Friday, April 14, 2017

AN EASTER MEDITATION FROM THE HEART OF GOD

Isaiah 55:8–9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Only such a God could possess the kind of love that would choose to send His own Son as the sacrifice for my sin and make it possible for me to become His child and a joint-heir with His Son.  I am sooooo thankful for such love and sacrifice!  I am sooooo thankful that because He lives I too shall live in His presence for eternity!

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Isaiah 53:4–11 “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth….Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief….He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Ephesians 2:8–9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Romans 10:9–13 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation….For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

John 15:9–14 “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

Romans 8:10–17 “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you….For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God….The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

John 14:1–3 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

1 Corinthians 15:51–53 “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16–18 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”


Revelation 22:20 “Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

WHO KILLED JESUS?

As Easter approaches, I've found myself thinking about a song a good friend of mine sung in church many years ago.  It's message is simple and to the point--and oh so true!  I'm just so thankful that death wasn't the end.  Three days later Jesus arose from the grave, my victorious Savior and King!  I pray the words to this song will speak to your heart and encourage you to examine it before the LORD.

WHO KILLED JESUS?
By Mickey Holiday


Who killed Jesus many years ago
Who is guilty of a crime so low
Why did He have to die
What is the reason why
Who killed Jesus
I would like to know

Was it Roman soldiers
With their tools of war
Driving nails thru hands that did no wrong
Mocking and abusing
Crowning Him with thorns
All the evidence is very strong

Was it Pontius Pilate
He was governor
Trying to decide the case that day
Finding that the Savior
Had no fault His own
Was he guilty when he turned away

Was it Hebrew children
Proud of who they were
Shouting crucify Him at their King
Trading their Messiah
For a common thief
Turning down the kingdom He could bring

When I think of Jesus
And the way He died
How upon Him all my sin was laid
All the other people
Fade away from view
It's for me the sacrifice was made

I no long wonder anymore
I have found what I've been searching for
My sin demanded hell
On Him the judgment fell
I am guilty
Now it's plain to see
That it was really me

Friday, March 24, 2017

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE SAINT AND WARNING TO THE SINNER

This is a timely psalm in light of the days in which we live.

(NLT) Psalms 73:1–20 “Truly God is good to Israel [you can also substitute "the true Christian" for Israel], to those whose hearts are pure. But as for me, I came so close to the edge of the cliff! My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to live such a painless life; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They aren’t troubled like other people or plagued with problems like everyone else. They wear pride like a jeweled necklace, and their clothing is woven of cruelty. These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. “Does God realize what is going on?” they ask. “Is the Most High even aware of what is happening?” Look at these arrogant people— enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. Was it for nothing that I kept my heart pure and kept myself from doing wrong? All I get is trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain. If I had really spoken this way, I would have been a traitor to your people. So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! Then one day I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I thought about the destiny of the wicked. Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, swept away by terrors. Their present life is only a dream that is gone when they awake. When you arise, O Lord, you will make them vanish from this life.”

Thursday, February 16, 2017

FULFILLED PROPHECY PROVES THE TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE cont.

Continuing our study regarding fulfilled prophecy…

Finally, there are the words from Paul to Timothy, warning him of a coming degenerate moral culture. 

2 Timothy 3:1–5 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof….”

Yes, it is true that these traits (in part or in whole) have characterized many cultures throughout history; but I think we are quickly seeing these characteristics become the norm throughout all cultures.  Following is how I see it as noted in my journal.

“Lovers of their own selves” speaks of selfishness.  Who can deny that today the focus is on the right to please self without regard as to how it may impact others.  Marketing is based on presenting products based on fulfilling the desires and needs of the flesh in support of this love of self.  The primary motivating factor for most people today—What’s in it for me?

The Greek for “covetous” is connected to avarice, the love of money and greed for wealth.  Again, can we deny that the desire for more money as evidence of one’s success and to provide the ability to fulfill selfish desires is an apt description of the overall culture of today?

A “boaster” is a braggart, someone who shows excessive pride in his/her accomplishments, possessions, or abilities.  I think there is a difference in having a healthy pride and an unhealthy pride.  A healthy pride regarding one’s accomplishments, possessions and abilities is based upon personal investment of time and energy according to one’s God-given talents and acknowledging that you have because you have been given.   An unhealthy pride is evidenced by basking in recognition of one’s accomplishments, possessions and abilities without regard to God and thinking that this places you in an elite status compared to others.  

Being “proud” is a reference to haughtiness, considering oneself as superior to others and looking down with contempt on those you consider unworthy of your attention.

“Blasphemers” are those who speak out with slander and disrespect against God.  This is especially obvious among the new atheists of today.  It is also prevalent in so-called art and entertainment today in America and other parts of the world.  Sadly, however, it is also true of many who profess themselves to be Christian, but call God’s word a lie and/or twist or manipulate its truth to support their own objectives.  

I liked this comment by David Guzik on boasting, pride and blasphemy:  “When I boast, when I am proud towards others, and when I express my pride towards God in blasphemy, I am the center of my universe. You don't matter and God does not matter. All that matters is me.”

“Disobedience to parents” means what it says.  The Greek included the idea of being unpersuadable.  This seems to reference having a stubborn heart that is not teachable or open to reasoning.  I am afraid the evidence of the truth of that statement is ever more evident in the youth of today.  They are more likely to respond to their peers and/or be led by the example and/or expressed beliefs of popular cultural figures than to parents.      

“Unthankful” is the equivalent of ingratitude and, I believe, again ties directly to selfishness.  Kids today are growing up with an attitude that indicates they feel they are deserving without regard to their treatment of others or the effort they put forth.  To my observation, in America at least, this attitude has had a great negative impact on the work ethic of today in comparison to when I was growing up (in the 50’s and 60’s).

To be “unholy” is to be wicked (from the Greek).  Webster states that to be wicked is to act contrary to the moral or divine law.  One only has to look at the Ten Commandments to conclude that unholiness is an apt description of the culture in most of the world today.  God is certainly not acknowledged as Lord.  Taking God’s name in vain has become part of everyday speech in America at least.  Killing the unborn is excused as the woman’s right to choose.  Sexual immorality is an accepted lifestyle.  There is a growing attitude of “the ends justifies the means” when it comes getting what we want.
  
The Greek defines being without natural affection as being hard-hearted towards your relatives; it is showing a lack of sympathy, cruelty and lack of pity (from the Greek).  Again, this falls right in line with being “lovers of self.”  I believe that the many nursing homes that are found to have employees that are abusive to those that live there are indicative of this characteristic.  Parents and relatives are often placed in these institutions and then forgotten or pitifully neglected by their “loved ones.”  I also believe this attitude is manifest by most women that choose abortion; relatively speaking, very few women choose abortion for life-threatening medical considerations.  These women do not have the “natural affection” you would expect to go with expectant motherhood.

The Greek for “trucebreakers” stated “literally, without libation….”  When I looked up the root word, this was a reference to devoting one’s life as a sacrifice.  My definition:  Making a deal or promise without true commitment to fulfill it at point of sacrifice to self.  Scripture is clear in stating that we should honor our word.

Zechariah 8:16 “These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor….”

Proverbs 3:27 “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”

1 Peter 1:15–16 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [behavior]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

“False accusers” are those that tell lies about someone to destroy their reputation.  I think that the media in general in America today is full of people who are willing false accusers in pursuit of promoting their own agendas, and the public as a whole seems to be willing to believe their lies.  In politics it has become the norm for candidates to lie about their opponents in order to gain a political advantage.  These are but a couple of examples that evidence a growing lack of integrity that permeates our culture today.

“Incontinence” is a reference to lack of self-control.  Again, this is an outworking of selfishness.  One who lacks self-control is obviously not concerned about how his/her actions may affect others.  The growing lack of self-control goes hand-in-hand with the use of drugs and alcohol and is the foundation for the success of the porn industry.  Sadly, this lack is also the motivating factor behind the horrendous crimes of rape, sexual abuse of children and human trafficking, among others.

One who is “fierce” is aggressive and characterized by uncontrolled violence. Frankly, I believe the great increase in aggressive and violent behavior evidenced in society today is spawned by the entertainment industry.  Movies and video games have caused people to become desensitized to aggression and violence and made them much more likely to emulate such actions without feeling guilt.  This type of behavior is also directly connected to lack of self-control.

The phrase “despisers of those that are good” is basically self-explanatory.  This too is becoming more dominant in the news today.  The persecution of Christians is growing throughout the world.  Christians in America are being categorized by public officials with radical terrorists and characterized as intolerant (implied, and therefore dangerous).  Those who live in disobedience to God’s word are always going to despise those that are obedient to God’s word.  Jesus predicted this hatred.

Matthew 10:22 “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake….”

John 15:18–19 “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
  
A “traitor” is one who betrays or violates the confidence or trust of another.  In today’s society this often goes hand-in-hand with the love of money.  The tabloids and increasingly the mainstream media produce headlines and make profit by seeking out people who are willing to betray friends, lovers, bosses, etc.   A traitor is almost always motivated by selfish purposes of some type.

One who is “heady” is rash; he/she is prone to acting before thinking.  Sometimes I think that must be an unwritten qualification for running for office in Washington D.C.  I was totally appalled to learn that our congressional leaders think it is normal and reasonable to pass legislation that they have not read.  How can we possibly expect the people to be careful, deliberate and reasonable in making decisions when those who lead us operate with such rashness.  Webster adds that “heady” actions affect the head and are intoxicating.  I believe that is what affects those in leadership in our government today.  They become intoxicated with power and lose all sense of integrity and reason.

One who is “highminded” is inflated with self-conceit and lifted up in pride (from the Greek).  

As Paul gets to the end of his list, he gets to the main problem in the lives of the types of people being referenced in this list—they love pleasure more than God.  Scripture acknowledges that sin results in pleasure—but only for a season.

Hebrews 11:24–25 “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season….”

Psalms 73:3 & 17 “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked….Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.”

Scripture is also clear in declaring that those who love God will suffer in this world, but it also declares that our obedience will be well rewarded in eternity.

John 16:33 “….In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Acts 14:22 “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

Matthew 5:10–12 “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven:”

Colossians 3:23–24 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

Those that “have a form of godliness” are professors of faith but not possessors of faith; they are hypocrites.  These people deny the power of God to save souls and change lives.   This is the most discouraging aspect of the “church” today.  It is the most telling trait on this list in my opinion regarding the “last days.”   The “church” today is in the process of “emerging” and morphing into the ecumenical church of end times.  The word of God is being misused.  The focus of the church is more on social work than on teaching the truth of God’s word and spreading the gospel.  The practices of mysticism are being incorporated into worship.  Tolerance and unity among faiths are being promoted in disregard of the exclusive truth of scripture.

John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Matthew 7:13–14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

The power of God is being disregarded for the power of men and evil spirits.  Many popular “Christian” books promote the wisdom of the author—not the wisdom of God as revealed in scripture.  Others present God and/or spiritual teaching according to their own imagination and desires rather than as instructed or described in scripture.  Many  “new age” beliefs are being promoted and marketed in writings openly identified as revelations from spirit guides.  Visions of the Virgin Mary and mysterious phenomena are identified as “from God” when it is obvious that they are contrary to scripture and, therefore, are occurring according to the powers of the “god of this world”—Satan.  I am reminded that scripture warns us that our fight is with evil spirits and that Satan has the ability to work lying wonders within the parameters that God allows him (as evidenced by Job).

Ephesians 6:11–12 “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

2 Thessalonians 2:9 “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders….” [speaking in context of the Antichrist]

Deuteronomy 13:1–3 “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Matthew 7:22–23 “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” [“wonderful works” = miracles in the Greek]

As I come to the end of these blog series, I pray that fellow believers have been encouraged as they are reminded of these truths and that those who have not yet chosen to place their faith in will be encouraged to do so.  God’s word is true.  It is not true that everyone will go to heaven.  In fact, the scripture indicates that there will be few relative to the whole that choose that path.

Matthew 7:13–14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Not everyone that claims to be a Christian is truly a follower of Jesus.

Matthew 7:21–23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Salvation is a gift that is yours for the asking.  You cannot earn it. 

Ephesians 2:8–9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”


Don’t put it off…the time is short!