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Archive for September, 2012

AT SOME LATER TIME


(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, “The vision that he sees is for many days to come – and he prophecies of the times that are far off. – Ezekiel 12:27

It can often be easy to fall into complacency as Christians – and look at Biblical prophecies as visions that are far in the future. The people of Israel had this mindset back in the days of Ezekiel. However, everyone is a divine appointment. Everything has a divine purpose or plan – or God could not be God. All of Christianity falls apart if just one prophesy in the Bible fails to come to fruition through heavenly orchestration. Even though only God will truly know when each one is fulfilled – He gives us many signs and indicators of them throughout Scripture. All will culminate in the return of Jesus.

Only God will know when the gospel of the kingdom has been preached in all the world for a witness unto the nations (Matthew 24:14). Consequently, only God will know the day – and the precise second to send Christ back (Mark 13:32). Even though the Bible is full of warnings about the end times – many in the last days will be scoffers walking after their own lusts – saying “Where is this promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).

Christians are repeatedly told to “watch” in the New Testament – lest Christ come again and find us sleeping and not doing His work (Matthew 24:44-46, Mark 13:33-37, 1 Peter 4:7, Revelation 3:3, Revelation 16:15). We must be careful that the cares of this life do not consume us – and have that day come upon us unawares (Luke 21;34). Christ will come like a thief in the night – in the twinkling of an eye – like labor pains that suddenly come upon a woman (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, 2 Peter 3:10, 1 Corinthians 15:52). It will be too late for many – for there won’t be a “later time”.

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(Scripture from the KJV)

– For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse – Romans 1:20

The hope of eternal life was promised to us before this world began – and the grace of God that leads to man’s salvation has appeared to all men (Titus 1:2, Titus 2:11). Ever since we were children, we have known the holy Scriptures – which are able to make us wise unto that salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15). That salvation is of the Lord alone – and not any man (Jonah 2:9).

In the beginning was the Word – and the Word was with God – and the Word was God (John 1:1). We either believe God is who He says He is – or we don’t. There is no middle ground. We cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and the cup of the devil at the same time – nor can we eat at the Lord’s table and the devil’s table simultaneously (1 Corinthians 10:21).

Even though God is angry with the wicked daily – He is long suffering towards us. God does not want anyone to perish – but for all to come to repentance (Psalm 7:11, 2 Peter 3:9). However, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account of ourselves to Him (Romans 14:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 14:12). It will be too late then to give our excuses as to why we rejected Him while we were on earth – and why we failed to thank Him, glorify Him, or retain Him in our knowledge (Romans 1:21, Romans 1:28).

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DO THE RIGHT THING


(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– I am verily a man, which am a Jew.  Born in Tarsus, a city in Cilia – yet brought up in this city at the foot of Gamaliel  – and taught according to the perfect manner of the law.  And was zealous towards God – as ye all are this day.  And I persecuted this way unto the death – binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. – Acts 22:3-4

Imagine killing Christians because you thought it was the right thing to do?  What if you thought they were challenging everything you had been taught – and brought up believing? Early Christianity was considered to be a sect (Acts 24:5).  Early Christians were such a threat to the age-old Jewish religious ways of doing things under Mosaic law – that they had to be killed (Acts 6:11-14).  Someone had to it.  Who better than Saul of Tarsus?  He would round up Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment and imprisonment – and persecute many to their deaths.  Saul was present at the trial of St. Stephen – the first Christian martyr.  It was Saul who consented to Stephen’s death by stoning (Acts 7:1-60, Acts 8:1).

All because Saul and many Jewish leaders believed they were “doing the right thing” for God.  However, Saul would soon be struck down on the road to Damascus by the Lord – and shown the error of his ways (Acts 9:3-16).  Saul would go on to become the apostle Paul – and write nearly half of the New Testament.  Billy Graham once said that we can be sincere – and still be wrong.  As believers, we can all be very sincere and sometimes zealous in our Christianity towards God – just as Saul was sincere and zealous towards God in his dealing with early Christians – and all of us can be wrong.  It’s very easy to live up to our own consciences as believers – and do what we perceive is right for God in our own eyes and hearts – either personally or corporately.

God does not need our help (Isaiah 43:13).  Just because we are doing something for Him and in His name – does not mean it’s what He wants us to do.  Only God knows the outcome from the start – and He alone knows the motivations and intentions of our hearts (1 Chronicles 28:9, Hebrews 4:12-13).  The story of David and his congregation’s collective decision to bring back the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem in 1 Chronicles 13:4-10 – is a tragic Biblical example of what can happen when a group of well-meaning people did what was right in their own eyes – but not God’s.  An oxen cart driver named Uzza lost his life all because bringing the Ark back was perceived as “doing the right thing”.  What was supposed to be a time of festivity and celebration had been ruined.  And, David’s resulting anger was directed at God as if He was to blame (1 Chronicles 13:11-12).

We must do what is right in God’s eyes first and foremost – always (Deuteronomy 13:18).  What is that?  Throughout Scripture, He tells us all time and time again what He requires of us.  We must do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8).  We must love Him with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our souls – and love all of our neighbors as we do ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40).  We must hearken and yield to His voice through the Holy Spirit – and led by the Spirit and not the flesh (Deuteronomy 13:18, Isaiah 30:21, Romans 8:1-14, Galatians 5:16-17).  Finally, we must fear Him and keep His commandments – for this is the whole duty of a man (Ecclesiastes 12:13).  And, that’s the right thing to do.

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MIXED BLESSINGS


(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– I am verily a man, which am a Jew. Born in Tarsus, a city in Cilia – yet brought up in this city at the foot of Gamaliel – and taught according to the perfect manner of the law. And was zealous towards God – as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death – binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. – Acts 22:3-4

Imagine killing Christians because you thought it was the right thing to do? What if you thought they were challenging everything you had been taught – and brought up believing? Early Christianity was considered a sect (Acts 24:5). Early Christians were such a threat to the age-old Jewish religious ways of doing things under Mosaic law – that they had to be killed (Acts 6:11-14). Someone had to do it. Who better than Saul of Tarsus? He would round up Christians and bring them bound back to Jerusalem for punishment – and persecute many to their deaths. Saul was present at the trial of St. Stephen – the first Christian martyr – and it was Saul who consented to the stoning death of Stephen (Acts 7:1-60, Acts 8:1).All because Saul and the other Jewish leaders believed they were doing the right thing for God. Until He struck Saul down on the road to Damascus and made him see the error of his ways (Acts 9:3-16). Saul would go on to become the apostle Paul and write nearly half of the New Testament.
God will use anybody He wants to spread His gospel – for He looks upon our hearts first before anything else (1 Samuel 16:7). Billy Graham once said we can be sincere – and still be wrong. We can all be sincere and even zealous towards God – just like Saul and the Jewish people of his day – and still be wrong. It is very easy to live up to our own consciences as believers – and do what we perceive is right for God in our own eyes and hearts – either personally or corporately.But just because we are doing something for God and in His name – does not mean it’s what He wants us to do. Only He knows the outcome ahead of time – He alone knows the motivations behind our intentions (1 Chronicles 28:9, Hebrews 4:12-13). The story of David and his congregation bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem in 1 Chronicles 13:2-10 is a tragic example of what happens when a group of people did what was right in their own eyes – but not God’s. A man (Uzza) lost his life all because people thought they were “doing the right thing”. And, David’s resulting anger was directed at God as if He was to blame for it (1 Chronicles 13:11-12).We must do what is right in God’s eyes first (Deuteronomy 13:18).
Throughout His Word, He tells us time and again what those things are. We must do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before and with Him (Micah 6:8). We must love Him with all our hearts, minds, and souls – and love all of our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). We must hearken and yield to His voice – and be led by the Spirit and not the flesh (Deuteronomy 13;18, Isaiah 30:21, Romans 8:1-14, Galatians 5:16-17). Finally, we must fear Him and keep all of His commandments – for this is the whole duty of a man (Ecclesiastes 12:13). And, that’s the right thing to do.

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SPEAK NOW


(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Then the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not hold your peace. For I am with you – and no man shall set on you to you hurt you.” – Acts 18:9-10

It’s not hard to present the only truth that ever was and ever will be – the Bible. What becomes difficult for many is speaking it in such a way that it offends the fewest number of people – so that they might keep their friends and/or favor – and perhaps even finances coming into their church. As believers, we must always yield to the Holy Spirit when it comes to speaking God’s word – and not the masses – even if it makes us unpopular as a result (Romans 8:26-27, Luke 12:51-52). The Holy Spirit is a friend that sticks closer to us than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

God truly is with those whose hearts have been baptized with the Holy Ghost (Acts 5:32, Romans 5:5). Our Father will always give us the words to say – and let us know where, when, and how He wants us to speak them (Mark 13:11). However, what comes out of our mouths may not necessarily be what others want us to say. However, if we are truly being led and taught by God through the Holy Ghost, then we are learning to compare spiritual things with the spiritual. By submitting and yielding to the Holy Spirit daily – people who despise what we say are not despising us – but God Himself (Romans 8:14, 1 Corinthians 2:11-16, 1 Thessalonians 4:8).

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Is God unrighteous who takes vengeance? I speak as a man. God forbid – for then how shall God judge the world? – Romans 3:5-6

We cannot have a part-time God who misses things. To every thing there is a season – and a time to every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1) – but it is not for us to know those times or seasons the Father has put in His own power (Acts 1:7). Whatever happens under heaven cannot be kismet, chaos, chance, and good/bad luck part of the time – and “of” and “from” God at others. Our Father has to have knowledge of all events and every life – at all times – or He doesn’t. It’s one of the two. We either believe God is the sovereign Creator and ruler of the entire universe … or we don’t. We also believe every creature is manifest, naked, and open to His eyes – or we don’t (Hebrews 4:13).

God declared the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Every single thing that has ever happened to any person or nation throughout time and history has been orchestrated by Him – to bring about the return of His Son and the creation of new heavens and a new earth – and an eternal kingdom that cannot be moved (Isaiah 65:17, Hebrews 12:28). If even just one millisecond along the way didn’t have a heavenly rhyme or reason – God could not be God. The Almighty would be unqualified to judge either us or the world when the time comes (Acts 17:31, Romans 14:10, Hebrews 9:27). As the apostle Paul said in Romans 3:6, “God forbid”.

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS


(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– For they that dwell at Jerusalem and their rulers – because they did not know Him; nor the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath – they have fulfilled in condemning Him. And though they found no cause of death in Him, they still desired of Pilate that He should be slain. – Acts 13:27-28

Did people’s expectations of who Jesus Christ was going to be – and what they got instead – directly contribute to the fulfillment of God’s prophecy of His only Son being crucified and resurrected? The Old Testament contains many verses regarding the coming of the Messiah – the King of Jews – all the way to his death and resurrection. But, even after Christ was born – teaching and preaching among the living – many still could not believe this was the promised Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) they had waited so long for. However, His story was still being read and heard every sabbath while Jesus was alive.

For many people during His time on earth, the Christ they saw was not the Christ they expected. This Messiah was not born how and where they thought a king should be (Luke 2:7) – nor did He look like their idea of a king. And, He certainly did not talk how they expected a king to talk. The simplistic message Jesus presented of love, faith, forgiveness, and grace – and not of things like works, ritualistic sacrifices, and religious performance – did not sit well with the age-old traditions and practices of many Jewish people (Galatians 4:10).
Are any of our great expectations of who Jesus Christ is supposed to be in our lives – and the Christ we get instead – directly contributing to the fulfillment of God’s prophecy of His only Son’s second coming? Even though most believers hear about Jesus every Sunday – many can still not have the Christ they want. Does the simplistic message that Jesus still presents of love, faith, forgiveness, and grace – and not worldly works, self-sacrifices, and religious performance – not sit well with the age-old traditions and practices that may exist in any believer’s life, or within the walls of any Christian church?Positive expectations in life that result in negative or unanticipated returns, can dangerously be a primary cause of unbelief in anything or anyone. It happened to the people at the time of Jesus – and it can happen to us. In Hebrews 3:12 we are warned: “Take heed, brothers – lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” This evil heart of unbelief in many people during Christ’s time – and in who He was – made them want to condemn Him and have Him crucified. But, they could find no cause to do so (see lead verses). Let us all be very prayerful and careful not to do that again – or the roles just may be reversed. We may be condemned and depart from the living God forever (Hebrews 6:4-6).

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