click on pics for larger view
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Monday, October 20, 2014
Friday, October 10, 2014
I recently read the letter that Pastor Saeed Abedini (who has been in prison for two years in Iran because of his faith in Jesus) wrote to his 8-year-old daughter for her birthday. I was so touched by this father’s desire for his child to trust the Lord Jesus even when she can’t understand the “why” of things.
God doesn’t fit in the box of our understanding, and it is this truth that stumbles so many. We look at the world around us and see wickedness and suffering that is indiscriminate. “Innocent” people and “good” people suffer right along with the wicked. We just can’t rectify this fact in our reasoning with the actions of a sovereign righteous God. Therein lies the problem—our limited abilities to reason and understand. God is very clear in His word that it is beyond our ability to fully understand His thoughts and ways.
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.”
God created man with the freedom and ability to make choices. He allowed us that freedom so that we could experience His love and not live as automatons. He placed man in a beautiful garden with the freedom to enjoy it all with only one prohibition. Amazingly, instead of reveling in such love, man chose not to trust God when confronted with Satan’s lies; he chose to put his faith in Satan. That sin resulted in the spiritual death of man and the resulting consequences affected the world around him as well. Man would have to live with the ongoing effects of evil and decay.
Things got so bad that God in his mercy wiped out all living things on earth and gave man a fresh start through Noah’s family and the animals on the ark. What happened? Once again man chose to believe he knew better than God what was best.
In selfishness and pride, we have a hard time accepting responsibility for our actions. It’s easier to cast the blame on God and question His love and righteousness. The truth is that all wickedness and suffering are a consequence of sin—a consequence that affects all of humanity.
Because of God’s amazing love and grace, He provided a way to rescue man from sin. He sent His Son, His only Son, to become a man and a willing sacrifice to redeem us from sin.
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.”
This salvation is a gift available to every person born on planet earth, but that gift is only available on God’s terms—through faith in His Son Jesus.
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 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Once again I hear the voice of the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 55:6–7 “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
As a child of God, I am so thankful to know that in the midst of it all, God is in control. He is always working to accomplish His will in spite of and through the choices of man. He never allows the consequences of sin to touch the life of His child without a purpose for good. Because we are so limited in our understanding, we often struggle with that truth. God’s word gives us the truth to which we must cling.
1 John 4:8 “…God is love.”
Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
John 16:33 “…In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
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.”
Come, Lord Jesus!
Thursday, October 2, 2014
The Lord didn’t leave us clueless as to the expectation of His return. He very clearly detailed what to expect as that time draws near. One of the most well known teachings on this subject is known as “The Olivet Discourse,” and was recorded in three of the gospels.
Matthew 24:3–12 “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”
Mark 13:5–8 “And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.”
Luke 21:8–11 “And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.”
In summary, there will be:
· False Christs
· Wars and rumors of wars
· Racial wars
· Wars between nations
And all of these signs are said to compare to the “beginning of sorrows,” a reference to birth pains. In other words, they will increase in frequency and intensity. The evidence throughout the world speaks for itself.
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….”
These signs speak to the character and morals of the peoples living in the last days. They include:
· Speaking with slander and disrespect against God; e.g., using His name in vain
· Disobedient children
· Lack of gratitude
· Wickedness (as defined by God’s word)
· Unnatural attitudes toward parents, children, etc.
· Empty words of promise (It used to be that a man’s word was sufficient guarantee, but that is certainly no longer the expectation.)
· People who lie and make false accusations against others towards their own purposes
· Lack of self-control
· Uncontrolled aggression, violent behavior
· Despising those that live according to the truth of God’s word
· Betrayal of friends, the willingness to violate one’s confidence—again towards one’s own purposes
· Acting rashly; acting before thinking
And now we reach the key point: “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”
And sadly, this list concludes by identifying those who “profess” to be Christians, but their actions deny their profession. 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 and abused. The predominant focus of most churches is more on social functions and humanitarian work without regard to spreading the gospel or discipling believers. 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.
2 Peter 3:3–4 “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
Peter warns us that in the last days there will be many that make fun of those of us looking forward to the return of Jesus. They live with complete disregard to the morals of scripture seeking only to fulfill their fleshly desires. Their reasoning: Everything is going along the same way it always has, implying that there is no reason to think things are going to change.
I have to add one more scripture from the prophet Zechariah.
Zechariah 12:3 “And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”
The headlines daily scream the ongoing fulfillment of this prophecy.
I am ever looking up and echoing the words of the Apostle John—“Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)