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Archive for December, 2008

Righteous and TrueThen the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died. Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying: “You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.” Revelation 16:3-7

If God is Love…

Have you ever asked (or heard) the question, “If God is love, how can He allow these bad things to happen?” Well suffice it to say, as it pertains to this passage, these folks have brought this fate upon themselves. If denying Jesus Christ were not enough, they set about killing Christians and the messengers God sent to them. As the angel said, “It is there just due.”

But What About the Other Stuff

What about the Pigmies in Borneo who never heard about Jesus Christ; are they doomed? What about the innocent who die, or babies; where do they go? What about all the murdering in the Bible? What about all the stuff that doesn’t make any sense to me at all; what does God have to say about that? Our Lord has the answer…

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” John 13:7

That’s Comforting

When we get to Heaven, all our questions will be answered. And if that were not incredible enough, when we perceive God’s reasoning, we will say to Him, “True and righteous are Your judgments.” In other words, when the ‘big picture’ is revealed to us humanity will say in agreement, “Wow, we understand why You did what you did, ” and agreeing that God’s implementations were perfect. One day soon it will all make wonderful sense.

After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments… Revelation 19:1-2a


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And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. Revelation 15:2
Losers
The Tribulation is going to be a horrible time and persecution against the Christian is going to be at an all-time high. Oh, these persecuted believers are not you and I, for the church has been raptured by this time, but those who have been ‘left behind’ and came to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior during the period of the Tribulation. Without a doubt, these pre-and-post martyred saints will be seen as losersby the heathens that supported and/or carried-out these barbaric punishments.

Factoring Heaven into the Equation

While it is true (that) much of the Book of Revelation is forewarning, this portion of the volume is a sneak-preview into Heaven for those, who with patience, endure. It serves to remind those who will suffer on Earth that their future hope and victory lies in Heaven. Let every believer know that in everything we do, Heaven needs to be factored into the equation. My heart aches for every Christian who suffers because they have lost this focus and also for every non-believer who endures the pain of life without any prospective hope whatsoever.

…Because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel…To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:5 + 27

Do You Have This Hope

If you do, then my prayer is that your heart would ache for the unsaved, with each day your search spotlighting divine appointments to keep. If you do not have this hope, then I suspect it is no accident that you find yourself reading this blog today. This is the time for you to turn away from worthless pursuits and turn towards eternal salvation found in Christ Jesus alone.

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:54


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Angel Food
Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth–to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people–saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” Revelation 14:6-7Confession Time

Before today, I never noticed the truth of this particular section of scripture and I need to acknowledge a false teaching…Of my own. You see, I have always believed (having had it improperly taught to me) that the Rapture could not occur until everyone on the face of the planet had heard the Gospel message. The basis for that doctrine was fueled by the words of our Lord and Savior in Matthew 24:14

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

What I failed to notice (until today) was this angel flying in midway through the tribulation, and yes, before the ‘end’, to boldly preach the Good News to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people. What that means is that the Rapture could actually occur before you finish the end of this sentence.

On Another Note

If you are still reading, again my apologies—I suspect I have done it before and that I will likely do it again, but please know it is not my intention to mislead or deceive. I have squared it with the Lord and it is my hope and prayer I will not be erroneous in the future. But another thing also leapt off the page today—check-out the boldness of the third angel in Revelation 14:10-11 regarding those who deny Jesus Christ and choose to take the mark of the beast.

…He himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God… He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever…”

Be An Angel

The message of salvation is either very important to us or it is not. I suppose my question to everyone (myself included) is just how important is the Gospel message (and if it is important) why are we not as bold as angels in our presentation, after all, everyone we know who is not saved is going to hell.

I heard a story today that gave me pause. It’s about an Englishman named Richard Love who was sentenced to death over a half a century ago. As the prison chaplain walked with him to the gallows, he pleaded with him to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, adding that to deny Christ was to accept eternal torment.

Love’s response? “Go to hell.”

This doomed man wanted to know why, if this Good News message was so gravely important, why then was the chaplain waiting until the very last second to deliver it and he added, “If I thought this message was the truth (as you do), than I would have crawled on my hands and knees through broken glass in order to deliver it to every person in England.” (paraphrase mine)

It would seem that Love dispatched himself to hell that day, but nevertheless, God used Love to convey a significant truth—if the Gospel message is as critically important as we believe it to be, what on earth are we saving it for?


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For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (and) the wages of sin is death…But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord…God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (so) whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved…If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 3:23, 6:23a, 6:23b, 5:8, 10:13, 10:9-10 Satan’s Job

The job of satan (at least in part) is to keep us so in-the-dark that we do not know we are lost and frankly, as we look around the world today, he is doing a pretty good job of it. Currently in these United States practically ‘anything’ goes; a person can essentially find an accepting coalition for any behavior or action he or she can dream up and what was once rightfully considered sinful fifty years ago is now conventional and very often encouraged. Somewhere, somehow, we have falsely established an authority over God determining [for ourselves] a characterization of sin suitable to our lifestyle and the fact that we witness similar conduct in our churches today is the abominational icing on the cake.

You Are a Sinner

You are a sinner, I am a sinner, your sweet old granny is a sinner, and yes, even Mother Teresa was a sinner. There is no need to get all bent out of shape about it; it’s just the way it is. The problem with sin is that God hates it, so much so that if you lived to be one hundred years old and only committed one stinking little sin, that minor imperfection would keep you forever separated from God.

God Demands Perfection

God demands perfection, and odd as it may seem, so do we. We might not think we are perfectionists, but isn’t it true that we demand excellence from the folks we deal with? Would any of us fly an airline that advertised, “We Get You There…Most of the Time, ” or a doctor who asks, “I am not big on cleanliness; is that a problem for you?” Why then do we get all flustered when we learn that the God who created us also demands excellence, after all, we are made in His image.

There is Only One Solution

By that I mean there is only one solution for our separation-problem; i.e., our sin, which separates us from God and denies us entrance into Heaven. And honestly, if God provided two ways, we would ask for three; if He provided ten ways, we would ask for eleven, one thousand ways, one thousand and one. Let’s be forever grateful that God kept it extremely simple and gave us one way only: Jesus Christ. If you are involved in a religion that has laid all sorts of required ritual burdens on you, then you are doing a whole bunch of extra stuff that the Lord never asked you to do. The Lord’s deal is a done deal; all you need do is accept it as the gift it was always meant to be. Jesus said…

For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:30

We Receive With Open Hands

Like I said, your salvation (once received) is a done deal; there is nothing else you ever have to do accept take procession of it—that is in fact the Good News. If you choose to keep this Good News to yourself, it is your prerogative and your salvation will not be in jeopardy, but it’s GOOD NEWS MAN, how can you keep it to yourself? Tell someone! You are saved; you have discovered the cure for death—go give it away!

 

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But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. Revelation 12:14Nothing New

There is really nothing new in the Book of Revelation. The Revelation (in part) is in the understanding that everything contained within the text is found throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus has brought all the imagery and prophesies into one volume, so that we might better see the things that were, the things that are, and the things that will be.

With that appreciation, we can know that the woman spoken of here (Revelation 12:14) is the apple of God’s eye; the nation of Israel. We can also deduce that ‘a time and times and half a time’ is equal to ‘1 + 2 + ½ = 3 ½ ’ which is another reference to the latter half of the seven year Tribulation period: 3 ½ years (or 1260 days).

Who Then is the Great Eagle

There is some speculation that the ‘great eagle’ is the United States of America. It certainly seems to make sense, for America indeed stands with Israel today, but the truth is that we cannot be dogmatic about that position. The truth is that God, according to His will and purpose, can do the eagle-thing entirely on His own without any assistance whatsoever. Our proof text is found in Exodus 19:4

’You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself

Our strength, our hope, our faith is built on and focused upon the One who can and, as today’s scripture promises, the One who will.

The Debate

Today’s subject matter frequently stirs the debate within our Christian circles, “If God is able to provide for all the needs of those living in poverty today, why doesn’t He do so?”

The answer is simply this, “God is able and at this particular moment in time He has elected to use His body, the Church to accomplish this feat.”


 

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Witness ProtectionPlanAnd I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days…When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them…And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 11:3, 7, 10

There is a familiar allegoric observation that goes; “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough testimony to convict you or would the case against you be dismissed due to a lack of evidence?” That is quite a thought-provoking query, but I better like the question implied by today’s passage, “If you died, would there be a party celebrating your absence?”

Witness Clarity

Who are these two witnesses spoken of in Revelation? Many scholars believe that they are Moses and Elijah. In actuality, there is only absolute certainty regarding the identity of one of the pair…

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Malachi 4:5

As for the other witness, I lean towards it being Moses (too) for two reasons: first because we see that Moses and Elijah already like to hang out together (we see them on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17) and second because of this text from Jude 1:9…

Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

The entire Jude scenario gives me pause; why would satan give a hoot about Moses’ body unless he somehow had a bit of knowledge about Moses being one of these witnesses?

I Digress

Two guys (whoever they end up being) are witnesses for Jesus Christ and they come back to share the Gospel Message to a dying world. These people (the listeners) hate the Good News message (and love satan) so much so, they delight when the two are killed. There is rejoicing, merry-making, and gift-giving. Sadly, it is the only time we read about any rejoicing during the Tribulation.

My question is this–are we this out-spoken about our faith and do we sense the revelry that occurs when we leave the room? If you said ‘yes’, then I say ‘good’! Praise be to God! We shall wait for the gala eternal and pass on the party ephemeral.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world…Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. John 16:33, Matthew 5:12


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Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” Revelation 10:10-11

The Word of God

The Apostle John is given a ‘little book’ to digest and I believe the contents of that tome are the recorded and/or witnessed words of God, given to John, and now revealed to us in the New Testament, specifically the Book of Revelation. The fact that after John consumes it he is told to regurgitate it (prophesy again) gives legitimacy to that claim.

Have You Digested His Word

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

John records for us how we might know for certain if we are digesting God’s Word or merely reading words off a page, for the duly consumed word will be sweet on the lips and bitter in the belly. As we read through Revelation (for an example), pure sweetness is the certainty of our Heavenly home, but bitter is the reality (that) hell awaits the unsaved soul, particularly those who we love and cherish. Our aching stomachs inducing compassion within us for the lost is a sure sign we are digesting properly (*If you have the time or the gumption, read chapters two and three of Ezekiel for a parallel narrative).

We then delve deeper into the Word, asking the Lord to search our hearts by the light it omits and as a result we are convicted by the sins uncovered, again, leaving a bitterness in our bowels. We have for another example a story from the Old Testament concerning an (alleged) cheating wife for which there was no apparent evidence (other than the suspicion) against her. In Numbers 5:27 we see that she is given bitter water to drink.

When he has made her drink the water, then it shall be, if she has defiled herself and behaved unfaithfully toward her husband, that the water that brings a curse will enter her and become bitter, and her belly will swell, her thigh will rot, and the woman will become a curse among her people. But if the woman has not defiled herself, and is clean, then she shall be free and may conceive children. Numbers 5:27

Was this an intervention by God to identify the guilt and/or the innocence of the woman or the woman merely be made sick (or not sick) by her own convictions? To both those questions I would say yes. God gave us both His Word and consciousness, and given the opportunity they work quite well together.

Back to Sweetness

“Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” …But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear…”He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst…”Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:4-11 (various)

It is true: conviction of the Holy Spirit and by the Holy Spirit will draw us closer to God, while the condemnation of evil will drive us away. Understand the difference—digest the Word of God.


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