Friday, October 31, 2014

Life Has Conquered Death!

Psalm 16:11 "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

So on Halloween let me just say I am tired of all the death celebration. There, I said it. I am tired of seeing them celebrate it on TV with all the ghosts and zombies, and the spirit of death that hangs over the end of October. Today, I choose to think about Christ's great victory over death, once and for all.

The enemy does not want to be reminded that he lost the battle 2,000 years ago and so he tries to make people think he is still winning. But he lost. When Christ cried, "Tetelestai!" on the cross and then rose up victoriously from the tomb, there was not a thing the enemy could do to keep Him down. So, how about a few verses today that celebrate the victory, once for all, of Christ's life over the devil's death? Maybe one for each day of October? Here are some few verses who show who the winner is today, and forever!

1) Revelation 19:6
Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns."

2)I Corinthians 15: 25-26
For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

3) John 1:4-5
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

4)Revelation 21:3
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them

5)Revelation 21:4
and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

6)Revelation 21:5
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

7)Luke 24:4-5
While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing;and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead?"

8)Luke 24:6-7
“He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”

9)I Corinthians 15:3-5
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

10)I Corinthians 15:54-55
But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”

11)I Corinthians 15:57
but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

12)John 19:30
Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

13)II Corinthians 5:21
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

14)Luke 23:46
And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His last.

15)Romans 5:6
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

16)Romans 5:8-9
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.Much more then, having now been justified by
His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

17)II Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

18)I John 4:4
You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

19)I John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

20)I John 5:4
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

21)Jude 24-25
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

22)Revelation 12:9-10
And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

23)II Corinthians 2:14
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

24)Romans 8:37
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

25)Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

26)John 11:25-26
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27)John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."

28)John 16:33
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

29)Galatians 4:4-5
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

30) Revelation 12:11
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death."

31)Isaiah 44:22
“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's 9:11, what am I doing on Facebook?

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. Jeremiah 8:20

I just glanced over at the clock on my computer and it said 9:11. Maybe to some that does not mean anything, but to me it reminds me of a bad day, a day that changed our country so that it was never the same again. A day when we lost something permanently. And then I thought to myself, "What am I doing?" I really should keep a time log of how much time I waste mindlessly surfing the Internet. Sometimes when the weather is bad my service will go out for a while and in a way, I feel a bit liberated. I don't have to check my computer. Because there is something that is addicting to me about coming to the computer to check on the latest news. Like I really need to know all the bad news anyway?

Sometimes I think about what life was like for me before all this technology. I grew up right before all the technology started invading our lives so much. And I think it probably was better back then, not constantly being connected 24/7 to the world and all its doings. For I think I will miss out if I am deprived of it, but if I sit and surf, it really doesn't do much to create happiness or real human connections for me. What about you?

And yet Jesus knew there would come a day when we would be so "advanced" technologically. As if that impresses Him. Things are changing so quickly every day now it is hard to know what is really going on. But Jesus did warn us that these difficult times would come. I think it is pretty obvious that these characteristics would describe the generation we are living in now, and it is was described even back then:

"But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" II Timothy 3:1-5

One day this past summer I was searching for related verses on the end of the age. One of them describes not just famine physically, but famine for the Word of God. For some in countries where the Bible is illegal, this literally is true. But what about here in America, with our casual take it or leave it attitude towards God's Word?

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD,“That I will send a famine on the land,Not a famine of bread,Nor a thirst for water,But of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea,And from north to east;They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD,But shall not find it." Amos 8:11-12

This led me to think of the place in Daniel where he is told that the book will be sealed til the end of the age. People are running to and fro in that verse also, so I compared those verses in Daniel 12:1-4:

“At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end;
many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

I always thought that running to and fro meant people would be able to get around quickly on the planet, and that there would be an exponential rise in knowledge. It probably does mean that. But once again, I gained some wonderful insight on this verse from E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible. In the notes, he equates running to and fro with apostasy, turning away from the true faith. He interprets an increase in knowledge with an increase in calamities or wickedness. I think any honest person could say that as our technological advances have made great strides, right along with that is humankind's intention and plan to use this technology for evil.

But, thankfully, we still do have time to take advantage of opportunities to learn God's Word. God has been so very patient with us. One day, His patience will wear out, and He will have to judge the evil on this planet. So, again, I ask myself, it's 9:11, how am I preparing myself for that day?

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Longing for Belonging....

Mark 3:21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself."

This verse from the book of Mark struck my attention this morning. In this chapter of Mark Jesus healed the man with the withered hand and the Pharisees began plotting against Him to destroy Him. He also chose His disciples. He got in a boat because the crowds were pressing in upon Him so much. When it became so crowded that they could not even eat bread, then the statement about Jesus being out of His mind was said by His friends. In my Companion Bible, with notes by E. W. Bullinger, it says His "friends" are translated as kinsfolk, i.e. His brethren and His mother.

That really stood out to me, that these very friends who said Jesus was out of His mind were His mother and brothers! Then I thought that as a human being, Jesus was not impervious to human feelings of pain and ostracism. Imagine how He might have felt hearing them say that. His very own family thinking He was out of His mind.

Of course, this pain may have been small compared to the loneliness He felt when all His disciples abandoned Him and He was alone in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying while sweating drops of blood, anticipating the horror of bearing all our sins. He had to face that burden utterly alone. Or when He cried to His Father from the cross:

“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)

It really is true. Jesus really can identify with all of our weaknesses, for as a Man, He suffered every temptation we will ever face. He knows what it feels to be lonely, to be left out.

"Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted."
Hebrews 2:17-18

All of my life, I have longed to fit in, to find someone who thinks as I do, someone with whom I can identify completely. I have many close relationships and yet, there was a longing inside for this unconditional approval from people, something that people just cannot give. For we all have feet made of clay. And yet, all along, what a fool I was, for I did have Someone with whom I could identify.

How much more could He do to reveal to me that He loves me? And yet, somehow, I could not break through this feeling of despair. And so, I did what I do every morning, by God's grace. I read His Word. And the Spirit knew I needed help and reminded me of Psalm 139.

"O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me."
Psalm 139:1-5

I am known by God! Oh what a glorious thought. My "longing for belonging" is forever settled as I realize my relationship with Him, a totally free gift by the grace of His Son Jesus Christ. I am a "member in particular" of the Body of Christ. And if you are in Christ, you are too!

"Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." I Corinthians 12:27

Again, in the Companion Bible from Bullinger, it says of this verse in the notes "each in his part." God has made each of us uniquely a part of His Son's very own Body. If we want fellowship, that is where we will find it. Not in anything this world has to offer.

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."

Here is a little poem I wrote today as I mused on these things:

Why do I look to man
For what You alone bestow?
Unconditional love, security
Above what man can ever know.

All my life my soul has searched
For acceptance in the wrong place.
For man, who is made of dust
Cannot comprehend Your grace.

You look down with compassion
You see me in despair,
You tell that You and You alone
Can ease the burden I bear.

Do not look then from east to west
To find someone in whom to confide.
But trust in Me, the Lord Your God
I will ever be by your side.

copyright 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Time and Chance Happen to them All....

I returned and saw under the sun that-- "The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all. For man does not his time; Like fish taken in a cruel net, Like birds caught in a snare, So the sons of men are snared in an evil time, When it falls suddenly upon them." Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

This verse has always been very compelling to me. No matter how many achievements or toys we have collected, death becomes the great equalizer. And unless we take matters into our own hands, it is God's prerogative the date and time we are appointed to die. I looked up this verse in my Companion Bible edited by E.W. Bullinger and he has a note written about the word "chance" in verse 11. In Strong's Lexicon, this word is #2694 and is transliterated pega`. Bullinger states that it is rendered as a time of misfortune. It occurs only in one other verse, I Kings 5:4 where it is translated having to do with evil or calamity.

So, according to Solomon, misfortune is appointed for all of us. I thought about that for a minute and how he, as the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes concludes 31 times, according to my count, that all is vanity. If this were the end of the story, how sad it would be. This was the man who had everything talking: riches, wine, women, fame and fortune. But somehow, after attaining all these things, Solomon forgot the source of all his prosperity: God. So his conclusion naturally is that misfortune is given to every human being who walks on the face of the planet.

What a depressing thought. This book made me quite sad at one point in my life. But after reading about the term misfortune yesterday, I immediately thought of the believer in Christ, what is promised to him, by the very fact that he is in association with the Lord. These were some of the verses that immediately came to mind:

Psalm 37:23-25

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.
I have been young, and now am old;Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,Nor his descendants begging bread.

The believer is not abandoned to happenstance, to fate. God is in charge of every detail of his life.

Psalm 34:15-16

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,And His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

God hears His children when we cry out to Him. Our prayers reach to the highest heaven, not just to the ceiling!

Job 23:9-10

When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him;When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him.
But He knows the way that I take;When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

This is not someone predestined to fate, but someone in the care of a loving God!

Matthew 10:29-31

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.“Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."

I can either believe this is true, or believe that the world is meaningless, life is meaningless, so eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Romans 8:18

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

I Peter 5:10

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

God doesn't see death the way we do either, it is not a time of misfortune or hopelessness for the one who knows the Lord. Rather, it is Graduation Day.

Psalm 116:15

Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints.

These are just a smattering of the verses which speak of the great care and love that the Heavenly Father has for each of His children, even in a world that appears to be spinning out of control. If you are not sure that you have that relationship with God, it is freely offered to you by Him through His Son Jesus Christ. He willingly took on humanity and lived a perfect life here on this planet, and when the time was right, offered Himself to God as the perfect sacrifice on the cross for every sin of every human being, no matter what they have done. The only thing that can separate us from having this life is unbelief that He did this for you.

John 3:16-18

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

So, before the darkness in this world grows even darker, you can make a simple decision today to go from being one whom "time and chance happens to them all" to being a beloved son or daughter of the Most High God.

I leave you with this last verse from Ephesians. See how much the Father wants you to come to Him, by doing it all for you in providing Jesus Christ. Put your full faith in Him alone today.

Ephesians 2:4-7

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

That is what He wants for each one of us...