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For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 1 Corinthians 4:7

Alex Haley, the story is told, owned a picture of a turtle sitting on a fence post. The framed print hung in his study and when folks would inevitably ask him about the curious photograph, he would simply reply,

I have it because it reminds me that I didn’t get where I am without help.”

How true.

If I were to accurately appraise my current situation: where I live, how I live, and what I am able to do, like Haley, I’d have no choice but to acknowledge that I’ve had much help. With a grateful heart I must go the next step and proclaim that my Helper and Provider is Jesus Christ — All that is good in my life is a direct result of God’s involvement and intercession.

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

How Come?

Have you ever asked why?

I have.

Why Lord have you blessed me so abundantly while others around the world have so little?”

I didn’t have to look very far to find the answer.

For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. Luke 12:48

A Faithful and Wise Steward

The answer is so simple.

We are blessed to be a blessing to others. If we’ve been given a lot, a lot is expected of us. If we are grateful, then giving back and giving out is a proper and reasonable response. Conversely, if we see this requirement as legalism, then we’re not truly grateful; we’ve somehow come away with the notion we obtained these things by our own hands and we therefore own them.

That’s foolishness and contrary to the Word of God.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all. 1 Chronicles 29:11

Get With the Program

You need to know that there is a purpose for all these things and that God has a specific plan. It also helps to remember that it’s not about you. And while we’re on the subject, it’s not about them either. It’s about God.

He’s the Creator.

He’s the Owner.

He’s the Planner.

No longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love…grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ–from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:14-16

We are the body and Christ is the Head. We are where we are because God has allowed us to be. We have what we have because God has given it. We freely give of the time, talent, and treasure He’s entrusted to us because it ultimately brings the Creator, Owner, and Planner, all the honor, glory, and praise.

Or at least that’s the way it supposed to work.

How about you?

  1. Are you a follower of Jesus Christ?
  2. Are you blessed?
  3. Are you grateful?
  4. Do you freely give when moved to do so?
  5. Why?
  6. Why not?

~ ~ ~

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A New Date for the Rapture

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. You turn man to destruction, And say, “Return, O children of men.” For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night. Psalm 90:1-4

It is recorded that this particular Psalm was penned by Moses and many believe that it wonderfully correlates with the Creation story found in Genesis. I would agree with that assessment. I also agree with Pastor Jon Courson’s evaluation that it not only parallels the seven days of Creation, but also the entire seven millennium history of mankind, including prophetically that which has not yet occurred. Of course the premise rests upon the Psalmist’s God-inspired phrase, “For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday.” We see the idea picked up in the New Testament as well.

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2 Peter 3:8

I take the seven-day Genesis account of creation literally; that it was seven, twenty-four hour days. But I also believe that in God’s seven-day Design, He amazingly gave us a prophetic picture of what was in store for His creation over the next seven millenniums. The King James Version renders the 2 Peter 3:8 verse, “Beloved, be not ignorant,” emphasizing the importance of knowing that in God’s economy a thousand years is equal to one day and visa versa. Why is that critical knowledge? Well, as it pertains to the modern-day Christian, it helps us to understand that we are in fact living in the last days.

Day 1

In Genesis 1 we read that God begins His Creation. Aside from the Creation itself, what would you consider to be the most significant event in the first one thousand years of known history? Would you say that it is Adam’s eating of the forbidden fruit? I found it interesting that God said in Genesis 2:17, “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” While critics say, “Adam didn’t die; he lived for 930 years after he ate of fruit!” God might add, “That’s right! I AM true to My word; the lad didn’t even make it until the end of the first day.”

Day 2

You carry them away like a flood… Psalm 90:5a

In the Genesis account, on the second day God made places for the waters of the earth. Not coincidently, the big event in the second millennium was the Flood in the days of Noah.

Day 3

They are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up: In the morning it flourishes and grows up; In the evening it is cut down and withers. Psalm 90:5b-6

On day three of God’s Creation, the earth brought forth grass and vegetation. The Psalmist’s words remind us of the big event of the third millennium: Jacob’s trek down to Egypt with the family. There, under his son Joseph’s protective hand, they flourished in the fields of Goshen. However, in time the nation was enslaved beneath the tyrannical rule of an evil pharaoh who forced them to cut down their own straw to make his bricks.

Day 4

For we have been consumed by Your anger, And by Your wrath we are terrified. You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh. Psalm 90:7-9

On the fourth day, God created the sun, the moon, and the stars to give us light. It was by this light in the fourth millennium that Israel’s secret sins of idolatry were exposed. As a result they were led away into captivity by the Babylonians.

Day 5

The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Psalm 90:10

On the fifth day God made the fishes and the fowls; and the Psalmist records, “And we fly away.” In the fifth millennium, the big event was Christ’s coming, His death and resurrection, and Israel’s rejection. By 70 AD, the temple was destroyed and those Jews who weren’t slaughtered were dispersed across the globe.

Day 6

Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:11-12

We know that on the sixth day of Creation, God created man. Our Psalmist would remind us here that man, in this his sixth millennium, should be mindful to number his days, for the seventh day is rapidly approaching; the Day of the Lord is at hand. Roughly speaking, the sixth millennium ended in the area of the year 2000.

Day 7

Return, O Lord! How long? And have compassion on Your servants. Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days! Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, The years in which we have seen evil. Let Your work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:13-17

On the seventh day God rested and in the Gospels Jesus repeatedly told us, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus is our Sabbath; i.e., our rest and His coming is nigh. How soon will it be? Consider the words of the Psalmist, “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,” the idea being early in the day. By all accounts we would say, “Oh, satisfy us early in this millennium.” This passage from Matthew’s Gospel sheds some more light:

“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near–at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”. Matthew 24:32-36

In these last few weeks, with all the end-of-the-world predictions, we have been reading the, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only,” passage quite a bit. But focus for a moment on the verses preceding that one.

The fig tree in Christian typology represents the Nation of Israel. Many say (and I agree) that Israel became tender and put forth its’ leaves when in May of 1948, they became reestablished as a nation in the Middle East. The Gospel writer records that, “This generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”

How long is a generation? Bible scholars cannot agree; some say fifty years, some seventy, and some say one hundred. The fact of the matter is that we are in the early years of the seventh millennium now. While we cannot be dogmatic about the length of a generation, we can say that somewhere between today and the year 2048, Christ’s return would be an answer to Moses’ come early prayer. The bottom line is that every Christian should behave as if Christ’s return were imminent…because it is.

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. James 5:7-8

In regards to the mentioning of Harold Camping in the title, it was not my intent to give him any credence–the man is deceived and we should not ridicule him, but rather keep him and his followers in our prayers.  I only wanted to highlight the truthful doctrine that Jesus could come for his church at any time. 


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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And Joseph came in to them in the morning and looked at them, and saw that they were sad. So he asked Pharaoh‘s officers who were with him in the custody of his lord’s house, saying, “Why do you look so sad today?” And they said to him, “We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.” So Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.” Genesis 40:6-8

In the Pits

Is this you: you desire to enthusiastically serve and bless the Lord, following through on the vision He has given you, but you find yourself in the pits, unable to do much of anything towards fulfilling that dream. I know I’ve been there. God had great plans for Joseph, but he was falsely accused and imprisoned—is that the way you feel sometimes? Do you ask of God, “Father, you have given me this work to do, and I want to do it, but everywhere I turn there is another obstacle?”

Help Someone Else

To say that Joseph’s dreams were hindered somewhat would be an understatement, but notice how he was led by the Lord to handle the situation…

Then the chief butler told his dream to Joseph…And Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: Genesis 40:9a + 12a

It is as if God said to Joseph, “Before your dreams are fulfilled, I want you to help others with their dreams.”

I find that very significant and I suspect it is the testimony of every faithful Christian I know; when you are down or thwarted from your mission, help someone else. I can honestly say that every time I’ve practiced this principle, the Lord has been faithful to keep me moving in the direction He wants me to go. In contrast, when I choose to mope, I effectively quench the Holy Spirit and as a result, my spiritual progress stalls.

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Genesis 50:20

When we stumble it helps to always remember that God has allowed it; He has allowed these obstacles (whatever they are), to be placed in our path. That should cause every Christian to wonder why; “For what divine purpose have I been ensnared?”

So the next time you’re knocked down, before you jump to your feet, take a moment or two to look around to see who else is down there with you. Perhaps it is one or more of these folks the Lord wants you to assist. Your fall could very well be the help someone else was hoping for today.


 

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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God be merciful to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us…That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Psalm 67:1-2

The sixty-seventh Psalm is a prophetic song speaking to the way things will be when Christ Jesus returns. We can see that in the passage as the psalmist writes that, “God shall bless us,” when all the peoples (note the plural) praise Him and rejoice in Him. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer.

However despite its farsightedness, we can still receive and make a personal application for today—the first two verses of the Psalm spell it all out: ‘We are blessed so that we might be a blessing to others.’ (Paraphrase mine). A little side note, the doctrine represented here undermines entirely the ‘name-it-and-claim-it,’ prosperity gospel. The psalmist could not have made it any clearer—it’s not about us, it’s about God.

The Jews Blew it

“I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles…” Isaiah 42:6

This is how we know (in part) that the Psalm is prophetic in design—God called the Jews to be His light to the Gentiles; to share what they knew of Him with them. The Gentiles are of course everyone who is not a Jew; in other words, ‘all peoples.’ In this regard, the Jews dropped the ball. I’m not bashing the Nation of Israel (keep reading).

The Christians Blew it

Collectively, the church is blowing it too. The nation of Israel was supposed to be that blessing to the people of the earth, right? And today Christians understand that we are blessed so that we may be a blessing to others, thus bringing all honor, glory, and praise to Him, right?

It would appear we’re not doing the best job we can. By that I mean (and I’m pointing a finger at myself right now), “How many have I shared the Gospel with today? Yesterday? This past year?”

Don’t get me wrong, I know God’s will is going to be done in spite of the fact that His children are poor evangelizers; that’s a given. However, that does not let any believer off the hook. Now before I start sounding too legalistic, let me remind you (us) that sharing the Gospel is something we get to do; it is not something we have to do.

Our lives have been spared, right? We’re a grateful lot of people, right? What Jesus did for us was miraculous, right? How then can we keep from shouting His praise, right?

But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not. Jeremiah 20:9b

If you’re no Billy Graham, don’t be condemned, be convicted. How can you tell the difference? Condemnation will draw you away from Jesus, while conviction will draw you closer to Him. Billy Graham was not the Billy Graham (we know) over night and he would likely tell you that he is still a ‘work in progress.’ So are we. Besides that, God does not want me to be a Billy Graham; He wants me to be a David Wells. Who does God want you to be?

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12-13


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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Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20

Recently I had a discussion with a person and was able to share the Good News. Much to my delight she agreed to attend church the following Sunday with me and my family where the pastor confirmed and elaborated upon many of the things we had previously discussed. The pastor gave the invitation to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior, but she did not respond to the offer. Later on I asked her why.

One of her reasons was, “Because I am already a good person.”

“No you’re not,” I wanted to say, “you’re a rotten person,” but I bit my tongue. As true as it is, there was no love to be found in that response.

The fact of the matter is that we spent a lot of time talking about the very false doctrine of universalism (her other issue) and never really brought the conversation back around to her (our) perceived goodness.

There is none who does good, no, not one. Romans 3:12b

How to Tell a Nonbeliever That They Are No Good

It’s hard to tell someone they are no good and sound loving at the same time. You can say, “I love you,” all you want, but all they’re going to hear is that you just insulted them. From where they stand, they (and perhaps the world) see themselves as good people heading in the right direction. We on the other hand see them lost and heading in the wrong direction. What’s needed here is a road sign. What will a road sign do? Two things actually—it tells you where you are and it tells you the direction you need to go. The Law is that road sign.

You can easily show a nonbeliever the Ten Commandments and demonstrate how they have broken every single one. From there it is easy to point out that no one can be justified by the deeds of the law (Romans 3:20) because no one aside from Jesus has ever been able to keep the Law. So what’s the Law’s purpose? To show you where you are (in sin) and to point you in the direction you need to go (to Jesus). It really is just that simple.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Here’s the solution. Say, “Jesus, I was just at the road sign and it showed me I was a lost sinner. Thankfully, it pointed me in Your direction. Please cleanse me.” That’s all there is to it.

Remember, the Law was written on tablets of stone, not bars of soap–it cannot clean you.


 

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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And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven….But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…Let not your heart be troubled; you 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. Matthew 8:11, 6:20-21; Philippians 3:20; John 14:1-3

I didn’t feel like going to the train station today. I shot-up one of those quickie prayers and asked God to guide me in what I should do. I was kind of hoping He would tell me to go back to bed because I needed more rest. He didn’t. I was however drawn to His word and opened it to my Psalm reading for the day; Psalm 81. Verse one read:

Sing aloud to God our strength; Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.

To the Train Station I Go!

I stopped to pray before I left and asked the Lord for some divine appointments (as usual), and added, “It would really be cool if I could lead a person to Jesus today.”

I drove the five miles or so to the train station, took up my usual spot, and began to play my guitar.

Mario

I was playing an hour or so before I saw Mario. He was talking to another fellow on the bench next to mine. When I looked up at him our eyes met and he said hello. I stopped playing and said to him, “You’re a pastor, aren’t you.”

He said yes and asked how I knew.

I said because he was wearing those hip eyeglasses that most pastors are wearing these days.

He laughed, but I sensed something about him that wasn’t right. Oh, he was smiling, and seemingly happy, but I felt this negativity. When he spoke again the pieces fell into place. “I’m a pastor and a Jehovah Witness.”

He caught me a little off guard, so I reached into my coat pocket, pulled out one my ‘Trillion Dollar’ tracts, and handed it to him saying, “How would you like a trillion dollars?” When he reached for it, I teasingly pulled it back and said, “But first you have to answer the trillion dollar question.”

“What’s the question?” he asked.

“Are you going to heaven?”

“No”

That of course set off our Biblical discussion. Mario didn’t have his fake bible, but I had my real one with me. When I (lovingly) told Mario why his bible was bogus, he replied, “There are many Bibles written today where men have changed the words or have taken words out.” As he spoke the words it seemed he realized that the negative tone of his remark cast a dark shadow over his JW translation, so he changed the topic.

We probably spoke about 20 minutes. I brought him to places in the Bible, but Mario wasn’t going to budge off his false doctrine, so I told him it was probably best we end our discussion. It was a friendly separation, but nevertheless I was saddened by how deceived this man is and also that he is leading sheep astray in the same station as me. The Bible montage (above) about Heaven is for Mario–If he continues down his path, his remark about not going to Heaven will be quite prophetic.

Millie

I played about another hour before packing up my guitar and leaving. As I walked to my car I was drawn to the bench where Millie was sitting. “Wanna answer the trillion dollar question,” I asked as I handed her and the guy sitting next to her, one of my tracts.

“Sure,” she said, “What’s the question?”

So I asked her if she was going to Heaven and she replied that she probably was not. Joe said he probably was because he was a good guy. Meanwhile, Millie told me the gospel message from memory, but she hadn’t yet received Jesus as her Lord and Savior. By the time we had parted ways, Millie did receive Jesus – praise be to God.

Then Things Got Ugly

As we chatted some more I revealed that I used to be a cop in the town where she lives. “Oh, what’s your name,” she asked. When I told her, her countenance dropped.

“I remember you now. You once arrested my son; you tackled him in the street and held a gun to his head. I’ve got it on tape.”

Umm…

I told her I didn’t remember doing that, but if I did I was sorry it happened.

“Anyway,” she said, “I forgive you; I am a Christian now!”

Praise be to God!

Joe

“So Joe, how bout you, do you wanna accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior,” I asked?

He said that he wasn’t ready, but he would read the other tract I gave him (with the Romans Road on it) when he got to work.

The bus came and Millie and Joe had to leave to catch it.

Please Pray

Please remember Mario, Millie, and Joe in your prayers — Mario is deceived, Millie is a new believer, and Joe is somewhere in the middle.

Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few: Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. Matthew 9:37-38

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Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight– That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Psalm 51:4

This is one of those verses that I always use to struggle with. The Psalm was written by David concerning the incident he had with Bathsheba, her husband Uriah, and the confrontation afterwards with Nathan the prophet. As a result of the incident, Bathsheba became pregnant and Uriah was murdered. So when we read David’s declaration to God, “Against You, You only, have I sinned,” some folks wonder, “What in the world is going on; what about Bathsheba and poor Uriah?”

It’s here that some pastors teach that Bathsheba was partially at fault for bathing nakedly on the roof, the implication being that she knew exactly what she was doing. I might agree with that, but we must keep in mind that the text doesn’t say that’s what she did. Frankly, it’s unfair to place any guilt on Bathsheba’s head [regarding what happened that day], because the Bible does not provide us with that information. Her guilt [if any] is speculation on our part.

And what about Uriah? What part did he play; can anyone say he is partially at fault for his own murder? You would probably agree that it would be a stretch to make that accusation.

Or Would It?

The truth of the matter is that while we don’t have any evidence to link Bathsheba and Uriah to the crime, [thus making them the clear victims], they are not innocent. What do I mean by that? I mean that while they did nothing (apparently) to bring about David’s sin, they themselves are still sinners. Fact is, we’re all sinners from the moment we are conceived. Later on in this same Psalm, David points that out.

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.. Psalm 51:5

So what is David actually saying when he boldly declares to the Father, “Against You, You only, have I sinned.”

David is acknowledging three things. First, that crimes are committed against the innocent. Second, that nobody is completely innocent except for God. And finally, only the innocent (in this case God) can declare judgment.

There is none righteous, no, not one …They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one. Romans 3:10

But wait you say, “That’s not true. I went to court and was judged for an offense and that judge (according to what the Bible says) was not innocent!”

True, but the ruling of that judge was not to condemnation. In other words, that judge (no judge) can say, “Bailiff, take that man directly to Hell!” Read the verse again.

Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight– That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Psalm 51:4

The key point David is making is not that his sins are against God alone, but rather that because of God’s perfect innocence; His perfect blamelessness, He alone is just to speak and impose punishment. Bathsheba, Uriah, Nathan, or anyone else for that matter ~ because of their sinful condition ~ cannot judge another unto condemnation. Let’s face the reality of Uriah’s death—because he was born a sinner, he deserved to die.

There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? James 4:12

WHAT?!

Am I saying that David had the right to murder Uriah? Not at all. I’m saying that we’re all sinners and we all deserve to die. Thankfully, and graciously, Jesus stepped in and paid the price for our sin and died in our place. All anyone must do is believe in Jesus and what He did on the cross.

For the Lord is our Judge, The Lord is our Lawgiver, The Lord is our King; He will save us Isaiah 33:22

There is only One who has both the power and authority to judge and the power and authority to save. David recognized this, pleaded for mercy before the Judge, and received it. What about you—do you recognize Jesus as the only One who can both judge and save?

What are your thoughts?


 

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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The Mighty One, God the Lord, Has spoken and called the earth From the rising of the sun to its going down. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; A fire shall devour before Him, And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, And to the earth, that He may judge His people… Psalm 50:1-4

Psalm 50 is a tutorial for the faithful, an adamant warning for the faith-less, and a prophetic representation of our Lord’s return all rolled into one. Jesus is coming back; His return is both eminent and imminent.

“Gather My saints together to Me, Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” Let the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is Judge. Selah “Hear, O My people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you; I am God, your God!” Psalm 50:5-7

Here’s the truth: everyone is going to stand before Jesus; believers and nonbelievers alike. On that day, Christ’s divinity will be so incredibly apparent, these nonbelievers will become believers, but sadly it will be too late for them.

The psalm breaks down into two parts: what Jesus has to say to the saints (His followers) and what He has to say to the agnostic, atheist, doubter, heathen, pagan, unrepented skeptic. Let’s look at the good news first.

For the Believers

I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices Or your burnt offerings, Which are continually before Me. I will not take a bull from your house, Nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, Or drink the blood of goats? Psalm 50:8-13

God’s plainly saying that He doesn’t need our stuff. Parenthetically that begs the question, “So why do we give our tithe and offerings if God doesn’t need them?” The answer is that the giving is for our benefit, not His. Selah on that for a while.

The passage also points out that there is a difference between religious duty (which is not good) and religious privilege. In other words, giving is something we get to do, not have to do. I like the fact the Jesus says that He will not rebuke us if we’re giving for the wrong reasons, but rather tells us precisely what He does want.

Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Psalm 50-14-15

First, God wants our thankful praise.

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. Hebrews 13:15

Second, God wants us to keep the promises we make to Him (we aren’t required to make any vows whatsoever, but if we do, we better keep them).

When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. Deuteronomy 23:21

And finally, God wants us to communicate with and rely upon Him.

Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Isaiah 55:6

For the Nonbelievers

But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, Or take My covenant in your mouth, Seeing you hate instruction And cast My words behind you? When you saw a thief, you consented with him, And have been a partaker with adulterers. You give your mouth to evil, And your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes. Psalm 50:16-21

It’s a bizarre, and some say cruel, scene. Before Jesus stand the atheists. They have died on earth and now to their amazement they stand not in the midst of hell, but before Jesus Christ. In His awesome and undeniable presence, they now believe. Out loud, and I could imagine hysterically, they confess all their sins and swear repentance and allegiance to Jesus, but it is too late. While it is very sad, it is not cruel; they knew the truth beforehand and rejected Him. God is truth and He is just–any exceptions would make Him an unjust liar.

To make matters worse, many of these doomed souls claimed to be followers of Christ while they were alive. Jesus points out their error; they took His name, but perverted what He taught and what He stood for. Man cannot profess Jesus to be anything other then what His word the Bible says He is. Many may call Jesus by His name, but if they change His character and attributes, they worship a false god.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:7-8

The Last Word

“Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver: Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:22-13

There we have it, the solution! God has made the way to salvation and eternal happiness incredibly easy—He has provided One way through His Son Jesus Christ. While some see ‘One Way’ has restrictive, I see it as simplicity. We have been given the easiest of decisions to make; it is a ‘yes or no’ proposition. Rather then question His methodology; we should jump at the only opportunity we have to be with Him in Heaven.

What are your thoughts?

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6


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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For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin. But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong; And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied. Those also who render evil for good, They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good. Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation! Psalm 38:17-22

As I have shared before, I study the Bible utilizing both the King James and New King James versions side by side. To date I have yet to find any verses that contradict one another, but quite often I do come across subtle nuances in the language that help me to understand the passages a little better. Today was no exception.

In Psalm 38:17 the NKJV reads, ‘For I am ready to fall.’ The KJV on the other hand substitutes the word halt for the last word. Halt tends to give the phrase a different meaning, so I looked-up the Hebrew translation and discovered that it doesn’t mean ‘to stop,’ like I originally thought, but rather ‘to limp,’ as to be hindered by a disability. The Psalmist was essentially saying to God, “I am ready to be lame.”

What in the World was David Talking About?

Reading the entire Psalm, we see that David was in a desperate place; he was suffering with a disease that was brought about by his own sin. As I read the Psalm, I don’t know if the disease was real (some surmise it could have been a sexually transmitted disease or even leprosy) or a case of David waxing poetically about how debilitating sin can be. Either way, David was suffering greatly and was ready to submit wholly to the Lord. I get the sense that when David wrote, “I am ready to halt,” he was in reality making an allusion to Jacob’s story in Genesis 32.

Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank. Genesis 32:24-32

We would recall that Jacob learned his brother Esau (and a small army) were coming to meet him and the news left Jacob greatly afraid and distressed, for he felt Esau was coming to kill him. Jacob cried out to the Lord for delivery, but he did not heed His counsel. Instead, in his flesh, he sent gifts ahead of him in an attempt to appease his brother. The passage above is what happened next and as a result of having wrestled with God, Jacob was left with a limp for the rest of his life and a new name: Israel, which means, ‘governed by God.’

When David wrote in the Psalm that he was ready to halt, he was affectively saying that he, like Jacob, was ready to be governed by God. From that point forward, King David maintained a figurative limp that identified him as one who was fully dependant upon God, as one with a limp would be fully dependant upon a staff to move forward.

Where are you in your walk? Are you ready to limp?


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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Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance…No king is saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, Just as we hope in You. Psalm 33:12, 16-22

You know, I have sung the song, ‘My Country Tis of Thee’ a gazillion times, but I don’t think until today I fully understood (or appreciated) who the ‘Thee’ is. I mean obviously, the ‘Thee’ being referred to is God, but I don’t ever recall having thought about the true Focus of the song or the ideals it espoused as being equated to God. For years, I’m sad to say by rote I sang these words without giving them much consideration.

My Country tis of Thee

My country,’ tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing; land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside let freedom ring!

My native country, thee, land of the noble free, thy name I love; I love thy rocks and rills, thy woods and templed hills; my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.

Let music swell the breeze, and ring from all the trees sweet freedom’s song; let mortal tongues awake; let all that breathe partake; let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God, to thee, author of liberty, to thee we sing; long may our land be bright, with freedom’s holy light; protect us by thy might, great God, our King.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord

Depending upon which source you tap, a clear majority; roughly 76 percent of all Americans profess to be Christian. Therefore it would stand to reason that as a nation (whose majority is Christian), we could rightly proclaim that Jesus is Lord and that we are blessed because of it. Why then, I ask, is God’s sovereignty even an issue in these United States?

Well I submit to you that God is sovereign here (and elsewhere) whether there is 76 percent support or zero percent. What’s at issue is how blessed [as a nation] we truly are—as Christianity wanes, as the Gospel is diluted, and yes, as morals decline, so go our blessings. As a nation, we look around and are concerned, but it would seem we refuse to do anything about it. More precisely, we refuse to do what God would simply have us do.

What does God want us to do?

“Then it shall come to pass, (if) you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples… Deuteronomy 7:12-14a

God has given us the Law and further tells us if we adhere to the Law and follow its obvious course (which leads us directly to the Cross and Jesus Christ), we will be blessed. The Deuteronomy passage, by the way, is for all people, so it doesn’t matter if you live in a free American democracy or a brutal foreign dictatorship—the blessings are for all who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior and obey.

“So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant–when you have eaten and are full–then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you (for the Lord your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the Lord your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 6:10-15

We might debate to what degree, but there is no denying it—we are currently blessed. The danger (and the reason why our blessings are diminishing right before our eyes) is because across the board we have forgotten Who has provided our blessings. Generally speaking, we have taken everything for granted. To make matters worse, we have become a nation whose selfish one-word motto is, ‘Entitlement.’ As a result so many of us do not worship God any longer. We have become a country that idolizes the blessings rather then the Blesser and in our flesh we strive to obtain that which we don’t yet have.

Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 8:19-20

Finally, as a nation, we do not fear the Lord. Ask a Christian what the fear of the Lord means and you’ll likely receive a variety of answers. “Fear,” they might say, “means ‘respect’ or ‘awe,’ but it doesn’t mean we actually fear God.”

Really?

Read Deuteronomy 8:19-20 again and tell me honestly there isn’t something there we should fear.

I never feared by dad when I behaved, but I most certainly feared him when I had done something wrong. At that point, my fear had very little to do with respect and awe and a whole lot to do with dread. Did I still love my dad? Absolutely. The fear of my dad served to keep me in line; you could say it kept me blessed. The fear of the Lord also keeps me blessed, but in much more significant way.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14


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

Read Full Post »

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