Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-15

Do children, babies, and the unborn go to Heaven when they die?

babyI am convinced, by the word of God, that they do, while simultaneously cognizant of God’s all-knowing attributes and how that plays into the picture. There are some Bible truths we all should know. First, Psalm 9:8 tells us that God will judge the world and He shall administer judgment to all with equity. In other words, this applies to everybody, but God is fair and He will take their unique circumstances into account. Babies are born sinful, but God recognizes their innocence at the same time. God acknowledges this truth in Jeremiah 19:4-5 and in Deuteronomy 1:39.

Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it. 

In today’s vernacular, we would say that these children have not yet reached the age of accountability. Yes, they might understand that’s it’s wrong to hit another child (for example), but they don’t fully comprehend the notion of sin and how it defiles a relationship with God the Father. Because of this distinction, children are considered by God to be His children. Ezekiel 16:20-21Matthew 18:2-3, and Matthew 19:13-14 bear witness to this also. Because they are His children, they go to Heaven if they die prematurely. In 2 Samuel 12, we see it again confirmed as King David reminds us that he would once again see his son in Heaven. Amazingly, God has found a way to put Jesus into our children!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Our children have found favor with God!

Does that sound familiar? It should. It reminds me of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

maryLike Mary, somehow, someway, God has manifested Himself inside our little ones as well. Just as Mary was safe and protected as Jesus grew inside her, so are our children. Miraculously, our kids have Jesus within and He abides with them until they are old enough to understand that they should also abide with Him. If tragedy should strike before they mature, believers have the assurance that these kids will be instantaneously ushered into the Father’s presence. Praise be to God!

But what occurs to our grown children after they reach their age of accountability? As strange as it sounds, what happens if they don’t die young?

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. Revelation 3:5

That verse should give every Christian parent a shiver. First, the passage confirms what we have already established: all the names of our children are written in the Book of Life; if they should die at a tender age, they go to Heaven. However, it also carries a stern admonishment — that these very same names can be blotted out. Their names will be removed if they do not overcome.

Overcome what? 

Well for one thing, child-birth! That is to say, re-birth. If they do not give birth to that which has been growing inside of them, their names will be removed from the Heavenly roll call. Nobody knows when this age of innocence is over, because it’s different for each person. They are born again by faith as the Holy Spirit gives breath to faith and our jobs as parents is to see that Christ grows in them prior to that event.

Imagine for a moment that you were the mother or father of Mary. Surely you would have done all that you could to ensure her the safe delivery of her baby. We must do the same for our children! Make no mistake about it! All children, like Mary have found favor with God. They have within them Christ Jesus and they must by faith bring forth this Son of God.

Parents, we have been given a great assignment!

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Here is the reality — If we entrust our children to the world, the world will do all within their power to convince them to abort Jesus. It sounds ugly because it is ugly. God instructs us to train up our kids because once they are old enough to know right from wrong, they must choose to follow Jesus for themselves. Our duty is to take this responsibility seriously. We must train our children in the Way, as if their faith in Christ Jesus were in Olympic event!

Do you send your child to Sunday school?

That’s not enough. If that’s all you do, then you’re entrusting your child’s eternal future to what they glean in 30 minutes, once a week. If you were training your child for the Decathlon, would having him run around the block a few minutes, once a week be sufficient?  Training our children is a huge responsibility and it’s a full-time job. Having your child pray before dinner is not enough either; nor is having them learn a memory verse now and them. The reality is if we want a child to be saved, we must train that child, so when the time comes, they will not depart from what they’ve been taught. If most of their time is spent in public school, in front of the TV or computer, and consuming junk food, what should we expect. If we let our children do this, then we run the great risk of our children rejecting Jesus and being damned to hell.

I submit to you, that if you truly know the fear of the Lord, you will not allow this to happen

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

But my children are grown now!

Then pick up where you left off. Pray for them consistently and continually. Ask the Lord for open doors towards training opportunities.  Pray. Confess to them how you sinned and ask for their forgiveness. There is hope. My parents, who I love and adore, did not train me up in the way, but God sent others. God will send others to your children as well. Pray. Pray. Pray.

I have 3 children; two boys and a girl. I did not take seriously the training of my first 2 children (twins) until they were about 11 years old. Honestly, I did not know the fear of the Lord. As a result, as young adults, they are not where they should be, spiritually speaking. I have not given up because God has not given up. In contrast, I started with my youngest before she was born, and although my training techniques are not perfect, I have been consistent. She has made her decision to follow Jesus and is moving strongly forward along the path.

Bottom line: the younger they are, the easier it is.

I cannot get a do-ever with the boys. I’ve confessed my sin and am doing all that I can now to make up ground, trusting in the Lord to restore what the locusts have taken away. And there is one other thing I can do — I can warn you. If you are not training your child properly, begin now and do whatever it takes. Eternity is at hand.

These articles may or may not relate:

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Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

I stole borrowed this little quiz because it’s good. I guarantee that if you take this test, you will be the smartest person at the church Christmas party (that is to say if you’re willing to glean from your mistakes). David Langerfeld, an associate pastor at Harrisburg Baptist Church in Tupelo, gives this Christmas IQ test to his Sunday School class — I do not know if he developed it or stole it borrowed it from someone else. Try not peek at the answers (below and to the right) of each question.

1. Joseph was originally from… (Luke 2:3)

A. Bethlehem
B. Nazareth
C. Hebron
D. Jerusalem
E. None of the above

1. A. He worked and lived in Nazareth, but he was returning to Bethlehem  

2. What does the innkeeper say to Mary and Joseph? (Luke 2:7)

A. “There is no room in the inn.”
B. “I have a stable you can use.”
C. “Come back later and I should have some vacancies.”
D. Both A and B
E. None of the above

2. E. The innkeeper didn’t say anything. The Bible makes no mention of an innkeeper.

3. A manger is a…

A. Stable for domestic animals
B. Wooden hay storage bin
C. Feeding trough
D. Barn

3. C. Feeding trough

4. Which animals does the Bible say were present at Jesus’ birth?

A. Cows, sheep, goats
B. Cows, donkeys, goats
C. Sheep and goats only
D. Miscellaneous barnyard animals
E. None of the above

4. E. The Bible doesn’t say. The Bible also makes no mention of a barn or stable, just the manger

5. Who saw the star in the east?

A. Shepherds
B. Mary and Joseph
C. Three kings
D. Both A and C
E. None of the above

5. E. The magi saw the star. The wise men would later follow it..

6. According to the Bible, how did Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem?

A. Camel
B. Donkey
C. Walked
D. Joseph walked, Mary rode a donkey
E. Horse-drawn chariot
F. Who knows?

6. F. The Bible doesn’t say

7. How many angels spoke to the shepherds? (Luke 2:10)

A. One
B. Three
C. Multitude
D. None of the above

7. A. 

8. What did the angels say/sing? (Luke 2:14)

A. “Glory to God in the highest, etc.”
B. “Alleluia”
C. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”
D. “Joy the world, the Lord is come”
E. “Glory to the newborn King”

8. A.

9. What is a heavenly host?

A. The angel at the gate of heaven
B. The angel who serves refreshments in heaven
C. An angel choir
D. An angel army
E. None of the above

9. D. The word means army – literally thousands.

10. There was snow that first Christmas…

A. Only in Bethlehem
B. All over Israel
C. Nowhere in Israel
D. Somewhere in Israel

10. D. Mt. Hermon typically has snow on it.

11. What is frankincense?

A. A precious metal
B. A precious fabric
C. A precious perfume
D. None of the above

11. C.

12. In Matthew, what does “wise men” or “Magi” refer to?

A. Men of the educated class
B. Eastern kings
C. Men who studied the stars
D. Sages

12. C. The word Magi literally means star-gazers

13. What is myrrh? 

 A. Middle Eastern money
B. A drink
C. An easily shaped metal
D. A spice used for burying people
E. None of the above

13. D.

14. How many wise men came to see Jesus?  

A. 3
B. 6
C. 9
D. 12
E. We don’t know.

14. E. We don’t know. 

15. Where did the wise men find Jesus? (Matthew 2:11)

A. In a manger
B. In a stable
C. In Nazareth
D. In Saudi Arabia
E. In a house
F. None of the above

15. E. 

16. When the wise men found Jesus he was… (Matthew 2:11)

A. A babe wrapped in swaddling clothes
B. A young child
C. A boy in the temple
D. A grown man

16. B. He was probably somewhere between 12-24 months old.

17. The “star in the east” that the wise men followed… (Matthew 2:9)

A. Stayed in the same place their entire journey
B. Disappeared and reappeared
C. Moved ahead of them and stopped over the place where Jesus was
D. Was just a mirage
E. None of the above

17. C. 

18. The wise men stopped in Jerusalem… (Matthew 2:2)

A. To inform Herod about Jesus
B. To find out where Jesus was
C. To ask about the star
D. To buy presents
E. None of the above

18. B.

19. Where do we find the Christmas story?

A. Matthew
B. Mark
C. Luke
D. John
E. All of the above
F. Only A and B
G. Only A and C
H. Only A, B and C

19. G.

20. When Joseph found Mary was pregnant, what happened?

A. They got married
B. Joseph wanted to break the engagement
C. Mary left town for three months
D. A and B
E. B and C

20. E.

21. Who told (made) Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem? (Luke 2:1-5)

A. The angel chorus
B. Mary’s mother
C. Herod
D. The shepherds
E. Caesar Augustus

21. E.

How did you do?

That’s ok, I didn’t do that well either. But look at the bright side, now we know! Of course that raises the issue, “Are these answers correct?” While some of these questions do have tricky answers (like the ‘snow’ on Mt. Hermon one), you may not agree with the answer provided. That’s cool. Just leave a comment below containing what you believe the correct answer to be along with supporting scripture.  Oh yeah, and Merry Christmas!


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I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2

I love this song.

As far as contemporary Christian, Christmas songs go, this could very well be my favorite.  What I have done here is taken the liberty of pulling out the chorus for a moment so we might first examine the stanza.

How Many Kings

Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe, after all we’ve projected,
A child in a manger?

Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in his mother’s shawl –
Just a child –
Is this who we’ve waited for?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn Savior
All that we have, whether costly or meek
Because we believe.

Gold for his honor, and frankincense for his pleasure
And myrrh for the cross he will suffer
Do you believe?

What a wonderfully prophesied, significantly acute lyric. After all we have sought, assumed, and predicted; the Father shows up and does exceedingly abundantly more…with less…and in a word, we are astonished.

“Is this Who we’ve waited for?

We answer the first of the six questions with a booming proclamation,

Yes! Without any doubt, this is our Messiah!

And as the affirmation pours out from our hearts; as His Spirit bears witness with our spirit (Romans 8:16), it’s understood by all believers that this is more than just an emotional, religious gesture — we know how this story ends! Therefore, whatever our all looks like, He is worthy to receive it.

Five More Questions

  1. How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
  2. How many lords have abandoned their homes?
  3. How many greats have become the least for me?
  4. How many Gods have poured out their hearts to romance a world that has torn all apart?
  5. How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

I find it intriguing that six questions are posed and that the Solution to the mystery; the only conceivable answer, is realized in the historical seventh position: the place of Sabbath and rest.

For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath…Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 12:8; 11:28

It’s Who we’ve waited for…only One did that for me.

In the best possible way, the saints are convicted.

With un-scaled eyes we realize that kings never freely tender their platforms, monarchs don’t voluntarily vacate their palaces, large doesn’t routinely pursue small, false idols cannot redeem, and dads won’t willingly sacrifice their boys.

Only One did that.

Only One could do that.

So in gratitude we cling firmly to doctrines of reasonable service and nonconformance to worldly canons, despite having access and freedom in all things. He has lovingly revealed that not all things are helpful (1 Corinthians 6:2) nor do all things bring Him glory. We’re submitted to restoration, because it testifies to what is good and what is acceptable and what is perfect in God.

As the lyricist declares, ‘because we believe,’ all that we have, precious or modest, we willingly sacrifice, knowing He is the sole provider. Our faith, our time, our talent, our audience — He has given it all. Therefore, whatever we do, we forego personal gain and do it all for the glory of God, giving Jesus Christ the recognition in every opportunity, so that others might come to know Him as we know Him (1 Corinthians 10:31-33).

If we’re invited to a thousand celebrations we know it’s only right at each occasion to seek out and thank the host — failure to do so is the grossest of insults. God gave His all and will continue to give His all and to the degree we understand what this means, is to the degree we give our all too.

Only one question remains.

Do You Believe?

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. John 15:9-16


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How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman? If even the moon does not shine, And the stars are not pure in His sight, How much less man, who is a maggot, And a son of man, who is a worm?” Job 25:4-6

These are the words of Job’s friend Bildad and they are a response to Job’s lament to go before the Lord and plead his case. Essentially Bildad is saying to Job, “Because all men are unrighteousness, they cannot stand before the throne of God.”

Theologically speaking, Bildad was right. And so were the psalmist and the prophet when they wrote, “The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one…we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…” (Psalm 14:2-3; Isaiah 64:6a)

But prophetically speaking, Bildad was wrong, for it is the believer’s good fortune to be clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ—those who believe by faith have access to God. What a glorious mystery it is!

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. Isaiah 61:10-11

There is however a predictive irony in Bildad’s reply; whether he realized it or not (probably not), he spoke prophetically of Christ Jesus. In the New Testament Jesus makes reference to Himself as the ‘Son of man’ over eighty times and He likens Himself to a worm one time in the Old Testament.

But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. Psalm 22:6

We collectively wonder, “Why would Jesus call Himself a worm?” The answer overwhelms us.

The word worm in Hebrew is towla and it is used to describe both a worm and the color scarlet. They are synonymous because the ‘towla worm’ was the source for the color scarlet; if you wanted scarlet material, you crushed some towlas in a bowl (I suppose) and tossed in the fabric you wanted to dye.

Henry Morris, in the book, “Biblical Basis for Modern Science”, give us this additional information on the towla: ‘When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood.’

Are you beginning to see the parallels between a worm and Jesus Christ? This next segment I borrowed from Calvin Ray Evans in an article he wrote for the ‘Insect man’ website. Savor and enjoy.

“First, the crimson worm climbs on the tree all by itself. Nobody forces it to get on the tree. It willingly searches out the kermes oak which is symbolic of its destiny. Then, by its own choice it climbs on the tree. Please understand that nobody forced Christ on the cross. What He did was of His own choice. He could have called all the angels of Heaven to release Him but He died alone for you and me.

The crimson worm knows when it climbs on the tree that it will not come back down alive. It is going to the tree to birth a family and to do that it must die. Jesus knowing all things still was willing to die on the cross to birth a family.

Once on the tree, the crimson worm then attaches itself to the tree. It makes sure it is secure because the body of the worm will eventually be the shelter for the young, which are born. Remember, it was not nails that held our Savior to the cross. It was love! That same love and broken body of our Lord is the protection for us against all the winds of heresy and unbelief of the ages. The worm will then lay its eggs and shelter them under her body.

During the birthing process, she secretes a crimson fluid or gel. The scarlet fluid covers her entire body and all the eggs she lays. It also leaves a stain on the tree, which will never fade away with the passing of time! (Please excuse me if I stop to shout right here! You may need to pause to join me too!) The blood of Jesus stained Him, the cross and all of us, which are saved! The blood will never lose its power!

After dying to birth the family, something amazing takes place. For a period of three days the worm can be scraped from the tree and the crimson gel can be used to make a dye. That dye was the same which was used in the tabernacle and in the garments of the High Priest.

On the morning of the fourth day, the worm has pulled the head and tail together and is now in the shape of a heart on the tree but it is no longer crimson. It is now a wax, which is white as snow. They can still harvest the wax and use it to make shellac, a preservative of wood. Praise God for the resurrection, which serves as the preservative of the message of the cross.

The crimson worm is also very fragrant when it is crushed. No other life in history has sweetened the pathway of humanity like the crimson worm who was crushed for our sin, Jesus.”

Here’s the bottom line. When Jesus referred to Himself as a worm, He was not coming down on Himself—the reference had doctrinal implications that would abide forever. The allusion was prophetic not poetic, it was momentous not insignificant; it was perfect and not irrelevant.

By the way…Happy Easter

These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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“Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock With an iron pen and lead, forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! Job 19:23-27

Job has personal knowledge of an eternal, holy, Redeemer. Job speaks as one who has found an intermediary; the One who will stand up and pay the ransom that will ultimately deliver him. Incredibly Job speaks of the only One who could pay the price for his redemption and freedom. The question that remains is how did Job come by this knowledge—so how did Job know?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans 8:35

We know that the things that happened to Job were not caused by God, but by satan. However, we also know that God gave satan the freedom to do these things. For centuries the masses have asked why would God allow satan to do mean, horrible, nasty things to Job. Was it merely so God could prove a point to satan; was it solely to demonstrate that Job would not abandon God if all his blessings were removed? I submit to you that it was much deeper than that and that God never does anything for a singular reason—Job’s tribulation would bring about God’s revelation—our Redeemer lives!

“Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock With an iron pen and lead, forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! Job 19:23-27

Job hadn’t a clue that these words would be recorded in the best selling Book of all time and that gazillions of people would glean from his miraculous insight. Job didn’t know, Eliphaz didn’t know, Bildad didn’t know, Zophar didn’t know, but God knew–He would give us a glimpse of His Son through the sufferings of one man and the notion of a kinsman redeemer would echo forever through the entire Bible.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

Therefore, it stands reason that if God allowed Job to suffer in ways that would ultimately benefit Job and many others; He would allow us to suffer for similar reasons. Would perfectly successful people ever look to God for anything? No, they wouldn’t; without tribulation there is no need to look up. God in His infinite and perfect wisdom gives us a vehicle by which we will seek Him regularly. Christians therefore know that success is not measured by a lack of suffering, but rather how well we abide in Christ through them. Victory is realized when we hear from our Redeemer,

“Well done good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21

I am not suggesting that God does not speak to us in the good times as well; that would be a silly notion. The observation is that our Father has some valuable information to share with us every time we find ourselves crawling in the dark on our knees.

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These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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“If you would prepare your heart, And stretch out your hands toward Him; If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away, And would not let wickedness dwell in your tents; Then surely you could lift up your face without spot; Yes, you could be steadfast, and not fear; Because you would forget your misery, And remember it as waters that have passed away, And your life would be brighter than noonday. Job 11:13-17

As soon as I saw the pile on the floor I knew what I had neglected to do. It was obvious. Point of fact it was the odor wafting up the staircase that first alerted me. As I hunched over to remove the mound, it dawned on me that I had just been convicted by three of my senses. Little did I know I would soon be clapperclawed by a fourth.

“You forgot to let the dog out last night,” she said as I grappled with it .

My first thought was ironic, humorous and profane, and wisely I kept it shuttered behind my crooked teeth. Good thing, because it was also inaccurate, for there it was.

Nevertheless, my dear wife had proffered to me data the likes of which I was already intimately acquainted. Her remark was frivolous, unnecessary, unkind, superfluous, and just plain ol’ nasty. In that regard, my wife and Zophar have a lot in common (don’t tell her I said that, I’m just trying to make a point here).

There sits Job; scrapping at his leaching sores with a pot shard, bearing insufferable physical pain and mental anguish, as his good friend Zophar vilifies him, reminding him that he’s a sinner.

Thank you Captain Obvious

Job needed one thing and got something else entirely. Zophar blew it. He was there to affect sympathy, not enumerate the Law. Especially since it was not Job’s transgressions that brought about his condition—satan was to blame and God was allowing it for His divine purposes. Remember what God said about Job?

“Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” Job 1:8

Job was already a repented man and he didn’t need Zophar bashing him over the head with Bible facts. Job’s friends were guilty of taking the obvious truths of God’s word and verbally assaulting another believer with them (sadly, it is an abuse we’re often guilty of as well). The reality is that neither Job nor Zophar (or Eliphaz or Bildad for that matter) knew what was going on.

So Where’s God?

At this point we too may be asking the very same question Job asked, “Why God? Where are you in all this mess?” We even know how the story ends and we might still ask that question.

God Won’t Give You Anything You Can’t Handle

Baloney! Have you ever said that? Well stop saying it because it is not Biblical. Here’s the truth:

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Here are the keys words we need to cling to from this verse: Faithful-God-will-make-the-way-of-escape. Who makes the way? God does. Who is able? God is able. That’s foundational if we are to understand why God seemingly stands by and let’s His children suffer unnecessarily. God is faithful even when we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13) and asserting that God stands by as the Body suffers is an outrageous notion. By proxy we are the ones who have stood by while He suffered.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

Satan is the Destroyer, Not God

Job’s story reveals two very important things about satan. First, he incredibly has access to Heaven. I don’t understand it and I don’t like it, but that’s the way it is. Second, satan can do nothing unless God allows it. That naturally begs the questions, “Why does God allow it?”

Here’s the Answer

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

We are being perfected! God has a plan so magnificent that we will not be able to grasp its gloriousness until we’re with Him in Heaven. As for now we are as the yielding stone, hewn and finished at the quarry in anticipation of becoming a part of a superior dwelling.

…You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5

This is a Test

For those who are in Christ we have the assurance that this is all a preparatory test—from re-birth to last breath, everything we endure is purposed to refine us. The very good news is that every Born Again believer ultimately passes.

These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them–the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.” Joshua 1:2-3

It’s a Done-Deal

The Promised Land that God is referring to is approximately three hundred thousand square miles—a region about the size of Texas. God had effectively said this was a done-deal–it’s yours, just enter in and possess it. However, the most Israel has ever taken possession of was thirty-thousand square miles and that was during King Solomon’s reign. That’s about one tenth of what God desired to give them. The other ninety percent is still available.

What Does That Mean to Me?

The focus of today’s blog is not going to revolve around the territory modern-day Israel is due, but rather on how this passage is applicable to every Christian today. In other words, ‘What has God promised me and what, if anything, have I taken possession of?”

First Things First

We need to know that these Old Testament stories are much more then records of ancient history. They are in fact prophetic illustrations of that which would ultimately come in and through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Every single New Testament principle has an Old Testament picture that exemplifies it. So while the Book of Joshua is a precise account of Joshua taking Israel into the Promised Land, it most accurately depicts the born-again believer crossing over and taking possession of the Spirit-filled life. How do we know this to be true? Consider this passage from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples… 1 Corinthians 10:1-7a

The word example in the text is ‘tupos’ in the Greek which is where we get our word type. Here Paul uses it to mean a person or thing prefiguring a future person or thing.

“Don’t be ignorant of these things,” Paul is saying, “these Old Testament stories are types of things which have come to be in Christ Jesus.

So it is true Israel was held captive in Egypt, but Egypt is a picture of our bondage to sin. Its true God raised-up Moses as a deliverer, but he was a picture (or type) of our Deliverer Jesus. Its true Israel crossed through the Red Sea, but it was an illustration of the outward sign of water baptism. And its true Israel received water from a rock in the desert, but that Rock is a picture of Jesus Christ and the living water only He can provide.

The Second Baptism

The Promised Land spoken of in the Old Testament is not a picture of Heaven, but the spirit-filled life available to every believer here on earth. Therefore, the crossing of the Jordan River into the Promised Land is a picture of becoming baptized in the Holy Spirit and receiving the Spirit-filled life that God has promised us. By His Spirit and for His pleasure, God has much for us. The question that remains is whether or not we have taken possession of these things for His honor, glory, and praise.

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly John 10:10b

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I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also. Romans 16:1-2

A large portion of the last chapter of the Book of Romans is dedicated to the Apostle Paul’s friends; thirty-three people that Paul mentions specifically by name. It’s one of those sections that some might wonder why is included in God’s word. I submit to you that as you pour through the chapter, God reveals both His character and the character of those who choose to follow Him.

Starting with Phoebe, Paul commends her because she is a precious servant of the Lord. I found it interesting that the word ‘servant’ in the Greek is ‘diakonos’ from which we get our contemporary word deacon or in this case deaconess. We find throughout scripture that these servants in the early church cared for the poor and the sick, took charge of and dispensed the collections, and specifically in the case of women, taught other women. We also see that women served in the early church.

Other Notables

Priscilla and Aquila were close friends of Paul and met because they shared the same tent-making craft. After Paul had led them to Christ, they in turn led many others to Christ, including Apollos! They also maintained Christian fellowships within their homes and put their own lives on the line in order to protect Paul. Already we see with these first three people, Paul is establishing the components of a faithful believer.

Paul remembers Epaenetus, the first person he led to Christ in Achaia and Mary, a saint who labored much for the evangelical mission. Again I am intrigued by Paul’s choice of words because the Greek word used here for labor means to toil with wearisome effort. Personally, I have trouble recalling the last time I toiled for Jesus.

He makes mention of Andronicus and Junia, two apostles who served with him in jail ministry. The valuable insight we can gain from this notation is that the Lord is still in the apostle-appointing business. Some believe that after Jesus appointed the original twelve there were no more—this entry destroys that myth.

Two of my personal favorites are Apelles and Philologus, whose name literally means, ‘lover of the Word’. Of Apelles, Paul wrote that he was ‘approved in Christ’. Of course that begs the questions, “What must one do to be approved in Christ?” That answer is implied here and confirmed later in Second Timothy.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

I prefer the King James Version of this particular verse because it plainly states, ‘Study to show yourself to be approved by God.’ Want to be approved? Be a ‘Philologus’—be a lover of God’s word.

Tertius and Quartus are two more favorites. Tertius we know was a secretary of sorts for Paul, recording much (if not all) of this letter for him. What I soaked in is that their titles are slave-names: Tertius means ‘Third’ and Quartus means ‘Fourth’. What a powerful reminder the next time I get the urge to make a name for myself.

“So What,” You Say

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, And the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the Lord And who meditate on His name. Malachi 3:16

I tell you so what. Paul has illustrated in this Epistle to the Romans what God has been doing all along—recording in His Book of Remembrance the faithful acts of His saints. When a Christian serves and/or speaks-up on behalf of the Lord, He puts it in His memory book. It kind of reminds me how my wife puts all our kids’ masterpieces on the refrigerator, despite misspelled words and rough artwork. To Mom, it doesn’t matter—she’s showing off her children. It doesn’t matter to the Father either—if you love and serve the Lord, you are on His refrigerator.

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Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient–in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God… Romans 16:17-19a

Have You Been Confirmed?

I am not talking about those confirmation classes your mom made you take when you were back in Sunday school, but God’s direct confirmation of your ministry. Just to be clear, every single Christian has a ministry, so I suppose the question I am really asking is if you are in the right one. How do we find out? The Apostle Paul gives us the first clue when he fearlessly pronounces that the work he does is not his, but God’s. As a result, the signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit follow him.

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. Mark 16:17-18

Are You Being Followed?

If God’s signs and wonders are not following you, it may be an indication that you are pursuing God’s miracles rather than God. The truth be told, those guys who play with rattlesnakes or speak in unknown tongues merely to prove God is with them, eventually get bitten. Ultimately what is proven is that they’re unendorsed [by the Father] in their fleshly ministry. Paul demonstrates that as we move in submissive obedience to God’s plan, His signs and wonders, miraculous or otherwise, will follow us in due season.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me Acts 1:8a

How do we know when we see the true power of the Holy Spirit being displayed? The verse from Acts makes it incredibly easy to determine: is the supposed sign and wonder pointing to the Christian or to Christ? If it’s not pointing to Jesus, then what you’re witnessing is a work of a person’s flesh. That alone does not necessarily signify that person is not a born again believer, but rather he or she is being guided by something else other that the Holy Spirit.

Where’s the Fruit?

Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds. Numbers 17:8

Fruit is often a seasonal thing, so lack of it may not be a sign you’re in the wrong ministry—you just might have to wait for it to come into season. The story of Aaron’s rod is a wonderful illustration of the principle. However, if there never was any fruit and the seasons have come and past, the likelihood exists that you’re out of position–you might be on the right farm, but you’re standing beneath the wrong tree.

Now What

Have you been ignoring one mission field because you were off in the wrong one? If so don’t be alarmed, depressed or discouraged—it happens to many and it has happened to me. The good news is that floundering in a mistaken ministry is easy to remedy—simply stop what you’re doing. Then ask the Lord to search your heart and reveal His plan. Chances are your ministry is right under your nose; perhaps your family or children. Humble yourself and ask Him where to take up the path again.

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Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Romans 14:1-3

Who Is My Weaker Brother?

My weaker brother is not necessarily who I thought it was. I was in fact surprised to discover that not infrequently this weaker brother is me! The person weak in faith that Paul is describing is not the one who lacks faith, but rather the one who errantly exercises the faith he has been given ~and~ attempts to impose their personal convictions on others. In today’s vernacular, we might call these folks legalists.

These guys (in Paul’s day) abstained from eating the meat being sold in the marketplace because it had been sacrificed to idols. They of course wanted to lay their vegetarian rap on everyone else because, they concluded, God would approve. The irony is that when a non-legalist is outwardly opposed to the yak of a legalist; to the point of controversy, the non-legalist is just as offensive as the legalist was initially. For this reason, God would say, “Let the brother be.”

Paul has effectively told us that God does not care about these matters. Christians are to accept each other and dismiss those matters that do not pertain to sin and the Biblical essentials of our faith. Whether it is the food or beverages we consume, the day we choose to worship, or any other inconsequential thing, tolerate your brother and avoid conflict. St Augustine summed it up pretty well when he said.

In Essentials,
In Non-essentials,
In All Things,

…For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Romans 14:17-18

It doesn’t get much clear than that. Is God interested in what we eat, what we drink, or when and where we worship? No, but obviously let us not sin in our liberty. What is God into? Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Want to be acceptable to God and approved by men? Then let these three things be our focus in Christ’s Holy name.

Follow me on Twitter HERE http://twitter.com/Compassiondave

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