Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fear of Suffering!

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.

Revelation 2:10-11

The fear of germs can be an all consuming passion. I had a great aunt who was obsessed with washing her hands. Aunt Lula had a wash basin in her room which she used off and on, mostly on, all day long. Then there was a neighbor lady who discovered the convenience of Lysol in a spray can. She sprayed door knobs and I’m told just about anything that would not be discolored by the germ killer.

Our fears can control us in many ways. In a sober sense you become the slave of your fears. If you fear suffering you will live your life doing whatever is necessary to placate that threat in your life. If you fear suffering you will make daily decisions to avoid any consequences that include an element of suffering. Paul Harvey summed it up perfectly in the first two words of one of his memorable radio commercials. The words were “PAIN HURTS!” Then he skillfully presented the benefits of a product that would attack the pain in your body.

Suffering is painful. Suffering hurts. But if you live your life as a slave to suffering so that you do whatever is needed to avoid it and you will indeed be poor. Even suffering that comes from the Devil himself will make you stronger in the Lord. Jesus tells us not to fear that suffering.

Jesus says that Satan can only make us suffer for a few days and then we will be given a Crown of Life.

Remember your entire life on this earth is only a few days compared to Eternity! While you are here, fear God and serve Him with all your heart. Let God be your master and do not fear the suffering that Satan may bring your way.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

To Be Like Jesus!

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:3-6

Jesus had a hard life here on this earth. Isaiah 53 clearly states some things about the life of Jesus that are usually ignored.

Jesus was not “good looking.” Have you ever seen an ugly baby? They say there is no such thing, but Jesus had “no beauty that we should desire Him.” Have you noticed that portrayals of Jesus in dramatic presentations always cast Him as a handsome man? He is never played by someone who is “beauty challenged.” Yet the Bible clearly describes Jesus as unattractive.

Jesus was despised by men and He was a “man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Grief is a very difficult thing to deal with in life. It means you have lost something very precious to your very existence. The Bible does not say what Jesus lost that caused him to know the intimacy of grief. Grief touches every thread in your cloth. It wakes you in the morning and puts you to bed at night. While others laugh you hurt “like Hell!” Grief is not a repairable circumstance. When grief arrives it stays until you learn to live with it. Grief is not for things you can “get over.”

And then, Jesus was wounded for my transgressions. None of the suffering in the life of Jesus was because He had done something wrong. Jesus never sinned and yet he suffered the penalty for every sin that has ever or will ever be committed. The justifiable pain of every life on earth was heaped on Jesus. For my mind that is impossible to grasp, but with God all things are possible.

And so I pray with great fear and trembling, “Lord let me be like Jesus. Let me live as Jesus did. Let me be used by You like Jesus was used as He walked among men and blessed them with Your Word and healing power.”

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Equal Pay for Equal Work!

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."

2 Corinthians 8:13-15

My mother spent a lot of her time making sure that she showed no favoritism between my brother and me. I remember her talking about the fact that our birthday and Christmas presents had an equal dollar value. To be perfectly honest, and this is not a complaint about my mother, it seemed she was more interested in equality than in meeting out blessings according to our needs.

Of course, a parent does not want to lavishly bestow gifts on one child while ignoring another, but the other extreme is problematic as well.

These verses in 2 Corinthians 8 provide fuel for those who want to construct society in a way that “redistributes the wealth.” It sounds great on the surface but when you look below the skin it is reprehensible. The sharing of wealth associated with the Gospel of Jesus is not mandated nor is it directed by regulation. It happens because brothers see the needs of brothers and out of love they strive to fulfill the needs of others.

When you go to a Broadway play and watch a perfectly scripted romantic relationship being portrayed, you can know for sure that it is not real! Sharing of wealth based on command and regulation is as unreal as all husbands being commanded to tell their wives they love them and kiss them at least once a day. It is like government printing money and pretending that they have created wealth by doing so.

That is the counterfeit, so what is the real? In Jesus Christ, there is equality which is beyond your comprehension. You have been given the Holy Spirit the same as every other believer. There are no “super Holy Spirit” Christians and then the regular ones. Your salvation is not “coach” class! There are no bargain tickets to heaven. And all the first class seats are paid for not by your effort, but by the Blood of Jesus. It is not easy to comprehend.

So as we live in this world as citizens of the next we find these two worlds colliding. We try to force the realities of this world on Heaven or we try to impose Eternal truth on this world system. Here is the difference in the temporal world and the eternal one. The cancer of Sin is eating this temporal world and has imposed a terminal status on everything we know here. Eternity has rid itself of the problem of Sin through the Blood of Jesus. And so we wait and hope for our translation into Eternity where you will be paid what Jesus is worth! That is truly equal pay for equal work!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Things You Cannot Share!

The LORD confides in those who fear him;
       he makes his covenant known to them.

Psalm 25:14

The words “confidence” and “confide” are quite obviously close relatives in the world of your vocabulary.

The word “confidence” is defined as:

1. Belief in your own abilities.

2. Faith in someone else to do right.

3. Something that is told to another and is to be kept private.

4. A trusting relationship.

When one person confides in another he tells something that is to remain secret or private.

If you pray beyond simple thank you or request prayers then you confide in God. You let Him know what you think about your current situation and you fully expect that He will tell no one else what you have confided in Him. You may plead with Him to relieve you of some suffering. You agonize over the plight of some loved one who is walking away from God. It is not strange to consider that we confide in God, but how can it be that God confides in me?

The prerequisite to being in the confidence of God is to fear Him. If I do not fear God He will not confide in me. So if you are not a God fearing person you will not hear from God things that are to be held in confidence. But if you fear God, then listen up! God will speak confidences to your heart. You will receive knowledge from Him that He does not want you to share with others.

That is the nature of an intimate relationship. The best picture of that on earth is the marriage relationship. It is a continual confiding in each other, but it is not to be shared with others. It is the same in your intimate relationship with Jesus. He will confide in you things that are not to be passed on to others.

Of course, there is plenty that is to be shared as we proclaim the Gospel of Christ to all men. But, if you want to know for sure how you stand with God then ask yourself what are the things you cannot share?

If you think I have lost my mind and don’t know what I am talking about, then spend more time sitting quietly with Jesus and listen for His voice.

Jeremiah 33:3 says “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know!”

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day of Abandonment!

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning?

My God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, by night, yet I have no rest.

But You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You rescued them.

They cried to You and were set free; they trusted in You and were not disgraced.

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by people.

Everyone who sees me mocks me; they sneer and shake their heads:

"He relies on the LORD; let Him rescue him; let the LORD deliver him, since He takes pleasure in him."

Psalm 22:1-8

It is all part of the Cosmic War that has been going on ever since Satan rebelled against God. Some day in Eternity I imagine God gathering us around like Glenn Beck with his chalkboard while He explains the whole thing. He will answer all the “why” questions and it will all become crystal clear.

A good illustration of our current dilemma is that we are on the backside of a beautiful tapestry. We see all the colors but the picture being woven on the other side is not apparent, at least not yet.

When Jesus was here on earth He struggled with the same lack of eternal perspective. It is the nature of a human being. We are stuck in the fish tank of life as a mortal man and cannot clearly see the eternal perspective. Let it come as no surprise that you ask God why He has forsaken you. If you did not then you would not be living life as Jesus did.

The main issue of life for every believer in Jesus comes down to the day of abandonment. When you are overwhelmed with the feelings of rejection what will you do then? That is the real test of a believer. The test is not when you feel strong and boldly proclaim the Glory of God to everyone. The test is not when you are basking in spiritual sunlight and warming your soul with the truth of Scripture. It is when you feel all alone and face the forces of Hell that are bent on destroying you.

Know this: It is then that you have the opportunity to truly be like Jesus! And when you stand before the Lord in Heaven you may indeed see that what happened to you was to make you look like Jesus in every way. It is all a part of His plan for your life!

Friday, March 26, 2010

The End of the Story!

The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.

But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.

Daniel 7:24-27

When you are a spectator to a sporting event you don’t want someone to spoil the excitement by telling you how the game will end. Of course, no one can do that, but if they could you wouldn’t want to know unless you were wagering on the event!

But if you had some way of knowing how every Super Bowl would end before the game even began you could parlay that knowledge into great wealth.

A great advantage that followers of Jesus have over everyone else is that they know how this life will end. No, they don’t know the day and hour or even means of their departure from this world, but they do know where they are going when they do.

As the turmoil in the world increases Christians need to be reminded of one very important thing. That thing is simply this: RIGHTEOUSNESS WINS AND EVIL LOSES!

There are those who think they know who the Anti Christ is in today’s world. If they are right and he is alive today and beginning his reign of terror, then know this for certain, in the end the Anti Christ loses and Christians win. He will not win the war. He will not prevail over Jesus Christ and His followers. That is for sure and you can trust that it is true.

Here is the real end of the story: “Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High.”

Will the battle be fierce? Oh, yes it will. Will there be much suffering? Most certainly there will be. But in the end evil loses and righteousness wins. You can bet your life that those who trust in God will prevail! So today, be about the battle and don’t worry about who will win the war. Remember the end of the story has already been written!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.

Revelation 14:2

When a bolt of lightning heats the air hotter than the surface of the sun a thunder clap reverberates through the atmosphere. It is awesome and can be startling, even frightening. Everyone within the ten miles of the lightning can sometimes hear the thunder. Thunder is really good news in a storm because if you can hear the thunder then the lightning did not kill you!

Why is there thunder in heaven? Why would the voice of God be compared to thunder in some parts of the Bible? Thunder is the sound that is made when extreme power is unleashed. Imagine the power that is released when Almighty God says or does anything.

Static electricity is a tiny bit of lightning. When the tip of your finger gets close enough to another person who has the opposite electric charge in their body you can see the spark and sometimes even hear a crack when they receive the shock.

So if you see lightning and hear thunder in your life you can know for certain that the Power of God is being released around you. If you are living your life with an “opposite electric charge” from God, then you should be afraid, very afraid. God’s lightning will come down and burn away everything that is against Him. There is only one place to hide from the lightning of God and that is in the arms of Jesus Christ. If you embrace Jesus in every way and in every moment of your day you are safe. If you decide to venture out into the storms of life without Jesus you will run straight in to the judgment of God.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

God’s Mercy!

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,
   "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
      and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Romans 9:14-18

There are some scriptures that are hard to understand. Romans 9:16 is certainly one of those. “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” What I am before the Lord is not because of my desire or effort, it is rather because of His mercy! That is truly hard to understand, but perhaps it is important that we try.

When there is a dynasty in any arena, be it political, sport related, or even a long line of lawyers in a family there is the same dynamic that Paul is talking about in Romans. Success can be directly related to who you are rather than what you do or desire to do. If you have the right name you can be elected to a public office in certain parts of the country. If your father was a famous football player you will grow up with that prospect alive and well in your own life. The reason I do not live in the slums of Mexico City is because of where I was born, not because of what I have done in my life.

As a child of God and follower of Jesus, His mercy extended toward me is great. He keeps pulling me back on to the straight and narrow road. He sends gentle and sometimes not so gentle rebukes to keep me walking in His way. He uses other believers and even men or women completely sold out to Satan to deal with me in ways where I have been rebellious toward Him.

If you sense the Mercy of God in your life rejoice and receive this warning. If God Almighty is showing you His Mercy He will also meet out His correction on you as a loving Father. You can trust Him to do that for your own good. You can also trust that when God disciplines His children it is a whipping you will wish you had never gotten!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Appetite for Evil!


As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.

Proverbs 26:11

There are some Bible verses that don’t appear on anyone’s list of favorites. I think this one might well qualify as one of those. It is bad enough when a dog vomits, but when he goes back and starts to eat it the “YUK” button is pushed in most folks. There are few things more disgusting!

Almost fifty years ago a good friend gave me a memorable Christmas present. That was the year that I gave him a Bible and he gave me some very realistic looking rubber dog vomit. I saw him again a few years ago and he remembered it and apologized again. But frankly, that dog vomit was a great gift. I remember my Uncle Joe jumping up from his chair to get a rag to wipe up the mess he thought was left by his dog Rusty.

There is nothing enticing about vomit. In fact, for me vomiting is the most offensive bodily function I can imagine. When I am sick I work hard at not vomiting. It is truly disgusting. I hope you are not eating right now, but I must say that a man repeating “his folly” is as offensive as eating vomit!

If you step in a mud puddle on your morning walk, that makes a mess. But if you step in the same puddle the next morning you are foolish. If you step in the puddle again and again, you are like a dog eating vomit.

How do I apply this truth to my life? You may like to think of your foolishness as “the sin that so easily besets you” when in truth you are just eating vomit when you do it!

Here is an appropriate pun. I hope that this truth is not hard to swallow!

The next time you are tempted to sin, think of a dog eating vomit, and see if that curtails your appetite for evil!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Come Quickly!

"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”

Matthew 24:32-34

There may be many different “first signs” of Spring. It may be a warm ray of sun through a window, the smell of nature that goes away in the frigid winter, or a small purple flower screaming “life has returned” letting everyone know that the lush green of summer is not far away!

Jesus said that His return to this earth will be like the coming of Spring! Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life will return as He said He would. So when you see the Signs of Eternal Spring, and they increase every day, then know for sure that being ready for the return of Jesus is not a good thing to do, it is the only thing to do.

Know this: If these are the days just before the return of Jesus conditions in the world will not get better. In fact Matthew 24:22 says, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” Before Jesus returns it will get so bad that everyone on earth would die if Jesus’ return doesn’t stop it.

So if you are rejoicing that we might be living in the days just before the return of Jesus be warned, this time will not be easy. Believers will be tested with deep troubles. You will hear, see and experience things that will cause you great pain. You will be tempted to turn away from Jesus and give up on His promises. You will be ridiculed and persecuted because of your faith in Jesus. You may even be required to lay down your life for Jesus.

Decide now that you will hold on to Jesus through it all. Give no place in your mind to the option of turning away. Shut the doors of doubt in your heart and trust Jesus to keep you safe in His arms until the trumpet sounds. If you are holding on to sin, let it go! If sin is holding on to you then run away from it like Joseph.

All of this gives new meaning to the words COME QUICKLY LORD JESUS!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gold Mines of Heaven!

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.

Revelation 3:18-19

You can hear and see the advertisements encouraging you to buy gold anytime of the day or night. Gold is being promoted as the only investment that “has never been worth nothing.” Truthfully, the price of gold does fluctuate greatly at times, but the buying power of an ounce of gold has pretty much stayed the same for many years. Some financial advisors would tell you that if you want to become rich you should buy gold!

In Revelation 3 God tells you what to buy so you can become rich. He says that you should buy “gold refined in the fire.” I don’t think I am assuming too much to say that this recommendation is not talking about the yellow metal that can be dug from the ground. I believe the “gold” mentioned in this verse is the precious truth of God that is hidden in the gold mines of heaven. When you buy this gold be sure that it has been through the fire so that nothing but God’s truth remains!

There are many people who find a golden nugget of truth and mix it with a whole bucket of falsehood. Then the fires of suffering and even persecution come to burn away everything except the gold!

The riches of this earth bring with them many troubles as well, but it is not the same as the riches of heaven. Earthly riches pull your heart toward this world and the things of this world. Heavenly wealth pulls your heart toward heaven and the things of heaven.

It is certainly an oversimplification to say that suffering is for the purpose of purging your life of the dross. But that is certainly a part of the process of affliction.

The advice of Revelation 3 is to buy gold that has already been through the fire. Be careful, very careful about accepting something as true. Check to see if it has passed the test of going through the fire. If it has you may avoid that bit of suffering.

The Bible assures us that for every believer there will still be plenty of suffering!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Smoking and Sin!

Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil,
       to take part in wicked deeds
       with men who are evildoers;
       let me not eat of their delicacies.

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
       let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head.

Psalm 141:4-5a

I have a very good friend who years ago decided to quit smoking. He was ultimately successful, but the process he used was interesting and instructive. At the time he was very successful and had no lack of money, but he simply quit buying cigarettes. When he felt he needed a smoke he would “bum” one off of someone else! He is a very gregarious person which made it easier for him to ask for help, even from a stranger in maintaining his addiction.

Many Christians try to quite sinning like my friend tried to quit smoking. We don’t buy the stuff of our addiction from the world, but when we can get it for free we still imbibe! It makes them feel a little better about themselves even though they are still under the power of the “sin that so easily besets” them. Just so you don’t misunderstand I am not the man who tried to quit smoking, but I am the man who tried to quit sinning the same way. Let me save you a lot of struggle by telling you that it does not work. You can’t keep your foot dry while dipping your toe in the water.

My friend became a non-smoker because one day, and I don’t know exactly when it was, he had the urge to smoke and didn’t ask for a cigarette. Then he did it again and again until not smoking became a way of life. The same is true with sin. The day of freedom begins when you have the urge to sin and by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life you do not yield to the temptation. Then it happens again and again until righteousness becomes a way of life.

Don’t forget that non-smokers who pick of the habit again will soon be back under the power of nicotine. And non-sinners who dip their toe in the water of unrighteousness will soon be back under its power!

Many restaurants today have banned smoking altogether so that you cannot nourish your body and practice your habit at the same time. It is the same with God. Sinning and partaking of the food that nourishes your soul cannot happen at the same time. Heaven is the ultimate non-sinning restaurant!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Rescue!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

When the Coast Guard goes on a rescue mission in a storm, they put out to sea when everyone else is trying desperately to reach land. It is the nature of rescue. Unless you are in the storm as well, you can’t rescue those who are lost at sea in the wicked weather! It is a principle of life that applies to every kind of storm. The rescuer must share the storm with those who are being saved!

The One who rescues me in the storms of my life also rode out the storms of life on this earth. Jesus is not a God who stands afar and sends an angel to pluck me from the troubled waters. Jesus jumps in with me and holds me tight as we are lifted to safety!

There are all kinds of rescuers in this world. There are those who talk about the rescues but never get in the water. There are those who encourage and even physically support those who rescue others, and that is indeed important. But then there are those who like Jesus, jump in the water at their own peril to bring the lost to safety.

If you pray for a ministry in this life beware. Desiring to be one who rescues others will send you squarely into a storm like theirs. Then you will be in the perfect place to hold the lost tightly in your arms as Jesus pulls you both to a safety.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cattle Brand!

Sacrifice as the Passover to the LORD your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the LORD will choose as a dwelling for his Name. Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt. Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days.

Deuteronomy 16:2-4

The day my daughter died was burned into my brain like a brand on cattle. It forever marked me and changed my life. I remember everything about that day, and every June 15th for the past eighteen years I have spent time reliving that day and pondering its significance.

God wanted the Children of Israel to remember the time when they came out of Egypt. They had been in Egypt for 400 years and they were all slaves to the Egyptians. When God delivered them He even gave them a special bread to eat. It was bread without yeast. Unleavened bread can be baked in a hurry. There would be no excuse for tarrying behind by saying “the bread is not raised so we can’t go yet.” Later in the Bible yeast is compared to sin that permeates a life. And that same bread became the bread of the Communion which celebrates and memorializes the body of Jesus.

If you are a follower of Jesus it is important for you to remember the time when God delivered you out of your “Egypt.” You were a slave to sin, but He opened the Red Sea and brought you out of the land of slavery.

Satan wants to confuse you and tell you that you are still a slave to sin and that you are still in bondage in Egypt. If a man in prison believes the door is locked when it is not, he is still a prisoner in his mind even if he has been set free. You have been set free by the Blood of Jesus! You are no longer a captive of Satan because of Him.

Remember the time you crossed the Red Sea and left the bondage of sin! And remember that time daily! Jesus has unlocked the door of your prison and you are free to leave and walk with Him! Let the day Jesus set you free also be burned on your brain like a brand on cattle!

Monday, March 15, 2010

It Won’t Be Long!

3First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation."

10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

2 Peter 3:3-4 & 10

When I arise on the morning of the day the Lord returns there are only three attitudes I can have. I can begin that day by acknowledging that this may be the day of my Lord’s return, by scoffing and believing that there is no way this could be the day when Jesus sets foot again on this earth, or by ignoring the possibility altogether.

Most people, including many Christians begin each day without a thought about the return of Jesus. It is the farthest thing from their minds. These people and “believers” spend more time thinking about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny than they do about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It is a part of the Bible narrative that has made no impact on their lives. They esteem Jesus to be like one of our political leaders who speaks words without truth and makes promises that are never intended to be kept!

Then there are the scoffers. Scoffers deride the Bible because they do not experience the truths of Scripture. Men without faith in God are allowed to continue in their ignorance of Him. With the amazing patterns of Creation clearly visible they believe that no one designed or created anything. The logic of scoffers is quite lacking. But scoffing at God and His Word provides a diversion from obvious truth.

Finally, there are those who arise and plan their day around the imminent return of Jesus Christ. If you could decide where you would be and what you would be doing when the Trumpet sounds and Jesus appears in the sky where would that be and what would you be doing? Whatever the answer is to that question, go there today and do that today! Like a child waiting for his father to come home at the end of the day stands at the window hoping to see his father return, we must watch and wait for Jesus to return.

The Andrea Crouch song said it well. “It won’t be long till we’ll be leaving here!”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pleasure in Heaven!

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
       nor his delight in the legs of a man;

the LORD delights in those who fear him,
       who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Psalm 147:10-11

Hedonism is defined as “devotion, especially a self-indulgent one, to pleasure and happiness as a way of life.” The word “devotion” is particularly interesting because it seems to identify hedonism as a religion rather than just a way of thinking. A man without a god would by definition be a hedonist. Being self-indulgent is what we do unless we are externally motivated to do otherwise.

When God created man in His own image He gave us the ability to experience pleasure. God Himself is fully capable of experiencing pleasure. Imagine the most pleasurable experience you have ever had and multiply it by infinity and you will begin to approach the pleasure of God!

Humans, as a part of their rebellion to God seek pleasure in things and ways that are sinful. Satan’s deceitful message to mankind is that when you turn away from sin you also turn away from pleasure. He would have you believe that pleasure can only be had as you walk in sin. It is not so. In fact, the “pleasure of sin for a season” identifies the fact that pleasure while sinning is temporary at best, then comes the awful aftermath, the hangover for eternity.

I want to please my wife. My own imperfection means that my success in that effort has its ups and downs. But that remains an important goal in my life.

I want to please God. I want my life to give God pleasure and I want Him to delight in me. The only way for me to bring pleasure to God is to fear Him and put my hope in His unfailing love! When I do that God Himself is DELIGHTED and because of me there is PLEASURE IN HEAVEN!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Anchor Chain!

Yahweh is great and is highly praised;
    His greatness is unsearchable.

One generation will declare Your works to the next
    and will proclaim Your mighty acts.

I will speak of Your glorious splendor
    and Your wonderful works.

Psalm 145:3-5

The importance of one life on earth cannot be overestimated. The world is like a beautiful beach and each man is one grain of sand. Without that one grain of sand, the beach may appear to be no different at all, but remove enough of those grains and the beach is very different.

I think a better illustration also comes from the sea. Life is like a giant anchor holding a massive ship and keeping it from floating off into dangerous waters. Each generation of men and indeed each man is like one link in the anchor chain. Without the faithfulness of each link in the chain the next generation will float away into dangerous waters. Jesus Himself if the Anchor that keeps us safe. As a link in the chain I must hold on to truth I received from the generation that came before me and I must hold on to and proclaim that truth to the generation that is coming after me.

A seafaring disaster can occur when one small link in the anchor chain breaks. All of history can be forever changed by one generation that fails to hold on to the truth it received from the previous one. And also all of history can be changed by one generation and even one man or woman who holds tightly to the truth of Almighty God and boldly proclaims it!

As a link in the course of history the advice of Winston Churchill is very apropos, “Never, never, never, never give up!” That is the job of every child of God!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Humpty Dumpty Nation!

If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 8:19-20

Does God destroy nations? According to Deuteronomy He does! So why would God choose to destroy one nation and not another? And when God destroys a nation is it obvious that the Hand of God is the enemy of that sovereign state?

When our children were little and being homeschooled we bought a time-line of history which folds out to span the wall of a normal room. It is notable that most of the countries depicted on the chart of history have a very short existence. The Roman Empire was not the only government that had a rise and fall. There is one exception. China can be traced on this chart all the way back to the tower of Babel. But China has had many governments or rulers over the years. Even Israel stopped existing as a nation for many years until it was restored in 1948.

So I would ask a serious and sobering question. Did the United States of America become the great superpower of the world because we, above all other people are the most industrious, intelligent and capable people on the face of the earth? Did we rise to greatness because we are the most loving, caring, and compassionate people? Are we simply better than everyone else in the world? Or could it be that somehow we incurred the blessing of Almighty God as the little band of settlers struggled to craft a nation in the wilderness?

Here is an even more sobering thought. God uses evil men to accomplish His purposes. Somehow we think we are going to save our nation from destruction by fighting the evil that threatens it. But unless we repent and call upon the mercy of God as did the men who first constructed this country, the evil will overcome our land.

Does that mean we must not fight evil? Of course not! It simply means that unless we turn back to God, Humpty Dumpty will never be put back together again! You know the story. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put him back together again.

We are back to the Titanic mentality. Our leaders are convinced that we can sail the Ship of State without any lifeboats! GOD HELP US!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The View from the Bridge!

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.

Revelation 22:1-2

If you ever have the opportunity to walk across a bridge over a big river, stop in the middle and look down at the water. A river is not like a lake. In a lake you see the same water for hours, days, even years. In a river you see the water for only a few minutes until it passes on downstream and more water from the source arrives to take its place.

If a lake is polluted, the job of cleaning it may be difficult, but it is not impossible. When a river is polluted the source of the pollution may be miles away upstream.

Every man has a river running right down the middle of his life. Without water no man can live. If the river in your life is from the throne of God, then it is clean and pure and clear as crystal! If the river in your life is from the Devil and his world system, then it is dark and polluted and unfit for drinking!

When I was a Boy Scout we learned how to make a small amount of polluted water “safe” to drink. If you boil water for twenty minutes it usually can be consumed safely. That is, if the pollutant is a live bacteria that you are trying to kill. Boiling water that contains poison won’t do any good.

But most men go through life trying to purify enough of the world’s polluted water to keep them alive. It is a difficult and wearisome task. When a man comes to Jesus he is given an unending supply of the water of life which will keep him alive forever!

As a follower of Jesus you stand on a bridge over the River of Life which comes from the throne of God. Like all men, you will at some point sin and pollute the River. But, take heart and shout Hallelujah, because the River of Life is moving and the Blood of Jesus washes away the sin that falls into its water!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Love the Truth?

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

There was an early radio and television game show called “Truth or Consequences.” It was a simple idea. A contestant was asked an off-the-wall question which almost no one could answer. According to Wikipedia, “If the contestant could not complete the "Truth" portion, there would be "Consequences," usually a zany and embarrassing stunt. From the start, most contestants preferred to answer the question wrong in order to perform the stunt.”

Life itself is really “Truth or Consequences.” If you do not listen to and live by the truth you will suffer the consequences in this life and in eternity! But truth in life is not “off-the-wall” and answering life’s questions is not a game show. To put it simply, in life Truth is God and the Consequences is Hell not some zany and embarrassing stunt. Amazingly, men like to tell stories about and laugh about their sin! It is like a bunch of cancer patients telling tasteless jokes about the devastating illness. The deception of sin is not a joke and it is not a game show with silly stunts. Sin is the grease on the slide to Hell!

The sobering part about these verses from 2 Thessalonians is that God sends a “powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

The question of where you spend eternity will be determined by what you love.  If you love the lie, God will even send a powerful delusion to support you in that love. If you love and believe the truth you will spend eternity with the One who Himself is called Truth!

It gives new meaning to the oath, “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So help me God!”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Patience to Endure!

We suffer because Jesus is our king, but he gives us the strength to endure.      

Revelation 1:9

It is a curious truth that Jesus is our King, not our elected President! The Kingdom of God is neither a Democracy nor a Republic. When it comes to the things of God the citizens do not have a right to vote. The Word of God is the final authority. Whatever He says is the truth of any matter.

Our great dilemma is that we are citizens of God’s kingdom, but we spend our days in the kingdom of this world. This is a grand predicament, living in one kingdom while pledging allegiance to another. Such an existence calls for great patience to endure.

For a couple of years I lived in Indonesia. I learned some of the ways of living in that country, but I never even considered giving up my United States citizenship and becoming a citizen of Indonesia. The differences between the two countries were constantly in my thoughts as I struggled with what I considered to be foolish ways of doing things. Don’t misunderstand, I believe Indonesia is a wonderful country, but any culture compared to the one in which you grew up would fall short.

So here you are, a citizen of heaven living in “hell on earth.” What do you do? How do you patiently endure the struggles? The answer is simply this: Stay close to King Jesus and let Him give you the strength to endure the suffering! It is an old, but not trite saying: Jesus is the answer, what’s the question?

Monday, March 8, 2010

War Story Worth Repeating!

Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Revelation 12:17

When two nations are at war the struggle is epic for the future of both countries. Both will suffer the depletion of their economic standing in the world, but one will suffer defeat at the hands of the other. At least that is the way it used to be!  In the United States the very definition of war is under siege just like the definition of marriage. We seem not to be at war with a nation or even an ideology. We are at war with a tactic! The “War on Terror” is really an amazing title for the struggle that is going on in the world today. Terrorism can be used by any nation or any ideology. It is the way some people fight during a war. When President Truman dropped the bombs on Japan he was the world’s greatest terrorist! The effect of the bomb on Japan was to terrorize the nation into surrender. It worked. This statement does not mean that President Truman was a bad man. It means that he used terror to end a long and difficult war!

As a child of God and follower of Jesus Christ, you are at war with Satan and his hordes. Evidence that Satan has landed a blow is seen when you yield to temptation. Many Christians have trouble defining the war. Just like America they have proclaimed the war to be with a tactic not the enemy. They struggle against greed, hate, lust, and any one of many more tactics used by Satan. When one is put down Satan quickly brings up another to batter and harass followers of Jesus.

So how do I fight this cosmic battle today? The answer is simple. In order to be victorious in today’s conflict I must trust and obey! Trust God that He will keep you safe in the frightening fury of battle. And obey every command from Jesus! When the battle is on there is no time to discuss the tactics or even raise a question about what you are doing. Trusting the commander and obeying his commands is all there is time to do and it all you need to do! When you trust and obey the outcome of the battle will be a war story worth repeating!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Purpose!

Mordecai told the messenger to reply to Esther, "Don't think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king's palace. If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father's house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this."

Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: "Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don't eat or drink for three days, night and day. I and my female servants will also fast in the same way. After that, I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish."

Esther 4:13-16

You may not realize it, but the word “God” is not in the Book of Esther. The entire book could be read in any public school without upsetting the political correctness watchdogs. But the story in Esther is all about how God manipulated the heart of the king and orchestrated the life of a young girl named Esther in order to save His people from destruction. The ascension to the throne as Queen was no accident. Every part of the story was an essential note in the melody played before the hosts of heaven who witnessed the struggle between Good and Evil!

The life of Esther is the life of every man and woman who has ever been born! God had a purpose for Esther and He has a purpose for your existence. He did not craft you in your mother’s womb for no reason. Like Esther, you may not see His purpose for years and years and then in one dramatic moment God’s reason for your life becomes clear as you are confronted with a monumental decision. Faithfulness to God is essential during all the years of ignorance of His purpose as well as in the moment of truth when you step forward in faith or fall back in fear and refuse to do His will!

It may sound strange, but my life is being chronicled in “The Book of Bill.” No one other than God may read the story, but He is the Author of the plot, the Creator of the characters and the One who holds the final chapter in His hand! My job is to play the part He has written for me with all my heart. I must truly become the character He cast me to portray! And if I forget my lines, the Holy Spirit will whisper them in the ears of my heart!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

It’s the Name of the Artist!

Let Your work be seen by Your servants,
    and Your splendor by their children.
Psalm 90:16

An art exhibition can be anywhere from grand and glorious to disgusting and thoroughly repulsive.  But when you stand and stare at the work of one of the world’s truly great artists you, for a time you see the world as he saw it. It is life filtered through the mind and captured in paint on a piece of canvas.

In the kitchen hallway in our house there is an old oil painting which causes me to ponder. I am no art critic but I enjoy stopping and looking at the clouds, trees, cows and a couple of people standing on green grass. This painting is not signed. I have looked carefully to see if there is any mark of who the artist was. There is none. Could it be a lost masterpiece worth millions, or is it just a nice painting by a gifted amateur? The value of the painting does not depend on how beautiful it is. The worth is determined by the name of the artist!

Every day we all stand in God’s art gallery. The beauty of the earth and the glory of the sky are truly awesome. God’s glory can been seen in everything from the tiniest insect to the largest creature on earth. The telescope and microscope both reveal the order and intricacy of God’s creation. Beauty can be heard with the ear, smelled with the nose, seen with the eye and touched with the finger. The ability that we have to love each other is a part of His painting where God put down the brush and touched our hearts with His finger!

The struggle that goes on in the cosmos is Satan’s attempt to trash the Painting of God! Satan presents his garbage and tells us it is beautiful. He purposes to make perverse every beautiful thing that God created. And indeed the Enemy does deface and defile much of the work of God in the world.

But in the end, Jesus Christ came to restore all of God’s work to its original beauty. Satan cannot destroy the Work of God in your life! Whatever he has done to deface or defile the picture is restored when you turn to Jesus! And never forget that your value and worth is only determined by name of the Artist who created you, and now restores you so you can live with Him forever!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The War is Not Over!

Letters were sent by couriers to each of the royal provinces [telling the officials] to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jewish people—young and old, women and children—and plunder their possessions on a single day, the thirteenth day of Adar, the twelfth month.

Esther 3:13

In our legal system there is a difference in murder and pre-meditated murder. Pre-meditated means it was planned, deliberate and thought-out. It was no crime of passion. Organized terrorism in the world today is totally planned. Some bombings are in the works for years before the plan is executed.

Is Satan’s work in this world a series of passionate outbursts against God and God’s children or is he an organized terrorist willing to wait years for the right moment to do you in! When I lived in Indonesia many years ago, a man named Harun told me this: “You Americans are really not very smart. When you get mad at someone, you get mad at them right to their face. You can get killed doing that. But we (Indonesians) are smart. If we get mad at someone we will be nice to their face but when they turn around we will stab them in the back!”

Satan spends much time being nice to your face. He appears to be no threat at all. But then when you drop your guard or turn away so you cannot see what he is doing he lands his damaging blow!

There is a modern day terrorist parallel with spiritual warfare that is significant. Many today are saying there is no war today with terrorists. They say there are simply “man-made disasters” perpetrated by criminals. Such a perspective opens many doors for the terrorists. And Satan gains a significant advantage in your life if you don’t believe that he is at war and wants to use whatever means possible to destroy you!

Here is a news flash! God does not want to send you to Hell! He desires that you should spend eternity with Him in Heaven! He has given you the right to choose between the two.

How foolish is the soldier who believes the war is over when it is still raging!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Don’t Give Up!

“(King Ahasuerus) sent letters to all the royal provinces, to each province in its own script and to each ethnic group in its own language, that every man should be master of his own house and speak in the language of his own people.”

Esther 1:22

King Ahasuerus knew what it was like to be disrespected by his wife, the queen. He had ordered her to appear at his banquet and she refused to come. What was Vashti thinking? This was no ordinary king and it was no ordinary command. Because of her disobedience and insult she lost her place as queen and was banned from his presence. So the king sent letters to everyone in his kingdom that instructed every man to be the master of his own house. The letters also instructed the men to speak the language of their own people.

The true story of Esther is a parable of great importance. The “War” in heaven was not unlike Queen Vashti refusing the command of King Ahasuerus. It is almost unthinkable, but Satan decided to refuse to honor his own Creator and lead millions of others in a cosmic rebellion that permeates every fiber of every being until this very day.

The reason today that a woman must honor her husband is simple. The marriage relationship is an earthly picture of Christ and His Bride. Like graffiti which covers the picture of a king, out of order relationships on this earth dishonor the ultimate relationship and union of Christ and His Bride!

This verse in Esther includes this curious comment: “The letters also instructed the men to speak the language of their own people.” Why is it important for a man to speak the language of his own people? There is for each of us what might be called a “heart language.” No matter how many languages you speak or understand, when it comes to serious matters of the heart one language for you is superior. Being the master over your own house is definitely a matter of the heart. When you pray and then hear the Lord’s answer clearly in your mind are the words unfamiliar or complicated? Definitely not! God has the ultimate ability to speak to His children with simple words that they can grasp. God speaks your heart language. And when He speaks to you, if your ears are open to Him, it will not be hard to understand.

Every day Satan asks you to join in the Rebellion against God, even at this late hour in human history. Every day Jesus speaks in your heart language the Word of Love to keep you strong until He comes to take you home! Don’t give up, not now, not ever!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I Know God!

The days of punishment are coming;
       the days of reckoning are at hand.
       Let Israel know this.
       Because your sins are so many
       and your hostility so great,
       the prophet is considered a fool,
       the inspired man a maniac.

Hosea 9:7

Last night I came home from work and Linda was watching American Idol. I am particularly not fond of the show because I find the abuse and derision very hard to hear. A young man was singing when I came in the room and I was frankly impressed with his considerable ability. The song ended and the abuse began. One “judge” after another worked hard to articulate why he had missed the mark! After the final abuse by Simon the young man asked the judges, “What do you want me to sing next week?” Simon answered with almost a snarl, “I don’t know if you will be here next week.” The young man raised his right hand and declared “I know God!” Then he told the panel that they should hear him sing in Church! He looked right at Simon and asked if he would go to Church with him. Simon appeared shocked but answered, “I’ll go to Church with you.”

The parallel is not perfect but every believer stands before the judges of the world and sings the song that God has put in his heart! When he does that the world will always say “You may be pretty good, but you have missed the mark!” The world will tell you to sing a different song and to sing it in a way that will glorify yourself not God!

When I was regularly on the radio I always told myself that there was only one listener. It really helped me approach the job without fear and it helped me focus on talking to one person and not a large crowd. Of course the total audience might make up a large crowd, but I only saw one person in my mind. As a follower of Jesus the entire world is watching and listening to everything I say and do. The world is also passing harsh judgment. But I only have one judge, and that judge is Jesus Christ. So when all those around me begin to pour on the abuse like Simon on American Idol, I must raise my hand toward heaven and declare without shame, I KNOW GOD!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Trip to Glory!

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ

1 Peter 3:18-21

Did you ever have classroom teacher who threw in a really bazaar comment to see if the class was listening? It is a great way to bring everyone’s attention back to the subject at hand.

In these verses the Apostle Peter was talking about Jesus dying for our sins. He was righteous and we were unrighteous. He died physically but was made alive through the Spirit! Then Peter says “through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.” WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT? The sinners who drowned in Noah’s flood were visited in their prison by Jesus and He preached to them. Exactly, where was that and what did He say? It is great fuel for endless discussion and has been for hundreds of years.

The bottom line truth is this: Jesus loves every man, woman and child who has ever or will ever live. The question is not “What did Jesus do for the people who drowned in the flood?” The question is, “What will Jesus do for you to bring you safely to Heaven as His child?” The answer to that question is profound. Jesus not only died for you so that your sins might be forgiven, but He also orchestrates your life like a Good Shepherd leading you to the sheep fold.

Life on this earth is not a solo treasure hunt with the Bible as the map and Heaven as the goal. It is rather a guided tour with Jesus at the wheel of the bus and the Holy Spirit as the tour guide! My job is not to wander off on the trip! Pay attention because today there are some amazing things to see on this journey to glory!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Come Quickly!

He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon."
      Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.

Revelation 22:20-21

When someone is always late for family gatherings the other family members adjust to that reality. Depending on how late they usually are, everyone comes to accept that a meal scheduled for noon will start at 1 pm, etc. There are three types of people in the world, some will always arrive early, some on time and some will show up late for almost everything! When the person who is always late shows up on time or even early it can really upset the final preparations!

There are also three types of people when it comes to the second coming of Jesus! There are some who believe that Jesus should already have come back. There are some who expect Him today. And there are those who believe it will be a long time before the return of Jesus.

The hour and day of the return of Jesus was set by God Himself! He determined when it will be but He did not publish the date. So for more than 2000 years men have speculated about the return of Jesus.

Why would God be so vague about when Jesus will return? The answer is simple. If I knew when Jesus was going to return I would wait until the last minute to make preparations in my life to meet Him.

Ever since Jesus ascended back to Heaven His followers have had reason to believe that His return may be imminent. That is also true today. The danger is when we come to believe that His return cannot be soon. Then we begin to live our lives without the urgency of knowing that, at any moment the trumpet may sound!

So today, I will expect the return of Jesus. And tomorrow, if there is one I will also expect His return. Then if I am still alive on the Day of His Return I will be one of those looking up, ready and waiting for the Second Coming! Lord Jesus come quickly!