests convicted of rape, molestation, and incest pretty much seal the case that the church is not holy in its conduct. Protestant pastors convicted of tax evasion, improper handling of finances, sexual immorality, child abuse, and adultery condemns that denomination of unholy conduct. Israel's failure is glaring, the church's failure is appalling. Yet there is a remnant, as always, that remains holy in its relationship with God. They continue to believe that Christ is their righteousness. Can there be anything more wonderful today than to know that I stand complete in Christ? I am part of a holy nation, a royal priesthood.
4) We are "a peculiar people." We are a people of His choosing. We are a people for God's own possession. We belong to Him for He has bought us with His shed blood on that cross upon Calvary. Therefore those who remain faithful to Christ and His commandments as found within the Bible are the church proper, the priesthood who faithfully serve God. As already mentioned, we are peculiar to those around us in that we serve God's plan, not our own.
In the high priestly prayer of Christ Jesus he says, "I have manifested Your name unto the men which You gave Me out of the world: Yours they were, and You gave them to Me...(John 17:6)." Christ also said, "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out(John 6:37)," What wonderful assurance!
And God isn't finished with calling people to Himself. He calls to you today, dear friend! It matters not which race you are, what gender you are, how old you are, or how much you are financially worth. Jesus calls to you to become one of His own. He desires you to become part of His royal priesthood, part of this chosen generation. He isn't calling you to recite rituals, or perform ceremonies in robes. He isn't preferring any one nation over any other. He is calling out people from every nation, every tongue, every tribe. Christ simply wants you just as you are, no need to turn over a new leaf first. No need to clean yourself up first. Just come as you are, God will clean you up afterwards.
Well, I think that calls for a halt tonight. I hope anyone who hasn't yet received Christ as their personal Savior and reads this post will decide to take care of business right here and now! Until next time I pray that you all have grace and peace in your hearts and lives. God willing we shall meet here once again to open up God's wonderful Word.
Wed, Mar 31st - 1:08PM
Win the Battle For Our Homes
THE PROTECTION FACTOR
Turn with me to Proverbs 5:7-8; "Hear Me now therefore, O you children, and do not depart from the words of My mouth. Remove yourself far from her, and come not close to the door of her house." God commands us to listen to Him on this matter. We are to not forget what we are hearing. When it comes to sexual immorality, do we fight against it or do we run away from it? We are told, in essence, to flee from it. If we decide to test ourselves and hang out near the doorway of sexual temptation guess what? We will end up giving in to the temptation and committing adultery. So why even go there? It is simply foolish behavior, and thinking. We are to avoid dangerous situations. It is exactly why Paul told Timothy to "flee also youthful lusts(II Timothy 2:22)" and the Corinthians to flee immorality(I Corinthians 6:18). We can ill afford to worry about being called a coward, or "chicken;" just stay away from the wanton men and women of this world.
What can be some sexually dangerous situations? Do not visit the opposite sex alone in their homes or counsel them alone in your office. Do not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex and never discuss sexually detailed problems with them or say cute things or flirt with them. Protect yourself and give temptation no place in your daily life.
THE DESTRUCTION FACTOR
Why should we not go anywhere near the doorway to sexual immorality? Let's look at another section of Proverbs: "Lest you give your honor to others, and your years to the cruel: Lest strangers be filled with your wealth; and your labors be in the house of a stranger(Proverbs 5:9-10)." Becoming involved in adultery will drain us monetarily. It may be through paying for the sexual encounter with money or gifts. It may also be the paying of "strangers" to oversee your imminent divorce. It may also be the payment of loss of lifespan due to diseases transmitted during these liasons. Sin has consequences. We reap what we sow, and we will reap more than we sowed. I put a single kernel of corn in the ground I end up getting many more kernels of corn than what I started with. The same principle governs the spiritual realm as well. I sow sinfully I will reap more than what I sowed. One cannot sin and have no one else know because God always knows. It may seem that it pays you a high dividend of pleasure, but it will end up costing you for more later on.
Sexual sin places people into bondage. Like the links in a chain, every act binds a person, forged on the anvil of lust, tempered in the bellows of a hardened heart. Turn with me again to see what else Solomon has said about this subject; "He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray(Proverbs 5:23)." The warm flames of lust leads to the fiery flames of hell. Living this way does not allow one to strut into heaven one fine day. Read I Corinthians 6:9-10; "Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God's kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God's kingdom." That lays it on the line, folks. We cannot afford to deceive ourselves into thinking that immorality is okay. No one gets hurt. It is all in fun. It is pleasureable. Wrong. There are consequences after the fact. There are emotional impacts for there always is some sort of "connection" mentally/emotionally during sexual intercourse. It is unavoidable for it is the way we are hard-wired by God. So, flee from immoral people. Cleave yourself to righteous people. Flee from drugs. Keep the temple of God, your body, clean and holy.
Tomorrow I will cover the the final factor in this study. This section shall cover many specific Scripture references, some for you to read on your own and come to some conclusions specific to your situation. I hope all of your will tag along unto the end. I know that I have learned much from these studies and have discovered areas of my life which have need of improvement spiritually. This is a journey that we are on, once we accept Christ as our LORD. The goal of our journey is heaven, our Promised Land. Let us sojourn properly, the way God desires us to.
Tue, Mar 30th - 8:10PM
I Peter Epistle Study
If so be you have tasted that the LORD is gracious(2:3).
"If so be" can be translated today as meaning "since." This verse finishes the thought from verses 1 and 2. We should desire to learn more about Christ since we have discovered that the LORD is gracious. Just as we do not need to teach an infant how to suck on a bottle of formula neither do we need programs to teach individuals on how to get into the Word of God. Instead of programs we need to just give them God's Word so that they can feed on it and grow.
Since we have been speaking of separation, what then is real separation? It is a distancing from the works of the flesh. It is not to be removed from the world. We are in the world, and we must live in the world even though we are not of the world.
The works of the flesh are malice, hypocrisy, envy, evil speaking, and others which we ought to be separated from. The Spirit of God working within us will produce that type of separation.
To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious(2:4).
People don't come to a little babe in Bethlehem; we come as little babes to a living stone. That living stone is Christ Jesus. In Matthew 16:18 is the well known declaration by Christ to Peter. Simon Peter makes it very clear here that the living stone is not himself but that it is Christ Jesus. The church is built upon Christ, not Peter.
Again in Matthew 21:42,44 Jesus Christ refers to Himself as a stone. This time it is the stone that the builders rejected. It has become the chief cornerstone. It was quoted from Psalm 118. Then Jesus said that anyone who falls on this stone will be broken but if it were to fall on them it will grind them into powder.
Christ is that foundation stone of the church. He is that stone today. In I Corinthians 3:11 we can find this, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." When we come as a sinner and fall on that stone, you are broken spiritually. But in your brokeness that stone becomes a foundation for you, and that is your salvation. But if you reject that stone, you are not through with that stone. The prophet Daniel, in his God-given vision, saw a "stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet." That was the stone of judgment which will come to this earth at the end of this age. Christ is this stone. Some people believe that God is only love and that it is inconsistent with His character to be vindictive and judgmental of people after He has already "saved" everyone through His death and resurrection. God is love, it is true. But if you were to memorize only one side of a quarter and think that that is what a quarter is all about, then what would you do when confronted with the other side of a quarter? You would be confused, befuddled, at a loss as to what to do, or think. This is the error in believing that God is not going to judge this entire world and all of mankind. Love is only one side of God, the flip side is that He is holy and will judge this world of its sin. In love God gave us His only begotten Son in order to redeem us from sin. In justice God will judge all who refused to accept His free gift of love. The choice is ours to make.
You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ(2:5).
"Lively" is an old English word for living. We are living stones for we have been born again of incorruptible seed, by the Word of God, which lives and abides for ever.
Going back to Matthew 16:16, 18 we can apply what is there with this verse. Christ told Peter that His church was to be built upon Him and that every believer in Him are to be lively stones used to build up a spiritual house. That is the church universal which exists all around the world. Christ, not Peter, is the foundation stone of God's church. Peter, along with all of the other apostles, was to be a foundational stone in the church of Christ. You and I are little stones which are still building up the church on top of what the apostles and the prophets had already accomplished.
This concept of our standing upon the shoulders of others can be found in Ephesians 2:19-22, "Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone; In whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple in the LORD: In whom you also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit." Today God is still building His church. Each time a person accepts Christ the church increases. It is a living temple.
Another picture found in this verse is one of a priesthood. This is not a physical priesthood offering up physical sacrifices of animals. This verse five of I Peter declares that believers in Christ are members of this holy priesthood, not just select appointees from some board of leaders. As "priests" we are expected to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God. Praise and worship is one sort of spiritual sacrifice. Our monetary tithes and offerings is another example, as long as our motive is correct. Finally, we can offer ourselves to God as a spiritual sacrifice, meaning we wish to serve God in whatever capacity He chooses for us.
That is all for tonight my friends. God willing, I shall continue tomorrow evening and we will discover how Christ becomes a stumbling block to some. Until then, grace and peace be yours!
Tue, Mar 30th - 12:45PM
Win the Battle for Our Homes
"You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: But I say to you, That whosoever looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart(Matthew 5:27-28)."
Here is one of the many battles facing homes today. This scripture also speaks to women, for many of them look upon a man to lust after him. God has a plan for the family, but Satan has our homes under fairly constant attack. Just as Satan wages war for control of our minds, so too, he wages warfare on our homes, a war over moral purity and the sanctity of the home. God built the home long before He even created government and before He built the church.
God's plan is for one man to marry one woman, until death do them part. God intended for a man to leave his mother and father and cleave unto his wife. God commanded that a man not commit adultery. But Satan has other ideas. He has aimed his artillery against God's plan for the family. Satan knows full well that if he can subvert and corrupt the family then he can destroy our entire country from inside out. Is it happening today? Can you find any evidence of corruption of the family reaching up into the halls of our national government? Satan's plan is to deny God, then debase mankind.
Let's turn to Proverbs chapter five where we can find some important guidelines for maintaining purity. There are five factors which will help us build strong families. To neglect these factors will tear down families.
AN INSTRUCTION FACTOR
"My son, attend unto My wisdom, and bow your ear to My understanding: that you may regard discretion, and that your lips may keep knowledge(Proverbs 5:1-2)." I have capitalized some of the pronouns to draw our attention in that direction. Solomon wanted to talk to his son about sexual purity, so he started out by reminding him to listen to instruction in order to gain understanding. I wish us to think of God speaking to us, His children, in these verses. We must pay attention to God's wisdom and listen to His understanding. In this way we will learn enough so that we will apply discretion to our speech and our actions. Only knowledge will pass between our lips, no profanity nor foolish imaginations shall be uttered.
Where can a young person today go to find instruction on sexual morals? Their school? Their friends? Their parents? The movies from Hollywood? In reality, there is only one answer: God. God has a plan for our moral life, and we ought to follow it. "The one who commits adultery lacks sense; whoever does so destroys themselves(Proverbs 6:32)." God quite plainly considers anyone involved in immorality to be ignorant. That person does not know the truth, and their ignorance leads them to destruction. What sort of destruction you may ask? How about the destruction of their marriage, the relationship with their children. Or the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, syphillis, herpes, and AIDS. These in themselves can cause debilitation of health and even death. There is potential financial ruin through the after effects of divorce and child support. There is the fracturing of family friendships along spousal lines. And in all of this the primary people who receive the most damage are the children of such families. Ignorance leads to destruction.
God has given us an instruction manual for our lives and we need to study and apply His wisdom on morality. It is the very first step to building strong families.
THE DECEPTION FACTOR
Turn with me to Proverbs 5:3-5, "For the lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell." I have met my share of "strange" women in my younger years, before I met my wife. We must be aware of Satan's snares for he wants to deceive you and me and ruin our lives. Men, Satan will bring physically attractive women across your path to tempt you, if that is a weakness of yours. Women, Satan will bring suave, handsome men across your path to tempt you, if that is a weakness of yours. If you respond improperly to these temptations Satan will then bring another person to tempt you even more, this one will be seductive, enticing, as well as attractive. They will attempt to lead you into an immoral liason in their bed. Be aware! Resist the devil and he will flee from you! Do not walk around and be blind to the trap being set up in front of you! Sure, the immorality seems to be fun and exciting in its allurement, entrapment, and eventual enslavement. But do not be mistaken, it is enslavement and you will no longer be in control of your actions nor of your feelings. Satan will have you in his grasp. You will serve his purposes and not those of God.
Too many people today believe that immorality is fun, a great idea. But sexual sin has a deadly power. It fascinates, then assassinates. It thrills, and then kills. It leads directly to death, sometimes immediately through murder. It leads to the death of joy, purity, honesty, your spiritual life, your marriage, and eventually your physical death. The only way to stay away from Satan's deceit? Fill our minds with Scripture, God's Word.
When you and I wake up in the morning we need to begin the day by spending some time with the LORD, either in prayer or reading His Word. Request His help in detecting the immoral snares Satan has laid out in your path for that day. Go it one day at a time.
That is all for today in this study, my friends. Next time, God willing, I shall go through the final three factors to build strong families. I hope you will be there too! Grace and peace be with you all as you spend time this week dwelling upon the events that lead up to Good Friday and then Resurrection Sunday. I hope that as you ponder these things that you may discover yourself among the people who shouted Hosanah when Christ entered Jerusalem, among those disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, the crowd who surrounded the cross on Calvary, and those women who peered fearfully into the empty tomb shortly after sunrise. Are you emotionally there? Can you feel what those people were feeling? Can you see Christ dragging His cross through the streets of Jerusalem out to Golgotha? Look at how He appears so haggard! So beaten! And yet He continues to drag that cross. I hope that you are able this year to more intimately identify yourself with Christ, for didn't He take your place upon that cross? Wasn't He our Passover Lamb? Hasn't God passed us by in judgment for He can see Christ's blood applied to our hearts? There is much to be sorrowful over this week, but there is much more to be joyous about by week's end.
Mon, Mar 29th - 9:55PM
I Peter Epistle Study
This second chapter of I Peter will make it very clear that you and I, through the New Birth(born again of incorruptible seed, the Word of God), have a new nature, and we are to live in that new nature by the power of the Holy Spirit. We have been brought into a loving relationship with Christ, whom we have not seen yet we love. Peter saw Him and loved Him, and although we have not seen Christ, the Holy Spirit can make Him real to us.
If you are born again, do you remember how sweet and wonderful it was? Hopefully you have not lost that feeling over time. Paul had to write to the Corinthian Christians and deal with their carnality. They had lost that first love for Christ.
Beloved, real separation rests upon the fact that you have been born again, you now have a new nature, and you are now in love with Christ. Your love for Him makes you want to please Him every way imaginable.
The purpose of God is to have people saved from judgment, but also from this world. The work of Christ on the cross of Calgary settled every question that sin has raised between God and our souls. The future is bright with the glory of God. We have been born again, and no one, not even Satan, can change that.
But how are you and I doing in our daily Christian lives down here on planet Earth? How is our relationship with our fellowmen and with Christ?
Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby(2:1-2).
You see, there are things that God expects us to do. He has taken care of the redemption side of the equation but we need to then lay aside some things. This laying aside of things is likened in Ephesians 4:22,25 to the taking off of a garment. Paul in Corinthians uses a different figure to describe this action on our part. "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth(I Corinthians 5:7-8)." In this example leaven represents sin which infects the whole body. We are to be like unleavened bread therefore, free from sin. Malice and wickedness are mentioned as sins(leaven). Sin-free "bread" contains sincerity and truth, not deception and falsehood. Of course, Paul's declaration also concerns the equating of Christ with the Passover Lamb which was sacrificed originally to save the first born of the Jews prior to their exodus out of Egypt. There is another tie-in here with "first born" as Jesus Christ is said to be the first born of the resurrection. But that is a different study than this one.
"Laying aside all malice." What is malice? It can be said to mean congealed anger. It means to have an unforgiving spirit. You would rather carry around bitterness in your heart rather than forgive a person. You and I can not carry around bitterness and still witness about being born again to others. Malice must be set aside.
"And all guile." Guile is using cleverness to get even or to try and make a good impression upon someone else, or to profit monetarily in an unethical manner. Ananias andSapphira used guile when they sold their property and tried to represent themselves as being very generous givers to the church. They ended up being immediately judged by God and were taken out of this world.
Hypocrisy is attempting to be what you are not. Evil speaking means slander and defamation of character.
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word." Just as newborn infants desire their mother's milk, so too, we are to desire to feed upon the Word of God. It will enable us to grow spiritually and to mature. Too bad more of us do not reach after the Word of God as infants do for their bottles full of milk! If we had that much passion to feed ourselves we might make a bigger impact upon this world by becoming stronger Christians. Beloved, without a healthy hunger for the Word of God you and I will forever remain babes in Christ. We must therefore study God's Word daily in order to grow and mature.
In order to mature into a strong adult Christian we must have a full, well-balanced diet of the whole Word of God. We start out with milk but the time comes when we want some vegetables, then some fruit, and finally we desire to sink our teeth into some steak, a good baked potato, a nice salad, and then a really nice dessert. We need total spiritual nutrition and that comes only from studying the Word of God in its entirety.
That is all for tonight, beloved. God willing, I shall be able to continue tomorrow evening with the next several verses of this chapter of I Peter. I hope that you return to study them with me. Until then, may you continue to prepare your heart during this Holy week leading up to Resurrection Sunday. Remember, Christ considers His house to be a house of prayer; you are His house.
Mon, Mar 29th - 2:07PM
A Battle For Our Mind?
The question comes to mind of "How has Satan used my thought life to disrupt my communication and relationship with God?" Personally, he has lulled me to sleep on the importance of fellowship with other strong Christians. He has also influenced me into cutting and running when confronted with conflict within a congregation that just does not seem to ever get resolved by the leadership. He has helped me to become, from time to time, too critical of other believers and holding them to a stricter standard than I have been living myself. At other times, he has attacked my wife and caused strife between the two of us and used that to sidetrack our focus. Satan could also attack our thought life through mental illnesses. This could be either directly or indirectly. Directly causes us to suffer through bouts of depression, mania, paranoia, or even psychosis. Indirectly he can cause us much mental and emotional stress through striking at our spouses' mental states. These things must be countered through daily prayer on the behalf of the afflicted individual. We must ask God to protect our minds from Satan's attacks, to help keep Satan out of our thoughts and dreams.
In finding a solution we need to answer this question: "Did God save us to victory or to defeat?" Well, He says that He conquered death and so we now can have victory over sin and death. We have been given a new nature that ensures victory over sin. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us that is the seal of our salvation. We have victory. It does not prevent Satan from coming and attacking us on different fronts, but we ought not to give in to his attacks and lies.
If God saved us to be victorious, doesn't it stand to reason that He can equip us for that victory? But how will He do this? Turn with me to Ephesians 3:16, "I pray; that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man." Clearly, the strength required for victory comes not from us, but from God through His Holy Spirit which He sent to dwell within us upon salvation. God's intention is to give us power. We are to live powerfully. Now turn to Ephesians 4:17, "Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts." We need to lose the worldly wisdom and replace that with the thoughts of Christ. If we believe that Christ is the Truth then we must fill our minds with Him. Combat falsehood and lies with the filling of your mind with Christ, who is Truth. As we read through the next five to ten verses we can see that we have to take off our former lifestyle which was corrupted by deceitful lusts/desires. We need to renew our minds/thoughts in the spirit of our minds; we put on the "new man" created in the likeness of God.
We must stop uttering profanity, slander, and sexual inuendo. What comes out of our mouth is for building other people up when they are down in spirit. We forego anger, wrath, insult, and wickedness for we are to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God forgave each of us in Christ.
Chapter five of Ephesians continues speaking of these things. In Ephesians 6:13-17 is found a means of solving our dilemna with Satan. We are to put on the armor of God. I will entrust that study into your care, do so at your own pace in order to fully appreciate what you are being instructed to do.
I would ask you as to what you have tried doing in the past to try and win the battle for your mind? Anything? Watch movies? Get lost on the internet? Do drugs? Have any of your attempts been successful? According to James 4:7 you should resist the devil and he will flee. How can I resist the devil when it comes to keeping my thoughts clean? Turn to Philippians 4:8, "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise-dwell on these things." If our minds our dwelling upon these things, how can it be thinking of evil, negative, or immoral thoughts? It can't be. Here are some practical things you can focus upon in order to redirect your mind when it begins to wander into negative territory:
* Meditate on a Bible verse.
* Sing a praise song chorus to yourself.
* Quote Scirpture that you have memorized, preferably those with promises from God in them.
* Thank God for your blessings.
* Pray phrases to God such as: "I give my mind to You, LORD." "Use my mind for Your glory, LORD."
* Pray with God-given authority to resist Satan.
* Keep your mind actively engaged and challenged, not allowing it to just drift, to become idle.
* Remove temptations, that you know will lead you down the wrong paths(TV, music, movies, internet).
God wisely made us incapable of thinking two thoughts at the same time. If we are thinking what's right and proper, then we can't be thinking what's wrong and sinful.
Recognize that the result of focusing our minds upon Christ is peace. If there exists confusion in our daily lives it is caused by Satan insinuating himself into our minds. God is NOT the author of confusion, but of order, truth, and peace. As we become victorious in this battle with Satan for our minds we will find our minds at peace with God. That in turn prepares us to worship and serve God with all of our hearts, and minds.
Each of us must commit our mind to God and ask Him to help us be aware of the ways Satan is attacking us each day. Many of the daily battles that we feel like we are in with our spouses are attributable to Satan attacking one, or both, of the spouses. It is a spiritual battle that we are engaged in, beloved. So pray continuously throughout the day to rid your mind of the empty or destructive thoughts and ask God to replace them with positive, constructive ones. Pray God will use your victories to encourage others that are in the battle of their mind.
That finishes this short study, my friends. God willing, next I will conduct a short study on winning the battle for your home. We will be reading from both the Old and New Testaments. We will be looking at Proverbs, Hebrews, Exodus, I Corinthians, II Timothy, and Matthew at least.
I hope you will follow along with this new study! May God bless you with grace and peace!
Sun, Mar 28th - 1:49PM
I Peter Epistle Study
Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfaked love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently(1:22).
If you are not aware of this yet, the Word of God is a miraculous cleansing agent! The only true miracle cleaning product to be found on this entire planet is the Word of God. It will remove blemishes and spots from us. It will clean us up and make us presentable before God. Thus it is imperative that we become very close to the Word of God.
It also follows that our relationship to the Word of God will lead us to a right relationship with other believers. The deeper into His Word that we are getting the closer we become to other believers for we will love them more deeply. Our love for each other cannot be faked, a mask that we put on and pull off depending upon the situation. It must be genuine love, something that we wear everyday, all day long. It must be there at two in the morning when the phone rings for help.
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever(1:23).
What an awesome, power packed verse this is! Here we find the frequently spoken phrase, "Born again" and we are also given the way in which this process takes place. By the Word of God(Jesus). This concept is complicated for the Word of God encompasses several things all simultaneously. It is Jesus Christ who created everything that is. It is the written words of the Bible. It is the spoken words of God(Christ) declaring everything into existence. Redemption comes through the Word of God, faith comes through hearing which comes through the Word of God. To hear the Gospel is to gain faith which is to gain redemption by being born again of incorruptible seed. Eternality is also woven into this verse for God is eternal and He is the One who renews our minds through His Word. Our spiritual transformation is not something that is temporary and will suddenly reach its expiration date. It has been issued by God who lives forever.
If you recall, Nicodemas was told this exact same thing(John 3:3). This religious leader was told that he must be born "from above," by the Spirit of God. Peoples' lives are continually changed day by day from either reading God's Word, hearing God's Word, or speaking God's Word.
We live in a culture where a great deal of value is placed in virility and sexuality. Men want to be vigorous and virile; women want to be sexually attractive and sought after. If anyone wishes virility, virorousness, and proper sexuality, they need to turn to the Word of God. It is full of life, and it is life-giving. By being born again through Christ you can achieve proper sense of virility and sexuality. You will become a whole person as God intended you to be, and your attractiveness will originate from within and not from without. Your handsomeness and beauty won't be merely skin deep. And yet an ever growing segment of our society preoccupy themselves chasing after superficial sexaul attractiveness and virility. People attempt to hold aging at bay, retaining their youthfulness at all costs. They fight a war that they cannot win. Better by far to obtain a new birth spritually, and have the promise of a glorified body in heaven one day! it frees one up from being captive to stress of aging in this life. It allows one to live freely, not burdened with worry and depression.
For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away.
But the Word of God endures for ever. And this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you(1:24-25).
As much time and energy that people spend on keeping themselves looking younger, it is a waste of time and money for we only live a finite period of time and then our bodies wither away, just does the grass. I am in my fifties and I can safely say that I am not physically the same as when I was 25. Thirty-one years of life have done its damage to my physical body and cannot be undone. All of the works that I expend time and energy upon are not eternal in nature. The Word of God is eternal and it is what must be preached to everyone that will listen. The Word must be taught, there can be no substitute for this. Music is nice, methods are nice, organization is nice; but the Word must be preached and taught every day!
That ends chapter one of I Peter. The next chapter's theme reflects the suffering of the saints and of Christ; it also informs us that suffering produces separation. We will discover that suffering produces separation from sin, produces proper conduct, and obedience to the will of God.
In consideration of separation, or living for the Lord, there follows the danger of adopting one of two extreme viewpoints. One is thinking that human nature is such that all it needs is merely new direction, it needs to be given a purpose and a little reformation. People who take this position believe that since there is basically nothing wrong with human nature, they need only to awaken the individual to his/her marvelous energy and intellect and moral nature so that he/she will be able to live for the Lord. They think that this is what it means to live the Christian life.
The other extreme viewpoint is that when one is born again, he/she receives something that is supernatural (which indeed does happen), but then he simply sits on the sidelines while God accomplishes in his/her life all that needs to be done. these people become very pious. They are like a puffed up bullfrog. They never seem to grow and develop into loving, fully rounded, normal Christians.
I shall stop here for today. God willing, I will give you a little more preparatory information tomorrow and then begin covering this next chapter verse by verse. May you have the grace and peace of Christ this day!
Sat, Mar 27th - 8:12AM
I Peter Epistle Study
Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot(1:18-19).
In these verses Peter speaks of the objective work of God for our salvation, which is redemption. Christ had to pay an extreme price for our redemption. We stood under the judgment of God and were marked for death. "The wages of sin is death" decree has never been revoked by God and shall not be revoked. God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The immutability of God strikes fear into those who do not believe. Lost people cannot fathom how God is incapable of change for mankind changes its values and outlook all of the time. Are we not now living in an era filled with new thoughts and new values? Is this not another one of those "enlightened" times? If so, why are our children having so much trouble learning in our schools? There is no reason for God to change. He does not learn anything new each day from the morning newspaper nor from the nightly newscenter for He knew everything from before creation was begun.
Now, silver and gold are considered by society today as being fairly precious but they are still corruptible. Whenever we decide to bring out our solid silver tableware for serving guests we are forced to inspect it for tarnish for it is corruptible. Even gold is perishable although we pride ourselves if we possess some in its purest form. But we are redeemed with that which is not corruptible.
Life is vain; it is full of empty things. Too often we simply go through the motions each day, doing things by habit without giving it any thought whatsoever. Our spiritual life becomes one filled with rituals and ceremonies bereft of any passion and determination. We give lip service but not heart service to God. Everything in this universe serves a purpose. Animals, plants, volcanoes, hurricanes, stars, gravity, ozone, it all serves a purpose. What about man? Someone said once that mankind is just a rash on the skin of a minor planet. Well, I would say that that is exactly all man is, apart from God. We become relegated to being an irritant, an infection upon this planet when we refuse to recognize the living God. We are not redeemed by anything found upon, or within, this planet upon which we dwell. What do you and I possibly have that God needs?
I think that is enough for this morning, beloved. Later today I shall continue on in this study. God willing, we shall discover more truth when we regather here at that time! Grace and peace be with you!
What can you or I do to redeem ourselves? Nothing! Redemption only comes through the precious blood of Christ. Here is Peter's second usage of the term "precious." Many churches today shy away from any mention of blood, feeling that it is crude. Taking away the blood reduces Christ's crucifixion and resurrection to meaninglessness. God had already declared that the blood was the life and that the Jew was not to consume any animal flesh that still contained its blood. The ritualistic spillage of blood was used to temporarily forgive men's sins, first in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. Once per year the high priest went into the holy of holies to sprinkle blood upon the mercy seat there. That was to gain forgiveness of sin for the entire nation of Israel. So plainly God had been teaching that blood must be spilled in order for any type of forgiveness of sin to take place. Christ must therefore spill His blood once, for all, to forgive all of mankind's sin. His blood must not be removed from the Christian life, it must be embraced. "What can take away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!" A familiar hymn in many churches, but becoming more and more scarce as the liberal perspective becomes more dominant in faith circles.
Christ came as a lamb without blemish or spot, which were the requirements of the Temple sacrifice and especially of the lamb to be slaughtered and eaten at Passover. That Passover lamb was to be picked out and brought home several days ahead of the observance. The family were to take ownership of that lamb, hands must be placed upon it prior to its being slaughtered. Its blood had been smeared upon the doorposts upon the very first Passover to signal to the angel of death that their house was covered and to be "passed over." And so we can see that blood must be shed to provide a cover for sin. Peter simply gives us an objective statement of our redemption through Jesus Christ, who was our Paschal Lamb.
Who truly was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you(1:20).
Too easily we, who operate with finite brains, paint God into some sort of box which pictures Him as some type of super computer. He knows everything, He understands everything, He sees everything. Yes, He does all of these things but He also has a heart that encompasses everything that exists in this univierse and beyond. Some scholars become lost in the pursuit of discovering what the proper order of foreordination, election, predestination, and foreknowledge are. It is not more important than living for Christ. It is important to understand that God knew that you would need a Savior and He loved you so much that He provided that Savior. You and I only need know that we need a God with a huge heart of love who provided redemption by His infinite grace. We need know only that Christ existed before anything was created and that He was made manifest in the flesh to us here, in the end times.
Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God(1:21).
Here Peter gives us another reminder that Christ returned from the dead. God did that and gave Him a glorified body, one that would show His glory truly and that would give us hope of receiving one ourselves one day. Peter continues to pair grace with other words. Before it was grace and hope, now it is faith and hope. Our hope rests upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ and upon the fact that we have living Savior who will be returning one day for all of us.
That is all for today, beloved. God willing, tomorrow I will continue with verses 22-25. I hope that you will follow along as I study through this epistle of Peter's verse by verse. May you find grace, faith, and hope through our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Fri, Mar 26th - 12:58PM
A Battle for Our Mind?
How does God speak to you? If Satan can speak to us, then God must be able to do so as well, don't you think? Let's turn to Ephesians 4:17-23; "Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding, exluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of inpurity with a desire for more and more. But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, assuming you heard Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus: you took off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds;" and we see that God speaks to us through our minds, and God changes us by changing our minds. God does not desire our mind to be an empty vacuum into which anybody may fill it with wrongful thoughts. Idle thoughts need to be brought under our conscious control in order to eliminate errors from entering into our thinking. Many times I find myself reading the thoughts of other people on the internet and must stop and not even read anymore of it for my mind rebels at the mere consideration of what they have said. God wants our thoughts to be centered upon Him and His will for our life. This passage warns us to not walk through life as all of the lost people continue to do. We are to not believe the atheists' claims, we are not to heed the claims of clairvoyants, psychics, and new agers. We either control our own minds or else we allow others to control our minds over us. I must believe that I deserve the best from other people otherwise I will settle for however they decide to treat me. Is it okay for my spouse to cheat on me, or not? Self esteem dictates much in our lives, which stems from control over our minds. Is it okay for people to scream profanity at me? The answers to these kinds of questions ought to be, "No, I don't deserve to be treated this way."
Let's look at Romans 12:2, "Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God." Once more we find that our mind is to be purged of all of the "garbage" from the world's beliefs and be refilled with the Word of God. Why? So that we can find out what the will of God for our life is. As long as I have a vegetable garden full of weeds I will never be able to harvest crops out of it. I will be hard pressed to even find the actual vegetable plants! I know, I have had a garden that ended up choked up with weeds! I ended up moving my garden to another location, I figured that the message sent was that that was the wrong place to try and grow vegetables for eating. God's will. Same thing applies to our minds. Remain lazy and allow just about anything to enter your mind and you will not be able to discover what God wants you to do with your life. We must become diligent, remain aware of those thoughts that stray into our consciousness that are sinful, deceitful, and tempting.
Satan attempts to block our communication with God, therefore hindering our relationship with God. His methods are to disrupt, interfere with, and/or destroy your mind. When you sin, from where has that thought come from? You. or Satan? I won't even try to maintain that every single sin originates from Satan, but I do believe that a majority of them do.
Our eyes do not suddenly decide all on their own to look at something unwholesome in books, magazines, television, or the internet. Our hands do not automatically reach out and commit a crime. No, they get their direction from our mind. As a man thinks, so shall he act. The mind controls what actions and behavior we shall take in life.
Well, that is enough on this topic for today. Hopefully each of us will stop and reconsider the many things that we listen to, look at, or read. Are they wholesome things or are they pornographic in nature? Do they edify the soul or do they corrupt my mind and introduce new avenues for me to sin? These are the questions that I find I must ask myself on a very regular basis for we live in a highly media-influenced society that throws images at us every day. I pray that Christ will help you to renew your mind through effective reading and studying of His Word, through fervent prayer time each day, and refreshing fellowship and worship corporately each week.
Fri, Mar 26th - 6:25AM
I Peter Epistle Study
Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into(1:12),
Peter says that he and the other apostles are preaching exactly the same message that the prophets of old preached to the people. The difference was that the prophets could not make the distinction between Christ's suffering and glory while the apostles were in the position of being able to understand the distinction.
"Which things the angels desire to look into" implies that God's choice to suffer and die so that we could be reconciled to Him is something that they are immensely curious about. Perhaps they simply can't understand why we do not spread this gospel more passionately. Or perhaps they desire to do it themselves but are unable to do so. Remember, the angel Gabriel came and announced to Mary and also Joseph that Jesus was to be born. He also came to tell Zacharias that he was going to have a son, named John, who would be he forerunner of the Messiah. You don't think that Gabriel would have loved to come down and proclaim the birth,and death, and resurrection of Christ to the entire world? As much as the angels may desire to become involved in the proclamation of salvation unto mankind God prevents them from doing so. It is our responsibility to do this work. We are the ones who are to be saved, not the angels. And so today God is using human instruments to get out His Word since we are living in the day of the ministry of the Holy Spirit and not the ministry of angels. Romans 8:9 tells us that any who do not have the Spirit of Christ in them are not His. If you are Christ's then you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.
Can an angel do something for you that the very Spirit of God cannot? No. We live in the day where the Spirit of God has become our "teacher" and reveals all sorts of things about God to us. So what is our response supposed to be in view of these things?
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ(1:13).
Now here is a curious phrase, "Gird up the loins of your mind." It is a figure of speech based on the gathring and fastening of the long Eastern garments so that they would not get in the way with the wearer's work. It was easily understood back in Peter's day by everyone but perhaps not so easily understood today. It simply means to prepare your mind for hard work and then get on with it. We are not to attempt God's work without preparing our minds for what is to required of us in the effort. Why gather up our thoughts? Because Satan wishes to control them and if he is successful in his efforts we shall not want to do anything for God. This is a battle for mind control: either we protect our selves from Satan's attacks through knowing God's Word or else we will succomb to Satan's will and become his pawns in his plan to wage war against God in heaven. Too many in today's world do not even believe that Satan is real, allowing him free reign to do as he pleases.
"Be sober." Want to be turned on? You don't need any kind of drug, let the Word of God turn you on. But, this little phrase means to adopt a serious attitude in your study of the Word of God.
"And hope unto the end." Why should any child of God be willing to endure trials and tribulaions? Because we have a hope, and that hope sets upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
That is all the time I currently have, I hope to add to this post later today, my friends. I hope that you all have a great day!
"The grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." In the future when Christ comes to take the church out of the world, He is going to bring plenty of grace with Him. Every believer who is alive will be removed from this world. They shall be judged before His Judgment Seat and either suffer loss or receive reward by His infinite grace.
How we live down here determines what we shall receive above. God lets us go through trials and tribulations to fashion us according to His plan. We need to yield to Him in all of our troubles.
As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance(1:14).
Once we begin to study the Scriptures we begin to understand that they will lead us to obedience. Recall how James said, "Be you be doers of the word, and not hearers only...(James 1:22)." It is one of my favorite verses. God's Word not only brings us hope, it also leads us to obey God. We are to yield to the instruction of God's Word.
Why is it that God desires to draw us aside, to a place of quiet and solitude? He does this in order that we have the time to spend in His Word. It is extremely important to our lives to spend quality time in God's Word each and every day!
The next phrase in this verse refers to how we used to behave before accepting Christ into our hearts. Now that we know better we must continue to transform ourselves from the inside out. We are not to move through life with a fake smile plastered upon our faces. We are not to be artificial, putting on "masks." In our former ignorance we lived according to various lusts that we had. Now, we must make a clean break with these former things which shaped our lives. We are now a new creation, a new creature with a new nature having been introduced by God. We now have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, showing us the new way to live. We must practice doing it.
But as He which has called you is holy, so you be holy in all manner of conversation(1:15).
Holiness is terribly misunderstood these days. It is not to assume a pious attitude and become almost abnormal in everyday life. But friends, God wants you to be a fully integrated personality. He wants you to enjoy life and have fun; real delight and enjoyment in the life that He has given you. But He wants you to also live a separated life from sin and lust of the flesh. He wants you to separate yourself to serving Him. He made this request of Moses, and of all of the prophets. He made that request of the disciples and He makes that request of each new believer. This means that we must become spiritually healthy and robust. Everything that comes out of our mouths is to be considered and be edifying to others.
Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy(1:16).
Does this mean that our holiness is to be an attribute like God's holiness? No. He is perfect and we are not. As Christians we should be growing spiritually towards maturity. Each day should find us a little more holy than the day before. What helps us attain this sort of growth? God's Word is what aids us in reaching this goal.
And if you call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourn here in fear(1:17).
"Respect of persons" means giving partiality to certain people over others. Perhaps you prefer to hang out with people similar in age to you. Or prefer to associate with those of the same social status. Or you do not like anyone who is wealthy. Or you have problems even speaking to anyone who has a disability. That is partiality, it is respect of persons. God has no pets among mankind. He has no favorites. Christ as much as said that to the sons of Thunder after they requested to be told if they could sit at His left and right hands in heaven. This has nothing to do with your salvation, but has everything to do with how you are living your life. Because God is going to judge us it ought to cause us to pay more attention to how we are living. The gospel transforms lives and brings with it a living hope which originates from the resurrection of Christ.
Thu, Mar 25th - 11:36AM
A Battle for Our Minds?
Many of us have heard this saying, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop." Through personal experience I can confidently say that there is much truth in that statement. Satan is like an undercover secret agent who is on a mission to find/exploit opportunities to mess with our minds and our souls. Look with me at what Ephesians 6:12 says, "For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens." There is a war taking place and it is of a spiritual nature. Satan's desire is to conquer and control your thought life and then make it a fortress from which he is able to wage war against Jehovah. Our physical conflicts in life are the direct result of spiritual warfare ongoing within other individuals and ourselves. How is it that evil can exist in this world? Through Satan controlling the mind of an individual and influencing that person to do that which blasphemes God.
But if we recognize that there is an active battle and it is with Satan, just what in the world can we do about it? Since Satan is a fallen angel he is physically stronger than we are, more knowledgeable than we are, more cunning than we are, more patient than we are, and he is immortal while we inhabit finite bodies of flesh and blood. So what is it we can do to defend ourselves in this war?
Turn to II Corinthians 10:3-2-5, " I be you that when I am present I will not need to be bold with the confidence by which I plan to challenge certain people who think that we are walking in a fleshly way. For although we are walking in the flesh, we do not wage war in a fleshly way, since the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." In that fifth verse, we find three words that highlight, and make clear, what Satan is fighting for. "Arguments, high-minded thing, and every thought" all refer to mental activities. Satan fully intends to control our arguments and objections to any knowledge about God and to eventually take over our every single thought. We will become his slaves. Why would Satan want to control our thoughts? Perhaps it is very simple. As a person thinks so will he/she act. Control the mind and the heart is taken out of the equation of fighting. This is why it is so important for believers to get into reading and studying God's Word. We must transform our minds into thinking more along the lines of Christ.
So it means that we must figure out how to communicate with God since Satan will speak to us in whispers at all hours of the day and night. How may we initiate a conversation with God?
That, my friends, is to be answered next time we meet here. God willing, you all will be able to return and pick up where we left off today. May our God bless you abundantly in all the things that you require each and every day!
Wed, Mar 24th - 10:54PM
The Olivet Discourse
Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels:
for I was hungry, and you did not give Me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me no drink;
I was a stranger, and you took Me not in; naked, and you clothed Me not; sick, and in prison, and you visited Me not.
Then shall they also answer, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto You(25:41-44)?
Here the lost attempt to defend themselves, perhaps even honestly asking when they could have known that they were failing to do any of these things for Him. They may have not realized what they had been doing, but it still remains that in actuality they did not help those who were in dire need. God considers not doing what is right for those who are less fortunate the same as not doing it for Him. Not retaining a "right" relationship with all those people around you paves the way to being treated like Satan and his angels. That will be the question that the rejectors of Christ will have upon their lips. Now let's find out what God's reply to them will be:
Then shall He answer them, saying, Truly I say unto you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did it not to Me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal(25:45-46).
It is important to remember that (1) we will be judged on how we treat people and on what we have done with Christ, and (2) this judgment of the nations will take place at Christ's second coming to the earth when he will actually set up His kingdom and bring one thousand years of peace to our war-torn world.
But what about today? Can our nation, or any nation bring peace to our world? Multitudes are thinking today that we can have peace if we could just meet around a conference table. It is the method that liberalism has preached for many years and it is the reason we are in such a mess in America and in many other western nations. We have been told for a long time now that if we could just get the heads of state to sit down together around an oval table they could settle everything finally. Has this worked in the Middle East? Has it worked between America and China? Or America and Russia? Or between any of the other ethnic groups that currently are in armed conflict with each other? My friends, they can't settle anything because men's hearts are deceptively wicked and must be made right. History speaks volumes of how men sit down and verbally agree to all sorts of things but then leave the bargaining table and proceed to do what ever they wanted to do all along. That was the way of Adolph Hitler in his dealings with the other European nations and the Soviet Union. We cannot bring peace to this world through this process. It is a flawed process from the foundation up. But God has a much better plan. God's method is to change human hearts. The only thing in this world capable of changing the human heart is the Word of God, and through that Word we can be made new creatures in Christ. We can become children of God, and peace among men is possible only through this method at this present time.
When Christ does return He will come in great power and great glory. All four gospel writers set forth the Lord Jesus in some aspect of His character. Matthew sees Him as the King, Mark shows Him as the suffering Servant, Luke shows Him as the Man, the Shepherd who went out and found the lost sheep, and John sees Him as the Son of God, the Savior of the entire world. All see Him as the resurrected Christ, the ascended Christ, and coming again to this earth to establish His kingdom. It shall be an enforced peace, none shall be able to rebel, all will asknowledge God's presence.
The question always arises as to how many people are looking for Him in great anticipation. My friends, you could not possibly be interested in the least in His coming for His own or His coming to establish His kingdom unless you have a personal relationship to Him because He came over 1900 years ago and died on a cross for our sins.
The church's business today is not to try and establish His kingdom, and it is not to try and make this world a better place. Why try to make this a better place for people to go to hell in? Our business is not to clean out the fish pond but to fish in it. We are to try and get men and women and children to turn back to Christ.
Whenever a luxury cruise ship is forced to abandon ship and get its passengers into lifeboats you can be sure that none of the ship's crew are spending time polishing up the deck or silverware so that it will look at its best when the ship goes down. No, they get busy about putting passengers into lifeboats so that they can get to safety. There are two types of churchpeople in our society today: those who are trying to polish up the old boat, and those who are trying to get the passengers into the Lifeboat, which Jesus Christ. God says that He has absolutely no intention of saving this civilization. It is godless, and God has already judged it. The fire will touch it and put it to its end one of these days.
I am one of those that believe that I ought to be busy extending my hand and beseech you to accept the salvation which God has provided for you to escape the coming Judgment. It is coming even if people choose to ignore the reality. They did the same during Noah's time, until the rains began to fill up everything with standing water. Then they panicked and knew that they had been dreadfully wrong in their thinking. It shall be this way once more when Christ returns. God's hand is still extended out to you, grab it and jump on into His lifeboat to be saved. As always, the choice is yours.
I hope that this study provided you with some new information that will excite and fire you up! As God has said in the past, Today is the day of your salvation! Come just as you are! Do not wait! No one knows the day nor the hour of his/her death!
My next study will be about "The Battle for Our Minds." Is it important? Does it even exist? If it does exist, then what should we do about it? Until then, God willing, may the Living God grant you grace and peace.
Wed, Mar 24th - 12:44PM
Should Christians Pray for Peace?
"And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace there you shall have peace also(Jeremiah 29:7)."
The basic priniciple found within this verse is that all of us who are God's strangers and foreigners should be desirous to actively promote peace and prosperity of the people among whom we are living. Especially our nation, state, and city should be blessed by our constant intercession. An earnest prayer offered up for your country and other countries is well serving in the mouth of every believer in Christ. Eagerly we ought to pray for the extremely beneficial aspects of peacefulness, both at home and abroad. If strife and turmoil should cause bloodshed in our streets, or if foreign battle should kill our brave soldiers, we should all cry out against such a calamity. Let us therefore pray for peace and diligently promote those things by which all people at home and the peoples abroad may be bound together in bonds of friendship. For how can we say that we follow the commands of Christ if we ignore what He said about loving our enemies? I may not be very happy with extremist Islamists actions around the world, or even with members of opposing political parties' words and actions, but I must pray for God to give them wisdom and the proper vision. I ought to also pray for their salvation. I need to forgive them in my heart and not harbor ill feelings towards any person. May we all stive towards implementing this principle put forward by God through the words of Jeremiah so long ago.
Tue, Mar 23rd - 9:51PM
I Peter Epistle Study
Now Simon Peter writes something very precious...
Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory(1:8).
Peter had seen the LORD in the flesh, walked and talked with Him for over three years. He had failed miserably during that time period. Then, one bright morning on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, God prepared breakfast for the men who had been fishing all night, and I guess He was really just waiting for Peter. We would have expected God to have said, "Peter, I can't trust you at all. Why in the world did you deny Me three times? I am just going to have to sit you down on the bench and put a replacement in the game in your place since I cannot use you." Nope, He did not say those things to Peter. But He did say to him, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest you Me?" That was the big question God wanted an answer for from Peter at that point in time. Do you love Me? Peter, who had been somewhat of a braggert before now could only blurt out that God knew that he loved Him. No bragging, just simple admission of the truth. John 21:16-17 records our LORD's decision based upon Peter's answer to that simple question. Peter was the one who preached the first sermon on the Day of Pentecost. Now Peter says to us today, that we love Him even though we have never even seen Him. The Holy Spirit is the One who makes Christ real to us. This is the secret to the Christian life. When we choose to love Christ, everything else clicks into place. It is just as if the focus control on the television set got tweaked and now everything that was "fuzzy" and out of focus is suddenly very, very clear. If you and I do not love Christ He will not commission us to feed His sheep.
Are we really in love with Christ, or do we have the feeling of dead religion that is quite meaningless? Peter loved Him with all of his heart and soul and mind. Paul ended up loving Him just as much. Every single genuine believer has loved Christ the exact same way down through the long ages. If you and I love Him it solves a lot of our problems. It helps the husband-wife relationship. Not only will it help you in the home, it will help you in your church. Loving Christ draws believers together. This helps in all of our relationships.
Loving Christ brings rejoicing to our hearts. The verse says "with joy unspeakable." That is an awful lot of joy! We all ought to be rejoicing today. We are children of God, of the King, and we have an inheritance coming to us some day. And it is being held in heaven for us! Hallelujah!
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls(1:9).
Salvation was a subject of prophecy in the Old Testament. Both the prophets and the apostles bore witness to the truth of it. What a beautiful encouragement to those of the Diaspora, those suffering for their faith, forced to abandon their homes and property and live in foreign nations.
Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow(1:10-11).
We find evidence of this in Isaiah 53 and in Psalm 22 as well as in many other Scriptures. "And the glory that should follow" is mirrored in Isaiah 11 and Psalm 45. All of the prophets spoke of salvation, of the coming Savior, of God being their salvation, and of the glory that was to come.
"The Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify" declares to us the fact that the Spirit that now dwells within each saint of Christ has that same Spirit as was indwelling the prophets of old. The prophets of the Old Testament wrote according to the inspiration of the Spirit of Christ that was in them.
These prophets of old wrote many a thing of which they themselves did not understand. They searched diligently for some kind of understanding of what they had been told or shown. They desired to discover when salvation was to arrive on earth. Many places speak about the sufferings of Christ and also of His sovereignty, of the kingdom age. Grace and glory are combined, and it was difficult for these prophets to understand it all. Isaiah had seen both the sufferings of Christ and the Messiah coming in power and glory. All he could see were these two massive mountain peaks down through the corridors of time, he could not gauge if they were close to one another or very far apart. He had no perspective. However, you and I have been granted perspective by God. We now know that Christ came one time to suffer for all of the sin of the world. He will return a second time in power and glory to judge the world of its sin and establish His kingdom on earth.
I am sure that many a scholar back in the Old Testament times argued, "Either He comes in suffering or He comes to reign supreme, but you can't have it both ways!" But today we know that both things are to happen for Christ has already come and suffered and now we joyously await His return in the future.
I will stop there for this evening. God willing, next time I shall pick this up with verse 12 and move through the 17th verse. Until then, grace and peace be with you all!
Tue, Mar 23rd - 12:58PM
The Olivet Discourse
JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS
In this section our LORD alerts His people to the fact that we are to ready ourselves for His coming. During the tribulation period all nations will have the opportunity to hear and receive God's message of salvation. The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in every land. But some will still reject God's messengers, Christ's brethren, and thus reject Christ.
"When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory(Matthew 25:31)."
The polarization of the entire discourse is moving towards the placement of Jesus Christ on the throne of this world. This is the message of the Gospel of Matthew, and it is the message of the entire Word of God.
"And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left(Matthew 25:32-33)."
We see that the nations will be judged by Christ. A natural question is, "Doesn't this mean individuals?" Yes, we can consider it as individuals composing nations. But nations are responsible to God also. "Nations" is the Greek word ethnos; from it we get our word "ethnic." So we could say that ethnic groups of individuals are going to be gathered and judged. Now, in the Bible God usually calls people "sheep." There are two kinds of sheep: lost and saved. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all(Isaiah 53:6)." There are lost sheep and saved sheep, not sheep and goats. I firmly believe that here "goats" represents ethnic groups. But once He separates everyone, what happens then?
"Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was hungry, and you gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and you took Me in:
Naked, and you gave Me clothes: I was sick, and you visited Me: I was in prison, and you came to Me.
Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, LORD, when did we see You hungry, and fed You? or thirsty, and gave You drink?
When did we see You as a stranger, and took You in? or naked, and gave You clothes?
Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to see You?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Truly I say unto you, in asmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me(Matthew 25:34-40)."
Some ethnic groups will reject Christ, even when the sealed 144,000 Jewish saints go out into the world and preach the kingdom message. During the latter part of the tribulation period it will require courage, and faith, to offer any believer in Christ simply a cup of water to quench their thirst. It will mean taking a stand for Jesus Christ and being against Satan. Since the messengers represent Christ, any rejection of them is a rejection of Christ. This will be the standard, how do you evidence faith in the message that the kingdom of heaven is at hand and will you repent and turn back to Christ for salvation. The AntiChrist will butcher and murder anyone who believes in Christ or who gives such people any sort of support. It will become a brutal and barbaric time, all the while "peace and tolerance" will be the buzz words showered 24/7 over the media markets.
That is all for today in this study, my friends. Next time I shall cover those verses that reveal the destination of those who reject Christ. I hope this post may give you some hope and assurance. If you are searching for meaning in your life I hope that this post can point you in the direction to finding out what the truth about our lives really is. Grace and peace be with you all.
Mon, Mar 22nd - 9:48PM
I Peter Epistle Study
Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations(1:6),
The suffering and the security of the believer produce joy! It is possible to do that because of the work of the Triune God. God our Father, according to His mercy has begotten us a new nature and a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And in the future He has a marvelous inheritance waiting for us.
Rejoice in what? "In heaviness through many temptations" places in contrast two words that are worlds apart: rejoice and temptations.
Peter gives us reasons for enduring these various temptations. "Now for a season" means that they will not last long, as compared to eternity. In our daily lives there is too much emphasis placed upon the here and now. Psychology and materialism have infiltrated into the church. If we are having troubles , then something is wrong with our Christianity. Is that what it really means?
Instead of looking inward we ought to be looking outward, to the great God we have and to the tremendous inheritance which He has ready for us to receive one day. We should stop attempting to improve our old nature through the power of our flesh. God is in the business of improving people. He is the one, through the efforts of the Holy Spirit, trying to bring us to a maturity in our Christian life. The way of purification is through trials and temptations.
This message has been told several times in several books of the Bible. Jesus told us to not be dismayed. He said that in the world we would have troubles. In Hebrews we learn that God tests us through trials and troubles. James wrote about the testings that come from God. And Paul had a great deal to say about suffering. Peter merely echoes these same concepts and truths.
It is not very popular to teach that suffering is necessary to become spiritually mature as a Christian. People would rather be encouraged to believe that they are somebody important and that they can do great things on their own. We are nothing until the Spirit of God begins to move in our hearts and lives. We have nothing to offer to God. He has everything to offer to us.
Paul says this about our suffering: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal(II Corinthians 4:17-18)."
Those things which our finite senses inform us about we consider to be so valuable, but they are not. They are all finite objects which eventually disintegrate and return to dust and the earth. They are corruptible and can be defiled. All the things of this world do fade away in time. The things which we cannot see are the eternal things, they are what is valuable.
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ(1:7).
Simon Peter, a great, big, rugged fisherman speaks of the trial of our faith being precious. How many men do you know of that use that word? Not many I bet. Not only does he mention it, but he uses it seven times.
After mining gold it is placed into a smelter, a white hot furnace, to purify it. This process allows impurities to be separated from the gold itself. The dross, or impurities, is then drawn off to get to the pure gold. When God tests us today He places us into the furnace. It is not to destroy us but to refine us, to remove impurities in ourselves. At the time of testing our "dross" is separated from us and drawn off, leaving behind a purer version of ourselves as God desires us to be. We become transformed into a nearer image of Christ.
Too many teachers today misinform their disciples that once they are saved the battle is over, the war is won. Oh no, beloved! Once saved the purification process begins and will last the remainder of our lives on this planet. There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity. Just think of the trials and temptations that the apostles went through. Simon Peter had denied his Lord three times before He was crucified. The others all ran away. They huddled in an upper room worrying about what they would now do. After the resurrection Paul was stoned repeatedly, left for dead outside of one town. Stephen was stoned to death. Peter knew that crucifixion was his most likely means of leaving this life. But through all of that they kept their eyes on that which we are to forward to: the coming of Christ the next time. All trials and temptations will seem insignificant when we are in His presence. Once there we shall realize the true value of all of our suffering in this world.
That is all for today beloved. God willing, I shall continue on with the next few verses in this study. These verses are rich in content and applicability to us today. I look forward to spending some more time with you all when we open up God's Word again. Grace and peace be yours!
Mon, Mar 22nd - 12:56PM
The Olivet Discourse
PARABLE OF THE TALENTS
"Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes(Matthew 25:13)."
This verse repeats prior warnings given to the disciples. Notice that it is the day nor the hour and not the century or the year. The attitude of the saints of Christ is to watch.
"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey(Matthew 25:14-15)."
This parable is specifically for that generation that will be waiting for our Lord's return but it is also for believers in every century. The master gave to his servants responsibilities according to their individual abilities. This represents our position with God today. God has given each of us certain abilities and He expects each of us to use them properly and diligently in serving Him.
"Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two(Matthew 25:16-17)."
These "talents" in this parable are sums of money but what they represent are all of the abilities that we have within ourselves, our natural endowments. Whatever God has given to us, we are to use for Him. These two servants did just that, they increased what they had, thus producing "fruit."
"But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money(Matthew 25:18)."
This servant decided to do nothing with his gift of money, he chose to bury it in the ground. Who was being faithful to his lord?
"After a long time the lord of those servants came, and reckoned with them.
And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered unto me five talents: behold, I have gained besides them five talents more.
His lord said unto him, Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord.
He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two more talents besides them.
His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord.
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you that you are a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not strawed:
And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: lo, there you have that is yours(Matthew 25:19-25)."
So we can see that two out of the three servants produced more from what they had been given. The one had been afraid of his lord and hid the money that had been given to him. And here is the lord's response to the third man:
"His lord answered and said unto him, You wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I have not strawed:
You ought to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own back with usury.
Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which has ten talents.
For unto every one that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has.
And cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth(Matthew 25:26-30)."
Wow! This servant is accused of being lazy. He should have at least invested it at the absolutely lowest interest rates and provided his lord with a little bit more money. The principle here is that if we fail to use our talents properly in serving God then at the time of His return He shall take whatever we might have and give it to those who have remained faithful in serving Him. We all will have to stand in God's presence and give an accounting of how we have used what He has given to us. If any have failed to use His talent of salvation they shall be thrown into outer darkness, eternal separation from God, and they will be in utter agony there. God will not ask us how much we have done for Him but how faithful we have been to that which He wanted us to do.
For us as children of God there are two important things: (1) find out what God wants us to do; that is, determine what the talent is that He has given us, and then (2) be faithful in the use of it. To some of us God gives a very small ministry, and that may be upsetting to us, but if we are one-talent people, God expects us to be faithful with that.
That finishes the parable of the talents. God willing, next time I will cover the judgment of the nations which is the final part of this study. I pray that all of you shall come back again to open up God's Word with me. Grace and peace be with you all.
Sun, Mar 21st - 9:13PM
The Olivet Discourse
"But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of Man comes.
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season(Matthew 24:43-45)."
Jesus gave simple parables to allow the reader to understand the nature of the coming end of the age. Anyone who would know ahead of time exactly when a thief was to break into their home would be prepared and ready to repulse them. Since none of can know when our home will be burglarized we are to be prepared. So too, since we can not know when Christ is to return we must be prepared every day for the possibility.
"Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing.
Truly I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delays his coming;
And shall begin to strike his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards;
The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he does not look for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion and the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth(Matthew 24"46-51)."
You and I are the servant in these parables. We need to be doing our Savior's work. Christ came to do His Father's business and now we are expected to be doing the same. To not be found doing the work of Christ at His return shall result in extreme unhappiness. Weeping and gnashing of teeth implies high levels of pain and suffering. Those who reject Christ most certainly fall into this category as do those who believe in God but refuse to accept Christ as their personal Savior. The demons believe in God, and they tremble and fear.
We also have those people who think that since God seemingly has delayed His return that they can afford to live carelessly. When Christ does return He will judge that man.
This parable gives the reader a great principle which is applicable during every age. We ought to live our lives in light of the fact that we are to do everything "as unto the Lord," because the fact is that we all shall stand in the presence of Christ one day. It does not matter if Christ returns tonight, tomorrow, or in another thousand years, you and I will stand in His presence. If saved, you will have to give an accounting of your life to discover what rewards, if any, are to be yours. If lost, you will stand there to be judged. Therefore every person ought to live his/her life in light of the fact that he/she is to stand in the presence of God. This is the great emphasis in the Olivet Discourse. It does have application to us today, but it is specifically applicable to those people who live at the time of Christ's return as King.
Now chapter 25 expands upon the answer of Jesus to the question, "What shall be the sign of Your coming?" There is the parable of the ten virgins which tests the genuineness of the faith of Israel; the parable of the talents which tests the faithfulness of His servants; and the judgment of the Gentile nations which tests their right of admission into the kingdom. The chapter shows the significance of the coming of Christ as it relates to these groups that shall then be in our world. What we must do is figure out what the stripped down bottom line is for all of them.
The parable of the ten virgins has been used by some to argue for what they believe to be a partial rapture where only some will be taken out of the world. Who are those to be? This position leads to snobbery and elitism. Only the "best" saints will be raptured out? Who sets the standard for such a determination to be made?
Thanks be to God that when the rapture takes place all believers will be snatched out of this world. Merit will have no basis for determining who goes and who stays. The grace of God saves us, it keeps us, and it will take us out of this world at the appointed time.
Primarily the ten virgins refer to Israel, not to the church of Christ. The disciples ought to have understood the significance of this parable as it was steeped in their marriage customs. In some ways He is also speaking to the saints but let us not try to interpret this parable into meaning something entirely different. Let's listen and know that, although God is talking to someone else, we can make appropriate application to our own lives.
PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS
"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom(Matthew 25:1)."
To properly understand the customs of Israel during this time period one should refer to the Peshitta, which is a Syriac version of the Bible. It is not a text to be used regularly, but it does shed light on some of the customs of the day. According to custom, the ten virgins were to go out to meet the bridegroom and the bride. This means that the bridegroom is coming from the marriage to the marriage supper, or feast. Luke 12:35-36 provides some more insight into this event. The wedding has taken place, and the bride is with Him. Obviously, if He is coming from the wedding, the bride is with Him; no man ever went on a honeymoon by himself! The bride is the church of genuine believers.
So here we have Christ, pictured as the bridegroom, bringing His bride, the church, to their marriage feast. This is the attitude toward His coming on the part of those remaining upon the earth-
"And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps(Matthew 25:2-4)."
Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit of God. Just as at any point in history, there will be phony believers. These are those who say that they believe but they do not believe deep down in their hearts. The hypocrites will have no oil left in their lamps.
"While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps(Matthew 25:5-7)."
Please note that all of the virgins slept, wise and foolish. The difference between them was that the wise ones had the Holy Spirit and the foolish ones did not, because they were believers only in word and not in spirit. These verses continue to track the customs of the time. Lamp wicks must be trimmed in order to provide the best illumination. They had to go out and meet him according to custom.
"And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out.
But the wise answered, saying, Peradventure there will not be enough for us and you: go rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
And while they went away to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not(Matthew 25:8-12)."
The importance of being spiritually ready at the return of Christ gets driven home in these verses for once the bridegroom and his bride enter the feast the door gets locked and no one else may enter. People will not have the luxury of time to figure out where to get "oil" so that they may find their way to the marriage feast. They will be locked out in the darkness left to spend eternity separated from God. This parable likens the kingdom of heaven to the customs of the time. To enter into heaven one must have settled their debts with God ahead of the time of His return to earth. The Jewish people must decide now. Gentiles must decide now. What will it be, reject Christ or repent and turn to Christ? None of us may sit on the fence and hem and haw over this issue, Jesus Christ removed that option from the table. Accept or reject Him.
That ends the parable of the ten virgins. God willing, next time I will write about the parable of the talents and what it means to us. Grace and peace be yours this night! Love God, Serve God, Grow in Maturity with other believers.
Sun, Mar 21st - 10:33AM
I Peter Epistle Study
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead(1:3).
"Blessed" in this instance is translated from a word which we get our word "eulogy." It means "to praise." This word is never used in reference to man but appears before God. God does not praise man, but man is to praise God, and He is the Father and Jesus Christ.
"The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" is a unique way of expressing this relationship. God is Father to Jesus in the sense of position within the Trinity of the Godhead. In John 20:17 Jesus laid it out for Mary Magdalene. We must remember that Jesus came to exhibit the proper relationship between man and Jehovah, and man and man. Thus He spoke of God as His Father and also as our Father. "Begotten" does not always refer to physical reproduction, it can also refer to position, or to authority given.
An example of such language is found in the phrase "has begotten us again unto a lively hope." Does this mean that we are physically born into this relationship, or does it refer to our new position regarding hope? You and I have a living hope, a hope that rests upon the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And since Christ was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit, this is another reference to the Spirit of God.
Note that the living hope rests upon the blood of Christ. A body without blood is a dead body-it has to be. If it is a living body it will have blood flowing through its arteries and veins. We have a living hope today because of the blood of Christ shed for us. Because He paid our debt we are able to live.
Peter anchored his Day of Pentecost sermon in the resurrection of Christ and he consistently does the same in his epistles. Paul did the exact same thing in his writings. God doesn't simply subtract sin from us; He makes over to us His righteousness. We are then able to stand before God in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you(1:4).
Peter has now moved into the future of the reader. The inheritance is nondestructible in nature. It is beyond being damaged in any way. "Undefiled" means that it cannot sustain any stain. This inheritance will not be here today but gone tomorrow. It will stand forever. This inheritance cannot be found anywhere on earth, it is not locked away in some kind of bank vault. It is being held securely in heaven. It is guarded by God and His holy angels.
This verse was originally intended for those Jewish Christians who were suffering trials and persecution for their faith in Christ. They had been forced to leave their homelands and go to live elsewhere. They had lost any type of physical inheritance that might have been theirs from their families. Their ancestors had been delivered from out of Egypt, and all through their 40 years of wandering they had had the hope of the Promised Land before them. But all of the believers in Christ needed to be reminded that, they too, had a hope before them of a Promised Land. And that is heaven itself. Christ has begotten us and made us His sons through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. He has also reserved for us an inheritance in heaven. It is imperishable, indestructible, and no enemy can ever take it away from us. We must keep our eye on the goal, on our "living hope."
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time(1:5).
"Who are kept" refers back to the "you" at the end of the previous verse. It is we who are kept by the power of God. "Kept" is a powerful word, it implies strength, ownership, and ability. Perhaps if I were to ever change my mind and decide to be buried in a cemetary I would choose to have one word engraved upon my gravestone. That one word would be "Kept."
Paul said basically the same thing over in Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." "In the last time" and "the day of Jesus Christ" are one and the same time. Beloved, do you believe that God can keep you? The works of the flesh gain us nothing regarding hope. Following rules will not form us into adequate Christians nor will it make us financially prosperous. God never promised to make any of us financially prosperous. Are we sufficient, are we satisfied? I hope not, for we are to be continuously pressing onward toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Are any of us able to live the Christian life? God never asked us to do that. The only way to live this sort of life is by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the fact that we are kept by the power of God. It has everything to do with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
That is all today for this study. Next time, God willing, I shall cover what can be considered the key verse of this entire epistle. May God bless you this day!
Sat, Mar 20th - 9:19AM
The Olivet Discourse
Now Jesus uses the illustration of Noah-
"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark.
And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be(Matthew 24:37-39)."
The days of Noah were characterized by gross immorality, every thought and imagination of man's heart was only evil continually(Genesis 6:5). Our Lord says that His coming will be during days like the days of Noah were. Is there anything inherently wrong with eating and drinking? Or in marrying and giving in marriage? No, there is not. We are told that whatever we do, whether we eat or drink, or whatever else it may be, we are to do ALL to the glory of God(I Corinthians 10:31). However, the people of Noah's day were not doing anything to the glory of God. In fact, they were living as though God did not even exist. Now isn't that how most people today live their lives? God is dead! declared the New York Times quite some time ago. And now very many people go about their daily business feeling that God is an obsolete concept meant only to enslave feeble-minded folk.
In our time there are multitudes of people who receive a meal that comes from the hand of God three times a day while millions of other people are starving to death, and they never think of thanking God. In a future day, they will be right on the verge of the coming of Christ, and they will be living as though it will never, ever take place. They will remain oblivious to the truth.
God's point here isn't that marriage is wrong either. God merely points out to the reader that the peoples' rejection of God was so complete that they went ahead with their marriage ceremonies without actually including God in the whole process. Even those who had "church" weddings were not truly believing that God was blessing their vows. Just like today, eh? How many church weddings still end in divorce? Why should they if God has been included in the deliberations? Truth be known, God normally is not even invited to attend most weddings these days, let alone bless them. And that is a sad, sad commentary on the state of matrimony in our society today. Today, just as in Noah's time, people do not truly believe that God will judge them and they scorn the warning that judgment is imminent. Judgment shall come as a thief in the night and snatch them all away, there will be no more time to repent, the opportunity shall have passed just as the night passes each and every morning.
"Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left(Matthew 24:40-41)."
Is this referencing the rapture, or something else? Many believe that this speaks only of the rapture. But J. Vernon McGee, and myself as well, thinks that this speaks about the time of judgments befalling the earth and those who are taken away are to perish in eternal damnation. These are those people who will not be entering into the millennial kingdom.
"Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your LORD does come(Matthew 24:42)."
"Watch" is the important operative word, it signifies an attitude of being alert. Today we have a comforting hope. This watching is to be filled with fear and awe. Today we are to wait and yearn for Christ's coming. Again I say, it is a waste of time to try and determine when Christ will return. Too many people try to pinpoint it down to a day and an hour when God Himself tells us that no one can know that appointed time. I trust God enough to not bother attempting to figure out something that I am told cannot be figured out.
That is all this morning, beloved. Remember, it is vitally important to properly understand what the signs of the coming end of the age are. It eliminates confusion and also disperses worry and fear. When you can verify for yourself that you are truly witnessing one of the signs of the end times it will thrill your heart and soul for it will be proof positive that God's Word is again being fulfilled before your very eyes! May the sun shine warmly upon your shoulders this day, and may our God of abundance bless you abundantly!
Fri, Mar 19th - 10:57PM
I Peter Epistle Study
SUFFERING AND THE SECURITY OF BELIEVERS
Many people have never had the feeling of assurance in their salvation. Security of the believer is a doctrine of which we all need to have assurance about our salvation. Why don't more believers have this assurance? I think it has to do with suffering. We have a wrong attitude towards suffering. Suffering produces joy in the long run.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia(1:1).
The first thing we must notice is his name: Peter, Petros, a stone. He was an impulsive man before Pentecost but he became a rock-man after Pentecost. Once the Day of Pentecost was behind him he knew exactly what was needed in order to take a stand for Christ. By this time he has been arrested and put in jail. he has been threatended, and he realizes that there is a crucifixion at a crossroads ahead of him.
I will tell you all that I am not overly impressed with credentials when it comes to pastors and religious leaders of any denomination. It is pretty much meaningless stuff. What is really important are the questions of do you know what it is to suffer for Christ, do you know what it is really like to not have enough food to eat each day, and do you know what it is really like to be lead by the Holy Spirit? I can believe Peter because I know that he has experienced very similar things to what I have. I can only hope that I will get to experience some of the other things that he did.
Peter is not to be elevated above the other apostles. There is at least one denomination which insists that Peter was the head of all of the apostles. This is untrue and there is absolutely a lack of evidence to support this position. Nowhere does Peter claim superiority over the rest of the apostles.
These "strangers" were the scattered Jews throughout the Roman Empire left over from the Diaspora when they all were dispersed from out of Palestine. This was due to persecution and other reasons. By checking a map it can be discovered that these named places are all in Asian Minor which is current day Turkey. Paul tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of God would not allow him to enter there. It could very well be that Peter was already there, or had already preached there, and the Holy Spirit desired Paul to go and preach where the Word had not been presented yet. Paul basically was the apostle to the Gentiles and Peter the apostle to the Jews who had turned to Christ.
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied(1:2).
Peter wastes no time in thrusting the reader into deep doctrinal waters. He presents the doctrine of the Trinity: the foreknowledge of God the Father, sanctification of the Spirit, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Question the teaching of a Trinitarian God in the bible? Here is refutation of that mistaken belief! Peter is no longer an ignorant fisherman!
Theologians attempt to help us understand election and foreknowledge. But it is not that difficult to understand these things. God is omniscent and omnipotent. God can do anything He wants to do that is consistent with His character. God has then, a right to plan for the future. Seemingly He did do some planning. What makes it hard for man to stomach is this fact that God has known everything that will transpire throughout history before He even began creating any thing. God decided upon His plan for everything and has proceeded to follow through with that plan. He decreed that the universe come into being and it did. Did He ask any of us for our opinion? He never asked if any of us wished to come into existence. Did He ask for our opinion as to what type of parents we would like to have? See, He could have left me out, or you out, or any of several billion others out, but He hasn't.
There is also the decree to permit the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. God knew that free will would lead to man making bad choices. Mankind chose to disobey God but He had a plan already in the works to resolve the consequences of mankind's bad choice. God had the decree to elect some to salvation, and He had the decree that He would send a Savior into our world to achieve it. He made a decree that He would save those who turned and came to Him, the elect. We can give these people all sorts of cool names, but those people who turned to Christ for salvation are the elect. Some accuse God of not choosing everybody. The Bible does not say that. Christ said, "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out(John 6:37)." God's invitation to "whosoever will" is "Come unto Me" in Matthew 11:28. It is a legitimate invitation to all, but there still must be a response, and that response is the responsibility of you and me.
God surely had an infinite number of plans before Him to be considered, but He chose only one. Why choose this one? Because God knew it was the best possible plan, and none of us are in a position to challenge His choices. He is the Creator and we are the creatures. Did any of us determine our own time of birth? Or the time of our conception? No. Did any of us choose our eye color, height, or family? No. Whatever we are today is by the grace of God.
Some people stand against God because they perceive that His plan limits their freedom of choice, that He has predestined them against their will. There is nothing further from the truth. God is good and gracious, merciful and loving. He wants all of us to become saved. He wants all of us to be truly happy. Men are perfectly content to follow someone else's plan for their lives, why not God's?
Beloved, I am very happy to know that God has a plan and that He knows what He is doing every minute of every hour. Nothing catches Him by surprise.
Next Peter tells the reader about the work of the Holy Spirit: "through sanctification of the Spirit." This phrase means that sanctification is identified with Christ, it means that He is our sanctification; our position does not change but our identification changes. But this phrase here speaks of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the world who not only converts us, but He also begins to work in our hearts to bring us up to the place of maturation where we become full, mature Christians. The Spirit uses God's Word to wash us and to transform us into closer harmony with Christ and so if we do not read and study Scripture we severely hamper the Spirit's work within us.
There are perhaps at least 25 organizations, or ministries, which claim to be expert in telling us how to become adequate Christians, and how we can become comfortable as a Christian. Let me say, that I hope that I never become "comfortable" as a Christian. As I become a stronger believer I feel greater inadequacy and greater dependence upon Christ. If I am involved in the spiritual battle going on all around me, how can I possibly be feeling comfortable? The bottom line here is that sanctification only comes from God and not from mankind.
Maybe you wonder how you can know if you are elect. Henry Ward Beecher divided people into two groups: the "whosoever will" and the "whosoever won'ts." Make this simple test to find out which one you are: Have you become obedient to God? Is Jesus Christ really your LORD? If He is, you will love Him. Do you do what you want to do and call that the will of God for your life? Or do you do what He wants you to do?
Too often these days there is an ominous silence about the blood of Jesus Christ. Since the life of the flesh is in the blood, then as long as Jesus' blood remained within His flesh it could not be of any benefit to us. Once His blood was spilled out on our behalf we were able to gain new life of our very own in Him.
The Jews that Peter wrote this letter to were quite knowledgeable of the Old Testament and they understood that the High Priest on the Day of Atonement took the blood with him when he went into the Holy of Holies, and that he sprinkled that blood seven times on the mercy seat there. Now Christ has taken His own blood to the very throne of God and He sprinkled His blood there. God's throne is the mercy seat, it is where we shall all be judged and given our eternal destinations. Christ gave His life and paid the debt of sin for us. Now that throne of judgment is the throne of grace where you and I can come and receive salvation and forgiveness.
The gospel cannot be preached until the meaning of the blood of Christ has been explained. It offends some, they claim that it is not pretty, it is not warm and fuzzy. The truth: our ugly sin is what made it necessary for Christ to die that way for us.
There is a story about a watchman who stood with his lantern at a railroad crossing one night. A train came roaring through the crossing and collided with a car killing several people. In court later on this watchman was asked if he had been at the crossing at the time of the accident. He replied that he was. He was asked if he had a lantern. He replied that he had. He was asked if he had waved the lantern in warning. He replied that he surely had waved it in warning. The judge decided he had the truth of the matter before him. Later as the watchman left the court he was heard mumbling to himself, "I am sure glad he didn't ask me if the lantern was lit!"
Beloved, there can be a lot of lanterns being waved in the camps of fundamentalism and evangelism and conservatism. But unless there is a message of the blood of Jesus Christ and the sprinkling of the blood which cleanses us from all sin, there is no light in those lanterns. No one will be able to know of the oncoming danger to them.
Now we come to "Grace unto you." Because of the work of the Trinity; God had you in mind, Christ died for you, and the Holy Spirit has come to indwell you; now God can save you by grace. Without the grace of God you can never know the peace of God. Peace and assurance and joy come when you know that your sins have been forgiven.
Peter is not waving a lantern that has no light within it. He is not talking about something theoretical. He is speaking via personal experience. He knows grace and peace through the blood of Christ because Jesus Himself told him about it. He saw Jesus die, he saw where He had been buried, and he saw Him after resurrection. Peter was forced to deny Christ three times before His crucifixion but after the Day of Pentecost he could stand and preach about Christ's death and resurrection boldly. He could go to jail, be persecuted, write an epistle like this, and ultimately be crucified for the gospel. What about us?
I have spent considerable time on this second verse. He has been touching on the doctines of election, foreknowledge, foreordination, and predestination. These concepts are all on God's side of the fence, and we can't come up with a final explanation. We have to remember that we are dealing with an infinite God who knows everything. He knows exactly what He is doing, even if we do not know what we are doing most days.
That is all for tonight, my friends. It is quite a bit to chew upon. God willing, next time I will get through a couple more verses. I hope and pray that you all will come back and rejoin this study! Grace and peace be yours!
Thu, Mar 18th - 6:39PM
Book of Isaiah Study
That you may suckle, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that you may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.
For thus says the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall you suckle, you shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.
As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem(66:11-13).
God gives a picture of a mother comforting her babe. Giving nourishment needed for health and growth, and immunity to disease. Carrying her child on her hip. Amusing her child by bouncing the tyke on her knee. Isn't this basically what every mother does? God wants us to understand how He wants Jerusalem to become such a comfort to His saints. The millennium is the beginning of such a relationship between that city and Christ's saints.
And when you see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward His servants, and His indignation toward His enemies.
For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire.
For by fire and by His sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many(66:14-16).
Here is another one of those time stamp phrases, "And when you see this." What's this? It is seeing the coming of Christ in the clouds from heaven. When He arrives it is with the fires of judgment. In Noah's time God brought judgment upon the entire earth via water. This next time it is to be fire to burn up all of the worthless treasures of manking, leaving behind only that which is of value. Is God's judgment to be nice and lovely? No, it is not. Will it be pain-free? It is to be anything but. There will be anguish and death.
They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, says the LORD(66:17).
Eating swine's flesh made them unclean. They knew that it would do so in the eyes of the LORD, yet they still did eat it. The mouse was unclean through its being an idol of the pagans round about. Something about "one" tree being singled out of the garden suggests that it was used for idol worship of some kind. God's people cannot be sanctified nor purified in any garden. These people were attempting, in Isaiah's time, to spiritually cleanse themselves another way other than those prescribed by Jehovah. The abomination mentioned could very well be the drinking of the blood of slain animals which was prohibited by God.
For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see My glory(66:18).
Any nations to be allowed to walk away from Christ at the end of this age? No. All nations must appear before Him for judgment. All languages must come before Him for sentencing. This is what Jesus spoke about in Matthew 25:31-32. A great many Gentiles and Jews are to be saved. The nations will be forced to come and worship Christ in Jerusalem.
And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to My holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD(66:19-20).
Are these the 144,000 sealed of the twelve tribes of Israel? Is this part of their mission during the Tribulation?
And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, says the LORD. And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard My fame, neither have seen My glory; and they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles.
For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, says the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain(66:21-22).
It becomes more obvious that these individuals are to be saints for we are to all become members of a royal priesthood with Christ as our High Priest. There are to be no more Levite priests as in Old Testament times. Unless, we are to think of ourselves as being a "new" Levitical order of priests in the sense of spiritual priests. We will not be making animal sacrifies in any Temple since Christ has said that there will be no Temple in New Jerusalem or heaven. "Your seed and your name remain" is in reference to Abraham's seed which has been explained to be the spiritual seed and not the physical seed. Circumcision of the flesh is unprofitable for salvation, but circumcision of the heart is profitable for salvation. Spiritual sacrifices are better than physical sacrifices. Always have been and always will be.
And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, says the LORD(66:23).
This refers to the millennial kingdom when the moon still exists and final judgment has not yet been meted out on earth. All flesh, whether unclean or clean, will worship before Christ.
And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be abhorring unto all flesh(66:24).
In essence God says that there is no peace for the wicked of this world. When they die it is not a kiss goodbye and drift off into nothingness. Their pain, anguish, agony, and torment is unending for the rest of eternity. How long is that? Well, forever more. Those who claim that God could not possibly love us and condemn us to an eternity of torment do not carefully read the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. They choose to re-interpret them so that they will not have to worry about spending an eternity in anguish to pay for rejecting the Living God. He died on a cross in humiliation and agony to pay for your sins, it is not too much to expect Him to require an eternity from you in payment for not accepting His substiutionary death on your behalf.
This completes our study of Isaiah. It took quite some time, didn't it? But we made it through. The next study will begin with I Peter. Peter has been called by some to have been ignorant. But anyone who spent three years learning from Jesus Christ cannot be called ignorant. These three epistles of Peter confirm this opinion. Peter wrote these epistles after Paul wrote his, after Nero had come to the throne of Rome and persecution was already breaking out.
Peter rarely wrote in a symbolic manner such as John did. Peter writes practically and literally. Peter was not in Rome because Paul went there. Peter more than likely was in Babylon since he lists places throughout Asia Minor from east to west like we would do if we were traveling to each one.
After the Babylonian captivity only a small group of Jews returned to their homeland,actually around 60,000 individuals. The remainder chose to stay in Babylon. The remnant left and returned to Jerusalem to rebuild everything there. So there was a huge colony of Jews living in and around Babylon. Peter's ministry was primarily to the Jews so it is natural to find him in Babylon.
Here is a simple outline of I Peter:
I. Suffering and the Security of Believers
II. Suffering and the Scriptures
III. Suffering and the Suffering of Christ
IV. Suffering and the Second Coming of Christ
We will be loosely following this outline as we study this book. God willing we shall begin this new study tomorrow. I hope you are able to join me and learn what these three epistles have to say about the purpose of suffering in our lives. Grace and peace be yours!
Wed, Mar 17th - 10:02PM
Book of Isaiah Study
He that kills an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrifices a lamb, as if he cut off a dog'sneck; he that offers an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burns incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yes, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations(66:3).
There will be no sacrificial system at all once the millennium is over. Making any of these offerings without proper spiritual comprehension is the same as murder. Everything must point towards Christ or that which was once commanded of man becomes sin. Men will worship Christ but not have their hearts into it all throughout the millennium period. It is why when Satan is released from the pit that he is able to find willing souls to side with him against God. Prosperity and good times, safety and security, none of these things guarentee that mankind would repent and turn back to God.
Who has heard such a thing? who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children(66:8). I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not(66:4).
God knows full well how desperately wicked the heart of man can be. He dealt with Cain, with Jacob, with Laban, and plenty of others. God brings the fears of the wicked upon them in judgment. He does this because when He calls to the wicked person they do not hear Him and do not answer Him. Rather, the wicked choose to do those things which God abhors. And so God gives them over to delusions of His choosing.
God points out the uniqueness of such a thing happening. Is it possible for an entire nation to be born at once? In the case of Israel such a thing did happen in 1948. All at once the Jews had to go from a bunch of cast aways from around the world and become a functioning nation that was at war with the Arab nations that surrounded it.
Hear the word of the LORD, you that tremble at His word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for My name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed(66:5).
Christ said to let the wheat and the tares to grow together, that He would separate them in due time. Now that time has come for the harvest. The Pharisee who was meticulous in his religious practice is to be cast out. The publican who stood afar off and repented will be received. The legalist will be culled out and thrown into the furnace and the one who lives by grace and faith in Christ shall have eternal life in heaven. God will make the distinction between the true and the false, that which is right and that which is wrong.
A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that renders recompence to His enemies.
Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child(66:6-7).
The enemies of Israel shall be avenged by Jehovah. Verse 7 speaks of nation Israel as one being pregnant and giving birth. Jesus Christ was that manchild born in Bethlehem before the nation went into travail and pain. The Tribulation comes after Christ has been born through Mary. This is a remarkable statement which speaks of Christ our Redeemer!
Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? says the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? says your God(66:9).
God states the obvious here. He will not cause a pregnancy to follow full term and then prevent the infant from being born via the uterus. Logic dictates the issue. Our God is not illogical but extremely logical. This picture also applies to those things in our lives that God causes to "be born." Shall He work them altogether and then cause them to fall all apart? No, beloved, He will not. A case in point: God sealed 144,000 Jews at the beginning of the Tribulation and guess what, every last one of them will make it through to the end just as God has prophesied. What God promises to do He shall do.
Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all you that mourn for her(66:10).
This is to be a time of great blessings. Jerusalem receives her due reward. The city has had to endure through centuries of occupation, destruction, abomination, and blasphemy but once Christ has returned things change dramatically.
That is all for tonight, beloved. We have some 14 verses left to cover and we will be done with the book of Isaiah! It has been a long haul, but boy have we learned some really interesting things! God willing, I will be able to finish this 66th and final chapter of Isaiah the next time that we gather here. Until then, begin practicing rejoicing because when we get to heaven there is going to be alot of that kind of thing going on.
Wed, Mar 17th - 12:53PM
The Olivet Discourse
"For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together(Matthew 24:28)."
After speaking of His coming in glory like the lightning out of heaven, then to speak of carrion-eating birds seems very strange. It must refer to Christ's coming in judgment because Revelation 19 tells us about an invitation that went out to the birds to come together for a great banquet, "And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast , and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army(Rev. 19:17-19)." Most Americans do not know that eagles are carrion eaters just as are vultures. But the time is coming when the corpes of men and horses will be very great upon the battlefield and the birds of the air will be brought by God to consume their flesh. Judgment will not be pretty.
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken(Matthew 24:29)."
There is no timetable given here as to how quickly, or slowly, these events will follow one another. We just know that "immediately after" the tribulation that these natural changes will take place. That they precede Christ's return to earth is known from the very next verse.
"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory(Matthew 24:30)."
We find time stamp words being used once again in this verse. "And then" is repeated twice. The first instance heralds the appearance of Christ's sign in heaven. The second instance heralds the visual confirmation of Christ returning to earth. Will there be any doubt in everyones' minds about who is coming through the heavens? According to this verse there will be universal recognition of the Lamb of God. Mankind will mourn because they will know that they have chosen wrongly to reject Him and now time has run out on them.
What is this sign though? Perhaps the Old Testament gives us a hint at a possibility. Remember how the nation Israel was given the Shekinah glory of God which dwelled in the Holy of Holies? It filled the Temple with its presence. Personally I believe that this was the preincarnate Christ, but be that as it may, perhaps this Shekinah glory will hover over the earth just before Christ's actual entrance into our reality. When Jesus Christ came the first time He had laid aside, not His deity, but His prerogative of deity. His glory was "veiled" in flesh although at times He allowed it to break through. But at His second coming I think that we all will be able to view Him in all of His glory just as He was in the transfiguration upon the mountain.
"And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other(Matthew 24:31)."
The elect will be a combination of believers from nation Israel and Gentiles. Some commentators believe that the church has already been raptured out before this point in time and that this speaks entirely of nation Israel. Perhaps it does, then again maybe it doesn't. The fig tree has Biblically represented the nation Israel, but Christ did seeminly begin to allude to it representing something more when he gave the parable of the vineyard owner coming and deciding to cut down a fig tree which had not produced any fruit over a three year period of time. The gardener pleaded with him to allow one more year of tender care to see if it would produce any fruit. Has that "one more year" already passed on by? Or once the apostolic era passed by did Israel lose its opportunity to repent? I think that 144,000 Jewish people are to be sealed by the Holy Spirit in the end times to preach the Word to the world and they are the elect. They shall be gathered together by the angels at this time. It is plausible. Am I going to make it into ironclad doctrine? Nope.
Well let's stop right there for today! God willing, next time I will pick this study up again with the parable of the fig tree. There are a lot of things that will be thrown at us in the coming verse that need to be weighed and considered as to what order they are meant to happen. But that is for another time! Grace and peace be with you today, my friends!
Tue, Mar 16th - 8:05PM
Book of Isaiah Study
But be you glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy(65:18).
The prophet is speaking of the millennial blessings as well as the eternal blessings that the new Jerusalem will bring. The millennial kingdom is an early phase of the eternal kingdom, but also a time of final judgment. When judgment is completed then all is ready for all things to be made new. After the millennium it would appear that man's potential will be greatly increased. Jerusalem will be a city of joy. It's gates will never be closed again. The God of Light shall reside within the city and shall light our world forever more.
And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people: and the voice of weeping shall no more be heard in her, nor the voice of crying(65:19).
We find an echo of this in Revelation 21:3-4. Does God love us? Yes, He surely does! The day comes when He will take immense joy in all of His children who have believed upon Christ.
There shall be no more from that time an infant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed(65:20).
All will live to ripe old age during this time. There will be no need of nurses and senior citizen homes. Longevity will be the rule of life for everyone.
And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of My people, and Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands(65:21-22).
Prosperity is a feature of the millennial kingdom. People shall build homes and get to live in them. No one will come and take the home from them. What they plant and raise they will be able to harvest and eat themselves. There will be no sharecropping. Permanence and stability will be another feature of the millennial kingdom. How long do trees live for? Some live for thousands of years. Lifetimes are compared to the trees longevity.
They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for calamity; for they are the seed of the blessed of Jehovah, and their offspring with them.
And it shall come to pass that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear(65:23-24).
There wil be no lag time in receiving an answer from God during the millennial kingdom. Before we even ask God will answer us. Our communion with Jehovah will be extremely intimate.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, says the LORD(65:25).
Is this what happens today? Surely not. The wolf will try to eat the lamb and the lion will devour the bull. Serpents do not feed upon the dust of the earth. But, in the millennial kingdom nature will begin to return to its original state. There will be nothing in the entire world to hurt or harm or make afraid. It will be a safe world then, unlike the world that we currently live in.
That finishes up chapter 65. It was packed with lots of things, spiritual things. There were promises given and judgments announced. This next chapter is the very last one in Isaiah. It has taken awhile to move through the book of Isaiah but we have arrived at its conclusion.
The theme for this chapter is about the Creator, Ruler, Redeemer, Judge, Regenerator, and Rewarder; God declares the destiny of both the saved and the lost souls.
Thus says the LORD, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: where is the house that You build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest(66:1)?
How important is this earth? Not all that important since it serves as a footstool for God's feet! Can any temple that man imagines to build contain God? Solomon knew the answer to that one. If the heavens can't contain God then no building on earth can do so either(I Kings 8:27). Thus, the eternal character of the kingdom seems to be the very presence of God. No temple will be found in New Jerusalem for God will dwell there in person. According to Revelation 21 Jerusalem wiil be a place to which everyone on earth shall come to worship Christ in person.
For all those things has Mine hand made, and all those things have been, says the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My Word(66:2).
God, who created this vast universe, who is above it and beyond it, shall condescend to dwell with the humble and contrite of heart. That will be the time when the meek shall inherit the kingdom.
That is all for today, my friends. God willing, I shall meet with you all again tomorrow to study more of God's Word.
Tue, Mar 16th - 1:16PM
The Olivet Discourse
"And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened(Matthew 24:22)."
We readily can read in the book of Revelation that during this Tribulation one third of the population of the earth will be destroyed. On another occasion one fourth of the population will be destroyed. We are talking a few billion people here. We can use the simile given to us in Revelation 6 of the red horse, black horse, and the pale horse riding forth over the earth. The earth's population will be decimated. War, famine, and then death shall ride rampant across this planet. Once past the Cold War and all of its nuclear warheads threatening global destruction we have entered into an era where it seems inconceivable that mankind would voluntarily destroy itself in such fashion. Even though today there are several nations that retain nuclear bombs in their arsenals, I do not think that the end times will necessarily require these to be detonated for destruction on such magnitude. God does not require human hands in order to bring judgment upon mankind.
And although this verse is scarey in nature, it ends with comfort and assurance to believers. God will not let mankind commit suicide. The AntiChrist will not be allowed to erradicate mankind. Three and a half years is the limit.
"Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Behold, I have told you before(Matthew 24:23-25)."
Do not miss what He says here. The ability to work miracles in our day should be looked upon with some suspicion because the next great miracle worker will not be Christ; he will be AntiChrist and his false prophet.
Who are the elect? As we are seeing there are two groups of elect in Scripture: the elect of Israel and the elect of the church. Some common sense needs to be exercised here. Who has Christ been talking about up to this point? Israel. So it stands to reason that Israel is the "elect" in this verse. They are the ones with a cultural history rich with past miracles performed by Jehovah and thus are the ones who must fight the temptation to believe the miracle worker must be the Messiah.
"Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be(Matthew 24:26-27)."
When Jesus Christ comes again, there will not be any John the Baptist needed to announce Him. The entire world will know, and see, and it will be as public as lightning in a thunderstorm. His coming will be glorious, it will be with trumpets, it will be seen by everyone. Jesus has not snuck back onto the planet and doing healings in various places. He has not visited special individuals and given them new gospels to relate to believers. He is still in heaven at the right hand of Jehovah, awaiting the appointed time of His return to reign from Jerusalem.
That is all for this study today, beloved. God willing, tonight I will continue with the Isaiah study. Hope to see you all there! Grace and peace be yours!
Mon, Mar 15th - 12:35PM
My friends, let's get back to this discourse given by Jesus Christ our Lord.
"When you therfore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso reads, let him understand)(Matthew 24:15):"
This is the sign that identifies this period of time as having arrived. What is this abomination of desolation? Going to the Book of Daniel we find out about two of them. One of them was committed by Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian, who came down and destroyed Jerusalem. History bears out the fact that this man came against Jerusalem in 170 B.C., at which time over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. He took away the daily sacrifice from the temple, offered the blood and broth of a pig upon the altar, and set up an image of Jupiter to be worshiped in the holy place.
However, Jesus states that this is NOT the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy(Daniel 12:11). In the future still, there is coming a time when the people of Israel will have managed to rebuild their temple and restored all of the implements to be used in it. They will have reestablished daily sacrifices at its altar. When will this happen? I do believe it will happen during the first 3.5 years of the Tribulation Period when the world experiences unparalleled prosperity. The AntiChrist will have allowed this rebuilding of the temple to take place because he plans on betraying the Jews and desecrating their temple and declaring himself as God risen from the dead. He will require all people to worship him and/or his image. But, this event where he takes over the Jewish temple in Jerusalem will be the sign of the last three and half year period beginning, which leads to the very end of time.
Am I looking for this "abomination of desolation?" No. Instead of looking for this event, I am "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ(Titus 2:13)."
Our Lord says, "Whoso reads, let him understand." This means that those who end up living at that time will definitely understand. Will you and I be there? That is a topic of great debate these days. I believe that if I am alive at that time that the Lord will be with me until the very end, just as He has promised. If He raptures me out before this time, so be it. Returing to our text, we find in the next verse another time word.
"Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains(Matthew 24:16)."
You and I are not expected to flee to the mountains of Judea. I live close to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia but I do not anticipate fleeing to them any time soon! This verse has to do with those who are living in Jerusalem at this particular time. Jesus tells them that ought to run away to the mountains when the temple is desolated and desecrated.
"Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house(Matthew 24:17)."
The housetop in Palestine corresponds to our front porch or our patio. Those who are on their housetops are to climb down the outside and just leave without wasting any time to gather belongings to take with them. There will not be enough time to safely do this.
"Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes(Matthew 24:18)."
Anyone who is caught working out in their fields must simply go to the mountains and not bother gathering up clothing cast aside while working out in the sun. They are to start running, and not stop until they get to the mountains and safety.
"And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days(Matthew 24:19)!"
Christ warns those who go through with plans to become pregnant leading up to this time or have just given birth. It will not go well with them as they attempt to run to the mountains while so burdened. It may very well be that there will be another great population explosion at the beginning of this Tribulation Period for periods of great prosperity normally lead to this happening. This will create even more pressure upon resources and the environment as we approach the end of the age.
"But pray you that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day(Matthew 24:20)."
Again, the Jews observe Saturday as the Sabbath and it would prove to be a severe detriment to anyone escaping out of the city since to do so would be considered as work. Work is forbidden on their Sabbath of any kind. If the day of escape occurs on their Sabbath they will be trapped by their legalism.
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be(Matthew 24:21)."
Adding this together Revelation 7:14 gives us the picture that this tribulation is going to be devastating and something never before seen. It is to be unique. This is the true beginning of the end. People try to claim that we have already gone through this great tribulation, but it cannot be true for awful things continue to happen. When this period of time begins no one will be able to compare it with any other historical period for it will be an original, unique unto itself.
That is all for today on this discourse, my friends. Come back tomorrow when I will pick up our study with verse 22. Until then, grace and peace.
Sun, Mar 14th - 9:06PM
Book of Isaiah Study
And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of My mountains: and Mine elect shall inherit it, and My servants shall dwell there(65:9).
"A seed out of Jacob" could refer to the Lord Jesus Christ, and in one sense I believe it does, but it would seem to direct us to the remnant out of Israel that is to be saved. God's "elect" means believers in Christ, and they along with the remnant out of Israel shall inherit God's mountains and live there.
And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for My people that have sought Me(65:10).
Sharon lay westward, near Joppa; Achor lay eastward, near Jordan. It is therefore intimated that they shall recover the possession of the whole land, that they shall have wherewith to stock it all, and that they shall peaceably enjoy it and there shall be none to disturb them nor make them afraid. Gospel-ordinances are the fields and valleys where the sheep of Christ shall go in and out and find pasture (John 10:9), and where they are made to lie down (Psalms 23:2), as Israel’s herds in the valley of Achor, Hosea 2:15. This is what the remnant was to inherit at Christ's second coming.
But you are they that forsake the LORD, that forget My holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number.
Therefore will I number you to the sword, and you shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, you did not answer; when I spake, you did not hear; but did evil before Mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not(65:11-12).
For the remainder of Israel, who went unheeding of God's Word, there remains nothing but punishment. How can intelligent people who believe in the existence of God fail to realize that there must come a judgment and a straightening out of things? Continue on in sin and they will be judged, as surely as God judged the vast majority of the nation of Israel and sent them off into captivity.
This applies to us today in that there are many people who forsake God and have totally forgotten God's holiness. When Christ calls out to them they do not answer, they do not hear, they simply continue to do evil, wicked things which do not please God. They believe they are unaccountable to anyone or anything.
Therefore thus says the Lord Jehovah, Behold, My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; behold, My servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; behold, My servants shall rejoice, but you shall be put to shame;
Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, but you shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit(65:13-14).
Just as God made a distinction between the nation as a whole and the remnant, He makes the same distinction in our contemporary church. The Christian Church is a vast organization with a hugely bloated membership. All of the denominations and their associated congregations contain many people who are not real believers in Christ. They may think that they are Christians but they have never accepted Christ into their hearts. They may have been baptized. They may have taken the sacraments. They may have been born and raised in a fine Christian home. But they are not saints of Christ until they make that personal decision to accept Him into their hearts as their Lord and Savior. God knows exactly who is a member of remnant believers in today's church. We might not know, but He surely does.
A question asked is whether or not the church will go through the Tribulation Period. Quite honestly, a church surely will enter the Tribulation Period but it will be a purely organizational institution rigidly adhering to rituals and rules. It will not be of Christ. This entity is referred to in Revelation 17 as the Harlot. Full of idolatry and legality, bloated with self-serving leadership it shall be destroyed by the one world government once it serves its intended purpose. As always, we must recognize that which is merely outward and that which is genuine. We are to avoid being deceived.
And you shall leave your name for a curse unto My chosen; and the Lord Jehovah will slay you; and He will call His servants by another name:
so that he who blesses himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that swears in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from Mine eyes(65:15-16).
We can see that God said He would call His servants by another name. Is this fulfilled in that Christ now calls us not only His servants but also His friends? Perhaps. I do know that we must never forget that God is Truth. We can also rest assured that God forgets our sins and they become hidden from His sight once we accept Christ Jesus as our Redeemer and Lord.
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind(65:17).
Initially it would seem that we are seeing the creation of the new heavens and earth before the setting up of the kingdom on earth. But stopping and pondering things for a minute or two brings me to the conclusion that the remnant has already been brought to the kingdom in prior verses. All have been judged by this time, Satan has been defeated for the final time and sin and death flung into the lake of fire. During the Millennium the deserts shall bloom and other great changes shall take place to the earth. But when the new heavens and earth appear there will be no seas and no desert. The remarkable thing is that none of the old things will be remembered by those who are still living.
Well, I will stop right there for today. I pray that I am not going too fast for anyone reading these blogs but I wish to finish up Isaiah in order to begin studying some of the New Testament epistles. God willing we all shall meet here again tomorrow and study God's Word. Grace and peace be yours.
Sun, Mar 14th - 2:33PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Again here in chapter 65 God, through the prophet, gives a vision of the kingdom and a "curriculmn" of the eternal position of Israel in the new heavens and new earth. This theme will take us through the end of the Book of Isaiah.
I revealed Myself to those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me.
To a nation that did not call on My name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I(65:1).'
When you were a child and played "hide-and-seek" which did you prefer to be? The seeker or the the hidden? Here we find God declaring how He showed Himself to those people who were not asking for, or about Him. God was found by those people who did not even seek Him out. Was Moses seeking out God on the far side of the desert tending sheep? How about Saul of Tarsus traveling down that dusty road to Damascus? Neither man sought out God but each was found by God. This is frequently how individuals come to find Christ, they reach points in their desperate lives where they arrive at crossroads. Which way to turn? Which is the right path to take now? Which path will carry me out of this trouble-filled life I am involved in now? Decisions, decisions, decisions. It is at these points in time that God finds us and chooses to reveal Himself to us. Will we be too blind to recognize Him? Will we be open and receptive to His approach? That is the important question.
All day long I have held out My hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations-(65:2)
These first two verses begin God's answer to the prayer of the people back in chapter 64:1. What has been God's frustration? People being obstinate in following after their own vain imaginations rather than believing in Him. Verse one ended with a declarative statement in which God repeated basically the same thing as He told Moses to give in response to people questioning who he represented, "I am."
First and foremost God is speaking directly to the Jew here. Paul reflected this position in Romans 10:21, "But to Israel He says, All day long have I stretched out My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people." God rejected the Jews only after they turned away from following Him, and that is His approach with each of us today. Only after we reject God does He reject us. Is there any doubt that the unbelieving world is not disobedient and especially a gainsaying crowd? They concoct every conceivable reason to not even try to believe in God. Yet they will swallow the entire concept of evolution without reproducible lab results to show that it works. They will believe that theory on faith but not believe on Christ in faith. Vain imaginations.
Paul became the apostle to the Gentiles due to the Jew refusing to receive the gospel message from God. If Jerusalem refused the Word then the Gentile would receive it instead. Any person's, or peoples'. refusal of Christ does not prevent God's purpose from being achieved. The flood tide of God's grace will spill over somewhere in this world of ours. It can not be prevented by any man.
a people who continually provoke Me to My very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick(65:3);
This begins a passage where idolatry is highlighted. These are reasons why blessings were withheld from Israel at this time. Continual rebellion against God's ways led to Him rejecting them. What can we say about ourselves today? Do we still rebel in small ways against God's ways? Do we refuse to do some things the way He says we ought to do them? Or even refuse to do them at all? Do we rationalize them away? Hopefully not, beloved.
Who sit among the graves and spend their nights keeping secret vigil; who eat the flesh of pigs, and whose pots hold the broth of unclean meat;
who say, 'Keep away; don't come near me, for I am too sacred for you!' Such people are smoke in My nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day(65:4-5).
Although their idolatry is the focus here, what other sins have led up to judgment? Isaiah 56:9-12 says, "Come, all you beasts of the field, come and devour, all you beasts of the forest! Israel's watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep. They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are sheperds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain. 'Come', each one cries, 'let me get wine! Let us drink our fill of beer! And tomorrow will be like today, or even far better." Those individuals who had been charged with looking out for the spiritual well-being of the people had become blind. They had stopped studying and living out God's Word. They had lost their voice, had no ability to sound any alarm of trouble arriving. They became gluttons, seekers of carnal pleasures to fulfill sin's temptation. This was their state back then and it is regretably accurate today. How many wealthy people are satisfied with the amount of money that they have accumulated to their bank account/s? Not very many. Their appetitie for monetary gain is insatiable, they have given themselves over to it. Possessions? Same thing. Food? Again, the same. Pastors and other leaders of various denominations are all succumbing to the temptations of this carnal world, just as Israel's leaders did centuries ago, and they are misleading the faithful down a dark path to oblivion. Other passages to read again are in Isaiah 58:3-4, and 59:3-4 where other sins are given.
See, it stands written before Me: I will not keep silent but will pay back in full; I will pay it back into their laps-
both your sins and the sins of your fathers, says the LORD. Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains and defied Me on the hills, I will measure into their laps the full payment for their former deeds(65:6-7).
God informs all of us that this is literally written in front of Him. To Him it is just as if a huge computer screen has it flashing in front of Him. Recompense belongs to God alone. Feel a need for vengeance? Leave unto God. Feel a niggling urge to get even with someone? Better leave it with God. The Israelites were to be paid back for their sins and their fathers' sins since they did not correct themselves but simply continued in the error of their fathers. Fortunately we do not have that particular burden placed upon us today.
Thus says the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster of grapes, and one says, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it; so will I do for My servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all(65:8).
Israel walked in pride. They practiced the externalities of a God-given religion, but their hearts were far, far from God. They practiced iniquity as easily as they practiced the rituals of religion. In doing this they blasphemed God.
However, a remnant is reserved through which all of God's promises are to be fulfilled. God always has a remnant of true believers. With the Israeli's sins God still would not totally exterminate them because of the believing remnant. It is the same perhaps today in America? God is withholding His hand because of the believing remnant. In verse 8 the remnant is compared to a cluster of grapes that has been passed over in the vineyard.
That is all until tonight my friends. May you enjoy the sunshine today and praise your God for all of the blessings that He has bestowed upon you! God willing we shall meet here again and open up God's Word.
Sat, Mar 13th - 8:34AM
Book of Isaiah Study
Be not wroth very sore, O Jehovah, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, look, we beseech You, we are all Your people.
Your holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation(64:9-10).
The prophet pleads with Jehovah to not remember their sins forever. The description of the holy cities given here was not true in Isaiah's day, but it would come to pass shortly afterwards when Babylon came with its armies to subdue Israel. We can read in II Kings 25:9-10 about how the Babylonians burned the Temple, the king's house, and all other houses along with the wall surrounding Jerusalem.
Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised You, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste(64:11).
As already pointed out, this is another example of prophetic tense where God has given a vision of what will happen but because He sees everything from beginning to end simultaneously He speaks it to Isaiah in the past tense. The prophet merely relates it to the reader exactly as he has heard it from God. The destruction of Jerusalem happened about 100 years after Isaiah.
Will You refrain Yourself for these things, O LORD? will You hold Your peace, and afflict us very sore(64:12)?
Isaiah closes this chapter with a question: Will God refuse to act? God rejected Israel only after they rejected Him, but it did not stop His plan and purpose for them and for the earth. God has carried through with His program which is yet to be finalized. What is God's answer to Isaiah's question?
That finishes chapter 64 of Isaiah and now we can begin with chapter 65. This past chapter contained the plea of the prophet and his people for the King to come to earth and save them. We are to see in the remaining two chapters of this book God's response to said plea. God has preserved a remnant through which He will fulfill all of His prophecies. This is evident in the faithfulness exhibited by Daniel and his young comrades while in exhile.
That is all for this morning my friends. May you have a wonderful, blessed day!
Fri, Mar 12th - 4:52PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Here in this chapter can be seen a continuation of the pleading by spiritually hungry hearts for the presence of God. The child of God today can cry with the same passionate desire as in Revelation 22:20; "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"
The LORD will come at the end of the Tribulation to establish His kingdom. This is not just a theory, this what we find throughout the Book of Isaiah. We have been looking at Isaiah verse by verse and the prophet has presented a very definite program. The Word of God does not give isolated verses to prove some particular theory of interpretation, but whatever any theory might be, it has to fit in place. It can't contradict other parts of God's Word and still be correct, or true.
Oh that You would rend the heavens, that You would come down, that the mountains might flow down at Your presence(64:1).
This prophet is a representative of the believing remnant of Israel in that future day. Again he is using the past tense, which is caled a prophetic tense. God sees it as having already taken place, and He gives the prophecy to Isaiah from the other side, looking back at the event.
Isaiah is pleading with God just as the remnant of Israel shall do in that time of the Tribulation. Technically this scripture is not written to us, the church is not in view here. It is addressed to the remnant of Israel, but as believers we can identify with them. All through Israel's history there always was a remnant of believers, of faithful, who lived for God. This also applies to the church today. Not all members of Christ's church are faithful to Him, only a remnant remain so. And so these verses can be applied to believers today in the sense that we are Abraham's spiritual seed.
As when the melting fire burns, the fire causes the waters to boil, to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence(64:2)!
Today the world is unaware of the presence of God. Why is it that America can sit down with godless nations such as Russia or China? Because we are almost as godless as they are. But as the end of the age approaches I think that there will be a significant turning of people toward awareness that something very real is about to break through into our world. Just as happened prior to the birth of Jesus Christ so too there will be very many people extremely interested in what is about to happen.
When You did terrible things which we looked not for, You came down, the mountains flowed down at Your presence(64:3).
Is the presence of God intense? If the very mountains become molten I would say that His power is very intense indeed! God's enemies then will cry for the mountains to fall down and hide them from God(Revelation 6:16).
For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen, O God, beside You, what He has prepared for him that waits for Him(64:4).
The apostle Paul expressed this same thought in I Corinthians 2:9. He went on in the next verse to tell us that in our day the Holy Spirit will reveal these things unto us. Yet even for us it remains true what is said in I Corinthians 13:12; "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now i know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known."
Believers can identify with these people all through this section for we have the same hope also. We are looking for Him to take us out of the world, and they will be looking for Him to come and establish His kingdom here on earth.
Failure to recognize that Christ is going to take the church up to be with Him in the air and that He is coming down afterwards to the earth to establish His kingdom gives us upside down theology. We may disagree over the length of time bewteen the taking up of the church and the coming down of Christ but we cannot disagree over those two events taking place.
You meet him that rejoices and works righteousness, those that remember You in Your ways: behold, You are wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved(64:5).
The acknowledment of sins begins here and also an expression of the confidence in the redemption of the Savior, even though in Isaiah's time He had not come yet.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away(64:6).
This verse is fairly familiar to lots of people for it is used to establish the fact that man has no righteousness per se; that is, man has no righteousness within himself at all. It is true of Israel and of the entire human race. Both Jew and Gentile have sinned and come short of the glory of God. It does not matter what we might consider to be good works. It may sound pretty good to give a million dollars to feed the poor and hungry or to care for orphans and widows, but in God's sight anything that we, in the flesh, produce is as filthy rags. You can't bring anything clean out of an unclean thing. Lost sinners must first come to God His way. This is very difficult for people to accept, especially the unsaved one who is depending upon their good works to save them.
And there is none that calls upon Your name, that stirs up himself to take hold of You; for You have hid Your face from us, and have consumed us by means of our iniquities(64:7).
If we refuse to come to God the way that He has ordered, then we are to suffer the consequences of our iniquities/sins. The homosexual will suffer from HIV, STD's and ruined health. The alcoholic will suffer from ruined liver, kidneys, and shortened life. The unfaithful spouse will suffer through a ruined marriage, loss of security, loss of children, loss of home, and other things. The gambler will lose their home, friends, family and perhaps even their life. Of course, this all becomes trumped upon death when God shall pass judgement upon these individuals.
But now, O LORD, You are our father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and we all are the work of You hand(64:8).
God is our Father by creation but man lost that image. You and I can become sons of God again in only one way, and that is through Christ. John 1:12-13 gives us this change: "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
Verse 8 gives us the acknowledgement that God is our Creator. Paul makes this distinction in his speech recorded in Acts 17:28-29. Man is the offspring of God in that he was created by Him, but not all men are the born again sons of God. That distinction requires us to choose to repent of our fleshly ways and serve God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. This repentance can only be accomplished through the acceptance of the sacrifice Christ made upon the cross at Calvary. It is the only way allowed by God.
That is all for today, beloved. God willing, next time I shall finish this short chapter. Until then, grace and peace be yours this day!
Thu, Mar 11th - 1:11PM
"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved(Matthew 24:13)."
Question: Who endures to the end? Well, studying the book of Revelation, it is found that God will halt all the forces of nature and of evil and even the forces of good while He seals a certain number of people. Who are they? Christ, in all ages, will bring His sheep through to the end. He seals a 144,000, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. This partially answers the "Who?" There will be individuals during the Tribulation Period who will convert to become Christians but after a certain point there will be no opportunity to do so. God has written elsewhere that peoples' hearts will harden and they will refuse to acknowledge God, even in the face of irrefutable proof that He exists. Believers today are instructed to endure all things and to remain faithful to Christ unto the end for they shall receive a crown as reward. But this verse would seem to refer directly to these Israeli's who are to serve God during the Tribulation Period. J. Vernon McGee used to tell people, "The pigs will eventually end up in the pigpen, and that the prodigal sons will all find their way back to the Father's house."
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come(Matthew 24:14)."
The gospel of the kingdom is what John the Baptist preached to the masses; "Repent : for the kingdom of heaven is at hand(Matthew 3:2)." And Christ began His ministry with that message; "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand(Matthew 4:17)." He also sent His disciples out with that message(Matthew 10). But in chapter 11 our Lord's message changes to "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will rest you." And in chapter 20:28 He said that He had come to give His life as a ransom for many. Yet during the tribulation period the gospel of the kingdom will be preached again. It is not for today for we are to preach the gospel of the grace of God. Does this mean that there are two different gospels? No, it does not. It is the exact same gospel with a different emphasis. We have no right to say that the kingdom of heaven is at hand for we don't know. But during the tribulation time the people will know that they are close to the end. These 144,000 Jews are to preach this gospel to the world during the end times. Once they have accomplished this task then the end comes.
I am not teaching that there are two ways to be saved either. God has never had more than one basis on which He saves people, and that basis is the cross of Christ. Every offering before Christ came pointed toward the cross of Christ, and every commemoration since He has come looks back to the cross of Christ.
John the Baptist not only said, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," he also said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world(John 1:29)." John properly identified Him. Before Christ came everyone who had come to God on His terms was saved, essentially, on credit. They were forgiven on the basis of the death of Christ. In the Old Testament God never saved anyone based upon Law. At the heart of the Mosaic system was the sacrificial system. They brought a lamb to God because the Law revealed that they were lawbreakers, had sinned, were not obeying God, and that they did need to have a substitute to pay the penalty of their sins. The Law was given "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God(Romans 3:19)." Beloved, you and I are lawbreakers, we are sinners needing a Savior. The thing to do is to receive Christ as your Savior before He comes as the Sovereign of this universe when He will be your Judge.
Now, returning to the last verse mentioned in Matthew 24. This does not mean that while the church is here the end can't come until the gospel of the grace of God is preached worldwide. It is commendable to desire to get the gospel out to as many people as is possible. This is not the verse to use to promote that agenda. Remember that our Lord is answering the original question, "What is the sign of the end of the age?" With this verse He is speaking of that exact end time.
That brings us to a rest area for today, my friends. God willing, next time I shall continue with verse 15. Until then, may grace and peace be with you all.
Wed, Mar 10th - 12:28PM
"And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet(Matthew 24:6)."
Wars and rumors of wars are NOT the sign that the end of the age is upon us. God is bridging the vast gap from where the disciples are to the end of the age. Major wars always kindle feelings amongst people that the end is imminent.
We have come a long way from World War II, and the end of the age still has not come. We ought to listen to the LORD and stop listening to the false teachers. We should not be troubled at the rumor of war because all these things must come to pass, there is no avoiding them. The League of Nations could not solve this issue, the United Nations cannot solve this issue, and so no one will be able to solve this issue. There will be no world peace until the Prince of Peace comes. Wars, earthquakes, pestilence, famine, drought, and disease all merely point us toward the approaching end of the age. But it is not here yet.
"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places.
All these are the beginning of sorrows(Matthew 24:7-8).
These things are simply the characteristics of the entire age and are therefore not signs of the end. False christs, rumors of wars, famines, and all of the other things characterize the entire church age thus far. Population explosion has the world frightened and rightly so. People are starving to death by the thousands and the millions. This scenario will only worsen as time passes. But the "horse of famine" hasn't appeared yet, these things are simply "the beginning of sorrows."
THE BEGINNING OF THE TRIBULATION WITH ITS SIGNS
Now God begins to speak of the time of tribulation. You and I live in the "age of the church" as some would phrase it. The Bible divides the world today into three groups of people: the Jews, the Gentiles, and the church of God. During this period of time God is calling out a people to His name from both Jews and Gentiles to comprise that third group.
"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake(Matthew 24:9)."
Who is the "you?" Is it the church? Or is it nation Israel? Some commentators believe that the church has already been raptured out of this earth before any persecution begins to take place during the Tribulation Period. They cite a few verses to support their premise that God loves us too much to allow any saint to experience that type of persecution. I beg to differ with them. We easily find several instances in the Bible where saints had to suffer horrendous persecution unto death. Revelation relates how the Tribulation Period will be shortened in order to prevent complete annihilation of saints and all peoples. Revelation also relates how the AntiChrist will have the power to overwhelm even the strongest saints of Christ. How can that be if they have all been removed from this world before this point in time? No, I believe that the rapture will happen further into the Tribulation Period, just before Christ Himself physically plants His feet upon this earth once again. This is why it is so important for Christians today to begin seriously studying end time prophecies in order to be spiritually prepared for what will happen during the end times.
"And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many(Matthew 24:10-11)."
The church is warned against false teachers prior to this, while now Israel is warned against false prophets. That nation will be very susceptible to false prophets due to their cultural background.
"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold(Matthew 24:12)."
This would appear to be a principle, and there are many principles in this Discourse on the Mount of Olives which can be applied to our lives today. There are very many churches today which have allowed iniquity to enter in and abound within their congregations and so the love of many is no longer hot. We can only expect this trend to continue, and to even accelerate over the coming years.
That is all for today for this study, beloved. I hope and pray that you will rejoin me tomorrow as I continue through this discourse by our LORD and Savior.
Tue, Mar 9th - 10:14PM
Book of Isaiah Study
I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the priaises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, and according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses(63:7).
We see here that in wrath the LORD Jesus remembers mercy to those who are His. The entire content and intent changes quite suddenly at this point. Just like coming out of darkness into the light of noonday. Like turning from black to white. Our God is glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders, and this is only one aspect of His various attributes. He is good, and He exhibits loving-kindness. He is also a God of mercy. If none of these attributes were in evidence today we would all be consumed instantly! He has to come in judgment to reconcile the earth to Himself. I think that God has given mankind more than enough time to turn to Him.
For He said, Surely they are My people, children that will not lie; so He was their Savior(63:8).
His "people" are believing Israelites and now also a great company of Gentiles who will turn to Christ. I am not digressing into whether or not the church will be present during the Great Tribulation, that is an entirely different topic to discuss. Is God speaking of the Israelites not lieing? Or is this alluding to the future believers in Christ who will not lie during the Great Tribulation since that is the period of time which this prophecy generally relates to. Certainly Christ expects you and me to live lives well-pleasing to Him, and He does admonish us, "Lie not one to another."
In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them, and carried them all the days of old(63:9).
How much does God feel all that afflicts us? Every bit of it. Here it says that God picked them up and carried them all during their captivity and their afflictions. He entered into their sufferings. God was patient with them, hearing their cries for redemption, cries for someone to come and rescue them. In the appointed time God sent His only begotten Son to redeem all those who call upon Christ Jesus for salvation. Even today, God waits patiently for us as we continually fall down, pick ourselves up, walk a way further, fall down some more, and He eventually picks us up and carries us for awhile. God understands the difficulties that we face each and every day beloved, it is not as if He is dispassionately observing the goings on of this world. Each and every person contributes to His overall plan as history plays itself out. As God has said in Jeremiah 29, "I know the plans I have prepared for you."
But they rebelled, and vexed His holy spirit: therefore He was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them(63:10).
Clearly here we see ancient history being reviewed and explained somewhat by God. Even though the Israelites were His chosen people, when they rebelled against His directions they created an enemy. They were then working in oppostion to His plans for them and were doomed to fail in all their works. They made God their adversary. It was a foolish choice, a prideful choice. Woe to believers today who decide that they no longer need to follow God but that it is okay to strike out on their own through their own efforts. That is a recipe for spiritual disaster! The first time around for the Israelites it resulted in wandering around in a desert wilderness for forty years when it could have taken them around eleven days instead! Later on they spend 70 years in Babylonian captivity for being stiff-necked and prideful. Believers today need to pay heed to the examples put before us in Scripture, they are there for our benefit, not our entertainment.
Then He remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is He that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of His flocks? where is He that put His holy spirit within him(63:11)?
This appears to be a direct reference to Israel, but at the same time it is a picture of the entire human family on earth. I think that this speaks about Moses being their shepherd and of how God empowered him to work miracles with his staff. The Old Testament does not mention the Holy Spirit in a clear-cut distinctive fashion. However, this verse appears to deal with the Comforter who indwells believers today. In the Old Testament we are pressed to find any instances of the work of the Holy Spirit, but here is mention of it. The Holy Spirit is the One:
That led them by the right hand of Moses with His glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make Himself an everlasting name?
That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble(63:12-13).
The history of their deliverance out of Egypt is again referred to by God. All of God's miracles at that time were to meld the Jewish people together as a nation of believers in Jehovah.
As the cattle that go down into the valley, the Spirit of Jehovah caused them to rest; so did You lead Your people, to make Thyself a glorious name.
Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of Your holiness and of Your glory: where is Your zeal and Your strength, the sounding of Your bowels and of Your mercies toward me? are they restrained?
Doubtless You are our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: You, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer, Your name is from everlasting(63:14-16).
We enter a passage in which the Israelites ask of God to consider their great need and desire. God was the Father of the nation Israel, not of individual Israelites. This is the relationship in the Old Testament but in the New Testament it becomes personal, not corporate.
O LORD, why have You made us to err from Your ways, and hardened our heart from Your fear? Return for Your servants' sake, the tribes of Your inheritance(63:17).
A pleading prayer offered up to Jehovah. They knew that God had departed from them and they entreated Him to please return for their sakes. They needed His intervention.
Your holy people possessed [it] but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down Your sanctuary.
We are Yours: You never bore rule over them; they were not called Your name(63:18-19).
The Israelites needed to surrender completely to God. This ought to be the attitude of every Christian today---complete yielding to God. Most of us are afraid to yield to God because we are afraid He will be hard on us. God wants to be gentle with us if we would only give Him a chance. But He is also the God of judgment and He is the One who is coming to earth one day to tread the winepress of the fury of His wrath against sin. God isn't trying to frighten anyone; He is just telling everyone the truth.
That ends chapter 63 of this wonderful Book of Isaiah. God willing, I will begin the 64th chapter next time. Until then, I wish you sweet dreams and may God give you some dreams tonight that you will refuse to relinquish all the days of your life! Be like Joseph!
Mon, Mar 8th - 9:14PM
Book of Isaiah Study
For the day of vengeance is in Mine heart, and the year of My redeemed is come(63:4).
Beloved, He has come to save forever His redeemed ones from their vicious oppressors. This is His judgment upon the earth, and it is defined as the day of vengeance. God has had this day planned since before the foundations of the earth were ever crafted. All of the redeemed saints of Christ have their "year" appointed at the time of this "day of vengeance upon the wicked." The historical clock is steadily ticking towards this point in time and nothing any of us try to do will prevent its coming, nor can we delay its coming.
And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore Mine own arm brought salvation unto Me; and My fury, it upheld Me(63:5).
No man, or woman, could help solve this problem. Only the Lord Jesus Christ created salvation when He was on the cross, and judgment is His solo work also.
And I will tread down the people in Mine anger, and make them drunk in My fury, and i will bring down their strength to the earth(63:6).
This verse signifies the end of mankind's little time upon the earth. The King is coming from heaven to earth in judgment. There are those who say, "This is horrific. I do not like it at all!" They will likely become ostrich-like and stick their heads in the sand and read John 14 or some other comforting passage of Scripture. But, we have to face up to this verse. The next time Jesus Christ comes it will be in judgment. His kingdom cannot be set up by any other means. If He came back just as He was the first time, walking around the countryside telling people that He had come from heaven, what sort of reception would He gain? Not much. Could He go and knock on the door of the Kremlin and expect to be welcomed in? Or how about if He went to Beijing and introduced Himself to their leaders? No nation and no church is prepared to turn their affairs over to Christ. If they are prepared, why don't they just do it? Jesus was rejected when He came the first time and been rejected ever since so why would it be any different this next time? It wouldn't be, and so Christ comes next time to judge the entire world of its sin.
You may know some folk who will say, "But this verse is in the Old Testament. You have a God of wrath in that Testament. In the New Testament though, He is a God of love." I tell you, a main reason the liberal thinkers do not speak much of the Book of Revelation is because it is a book filled with judgment of mankind. The language found therein is the strongest in the Bible outside of what Jesus Himself spoke. It speaks of Christ coming to put down the unrighteousness and rebellion and godlessness that is here on this earth. The liberal will immediately say, "God is not fair! He is not righteous to do these things to people!" These sorts of people need to go and read Revelation 16:6-7 and see the truth of the matter. God is right in what He does; whether we think so or not. After all, we simply need to compare ourselves with the rest of this universe and we can quickly conclude that we do not amount to very much at all in the overall scheme of things. My opinion and your opinion, even when combined together aren't worth very much at all. It is what God says that is vitally important to every man, woman, and child living upon the face of this planet. God is righteous, but we don't necessarily think that He is, which means that we are the ones who are wrong in our thinking. A time approaches when people upon this world will have irrefutable proof that God is real (Revelation 16:8-9) and will refuse to repent and turn back to God. They will refuse! It will be a similar deal as to what happened to Pharaoh and the Egyptians back in the days leading up to the Jewish Exodus out of Goshen. Plagues were brought upon them by God, the request was made after each one but the Pharaoh refused to give in. That time ended with all of Pharaoh's army being destroyed in the waters of the Red Sea. This next time it will be the entire earth. The God of love is the One making these statements in both the Old and New Testaments because there is love in law and there is law in love. Oh yes, judgment shall be frightful.
That is all for today my friends. God willing, I will cover the next ten verses when we meet here again. Until then, make peace with your God now, do not wait until you have cleaned up your act, or tried to turn over a new leaf. It will be too late by then. Just come as you are, no sin is too great for the grace of God.
Sun, Mar 7th - 3:38PM
The Olivet Discourse
The Olivet Discourse found in Matthew 24-25 is the answer that Jesus gave to three questions asked by His disciples, as seen in Matthew 24:3:
1. "Tell us, when shall these things be?"
2. "and what shall be the sign of Your coming?"
3. "and of the end of the world?"
Answers to these questions are recorded in Matthew as well as portions in both Mark and Luke. Luke contains His answer to the first question which was as to when one stone would not be left upon another in the buildings of the Temple. Matthew contains answers given by Christ to the last two questions. In 70 A.D. the Temple was completely demolished by the Romans and fulfilled question one.
Why were these questions even raised by His disciples? Two statements made by Jesus. First, He wept over Jerusalem and then announced that they would not see Him again until He returned. Second, he gave a sharp and shocking answer to them when they attempted to point out the beauty and permanence of the Temple. All of the questions related to the kingdom and the process by which it would be established.
Keep in mind that the Books of Daniel, Revelation, and this Olivet Discourse all combined give a composite picture of prophecy which relates to the coming Christ to establish His kingdom(II Peter 1:20).
It was Moses who mentioned the fact that God was going to raise up a prophet like himself. "The LORD your God will raise up unto you a Prophet from the midst of thee, of your brethren, like unto me; unto Him you shall listen(Deuteronomy 18:15)." And God repeated it in verse 18. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this prophecy. He is that Prophet, and Matthew 24-25 is His prophecy.
In Matthew 23 Jesus denounced the religious rulers, then He went out and wept over the city. He had used scathing terms and essentially censured them. In Matthew 23:37-39 we see that God declared the house of Israel would be desolate and desolate is what they have been ever since. Even today their house remains disorderly and spiritually bankrupt.
"And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple(24:1)."
This was the temple that Herod was constructing out of white marble. It disturbed the disciples no end that Jesus would claim that the temple would be left desolate. So they came and wished to give Him a tour of all of these massive, beautiful buildings.
"And Jesus said unto them, See you not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down(24:2)."
The disciples thought that they saw it all. How about us today, do we think that we really see it all? One day this will all pass away. All of the cultural centers, great schools of thought, skyscrapers, stadiums, bridges, great cities which we marvel at are going to pass away. Gazing at them it just doesn't seem possible, and that is how the disciples felt.
Christ's first statement probably shocked them but His second one had to have traumatized them. This is all ancient history to us today but it was a mind-shocking revelation back then. Perhaps they took a small amount of time to talk it over amongst themselves and then came with three questions.
"And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately,saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world(24:3)?"
Jesus' answer to question one is recorded in Luke 21:20-24. I imagine many who heard Jesus say these things were present when Titus's armies surrounded the city and demolished the city and the temple stone by stone.
Jesus then answered their last question first and and their second question last. Why didn't Matthew record Christ's response to the first question? It could be as simple as the fact that Matthew is the Gospel of the kingdom. The destruction of Jerusalem is concerned with this current age but not the distant future.
The sign of the end of the world, or end of the age. Technically the world never comes to an end. The old world passes away and a new earth replaces it. Perhaps thinking about it in terms of what transpires when we trade in an old car at the time we buy a new one will help. We are never without a car while this exchange takes place. We never even think, less say, "This is the end of my car-age, I don't have a car anymore." The disciples want to know what signs to look for. Don't we all?
"And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you(24:4)."
There is the catch phrase for this entire age, "Take heed that no man deceive you." Warning is necessary about deception. Deception is rampant today and it will become outrageous during the Tribulation Period. Just read II Peter 2:1 and you see the warning. Today false prophets aren't the big problem as is false teachers. False teachers must be tested by the Scriptures. There is more false teaching of Christ than there is true today, my friends.
"For many shall come in My name,saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many(24:5)."
One man built a "holy city" in Northern California and expected any minute to be called to Washington, D.C. to be consulted on solving the problems of the nation and of the world. It never happened. Even today there are numerous antichrists walking our planet, but at the end of the age there will be one Antichrist who will oppose Christ and set himself up as the only authority in the world. He will demand all to worship him, all to pay homage to him.
Perhaps verses 5-9 are referring to the Great Tribulation Period, but I think not. These verses from 5-8 speak of what was to go on in the world as an ongoing process leading up to the end times.
That is all for today in this new study. I hope it will give each of you renewed hope and confidence in dealing with the coming decades.
Sun, Mar 7th - 2:04PM
Book of Isaiah Study
I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: you that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence(62:6).
Here we are informed that God always appoints individuals to be watchmen/women over the people. This was done for the entire city of Jerusalem and it is done for each congregation of believers since the time of Christ. God appoints certain people of faith to watch over the rest of the flock, alert to dangerous doctrine, dangerous teachings, dangerous beliefs. They are set "upon the walls" by God in order to keep our best interests at heart, to alert everyone else of Satan's approach and intent. In Christian schools there must be watchmen to point out to students there that they are not to pick upon each other or to allow classmates to commit errors of conduct. They need to be taught to look out for each other and not just for themselves. They need to be taught to not esteem certain students above others. Treat each person the same. As Christ has done with each of us. This verse also implies that these watchmen are not sitting around silently. They have voices that God intends for them to use daily, night or day.
And give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth(62:7).
This seemingly informs us that Christ is working continually until that day when He rules from Jerusalem and that city is made a praise in all of the earth.
Jehovah has sworn by His right hand, and by the arm of His strength, Surely I will no more give your grain to be food for your enemies; and foreigners shall not drink your new wine, for which you have labored:
But they that have garnered it shall eat it, and praise Jehovah; and they that have gathered it shall drink it in the courts of My sanctuary(62:8-9).
What or who is God's arm of strength? It is Jesus Christ. He has sworn by Himself that one day whatever is raised or grown in Israel will be consumed by only those who live in Israel. They will not be forced to pay tribute to others, nor will they have to sell it to make financial ends meet. Whatever they produce in their land will be to lift praise up to God and any wine made shall be drunk soberly in God's sanctuary.
Go through, go through the gates; prepare you the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up an ensign for the peoples.
Behold, Jehovah has proclaimed unto the end of the earth, Say you to the daughter of Zion, Behold, your salvation comes; behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.
And they shall call them The holy people, The redeemed of Jehovah: and you shall be called Sought out, A city not forsaken(62:10-12).
This passage is a declaration of the coming Savior. It states that when Christ arrives to rule on earth He brings reward and recompense with Him. All believers will be called the holy people, the redeemed of Jehovah. Jerusalem will become a city that people shall willingly seek out, a destination of those who desire to be in the presence of Christ, to serve Him. It is a day that every believer should be yearning for in their lifetime.
An important point coming from this passage is that we need to be presenting the gospel to every Israeli that we can. Israel, and the Jews in general, cannot be called a holy people today. Jerusalem is a forsaken city but the day will come when circumstances will be vastly different. Durng the End Times there will be a transformational period when 144,000 Jews shall be marked by God for His service and they shall proclaim God's Word to the world at large. I am sure that at the very least these Jews will be a holy people and their nation will end up becoming a holy nation of believers, both Jew and Gentile.
Well, that completes another short chapter here in Isaiah. It provided us with a glorious picture of the future that is still approaching. But now let's move on to chapter 63. This is a slightly longer chapter than the last two. The first few verses of chapter 63 would appear to be out of harmony with the general theme of this section as they deal with judgment, but judgment does precede the kingdom and this has always been the divine order established by God.
Back in chapter 53 Christ was described at His first coming and there was nothing much to physically make us desire Him. But once we get beyond verse six we find majesty and beauty. I can find no delight in the first part of this chapter. What delight is there in being confronted with God's wrath in the likeness of a winepress? Grapes are crushed apart in such a device and this is how His wrath is likened for us here. This is a violent depiction of judgment, no gentleness is implied. But the second part of this chapter reveals His lovingkindness which Christ manifests toward His own.
Who is this that comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save(63:1).
The form used here is called an antiphony, it is an alternation between two groups. Those who ask the question concerning the One coming from Edom are overwhelmed by His majesty and beauty. He comes from Edom and the east, and we are told elsewhere in scripture that Christ's feet will touch the Mount of Olives on the east. "Edom" and "Bozrah" are geographical locations, and are to be considered as such, but this does not bind the mind of God's Spirit. Edom is symbolic of the flesh, carnality, and the entire Adamic race, and here we can see the judgment of mankind.
Wherefore are you red in your apparel, and your garments like him that treads in the winevat(63:2)?
Back in those days men and women would get into the winepress barefooted and tread out the grapes, crushing them under their feet. Naturally the red juice would spurt and spray all over their legs and clothing. That is the picture you and I have in this verse, and that is why this question appears. The spectators see that there is blood staining His beautiful garments just as if He had trodden the winepress. Now hear Christ's answer...
I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with Me: for I will tread them in Mine anger, and trample them in My fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments, and I will stain all My raiment(63:3).
Note must be made that it is their blood that stains His clothes, not His. Obviously reference is not being made to grapes being trampled in fury but rather to all mankind. God paints us this picture so that we can get a better grasp upon what God's judgment of mankind is to be like. It is to be a wrenching, agonizing, separation of the lives of those people who have not accepted Christ.
The early church seemed to have mistaken these first verses of chapter 63 with Christ's first coming. They mistook the winepress to symbolize His suffering upon the cross. Perhaps a natural tendency is to do so. But this interpretation fails due to the blood on His clothing not being His. This verse is about the Day of Vengeance, if I may capitalize things for stress. Christ Himself made all of this clear while here the first time. In Luke 4:18-20 He read Isaiah 61:2. Christ shed His own blood at His first coming, but the second time He returns He will be shedding the blood of those who refuse to accept Him.
That is all for this study today, beloved. Tomorrow I shall finish up these first six verses and then move on into the rest of the chapter. God willing, we shall meet here again tomorrow and open up the Word of God and receive healing, comfort, and wisdom.
Sat, Mar 6th - 9:17PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Let us begin this next chapter, shall we?
For Zion's sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burns(62:1).
One major reason why Jerusalem cannot have peace today is because its King is not there. Messiah is currently seated at the righthand of God in heaven, yearning for the day when He may rule that city in righteousness. It is not a holy city today but one day it most certainly shall be. Man can't make the kingdom, and the United Nations won't do it either. Christian pilgrim, are you weary of the earthly jouney, and do you desire the fellowship of the Father's house?
And the Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory: and you shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name(62:2).
A new heart, a new nature, a new situation, a new earth, and a new righteousness all demand a new name. I do not know what Eric Rajaniemi's new name shall be, but I'll be glad that the old Eric Rajaniemi will be gone. We will be new and we will be in the new Jerusalem. We must remember that redemption involves more than just the church; it involves nation Israel, this earth, and all of the universe. All of creation now groans and writhes in sin, waiting for that day of redemption.
You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God(62:3).
Now, I must again emphasize that this does not mean that every single Israeli shall come and serve God. Not every one of them will accept Christ as their Savior. Those that do however, they shall become a crown of glory just as each believer shall also. We must always keep in mind that Christ's church shall contain Jew and Gentile, slave and free. As much as I would like to agree with those who claim that the entire nation of Israel shall be given a free redemption pass during the End Times I find no declaration by God that clearly indicates that this will happen. All are under the same dispensation during this age: salvation through faith in Christ. Most definitely Israel is spoken of here and their land shall be very special at the end of this age.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall your land any more be termed Desolate: but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah: for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married(62:4).
Ever hear of that hymn, "Beulahland?" Beulah means "married." All who reside within this Promised Land shall be married to Christ, be His Bride. Christ the King shall rule over the earth and protect those who love Him and serve Him. Hephzibah means "delightful" and is given to Israel for the entire land shall become ever so delightful to live in. All living things shall be restored to this region and it will no longer be desolate nor forsaken.
For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you: and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you(62:5).
God shall take delight in those who will dwell in Jerusalem just as a bridegroom takes delight in his bride. All believers in Christ are His bride, we are to make ourselves ready now for the coming wedding and marriage feast.
I am sorry to not get double posts in today my friends but it was my 56th birthday and other matters took precedence most of this day! Come back tomorrow as I continue with this 62nd chapter of Isaiah. I am eager to finish this book up so that we can get back to the New Testament and connect more passages up to what is going today. May there be blessings in your life today, and continued joy tomorrow!
Fri, Mar 5th - 9:45PM
Book of Isaiah Study
I need to pick up the pace in these studies. So get ready for some slightly longer blogs and for mulitple posts most days! These are challenging times and people need to receive God's truth.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified(61:3).
I think that Isaiah knew his geography. Zion is Zion and not Rome or New York City or Munich or Moscow. Now, speaking specifically of the Jews, he says, "to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for..." Isaiah is telling them of the time immediately after "the day of vengeance." This is another reference to the Millennial kingdom when there shall be prosperity for all. After the sighing and the judgment there will be joy and singing, sort of a play on words. This is also all being accomplished in order to glorify Christ.
And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations(61:4).
The land of Israel has yet to receive a "facelift" which will restore its Edenic beauty. That wonderful things have occurred since Israel became a nation again is without argument. But let us be very careful to not call it fulfillment of this prophecy. Fulfillment of this verse comes at the beginning of the Millennium, and we are not there yet beloved.
And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers(61:5).
During the Millennium reign of Christ Gentiles shall be working in and around Jerusalem, tending fields, tending to flocks of animals, and managing orchards and vineyards.
But you shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: you shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall you boast yourselves(61:6).
There are to be many Jews who will be believers in Christ and they shall be Priests of God and Ministers of God. Did not Jehovah say to them long ago in Exodus 19:6, "And you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak unto the children of Israel." This shall come true at the beginning of the Millennial kingdom. Sin has long prevented this from happening but the time draws ever nearer when it will come true.
For your shame you shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them(61:7).
As much as the Jew has suffered through the centuries they shall experience double the joy after Christ returns.
For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them(61:8).
Their lives will adorn their religious ritual. Christ will be the One who directs all works and make an eternal covenant with all believers. We also find here reinforcement of the fact that God loves judgment. When wrongs are done to His people by their oppressors and persecutors, He is displeased with them, not only because they are done to His people, but because they are wrongs, and against the eternal rules of equity. If men do not do justice, He loves to do judgment Himself in giving redress to those that suffer wrong and punishing those that do wrong. God pleads His people’s injured cause, not only because He is jealous for them, but because He is jealous for justice. He is also jealous of offerings made unto Him by His people within the church today. To make offerings to Him that are improper is to rob God of what is rightfully His. Judgment is called forth in the midst of the churches and carried out by Christ. We see that in Revelation.
And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD has blessed(61:9).
There will be no more anti-Semitism, pro-Semitism shall be the rule of the day. Today, neither Israel nor the church is fulfilling what God has intended; we are following God's program, and it is working out as He said it would. God warned that the day would come when we would have a form of godliness but deny the power of God.
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God: for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels(61:10).
A switch happens here, Isaiah speaks of his future salvation and righteousness in Christ. The prophet declares how his soul will be joyful and that he will become a valued member of God's family. Oh, that each of us could be this joyful while in a worship service! We need to have more fun! God intended for us to be joyful.
Some interpret this verse saying that Christ is speaking, but I believe that it is even more powerful to read it as the prophet speaking. Here we see how we shall be clothed once we reign with Christ. We, the believers, are to be Christ's Bride and are to attend the Lamb's marriage feast in heaven. The problem today is that a great many believers can't rejoice in the LORD because they are out of fellowship. They have sin in their lives, they are out of the will of God, and they are going on in their self-will.
For as the earth brings forth her bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the LORD God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations(61:11).
Not only will there be physical and material benefits, but the true blessings will be spiritual in the Millennium.
That competes this very short chapter and we can now move along to chapter 62. In chapter 62 we find the yearning of the Messiah for these anticipated joys is before us. There ought to likewise be a yearning in the hearts of believers for these joys. There is a danger today of believers looking for the coming of Christ to take us out of the world so we can get away from our problems; we use it as an escape mechanism. People get into trouble and then they want God to come and get them out of it. It does not work that way my friends.
God willing, we shall meet here again and open up His Holy Word. Until then, find the yearning in your heart for the coming joys of Christ's return.
Fri, Mar 5th - 2:14PM
The Incomprehensible God?
A given point in discussing this subject is that God is not like anything; that is, He is not exactly like anything or anybody that we know of. Humans learn by using what we already know as a bridge over which we may pass to the unknown. Our minds cannot leap suddenly past the familiar into the totally unfamiliar.
The efforts of inspired men to express the indesribable has placed an enormous strain upon thought and language in the Scriptures. Often being a revelation of a world above nature, and the minds for which they were written being a part of nature, the writers were compelled to use a great many "like" words to make themselves understood.
Each time that the Holy Spirit wanted to acquaint us with something that lies beyond the realm of our knowledge, He told us that this thing was like something we already know. Yet He was always careful to phrase His description so as to save us from becoming slaves to literalism. Looking at how Ezekiel described how heaven opened up and he found himself looking at visions of God we find that the prophet was forced into using comparisons and had to frame his descriptions into ways that we would be able to at least picture in our minds what he beheld. The closer he came to the burning throne the less sure his words became for it was indescribable.
The strangeness of the language makes this no less real. It simply was totally alien to Ezekiel's mind, as it would be to ours today. He who sat upon the throne in heaven was like a man but also so unlike a man that the prophet had to say "the likeness of the appearance of a man." Those are the words of someone who is seeing something unlike anything that they have ever seen before in their lives.
Even though scripture tells us that we were made in the image of God we cannot believe that this means "in the exact image." This would of course mean a replica of God, and mankind is not that.
So, when we attempt to imagine what God is like we are forced to use that which is not God as the raw materials for our minds to work on. Therefore whatever we visualize God to be, He is not. To insist on adhering to this mental path creates an idol of the mind which is just as offensive to God as any physical one. How can we behold the invisible, or attain the inaccessible? We cannot while we are limited by our finite minds and bodies.
Often we reduce God to manageable terms. Get Him to where we can use Him, or know where He is when we have need of Him! It boils down to wanting a God that we can have some measure of control over. None of this can work. It is something which demeans God.
If what we think God to be He is not, then how shall we imagine Him? That's a fair question. And how will we be held accountable to know what cannot be known? Another fair question.
The Gospel according to John reveals the helplessness of the human mind before the great Mystery which is God, and Paul teaches over in I Corinthians that God can be known only as the Holy Spirit performs in the seeking heart an act of self-disclosure. Ah, what a frustrating problem!
Yearning to know that which cannot be known, to comprehend the incomprehensible, to touch and taste the unapproachable, comes from the image of God in the nature of man. Even polluted by sin our very natures hear the call from God above, our soul senses its origin and longs to return to its source. How to realize this yearning?
The Bible simply tells us "through Jesus Christ our Lord." It is through Christ that God effects complete self-disclosure, although He shows Himself not to reason but to faith and love. God came to us in the incarnation; in atonement He reconciled us to Himself, and by faith and love we enter in and lay hold on Him.
In order to reach any knowledge of God we must therefore look to Jesus Christ since He is God incarnate. We must therefore study His life and all that He did and said. We must also study those things which He did not do or say. Each is just as important as the other. We must also remember that we are to worship God in spirit and in truth. This is to remind us of His nature, being above and beyond this world and our imaginations.
Thu, Mar 4th - 9:17PM
Book of Isaiah Study
The spirit of the LORD GOD is upon Me; because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn(61:1-2).
Here we are given a system of biblical interpretation. Who is it who says, "The spirit of the LORD GOD is upon Me"? If He is Jesus Christ, does it refer to His first or second coming? Looking at the New Testament we can find God's interpretation. When Christ went into the synagogue in Nazareth, His hometown, He read this section: "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and , as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the LORD(Luke 4:16-19)." Now, if you notice, Christ Jesus did not finish that sentence in verse 2. Why not? "And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened upon him. And he began to say to them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears(Luke 4:20-21)." Isaiah's prophecy up to that point was fulfilled by Christ's first coming. His closing the book was a deliberate action. Isaiah did not distinguish between the Messiah's first and second coming but Christ most surely did. All that gives us a clue to this separation in the passage in Isaiah is that tiny little word "and." It has become a very long little word! The prophets of the Old Testament wrote of the first and second comings of Christ but they did not know the length of time separating the two comings. This is validated over in I Peter 1:10-11. The sufferings of Christ and also the glory of Christ.
This problem of "vision" can be easily understood by us today. When we stand and gaze upon two or more mountains from afar they appear to be quite close together. However, if we were to travel to the closest mountain we would discover that the next one is many miles distant from this first one. When down in the valley we cannot have the proper perspective to see the distance between the mountains and so it was with the prophets. They saw the first and second comings of Christ and they appeared to be rather close together. If the prophet stood with us today he would completely understand the vision he had been given back then due to proper perspective. Luke 4:20-21 was fulfilled with His first coming, when He came to die upon that cross as our Redeemer. Somewhere beyong that point in time is the next mountain peak, His second coming.
"To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God." With His second coming Christ establishes His kingdom here on earth. It will be done with vengeance. It will not be a pretty scene. But Christ will put down rebellion that is here on this earth. Earth is under His control today but there is rebellion afoot. Jesus Christ is in "the saddle" and He is the King, and He is coming some day to put eliminate all rebellion.
"To comfort all that mourn," refers to all those saints who have been persecuted, martyred, and scoffed through the centuries by those who do not believe in God. All of these souls shall be comforted by God. Those who mourn over their sin, who long deep down in their hearts for a much better day, and who desire to be obedient unto Christ, all of these shall receive comfort.
That is all for tonight beloved. I pray that these two verses bring deep joy to your heart. They showcase how God is, and has been, in control of everything. We simply need to interpret the Bible just as Christ Jesus did and there will be no confusion on our part. God willing, I will continue this tomorrow. Until then, grace and peace be yours.
Thu, Mar 4th - 1:30PM
The Importance of Thinking Rightly About God
What comes to mind when you think about God? Were we able to extract from any person's mind a complete answer to the question, "What comes to mind when you think about God?" we could probably predict accurately what the spiritual future of that person would be. If we could know these same thoughts of our religious leaders today, we could predict where the Church will stand tomorrow.
Without argument, the mightiest thought of our minds is the thought of God. Thought and speech are especially integrated in humanity. These two things are intimately associated with God and since we are created in His image they become intimately associated with Him through us. Words. The first word was the Word: "And the Word was with God, and the Word was God." We may speak because God spoke. In God word and idea are indivisible, they are one and the same.
It is of immense importance to us that our idea of God matches up as nearly as possible to the true being of God. These are our actual thoughts about Him, not our creedal statements. Our real idea of God probably will lie underneath a pile of religious rubbish. It may very well require an intelligent and rigorous search before it can finally be unearthed and be seen clearly for what it truly is. Only at the conclusion of painful self-probing are any of us likely to find out what we actually believe about God.
This right conception of God must be basic to not only theology but also to practical Christian living. It affects our worship of the foundation of the entire structure. If built upon faultily the entire structure will eventually collapse in upon itself. Perhaps we could generalize so far as to say that there is no error in doctrine or failure to apply Christian ethics that can't be traced back to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God. We become what we think about.
What was true back during the middle of the last century concerning the conception of God remains every bit as true today. It continues to lead to moral calamity on a massive scale. The problem is this: That He is; what He is like; and what we as moral beings must do about Him.
The person who arrives at a right belief about God becomes relieved of thousands of temporal problems for he/she recognizes that these all have to do with matters which will only concern them for a short time. But these are replaced with one mighty single burden which eternity begins to bear down upon them with a mass more overwhelming than all of the problems of the world heaped upon one another. This burden is their obligation to God. It includes an instantaneous and lifelong obligation to love God with all one's mind, soul, and heart; to obey Him perfectly, and to worship Him acceptably. And when their conscience tells them that they have done none of these things, but has continually been guilty of foul rebellion against the Majesty in the heavens, the inner pressure of their self-accusation can become more than they can bear.
The gospel can lift this burden from their mind. But the weight of the burden must be felt otherwise the gospel can mean nothing to the person; until the person "sees" a vision of God high and lifted up, there will be no woe and no burden. Low views of God destroy the gospel for those who hold them.
Let us be aware of our pride, otherwise we will accept the false notion that idolatry is only kneeling before visible objects of adoration, and that civilized peoples are therefore free from it. Idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It begins in the mind and can be present in the absence of any acts of worship. As Paul wrote, "When they knew God they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened."
The idolater simply imagines things about God and then acts as though they were true. Perverted ideas about God soon corrupt the religion in which they appear. Israel's long history clearly teaches us this truth and the history of the Church confirms that it still is true. When the concepts of God decline so too declines the Church's worship and moral standards. The very first step downward for any church congregation is when it surrenders its high opinion of God.
Wrongly answer the question, "What is God like?" and your theology will become error filled. Though there may remain remnants of sound doctrine, the practical working creed becomes false. The adherents of that church come to believe that God is different from what He actually is, and that is heresy.
Perhaps the heaviest obligation of today's church is to purify and elevate their concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him, and of her. How can we possibly pass the Truth on to the next generation if we lose a true concept of who and what God is?
May this post move you to ponder what your personal concept of God is. May it cause you to embark upon a path to recover the truth about God and to teach that to those around you.
Wed, Mar 3rd - 8:04PM
Book of Isaiah Study
The glory of Lebanon shall come unto you, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of My sanctuary; and I will make the place of My feet glorious.
The sons also of them that afflicted you shall come bending unto you; and all they that despised you shall bow themselves down at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you, The city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through you, I will make you an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations(60:13-15).
The picture is one of the world's people coming to give obeisance to Christ in Jerusalem. They shall bring with them much in resources. Christ declares that He shall make Jerusalem an eternal joy to those who come after. This city is not a joy to very many people in our day, beloved. But a day is coming when even the sons of the Arabs who have terrorized Israel relentlessly the past sixty years shall come upon bent knee to worship God in Jerusalem.
You shall also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shall suck the breast of kings: and you shall know that I the LORD am your Savior and your Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob(60:16).
All of the many and varied riches of ancient Jerusalem, which were taken away by the Gentile nations, shall be restored with gathered interest. We see here the clear identification of Christ to Isaiah and to the Israelites. The people completely missed the reference to Christ. Christ is God and He is the mighty One of Jacob and He is everyones' Savior and Redeemer. Hopefully we will not be quite so ignorant of this message. I hope that believers today realize that Jehovah is Christ who is our Savior and Redeemer.
For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make your officers peace, and your exactors righteousness(60:17).
Interestingly, there are many objects of brass in Israel and surrounding lands today. But in the Millennial kingdom they will be replaced with gold and silver. Precious metals will become commonplace once again. Sin turned gold into brass when Rehoboam made brazen shields instead of the golden ones he had pawned; but God’s favor, when that returns, will turn brass again into gold. Men of peace shall be made officers, and shall be indeed justices, not patrons of injustice, and justices of peace, not instruments of trouble and vexation. They shall be peace, that is, they shall sincerely seek our welfare and by their means we shall enjoy good. They shall be peace, for they shall be righteousness; and then the peace is as a river, when the righteousness is as the waves of the sea. Even exactors, whose business it is to demand the public tribute, though they be exact, must not be exacting, but must be just to the subject as well as to the prince, and, according to the instructions John the Baptist gave to the publicans must exact no more than is appointed them, (Luke 3:13).
Violence shall no more be heard in your land, wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.
The sun shall be no more your light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto you: but the LORD shall be unto you an everlasting light, and your God your glory(60:18-19).
This same thought can be found in the Book of Revelation, Christ speaks of Himself becoming the Light of the world in actuallity once He creates the new heavens and the new earth. There will no longer be any need for a physical Sol or moon in the sky overhead. In the meantime, Christ is to be our light to guide us through our lives each day. Christ is our glory.
Verse 18 actually names the walls and gates of Jerusalem. There will be no more violence or destruction, it will be gone during the Millennial kingdom of Christ.
Your sun shall no more go down; neither shall your moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended(60:20).
All sorrow shall disappear from the earth. Again, this reinforces verse 19's thought.
Your people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified.
The little one shall become a thousand, and the small one a strong nation; I, Jehovah, will hasten it in its time(60:21-22).
Here we see God reminding Israel, and all of us, that He was the One who planted the nation originally. It was through His efforts that they became mighty in olden times, and it will be through His efforts in the End Times that makes them mighty once again. Jehovah declares that He has planned everything and that it shall happen at its appointed time. God appointed everything its proper time before He ever created anything. How many times has He said that things were decided "from before the foundations were formed?" The Lamb of God was slain before the foundations were laid down, our Salvation was decided before the foundations were laid down, and Satan's final demise was determined before the foundations were laid down. There is nothing that God does not know, there is nothing happening that is taking Him by surprise. It might be wise for us to realize it is futile to try and work against His plans. We cannot convert this world to believe in Him. We cannot stop the Anti-Christ from coming and ruling this world. We cannot stop nations from attempting to erradicate Israel. To spend all of our energy and time upon such endeavors works against God's plans.
During the Millennial kingdom the strength of people would appear to be increased. How many times did Christ allude to the fact that the spirit is strong but the flesh is weak? Today, I would like to go a whole lot faster but my flesh just does not want to comply! But in this future day all of this will be corrected; corrected here on earth just as it will be corrected for the people in heaven.
That concludes chapter 60. The next chapter draws a distinction between the first and second comings of Christ. Jesus quoted from chapter 61 when He began His public ministry in Nazareth. We shall come to see that in the first three verses of this next chapter we are given a system of biblical interpretation. We shall get to this next time, God willing. I pray that Christ blesses you with long life, good health, and abundant blessings for you and your family.
Mon, Mar 1st - 9:13PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows(60:8)?
If there are any of you out there who feel that this refers to airplanes or jet aircraft, well, that is fine. You can have your opinion. But I prefer to leave it as it is written. It speaks of how quickly these people move, how ready they are to fly. This could refer to ships at sea, or armored vehicles designed to move very quickly overland.
Surely the isles shall wait for Me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD your God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because He has glorified you (60:9).
This could mean the port city of Tarshish literally, or it could mean all seagoing ports around the world. Isles can mean the other continents outside of Europe and Asia. All is conjecture here. What is known for fact is that these people will bring their silver and gold with them to Jerusalem, to Christ. Has this happened yet? I do not believe so for nations did allow Jews to leave their nations and return to Israel in the 1940's but they did not do so with silver and gold in their pockets. This reads like what happened when the Jews left Egypt on their exodus to the Promised Land. The Egyptians gave them all sorts of valuables just to see them leave their country for good. At this future time it would seem that even Russia will gladly send the Jews living there back to Israel.
And the sons of strangers shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister unto you: for in My wrath I smote you, but in My favor have I had mercy on you(60:10).
What I think we see in these verses is a continuation of the future, a time when more Jews shall return home to Israel. We can also infer from this verse that we could very well be talking about the Millennial kingdom. That, again, is a time when all of the earth praises and worships Christ who is ruling from Jerusalem.
Therefore your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto you the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought(60:11).
Yes, this reads more and more like the Millennial kingdom where everyone on earth will come to Jerusalem to pay homage to the King of kings. In the Book of Revelation we can read about how the city shall not close its gates at all. There will no longer be any need to worry about enemies attacking unawares. God will be with us on earth. There are those who say that this Millennial period of 1000 years is pure hogwash, that it is allegorical or spiritual in nature. They ask, "Where do all of the people come from to have more children after the final Judgment?" Very simply, the final judgment has not come yet, and these are the people who did not join in attacking Jerusalem just as Christ returned. All of those in the armies surrounding Israel were obliterated by Christ. All of the surviving peoples elsewhere around the globe did not die at that time. Literally read scripture tells us that the great white throne judgment comes after the 1000 years of Christ' reign on earth. There is no other logical interpretation to go with, all others force us into jumping through hoops to explain why Satan is still affecting life here on earth and why there are still people who are not worshiping Christ. Another prophecy that must be cast aside in this interpretation is the Great Tribulation during which at least one third of the earth's population dies. At that rate we become forced to give up on the Book of Revelation and parts of other books of the Bible in which are found prophecies which relate to this same exact time period. That makes little sense. It is better by far to simply accept these scriptures as literally as possible. Are doves planes? I do not think God needs planes to erradicate anyone or anything. A single word from God is sufficient to cause anything to dissolve into nothingness.
For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; yes, those nations shall be utterly wasted(60:12).
From Matthew 25:31-46 we conclude that His judgment of the nations would be based upon how they treated the Jew. During the Millennium every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is LORD(Philippians 2:10-11). All mankind will be forced to bow the knee, they may not all like doing so, but they shall have no choice this time. There will be those who still, in their hearts, refuse to accept Christ as their Lord. They will go through the motions. Then when Satan is released from the pit at the end of the 1000 years those with rebellious hearts will naturally turn toward him, which will become the very last rebellion. At this time the eternal aspect of the kingdom will be introduced. There will be significant changes at that time. This current earth and heavens shall be dissolved with its sin infestation and replaced with a new heaven and earth. I look forward to that day. I haven't done all that well since I began my life back in Massachusetts many years ago. To be able to start over completely would be nice. God is not going to "retool" or "refurbish" this old earth and universe. He is not going to rework our old nature. God is going to give me and you a new nature and a glorified new body. What a glorious time for us to look forward to!
That is all for today, belove. At this time, I wish to offer my condolences and prayers to all those in Chile who have lost loved ones in the latest earthquake and tsunami. I pray that rescuers and emergency personnel are able to save as many people as possible. I hope and pray that God is able to use various people down there to reach the hearts of those in dire need of hope. May all of us take greater appreciation of the things that we have, and be willing to share some of our excess with those who are now in such great need.
God willing, we shall meet here again to study His Word. May He bless you and keep each of you!
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