Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The End

I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. — The heavens and the earth, which are now, ... are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling of it — You shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you not be troubled.
We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. — We ... look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found by him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
The end of all things is at hand.

We don't know when, of course, but many people feel that the world and society are cascading toward a final set of events.  The Bible speaks of this time frequently, without disclosing precisely when. 
It is a time of judgment--and the judgment is final.  From that judgment there is no appeal, no reversal, no pardon. The Book of Revelation is very clear (20:11-15):
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life... The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
It is a time of trouble.  The book of Daniel says, "There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then." 
It is a time of victory, deliverance, closure, finality: Daniel says again: "But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." 
It is a time for you to receive all that God has promised: 
  • The "building of God, the house God has prepared for you...(the house your soul lives in, your body)"
  • The "new heavens and new earth, full of righteousness," where you will live forever.
How do you deal with the coming troubles that precede this time of blessing?  Let God be your refuge and strength.  Don't be troubled.  All these events are designed for one thing, to bring in God's replacement for this sick and tired old world--His new heavens and new earth. Let your life be filled with His grace and righteousness.  Then you will be ready for what is coming, and in the day of judgment, you will find refuge in Him, as He takes you by the hand and leads you into His New heavens and new earth.
All this, of course, is predicated on your faith:  
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
Nobody likes to think about this, and least of all those of us who believe, because we know the implications of NOT believing.  
Prepare for eternity.  It is coming. You will meet God.  Be sure He's your friend, not your enemy.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Get Wisdom

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?
Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.
for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have insight, I have power.
By me kings reign and rulers issue decrees that are just;
by me princes govern, and nobles—all who rule on earth.
I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.
“Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways.
Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.
Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.

You can be wise.  You may only have average intelligence. You may be young and inexperienced.  You may come from a culture that doesn't appreciate wise thoughts and words, but you can be wise.  Wisdom is both a gift and a gain--something you work for.  The main ingredients in gaining the gift of wisdom are:
1. Ask God for it.  It comes from Him, and it comes through a series of communications you have from Him. He will show you things.
2. LISTEN.  The greatest wisdom comes from simply listening for wisdom. It almost sounds redundant, but the main reason people have no wisdom is that they haven't learned to listen and then apply the knowledge they already have to the words they hear.  
3. As you listen, also listen to God, because He will  tell you about events as they happen.  
4.  Follow your intuition, if you have seen it proven right in multiple circumstances.  Intuition is something it takes a while to sharpen, but you can learn it.  "I had a bad feeling about that" is a comment I've often heard when people are discussing a mistake they've made.  The "bad feeling" was their intuition telling them, and often that intuition comes from God.
5.  Do what God says, and you will get MORE wisdom.  Don't do it, and the wisdom you have will evaporate, and you will have troubles enough.
6.  Sometimes wisdom doesn't help.  I've been in many situations where others wouldn't listen, and all I could do was wait until the result occurred.
7.  You'll often find that others won't listen, and then you need to immediately take steps to protect yourself, if you're involved with the "nonlisteners."  This often happens in business situations, where people above you make terrible decisions, and you are made a part of  them by default.  If you are in such a situation, take steps for self-protection right away. 
8.  Wisdom is often the result of experience, driven by mistakes that we've made in our own search for wisdom.  One of the main things about getting wisdom is learning from the past.     

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Never give up.

I am cast out of your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.
Zion said, The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget you.
I forgot prosperity. And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord. — Awake, why are you sleeping, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever. — Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my justice is passed over by my God? — In a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you, says the Lord your Redeemer.
Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance. — We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.

It is possible to lose hope and give up on life.  The verses above are just a sampling of the many verses in the Scriptures that show us two facts: first, it's natural to feel like there's no hope--and second, that God always has a plan.  He has not forgotten you, and He is on your side. The reality is, as the verses above tell us, He cannot forget you. You are always in His mind. He will treat you with "everlasting kindness," and show mercy on you.  You will still have reason to praise Him. Troubles come.  They always do. And when they do, we have the strength and help of the Almighty to carry us through those times. Even when we are "terminally depressed," His help has not failed.  Our feelings are variable, changeable.  His mercy and kindness are constant.  God is the great constant, and with Him, there's always the sunrise of a new day.
Never give up.  On Him, on your future with Him, on the possibilities of life.  You do not know how He will come through for you, but He will.  And when it is time to pass over into eternity with Him, He will not forsake you there.  He will lead you through the "valley of the shadow of death," not just into it. So whatever challenge you are facing today, take His hand, and let Him stand by your side and walk with you through it.  You never need to walk a difficult path alone.  
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior."
He is on your side. Forever. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How much is enough?

A man's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.
A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked. — Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble along with it. — Godliness with contentment is great gain. Having food and clothing, let us be content with those.
Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: lest I be full, and deny you, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. — Give us this day our daily bread.
Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than food, and the body than clothing? — When I sent you without a purse, money, and shoes, did you lack anything? And they said, Nothing. — Let your lifestyle be without covetousness: and be content with such things as you have: for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.

One of my friends said to me, "Wherever you go, the Lord has gone there first." That is especially true about money.  Sometimes it's tough to get enough money together just to live, even if you're working hard--but God has promised, "I'll care for you." "I have been young, and now am old, but I have never seen the righteous forsaken, or his children begging bread," say the Psalms. It's true, sometimes people DO fall into great difficulty, and have little--but God is the One who multiplies the little into "enough." He is the one who supplies work when there is no money, a new direction when a job disappears, a new career when the old one fails, a new life when everything comes crashing down.  God does not just love us "in the abstract." He loves us with everlasting love, in our lives today.  It is He who gives us "fruitful seasons," who feeds the young lions their food,who provides us with work so that we may live, who showers us with good things.  James said, "Every good and perfect gift comes from [God], with whom there is no variation..." the point is that God always loves us, always cares for us, never leaves us, and always holds us in His hands and His heart. He cannot forget us, cannot leave us, cannot deny us...we are, as Scripture says, "graven on the palms of His hands."  
Don't be afraid of the future.  He's already there.  To Him it's the present, and he's waiting for you there.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Who are you?

Of his fulness have all we received, and grace upon grace.
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. — Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.
His Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things. — If [we are] children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint‑heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
I and my Father are one. The Father is in me, and I in him. — My Father, and your Father; and ... my God, and your God. — I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one..

It is astounding, but as a believer, a Christian, you participate in God's own nature.  Peter calls us "Partakers of the Divine Nature..." In Greek, the word "nature" is phusis, which paraphrased is, "What a thing is made of."  So Peter is saying, we are made of the same "stuff" as God once we believe.  How this can be is another mystery, but your connection with God that starts when you believe in Jesus Christ alters your very nature.  Yes, you are the same person, but no, you are not only the same person.  Once you believe, you partake of the Divine nature, a "sharer" in what God is.
The morning's verses confirm this: Yes, Jesus is "the Beloved Son;" but so are we the sons of God. Yes, Jesus is the Son, the Christ, the appointed heir of all things; but we are also joint-heirs with Him of all that God has given Him.
Yes, Jesus is one with the Father, and the Father is in Him and He is in the Father, and so are we one with and in Him.
In other words, God has brought us so much through His Son Jesus Christ that we are literally the branches of which He is the tree; we are parts of His body, His flesh, His bones. We are so united with Him once we believe that it is impossible to disconnect us from Him.  This is really the foundation of the doctrine of "eternal security;" it's not that we lose our sinfulness when we become believers, or even that we will not fall away for a time, or that we can't make terrible mistakes.  It is that we are "connected." This connection is just like the parts of a body, and He is determined to have every part of His body complete.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Do you have servants?

The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.
There was ... a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said to them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But you shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that serves. For who is greater, he who sits down to eat, or he who serves [him]? is it not the one who sits down to eat? but I am among you as him who serves. — Even the Son man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Jesus rose from supper, and laid aside his garments, and took a towel, and put it around himself. After that he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel he was using as a waistband.

Everyone wants servants. We all like people to wait on us, at least sometimes.  In the New Testament era, if you had servants, you were an important person, and deserved special treatment--especially from your servants. However, Jesus turned the entire process on its head.  His question is not "Do you HAVE servants," but "are YOU a servant?"  Jesus presents Himself as the ultimate Servant--the Son of God, who came as the perfect Servant--Servant of God, Servant of mankind, ultimately meeting our greatest need--eternal life through His own death as a ransom.  The final verses illustrate--Jesus is the humble Servant, meeting the needs of His disciples--their needs for comfort, care, release, cleansing.  He is completely able to meet your needs, and in so doing says, "Take My yoke [of service] upon you..." His desire is for us to become like Him in our service, and in our care for the people we know--especially the people of God.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

God's truth?

I delight in the law of God after the inward man.
O how I love your law! it is my meditation all day long. —Your words were found, and I did eat them; and Your word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart. I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.
I delight to do Your will, O my God: yes, Your law is within my heart. — My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work.
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. — Be doers of the word, and not just hearers.

Christians call the Bible the Word of God, or just "the Word," because to them, it speaks with His voice; because it is truth; because you can use it to shape your life and fill it with good things, but most of all because in the Bible are the words of eternal life.  The Word is unique. No other book has been so treasured, so maligned, so loved, so hated, so honored, so despised. Those who "don't believe" think the Bible is full of lies--it's mythical, false, legend.  Those who believe think the Bible is true, that the stories it tells actually happened, and that God literally breathed it out and gave it to human hands to write down.  
Why this difference?  Scholars don't show the same affection or opposition to Plato, for example, or to the history of Alexander the Great.
I believe that the opposition to the Bible is in a way its greatest proof.  More than the prophecies, the miracles, the teachings, the opposition to the Bible tells us that someone hates the spiritual revelations in it, and that it is disturbing to the way people think about life.  What if, for example, the Bible IS true, and the earth and the universe ARE proceeding towards a day of Judgment? Then you are responsible to God Almighty for your life and choices. What if ONLY a relationship with Jesus Christ can shelter you from that awful and mighty judgment? That would be saying that other religious paths cannot do what Christianity can. What if God really IS sovereign, and controls the events of the world?  Then you really don't control your own fate and life--your life is in the hands of God, and even where you live was chosen by the Almighty, and the good things you enjoy are all His gifts.  All these statements and more are in the Bible, and Christians believe them, if they think about it. Most people who are not Christians don't believe any of these things.  They believe in chance, or at least evolution, which is much less probable than chance.  Christians also believe that there is an evil spiritual force (being!) who tries to get unbelievers to hate Christians, Christianity, and the Christian's God without thinking or asking themselves, "Why do I hate this?"  And the Bible's answer goes like this:  "The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who believe not..." Now, if you don't believe, you certainly don't believe that anyone has blinded you. You think you are being totally rational.  But just suppose you are subject to spiritual influences from both sides--God and evil.  If that was true, wouldn't you feel just as you do now?? And then you will say to me, "Well, if you believe, then that's how YOU feel, and this is how I feel."  And my response is this. "Test it."  Try it and see.  Jesus said this:  "Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." Notice how He said this:  the order is, first you decide that you will follow what you find, and second,  you will come to know.  You can't invert those, and say, "I'm interested, and if I find that Christianity is true, I will evaluate whether or not I want to do it..." you must say, "I am willing to do this, if it's true." Then you will know. Jesus doesn't say, "you will know that I am speaking the words of God;" He says, you will know whether I speak from God, or only from myself. So if you make the commitment to follow this path if it's true, and God does not show you that it is really the true way, you have lost nothing, because now you know for sure that Jesus was a liar. Conversely, if you make the same commitment, and find that Jesus' words ARE true, you will gain everlasting life, and with it, everything else.  Test it.  Find out.  See what happens.