The Book of Leviticus describes the way of God to make a man with leprosy clean so that he might join the assembly of God. Leprosy makes a person “unclean” and that person was refused entry into the assembly until he could be made clean through obedience to the Law of God, given through Moses.
Leviticus 14:1-7 (NASB)
1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. Now he shall be brought to the priest, 3 and the priest shall go out to the outside of the camp. Thus the priest shall look, and if the infection of leprosy has been healed in the leper, 4 then the priest shall give orders to take two live clean birds and cedar wood and a scarlet string and hyssop for the one who is to be cleansed. 5 "The priest shall also give orders to slay the one bird in an earthenware vessel over running water. 6 "As for the live bird, he shall take it together with the cedar wood and the scarlet string and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was slain over the running water. 7 "He shall then sprinkle seven times the one who is to be cleansed from the leprosy and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the live bird go free over the open field.
This was the only way for a leper to be made clean. This was the only way for a leper to come into the camp, into the assembly of God’s people. Do you see the shadow? Not yet?
The priest would sacrifice the first bird over running water. He would then dip the second bird into the water and the blood. The water and the blood of the first bird would cleanse and purify the second bird. The priest would then take that blood and water and sprinkle it seven times over the man with leprosy...making him ceremonially clean so that he might enter the assembly of God. Life for life. Blood for blood. Now, do you see the shadow? Not yet?
Some 600 years later...two men will appear in the Holy Scriptures...Elisha and Naaman. Elisha is a Jewish prophet and Naaman is a Syrian military commander who has leprosy. The Gentile leper called Naaman is going to have an encounter with the Jewish prophet Elisha. Naaman has heard that Elisha has the power to heal his leprosy...so Naaman travels to see if it is true.
2 Kings 5:9-10 (NLT)
9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.
Do you see the shadow yet? Seven time in running water. Not yet? Naaman was reluctant at first, even angry, but finally agreed to follow the prophet’s instructions upon the urging of his own people.
2 Kings 5:13-14 (NLT)
13 But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” 14 So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child’s, and he was healed!
Do you see the shadow yet? Not yet? I’ll give you one more chance. Jesus comes on the scene some 900 years after Elisha. At the age of 30, He is baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River (hint-hint) and returns to His hometown of Nazareth. He goes to the Jewish synagogue, opens up the Isaiah Scripture and tells the people that He is the fulfillment to Isaiah’s prophesy of the coming Messiah. Then He says this to the Jews that were assembled that day:
Luke 4:27 (NLT)
27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian [a Gentile].”
That’s my last clue! Do you see the shadow of the two birds? Do you see the shadow of the running water and the seven times? Do you see the way for an unclean person to be made clean so that they might join the assembly of God?
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the running water of the Jordan River, the same river that Naaman was cleansed in. John the Baptist was from the priestly family of Aaron. Jesus’ baptism was a symbol of his coming death and burial. Jesus is not a bird, but it wasn’t birds that needed to be cleansed...it was all mankind, and yes even Gentiles like Naaman. Blood for blood, life for life.
We are all spiritual lepers, unable to enter the presence of God because we are unclean. God has made a way for us to be cleansed, purified, made holy and He revealed it through the shadows of the Law, Elisha, Naaman and the people at that synagogue in Nazareth. All of these shadows reveal the way to be made clean and join the assembly of God.
Hebrews 10:1-7 (NLT2)
1 The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. 2 If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. 3 But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. 4 For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer. 6 You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. 7 Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God— as is written about me in the Scriptures.’”
The blood and the water...they testify of the cleansing power of Jesus Christ. The blood and the water reveal the Son of God, our Messiah, our King.
1 John 5:6-8 (NLT)
6 And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. 7 So we have these three witnesses— 8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree.
Rejoice today that we have been made clean by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord. By faith, we will enter the assembly of God. The shadow has been overshadowed by His glory and now we know the Truth.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Today is election day in America and many people are anxious about the outcome. Should Christians be anxious about this election. I believe all Christians should vote and we should vote with the wisdom provided by the Holy Spirit. Then what? What if the outcome brings trouble and even more division to our land? What if the outcome brings more godlessness or persecution to the church. These are questions that I hear, and I would like to address them today.
First, let me begin with the Book of Daniel. That book reveals the truth that God has already seen all the kingdoms of men. Yes, all of them. God reveals this truth to Daniel and then announces His absolute sovereignty over all earthly kingdoms.
Daniel 4:17 (NIV)
17 "'The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.'
This announcement of the sovereignty of God over the kingdoms of men is made 4 times in the Book of Daniel. The Apostle Paul confirms God’s sovereignty over human governments in the New Testament as well.
Romans 13:1-2 (NIV)
1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Yes, we have a voice, and yes, we should exercise that voice by voting. But know this...God is still sovereign, and God already knows the outcome before the votes are counted. Nothing will happen today outside the control of our Heavenly Father. Nothing will happen that surprises Him.
That brings me to the more important question of today. Do you realize that our lives will cast an eternal ballot with far greater consequences than anything that will happen in America today? Do you realize that? Jesus tells us about this eternal ballot regarding a King that will be cast by all mankind. Remember, Jesus is telling this story...
Luke 19:12-14 (NIV)
12 He said: "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.' 14 "But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.'
They didn’t want this man of noble birth (Jesus) to be their king. But He became a King anyway. They couldn’t stop it...He became a King anyway. They voted against Him, but He became the King anyway because God the Father is sovereign over all kingdoms. Then what?
The King (Jesus) gave everyone in the kingdom a gift. They were all free to do whatever they chose to do with that gift, but the gift came with a promise that one day the King would come and begin to reign in absolute power and authority.
Some of the people saw the King for who He was and cast their ballots with Him and His kingdom. Others refused to see the King for who He was and cast their ballots against Him. But everyone cast their ballots. Everyone was free to vote yes or no for this King.
After a long time, the King returns to the kingdom of men to set up His eternal kingdom. The day of inauguration came. And yes, it did matter how they voted. Everyone had voted yes or no for this King.
The people who supported the King and cast their ballots for Him were given great rewards in the eternal kingdom. But the people who refused to cast their ballot with this King lost everything and were cast out of the eternal kingdom.
Luke 19:26-27 (NIV)
26 "He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of me.'"
There is an election campaign taking place today that is far greater than the one that is taking place in voting booths around America. This election is worldwide, and it is an election with eternal consequences. Who will be your King?
Yes, Christians should vote today in America and No, Christians should not be anxious about the outcome because we have already cast our ballot for the King of kings. That ballot has secured our place in the eternal Kingdom of Christ.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Have you ever had moments of doubt regarding your faith in Jesus and the promise of the resurrection of the dead? Have you ever had moments of doubt regarding the authority and accuracy of the Bible? Is doubt a sin? Do real believers have times of doubt? I want to address these questions today.
Yes, we all have moments of doubt and yes, we all have to deal with this issue from time to time. Doubt is NOT unbelief! Doubt is a time of pause and question. Unbelief is the final outcome of a person’s heart regarding truth. Moments of doubt are natural, yes even to a believer. So, what is the danger of doubt? Doubt left untreated can result in “unbelief” and unbelief is fatal.
2 Thessalonians 2:10 (NLT)
10 He [Satan] will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.
I think the best example of this struggle is written in the final days of John the Baptist. Jesus proclaimed that of all men born of women, none were greater than John the Baptist. Did you know John had doubts about Jesus being the One? This is the same John that was born of a supernatural birth and this is the same John that was filled with the Holy Spirit while in his mother’s womb. This is the same John that baptized Jesus and saw the Spirit descend and heard the voice of God speak. But John also had a moment of doubt.
John’s moment came while he was suffering in Herod’s prison cell. The Bible records his moment of doubt.
Matthew 11:2-3 (NIV)
2 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
What? How could John ask such a question? Prison will do that to a person. Hardship will do that to a person...make you question and doubt that which you previously held to be truth. John had lived his entire life with the presence of the Holy Spirit and yet he still finds himself in the midst of doubt while he suffers in prison.
John’s followers were faithful to his request and they went to ask Jesus the question, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus could have answered that question in many ways, but He chose to answer it like this:
Matthew 11:4-5 (NIV)
4 Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.
It’s called the TRUTH and it cures doubt 100% of the time. Jesus told Johns disciples to remind him of the truth. The blind can see because of Jesus. The lame can walk because of Jesus. The lepers are cured because of Jesus. The deaf can hear because of Jesus. The dead are raised because of Jesus. The Good News is being preached because of Jesus. All this is because of Jesus! Do you know any other man that can do all that? No, and neither did John the Baptist.
Today, I want to encourage you to hold onto the truth because it always cures our doubts. Today, I want to encourage you to hold fast and hold tight to the Word of God, the Bible. It records the truth about Jesus that can overcome our times of suffering and hardship. Yes, even a stay in prison for speaking about that truth.
John was a great man of God, but John was still a man. Herod’s prison had caused him to doubt that which he once held to be true. The truth was the cure then and the truth is the cure today and the Bible is God’s revealed Truth.
Finally, Jesus appeared to two men on the Emmaus Road after His resurrection. These men were also filled with doubt because they thought the cross was the end. It was in the midst of their doubt that Jesus suddenly appears to them with this Word...
Luke 24:37-39 (NIV)
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."
The cross of Christ is real, and our sins have been forgiven through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Jesus experienced a bodily resurrection from the dead and through faith we will also experience a bodily resurrection into His eternal kingdom one day. These are truths and they still have power over our moments of doubt.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
It’s been several years now, but I used to do an annual revival service at the Woodford County Jail. That jail is not just a short-term facility, but there are people there that have incarcerated for many years. I will never forget this one guy that I met there. We would often stop the service and ask if anyone wanted to share a testimony. On that particular night, this man stood up and gave a testimony that I have never forgotten. It began with this, “I praise God tonight that I’m in prison”. I was a bit stunned by his statement until he continued and explained.
The young man went on to explain that it was in prison that he had heard the gospel of Christ, and that he would have never heard about Jesus where he came from. He said, “There was no Jesus in my family or in my circle of friends.” This young man had come to understand “True Freedom”. True Freedom is not based on circumstances or environment, but on our eternal position before God. This man realized that all these prison years would be worth it...because it was in prison that he heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. I remember telling him that I believed he was freer than many people on the outside that night.
This Good News is good news wherever and however you hear it, yes, even in prison. Yes, even in terrible circumstances. Why? Because the gospel tells us how to remove the ultimate chain of sin and death. These chains are larger than any prison cell. Removing these chains (sin and death) is True Freedom and this freedom is the only way to make peace with God.
Romans 6:7-11 (NLT)
7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
I doubt I will ever meet that Woodford County prisoner again in this lifetime, but I hope to meet him again one day in the eternal kingdom of Christ. Today, I encourage each of you to think about the True Freedom we have received through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. There is an incredible peace that comes with this True Freedom. Peace with God and peace within our own heart. Paul writes about this incredible peace that comes after we experience True Freedom. Think about this...Paul wrote these words from prison...
Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar...it is the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur is a shadow or a preview of Judgment Day when each of us will face the glory of God that is behind the veil. On Judgment Day, all will be sealed and final. Yom Kippur reveals the urgent need to deal with sin before we confront the veil, the very presence of God.
All sin is rebellion against God and sin will not be allowed beyond the veil. Sin will not, and cannot enter the holy presence of God. Sin must be dealt with before we approach the veil. Those who have not dealt with sin through the atonement sacrifice (thus the name-Day of Atonement) will forever be separated from God in a place called hell. If a person rejects God’s atonement, that person has chosen to not go beyond the veil...forever.
The Bible tells us that Jesus is our Day of Atonement, our atoning sacrifice for sin. He is our payment for sin and He is the only way for any of us to proceed beyond the veil into the Holy presence of God. But there is another part of this story that must be told. The time to deal with sin is urgent. The time to deal with this atonement of Christ is today. The Old Testament Jewish High priest was required to secure the blood of the lamb (an animal sacrifice) before he approached the veil. He could only enter the Holy Place of God’s presence after he had secured the blood of the lamb. This was the only way to pass through the veil. This is still true today. We must secure the blood of the lamb before we approach the veil.
The veil is sudden! This is the other part of the story...the Sudden Veil. No one knows when they will be called to God’s judgment. No one knows when they will be required to approach the veil. We don’t know when we will breath our final breath and we also don’t know when the trumpet will sound to call the church through the veil. But we do know that both are coming. The Apostle Paul describes it as “a flash” or “in the twinkling of an eye” ...the Sudden Veil.
1 Corinthians 15:50-52 (NIV)
50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
Jesus told us to not let that day of the Sudden Veil catch us unaware, like a trap. That day is coming upon everyone living on the earth.
Luke 21:34-36 (NLT)
34 “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, 35 like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. 36 Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”
We must have the Blood of the Lamb with us before we approach the Sudden Veil. There will be no more chances after we approach the veil. Jesus is our atoning sacrifice and Jesus is the only way to pass through this veil. In fact, the veil was torn as Jesus shed His blood on the cross.
Finally, do you know what Jewish holiday follows Yom Kippur? The Feast of Tabernacles! The Feast of Tabernacles is for those who successfully encountered the Sudden Veil. The Feast of Tabernacles represents our eternal home in heaven, beyond the veil. We will tabernacle with God (to dwell with, live with). All of this awaits us beyond the Sudden Veil.
Revelation 21:3 (NLT)
3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.
St. Augustine said, “The last day is hidden that every day may be regarded”.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
The Apostle Paul was given a unique and special look into the future of all mankind, including the last days. God revealed mysteries to Paul that had been previously hidden.
Ephesians 3:3-5 (NLT)
3 As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me. 4 As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. 5 God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets.
One of these mysteries revealed by God was regarding the apostasy or rebellion that would occur in the last days, revealing the antichrist (man of lawlessness) and bringing the return of Christ to this earth. The NASB version of the Bible uses the word “apostasy” and the NIV/NLT translations use the word “rebellion”. The word means, “to depart from one’s stand or state of standing”. By the way, its difficult to depart from something that you’ve never stood upon...which means this rebellion will come from within the church.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (NLT)
1 Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. 2 Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. 3 Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion [APOSTASY] against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. 4 He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.
Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica is clearly talking about events that will lead up to the return of Christ in the final days of man...when everything will change. Paul, under special revelation from the Lord, said that day (the coming of the Lord) would not come until there was a rebellion (apostasy). Paul also revealed this same topic in his letter to Timothy.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 (NLT)
1 Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. 2 These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.
These people will abandon and turn away from true faith and follow demons. So, what are these people rebelling against? What are these people departing from that will bring the antichrist and the return of Jesus Christ in the last days? God revealed the last days apostasy/rebellion to Paul, but what are they actually rebelling against? What are these people turning their backs on, falling away from? Do you know? Do you think it’s important to know?
I’ve always found it interesting and powerful that the Old and New Testaments begin in the same way. Do you know what the key words are? “GOD SAID...THE WORD”.
Genesis 1:3-5 (NLT)
3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.
John 1:1-5 (NLT)
1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
The Word (God said) is the beginning of the Old Testament/Covenant and The Word is the beginning of the New Testament/Covenant. The Word actually became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ and moved from heaven to earth. The Word says that Jesus will return one day and His name on that day will be “The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13). So, what do you suppose the rebellion will rebel against in the last days of man? The Word...God said!
Paul told Timothy that they would turn away from the true faith in the last days...setting the world stage for the man of lawlessness to be revealed and take control. Is it possible to have true faith without the Word of God? The Bible says that true faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
I am watching this rebellion take place in our generation. I’m watching church after church rebel against the authority of Scripture, turning away from the Word, the Truth. Every week I read a new story about another church that has rejected the authority of Scripture and turned to the deceptive teaching of demons. These are churches that have previously stood upon the authority of Scripture, but now they stand in the midst of the apostasy, the rebellion.
So, what do we do? Is there any hope? God gave this special revelation to Paul and Paul has revealed it to the world. It’s unstoppable! Right? It’s going to happen in the last days! Right? Yes, it’s going to happen and yes, the final days rebellion is unstoppable, but you don’t have to be a part of the rebellion. You can be a part of the resistance and stand upon the Word of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Take this personal Word from Jesus as your encouragement today:
Matthew 24:9-14 (NLT)
9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.
We MUST NOT rebel against the Word of God/God says. We MUST be those who endure to the end. We MUST be a people of THE WORD and by doing so...we refuse to join the apostasy of these last days. Yes, we will face opposition. This is a spiritual war, and this is a battle for life and death that finds its origin in the heavenly realms. This battle will have eternal consequences. Our only offensive weapon in this battle is a Sword. But this Sword is very powerful. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God...put it on and stand your ground church!
Ephesians 6:14-17 (NLT)
14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
I was reading today from Jonathan Cahn’s book “The Book of Mysteries” when I came across something that I would like to share and expand upon. Most of you are aware that Jesus is from the lineage of King David and the angel Gabriel told Mary that Jesus was going to sit on David’s throne one day and reign over the house of Jacob/Israel forever. Jesus is indeed the King of all kings. But there is another part to Jesus that many still do not understand. Jesus is also a High Priest. This is where Jonathan Cahn helps put it into a modern perspective.
The people of Israel operated under the authority of both, the King and the Priest, but their roles were kept separate. No man was allowed to wear both crowns (king and priest). Do you know why? The true King of Israel was not a man, but God. So, the reigning King of Israel (example King David) operated under the ordained authority of Israel’s true King-God. On the other hand, Israel also had a High Priest who also operated under the ordained authority of God. The true King of Israel...God, was the Judge and the Jewish High Priest was something of a defense attorney standing before the Judge. The High Priest would offer sacrifices or offerings to cover the sin and guilt of the people (standing between the people and the Judge. But the two offices were kept separate.
Then God did something amazing. He announced it through the prophet Zechariah. God was going to combine these the two roles into one person....Jesus! Jesus was coming to be the King and the High Priest, ordained and appointed by the authority of God the Father.
Zechariah 6:12-13 (NLT)
12 Tell him, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Here is the man called the Branch. He will branch out from where he is and build the Temple of the LORD. 13 Yes, he will build the Temple of the LORD. Then he will receive royal honor and will rule as king from his throne. He will also serve as priest from his throne, and there will be perfect harmony between his two roles.’
The Judge (the King) and the Defense Attorney (High Priest) were going to become the same person. The person that has the power and authority to sentence and judge us has now become the person who will defend us. How incredible is this scene?
Let me put it this way...we have all sinned and broken God’s laws. We are all guilty and we will all one day stand before the King, our Judge. God knew that we would not survive this righteous judgment, so He appointed a High Priest to come to our defense. What do you think will happen when our Judge and the Defense attorney become the same person? Paul describes the outcome of this divine merger of roles.
Romans 8:31-34 (NLT)
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
This is almost too wonderful to comprehend. God is for us! He proved it by sending His only Begotten Son to become our Defense Attorney (High Priest). Who will accuse us on the last day if our Judge and Defense Attorney are the same person...the One and Only Jesus?
Big Question and Summary...How do we receive this wonderful, blessed gift of God? We receive it by faith and only by faith. We must truly believe that Jesus is indeed who He says He is. He is the King and the Priest. Saving faith is when Jesus becomes MY King and MY Priest. When He becomes mine, then I become His! The Holy Spirit makes us as one (brothers with the same Father). And it is the power of the Holy Spirit that sets us free from the power of sin and death. Therefore we no longer live in fear and dread regarding our last day.
Romans 8:1-4 (NLT)
1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
Our Priestly King has set us free from the power of sin that leads to death. We are free from condemnation, free from the eternal judgment of hell. I can’t imagine a “good news” that is bigger than this good news.
Celebrate and share this wonderful gift of God through Jesus Christ the Son.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
God has commanded everything that has the breath of life to be fruitful, to bear fruit while they live on the earth. God told the animals to be fruitful and multiply in Genesis one and God told Noah to be fruitful and multiply in Genesis nine (after the flood). But something was added to this “fruitful life” in the time of Moses. The command of God became a command of “FIRSTFRUITS” by bringing the first of their harvest before the Lord. Later in the time of King Hezekiah we read this:
2 Chronicles 31:5 (NIV)
5 As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything.
In the time of Moses, God was opening the eyes of Israel to something beyond fruitfulness to something called “firstfruits”. This transformed the fruitful command of God from something physical to something spiritual. The giving of the firstfruits would require a change in one’s heart, not just a physical act of multiplication. And then something BIG happens! Jesus comes to the earth as God places His Holy Seed in the womb of a woman. This Holy Seed was going to bring forth the ultimate firstfruits of God. The seed of God-the Son of God would spend some 33 years on the earth and then die on a Roman cross. That seed, the body of Christ (God in the flesh) was planted in the ground outside Jerusalem’s gates. Do you know what day that seed rose from the dead? One the Jewish Feast of Firstfruits! Can you imagine what this means?
This physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is also a spiritual revelation of God regarding firstfruits. Do you see it yet? The Apostle Paul reveals this spiritual mystery...
1 Corinthians 15:20 (NIV)
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Jesus was the first to rise from the dead, but He was not going to be the last. He was the firstfruits of those who follow Him into the resurrection. Jesus ascended into heaven to take his rightful place at God’s right hand, but the Holy Spirit now reigns in the hearts of those born again believers who remain on this earth. And do you know what the fruit of the Holy Spirit is?
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Maybe you can see the fruit or result of the Holy Spirit, but what does that have to do with firstfruits? You and I have been born again through faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit then brings these holy fruits into our lives and guess what happens next.
Next is the firstfruits. Do you see it yet? You and I have been called to become fruitful, to bear the fruits of God where they have never been born. We do this by taking the firstfruits that we have received from the Holy Spirit to a person/place where they have never been born yet...into the heart of an unbeliever. For example, one of the fruits of the Spirit is peace, but a person can never know the true peace until they know about the firstfruits of the resurrection. When we proclaim the Gospel of Christ we are bearing fruits that can become firstfruits in the hearts of an unbeliever. Believers have already received the firstfruits of the resurrection (which is Christ in me) but now we bear that fruitfulness to others as firstfruits because they do not yet have them.
This is the purpose of the Gospel. The church has been called to bear fruit, the firstfruits for the kingdom of Christ. We do this by releasing the light of the gospel in to the darkness of this present world. The Light becomes the Firstfruits of God harvest as it spreads and multiplies in the hearts of unbelievers. Remember, there was a time that someone released the firstfruits into our lives.
Ephesians 5:8-14 (NIV)
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
Rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you. How will they rise from the dead without the Light that reveals the firstfruits of the resurrection? And how will they rise unless someone takes the fruit of the Spirit to that place where it has not yet been planted?
Our calling of God is to be fruitful and multiply...where there is no fruit, no love, no joy, no peace, no patience, no kindness, no goodness, no faithfulness and no self-control...What do we do? We show up with the Light of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit and bear Jesus’ firstfruits.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen.
My “word” today will be different than usual. A very personal, hand-written letter from President Ronald Reagan to his dying father-in-law was uncovered recently and published. I was moved by the letter and referred to it in my NCC message yesterday. I thought it would be good to share the entire letter with you today. This letter was written on August 7, 1982...about 1.5 years after he became President of the United States. It was written to President Reagan’s dying and atheist father-in law, Dr. Loyal. The letter itself is self-explanatory:
Aug. 7 
I hope you’ll forgive me for this, but I’ve been wanting to write you ever since we talked on the phone. I am aware of the strain you are under and believe with all my heart there is help for that.
First I want to tell you of a personal experience I’ve kept to myself for a long time. During my first year as Governor you’ll recall the situation I found in Calif. was almost as bad as the one in Wash. today. It seemed as if the problems were endless and insolvable.
Then I found myself with an ulcer. In all those years at Warner Bros., no one had been able to give me an ulcer and I felt ashamed as if it were a sign of weakness on my part. John Sharpe had me on Malox and I lived with a constant pain that ranged from discomfort to extremely sharp attacks.
This went on for months. I had a bottle of Maalox in my desk, my briefcase and of course at home. Then one morning I got up, went into the bathroom, reached for the bottle as always and some thing happened. I knew I didn’t need it. I had gone to bed with the usual pain the night before but I knew that morning I was healed. The Malox went back on the shelf.
That morning when I arrived at the office Helene brought me my mail. The first letter I opened was from a lady — a stranger — in the Southern part of the state. She had written to tell me she was one of a group who met every day to pray for me. Believe it or not, the second letter was from a man, again a stranger, in the other end of the state telling me he was part of a group that met weekly to pray for me.
Within the hour a young fellow from the legal staff came into my office on some routine matter. On the way out he paused in the door and said: “Gov. I think maybe you’d like to know — some of us on the staff come in early every morning and get together to pray for you.”
Coincidence? I don’t think so. A couple of weeks later Nancy and I went down to L.A. and had our annual checkup. John Sharpe, a little puzzled, told me I no longer had an ulcer but added there was no indication I’d ever had one. Word of honor — I never told him about that particular day in Sacramento.
There is a line in the bible — “Where ever two or more are gathered in my name there will I be also.”
Loyal I know of your feeling — your doubt but could I just impose on you a little longer? Some seven hundred years before the birth of Christ the ancient Jewish prophets predicted the coming of a Messiah. They said he would be born in a lowly place, would proclaim himself the Son of God and would be put to death for saying that.
All in all there were a total of one hundred and twenty three specific prophesy’s about his life all of which came true. Crucifixion was unknown in those times, yet it was foretold that he would be nailed to a cross of wood. And one of the predictions was that he would be born of a Virgin.
Now I know that is probably the hardest for you as a Dr. to accept. The only answer that can be given is — a miracle. But Loyal I don’t find that as great a miracle as the actual history of his life. Either he was who he said he was or he was the greatest faker & charlatan who ever lived. But would a liar & faker suffer the death he did when all he had to do to save himself was admit he’d been lying?
The miracle is that a young man of 30 yrs. without credentials as a scholar or priest began preaching on street corners. He owned nothing but the clothes on his back & he didn’t travel beyond a circle less than one hundred miles across. He did this for only 3 years and then was executed as a common criminal.
But for two thousand years he has … had more impact on the world than all the teachers, scientists, emperors, generals and admirals who ever lived, all put together.
The apostle John said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that who so ever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life.”
We have been promised that all we have to do is ask God in Jesus name to help when we have done all we can — when we’ve come to the end of our strength and abilities and we’ll have that help. We only have to trust and have faith in his infinite goodness and mercy.
Loyal, you and Edith have known a great love — more than many have been permitted to know. That love will not end with the end of this life. We’ve been promised this is only a part of life and that a greater life, a greater glory awaits us. It awaits you together one day and all that is required is that you believe and tell God you put yourself in his hands.
I have no idea if President Reagan’s father-in-law ever received Christ as his Savior before he died. What I do know is this...President Reagan didn’t want his father-in-law to die without Christ, so he used his personal testimony to try to convince his father-in law to believe in Jesus as Messiah/Christ. All who have come to Christ by faith, like President Reagan have a personal testimony to share with those who do not yet believe in Jesus. It is not in our power to make them believe it, but it is in our power (through the Holy Spirit) to share our testimony with those who are dying without Christ as Savior and Lord.
Revelation 12:11 (NLT)
11 And they have defeated him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Today, the Jews around the world will celebrate the Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah. Today is the first day of the Jewish New Year 5779 (5779 years since God created the earth). It is customary for Jews to confess their sins and repent of those sins before God...before the New Year begins so they can begin the new year with a clean heart toward God.
I was watching a video recently of one of those Jewish gatherings at Jerusalem’s Western Wall where thousands and thousands of Jews were confessing and repenting of their sins (before Rosh Hashanah). I was moved by the scene of so many people crying out to God and I’ve attached a link to a 45 second video from this past week’s event in Jerusalem.
Ten days after today’s Feast of Trumpets comes the highest of all Jewish Holy days...the Day of Atonement...or Yom Kippur. In the time of Moses the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place of God’s presence and offer a blood sacrifice to atone for the sins of the people of Israel. The ten days between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement are called the Days of Awe. It is the time of spiritual preparation...when the people return to God through repentance. Repentance is the physical and spiritual act of returning to God.
Isaiah 30:15 (NLT)
15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.
These are the Days of Awe because they will determine your position with God in relation to the Day of Atonement. Those who have confessed and repented of their sins will find peace with God on the Day of Atonement, but those who refuse to repent...will find His divine judgment instead of divine forgiveness and peace.
Jeremiah 3:21-22 (NLT)
21 Voices are heard high on the windswept mountains, the weeping and pleading of Israel’s people. For they have chosen crooked paths and have forgotten the LORD their God. 22 “My wayward children,” says the LORD, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.” “Yes, we’re coming,” the people reply, “for you are the LORD our God.
Most of the Jews in that Western Wall scene last week are still waiting for their Messiah. God is regathering them into the land of Israel from the four corners of the earth, but most of them still don’t believe in Jesus as Messiah. We believe the Jewish Messiah has already come and is coming again. We believe Jesus was the Messiah/Christ and that He was and is our Day of Atonement. In fact, Jesus was the fulfillment of all the spring feasts/festivals of Israel that were revealed by God to Moses.
- Jesus was crucified and died on the Jewish feast of Passover
- Jesus was buried on the Jewish feast of Unleavened Bread
- Jesus rose from the dead on the Jewish feast of First Fruits
- Jesus came to the earth in the form and person of the Holy Spirit on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost
These are the four spring feasts of Israel and they are followed by three fall feasts that begin today with the Feast of Trumpets. Will God use His Son, in some way, to fulfill these fall feasts? How will Jesus fulfill the next three Jewish feasts/festivals?
- The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashana)
- The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
- The Feast of Tabernacles (Succot)
Nobody knows for sure, but I believe He will fulfill these remaining three feasts/festivals in some way. So, what does this all mean to the church in these last days? We should confess our sins before God and repent by turning or returning to Him. We don’t have to travel to the Western Wall of Jerusalem to do this. By God’s grace, we can do this anytime through repentance and faith in the name of Jesus Christ.
We live in the Days of Awe and we await the last trumpet and that final Day of Atonement when Jesus will come and tabernacle with each of us who have received His atoning blood sacrifice through faith.
Today, I join with the Jewish people around the world to celebrate the Feast of Trumpets. I am NOT waiting for the first coming of the Jewish Messiah. I am waiting for his second coming, and I am waiting for the sound of a trumpet.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 (NLT)
15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
I have prayed a specific prayer over my children since they were babies. I overheard my oldest son, Chad, praying that same specific prayer recently. The prayer was, “Make their path straight”. I prayed that prayer because the straight path is not a natural path. It’s always been interesting to me that people lost in the woods or wilderness will almost always end up walking in circles. I know it seems crazy, but its true. Even though the lost person feels like they are walking straight, they are inevitably leaning to one side or the other as they walk, making their path crooked. Maybe that person has one leg slightly shorter than the other, or the muscles in one leg are stronger than the other one, but they do not naturally walk a straight path.
Our journey through life can be compared to a wilderness journey and I want the straight path toward the Promised Land on the other side of this wilderness. We have all learned that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, a straight path, but this straight path is un-natural for man. The crooked path is natural, but it is the path of the lost and those who have not yet set their sights on the Promised Land.
There is an Old Testament Psalm of King David where he asks God to teach him how to walk this straight path...lead me on this straight path, knowing that it will bring him safety.
Psalm 27:11 (NIV)
11 Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
The New Testament writer of Hebrews makes a similar statement.
Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT2)
12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.
The straight path is my prayer for my children and grandchildren, even today. It is also the prayer for my own life. I don’t want my life to walk around in a circle, going nowhere. I want my life to be focused and filled with meaning every day. This is the straight path. If it is un-natural for us humans to walk a straight path, then how? We apply the supernatural, through the Spirit of Christ.
While our natural walking tendency is circular, God can give us eyes that can correct our physical imbalance and keep us centered. That is if our eyes remain focused on the destination. Those lost in the wilderness will walk a straight path out of that wilderness by keeping their eyes focused on a fixed object at their destination. This is our hope as well.
Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT2)
1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
I encourage each of you today to take a new grip with your tired hands, strengthen your weak knees and set your sights on the realities of Heaven, our Promised Land. The power of the straight path is within your reach, but this only applies to those who have been raised to a new life in Christ because this straight path is supernatural.
Today, I encourage each of you to pray this prayer, “Make our path straight” and then fix your sights on the realities of heaven. Fix your eyes on the supernatural truth that our Redeemer and Lord Jesus sits at the right hand of God in heaven...waiting for the day that He will receive each of us straight path travelers into that Promised Land.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
You’ve heard it said, “Born once, die twice...Born twice, die once”. That saying is based on the fact that a born-again believer in Christ has two birthdays. The first birthday was their natural birth and their second birthday was the day they were born again (by water and by the Spirit). The Scripture promises that the born again will not experience the second death and they might even escape physical death altogether, if they are still alive when the Lord returns for His Church.
Revelation 20:6 (NIV)
6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
The second death is the judgment of God upon those who have not been born again through faith in Jesus Christ. This second death judgment is hell and it is the place of the forever lost. This second death has no power over those who have part in the first resurrection. That must mean there are two resurrections, like there are two birthdays.
The born again promise of God is connected to the baptism of water and the Spirit in John chapter three and baptism is connected to dying to self and being buried (in water) with Christ.
John 3:5 (NIV)
5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
Romans 6:3-7 (NIV)
3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
The Bible says we are born again when we die to our self (spiritually speaking) and are buried with Christ in baptism...so our first resurrection (coming out of the water after being buried in baptism) is directly connected to our second birthday (born again in Christ). Is anyone confused yet?
The second death (judgment of hell) has no power over those who have experienced the first resurrection (those who have been born again). This also applies to the rapture of the church and those who will be resurrected from their graves (Christians who have already died) when Jesus returns for the church.
My Main Point today is very Good News...you don’t have to die twice, and you might not even have to die once. How great is this Good News! Jesus came and suffered our death and our judgment so that we could escape the second death called hell. Jesus rose from the dead and became the first of a great harvest (first fruits) of those who will follow Him into the resurrection of the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:20 (NIV)
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Do you believe this? It’s only good news if you believe it!
John 11:25-26 (NIV)
25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
Never die...this is a reference to the second death. Well, do you believe this? Born again believers who have gone before us are guaranteed two resurrections. The first was the day they were born again by dying with Christ in baptism. The second will occur when the trumpet sounds at Jesus’ return for His bride, the church. The second resurrection belongs to those who have physically and spiritually died in Christ. But what about the believers who have been born again and are still alive when Jesus returns?
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NIV)
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.
We will rise to meet the Lord in the air...without ever tasting physical death. We will rise that day because we have already experienced the first resurrection on our second birthday. Praise God for His wonderful gift of mercy and grace.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Gideon is listed in the Book of Hebrews hall of fame as a man of great faith. But that is not how Gideon’s story begins. Gideon’s faith journey began in the midst of fear and dread. The Midianites had invaded the land of Israel and Gideon was living in fear. Then something happened...God came to Gideon and God called Gideon to be something that he was not and something he would never be...unless God performs a miracle in Gideon’s life. God actually announces his miracle in Gideon in advance, while Gideon was still living in fear.
Judges 6:11-12 (NIV)
11 The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."
Gideon was not a mighty warrior...Gideon was hiding and afraid. God didn’t announce what Gideon was, but what Gideon was going to become...a mighty warrior. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. Gideon became what God had announced...a mighty warrior.
Gideon didn’t see it at first. All he could see was his terrible circumstances, his personal fear and weakness in light of these invading Midianites. Even though God had already proclaimed it...Gideon had not yet received God’s promise.
Judges 6:15 (NIV)
15 "But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."
Gideon missed it at first and most of us do the same. The promise of God had already been made. The promise of what we would become was decided by God, in advance. God even announced how it would happen.
Judges 6:16 (NIV)
16 The LORD answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together."
We’ll do it together. Gideon wasn’t capable of becoming a mighty warrior on his own, but God was going to go with him. God was going to work through Gideon to accomplish his plan to free Israel from the invading Midianites.
There must have been a time in Gideon’s life when he finally got it...God is with me! This knowledge is called faith and faith is powerful. God is still calling Gideon’s today. God is still making promises today. His Word reveals the power of faith today.
John 14:15-18 (NIV)
15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
And what is this command of Jesus...walk by faith. Walk under the authority and power of Christ. Allow Him to work His mighty power in your life, as He did through Gideon so many years ago.
God did not call Gideon a mighty warrior AFTER he defeated the Midianites, but before. God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but a spirit of power...not after we overcome, but before. It’s called faith and without faith it is impossible to please God.
Walk by faith church. Walk in confidence in the calling and presence of God in your life church. Walk in victory church, because it has already been guaranteed by Jesus himself.
Revelation 21:6-7 (NIV)
6 He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
I just finished a week of camp with 68 middle school kids. Our camp theme was “Out of the Darkness” and I used this Scripture from 1st Peter to teach the theme.
1 Peter 2:6 (NLT)
6 As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
I would begin each camp teaching session by saying something like this...2000 years ago God placed a wonderful Stone in Jerusalem. The purpose of that Stone was to get you “Out of the Darkness”. We spent the entire week putting all the pieces of this “Sacred Jerusalem Stone” and “Out of the Darkness” together. As usual, I ended up learning more than I ended up teaching.
This is what I learned...God placed a Stone, a precious Cornerstone in Jerusalem some 2000 years ago...His name is Jesus. Some people have and will see the priceless value of this Jerusalem Stone and build their lives upon Him and His Word. Others have and will look at this Stone and reject it as insignificant and unable for life building. This is the story of all mankind. What will we do with that Stone that God placed in Jerusalem?
1 Peter 2:7-8 (NLT)
7 Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” 8 And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.
This Jerusalem Stone has tripped (caused them to stumble) a lot of people and this Jerusalem Stone has been the foundation or cornerstone for many people. How does it trip some and become the life foundation of others...there is only One Jerusalem Stone! Did you notice the reason for the tripping and stumbling? It’s real important to see what’s tripping so many people so that you will not stumble and fall because of this Jerusalem Stone. They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.
God’s Word is a Rock and people have and are stumbling over it. It’s a choice. You can stand on this Rock, this Word or you can trip over it. The Rock doesn’t move. The Word doesn’t change. There are many that want the Rock to move out of the way...clear the path. There are many that want to change the Word...so that it stops tripping people. But there is one problem with this idea. The Rock was placed there by God to call you “Out of the Darkness”. If a person rejects the Jerusalem Stone and the Word of God...they will remain in the darkness...forever. Peter describes believers as those who have accepted this Jerusalem Stone and build their lives on the Light of the Word.
1 Peter 2:9 (NLT)
9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
But there was one more part to this camp story and it didn’t even come to me until I was speaking at our Wednesday night campfire session. Suddenly my mind was taken back to a future prophesy of Daniel. Daniel prophesied about a time when the Jerusalem Stone is going to return to this present earth and cover the whole earth.
Daniel 2:34-35 (NLT)
34 As you watched, a rock was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands. It struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits. 35 The whole statue [kingdoms of men] was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth.
Two thousand years ago, God placed a marvelous Cornerstone in Jerusalem. That Jerusalem Stone (Jesus) was the Lamb of God that came to take away the sins of the world. After His resurrection, Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father...waiting for the day that Daniel’s prophesy will be fulfilled. Let there be no doubt...this day is coming!
Daniel 2:44-45 (NLT)
44 “During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever. 45 That is the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain, though not by human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God was showing the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its meaning is certain.”
The truth is this...by God’s grace we can stand upon this Stone in Jerusalem and come “Out of the Darkness”. Or, you can reject the grace of God and be disgraced on the last day. We receive God’s grace by trusting in His Word and building our life on this wonderful Stone in Jerusalem. Do you trust Him?
1 Peter 2:6 (NLT)
6 As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
There is an amazing and revealing scene of Jesus in John chapter 12 where Jesus predicts His death and compares it to a seed being placed in the ground.
John 12:23-24 (NLT)
23 Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.
Jesus compares His death on the cross and His burial in the earth to the planting of a seed that produces much fruit, but only after it is planted and dies. The time for “glory” was connected to the time of “planting the seed so that the seed would die”.
This is where it gets interesting. A physical seed is placed in the ground, but it must die before it can become something that can bear fruit, in this case, wheat. Why was Jesus comparing the time of His glory to the death and subsequent transformation of a seed? There cannot be a “resurrection” into a new life until there is a “death” of the old life. The original must die first. The resurrection is the fruit of the seed that is placed in the ground to die. The many new kernels and the plentiful harvest of new lives is based on the spiritual concept of The Seed. The Seed must die.
Notice that Jesus says the seed remains alone unless it is placed in the ground to die. Remains alone...this is the story of man without God. This is the story of all mankind before God placed the holy and divine seed of His Only Son in the earth....remains alone! But something happened at the death, burial and resurrection of this Holy Seed of God. A great and plentiful harvest has followed this planting of God. Jesus makes it clear. We don’t have to guess what comes next. What is our part in this seed planting salvation of God? It’s the next verse in John chapter 12...
John 12:25-26 (NLT)
25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.26 Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
Do you see it? To love your life in this world is to refuse to drop your seed in the ground to die...to follow in the way of Christ. The nature of our seeds (natural man) is to remain alone and to remain separate from God. It is unnatural for a man to put his seed in the ground and die to himself...it is against his very nature. It is unnatural for any man to die to this world. But the seed of man must die or there can be no resurrection. The resurrection is the fruit of the seed’s death and you’re going to want to partake of that fruit one day. That’s why Jesus told Nicodemus this...
John 3:3 (NLT)
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
The seed must die...it was true for Jesus and it is true for Jesus’ followers. The fruit of Jesus’ death was the resurrection and it will be the same for anyone who will die to themselves and die to this world so that they can be born again from a new seed...the seed of Christ. And what is this seed of Christ. The seed of Christ is the joining together of God and man, so that man will not “remain alone”.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
There are many people today, even in the church that don’t see the modern-day relevance of Israel. Many churches have taught a “replacement theology” which teaches people that the church has replaced Israel. These are many of the same people that have discarded the Old Testament as irrelevant and outdated. I would like to address that issue today.
First, let me say that the church did not replace Israel, the church was invited to join Israel in the covenant promises of God, through Christ. Nowhere in the Scriptures does it say the church will replace Israel. God has declared His eternal love for Israel many times in the Old and New Testaments.
Jeremiah 31:36-37 (NLT)
36 “I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!” 37 This is what the LORD says: “Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done. I, the LORD, have spoken!
Romans 11:1-8 (NLT)
1 I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel? Of course not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning.
Today, we live in the church age, the time of the Gentiles (non-Jews) and God has been offering His divine grace and mercy to the Gentiles for some 2000 years now. Yes, the Scriptures say that God has put the Jews in a spiritual sleep during this time of the Gentiles, but one day God will awaken Israel to their Messiah-Jesus.
Romans 11:7-8 (NLT)
7 So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the hearts of the rest were hardened. 8 As the Scriptures say, “God has put them into a deep sleep. To this day he has shut their eyes so they do not see, and closed their ears so they do not hear.”
One day, and I believe that day is coming soon...God will close down the church age when He returns in the clouds to receive the dead in Christ and the alive in Christ...into His presence.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NIV)
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
The Bible reveals a great time of trouble/tribulation will come upon everyone remaining on the earth as the church is caught up to be with the Lord. What about Israel? What happens to Israel after the church is caught up? The Apostle Paul calls it a mystery, but the Bible reveals this mystery to those who will believe.
Romans 11:25-29 (NLT2)
25 I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. 26 And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, “The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness. 27 And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins.” 28 Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 29 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.
Someone will come from Jerusalem to rescue Israel in the absence of the church. Do you know who He is? Do you know the One that reveals this mystery? He is the Jewish Messiah-Jesus!
Zechariah 12:10 (NLT2)
10 “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died.
Israel will be awakened, and they will look upon the One that was pierced and see Him as their Messiah, their Savior. They will weep bitterly, knowing that Israel had rejected Him at His first coming.
But until that day...Israel is revealing the fact that the Word of God is true. On May 14, 1948, after some 2000 years of absence, Israel was reborn as a nation among the kingdoms of men. Was that a coincidence or was this a fulfillment of God’s Word?
Isaiah 66:7-9 (NLT2)
7 “Before the birth pains even begin, Jerusalem gives birth to a son. 8 Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? But by the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born. 9 Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it?” asks the LORD. “No! I would never keep this nation from being born,” says your God.
Isaiah 61:4 (NLT2)
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations.
I’ve been to Israel and I’ve seen it with my own eyes...they are rebuilding the ancient ruins, yes even today. Is this a coincidence or the fulfillment of God’s Word?
Amos 9:14-15 (NLT2)
14 I will bring my exiled people of Israel back from distant lands, and they will rebuild their ruined cities and live in them again. They will plant vineyards and gardens; they will eat their crops and drink their wine. 15 I will firmly plant them there in their own land. They will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.
There were around 500,000 Jews living in Israel in 1948, but now there are more than 6 million. Jews are returning to Israel from all over the world. Is this a coincidence or the fulfillment of God’s Word? The New Testament book of Acts refers to this mystery of the last days as well...
Acts 15:13-18 (NLT2)
13 When they had finished, James stood and said, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Peter has told you about the time God first visited the Gentiles to take from them a people for himself. 15 And this conversion of Gentiles is exactly what the prophets predicted. As it is written: 16 ‘Afterward I will return and restore the fallen house of David. I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, 17 so that the rest of humanity might seek the LORD, including the Gentiles— all those I have called to be mine. The LORD has spoken— 18 he who made these things known so long ago.’
The Word of God is true. Israel, past and present reveals the Word of God is true. Old and New Testament...the Word of God is true.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT2)
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
The Word of God is true. Don’t leave home without it!
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Jonathan Cahn writes about the mystery of lambs and a wolf and I would like to share it with you today. The children of Israel were often referred to as sheep or lambs in the Scriptures. King David refers to himself as a lamb that is led by and belongs to the Shepherd in the 23rd Psalm.
Psalm 23:1-4 (NIV)
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
The prophet Ezekiel talks about the time when the children of Israel (the sheep of God) would be scattered and without a shepherd to lead them. What happens when the sheep have no shepherd to protect and lead them?
Ezekiel 34:5-6 (NIV)
5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
The Old Testament reveals that the sheep of Israel were scattered all over the world because they refused to follow God. Their rebellion left them alone and without a shepherd. Finally, Jesus comes, and He refers to himself as The Good Shepherd. Jesus sends out 72 men on a mission trip, to rescue the lost sheep of Israel...to tell them the Good News of the Good Shepherd Jesus.
Luke 10:1-3 (NIV)
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
Jesus refers to his followers as sheep among wolves. Sheep among wolves is a helpless and hopeless condition, without a Good Shepherd. A lamb can never survive the attack of a wolf without the protection of a Good Shepherd. This is the story of Israel, since the time of Christ.
The Gospels of Matthew and John tell us that Jesus came first to the lost sheep of Israel, but they refused to accept His as their Good Shepherd.
Matthew 10:5-7 (NIV)
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.'
John 1:11 (NIV)
11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
The Jewish people have been like sheep without a shepherd ever since the time of Christ, Yes, some of the Jews have accepted Jesus as the Good Shepherd, but not as a nation...not yet!
This is where the mystery is revealed. There have been many wolves that have come to destroy the lost sheep of Israel over the centuries, but none more terrible than Adolph Hitler. Adolph Hitler was a wolf and his appetite was for the lost sheep of Israel. Hitler’s goal was to hunt down the sheep and gather them together into groups and lead them to the slaughter, like sheep. Do you know what Hitler named his military headquarters...Wolfsschanze...it means the wolf’s lair. And another he called Wolfsschluct, which means wolf’s gorge. And another he named Werewolf. Hitler’s closest friends even called him “Wolf”. Do you know why? Do you know the name that Hitler was given at birth...Adolph...which means “The Wolf”.
If there is a flock of sheep, and if there is a wolf...there must also be a Shepherd.
John 10:11-16 (NIV)
11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He came for the lost sheep of Israel, but they refused to follow Him. The wolf is real and the wolf is deadly to these and any lost sheep. Jesus makes it clear that He has other sheep that are not of the Jewish pen (verse 16 above) which is a reference to the Gentiles of the world and He, our Good Shepherd is bringing in the Gentile sheep during the time of the Gentiles, the time of the Church. In the end, we will be one flock under the protection of One Shepherd-Jesus!
Walk close to this Good Shepherd. Do not stray from this Good Shepherd because there is a wolf that likes the taste of lost sheep. Do you know how King David closes the 23rd Psalm which he claims the Lord as his Shepherd?
Psalm 23:6 (NIV)
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
King David can proclaim verse 6 (above) because The Lord is MY Shepherd. We can claim the same eternal reward if the Lord is our Shepherd. Stay very close to Him!
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen.
I follow Ken Ham on Twitter. I recently saw where
Ken had linked an article called “Darwin’s Advice for Parents” by Glen
Geyer Ph.D. In this article, Dr. Geyer gives 10 evolution inspired
lessons for parents as to how to raise their children. I took the time
to read all 10 of them and thought I would share them with you, just in
case you are one of those who have lost your mind and actually believe
that your children came from monkeys. I do realize that children
sometimes act like monkeys, but I still believe they are creations of
the Living God, rather than products of chance, random processes of
nothingness that lead to somethingness.
Here they are...just in case you happen to be an evolutionary species that doesn’t eat your young...you might need some advice today about how to raise your little monkeys. I have decided to add some commentary below each of these 10 evolutionary child rearing ideas.
#1) Realize that we are an altricial species and that your kid will make lots of mistakes
An altricial species refers to someone that is born in an immature and helpless condition, such as a human baby, but I don’t know how an evolutionary creature living without any purpose or meaning could make a mistake. If there is no truth (evolution teaches there is no truth), then there can be no mistake because a mistake must assume a source of truth.
#2) Teach your kids to stand up for themselves.
Evolution teaches the survival of the fittest. The only problem with this idea applied to evolution (in the absence of absolute truth) is what I see happening in school shootings by students that believe they are being bullied. Are they just standing up for themselves?
#3) Cultivate an other-oriented approach to life.
This evolutionary idea promotes cooperation alongside standing up for yourself. I’m not sure what happens when these two ideas come in conflict with each other in the absence of absolute truth. I believe survival of the strongest monkey will win out, over cooperation.
#4) Feed your kids like they lived 20,000 years ago.
This is the only one of the 10 that made any sense to me. I have this feeling that processed foods are not very good for us humans. However, I searched to see what people were eating 20,000 years ago and I can’t find a single person that can give me the menu. Maybe dying is a larger problem than diet!
#5) Get your kids to develop identities tied to sport or exercise.
Now your talking! This will advance the human race! Let’s teach our children that the real value and meaning of life is found in sports and exercise. But what happens when some of those children aren’t athletic? Does that mean they don’t have any value or purpose in life? Maybe exercise will delay the fact that our meaningless life will end in a meaningless grave and eventually no one will even know our meaningless names. I suppose exercise will at least delay the meaningless last day.
#6) Cultivate artistic and musical interests.
Ok, this is what the people can do if they don’t like sports. But what happens when the big and strong athletic types don’t like your music? I suppose survival of the strongest still applies. Maybe a bigger question is why would the result of chance, random nothingness have music down deep inside them, waiting to come out?
#7) Allow for plenty of free play with other kids.
This evolutionary suggestion was based on the idea that those who hunted in packs fared better than those who hunted alone. If this is true, the gangs in Chicago are going to reach a very high level of existence, especially if they play sports and a guitar.
#8) Get your kids outside — a lot!
one that my momma would support. She always told us monkeys to go play
outside. After all, animals were meant for the outdoors. Animals will
always fare better in the natural than in the confines of the zoo.
#9) Teach your kids values that would be helpful for small-scale living.
one is very interesting to me. What are the values of a monkey and what
if the monkey’s values are different than that of a lion that likes the
taste of monkey? Which value should the animals teach the animals?
#10) Allow yourself to make mistakes.
Why would a person that came from nothing (an existence that resulted from chance, random processes of nothingness) care about mistakes? If there is no truth, then what in the world is a mistake?
My summary and purpose for this crazy article today. Can you imagine being the child of the writer of this article? Can you imagine your daddy coming to you and telling you this:
Honey, there is no God. You are the result of chance, random process of nothingness. You came from nothing and you will one day enter nothing. Your life has no real purpose or meaning beyond the moment that you now exist. But honey, in the midst of your meaningless life...your meaningless father is going to outline 10 meaningless rules to raise you by. Now, you go to school and have a wonderful day...and do your best.
I wonder what will happen when the majority of people adopt this evolutionary worldview. I wonder what kind of a world it will be when the majority of people come to conclusion that life if indeed meaningless. Do you really believe this will lead us to a more enlightened, more evolved existence?
I close today with the truth for those who want to hear it. It’s a truth that gives purpose and meaning to life. It’s a truth that gives meaning to the past, present and future. It’s a truth about something beyond the grave. It’s a truth about someone greater than all creation. It’s the truth of The Creator and the truth from The Creator.
Genesis 1:1 (NLT)
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
If you can believe and accept this first verse from the Bible as absolute truth...you will probably find life’s meaning and purpose in all the chapters and verses that follow verse one.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
I was raised by parents that emphasized the difference between right and wrong. I acknowledged even as a child that there was an authority over me that could set the standards of right and the standards of wrong. Yes, I rebelled against that authority on many occasions, but the idea that some things are right, and some things are wrong never left me.
The Book of Genesis opens with such a scene. There is an authority (God) and there is a clear announcement of right and wrong. Abel had brought an acceptable blood sacrifice to God and his brother Cain had brought an unacceptable sacrifice of grain to God (no blood). God didn’t destroy Cain in that moment. Instead, through grace, God’s Word revealed the difference between right and wrong. God said this to Cain:
Genesis 4:7 (NLT)
7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
Cain brought the wrong sacrifice and God made it clear...this is wrong! God also made it clear that Cain could make things right by doing what is right. There was a very clear “right and wrong” set before Cain. Cain chose wrong!
Cain’s wrong choice brought the death of Abel. This seems to be the story of man...wrong brings death and right brings life. It seems so simple when your writing about it, but its really not so simple to live out in real life. Why...because it is our nature to do wrong, not right!
God wanted fellowship with his children, so he developed the Law...a way for the wrong to be atoned for so that fellowship could be maintained without losing sight of what is right. But something happened to God’s children over time. The same issue that Cain struggled with became the issue of the people of Israel. What will we bring to God?
Micah 6:6 (NLT2)
6 What can we bring to the LORD? What kind of offerings should we give him? Should we bow before God with offerings of yearling calves?
Cain...what kind of offering will I bring to God? Israel...what kind of offering will I bring God? Is there an offering that is right and is there an offering that is wrong? Do you know the correct answer? Is it ok to just go ahead and do the wrong and then bring a right offering? Is that right? Cain refused to do what was right and he killed his own brother Abel, and Cain became a wandering soul.
Israel followed in the way of Cain...refusing to do what was right, but they thought they could offer sacrifices and make everything right with God...wrong! In this scene, God reveals the ultimate right and wrong...the way to be right and not wrong.
Micah 6:6-8 (NLT2)
6 What can we bring to the LORD? What kind of offerings should we give him? Should we bow before God with offerings of yearling calves? 7 Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? 8 No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
You might wonder how this Old Testament story applies to the church of today. Should we continue to do what we know is wrong, fully expecting a blood sacrifice to make everything right? This seems to be the thinking of many in the modern church. God has made the right thing clear:
- Do what is right.
- Love mercy.
- Walk humbly with God.
Can the church of today ignore these three and count on the blood of Christ to make us right with God? The Apostle Paul asks and answers this same question while addressing the church at Rome.
Romans 6:1-2 (NLT2)
1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?
Yes, we have been given the grace of God...freely offered by and through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God’s grace is amazing, but God’s grace does not set us free to do that which is wrong. It is never right to do that which is wrong!
The Book of Jude makes it clear that false teachers will come in the last days teaching that its ok to do what is wrong as long as you have the proper blood sacrifice to make it all right. That same Book of Jude warns us that these are “The Footsteps of Cain”...the way of death.
Jude 1:3-4 (NLT2)
3 Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. 4 I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:10-11 (NLT2)
10 But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction. 11 What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted (God’s Word to Cain)? And what is right in the sight of God?
O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
We have a Father, an authority over each of us. He alone can determine right and wrong. He has revealed both through His Holy Word so that man is without excuse. Yes, we will fall and yes, we will sometimes fail to do what is right. That’s when God’s grace through the sacrificial blood of Christ is totally sufficient, but never forget that grace was not and is not given so that we can continue to do wrong...for that would not be right!
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Have you ever noticed how many significant biblical relationships began at a well? The town well was an obvious gathering place because the well would satisfy their thirst, their need for water. But the biblical well is more than a picture of physical thirst, it is also a picture of spiritual thirst and God’s providence. It was at a well that Abraham’s servant met Rebekah, the future wife of his son Isaac. It was at a well that Jacob would find his wife, Rachel. Moses met his wife Zipporah at a well and it was at a well that the Samaritan woman would meet the ultimate Bridegroom named Jesus.
People go to the well because they have a physical need, a physical thirst for something that must be satisfied. What happens when our soul gets thirsty? What happens when our heart is empty and cries out to be satisfied? Many people want to ignore the thirst of the human soul. Ignore the emptiness of the human heart. If we ignore the thirst for water we will die, but what about the thirsty soul? What can truly satisfy the thirsty human soul? This is not a new question because it is not a new thirst. The Psalmist describes it this way:
Psalm 42:1-2 (NLT2)
1 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?
So, how do you get a drink of God? Is it possible to drink from God’s supply, God’s well? Yes! Jesus reveals it to a woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria. She came to draw physical water, but her deepest need was to quench her thirsty soul. Jesus, the ultimate Bridegroom offers this stranger a drink that will satisfy her thirsty soul.
John 4:10 (NLT2)
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
The gift of God is living water. This gift of God quenches the thirst of the human soul. So, why doesn’t everyone get a drink of this living water? What is it that makes people ignore their own thirst, their own emptiness? What is it that seeks after living water substitutes that never really satisfy and never really fill our emptiness? There is a power, a person that wants you to be thirsty. There is a power, a person that wants you to be empty. I know it sounds crazy, but there is a person that wants you to die thirsty and empty. Jesus reveals the one that leads people away from the water of life.
John 8:44 (NLT2)
44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.
If the devil is a murderer...how does he do it? How does he murder people? He keeps them from drinking the living water. He convinces them to ignore the thirst of their soul, ignore the emptiness of their heart. Find a substitute water, an imitation drink and just keep drinking it. It always seems to satisfy for a while, but the thirst and the emptiness always returns.
Many people see the troubles of this life as the absence of God, but in reality, the troubles of life reveal our thirst for God, our emptiness without God. If you never got thirsty you would never go to the well for a drink.
John 4:13-14 (NLT2)
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
So, what is this forever satisfying living water anyway...what is it really? What is this fresh bubbling spring that satisfies? I’ll let the Scriptures of the future coming of Christ answer this big question.
Revelation 22:1-6 (NLT2)
1 Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. 3 No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. 4 And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever. 6 Then the angel said to me, “Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires his prophets, has sent his angel to tell his servants what will happen soon.”
The source of this living water is the throne of God and of the Lamb. The source of living water is the very source of life and no one can be truly satisfied until they taste the water that flows from the throne of God. This water flows freely today through the presence of the Holy Spirit, but one day this living water will literally flow from the throne of King Jesus in Jerusalem. The prophet says the water from the throne will turn the Dead Sea into the living sea when it touches it.
Ezekiel 47:1-2 (NLT2)
1 In my vision, the man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple. There I saw a stream flowing east from beneath the door of the Temple and passing to the right of the altar on its south side. 2 The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around to the eastern entrance. There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway.
Ezekiel 47:8-10 (NLT2)
8 Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. 9 There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows. 10 Fishermen will stand along the shores of the Dead Sea. All the way from En-gedi to En-eglaim, the shores will be covered with nets drying in the sun. Fish of every kind will fill the Dead Sea, just as they fill the Mediterranean.
The Dead Sea in Ezekiel’s prophesy is a picture of what happens when the living water of Jesus touches your life and satisfies your emptiness. Our lives are like the Dead Sea until we taste this living water. All the substitute thirst quenchers are like the Dead Sea until we taste this living water.
We have been invited to meet the ultimate Bridegroom at the well! It is in the time of our deepest need that we are most open to meet the Bridegroom at the well. Don’t ignore your thirsty soul. Drink deeply today. Be satisfied with Him today. May the troubles of this present world be satisfied by the never-ending supply of Living Water from our Lord.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen.
The Apostle Peter makes a plea to all mankind near the end of his life. This plea is specific to the power and light of the Holy Scriptures and the darkness that will come to this world without the Holy Scriptures. Peter compares reading the Bible to walking in the light. Peter specifically refers to his own witness testimony that people will read after he is gone.
2 Peter 1:14-15 (NLT)
14 For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life, 15 so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.
What things does Peter want us to remember after he is gone to be with the Lord? What is so important to him and to future generations?
2 Peter 1:16-18 (NLT)
16 For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.
Peter was there at the transfiguration of Christ when Jesus took on the light of his heavenly glory. Peter heard the voice of the Father revealing the authority of the Son. Peter didn’t want future generations to miss this revealed truth of God. So, Pete gives future generations specific instructions...how to know the Truth and remain in the Truth.
2 Peter 1:19 (NLT)
19 Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.
Because of that experience...Peter saw Jesus’ heavenly form standing with Moses and Elijah. Peter then links the transfiguration to the Holy Scriptures written by the Old Testament Prophets. Peter calls those Scriptures a lamp shining in a dark place. The dark place is our world and there is a lamp that will shine in this dark world until the Day dawns. Can you see it? Can you see the importance of reading the Bible and studying the Bible? It is the lamp that will guide us through the darkness of this present life and lead us to the Morning Star. The Psalmist describes the Holy Scriptures in the same way as Peter.
Psalm 119:105 (NLT)
105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
There is a light that leads us to the Day...the Day that the Morning Star will shine in our hearts. Do you see how important Bible study is? Do you see what Peter was going to give every effort to preserve before he died? There is a lamp that will light the path of believers all the way to the DAY. What DAY? The DAY of the MORNING STAR. There is a first day and a final day in this story of the Light of the Morning Star. The first day is when you hear and believe the Holy Scriptures message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Morning Star-Jesus comes into your life in the presence of the Holy Spirit. But there also a final day...the day you will meet the Morning Star face to face. Generations have waited to see the Morning Star rise. It was announced through Moses in the Old Testament Book of Numbers some 1500 years before the birth of Christ.
Numbers 24:17 (NLT)
17 I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel.
Is the coming of the Morning Star still in the distant future? The Apostle John received a revelation about the coming Morning Star as it applies to the church in the last days (specifically the church at Thyatira).
Revelation 2:24-28 (NLT)
24 “But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them—depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of you 25 except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come. 26 To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations. 27 They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. 28 They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!
Jesus told the church to hold tightly to what they have until He comes...hold tight to what...the Truth revealed through the Holy Scriptures! Jesus promises the church that they will receive the morning star. What is that about? Jesus is the Morning Star and we who have received the Holy Spirit will be like Him...we will not be Him, but we will be like Him. Jesus received his authority and commission from the Father and the church has received its authority and commission from Christ...we will be like Him...on a mission of God, filled with an unstoppable power to complete that mission as the world grows more and more dark.
The morning star appears just before dawn, when the night is coldest and darkest. When the world is at its bleakest point, Christ will burst onto the scene, exposing evil with his light of truth and bringing his promised reward. The morning star is also a picture the authority given to the saints because of their faithfulness to the Word of God. Do you know what lies at the end of this path of God’s light...the path of the Morning Star (read those above verses 24-28 again)?
Finally, the very last chapter of the Bible says this about the coming of the Morning Star:
Revelation 22:16 & 20-21 (NLT)
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.”....
20 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! 21 May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
I was reading a daily devotion by Jonathan Cahn recently when I came upon an interesting Jewish mystery. Jonathan tells of the time when Jewish rabbis referred to two different messiahs. The reason for this reference of two was due to the incredible contrast in the Old Testament Scriptures about the “Suffering Messiah” and also the “Triumphant Messiah”. And by the way, the word “Messiah” is our translated word “Christ”.
How could the prophesied Messiah that is coming to reign as King over all the earth in Jerusalem also be the Messiah that would come to suffer and die? If that Messiah dies...how could He then be the King? How is it possible that One Messiah could fulfill both of these prophesied roles? This was the mystery of those Jewish rabbis then and even to some today.
For example, this is one of those Old Testament prophesies regarding the Jewish Messiah that would come to reign over the nations of the earth as King in Jerusalem.
Psalm 2:6-9 (NLT)
6 For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.” 7 The king proclaims the LORD’s decree: “The LORD said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. 8 Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession. 9 You will break them with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots.’”
If Psalm chapter two is indeed the promise of God regarding the coming Messiah King...how can you explain these Scriptures from the prophet Isaiah. The first one announces the Messiah King that will come from the seed of King David. The second one announces the details of the sacrificial and suffering Messiah.
Isaiah 11:1-2 (NLT)
1 Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot— yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
Isaiah 53:5-10 (NLT)
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all. 7 He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. 8 Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. 9 He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave. 10 But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
How could this be the same person? How could he possibly reign as King over the whole earth in Jerusalem and yet die for the sins of all mankind? You can’t reign as King if your dead. Right? No, that’s wrong...you can if there is a resurrection. The resurrection makes sense of the two Messiah’s mystery.
The Resurrection changes everything. The Resurrection unlocks the mystery of the two Messiahs...there is only One Messiah and He is the One that rose from the dead. Our Messiah, Jesus came as a suffering servant the first time, but He will come again to reign as King over the whole earth from Jerusalem. The resurrection stands between these two events...revealing and proving that Jesus was indeed the One and Only Jewish Messiah...our Christ!
Luke 24:25-26 (NLT)
25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?”
The Scriptures revealed the suffering servant Messiah and those same Scriptures revealed the triumphant King Messiah. Jesus’ first coming was as the Lamb of God, suffering as the Passover Lamb for the sins of mankind. Jesus’ second coming will be as King of kings and Lord of lords...the King of Israel living in Jerusalem.
Zephaniah 3:14-17 (NLT)
14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 15 For the LORD will remove his hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the LORD himself, the King of Israel, will live among you! At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster. 16 On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, “Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! 17 For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
The mystery is no longer a mystery for those who know Jesus Christ! He is the One that rose from the dead after fulfilling the prophesies of the Suffering Messiah. He will return as our reigning King Messiah in Jerusalem. He is the One and He is the Only Messiah! For those who have been truly born again...we live under this promise from God.
Romans 6:7-9 (NLT)
7 For when we died with Christ [MESSIAH] we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ [MESSIAH], we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ[MESSIAH] was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.
Yes, we are sure of this...JESUS, our MESSIAH will never suffer or die again...He has left the grave behind Him forever. And if we been united with Him through faith...we can know that death has no power over us today. MESSIAH has set us free from the bondage of sin and death. I love the sentence in a recent song called “So will I”, “If you left the grave behind you, so will I”.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray and Jesus gave them a model prayer that we refer to as the “Lord’s Prayer”.
Luke 11:1-3 (NIV)
1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." 2 He said to them, "When you pray, say: "'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread.
Here is my question and thought for today. Did they not have any bread to eat? Why would Jesus tell us to pray for daily bread? What if I already had daily bread, would I not need to pray for bread that day? Why would Jesus tell us to pray for something that we already have? Now, I realize that this prayer is our prayer that God will meet our physical needs, and yes, I believe it is. But, I also believe this prayer of Jesus is much deeper than asking God to meet our daily physical needs.
Our most basic human need is bread (food) and water. We cannot live without these two items. We are absolutely dependent upon these two items every day to survive. Was Jesus trying to teach us some deep spiritual truth with this model prayer? I think He was, and I’ll use the Children of Israel traveling through the wilderness to explain it.
When God delivered Israel out of Egyptian bondage He took them into the wilderness. He took them into the wilderness on purpose. God used the wilderness to teach these people of Israel to depend on Him for everything, absolutely everything. He wanted a people that would rely on Him for everything every day. This would open up a relationship of dependence and supply. Dependence from the people and supply by God. That’s why God only gave them “daily bread”. Each morning God would send bread from heaven called manna. It was just enough for that day. Do you know why? He wanted them to trust Him and depend on Him for their very existence. If they tried to hoard the bread, it would rot and become unusable. Do you see what God was trying to do?
This daily bread called manna was a holy symbol of God’s provision and love for his people. This manna was demonstrating a holy principle of God’s law of dependence and supply. Moses had Aaron place some of this daily bread manna inside the Ark of the Covenant to declare the holiness of God in regard to His daily bread.
Exodus 16:33-34 (NLT)
33 Moses said to Aaron, “Get a jar and fill it with two quarts of manna. Then put it in a sacred place before the LORD to preserve it for all future generations.” 34 Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded Moses. He eventually placed it in the Ark of the Covenant—in front of the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant.
Then something amazing happened. It took 40 years of wilderness travels, but something amazing happened. When Israel finally crossed over the Jordan River into the Promised Land of Canaan the daily bread called manna stopped. Do you know why?
Joshua 5:9-12 (NLT2)
9 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” So that place has been called Gilgal to this day. 10 While the Israelites were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month. 11 The very next day they began to eat unleavened bread and roasted grain harvested from the land. 12 No manna appeared on the day they first ate from the crops of the land, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.
Can you see it (dependence and supply)? Do you understand God’s holy message of daily bread? Do you understand why Jesus told us to pray each day for our daily bread? God wants us to live in absolute dependence upon Him for everything...yes everything! This requires faith and faith opens the door to God’s miraculous supply, now and forever. Jesus is the “Bread of Life” and He is our Manna from Heaven. He is telling us to pray for the power and faith to live in absolute dependence upon Him...trusting Him for everything. Did you notice that “His Kingdom Coming” is connected to “Daily Bread” in the Lord’s prayer?
One day, maybe soon, we too are going to cross the River Jordan into the Promised Land. What will be our daily bread in that Kingdom? Jesus gives us a hint in His Revelation to the Apostle John written to the Church at Pergamum...and yes, He is talking to the churches...
Revelation 2:17 (NLT)
17 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.
Who are these victorious ones in Revelation chapter two? They are the people who understand the reality of traveling in the wilderness. They understand that there is only one way to survive this wilderness journey and enter the Promised Land. They are victorious because they have received the Bread of Life called Jesus. His is our existence and there is no life without Him. But with Him and through Him there is power to survive the wilderness journey called life...power to enter the Promised Land.
John 6:35-40 (NLT)
35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen
The word “altar” is all over the Bible, Old and New Testament. Church people today don’t think much about the word altar, but it has great spiritual significance. We find this word around 400 times in the Bible (depending upon various English translations). Noah built an altar to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings on that altar when he got off the ark (Genesis 8:20). Abram built an altar to the Lord when God gave him the land inheritance (Genesis 12:7). But there were also altars built to false gods like Baal, Molech and Ashtoreth.
Altars were built to worship God or the idols that people believe to be a god. Some altars were built to worship the true God and some altars were built to worship false gods which are actually idols, but all altars were built as an attempt to approach someone or something greater than ourselves. These altars were not just structures on which one would call on God, but they were structures through which an offering would be made to that God or idol.
This is where the altar story get’s interesting. Every altar required a sacrifice. Every altar would cost its builder something...a sacrifice from the one that has erected the altar. All altars require a sacrifice and all altars have a cost. Noah shed the blood and burned the bodies of the clean animals that had survived the flood. Abram was even tested to offer his son Isaac on the altar at Moriah. Altars always cost the builder something! Whether you build the altar to the One True God or to a false god idol...the altar requires an offering and the offering requires a price.
There is always a price to be paid, yes even to idols or false gods. Idols and altars also require a payment. Some will cost you your peace, others will cost you your integrity, your time, your family, your devotion, even your soul, but they all require a price.
Our God, the God of Abraham, also has an altar, but not like the altar of those false gods. The altars of idolatry require the payment to be made by the man that built the altar, but not the altar of our God. On God’s altar...He sacrifices Himself! God’s altar is John 3:16. God’s altar is a payment of Himself, the cost of His only Son-Jesus! This altar separates Christianity from all other altars.
And what is my response to this altar of God’s love and mercy? Yes, this altar of God has a price too. The price is faith! I must believe Him! I must believe that He sacrificed His only Son on the altar of Calvary to make a way for me to approach His holiness. But what is my cost? What is the true cost of faith. To Abraham the cost of faith was to bring Isaac to the altar of Moriah (James 2:21). What is our cost today? The Apostle Paul reveals the cost and the sacrifice of a believer in Jesus Christ...
Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
There is only one altar that offers life to the one that bows before it. It is the altar called the Cross of Christ. On that cross, God offered the perfect sacrifice to atone for the sins of all mankind. The cross is the altar where we can meet our God and bow before Him. Have you brought your sacrifice to this altar? Everyone bows to some altar, but there is only one altar that saves the one who bows before it. This altar is Christ.
Hebrews 13:8-10 (NLT)
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them. 10 We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat.
Today I rejoice in the grace and mercy of God that has given us the sacrificial altar of His great love...through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen
I was taking my morning prayer walk today and listening to a Hillsong Worship song titled “Crowns”. I began to weep with tears of joy as I listened to the chorus:
My wealth is in the cross
There's nothing more I want
Than just to know His love
My heart is set on Christ
And I will count all else as loss
The greatest of my crowns
Mean nothing to me now
For I counted up the cost
I felt the power and value of the cross as I listened, prayed and worshipped this morning. My wealth is in the cross. Does that sound crazy? It does to the world that doesn’t know the truth about Jesus. How is it possible to find wealth in a piece of wood used for human execution? How is it possible to find value and purpose in the death of a Jewish man 2000 years ago?
It begins with God’s grace, God’s mercy. It was God’s grace that put His only Son on the cross of Calvary. The value of that gift of grace is immeasurable. The wealth of heaven was sacrificed on a piece of wood to bring God’s wealth within the reach of mankind. My wealth is in the cross.
Ephesians 1:6-7 (NLT)
6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.
7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
Forgiven and free...what is the value of that? God purchased our freedom with the blood of His own Son. We who have received this cross of Christ as our treasure have been set free from the bondage of sin and death. What is the value of that? My wealth is in the cross. What will be the value of that cross of Christ on the last day? What is the value of standing before God redeemed, forgiven and free? What is the value of standing before God and hearing Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant”?
Today I glory in the cross of Christ. Today I gladly receive the cross of Christ as my treasure, the greatest of my earthly crowns, for it is in that cross that I have secured the greatest wealth...eternal life. The Apostle Paul puts it this way:
Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT)
7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ
9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.
To become one with Jesus...how is that possible? Can mortal man really access the glorious wealth of heaven in eternity? Is it really possible to defeat death and the grave? Yes, but only through the cross. Jesus made it clear for all who would believe Him.
Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT)
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.
25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
Today, my heart is filled with the joy of this great salvation. My wealth is in the cross. There is nothing more I want. I accept this gift of God, the cross of Christ as an invitation to die to myself, so that I might live my life for His glory. This is my crown and I have found no other crown of this value on this earth.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen
How would you define your prayer time? What should be our objective when we pray? I realize there are many objectives and benefits of prayer, but today I want to focus on a fundamental benefit of prayer. This benefit is often unmentioned and rarely discussed. Our prayer time should be a time that we regularly set aside to physically experience the presence of God. Yes, I realize the Holy Spirit is ever present in the life of a believer. Yes, I realize that God is always around us and working through us for His purposes. But, the prayer time I’m referring to today is our specific time to come physically into His presence to experience Him and His presence. That is why Jesus counsels us to make this time personal and private. We need this private and quiet time to experience the presence of God without distractions.
Matthew 6:6 (NLT)
6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Yes, there is a time for public prayer and yes there is a time for praying together with others. But each of us must have a personal time to experience the presence of God through private prayer. We need to understand that those private moments alone with God are not just to ask for things. They are not just to intercede for others and they are not just for times of thanksgiving and praise. These private moments of prayer have an even larger mission...that we might experience God’s presence. As we experience His presence we begin to know Him in new ways.
Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."
Psalm 37:7 (NLT)
7 Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.
Psalm 46:10 (NLT)
10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
Be still and know me! When was the last time that you entered into your private prayer time just to “be still” and experience God? Yes, there are many things that we should bring before our God in prayer, but none are more important than approaching Him with the intention of just being still and knowing that He alone is God. Being still is not just being idle. Being still is believing that He is all sufficient and that my sufficiency in found in Him alone. Sometimes I think my time in silence before God is more fruitful than my time in talking. Sometimes I feel like He uses those still moments to download Himself/His presence into my mind and heart. Sometimes I get up from those times of praying with full and clear understanding about what I’m supposed to do now. Would I have known that and experienced that without being quiet, without being still before Him?
Jesus was asleep in the boat when that storm came upon them. The disciples went into a panic as Jesus slept. How can anyone sleep during such a storm anyway? The boat was filling up with water and Jesus is sound asleep in the back. In their panic they wake Jesus up with a question, “Don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” I wonder if in their panic they ever stopped to realize they were all in the same boat, if one of them was going to drown, they would all drown. And what was Jesus’ answer to their panicky question?
Mark 4:39-40 (NLT)
39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
A great calm...who doesn’t want this great calm that Jesus brings? I wonder if that rebuke was not just for the water, but for the men in the boat as well. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to be still and know that we are all in the same boat. Be still and know that Jesus is in this boat with us. Yes, there will be times to pray with many words and yes there will be times to cry out to God in our times of struggle and fear, but do not forget this. Sometimes our greatest time of prayer is when we come before God and just be still...as if I don’t have anything to say Lord...I’m here for the experience of being here...in the boat with you, my Lord.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Have you ever wondered how Moses was able to do what he did? Let’s face it, his life accomplished things that seem impossible for a man to do. He walks into the worlds superpower nation of Egypt and gets them to set free some two million slaves. He didn’t have an army with him. He had his brother Aaron and a stick. But there is one more thing...God was with Moses. God appeared to Moses and displayed His glorious power through him and this resulted in setting the captive slaves of Israel free. But what about after that? Did God work through anyone else to accomplish His purposes? Yes, his name was Bezalel and this story of Bezalel has great meaning to each of us today.
Exodus 31:1-3 (NLT)
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts.
Do you realize how big that sentence is, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God”? God had a plan to display his glory to the whole world through the people of Israel. God called Moses and spoke through Moses to set the people free and move them to the Promised Land. God then does something incredible. God chooses a man named Bezalel and puts inside Bezalel the plan of God and the power of God to implement those plans. God specifically gives Bezalel the ability to do things that he could he could never have done on his own. It was a gift from God that Bezalel would use to give glory to God. The Spirit gave Bezalel the power to fulfill God’s plan.
God put the blueprints of the Tabernacle inside the mind of Bezalel and gave him the supernatural wisdom and ability to build all the priestly worship items. The prints were very specific, and the result would need to be exact.
Exodus 25:40 (NLT)
40 “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.
God did this by putting himself inside Bezalel. It was God himself working though the person of Bezalel that delivered the Tabernacle and the Law to the people of Israel. This Law (given by God through Moses) was going to make a way for God to dwell among the people of Israel. This Law was going to make a way to atone for the sins of the people. God’s Law was perfect, but the people of Israel were not. The people couldn’t keep the law and their rebellious hearts began to turn away from the God of Moses.
You know the story. Israel did make it to the Promised Land, but their rebellion would eventually bring the judgment of God some 800 years later. God was going to destroy the very nation that He had established, and He would scatter the survivors across the known world. Was this the end of God’s plan for Israel? Was God going to give up on His plans to reveal His glory to the world through the children of Abraham? No! God announced the future of Israel to the prophet Ezekiel and it was going to happen like it did with Bezalel, but this time it was going to be BIGGER.
Ezekiel 36:22-27 (NLT)
22 “Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign LORD: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations. 23 I will show how holy my great name is—the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign LORD, then the nations will know that I am the LORD. 24 For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. 25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.
God is going to do this for Israel one day, maybe soon. He’s going to put His Spirit inside them and give them the ability to obey Him...something they were unable to do before. That same chapter in Ezekiel says that God will make the land of Israel like the Garden of Eden (verse 34). How will this happen? God’s Spirit is God’s ownership! When He puts His Spirit inside you...you belong to Him...You are His possession.
Ezekiel 36:28 (NLT)
28 “And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God.
Some of you may wonder what any of this has to do with the church today. I’m glad you asked. Do you know how the church began? The church began with God sending His Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ) to live inside of our hearts. We, the church, like Bezalel have been given the plan of God and the power of God to complete that plan. The Word of God (The Bible) is revealed to each of us by the Holy Spirit that dwells inside our hearts. The Holy Spirit is the presence of God on this earth in these last days...the very Spirit of Christ living among the believers. The Holy Spirit will accomplish the plan and purpose of God. The Spirit is unstoppable. The Holy Spirit is God’s seal of ownership guaranteeing that which is to come. This is how the Apostle Paul describes the Holy Spirit in our time...
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT)
21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.
May the Holy Spirit fill your hearts today and enable you to know the depths of God’s love and God’s plan to reveal His glory to the world.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
I would like to comment on this week’s Anderson News article “Wrestling with Priorities”. I want to say AMEN to the position taken by Brad Briscoe and Blake Drury. I’m seeing the same thing that these two families are discussing in this article. Sports seem to have taken over the culture and the only way to participate in sports these days is to sell out everything else in your life. Please don’t get me wrong. I love sports and encourage young people to get involved in sports. Sports can help young people to understand the value of teamwork and sports can teach a valuable lesson about hard work and success, but to what end? I encourage all Christian parents to read this excellent article and take the time to evaluate the choices that are being made in your own family. This might be a good time to decide what really is “most important”.
There has been something on my mind since Easter. I keep thinking about Jesus’ story about the Rich Man and Lazarus. I told the church on Easter weekend that this story of Jesus (Luke chapter 16) doesn’t look like a parable because Jesus uses real names. Jesus didn’t use real names in His parables, but He does in this story. Abraham is named in this story of Jesus and Lazarus is named in this story as well, but why is the Rich Man not named? This is the thing I can’t get out of my mind. Why doesn’t the Rich Man have a name in Jesus’ story about the afterlife?
My initial conclusion was that his life ended up being meaningless and without any value because the Rich Man ended up in the place of the dead (Hades). His story is over, ending in total failure and destruction. Lazarus on the other hand is named because his story is just beginning as he finds himself in Paradise with Abraham. I still think all that is true, but I think there is more.
The Rich Man put his trust in his riches and refused to obey God by meeting the needs of those around him. This destructive, self-centered life of disobedience is described by Jesus when He met with his disciples on a Wednesday before He would die on Friday.
Matthew 25:41-42 (NLT)
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink.
Can you see the Rich Man in those verses (41-42)? But why didn’t he have a name? Why does Abraham have a name and Lazarus has a name, but the Rich Man doesn’t...why? Can I give you some suggestions regarding this question?
Nobody gives a name to dead things or dead people. Names are given to the living, not the dead. The Rich Man has entered the eternal place of the dead...you don’t need a name there. The souls of heaven have names and the souls of hell have not. Jesus said it would be better to have never lived at all than to live and then go to the place of the dead.
Mark 14:21 (NLT)
21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”
The Book of Life contains the names of the “LIVING” who are saved from death by the Blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God. The names in that Book are there because they are alive...the Rich Man is not alive as we know “life”. That’s why they call it the place of the dead.
Jesus gives us another hint on this topic when He addresses the Church at Pergamum in the Book of Revelation.
Revelation 2:17 (NLT)
17 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.
Abram got a new name...Abraham.
Sarai got a new name...Sarah
Jacob got a new name...Israel.
Saul got a new name...Paul.
Simon got a new name...Peter.
Do you know what all these names have in common...they are the children of God! The children of God all have names. The true church is described in the Book of Hebrews as firstborn children with names written in heaven.
Hebrews 12:23 (NLT)
23 You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect.
These names are not given to the dead, but to the living. There is no other Name under heaven that can name us as God’s child, only Jesus. Our names are written in Heaven and for that we should rejoice. Why...because Jesus told us to.
Luke 10:20 (NLT)
20 But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
Today, rejoice in this great salvation through Jesus Christ. Rejoice that you have received a new name. To God you are like a firstborn child whose name is written in heaven. But the same Word of God also gives us a warning. Beware of this deceiver named Satan! Do you really think the Rich Man believed he would end up nameless in the place of the dead? No, and neither does anyone else. But Jesus’ Wednesday message on the Mount of Olives makes it clear. Many will be deceived. In that message (Olivet Discourse) Jesus didn’t mention the sins of commission (what you did), not even once. In that message Jesus final judgment was based on what the people didn’t do (sins of omission).
Matthew 25:42-46 (NLT)
42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ 44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ 45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ 46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
I pray today that the Holy Spirit will give each of us eyes to see the needs of those around us and that He will give us hearts that will generously and lovingly meet those needs in Jesus’ name.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Reciprocity...the state of mutual dependence, action or influence (Webster’s Dictionary). Do you believe God uses reciprocity regarding Israel, even today? Let me explain the question this way...I have a DeWalt reciprocating saw and it’s an awesome saw for a handyman. The idea of my reciprocating saw is that the same force that makes the blade go down also makes the blade go back up. The up and the down become equal to each other, just in opposite directions (are you confused yet). Now back to the question...Do you believe God uses reciprocity regarding Israel (past and present)?
It all begins with God’s first meeting with Abram, later to be called Abraham. God established this rule of reciprocity with Abraham from the very beginning. God applies reciprocity to His original covenant with Abraham.
Genesis 12:1-3 (NLT)
1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
Do you see God’s spiritual law of reciprocity in verse 3? God promises to apply His power and force to Abraham and to the children that will follow him. God also promises to apply His power and force against all who will oppose this covenant promise. For example: If God pushes Abraham up and there is another force that tries to push Abraham down...God will use the force of Abraham’s adversary to push them down instead. Let me give you some examples from the Bible.
Let’s begin with Abraham’s great grandsons. They sold their brother Joseph into Egyptian slavery (pushing against the blessing of Abraham), but God applies his power to move Joseph from a slave into the Prime Minister of Egypt...Reciprocity!
Some 400 years later Pharaoh tries to stop the blessed population explosion of Israelites by having all the male children killed. Pharaoh is trying to push against the covenant blessing of God to Abraham, but God saves one of those babies named Moses. Moses grows up and is used of God to announce God’s plan to take the firstborn sons of all Egypt in an event called the Passover. Reciprocity! The push against God is turned into a force to advance God’s covenant plan. Pharaoh’s plan to stop Israel was turned into the deliverance of Israel...Reciprocity! The world pushes against God and God uses that same force against the adversary.
This covenant of reciprocity has been going on ever since the time of Abraham and even into the time of Christ. The Greeks forced the Jews to worship their false God in the rebuilt Jerusalem Temple just before the time of Christ. That led to Jewish rebellion known as Hanukah. The Jewish people drove the Greeks from Jerusalem and the Temple worship was purified and restored. God applied His overwhelming power and the Greeks were replaced by the Romans, but the Jewish people survived...leading up to the birth of Christ...Reciprocity!
The Romans put Jesus on the cross and they pushed Jesus into the grave...God’s covenant of reciprocity raised Jesus from the grave...Reciprocity. The very push against God is used to accomplish God’s covenant with Abraham.
Hitler tried to kill all the Jews in WW2 and that led to the Jews returning to their homeland three years later and establishing a Jewish state in 1948.
Hitler killed six million Jews and now there are more than six million Jews living in the sovereign state of Israel. Can you see it? Can you see God’s covenant of reciprocity? This is my point today...God’s covenant promise to Abraham is unstoppable.
Do you know how I know all this? I know all this because of the Bible! The Bible reveals God and the covenant promises of God are true. Do you know what the Greeks tried to do to the Bible just before the time of Christ? The Greeks came to Jerusalem and waged war against everything Jewish. Any Jew caught practicing or reading the Law of Moses was put to death. The Greeks even set up their Greek idols (Zeus) in the Jewish Jerusalem Temple and tried to force the Jews to worship their idols. The Greeks burned every Jewish scroll they could find of the Old Testament which included God’s covenant promises to Abraham.
Are you ready for this final reciprocity moment? Do you know what language the original New Testament was written in? GREEK! Do you see it? Reciprocity! Do you know the first verse of our New Testament Book Matthew?
Matthew 1:1 (NIV)
1 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
There it is (2000 years after the time of Abraham)! The covenant (Old Testament/Covenant) of God to Abraham is still in place and everyone that has tried to stop it has failed. God used reciprocity then and God is still using reciprocity today. No one, no power can stop God from accomplishing and fulfilling His covenant promises. Abraham represents the children of God and through Abraham came Jesus Christ (New Testament/Covenant), the very Son of God. Any force applied against God’s covenant will be met with an equal force...Reciprocity! God’s plan is unstoppable, and the Apostle Paul describes the power of reciprocity in this way.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
And just in case you’re a Gentile and struggling with the whole children of Abraham covenant promise today...read this!
Galatians 3:6-9 (NLT)
6 In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” 7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. 8 What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would declare the Gentiles to be righteous because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen
Do you know the number one question I have had asked of me as a pastor... “How can I know God’s will for my life”? That’s it. That’s the number one question that I have been asked over the years. Why do so many people ask that question? Is it so difficult to know God’s will or are we missing something? My point today is not to over simplify the answer to this very compelling spiritual question, but I don’t want to over complicate it either. What if the simple answer to this very difficult question is this... “TAKE THE HIGH ROAD”! The Bible is filled with people that took the High Road. I can’t find any of those High Road people having to guess about God’s will for their life while they walked on the High Road.
Let me explain. Sometimes I think we want God to reveal our future all at one time in one big event and sometimes He does just that (Moses at the burning bush). However, I also see God working in small, day by day events that require small and day by day decisions. Many times, it is in those small, day by day events that God reveals His perfect will. It’s called the High Road and it is indeed the road less traveled. The High Road is the unnatural road, the hard road and the difficult road...that’s why it’s less traveled. All roads go somewhere, but that’s not the number one question of people seeking God today. They want to know how to know God’s will for their life...Take the High Road. The High Road always leads to God...so take the High Road. The High Road is always High because it always takes you “up”. It’s harder to go up than down. It takes more effort to travel up than down. But seeking God requires one to look up from their current low road. God is not below us, He is above us...so take the High Road. I’ve always been amazed at the simplicity of this verse from the Prophet Jeremiah...
Jeremiah 6:16 (NLT)
16 This is what the LORD says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’
No, that’s not the road we want...why? Because that road is less traveled and the low road is easier to travel than the High Road. The problem with the low road is that it always goes lower....goes down. I thought you wanted to go up? The truth is this...it’s never been easy to go up. It’s never been easy or natural for us to approach that which is High and Exalted. King David said this about the High Road...
Psalm 24:3-5 (NLT)
3 Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 4 Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. 5 They will receive the LORD’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior.
King David makes it clear that our life choices determine the direction of our travels. Keep your hands and heart pure...that’s the High Road. Stay away from idolatry and base your life on truth...that’s the High Road. Many want to know God’s will. Many want to climb the mountain of the Lord...to stand in His holy place, but do you really think the low road will take you there? This is my point for today. Each day we face decisions and choices and each day we must choose the High Road. If we continue, day by day to choose the High Road we will always find ourselves moving closer to the One who is High and Exalted. Choosing the High Road day by day is living proof that you are indeed seeking God’s will for your life and not just pretending to do so.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
I challenge you to look at your life today. Are you choosing the High Road? If so, just keep walking on that High Road and you will find yourself getting closer and closer to the One that is High and Exalted. It is in those day by day life choices that we get to experience God by walking in the light of His truth. Ultimately that is His purpose and will for your life. One last piece of advice...if you look down today and find yourself on the low road...turn around and look up, you’re going the wrong way.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Have your ever considered yourself to be a priest? Most Christians do not, but did you know that God looks at Christians as holy priests on the earth...holy priests through which He will reveal His glory and will.
1 Peter 2:5 (NLT)
5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.
Our lives are called to be living sacrifices that bring glory to God. Our lives should offer spiritual sacrifices that please God every day. This is a life that is focused on Christ and not on self. This is the life of a priest of Christ and every Christian is called to be a priest through the mediation of Jesus Christ. This life will be very different than those who belong to this dark world.
1 Peter 2:9-12 (NLT)
9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 10 “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” 11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
We became priests of Christ when we received the sacrificial gift of Christ through faith. We have believed that Jesus is indeed who He says He is. At that point we gave our lives away...gave our lives to Christ to use as He saw fit. We now serve Jesus as chosen and holy priests. This role as priests of Jesus is not a sideline for us...it is our identity, our heart's desire. We now realize that we no longer belong to this world, but only temporary residents here. The priests of Christ do not choose the temporary things of this world over the eternal. We acknowledge the worldly desires of our own nature that war against our heart, but (by the power of Christ) we do not yield to those desires. No, we are careful to guard our hearts and live to bring glory to God in everything we do. This is a call of all holy priests in these last days. This is where the story gets interesting. God chose priests in the Old Testament to reveal His glory. He gave them a holy crown and put a very important phrase on that crown... "Holy To The Lord".
Exodus 39:30 (NLT)
30 Finally, they made the sacred medallion—the badge of holiness—of pure gold. They engraved it like a seal with these words: HOLY TO THE LORD.
This phrase was the holy seal of God...marking the priest Holy to the Lord. Anything with that seal was dedicated to God and Holy to the Lord because it now belongs to God and is chosen and dedicated to God. This mark of God was on items inside the tabernacle/temple and not to be taken out into the world because they were dedicated to worship. Fast forward to one of the final Old Testament prophet's Zechariah. The prophet Zechariah makes a prophetic announcement of future events. Zechariah prophesies of a time on the earth that this holy seal will move outside the holy temple. It will move beyond the holy priests (Old Testament and church age). It will be everywhere!
Zechariah 14:20-21 (NLT)
20 On that day even the harness bells of the horses will be inscribed with these words: HOLY TO THE LORD. And the cooking pots in the Temple of the LORD will be as sacred as the basins used beside the altar.
21 In fact, every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. All who come to worship will be free to use any of these pots to boil their sacrifices. And on that day there will no longer be traders in the Temple of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
On that day...what day? Zechariah prophesies of the day when Jesus Christ will stand upon the earth as King of kings and Lord of lords. On that day the holiness of God will not just be in a temple. On that day the holiness of God will not just be in the priests of believers. On that day the holiness of God will be everywhere! Can your mind comprehend this event when everything will be "Holy to the Lord"? Satan will be bound in prison and Jesus will reign upon the earth and everything will be Holy to the Lord. Look at how the prophet Isaiah describes that day...
Isaiah 11:6-10 (NLT)
6 the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,and a little child will lead them all. 7 The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. 8 The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm. 9 Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD. 10 In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.
The church, the priests of these last days have devoted themselves to God. They have been chosen by God to reveal the glory of Christ in these last days. We live in this world, yes, but we do not belong to this world. We belong to Christ and we await His coming kingdom when EVERYTHING will be Holy to the Lord...for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Have you ever thought deeply about the word "covenant"? Our God is a covenant making God and He is a covenant keeping God. Do you know the first covenant of God recorded in the Bible? Most would guess the covenant that God made with Abraham, but that was not the first one. The first one recorded was with Noah and his family. As you read it below, I want you to notice this covenant is a covenant of salvation...to save Noah's life. God's covenant is going to save Noah and his family from the flood of God's judgment.
Genesis 6:17-18 (NLT)
17 “Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die.18 But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives.
God did save them from the judgment...from the flood. God kept His covenant promise to Noah. After the flood God confirmed His covenant with Noah. He told Noah's family to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with people. Notice the word "covenant" is used 6 different times in this meeting between God and Noah.
Genesis 9:8-17 (NLT)
8 Then God told Noah and his sons, 9 “I hereby confirm my covenant with you and your descendants, 10 and with all the animals that were on the boat with you—the birds, the livestock, and all the wild animals—every living creature on earth. 11 Yes, I am confirming my covenant with you. Never again will floodwaters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.” 12 Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. 13 I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. 14 When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, 15 and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. 16 When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” 17 Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.”
One of the sons of Noah saved by the covenant of God was called Shem. Shem was saved by the covenant of God and Shem honored that covenant by having children who would have children who would have children (I think you get the point). One of those children was Abram, who would later become Abraham. Abram was the ninth son (9 generations) from Noah's son, Shem. It was time for God to make another covenant. The Scripture below is not the first one between Abram and God, but it is the one that explains the scope of this covenant in great detail:
Genesis 17:1-8 (NLT)
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. 2 I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” 3 At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, 4 “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! 5 What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. 6 I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them! 7 “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.”
This covenant between God and Abram included the promise of land, countless children in future generations, future nations, new name (Abraham) and kings. This covenant was everlasting and this covenant was about forever. This covenant between God and the ninth son from Shem would change the world...forever. From this covenant came Isaac and then Jacob and then the 12 sons of Israel. Some 1300 years later, God appears to the prophet named Jeremiah and makes an announcement. This announcement was about a NEW COVENANT.
Jeremiah 31:31-33 (NLT)
31 “The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD. 33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
This next covenant would be new and it would not be like the other ones. This covenant of God would be deep within the people who were under this New Covenant. So what is the New Covenant? Do you know? Some 650 years after the time of Jeremiah...The New Covenant would be revealed. It was a Thursday evening during the Jewish Passover and Jesus had assembled his 12 disciples. The New Covenant is revealed...
Luke 22:20 (NLT)
20 After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.
Was this New Covenant "new" because the Abraham covenant was 2000 years old or does "new" means more than time? You and I live some 2000 years after Jesus' announcement of a New Covenant. Does that mean God's covenant with us is now old? This is my main point today. This New Covenant of God through the sacrificial blood of Christ is timeless and eternal. It's not new because the other one was old, but it's new because it cannot grow old. No matter how long you live under this New Covenant...it is still a New Covenant. How is that possible? Do you remember that Jeremiah announced that this New Covenant would be on the inside of people's hearts (deep within them)? Is it possible to have our hearts renewed day by day...preventing the covenant of God from ever becoming old? The New Covenant is the promise of the Holy Spirit that enters the human heart and the Holy Spirit cannot grow old! The work of the Holy Spirit is to renew our hearts daily...this New Covenant cannot grow old.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)
16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
This New Covenant is the Holy Spirits presence in our lives. The Sprit of Christ gives us a new nature, makes us a new creation...the New Covenant cannot grow old!
Ephesians 4:24 (NLT)
24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
This New Covenant of God through the blood of Jesus is not based on the external, but the internal. The heart of man must be born again, born afresh, made new and the only power that can do that is the New Covenant which is the promise of God to put Himself inside our hearts as announced by the Prophet Jeremiah (above) and confirmed by the Apostle Paul (below)Be.
Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT)
14 As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. 15 It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. 16 May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.
Because of the cross of Christ...A new creation! A new people of God! A New Covenant that cannot grow old! Is the New Covenant new to you today? Can you honestly say today that Jeremiah's prophesy has been fulfilled in your life by the redeeming power of Christ on the cross? This New Covenant, like the one with Noah will save your life from the coming judgment. This New Covenant, like the one with Abraham will give you a place in the Promised Land. This New Covenant is eternal and God never breaks His covenant promises.
Jeremiah 31:33 (NLT)
33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
What is your name? It's quite common for someone to ask that question. What they are really asking is "Who are you"? Our name is attached to us at birth and our name identifies who we are. This is a physical truth, but there is a spiritual truth connected to your name as well. I'll explain it by using a man named Jacob. Jacob was the son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham. Jacob had a twin brother named Esau. Esau was the firstborn of the twin brothers and under Jewish law Esau would receive the birthright and the blessing of his father Isaac. But that's not how this story proceeds. Jacob makes a plan to deceive his aged father and take his father's blessing for himself through that deception. Jacob was going to pretend to be someone other than himself. Jacob was going to pretend to be Esau and take his brother's blessing. Jacob prepares a delicious meal for his father and approaches him...
Genesis 27:18-19 (NLT)
18 So Jacob took the food to his father. “My father?” he said. “Yes, my son,” Isaac answered. “Who are you—Esau or Jacob?” 19 Jacob replied, “It’s Esau, your firstborn son. I’ve done as you told me. Here is the wild game. Now sit up and eat it so you can give me your blessing.”
Who are you...that was the question from father Isaac. Isaac had the blessing to give, but Isaac wanted to know "who are you" before giving out the blessing. Well, it worked. Jacob deceived his father and received the blessing. Esau returns home and finds out about his brothers trick and makes a plan to kill his brother Jacob. Jacob flees from the wrath of his brother, but the story is just getting started. Many years later, Jacob plans to return to his homeland and face his brother Esau. On his way, Jacob has an encounter with God that is described as a wrestling match. Jacob wrestles with God through the night and as morning begins to break, two amazing things happen. God asks Jacob his name and Jacob asks God for the blessing. Do you see it yet? Do you see this spiritual mystery unfolding yet? Carefully read the text of this event and I'll explain...
Genesis 32:24-30 (NLT)
24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.
26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” 28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” 29 “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said. “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. 30 Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.”
So, what is the spiritual mystery revealed here? Jacob wanted the blessing of his father. Everyone wants the blessing, but most are not willing to seek the blessing with truth and honesty. Most will never acknowledge that we don't deserve the blessing and we are not entitled to the blessing so we approach the father under false pretense. We pretend to be someone we're not in our attempt to get the blessing of our father. This is what happened in Jacob's original encounter with his father Esau.
But God didn't leave Jacob there, did he? No, God approached Jacob and brings a blessing with him, but this time Jacob will have to stop pretending. This time Jacob will give his real name. This time Jacob will not pretend to be someone other than he is. This time Jacob reveals his true name. Jacob's true name is not entitled to the blessing, but God is going to reveal His glorious grace in this event. God is going to reveal his future plan to redeem a lost world of fallen children. God is going to offer Jacob the blessing because Jacob is finally ready to stop pretending. God is going to give Jacob a new name...ISRAEL...and through this new name God (the Father) was going to redeem a lost world of fallen children.
Do you see it yet? We are not entitled to the blessing of the Father, no one is. So we pretend to be someone we're not, refusing to confess, refusing to repent, refusing to accept the truth of our own unworthy heart. This life of denial produces a life that runs from God, rather than a life with God. Then God, who is rich in mercy and grace comes to us...we wrestle with Him regarding our true identity. In the midst of our wrestling He asks us again...WHAT IS YOUR NAME...WHO ARE YOU? This is our moment of truth. Will we pretend to be a child entitled to the Father's blessing, or will we acknowledge that we are not entitled to any such blessing? The following Psalm is from King David. David reveals the joy of knowing your real name.
Psalm 32:1-5 (NLT)
1 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! 2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! 3 When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. 4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude 5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
We must come to Christ as we are. We must come to Christ in truth. We are broken sinners who deserve only death. God's grace offers us a new name, one that comes out of our wrestling with the Truth. A new name that is based on truth, not pretending.
1 John 1:8-10 (NLT)
8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
Abraham was Jacob's grandfather. Abraham believed God and God gave him a new name (his original name was Abram). Abraham became the father of our faith, a pattern of true faith. Abraham's faith made him right with God (righteous in the eyes of God), at peace with God and a recipient of the blessing of God the Father. Abraham's faith would be the pattern through which God would call out His children from the world. Yes, everyone on earth is God's creation, but only those who put their faith in God by believing in Jesus....will receive the blessing and promises of God our Father.
Galatians 3:6-7 (NLT)
6 In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” 7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.
What is your name? Who are you? No more pretending! Jesus gave these words to the church at Pergamum...yes a church!
Revelation 2:16-17 (NLT)
16 Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen
A Word from Terry about the Second Eve
(original idea from Jonathan Cahn Book of Mysteries)
Christians believe the origin of human life to be the breath of life that originates with Adam. The Bible clearly states that we all came from Adam. There is no way to confuse this statement of the Apostle Paul while he preached in Athens Greece.
Acts 17:26 (NLT)
26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
We also know that the first woman (Eve) came from the first man (Adam). God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and took a rib from Adam's body and formed Eve. God performed the first marriage ceremony and Adam and Eve became the parents of all human life. The Bible says that Eve was formed to be Adam's helper, to assist him and help him tend the garden of God's creation. Eve would be Adam's companion and together they would bring glory to their Creator. But there was another power at work in that garden, his name was Satan. His deception brought the curse of death to the garden of God's creation, death to Adam, Eve and all who would come from their union. God's plan was to bring a second Adam to this world...He would be the Messiah...the Savior, God's One and Only Son...He would be Jesus. Unlike the first Adam, this second Adam would be a life giving Spirit...cancelling the curse of death and offering eternal life to all who would believe Him and call upon His Holy Name.
1 Corinthians 15:45 (NLT)
45 The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit.
So, here comes my question for today... If Jesus is the second Adam, who is the second Eve? The Bible tells us that Jesus came to redeem us from the fall of Adam. Jesus came in a human body, like that of Adam so that He would be like humans in every way, making Him our perfect High Priest. If this was the requirement for the second Adam...was there also a plan of God for a second Eve?
God caused Adam to go into a deep sleep and the Bible uses sleep as a symbol of death. God caused the second Adam (Jesus) to fall into a deep sleep as well on the cross of death. During the first Adam's sleep a new life was born- Eve. During Jesus' sleep of death, new life is also born. Who? Who was born into new life at the death of Jesus? Believers! Believers have been born again by faith in the sacrificial, atoning death of Christ. This is where the story gets very interesting. God opened the side of the first Adam and God opened the side of Jesus, the second Adam. Life came from that opening in the first Adam and life came from the opening in the second Adam. The wound of the second Adam came from a spear piercing the side of Jesus as He hung on the cross. The prophet Isaiah announced the piercing/opening of the Messiah's side more than 700 years in advance and notice that healing and redemption would flow from this opening in Jesus' side. New life would flow from the side of the second Adam.
Isaiah 53:5 (NLT)
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
The Apostle Paul calls this a "Great Mystery"...From the opening in the side of Adam came Adam's wife, Eve. From the opening in the side of the second Adam came another bride, the Bride of Christ, THE CHURCH.
Ephesians 5:31-32 (NLT)
31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”
32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.
The mystery...Christ and the Church have become wed, they have become one. You could say (spiritually speaking) that the church was born through the side of Christ, like Eve was born from the side of Adam. We were born again when we believed the message of Jesus. We were born again to be the helper of Jesus, the very bride of Christ. He has called us to assist Him, to join Him in His plan to prepare a people who will bring glory to God the Father by accomplishing His divine purpose on the earth. If you are a born again believer in Jesus Christ...you are the second Eve. You and I are the bride of Christ. Believers all around the world are the bride of Christ working together under the authority of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill God's plan to redeem mankind from the fall of the first Adam.
Be glad and rejoice today, you born again believers in Jesus Christ. Be glad and rejoice today for the grace and mercy of God has joined us to an eternal husband by an unbreakable covenant, sealed by the Blood of the Lamb. Be glad and rejoice today in this present and future truth revealed in the Book of Revelation...
Revelation 19:7-8 (NLT)
7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. 8 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Once per year Israel celebrates God giving the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. They considered the Law to be a gift from God to His chosen people Israel. Israel would celebrate this gift of God (the Law) with a feast called "Shavuot", also called the Feast of Pentecost. This Jewish feast was to celebrate the harvest (50 days after Passover), but also to celebrate God's gift to Israel...the Gift of the Law. Even today, the Jewish people celebrate God's gift of the Law on the Feast of Pentecost/Shavuot (May 20th this year), sometimes referred to as "The Day of the Gift". They celebrate the gift, the gift of the Word of God revealed to the man of God, Moses.
This is my point for today...what do we associate with the Day of Pentecost? It was the day that God gave us "the gift" of the Holy Spirit. The love of God gave the gift of the Law (the Word of God) to Israel. And on Pentecost, "The Day of the Gift" God's love gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, fulfilling the very Word of God through the Son of God. After His death, Jesus told His disciples to remain in Jerusalem and wait for their gift...
Acts 1:4-5 (NIV)
4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he [Jesus] gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
Jesus is the Word and the Word revealed the coming Gift...the Holy Spirit...wait for the Gift...the Gift of God's love. The Bible refers to Jesus as the Bridegroom and the Church is His Bride. The Gift from our Bridegroom is the Holy Spirit. This gift of God's love is to sustain us in the time of testing leading up to the wedding day...the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. Spiritually speaking, the Church is engaged to Christ, our Bridegroom. We are the bride in waiting! The Holy Spirit is the gift from the Bridegroom...insuring all believers that the Bridegroom-Jesus will keep His wedding promise. The Holy Spirit is like our modern day engagement ring that the groom gives to his future bride. When the bride to be wears that ring, she is saying to the world that she is promised to another. That ring is a physical symbol of the promise between the groom and his bride...and so is the Holy Spirit...we are promised to another!
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT)
21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us,
22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.
The Word tells us to live ready, always prepared for the upcoming wedding event. Jesus told us to stay focused and don't be distracted by the lures of this world.
Luke 12:35-38 (NLT)
35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks.
37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.
The Gift of the Holy Spirit is the power of our wedding preparation. The Gift is the power that keeps us from becoming distracted from our time of wedding preparation. We don't have to wait till the Feast of Pentecost to celebrate this Gift of love from God, the Holy Spirit. We celebrate this Gift each day and we gather as the sanctified, devoted and engaged Church to celebrate this Gift each Sunday. The Spirit of Christ reveals the Word and the Word reveals the love of God that has sent us this marvelous Gift. Revelation chapter 19 tells us that His Bride will be ready for the wedding.
Revelation 19:6-9 (NLT)
6 Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the LORD! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. 8 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
This is not about guns or mental illness. This is about evil. This is about a culture that refuses to acknowledge the presence of sin and the powerful darkness behind that sin. We’ve asked God to get out of our public schools and told this generation that their origins were from chance, random nothingness. What comes next is darkness and hopelessness with no value or meaning to life. Pray for a spiritual awakening. Pray for God’s light to pierce our darkness with the truth and love of Jesus Christ...our only hope!
2 Timothy 3:1-5
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
Pleasure, who doesn't want pleasure? We all want pleasure. Our human body desires to be pleased and satisfied. This is the point of worldly pleasure...to satisfy our human senses. So, I ask a question today. Who gave us those senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing)? The world will tell you that these 5 senses that define our humanity came from "chance, random processes of evolution". The world will tell you that your senses, your human desires came from "random-nothingness" and because your senses came from random-nothingness...you should do whatever you can to satisfy those senses while you have time. Jesus calls it the "Eat, drink and be merry...because tomorrow you die" world view of man.
Luke 12:19 (NLT)
19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’
But what if those 5 senses of man came from God? What if those 5 human senses were designed by God to ultimately be fulfilled by God himself? What if He designed us to be satisfied by Him...to find our pleasure in Him? That would change everything. That would change the pursuit and purpose of our life. That would redefine our human pursuit of pleasure. Jesus told his followers to seek the Kingdom of God first. Why? Why would it be advantageous for us to seek God first vs. seeking to satisfy ourselves with worldly pleasure first? Jesus puts it like this:
Matthew 6:31-33 (NLT)
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
God already knows our real needs because He gave us those needs. God knows the desires of our human flesh because He created us and designed us. That brings me to my main point today. Addictions are consuming people all around us. Even the secular media is realizing the epidemic of addiction in America. Every day we hear another horror story of people overdosing some type of drug and dying. Alcoholism is destroying individuals and families. What's going on? Who would put something in their body that has a high risk of killing them...for the sake of temporary pleasure? What is driving these addictions to drugs, alcohol and other dangerous pursuits of human pleasure? Do you know?
There is an emptiness inside each of us that desires to be filled. Its a type of thirst, but this thirst goes down deep into the heart and soul of all mankind. There is something inside us that needs something outside of us to be satisfied. Somehow, we know we are not self-existent. We cannot truly satisfy ourselves so we seek external things to satisfy our thirst for pleasure...to please our senses. The senses are real and the desires are real. The question is this...what will truly satisfy the desires of man? What is the true and absolute source of human pleasure? What will cure this deep internal thirst to please our human senses? Do you know? The Bible uses wine as a symbol of earthly pleasure. That same Bible tells us that there is something better than wine. There is something more desirable than wine. There is something more satisfying than wine. There is something that lasts longer and fills the emptiness of mans thirst for pleasure more than wine. Do you know what that something is?
Song of Songs 4:10 (NLT)
Your love delights me, my treasure, my bride. Your love is better than wine, your perfume more fragrant than spices.
The Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) is a revelation of the ultimate love of God for His creation...symbolized by a bride and her husband. The bride is us and the beloved husband is God. The Bible reveals something better than wine, better than the earthly tools of human pleasure. The Love of God is better than wine. The love of God is the only thing that truly satisfies and delights the heart of man. We were all born into a fallen and sin filled world. Sin severed our fellowship with our loving God and brought death to our world. Our soul cries out for restored fellowship with God...life with God. The restoration of that fellowship, through the forgiving blood of Jesus is the only thing that will give us true satisfaction and pleasure. The Bible describes King David as a man after God's heart. David is in the pursuit of ultimate pleasure. Read these words of David and ask yourself if David had found the true source of human pleasure?
Psalm 63:1-8 (NLT)
O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. 3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! 4 I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. 5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. 6 I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. 7 Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. 8 I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.
King David declares the love of God to be better than life itself. Do you know why...Because it never ends and it never fails! I've had a lot of people ask me about drinking alcohol over the years and recently people are asking me if its ok for a believer to use marijuana. Let me answer that question and close this word today by saying this. I don't drink alcohol and I don't use recreational drugs...but not because of some rule. I don't drink alcohol because I'm not thirsty. I don't need drugs to escape reality or dull my senses. I'm perfectly satisfied with my current sense of reality. I've found something better than wine! I have found the unfailing love of God. I have found the grace of God. God has forgiven me from all my sins and restored me to fellowship with Him through faith in His Only Son Jesus. I've found something better than wine and I'm not thirsty anymore. Yes, I still retain all my 5 human senses and yes there are times when I struggle with the lure of worldly pleasure. But I've tasted something greater than anything this world can offer. The love of God has revealed what it is to live at peace with God...forgiven and free.
Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)
Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. 2 Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. 3He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. 4 He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. 5 He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
And by the way...Heaven's Coming!
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen
Have you ever considered how we got here...how we became walking around people on this present earth? Each of us experienced a birth, a gateway of sorts into a new world. We lived some 9 months in the darkness of our mother's womb and then a gateway opened up for us to enter a new world. We could never have imagined that new world before the gateway birth event occurred. At conception, we were alive and we were truly ourselves, but we could not imagine that which was to come. We lived in the total darkness of our mother's womb, unaware of that which was coming at birth. God was preparing us to come through the gateway of birth into a new world. God was getting us ready for the future world, even though we were unaware. The Psalm of David describes this incredible work of God.
Psalm 139:13-16 (NLT)
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
This brings me to my main point today. There was evidence of a new world beyond this gateway of birth even before we recognized that evidence. The reality of our future was being revealed by God even before our birth occurred. Let me explain. We lived in the total darkness of the womb, but we had eyes that were being prepared to see light. We floated around, bouncing in all directions, but we had legs that would one day walk upright. We did not breath the air of the outside world, but our lungs were being prepared to take our first breath as soon as the gateway opened into this new world. The evidence of the world to come was "YOU". You were made for so much more than the dark womb and our current life reveals that as truth. But what about now? What about today? Can you currently comprehend the next Gateway Birth? Or, do you think this current life is all there is? The Bible says that all of current creation is groaning and waiting for the next gateway birth to occur.
Romans 8:19-23 (NLT)
19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.
All of God's creation is waiting for the next gateway to open. We currently live in a fallen, dark and sin filled world, but we were created for so much more than this present darkness. Our soul cries out and groans for the next gateway to open. We have been told by our Creator God that this next life will be different. No more darkness, no more death, no more pain or decay. The Apostle Paul describes our current life as groaning as in the pains of childbirth. Believers have been given the Holy Spirit as a preview of future glory on the other side of this next gateway. The Holy Spirit reveals the Holy Scriptures and the glory that's coming for those who have born again in Christ Jesus. The physical resurrection of Jesus proves it. There is a new life on the other side of this present groaning. There are new and eternal bodies on the other side of this present life. We were created by God for so much more than what we have now...so we wait, expectantly for the future day when God will reveal who his children really are.
Galatians 5:5 (NLT)
5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us.
None of us could comprehend our future reality from inside the darkness of our mother's womb. In the same way, our current minds cannot comprehend the next gateway birth that's coming to God's creation. Only the Spirit of God can reveal that which is coming.
1 Corinthians 2:9-12 (NLT)
9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.
12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.
Today, if you have received the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ...you too can know the wonderful things God has freely given us!
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen
I have a painting in my office of Jesus sitting on the Mount of Olives looking down into the holy city of Jerusalem. I'm attaching a copy of that picture to this email. It is one of my all-time favorite scenes. I’ve always associated this picture with this Scripture.
Matthew 23:37-39 (NIV)
37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"
Jesus longed to gather the Jewish people under the shelter of His wings...to save them, but they refused to believe that was indeed who He claimed to be. That scene brings me to today’s mystery from Jonathan Cahn’s Book of Mysteries. Today is January 30, 2018, but the Jewish/Hebrew calendar calls today Sh’vat 14, 5778. There are many mysteries revealed in the Jewish/Hebrew calendar and today I want to look at the 9th of AV, which this year would be our July 22nd. The 9th of AV is recognized as a day of sadness and mourning for the Jewish people even today. It was on the 9th of AV that Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Jewish Temple, built by King Solomon in Jerusalem around 1000 BC. That event, on that particular date is not the mystery. The mystery is what follows that tragic event of the 9th of AV in 586 BC.
Almost 600 years later, Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, just outside Jerusalem. Jesus would grow up and reveal his true identity to the people of Israel, but most of them would reject Jesus as the King of the Jews. Thus, the scene of Jesus in his final days overlooking Jerusalem and crying out...O Jerusalem, Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37). They rejected Jesus as King and Jesus then prophesied the future destruction of the rebuilt Jerusalem Temple (known as Herod's Temple) in these verses below. Jesus weeps over the city as he gives this prophesy on Sunday, knowing He would die on the cross that following Friday.
Luke 19:41-44 (NIV)
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."
Some 40 years later...the Roman Emperor, Nero, destroyed the Jerusalem Temple and killed or scattered the remaining Jews from Jerusalem, just as Jesus had prophesied. And do you know the date of that event? The 9th of AV, the same calendar date that Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the first temple. Those two events alone would be enough to convince most people that something supernatural was occurring. But the mystery continues past that time. There are four more examples of events with the Jewish people on the 9th of AV.
- Less than a century later (after Roman Emperor Nero destroys Jerusalem) the armies of Rome crushed the Bar Kochbah uprising killing over 100,000 Jewish people. A calamity that culminated with the destruction of the city of Bethar and guess the date...the 9th of AV.
- In the Middle Ages, the Crusades would wipe out thousands of Jewish people. The Crusades began on August 15, 1096-the 9th of AV.
- In 1290 the Jews were expelled from England. The calamity begain with the signing of the decree of expulsion on July 18, 1290-the 9th of AV.
- In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain (the same year of Columbus sailing) with the final deadline of their expulsion to be August 2nd-the 9th of AV.
Can all this be coincidence or is it the revelation of God's providence and divine will. God is holy and God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men. He has punished the rebellion of Israel, but He has also promised them His future mercy. The Prophet Ezekiel reveals Gods future plan for Israel...when He will give them mercy and grace.
Ezekiel 11:16-21 (NIV)
16 "Therefore say: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.' 17 "Therefore say: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.' 18 "They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. 19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD."
So, what does all this have to do with us, the church, in modern times? I can hear these same words of Jesus to the modern world today... "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace". Israel rebelled against the very King that came to save them and many are still doing the same thing today. That is why the Hebrew writer said these words below as a warning.
Hebrews 3:15-19 (NIV)
15 As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion." 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
Today is the day of our salvation. We should never wait or put off this call of God to receive His divine grace and peace through faith in Jesus Christ. The example of Israel is clear and the warning to us who live in the church age is also just as clear. Remember...Jesus is weeping as He enters Jerusalem with these words, "because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."
Hebrews 4:1 (NIV)
1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
Let us be careful because...Heaven's Coming!
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Why Galilee? Have you ever thought about it? I think there is a wonderful mystery in the answer to that question. The Gospel of Luke makes it clear that God was going to reveal His glory in Galilee.
Luke 1:26-27 (NLT)
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.
Nazareth is in the region called Galilee, and that's a long way from Jerusalem, about 70 miles. Why did God pick this young couple (Mary and Joseph) 70 miles from Jerusalem? Is there a wonderful mystery here? Galilee was part of God's covenant land gift to Abraham and it lies to the north in the Promised Land. Galilee existed inside what was known as the northern Kingdom of Israel (10 tribes) while the Kingdom of Judah (2 tribes) was to the south. Do you know which of these two kingdoms (Israel and Judah) was the first to fall? Do you know which piece of the Promised land was the first to be lost to foreign invaders? The land of Galilee! Galilee, in the Northern Kingdom of Israel was the first to fall to the ruthless Assyrians in 721 BC. The southern Kingdom of Judah didn't fall until 135 years later in 586 BC. The Assyrians left Galilee and most of Israel desolate and broken, carrying of the few survivors to their capital, Nineveh. The land that once flowed with milk and honey became a heap of ruins. So, where is this mystery?
God could have placed his seed inside anyone-anywhere, but He chose to place the seed of His only Son in a woman in Nazareth of Galilee. The first land, the first people in the Promised Land to become desolate were the first ones to receive the arrival of Messiah. Most of Jesus' recorded public ministry took place in Galilee. Galilee was considered backwoods and lower class by the people living in the south. That's why you hear these statements in the Gospel of John:
John 7:52 (NLT)
They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”
John 1:45-46 (NLT)
45 Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.
Galilee was the land of the broken and the rejected...and God chose Galilee to be the first place where His Son would reveal His glory. This was God's wonderful plan prophesied by Isaiah some 750 years before the birth of Christ.
Matthew 4:12-17 (NLT)
12 When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 13 He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah: 15 “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.” 17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
The greatest Light was coming to the place of greatest darkness, first! Jesus left Judea (Jerusalem to the south) and went to the broken people of Galilee. Those who were the first to suffer loss will be the first to experience the gospel of great gain. And who were these broken people in Galilee? Specifically, who were they? They are bringing their broken to Jesus. This Scripture below refers to Jesus in Capernaum of Galilee.
Mark 2:1-3 (NLT)
1 When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, 3 four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat.
The broken were drawn to Jesus because they knew they were broken. It was beside the Sea of Galilee that Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount and notice the broken people described in what we call the Beatitudes:
Matthew 5:1-5 (NLT)
1 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them. 3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
Blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn and blessed are those who have been humbled by life itself because they know that they are broken. This is the hope filled message of Jesus to the broken people in Galilee and to us today. Jesus delivered this message of hope to the sick, the lepers, the blind, the poor, the hated, the outcasts of Galilee and He's still doing it today. Do you know that you're broken too? This is the mystery of God. His great love is a mystery to most, even today. They couldn't understand the mystery then and many still can't see it today.
Mark 2:15-17 (NLT)
15 Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) 16 But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” 17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
In an emergency, who do you send the doctor to first? Galilee! Jesus came to our broken Galilee and yes, we are all broken. The world refuses to acknowledge the truth of our broken condition. The world does not see the value in the broken, but God sees the truth about the broken. It is in our brokenness and the acknowledgment of our failed condition that we then seek the doctor for healing. This is the mystery of God...the mystery of Galilee.
Luke 10:21 (NLT)
21 At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.
It is in our humility and brokenness that we see the truth of Jesus. A contrite, broken and repentant heart is the result of this mystery revealed. God sent His great Light into our broken dark world, our Galilee, to put us back on track to the Promised Land of His presence. This is the mystery revealed. This is God's great pleasure!
Ephesians 1:9-11 (NLT)
9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
Be encouraged today!
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen
In his latest book, The Book of Mysteries, Jonathan Cahn tells of the ancient writings of the Jewish Rabbi's during the second temple period (before and during the time of Christ). These writings are not recorded in our current canon of Scriptures, but in the Jewish rabbinical writings. The rabbi's wrote of an annual supernatural event that would take place at the Jerusalem Temple during the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). The priest would tie a scarlet cord on the temple doors during the sacrifice of Yom Kippur and that scarlet cord would supernaturally turn from scarlet to white when the once per year sacrifice was completed. God had installed this annual Day of Atonement to cover the sins of the people of Israel so they could remain in fellowship with Him.
Leviticus 23:28 (NLT)
28 Do no work during that entire day because it is the Day of Atonement, when offerings of purification are made for you, making you right with the LORD your God.
Notice the detail of God's law for that day...the offering of that day will purify the people and make them right with God. The rabbi's wrote that the scarlet cord was a sign of God that the offering had been accepted and their sins, that were as scarlet had become white as snow, by the blood sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.
Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)
18 “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.
That in itself if amazing, but the story gets even better. The rabbi's later wrote that this supernatural scarlet to white cord event stopped about 40 years before the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed in 70AD. Do you see the mystery yet? That means the rabbi's recorded the end of this supernatural scarlet to white event occurred at the time of Jesus' death on the cross. Do you see it yet? Jesus' death on the cross was the final sacrifice to transform our scarlet sins into pure white...making us right with God.
Hebrews 10:10-14 (NLT)
10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. 11 Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. 12 But our High Priest [JESUS] offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
13 There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. 14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
Wow, is that incredible or what? I want to add one more bit of encouragement for this snowy day in very cold January. Please read this Scripture below and think deeply and personally about it.
Hebrews 10:18-25 (NLT)
18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.
20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house,
22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Sincere hearts that fully trust God. Our guilty, scarlet consciences have been made white as snow by the scarlet blood of Christ. Now, we are to hold tight to our hope in Christ. Now, we must trust God to keep His promises. Now, we must motivate each other to hang on...even through trials and difficulties. Now, we must not neglect the assembly of the Body of Christ, the church, because we need each other now, more than ever...especially now that we see the day of Jesus' return drawing near.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Everyone wants to go to heaven, right? We also know that heaven is always referred to as "up", right? So how do we earthlings go up to heaven? We need a ladder (don't laugh, it's true). That would be a pretty tall ladder, right? Did you know that there is such a ladder to heaven? Yes, a ladder (or a stairway) that reaches from the deepest depths of earth to the highest heaven, even unto the presence of God. Did you know that? What if I told you that Jacob saw it and the Bible records the sighting? Would you believe it? Our ladder story begins with Jacob running for his life from his brother. One night, while Jacob was all alone, God reveals His divine plan to build a ladder from earth to heaven and allows Jacob to see the ladder in a dream.
Genesis 28:10-17 (NLT)
10 Meanwhile, Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran. 11 At sundown he arrived at a good place to set up camp and stopped there for the night. Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. 12 As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. 13 At the top of the stairway stood the LORD, and he said, “I am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. 14 Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. 15 What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” 17 But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!”
Jacob saw the gateway to heaven, while living on the earth...and even better...Jacob realized this ladder was constructed by God for the family of Abraham (his grandfather) and even the nations of the earth that will one day find this ladder to heaven. God would eventually change Jacob's name to Israel and Israel would have 12 sons that would become the 12 tribes of Israel. So what about the ladder to heaven? It would be about 2000 years before someone from the lineage of Jacob would talk again about this ladder to heaven. This person wouldn't just see the ladder, like Jacob...no...this One was the ladder that reaches from heaven to earth and back again. His name is Jesus and this is what he says about Jacob's ladder.
John 1:51 (NLT)
51 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”
Jesus reveals this truth...the ladder/stairway to heaven is a person. This person extends to the highest heaven and descends to the lowest earth to make a way for people to enter the very presence of God. This is the interesting part to Jacob's ladder story today. A ladder must touch both locations to work. The ladder must fully rest on heaven and the ladder must fully rest on earth. The ladder must be fully connected to both locations to function correctly. The ladder doesn't almost get to heaven and the ladder doesn't almost reach earth. No, that would never work. Jesus came from the Father and that is our connection to heaven. Jesus was also born as a human on planet earth, fully connecting Him to us earthlings. He is the ladder that connects man and God. He is the only ladder, the only way to reach God.
John 14:6 (NLT)
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
So, how do we get on this ladder to heaven? How do we travel this great distance between heaven and earth? The heavenly journey begins when we believe in the ladder enough to reach out and take hold of that first rung, by faith. This ladder reaches the deepest darkest places/people on earth. This ladder reaches the highest heaven, even the presence of God. The ladder is real and the ladder is reachable. That bottom rung is within your grasp, even now. No matter how low, no matter how sinful, no matter how lost, no matter how hopeless...that ladder reaches out to you today.
Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)
6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Take hold of this ladder to heaven named Jesus and then turn around and shout the good news of this beautiful stairway into the highest heaven to those who stand on this present earth.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
The Jordan River is quite prominent in the Bible, beginning in the Old Testament book of Genesis.
Genesis 13:10 (NLT)
10 Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the LORD or the beautiful land of Egypt. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)
Genesis compares the Jordan River Valley to the Garden of Eden, that is before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus himself was baptized in the Jordan River some 2000 years after the time of Abraham and Lot,
but there is much more to learn from the Jordan River? Did you know that the Jordan River flows from one end of Israel to the other (North to South)? The river begins its course at Mount Hermon (the highest mountain in Syria) and flows down to Galilee (Northern border of Israel) to the Sea of Galilee and then out of the Sea of Galilee. The river leaves the Sea of Galilee and flows through fertile Jordan River Valley and then through the wilderness of Judea ending its 156 mile journey at the Dead Sea. This river descends from the heights of Mount Hermon 9,232 ft. above sea level to the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea (1410' below sea level). The Jordan River descends farther from start to finish (10,642') than any other river on earth and it happens to flow through the entire length of Israel, the Promised Land of God.
Can you see the mystery yet? The heights to the depths...bringing life to everything it touches. Jesus is from Galilee and Jesus refers to himself as the Living Water. Jesus traveled from Galilee in the North to Jerusalem in the South bringing life to everything He touches. But we all know that Jesus' origin is not Galilee, but heaven. He traveled from the heights of heaven to the depths of earth to bring this living water to mankind. And where does the River Jordan end...the Dead Sea! Where did Jesus' life end...death...the highest heights of heaven descended to the great depth of death itself. Why? To bring life to everything touched by this Living Water.
I had the opportunity to travel to Israel in 2010 and I was symbolically baptized in the Jordan River by Dr. David Reagan. My real baptism was in Salt River when I was 13 years old. I also traveled to the Dead Sea and floated in its stinking waters. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea. There is nothing alive in the Dead Sea. There is such a contrast between the beauty of the Jordan River Valley and the Dead Sea. Such a great divide between life and death. Can you see the mystery yet? The heights to the depths. Living Water flowing into a Dead Sea. All flowing through the Nation of Israel. This is a picture of our Redeemer from Heaven. Jesus descended into the depths of our earth to suffer our death (the height to the depth). Why, so that everything He touched would become alive!
The Bible reveals several earth changing events that will occur when Jesus returns to earth (His Second Coming). This one might blow your mind! I hope your ready for this! The Prophet Ezekiel describes what's going to happen to the Dead Sea when Jesus returns.
Ezekiel 47:6-12 (NLT)
6 He asked me, “Have you been watching, son of man?” Then he led me back along the riverbank.
7 When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river.
8 Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure.
9 There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows.
10 Fishermen will stand along the shores of the Dead Sea. All the way from En-gedi to En-eglaim, the shores will be covered with nets drying in the sun. Fish of every kind will fill the Dead Sea, just as they fill the Mediterranean.
11 But the marshes and swamps will not be purified; they will still be salty.
12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.”
Living Water is going to flow from the throne of God in Jerusalem. That water will transform everything it touches, even the Dead Sea. From the heights to the depths. From heaven to the earth to bring living water to the dead. God humbled Himself and became a man to come bring this living water and He has asked each of us to humble ourselves before Him and come drink freely. Are you thirsty?
Isaiah 55:1-2 (NLT)
1 “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink— even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk— it’s all free!
2 Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food.
John 7:37-39 (NLT)
37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!
38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”
39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)
James 4:10 (NIV)
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Let there be no doubt about it...it is the most contested piece of real estate on this earth...Jerusalem. Never has this been more clear than today. Today 128 member states of the United Nations General Assembly voted to condemn President Trumps declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. There were 35 abstentions (I guess that means they have no idea what they think about this). There were only 9 nations stood with Israel on this issue of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and two of the nine were USA and Israel (the other 7 are all small states).
Why so much controversy? Why so much disagreement? Does the United States stand alone on this issue of Jerusalem and does the Bible speak about Jerusalem in the last days? Yes! The prophet Jeremiah reveals this prophecy of Jerusalem some 500 years before the birth of Christ.
Jeremiah 3:16-18 (NLT)
16 “And when your land is once more filled with people,” says the LORD, “you will no longer wish for ‘the good old days’ when you possessed the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant. You will not miss those days or even remember them, and there will be no need to rebuild the Ark.
17 In that day Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Throne of the LORD.’ All nations will come there to honor the LORD. They will no longer stubbornly follow their own evil desires.
18 In those days the people of Judah and Israel will return together from exile in the north. They will return to the land I gave their ancestors as an inheritance forever.
Can you imagine reading that Jeremiah prophesy in 1930? How could it make any sense? But something happened in May 1948 that changed everything. Israel became a sovereign nation and in 1967 Israel once again took control of Jerusalem. Now, we read the Bible from a different perspective. Now we can see more clearly the prophesies of God about His Name, His Throne, His Holy City.
Psalm 137:5-6 (NLT)
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget how to play the harp. 6 May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I fail to remember you, if I don’t make Jerusalem my greatest joy.
Isaiah 33:5-6 (NLT)
5 Though the LORD is very great and lives in heaven, he will make Jerusalem his home of justice and righteousness.
6 In that day he will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the LORD will be your treasure.
Are the events of today a fulfillment of this prophesy from Zechariah 12?
Zechariah 12:1-3 (NLT)
1 This message concerning the fate of Israel came from the LORD: “This message is from the LORD, who stretched out the heavens, laid the foundations of the earth, and formed the human spirit.
2 I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah.
3 On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves.
The prophet Daniel reveals a time when the antichrist will stand in Jerusalem and claim it for his throne. Jesus comes some 500 years after the time of Daniel and quotes the Daniel prophesy about the antichrist and his desire to take the throne in Jerusalem.
Daniel 9:27 (NLT)
27 The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.”
Matthew 24:15-17 (NLT)
15 “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!)
16 “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. 17 A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack.
The prophet Isaiah reveals the condition of Jerusalem when Jesus returns to destroy the antichrist and to take His place on David's throne in Jerusalem.
Isaiah 62:6-9 (NLT)
6 O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the LORD. 7 Give the LORD no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth. 8 The LORD has sworn to Jerusalem by his own strength: “I will never again hand you over to your enemies. Never again will foreign warriors come and take away your grain and new wine.
9 You raised the grain, and you will eat it, praising the LORD. Within the courtyards of the Temple, you yourselves will drink the wine you have pressed.”
It's interesting to me that this vote at the UN was taken the week leading up to Christmas. Christians around the world are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus that took place just 6 miles outside the Holy City of Jerusalem, in Bethlehem. The angel Gabriel had revealed this marvelous and unstoppable plan of God to Mary and yes it includes Jerusalem.
Luke 1:28-33 (NLT)
28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.
30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!
31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.
32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.
33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
The Lord God will give Jesus the throne of David and the throne of David is in Jerusalem! That's why Jerusalem is the most contested piece of real estate on planet earth. Everything and I mean everything revealed to Mary by the angel Gabriel will take place. The only thing we don't know is the exact timing. We can see the season and the signs, but we don't know the day. Our Lord tells us how to deal with our expectancy regarding the day.
Luke 21:28 (NLT)
28 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”
Merry Christmas and Maranatha (come soon Lord), Hosanna (save us), Hallelujah (begin to reign), and Amen (make it so)
Wouldn't it be awesome if all the people in the world spoke the same language? I suppose they actually did before the Tower of Babel event. I would love to be able to speak and read Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament writers. The Hebrew language was then and is now the language of the Jewish people. There is so much in their language that is difficult to translate into English. For example...I was reading my devotional today by Jonathan Cahn (a Messianic Jew) and found the Hebrew word "Khananyah". In Hebrew "Yah" is the Name of God. and "Khanan" means the grace of God. Now, I can tell you the story.
We are Gentiles (non Jewish people) and the Bible says there was a time that we were a people without hope in this world. We were all walking on the road to hell with our backs turned to God.
Ephesians 2:12 (NLT)
12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.
God's plan was to open salvation to the Gentile world in the church age, after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. But how was God going to get the Word out to the Gentiles? Who would deliver this message of salvation to the Gentiles? God was going to choose one man and appoint him as an Apostle to the Gentiles. His name was Saul and he was a murderous blasphemer that hated Christians and anything to do with Jesus. God was going to call a Jesus hater to reveal the love of Jesus to the Gentile world. This is where the Bible comes alive. Saul was on his way to Damascus Syria to round up Christians and throw them into prison when resurrected Jesus appeared and spoke to Him in the midst of a light so bright that Saul became blind.
Acts 9:3-6 (NLT)
3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.
4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!
6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Saul heard the voice of Jesus and was led into Damascus by his companions. At the same time, Jesus appears to a believer in Damascus named Ananias and told him to go and give Saul his sight back. This is the wonderful mystery of Scripture in the form of a question. What was the first thing that Saul saw when Ananias gave him his sight back? Khananyah, the Grace of God. There is nothing about God that is random or without purpose. God chose Saul and God chose Ananias. God chose that Ananias would be the first thing Saul would see after He encountered Jesus. The name "Ananias" is a translation of his real Hebrew name, Khananyah.
What was the first thing that this murdering blasphemer saw after meeting Jesus...THE GRACE OF GOD! That is the story of Saul and that is our story today. It is the story of every believer since the time of Christ. It is by God's grace that we have been saved. We are the Saul's of this generation. We do not deserve this wonderful gift of mercy, but God has appointed a time for us to see The Light on our fallen road. That light is the love of God made real in the person of Christ Jesus and now our eyes have been opened to see Khananyah...THE GRACE OF GOD.
Ephesians 2:1-5 (NLT)
1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.
2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.
3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,
5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
This grace of God through Jesus Christ changed Saul's life. He would later be referred to as the Apostle Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. God used Paul to write much of the New Testament. Can any of you imagine Paul returning to his life of sin and rebellion after He met Jesus, after his eyes were opened to the Grace of God? You don't have to guess about that answer because Paul answers that question himself.
Romans 6:1-4 (NLT)
1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?
2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?
3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?
4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
The first thing Saul saw was grace. Do you see it? God sent His only Son to this earth to meet us on our road to destruction and open our eyes to see our Savior and King Jesus. Do you see Him? Do you see the grace? I encourage each of you to rejoice in this great salvation for we too have encountered the risen Christ. I also challenge each of you to receive this call of Ananias...to share this grace with those who are blind. This is not a sideline for us, but a mandate from our Lord. We are to share the good news of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul said his life was wasted and without meaning if he did not share this good news of grace with others.
Acts 20:24 (NLT)
24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
Be encouraged today. God's grace has set us free from the road that leads to sin and death. By His power we will walk on that destructive road no longer. We are on a new road and this road will take us to the Father's House and in His house there are many rooms. One of them is prepared for you!
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
Some of you are aware that I've been reading a book (daily devotional) by a Messianic Jew, Jonathan Cahn, called "The Book of Mysteries". Dr. David Reagan calls him a prophet in our last days and I would have to agree. His book reveals a different mystery in every day's reading. These mysteries are usually hidden inside the original language of Hebrew (which is the language of the Old Testament and the Jewish people). This morning he revealed a mystery about a Second Sabbath that I would like to share with you. This mystery was there, right in front of me all the time, but I couldn't see it until today.
The Bible reveals that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and on the seventh day He rested.
Genesis 2:1-3 (NIV)
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
God declared the seventh day to be holy. God rested on the seventh day...not because He was tired, but because He was finished (there is the first clue to the mystery of the Second Sabbath). The word "rested" is the Hebrew word "shevat". Shevat means done or to cease. The word "Sabbath" doesn't appear in our English Bible until the Book of Exodus, during the time of Moses when God is giving manna and the Law to the people of Israel.
Exodus 16:23 (NIV) (first application is the giving of manna from heaven)
23 He said to them, "This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.'"
Exodus 20:8-11 (NIV) (this application is the giving of the 10 Commandments)
8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.
11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
God made the Sabbath, not man. God ceased from what He was doing and declared a Holy Sabbath. God declared that He was finished with that which He was doing and declared a Holy Sabbath...a ceasing of God's work. God's 6 day creation was perfect but the serpent brought imperfection into God's perfect world. The Sabbath was God's blessing to mankind. The Sabbath was God's perfect world given as a gift to mankind. When sin came to the garden, there would need to be another Sabbath, a Second Sabbath. The events in the time of Moses, with the manna and the law were only a preview of this Second Sabbath. Do you see the mystery yet?
The blessing of God's perfect creation was lost and death entered the kingdoms of men. Only God can bring a Sabbath. Only God could restore the blessing to His creation. For God to bring a Second Sabbath, God would need to cease from His work...God would need to be finished for there to be a Second Sabbath. Not only that, but the ceasing would need to take place at the end of the sixth day (Friday). Do you see the mystery yet?
It was the sixth day, Friday afternoon. Not the sixth day of creation, but the sixth day of our redemption. As in the beginning, God was going to "cease" on the sixth day, be finished on the sixth day. Do you see it yet? They nailed Jesus to the cross on the sixth day (Good Friday). God's labor of love would be finished on the sixth day, before the Sabbath began. And on the sixth Day, Jesus himself declares the Second Sabbath!
John 19:28-31 (NIV)
28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty."
29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips.
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.
It is finished! What is finished? Redemption is finished! The Second Sabbath was declared by God on a Friday, the sixth day. We can now enter His Rest. Jesus would raise from the dead on the first day of the week...a picture of the perfect plan of God to create a new and eternal Kingdom under the authority of Christ Jesus. Do you see the mystery? Jesus declared the Second Sabbath. He is the finished work of God the Father to redeem the world from the fall...from sin and death.
This is our Thanksgiving! This is our joy! This is our song! We have been redeemed! It is finished! Believers in Jesus Christ are going to enter this rest of God, this Sabbath of God. The Book of Hebrews describes the rest of the Second Sabbath...
Hebrews 4:6-13 (NIV)
6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.
7 Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.
9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;
10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The very sharp and very powerful Word of God has revealed the rest of the Second Sabbath to all who will receive Jesus by faith. This is our great salvation. This is our very great reward. Stay faithful church because the Word reveals that there are many who will not enter this rest.
Hebrews 4:1-5 (NIV)
1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'"
And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world.
4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work."
5 And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest."
We will not enter this rest, this Sabbath by our works. We will enter this Sabbath by receiving the finished works of God through Jesus, the Son. It is finished! We now must believe and receive the Words of God and the Works of God by faith.Hold tight church...Our Deliverer is coming and bringing His Sabbath Rest with Him.
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,
A Word from Terry about Appointed
Most of you are aware that the original language of the Old Testament is Hebrew, the language of the Jewish people. Sometimes we lose some of the meaning of the original text when it’s translated into English. I’d like to give you an example, using the word “appointed.
God appoints certain times... So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him Genesis 21:2 (NASB)
God appoints certain people... "And behold, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you: Exodus 31:6 (NASB)
This is where it gets interesting. Did you know that God appoints fish and worms? I didn’t say fishing worms. I’ve asked God to appoint them to go and catch fish on several occasions (LOL) but that’s not what I’m talking about here.
The story of Jonah and the great city of Ninevah displays God’s sovereignty over all things at all times. God appointed a great fish and God appointed a small worm. These appointments of God are to accomplish His perfect will and these appointments are filled with unstoppable power, yes even for a small worm.
God appoints a great fish... And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights. ... Jonah 1:17 (NASB)
God appoints a plant... So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. Jonah 4:6 (NASB)
God appoints a worm...But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. Jonah 4:7 (NASB)
All of these applications are the same Hebrew word for “appointed”. God appoints time, people, fish, plants and yes even worms to carry out His great work. Jonah would never find joy in the appointment of a great fish until he began to drown. Jonah was pleased with the shady plant over his head until God appointed a worm to destroy the plant. Jonah couldn’t see Nineveh as God saw Nineveh so God used these appointed things to change how Jonah sees things in this present world.
What is my point in all this today? What is the message of God through His Holy Word today? Most of us have never thought of our problems and troubles as being appointed by God. Do you think God is involved in these things? Do you think God actually works out all the different appointments for your best interest?
Romans 8:28 (NASB)
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
All things mean all things. Yes, even the large fish and the small worms. All things mean all things. God is sovereign over al creation and He offers to work all these appointed things FOR GOOD...for those who are called according to HIS (appointed) PURPOSE!
So the next time you find your life in the midst of trouble, pain, sorrow or disappointments remember this. God is going to use those appointed things to change you into His appointed person so that you can participate in His appointed purpose.
Be strong Church and never forget...Heaven’s Coming!
Maranatha, Hosanna, Hallelujah and Amen,