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.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Thoughts...

Sometimes, if we start at the end of things and work backwards, we see things from a different perspective--especially since the end is, well, the end, and it's often a long way off. But if you can start at the end and look back, you often see things you don't when you start at the beginning. The Bible lets us do this. We can start at the end and go backwards.

So what happens if we do that with Christmas?

Well, the first thing we see is the point of Christmas. If you look at Revelation 21, you find these words (this is sort of the introduction to forever):

Revelation 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

The rest of the material continues in the same vein, with God offering wonderful statements that detail what it will be like to be with Him and the Lord Jesus forever--the first few verses serve as a summary of the two chapters.

The book closes with a trip back to the present and a promise and warning: The promise that YOU can participate in this wonderful future simply by taking the water of life--and an invitation for you personally to do that:

Rev. 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

The point is, this is for YOU. 

There's also a couple of warnings:

1. God wants you "IN," but there's a way to NOT get in: Reject the Lord and don't let Him change your life.

Rev. 22:12 "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments (that is, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and love one another, see 1 John 3:23), that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

2. Change what the book of Revelation says, and deny its truths:
Rev. 22:18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 

So that's the point, the purpose of Christmas. It's at the end. 

So we might say the point of Christmas is YOU. Jesus came for YOU, to bring you to glory ("glory" is what we just read about):

Hebrews 2:10
10 For it was fitting for Him[God] , for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons [and daughters] to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

So God meant for you to inherit "all things," along with His "one and only," Jesus Christ (see Revelation 21:7. THAT is what Christmas is--God's amazing gift to you. God, who loves you more than any tongue can tell, wants YOU to have Christmas like you've never imagined, where literally everything is yours. All the presents under the tree. Every single one, with your name on it.

But that's not all...("But wait! There's more!)

If you only look at what God wants for you, you miss the greatest act of love and the greatest miracle the world has ever seen, for the coming of Jesus Christ is just that: He came because Christmas is about YOU.

John 3:16 puts it like this:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Greek, monogenes, "unique, one of a kind.") so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life...

The word "gave" includes all the things that God did to bring Jesus Christ into the world (for His coming was planned long ago, in the "days of eternity"), which particularly involves what we call the "Incarnation." 
The incarnation is a word used to define what God did when He became human. This is by far the greatest miracle, the greatest act of love in the universe, in time or space. The infinite becomes the finite. The Almighty becomes the powerless. The eternal becomes a man, who dies. The all-present compresses Himself into one place, although He filled heaven and earth. The all-knowing One becomes a man with man's limitations of intelligence.
The Sovereign of the universe lets Himself be arrested by wicked men, beaten and murdered.

Why? YOU. That's why. He set Himself from before time and space to bring YOU to glory, and this was the path. 

In John 1:1-3, we read:  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

This "Word" of whom John speaks is Jesus, before He became human, but human He did become:
John 1:14:
"And the Word became flesh [the stuff of humankind] and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten [monogenous, the unique One] of the Father, full of grace and truth."

So in a very real sense, in order to bring YOU to glory, God became you. 

And that is the message of Christmas. "God became you, in order to bring you to glory." 

So when you pass by a nativity scene this Christmas, think of the God who became man, so that you could spend forever with Him. 

YOU were the reason. YOU.

Now of course, the fact is that you have to choose Him, just as He chose to give Himself for you. 
It's like a Christmas present--it's got your name on it, but unless you take it from under the tree, unwrap it, and make it yours, it just sits there, waiting. 
So you must pick up the present (say it's a watch), put it on, and make it your own.  
Same with God. You must choose Him and His Son, Jesus Christ, just as so very long ago he chose to come for you, to bring you to glory. 
Now it's your turn. Choose Him.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Meditation...

It's the time of year when we all get asked, "What are you thankful for?" Well, I have some answers--they apply to you, too.

Here in the US, we've been through a difficult election cycle. Old is being swept away, new has arrived.

However, I'm grateful that in the long run, it really doesn't matter. I know how things finally turn out. It may matter in the short run who you voted for, but in the long run, it does not.

So many passages state this that it's almost impossible to catalogue them all, but here are a few:

 "The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal." "Forever" isn't far. It's just invisible. Because we don't see it, because it's not "in our face," we tend to discount it, but forever is just that. FORR-EVERR. It never ends. This is the message of the New Testament. It's loud. It's clear. It's unavoidable--we can be thankful for eternity, because we will inhabit eternity with the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and all our brothers and sisters. It will last forever, and it will be great!

Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 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, 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." 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." 6 Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.

This is how it ends, if you are Christian. Nothing left of the old. Everything New. Everything. Forever.

David said (Psalm 23): I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever... what began with "The LORD is my Shepherd" ends with Forever

God has prepared a city, a place for you. Jesus spoke of it when He said, "In My Father's house there are many dwelling places; I go to prepare a place for YOU."

The writer of Hebrews spoke of it when he said, 

Hebrews 11:13: All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.
15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. 

So I am grateful to God that it's never over. NEVER. My life. Your life. Joy forever, No pain. No tears. No sorrow. 

Yours. Mine. Forever.

Here's a wonderful old song that encapsulates what I'm saying:

"He the pearly gates will open..."

1 Love divine, so great and wondrous,
Deep and mighty, pure, sublime,
Coming from the heart of Jesus.
Just the same through tests of time!

He the pearly gates will open,
So that I may enter in;
For He purchased my redemption
And forgave me all my sin.

2 Like a dove when hunted, frightened.
As a wounded fawn was I;
Brokenhearted, yet He healed me.
He will heed the sinner's cry.

3 Love divine, so great and wondrous,
All my sins He then forgave;
I will sing His praise forever,
For His blood, His power to save. [Chorus]

4 In life's eventide at twilight,
At His door I'll knock and wait;
By the precious love of Jesus,
I shall enter heaven's gate.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

More about the US Election--and what unrighteousness does to a nation.

First, an apology. I've had the flu. That's why things have been slow for a bit. Apparently it came from a flu shot. Go figure. The docs say "it can't happen," but it was timed to about the length of time needed for incubation, so...

I'm still reading through the Prophets. The 12 "minor" prophets are an amazing resource when you want to understand what happens in a corrupt society.

Turns out that corrupt societies start from the top. When corrupt people are in power, the society gets destroyed from above, then from within, then evil and cruelty and lack of care for anyone who's not in your immediate "circle" flourishes. Ultimately, the society itself disregards the weak and helpless, and focuses on the rich, so that the classes above the poor eventually suffer just like they do.

Here are a few passages to think about:

Amos 6:4 Thus says the LORD, "For three transgressions of Judah and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because they rejected the law of the LORD And have not kept His statutes; Their lies also have led them astray, Those after which their fathers walked. 5 "So I will send fire upon Judah And it will consume the citadels of Jerusalem." 6 Thus says the LORD, "For three transgressions of Israel and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because they sell the righteous for money And the needy for a pair of sandals. 7 "These who pant after the very dust of the earth on the head of the helpless Also turn aside the way of the humble; And a man and his father resort to the same girl In order to profane My holy name. 8 "On garments taken as pledges they stretch out beside every altar, And in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.

Notice WHY the judgment of God comes: Rejecting God. Trafficking in human life. Oppression in business. Sexual evils. Injustice in the courts. Collusion of the courts with the wealthy.
Sound familiar?

Here's some more:
Amos 8:4 Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, 5 saying, "When will the new moon be over, So that we may sell grain, And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market, To make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, And to cheat with dishonest scales,
6 So as to buy the helpless for money And the needy for a pair of sandals, And that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?" 7 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob, "Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds.

The clear point in the above passage is that people who engage in corrupt business practices that ruin the "humble" (i.e., the small independent person who has to work for his livelihood), will be judged. All who assist or cause these things are participants. They will be judged. And so on. So how does this affect you?

Unlike the nation of Israel and Judah, we don't have a King. We have an elected President, with elected Congressional officials, elected Senators on the national level, and the state and local levels mirror the national. 

In other words, we can change this. It's done several ways. VOTING, honest Christian commentary wherever you happen to discuss these things, opinion pieces in your local paper if you can write, activism in your local circles, and lots of other ways.
A couple more long ranging ways are: 
1. Run for office. Be honest.
2. Work from within, in the government (including police, fire, any govt office.
3. Stay IN the political conversation. Be informed.
4. Most important of all. Become a teacher of righteousness, anywhere you can. If you can teach in a college, do it. A secular college is best, but remember that for the most part they are run by people who hate your Christian faith. This is why we have such a problem in our institutions and in society. These men and women who run the colleges and teach in them have taught for generations that wrong is OK and there is no such thing as right. They are what might be called "relativists," meaning that there is no such thing as an "absolute truth." Pilate personified them, when he said, "What is truth?" By contrast, Jesus said, "Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice."

Too many Christians run from politics, thinking they are divisive. Don't. the way the country goes affects everyone.

Some advice:
1. If you're going to do this, watch yourself. Ecclesiastes says, (Eccl. 10:1):
Dead flies putrefy the perfumer's ointment, And cause it to give off a foul odor; So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor.
If you are going to represent the Lord, you'll have to be circumspect in your own life, but not "holier than thou."
2. If you're going to do this, be reasonable. More harm is done by unreasonable Christians than anyone knows. A "nut" is never respected. Of course, you may be disrespected if you're perfectly honest and perfectly reasonable, but so? You will know that you've done the right thing. 
3. Always approach these issues by expecting honesty from all participants, and be fearless in calling out oppression, dishonesty and corruption. If it's in your job, you may have to do that just before you get fired, but...
4. Always be honest. Don't lie. Don't EVER accept a bribe. Don't talk about yourself. Talk about what's right in a reasonable way.
5. If you go into a job knowing you'll have to lie to keep the job, don't take the job. 

VOTE. Vote the way God would want you to, in light of the political corruption and evil that we see around us. ALWAYS vote against corruption. Pay attention to the issues, but the person is extremely important. 

VOTE. Vote for someone you can respect in office, and vote in such a way that your vote will count for righteousness.  I am of the personal opinion that voters will be called to account for their voting decisions on Judgment Day, and that any vote that damages the cause of Christ will have repercussions, both now and in eternity.



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Temptation, Jesus and you.

I've been watching "Westworld" on HBO. It's caused me to think about temptation, because the stated premise is, "you can do ANYthing without consequence." The world is a pretend world, constructed of advanced, humanoid robots. They are so lifelike that you can "kill" them, you can have sex with them, you can beat them up, you can torture them. On the other side, you can help them, rescue them, bring justice to them.
The reason that this intrigues me so much is that it speaks exactly to who we are: What would you be like in a world without consequence for your actions? Westworld  exposes people for what they are. By removing all the consequences--because, after all, these are only robots, not real people you're killing, raping, using as punching bags, torturing--the world the writers have created speaks volumes to what people are really like. This concept relates back to what Jesus said: What you want determines who you really are. That's the point of passages like Matthew 5:20-48, where the desire is judged as the deed. Your anger is like murder; your lust is like adultery; and so on. We are all exposed by circumstances where we think we can "get away with it," because after all, there are no consequences for our thoughts, right? Just so, the writers of Westworld have created a fake world where the thought and desire can become the deed and never be punished. 

This relates to the temptations Jesus suffered. When Satan came to tempt Him, there was no corresponding desire in Jesus. When we are tempted, we are "drawn aside by our own desires, and enticed." On the other hand, Jesus was entirely empty of any desire to do evil. He was also empty of any desire that would bring Him to reject God's will--in fact, His desires were just the same as His Father's. Satan tempted Him with his physical needs; with His desire to be seen; with His desire to be King--but Jesus was empty of any desire that would move Him away from God. "Not My will", He said, "but Yours" (referring to God).
This is the great difference between Him and us; we have to pray, "Create in me a clean heart, O God;" Jesus always has had a clean heart. As we look at Jesus' temptations a bit more specifically in the next few posts, remember this: God looks at all of us, and asks the question, "What would this person be like if there were no consequences for their actions?" That’s  what God looks at: what's inside our hearts and souls. The thing is, He knows. It will all be factored in on Judgment Day. It's true, God judges us for our works, but the thoughts and intents of our hearts will also be part of the Judgment. He "judges the secrets of mankind."
The good news is that God has given us a path to clean hearts that are in tune with Him. Just as David prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O God," we can do the same. And He will.

Friday, October 14, 2016

A spiritual perspective on the US election:

Daniel 2: 20 Daniel answered and said: " Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. 21  And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. 22 He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.

Psalm 75:6 For exaltation comes neither from the east Nor from the west nor from the south. 
7 But God is the Judge: He puts down one, And exalts another.

Romans 13:1 
Let every soul be subject to the higher powers [of government]. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Psalms 46: 10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

On one hand, it really does NOT MATTER who gets elected. God has appointed the course of world history, and it always ends the same way--with God in control of an everlasting kingdom, and all earthly rulers reduced to insignificance. 

We can rest assured that God will care for us whoever is elected President, Senator, Congressman or Governor:

Psalm 37: 1 Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret --- it only causes harm. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth. 10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. 11 but the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

On the other hand, it really DOES MATTER for whom you vote in this election.

Let me give you some reasons:
  • If you read the books of Kings and Chronicles in the Old Testament, you'll discover a pattern: when Israel and Judah had good kings, the nation prospered spiritually, and also prospered physically. As the kings in Judah (after Israel was carried captive for their sins) were either good or bad, the nation either prospered or suffered. the equation is pretty simple: a godly king meant good times, and an evil king resulted in social chaos and spiritual destruction. Manasseh, one of the wickedest kings, reigned during the ministry of Isaiah; he ruined the nation with his idolatry and wickedness, so that recovery was impossible. Despite the fact that he later repented, the nation eventually sank into oblivion as first one and then another foreign power invaded it and ultimately Israel was carried captive to Babylon.
  • So here's the principle: good kings make a good nation, and good times; evil kings make an evil nation, and evil times. Chaos comes from evil, and leads to more chaos. 
  • Corruption is the cancer of government and common life. Its root is spiritual corruption.
    The Old Testament discusses bribery, corruption, and other evils like this in spiritual terms, and makes clear that corruption is not only evil in itself, but also the cause of more evil, until the evils are multiplied beyond belief. the Prophets speak so extensively about this that I'll have to select among many choices for illustrations, but here goes:

    1. Isaiah 1:23: Your leaders are rebels, the companions of thieves. All of them love bribes and demand payoffs, but they refuse to defend the cause of orphans or fight for the rights of widows.

    2. Amos 2:6-7: Thus says the LORD: " For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, Because they sell the righteous for silver, And the poor for a pair of sandals. 7  They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor, And pervert the way of the humble. A man and his father go in to the same girl, To defile My holy name.

    3. Amos 8:4-7: Listen to this, you who rob the poor and trample down the needy! You can’t wait for the Sabbath day to be over and the religious festivals to end so you can get back to cheating the helpless. You measure out grain with dishonest measures and cheat the buyer with dishonest scales. And you mix the grain you sell with chaff swept from the floor. Then you enslave poor people for one piece of silver or a pair of sandals. Now the LORD has sworn this oath by his own name, the Pride of Israel: "I will never forget the wicked things you have done!"
    Political corruption and business corruption go hand in hand.

    4. Zechariah 1:1-6: 1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 2 "The LORD has been very angry with your fathers. 3 Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Return to Me," says the LORD of hosts, "and I will return to you," says the LORD of  hosts.  4 "Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds." ' But they did not hear nor heed Me," says the LORD. 5  " Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6  Yet surely My words and My statutes, Which I commanded My servants the prophets, Did they not overtake your fathers? "So they returned and said: ' Just as the LORD of hosts determined to do to us, According to our ways and according to our deeds, So He has dealt with us."
    These principles are pretty simple. You cannot justify taking bribes, oppressing people, cheating and rejecting God, and expect to survive at the judgment. If you are a candidate for office, and you are corrupt, and the people elect you, they have enabled you to do the evil you want to do. If you are part of the candidate's defenders, and that candidate is elected, and you knew what you were doing, you become part of their corruption, and you will stand before God in judgment, just as they will.
  • The root of all this is rejection of God in politics, business, and common life: As Romans 1 says, "Because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them other words, he opens the door for people to do evil, and then judges them for their choices, eventually pouring out His wrath on them for their evil choices and behaviors.
How does all this relate to the way we vote?

Well, first of all, voting is a spiritual enterprise if you're Christian. Make no mistake. It is part of your commitment to God. You are responsible to choose (you can't escape your responsibility by not voting), because you are a man or woman of God, and you are responsible to choose the candidate who will either do the most good or least harm to the nation, city or state. This means you can't choose the "candidate you like," or "everyone likes." It's a matter of the will of God. Who will advance the cause of Jesus Christ the best? Who will do the least harm to society by example or by statute? 

Who, among the choices available, has both a real chance of winning and also has the desire to exercise a good and godly influence on the nation? Please don't get stuck on "rights." They do matter, but not so much as the good and godly influence. 

As a nation, we will never have the perfect President (and on down the ticket). Whoever we elect will always be deeply flawed. If we have learned anything, it's that.  I've been voting now for 50 years. Each time I voted, I hoped for the best, because so many things are unknown. Not one of the people for whom I voted was anything but flawed. No leader will be, until the Lord Jesus returns. However, you and I are responsible to vote, and to vote, not our political preferences, but our spiritual responsibility. 

I have a half dozen other "guiding lights," but those are mine personally, and I'm not going to tell you to be like me. You wouldn't listen, and you would be right not to listen. I'm opinionated enough to think I'm right, and if you follow my other "stuff," you'll know what I think, but my point is this:
Vote for the people most likely to help the spiritual life of the nation, and who are least likely to corrupt our fine country. Unlike many, I don't think America (or any other nation) is a Christian nation, since Jesus meant His Word to fill the earth, not just one country, and since God has said, (Malachi 1:11): "For from the rising of the sun until its going down, My name shall be great among the nations..."

Said as simply as I can, God means us to serve Him with our votes, not to serve ourselves, a political party, or personal advantage. 

Think about that when you cast your vote. And vote. Be sure to vote.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

How Important is "Who we worship?"

I've recently been reading through the prophets. It's a difficult journey, because there are so many negatives, but I'm finding that many people don't attach enough importance to "Who I worship." Many folks say things like, "All roads lead to the same place;" and, "Religion is good;" The problem with those sentiments is that the nation of Israel tried that. They worshipped a variety of gods, despite being commanded to worship ONLY the Lord:

Exodus 20:2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 "You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Deuteronomy 6:5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 "These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.

When the nation of Israel was sent into captivity for their sins, the foremost reason was their rejection of God:
2 Chronicles 36:14 Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful following all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the LORD which He had sanctified in Jerusalem. 15 The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place;
16 but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy.

It's pretty clear (this is just one passage of many I could use) that the real reason God sent His people into captivity was their worship of other gods.

Now this is intimately connected with the book of Revelation, which we are discussing in the blog. The basic problem with us humans is our rejection of the living and true God. Once we do that, we get seduced by the evil one, and eventually listen to his lies about religion... (or no religion), and then about right, wrong, and evil. This will culminate in many of the people of the world selecting the Dragon as their god and the Beast (Antichrist) as his representative. You ask me, "how can this happen?" Well, really, it's pretty simple.  Once you reject God, your mind gets blinded, and you are then susceptible to all sorts of false teaching.

Paul put it like this:
1 Thess. 2:10: because  (people who eventually worship the dragon) did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence (KJV, "Strong Delusion") so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

In other words, when you reject God, it's like taking red-hot nails and poking your eyes out intentionally. When you choose to do that, you can be led in any direction and false teaching seems as true to you as any other. Add to that enough pressure (you have to believe or die, for example), and you'll swear allegiance to anything or anyone because you are blind to the consequences.

Idols (which the ancients worshipped, and which are still worshipped today by some) are mere representations of the Dragon ("the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons [not idols]...").

So can you come back from this spiritual blindness? YES. However, it takes your wholehearted effort: The Scriptures say, "You will search for me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart."

It's important to keep in mind that Satan doesn't exactly have your best interests at heart. He wants to destroy the human race. You're included. Every one of his actions translates into: Defy God. Destroy people.

There is a gigantic spiritual conspiracy to keep you from the truth about the importance of worshipping the living and true God and His Son Jesus Christ. It comes from the Dragon, and that conspiracy will come to its full fruition in the future, as the Dragon takes control of the world in ways that he's never been allowed to do before. People who believe in Jesus Christ will not just be despised or persecuted in some areas of the world. They will be murdered wholesale and everywhere to show that the Dragon is a mightier being than Christ (utterly false, of course). There will, by the way, be no atheists or agnostics in those days. All people who reject Jesus Christ will worship the Dragon. OR ELSE.

It was the same in other eras:
In ancient times, worship of the true God disappeared from Israel. Israel moved into a vicious downward spiral that could be characterized as, "the worse they were, the worse they got," moving ever downward until they were empty of good and of God, and God judged them without pity because they chose this. The prophets tried to stop the people, to call them back, to beg them to do good for themselves and not to allow themselves to be suckered into worshipping the things that not only would destroy them, but things that made no sense at all, such as a piece of wood. 

The people refused, and eventually they were destroyed by the Northern armies of the Assyrians and the Babylonians.

It's the same today. Influences that drag you away from the living God destroy you, and you become easy prey for Satan and his demons. Once you stop worshipping the living and true God, who made the world we live in, you are "deceivable." You have a hard time telling right from wrong (look around you at the world; isn't that just what's going on today?), and you justify the greatest evils with deceptive words.

See what Paul says in Romans 1:
21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools...
24 Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever...
28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,  29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

This is what happens in a society that rejects God--Satan takes up the vacuum with his ideas and temptations, and the society and its people disintegrate, destroy themselves and find themselves permanently separated from God (there's lots more in this passage, and the dashes represent material I've left out).

The key to human life is the worship of the living and true God and His Son Jesus Christ. The worship of any other being or creature (or yourself, or money or power) destroys you. It's an idol, which you've set up in your heart. That idol in your heart is like a burning poison that consumes you.

So please don't say, "All roads lead to the same place;" in fact, all roads BUT ONE lead to the same place, but it's not the place you may think. Jesus is the ONE WAY. 

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." NOBODY comes to the Father, except through Me." 

That is the truth. There is no exception, and there is no reprieve, if you reject the living and true God and His Son Jesus Christ.

So what do you intend to do about this?

"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Revelation 12-19: Does WHO you worship really matter?

In my daily Bible reading, I've been going through the prophets--you know, those guys named Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and so forth ("and so forth" is a compendium of 13 prophets...). One of the things I keep hearing from atheists and agnostics is that "it doesn't matter IF I worship God, or whom I worship." This runs completely counter to the statements of the prophets, all of whom categorically reject that idea.
From other religions, and some Christians, I hear "All roads lead to the same place," and "It's more important THAT you worship than WHO you worship. There are many other similar statements, and they can all be described as, "Which god? Doesn't matter."

If you are a Christian, I hope you have the good sense to reject this asinine drivel. In this post, I want to discuss how GOD looks at people who worship other gods than Him. So here are some passages:

1. The first commandment, of the 10: "You shall have no other gods before Me." True, this was written to the nation of Israel, but we stand in the same line, and almost all Christians agree that the 10 Commandments are important.

2. The "Great Commandment:" When Jesus was asked, "What is the first (foremost) and Great Commandment, He answered: "You shall love the LORD your God (insert Yahweh/Jehovah here) with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." Jesus did not say, I might point out, that "You should love your 'Higher Power...'" or that you should "love whatever god you worship..." HE said, "You shall love the Lord your God..." That is a specific person. It is not just anybody.

3. Jesus taught that there was only one way to God, and it was Him: He said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; NOBODY comes to the Father, except through ME." (John 14:6, for those who don't want to look it up).

4. Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, specifically connected rejecting the God of the Bible to terrible moral and spiritual decline. See Romans 1:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

The final result is here, in his conclusion:

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;

32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

This conclusion is one of the most damning passages in the history of mankind, because as Paul wrote this, he was in Corinth, no doubt watching all the things that happened in the city he was in on a daily basis, and concluding that the rejection of God was behind all the evil in the world.

5. John the Apostle says the same thing in John 3:
19 "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
An evil heart is at the root of the rejection of God, and the result of that rejection is more evil, until the person and his society is utterly consumed.

This all comes to a head in Revelation 12-19, where the worship of God (the God of the Bible) is rejected by most of the world, and Christians and Jews are "outed" as the real cause of all the world's problems (classic method of "deflection," here), so much so that they are persecuted and must go into hiding.
At the same time, the Dragon empowers the Antichrist, who comes into power and displays himself as God. In addition, much of the world's population worship the Dragon himself, and they accept an identifying mark that makes them his servants, his possession.

Now if it really did not matter who you worship, then Dragon-worship would be just fine and have no consequence, only benefits. However, Dragon-worship is what brings all the judgments of Revelation. Why is that?

Well, folks, the reality is that when you worship some other entity than the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ, you really are fulfilling the Dragon's plans for you, and you will pay for that.

The very idea that God will judge the world is currently derided and laughed at by many, but all we need to say about this is, "Wait and see."

Here are some of the results that arise from "Dragon worship..."
1. Dragon-worship makes you hate and persecute Christians (Revelation 12:17, 13:6-8. Dragon-worship is the real source of persecution, whatever anyone may say.

2. When the end-game occurs, it will make you willing to accept the "mark of the Beast," in order to buy and sell. Accepting that mark is the single most destructive thing you can do to your own soul. It finalizes your commitment to the Dragon and to the Antichrist, and puts you eternally at odds with the True and Living God.

3. Dragon-worship will curse you, and make you unable to stand before God in the final judgment and you will be destroyed. Revelation 14:9.

4. It will make you the recipient of awful judgments that fall only on the Dragon-worshippers. Revelation 15:1-11,17-21.

5. It will make you wail, weep and find no relief when Jesus Christ returns. Revelation 1:7, 19:12-21.

Had enough? If I'm talking to you, and you happen to be reading this and raging over it because you think I'm an insufferable jerk and a liar and idiot and you wish I was dead, you've probably proved my point, at least in part.

I'm actually your friend. I'm telling you what will happen if you DON'T worship God and His Son Jesus Christ. He is the ONLY way.

So why did I write all this?

Because I read the prophets recently, and most recently Ezekiel, and I once again discovered a truth that is as old as time itself: "Who you worship is everything." I watched, in my mind's eye, as Ezekiel went and discovered what his fellow Jews were doing in Jerusalem (See Ezekiel 8). I also watched as God responded to those evils (See Ezekiel 9)--how few were left alive, and how those who were still alive were subjected to intense misery and suffering (also see Lamentations).

A wise man once said, "God deferred His judgments against Israel and Judah for generations, sending them prophet after prophet, but judgment finally did come because the people wouldn't listen, and when it did come, it was utterly without pity." This is a true statement.

Ecclesiastes said, "Because sentence against an evil work is not swiftly executed, the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."

You think that because judgment is deferred, it will never happen. WRONG.

You also think that it will "not be as bad as all that." Absolutely WRONG. It will be far worse than you imagine, far worse than any of the "dystopian futures" discussed in the current crop of sci-fi movies and series, far worse than the "Zombie Apocalypse," far worse than you ever dreamed, even in your worst nightmares
Endless terror.
Constant oppression.
Forced worship (of the Dragon).
Awful judgments.
And then if you survive all the rest, ...Armageddon, where the bodies heap up until there is no room, and finally, judgment by a God who has divested Himself of all mercy in your case, because you rejected Him and decided on the Dragon and his ways instead--and refused to listen when He begged you to turn to Him.
Do I want this to happen to you? NO.

The real question, though, is "Do you want it to happen to you?" You can avoid all this by turning to God. You may be persecuted, but that is much better than what awaits you if you reject God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus said this: "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. (John 5:24)

What I want for you is that you decide to follow Jesus Christ completely, so that you do not experience all the evil that is in the Dragon's heart, and all the judgments God has for those who refuse Him. If you refuse God, disaster awaits. If you follow Him, heaven awaits. 

Pretty simple, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Dragon...Revelation 12:

As we move through this chapter, we'll see similar connections multiplied many times over, all pointing back to the Old Testament, and in most cases to a time millennia ago.

For now, a simple application: There are three hugely important things said about the Dragon in Rev. 12:
  1. He is AT WAR with humanity. Especially with all the "remnant of her seed"--that would be all who are the sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ.
  2. He WILL come to earth, and that 3-1/2 year period will be like no other the world has ever seen.
  3. He IS DEFEATED. The Dragon's fury is the rage of a defeated foe, not the spoils-taking of a victor.
So who is he? Well...he's identified by the text as...
The Great Dragon...(12:9)
The Serpent of Old (ancient Serpent, See Genesis 3)...(12:9)
The devil...(12:9)
The Deceiver...(12:9)
The Accuser...(12:10)

In other words, the implacable, always evil adversary of God and humanity, the hater of all that is connected to God and good.

THIS is the personage who is cast out. No longer can he stand in God's presence, accusing you and me to God (see Job 1-2); no longer can he enter into God's presence after having been on the earth; no longer can he fight with the angels. He is finished. 
However, he does have a short time left on earth, and he uses it to his great advantage; in Revelation 13-19, he enables the rise of the Antichrist, stands behind the False Prophet and gives him his power, causes all the world to worship both him and the Antichrist, with the exception of those who choose Jesus Christ, and fills the world with even more evil than exists today. I remember back when the genocide was going on in Rwanda, and the comment was made, "It's as if all the demons in Hell have been let loose;" That was bad, but there it will actually be true. Satan and all his servants will be unleashed on the earth for "a short time." Satan's destruction is certain, but he definitely goes out with a "BANG!" He hopes to include YOU in that explosion.

I sincerely hope, that if you are alive at that time (and some of us may be), that you choose the living and true God, not the Antichrist and the Dragon.  They don't care what ultimately happens to you--they just want followers, so they can destroy them with their evil; God does care about you, and what happens to you. He wants you to come to Him. Only if you have rejected God and His Son will you believe in the Dragon and the Antichrist--and if you reject Jesus Christ, you WILL believe in the Dragon, because Scripture says, "God will send them strong delusion..." so that you will definitely be deceived if you reject Christ. Don't reject God. Choose Him. Choose Jesus Christ. Do it now!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Revelation 12: the War in Heaven comes to earth.

Due to the nature of this material, I plan to write more than one post, and I will also put together as many YouTube videos as I need to properly cover it.

So here goes the first post:
Revelation 12:1 (NASB 1995) A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;
2 and she was with child; and she *cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.
3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.
4 And his tail *swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.
5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.
6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she *had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
13 And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.
14 But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she *was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
15 And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.
16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.
17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children (Greek, seed), who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

These verses cover an unknown number of years, and there is also lots of symbolism. Our first task is to identify the players, since these determine what the story's about:

The Woman: There are quite a few opinions as to who this is, but the simplest answer (based on the symbols and events) seems to be that this is believing Israel.
  • Because of the woman's appearance (the sun, moon and stars represent Israel, see Genesis 37:9-10 for the symbolism) (Joseph's dream had 11, but that was missing Joseph)
  • Because of what the woman does (she bears the "man-child" Jesus);  See Genesis 3:15 and Romans 9:3-5: the early Christians acknowledged that Jesus came from Israel as to the flesh, and the story of Israel begins with the Promise of the Messiah, who came from the nation, brought into existence by the Almighty.
  • Because of the 1260 days that the woman is protected from the Dragon (see preceding posts for timelines and so forth). The 1260 days represent the final 3-1/2 years of the tribulation period, which Jesus calls  "Great Tribulation--see Matthew 24:15-22. The reason that this refers to a specific place and time is found in Matthew 24:15--Jesus is speaking of a local event; notice the mention of the Temple, and fleeing from persecution in Judea.  If you read Matthew 24, you'll see that the events of Matthew 24 approximately parallel the events of Revelation 1-19, with Matthew 25 representing a judgment (my inference, from the timing) following the Great Tribulation.
So what does this mean to you and me? Well, if you're in Israel, quite a lot. Jesus prophesies that at some point in time Jerusalem and Judea will be overtaken by invaders, headed by the Dragon (we'll see more of this in Chapter 13 and following), and that everyone will have to run for their lives. The persecutions will be so overwhelming that if the Lord didn't cut them short, no life would be saved (Matthew 24:22).

Furthermore, as we move into the rest of the book, we'll see that these persecutions spread like ripples in a pond throughout the world as the Antichrist takes ever more power, and ultimately forces all believers into hiding, not only the Jewish believers in Revelation 12:14 (and following). This persecution is intense. It is also the dividing point between Christians and everyone else, as the rest of Revelation will tell us; as these persecutions increase, so do God's judgments on the earth, and many of these judgments are restricted to the people who've taken the "mark of the Beast," as we'll see later. The Dragon, whom they've chosen, cannot protect them, and God demonstrates Himself to be in ultimate control of all the forces of the universe.

The operative question at that time will be, "Who's side are you on? Do you worship the living and true God, or the Dragon?" Many people will choose the Dragon, because, as it's written elsewhere, "They received not the love of the truth [i. e. about Jesus] that they might be saved. This will be a time of complete division--good vs. evil, God vs. the devil, God's people vs. the children of the devil; there will be no room to sit on the fence and say, "Well, I am agnostic / atheist." That possibility will be denied all who believe it by the events which will take place. If you are alive then, you WILL worship someone. It's your choice as to who that will be, and that choice will be crystal clear. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Kingdom of God, The Dragon, the Two Witnesses, and the Antichrist...

The Kingdom of God, The Dragon, the Two Witnesses, and the Antichrist...

Everything comes together in the middle of Revelation.  Chapter 11 is the "split point" between the two halves of the Tribulation, and the assassination of the two witnesses is the cusp of that point in future (to us) history.
Chapter 12 introduces the evil, but mighty personage behind the evil in our world, the Dragon.
Chapter 13 introduces the Dragon's human instruments, the Beast (Antichrist) and False Prophet, and discusses their course of action.
So Chapters 11-13 are crucial in understanding the book of Revelation.
Here is how I see these three chapters, and remember that everything about the future is an inference from evidence--in other words, there's intelligent speculation involved, and that's how it has to be.

Revelation 11 encompasses about 3-1/2 years, beginning at Revelation 4, and ending when the Antichrist kills them

Revelation 12 encompasses an unknown number of years, beginning in the distant past, and ending when the Christians (Israeli Christians?) flee into the desert after the assassination of the two witnesses, where God has a place for them. In other words, the Dragon's story begins in the past, and we now see it up to the time he is cast down to the earth--slightly after the murder of the two witnesses. Revelation 11:15-19 records the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet, and this marks the defeat of Satan and the Antichrist as a certain event in the future. When it seems darkest, God has already planned the permanent defeat of Satan and all evil. Take heart. God is still running the show, and He prevails.

Revelation 13 begins the accession of the Antichrist to be the undisputed ruler of the earth (or, at least, of the Middle East), and describes the character of his reign.

So what I see here is this:

Dragon (Rev. 12):  
(Distant past...)                                                         (Chases Christians into desert)

                                                                             Two Witnesses:
                                                                                Rev. 4-11, 3-1/2 years

                                                                                                                            Rev. 13-19
(Antichrist's reign begins in Rev. 13, shortly after the murder of the two witnesses, ends in Rev. 19 with the return of Christ).

We'll deal with these matters more in the next few posts. For now, if you are just looking at my blog, you should read the passages in at least Revelation 11-through 13, so you'll get a glimpse of what's happening in heaven and on earth

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sometimes we read the Bible too much...

Gotcha, didn't I? I thought you would bite. "How can you read the Bible too much?" Well, there are actually several ways, but I'm going to focus on one particular way, because it came to my attention today:
Today I read a short passage in the New Testament because I was short on time. I had to leave. I actually had MORE time than I used, so I re-read the passage, and then thought about it for a few minutes, and I re-discovered what I have learned many times: sometimes it's good to read your Bible only until you get something fresh for your spiritual life.  Here's what I read today:

(Mark 3) 31 Then His mother and His brothers *arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. 32 A crowd was sitting around Him, and they *said to Him, "Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You." 33 Answering them, He *said, "Who are My mother and My brothers?" 34 Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He *said, "Behold My mother and My brothers! 35 "For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother." (quotation from NASB 1995).

Jesus is literally engulfed by the crowds. He is so incredibly busy that He doesn't have a moment to Himself, and yet He can't stop. He's under tremendous pressure. His Mom and brothers try to get Him to slow down, but His response is basically, "I can't! People want to believe, they want to come to Me, and I have to seek them out now, as they seek God's will!"

People do go through times like this, times of no rest, of great pressure, yet sometimes these times are God-ordained to benefit the people whom we serve. God is willing to take risks with us, and during these times we need to recognize that we MUST not quit. It's HIS time for us to reach out, and we must not stop.

I will note, however, that this is not a way to plan 40 years of ministry. Jesus recognized that He had limited time, and He was determined to make the most of it. The people came. He preached, healed, did good works, and as Peter says later, "He healed all who were oppressed by the Devil."

Much of Jesus' power resided in His ability to recognize what God was doing right then. He said in another place, "The Son does what He sees the Father doing." In other words, Jesus and the Father were partners in His work--the Father supplied the direction and the ability, and Jesus exercised them.

(I'm not diminishing Jesus' deity with this statement, but Jesus limited Himself, as we are told, so that He did not exercise His divine attributes independently. He relied on the Father, as would another man.)

Got a tough schedule? Just make sure you're in the center of God's will in what you do.  Then work through it as He directs.

I pray God blesses you today as never before.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Revelation 11: Two Witnesses. 42 Months. 1260 Days.

You'll need your Bible for this study. Read Revelation 11, and focus on the beginning of the chapter, up to the time the Two Witnesses are murdered.

In Rev. 11, we are introduced to a timeline. That timeline is about 3-1/2 years long, or 42 months. 1260 days is a slightly shorter time. the purpose of this timeline is to educate us about the length of the Tribulation period and all the things that happen then.

Here is what it looks like (remember, until these things happen, this is pretty speculative)

TWO WITNESSES_11:1-3_3-1/2 years_|||"THE BEAST"_13:5_3-1/2 years

Total Time: 7 years (See Revelation 13; I'm ADDING the time the two witnesses prophesy to the material in Revelation 13:5).

(After the 3-1/2 years we see Jesus arriving at the Battle of Armageddon, Revelation 19)

The 3 parallel bars represent the midpoint: Possibly the 7th Trumpet. I think that this is the proper way to view the timeline because Revelation seems to be roughly chronological.  In other words, all the events after chapter 3 fit in the first 3-1/2 years, and include the Two Witnesses, who are prophesying during that time of terrifying turmoil.  Their ministry is to preach the Gospel in the City of Jerusalem, and to announce the coming judgments.  They are murdered at the approximate midpoint of the Tribulation, and the ascendance of the Antichrist (the Beast) occurs at about the same time. There is evidence that the Antichrist takes over the religious worship of the Jewish nation, and replaces it with his own (himself and the Dragon) for those 3-1/2 years.

The timeline is important because it sets limits:
The limit to which God will allow evil and Satan to rule; the limit to which God assigns the arrival of His King, Jesus Christ, and the limit to which God allows the persecution of His people.

The timeline is important because it explains:
Christians are very much in evidence, but they are underground. We see them (us) only through a few peepholes in the story: martyrs; the 144,000, the people who've come out of the Great Tribulation. The Christian Church is not mentioned from chapters 4-19. Many have thought that this was because the Church (all the Christians) have been "raptured." I believe this to be the case (lots of evidence both for and against), but it may simply be that the church has gone underground because of the constant persecution.
In any event, the chapters from 11 and following detail the career of the Antichrist--his rise to power, his attempts to enslave the world, his attempted destruction of all Christians--and his ultimate destruction at the hands of Jesus the Lord and Messiah. Mingled with the terrible things the Antichrist does are the judgments, some of them aimed only at punishment, others an attempt to call the world to repent.

Finally, we discover that evil does not rule the world forever. God has a plan. He is taking back the earth, and it's a huge war against evil. This world (Revelation 12) is the last of Satan's strongholds, and he rules willing subjects. God's purpose is to rescue people from Satan's power and transfer them into His Kingdom (Colossians 1:12-13), and to ultimately create a "New Heavens and a New Earth, in which righteousness dwells"--see 2 Peter 3:13). Some will choose to be rescued. Others will follow the Antichrist. Which are you?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Revelation 10: Back to the Book of Revelation

It's the goal of these studies to make the book of Revelation as uncomplicated as it actually is. I've read hundreds of pages on Revelation in my studies, and many of them generate a great deal more heat than light. They also make Revelation complex, when in fact it's not.
Our problem comes from trying to interpret a book that's essentially a movie, and describe its movements as if they were the writings of the Apostle Paul--reasoned out, logical, doctrinal.
Don't misunderstand me.  Revelation is TRUE. It's just designed in visions and scenes, like a movie to watch, not a book to puzzle over.

This is why an approach where you always remind yourself that Revelation is basically like a comic-book (or illustrated book), and is designed for you to use your imagination actually nets you the most help.

The second problem is this: in Bible prophecy, the teaching is first given, then is often revealed either over time, or once it's fulfilled. This is undoubtedly true of Revelation. Some prophecies are clear from the beginning (see Daniel 12, the end of Daniel 2), others are completely obscure until they are fulfilled (666, "The Mark").

Now in Revelation 10, and after that introduction, we have the following situation:

  1. We are almost to the midpoint of the book. 
  2. We have one of those situations where we won't understand what's happening until we either see it from heaven, or watch it on earth. 
First is the "Seven Thunders." We have no idea what they are, but they occur just before the "Seventh Trumpet," which concludes everything.
See Revelation 10:1-4: I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them."

Second is the "little book," which John takes from the hand of the angel:
10:1-2: I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.
He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land...
So John is told to take the book, and eat it:
10:8-11: Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, "Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth." So I went to the angel and said to him, "Give me the little book." And he said to me, "Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth."  Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter.  And he said to me, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings."
So we literally get no information from this chapter, except the following:
10:6-7: [The Angel from the first verse]  swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.

So what moves the narrative forward is something in the future, with the promise there will be "no more delay" once the 7th Trumpet sounds.
The 7th Trumpet does not until Revelation 11:15: Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"
As we shall see, we are near the midpoint of the book (occurs in ch's. 11 and 13, with 12 a panorama of history).
The thing to remember about Revelation 10 is that it's preparatory to what follows, and the events that follow it detail the final acts in the Book of Revelation, and how the world is transformed.

Keep reading the blog for more; most of all, read the book of Revelation itself, and put yourself in John's place. Try to see what he saw, and think of how it must have been for him. Allow yourself to see what happens through John's eyes.  This is not a book that can be understood only through the mind. You must use your heart and your imagination as well.  The Spirit will enable you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Saddest Chapter in the Bible: Revelation 9

After all the judgments in Revelation, which include earthquakes, fiery meteors that destroy the water supply, giant meteors that wreck the world's oceans, and huge stinging locusts that look like something out of a nightmare, John adds these words:

Revelation 9:20-21 (NASB): The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.

Imagine.  People reject God, even though the Two Witnesses (about whom we'll hear in Revelation 11) prophesy; the world is being destroyed; people know the source of judgment (yes, they KNOW!):

Rev. 6:17-21(NASB):  Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

But still, they will not turn to God.

So much for people not having a chance to make up their minds.  In the book of Revelation, everything is clear. Nothing is obscured.  The people who accept the Antichrist KNOW BETTER; they just think they can get away with their evil one more time.

It's like John is shaking his head, saying, "You gotta be kidding me! They're not repenting!"

We always assume that if people have enough knowledge, or if the message is communicated in just the right way, or if God speaks to them through signs and miracles, they will turn to Him.

Apparently not. There is apparently a very large group of people on our planet who will NEVER turn to God.  They just won't.

"God is not willing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance, (2 Peter 3:9)" but they won't repent, and will perish, because even if they know God's judgment will take them, they still won't turn to Him.

This mystifies Christians, but it should not.  People make their own choices, and they have to live with them. It also goes to show that if someone truly wants to reject God, not even the Almighty can save him. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Revelation 8, Part 2

A triphammer is a device that uses a motor to power a hammer that strikes in successive strokes. Here's one in action: the point is that the hammer keeps hitting the piling until it's driven into the ground.
THAT is Revelation 8-9.  Piledriver strokes that just keep coming and coming. These strokes hit people where they really live, in the water and food supplies, in the beauty of the earth, in all that men and women consider "their world."

See what I mean (quoting from NASB 1995):

And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them.
7 The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
8 The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood,
9 and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed.
10 The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters.
11 The name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter.
12 The fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way.
13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!"

Now to put things into perspective, throughout this time persecution of Christians has been increasing, to the point where (back in revelation 6), there are many people martyred. If you'll recall, there's a Divine response to that as well (Rev. 6:12-17).  In Revelation 7, at the end, we read about a huge number of people, whom nobody can count, who came out of great tribulation and they are in heaven. 
How do you suppose they got there? They were "persecuted to death." This is a time of intense and terrible trouble.  Only thing is, it has a boomerang effect, and everyone who participated in these persecutions now feels the beginnings of God's anger. This is not the full force of His vengeance.  It's just the start. More is coming. Much more.

Persecution is not insignificant to God, although many think so.  He remembers every single murder, every single torment, every single evil thing done to believers.  If you don't think what's happening to you means anything to Him, Look again at Revelation 8. He never forgets.  He always repays.

On the other hand:
If you are not a Christian, or, more importantly, if you've been complicit in the persecution of Christians, repent! God will forgive even this, and will give you a home in heaven with the very people you used to hate. See the beginning of Acts 9.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Revelation ,8 Part 1: The Seventh Seal, the Seven Trumpets

Here's the text:
Revelation 8:
1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

I've said before that the trumpets flow out of the seals, and the bowls flow out of the trumpets. Remember that the seals are the seals of the Book (scroll) that the Lamb who is the Lion is opening. The seventh seal is the last.  It contains the rest.

First thing we see is that there's silence.  Then the seven angels with the seven trumpets prepare to sound, and after that, we see the incense pan (KJV, "censer") with two things: the prayers of the saints (those who believe in Jesus Christ), and additional incense.  

The "prayers of the saints" probably refer to our prayers for Jesus' return.  Those prayers will reach a crescendo during the awful time of Revelation.  Persecution will increase to a fever point. Believers will be murdered by the thousands, men and women and children will cry out for mercy and receive none, because the people who betray and murder Christians are powered by Satan--seduced by the evil one, they do his bidding and seek to rid the world of Christians. There will be some who fight back, of course, but for the most part they are reduced to prayers, which seem ineffective at the time, but which fill the incense pan with cries for help.  

Do you really think that God will allow this to continue forever?? 
He will NOT.

So the next event we see is the angel who holds the censer fill it with fire from the altar, and throw it down from heaven to earth. We don't know all the results, but John (seeing what happens from heaven) details some of the events--voices, thunder, lightning, and an earthquake (probably centered near Jerusalem, which is the focus of these events).

Want to know what these things mean? I'll tell you.  They are a warning. God is saying, "Get ready for hell on earth because of what you've done to my people." The material that follows is focused against evil and evil men, as we shall see later.

My question for you today is, "What do you think of Christians?" Better come to terms with Christ for yourself, and then remember what God is about to do in the world. 

I know that some who read this will scoff. I can only say, "Just wait." and, "You'll see." These events are coming.  You cannot stop them, postpone them, or change their outcome. Jesus said in Luke, "These are the days of vengeance..."
It is a terrible thing to be the target of a vengeful king--what if you become the target of a vengeance-seeking God? He will not leave His vengeance up to men. He will do this Himself, and you cannot stop Him.
My advice is to reconcile yourself to God while you can, and reconcile yourself to God's people, if you've been their persecutor. Do it before the days arrive when God seeks vengeance against you. Do it now.

Psalm 139, Part 4: God's justice, My attitude...

The link below goes to the final YouTube video on Ps. 139.

Ps. 139, part 4: God's Justice, My attitude 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Revelation 7, the 144,000, and are you one of them??

The short answer to the question in the title is probably, "NO." Why is that? Well, very simply, they are all Jews by blood and birth and they are all selected AFTER the sixth seal is opened. So unless you've seen news reports of all the leaders of the earth and every slave and free man calling for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of the One who sits on the throne (God), and the Lamb, you are not one of the 144,000.
Now that's out of the way...
What about the 144,000?
Several things about them are important to us:
1. They are selected at a point in time when the action stops in Revelation, after the opening of the 6th Seal.
2. They are called "The servants of God."
3. They are from specific Jewish tribes.
4. They are "marked" by angelic intervention as God's servants.
5. Their selection is followed by a huge praisefest in heaven.
The action involved here goes all the way to the end, because the praises come from those who've "come out of the Great Tribulation," and the future is seen as the present (in other words, all suffering is over for these who've come out, and they now are in the presence of God forever with no more tears, no more fears, no more cares).

So here's what we know: Just after the opening of the sixth seal, God selects 144,000 of His special Jewish servants--probably to accomplish some specific, special work. In the next scene, the camera moves forward all the way to the end, AFTER the Great Tribulation (look at the Chronology of Revelation in the preceding posts), the last 3-1/2 years of Daniel's prophecy (see Daniel 12), and we see a huge number of people standing before God, praising Him, and John finds that these are people from every tribe and nation, who've come out of the terrible time of Tribulation, and they are God's people.

Evidently people believe in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ, in droves.  Some of their faith comes from the hope that there will be a better future than the one the Antichrist promises; some comes from preaching by the entities who tell the Gospel story during that time (the 144,000, the Two Witnesses, the angels), and some comes from the testimony of their fellow-believers.

Who are the `144,000? Possibly witnesses that tell the Gospel story.  Possibly warriors who fight against the Antichrist and his evil. Possibly both. We don't know for sure yet.

What we DO know is that a better day is coming.  This prophecy flies in the face of all the "Dystopian Future" movies that we see, such as The Hunger Games, in which God does not appear; instead, God is the exclamation point in the future.  It's in His hands. He controls it, and He will bring this sick, sorry old world into a place of blessing for all who believe in Him, all who love Him, all who know Him.
One day...
He will rule, and there will be no "Dystopia."
Instead, there will be "The kingdoms of this world becoming the Kingdom of our Lord, and of His Messiah, Jesus Christ."
This is the promise of Revelation 7, and of the entire book of Revelation.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Chronology of Revelation, part 4

If you've been following along, you'll see that I believe that Revelation divides itself naturally into three parts, discussed in Revelation 1:19: "The things which you've seen, the things which are, and the things that shall be after this (KJV, hereafter)."
Then the "after this" resolves itself again into a fairly structured set of events, detailed at various places in the Old and New Testaments, but most particularly in Matthew 24-25 and its parallels in the other two synoptic Gospels.  John doesn't deal with this in his Gospel, because he also received and wrote down the Book of Revelation.
If you want to fully understand the events in Revelation, here is how to look at it.
  1. The focus is Israel. Jesus makes this very clear in Matthew 24-25.
  2. The focus is local.  Jesus discusses the Temple, Jerusalem, and so forth.  It's a prophecy about what will happen there, in Israel. It affects the whole world, but it happens in Israel. John agrees with this (see Revelation 11, for example).
  3. The focus is on believers. Revelation treats the church as if it doesn't exist, so we don't know if that's because the "Rapture" has taken place, or because believers are all underground.
  4. Jesus taught that these events were to be literal, not figurative (how do you have a "figurative" destruction of Jerusalem?)
  5. Jesus taught that there was a specified time frame for these events, but he left the beginning point a bit vague, and the end point the same way.  We have to get our information about beginning and ending from other resources (Daniel 9, Daniel 12, etc.).
I want to suggest to you that as you read Revelation with me (PLEASE read Matthew 24-25), that you consider what all these things would mean if they happened in the world today.  As weird as it sounds, we are on track for these events to actually happen.
The message Jesus gives at the end of Matthew 24 is the most important one of all:

Matt. 24:42 Therefore watch, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 

Since none of us knows when, we must make ourselves ready for "anywhen."
Let's do that.