Friday, July 25, 2014

The Glorious Land                                                                 07-25-14

The Glorious Land. That is the description given Israel in the 11th Chapter of Daniel. The man of perdition will enter that land in his thirst for power during the Great Tribulation. I've had Israel on my heart all week. I don't know why. I sought the Lord this week on what He would have me write on but, all I had on my mind was that tiny, unbelievably outnumbered nation and how they have the protection of God in the face of unbelievable odds. The path and history of the Jewish people and more recently the state of Israel is one of the most compelling reasons for trusting in the veracity of the Holy Bible. The simple fact that the state of Israel even exists is in itself a miracle of biblical proportions. With that in view, here's a brief overview of God's plan for His people, Israel.

God made eight covenants with mankind. Five of those covenants were made with the nation and people of Israel. One of those covenants, the Mosaic, was temporal and conditional. The other four, Abrahamic, Land, Davidic and New were and are unconditional and eternal. The last three are in reality outworking's of the original covenant given to Abraham. They explain in broader detail the promises made to Abraham.

Genesis 15:18 (NASB) 18  On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:

  This verse is one of dozens pertaining to the eternal covenant that God made with Abraham concerning the land that would be given to him and his descendants. You might be interested to know that the term Palestine is not of Biblical origin. Palestine was given as the name of the land by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. His plan was to erase Jewish remembrance and Jewish identity to the land itself. Palestine these days has more of an Arab sense to it in describing the land of Israel. That being what it is,the land is never designated as Palestine in the Bible. Although in times past Israel has occupied much of the land promised to it, it has never been in control of all the land that God promised Abraham. There have been modern day disputes to this claim, but none hold up to strenuous scrutiny.

The Davidic Covenant is concerned with a promise made through Abraham to King David to have someone of David's lineage sitting upon the throne of Israel eternally.There are two passages, one concerning Solomon, the other concerning the Messiah, Jesus.

     1 Chronicles 17:10-14 (NASB) 10  even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel. And I will subdue all your enemies. Moreover, I tell you that the LORD will build a house for you.
11  "When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom.
12  "He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.
13  "I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you.
14  "But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever."'"

The Lord Jesus, a descendant of David and Abraham in the flesh, will set up a literal, eternal throne when He returns and sets up His kingdom on this earth. There are literally whole chapters dealing with just where this throne will physically be set up. It will find it's resting place in the millenial Jerusalem.

The last and most relevant for us as Christians and the church as a whole is the New Covenant. This covenant has as it's foundation Jeremiah 31.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 (NASB) 31  "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
32  not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.
33  "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Jeremiah 31:34 (NASB) 34  "They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

Because of the Blood of the Lord Jesus, the church is a partaker of this covenant. We have not reoplaced Israel, but we share this aspect with Israel. However, this covenant is going to be literally fulfilled for Israel in the kingdom. All Jews living here on earth at Jesus' return will enter His kingdom and all Jews living and born during that kingdom reign will be saved. This is what Paul is speaking to in Romans 11.

Romans 11:26-27 (NASB) 26  and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB."

No one need faith anymore to believe God and God's Word. One merely needs to track the history of the Jewish people and stack it up against what the Bible says and one will be hard pressed to find fault with God's Word. We as a nation should be very, very careful and not attempt to thwart God's plan by turning our back on the Jewish state. Many have tried and ALL have failed.

Jeremiah 31:35-36 (NASB) 35  Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:
36  "If this fixed order departs From before Me," declares the LORD, "Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever."

God Bless

Friday, July 18, 2014

Who's Fiddling Now?                                                                         07-18-14

"Nero fiddled while Rome burned" That expression seems to me an apt description of the state of our nation and indeed the entire world in these perilous times. God's Word speaks to a time when Russia will launch a military campaign that will find it's end in the land of Israel. It also speaks to the reaction of other nations as being one of protest but with no substantive reaction. I doubt that is what is taking place now, but is this a runup or a conditioning of the world to accept such atrocity when the real enchilada unfolds?
At any rate...

Matthew 24:35 (NASB) 35  "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

Let me make something crystal clear. The Cross is open to all. No one is shunned from Jesus' saving blood. Republican, Democrat, black, white and everything in between. Jew and Gentile, Israeli and Palestinian, you and me. Anyone can kneel at the foot of Calvary and receive forgiveness and eternal life. That being said allow me to ascend to my soapbox this week and give my take on some recent headlines. I viewed a recent interview that a well known CNN correspondent had  with a member of the Israeli Security Cabinet. While the correspondent stood behind a veneer of objectivity, it was patently clear that he was trying to cast Israel in a bad light. It irritated me as I watched his attempts to bait the cabinet member into saying something that could be used against him. With that background,  God's Word, I believe speaks to the Jewish state of Israel. If we take a literal view of Old Testament prophecies then we are compelled to acknowledge that Israel is God's idea. From Genesis to Malachi, God provides for, rebukes, corrects, fights for, and promises a future restoration for the nation of Israel.

Genesis 13:14-15 (NASB) 14  The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, "Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward;
15  for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.

Genesis 15:18 (NASB) 18  On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:

God also has some rather blunt words for the nations of the world as to how they should treat this nation Israel.

Genesis 12:1-3 (NASB) 1  Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you;
2  And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;
3  And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."

There is even a New Testament reference to this treatment of the Jews. Jesus the Lord had this to say about a judgment that He will carry out when He returns.

Matthew 25:31-40 (NASB) 31  "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
32  "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;
33  and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34  "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35  'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
36  naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'
37  "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
38  'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
39  'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
40  "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

As this nation and the world in general turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to the atrocities that are committed against that tiny nation, God's Word all the more, assures us that they have His attention: not only do they have His ear, they have His promise of a future restoration where all His covenant promises will be fulfilled.

Amos 9:11-15 (NASB) 11  "In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, And wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins And rebuild it as in the days of old;
12  That they may possess the remnant of Edom And all the nations who are called by My name," Declares the LORD who does this.
13  "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "When the plowman will overtake the reaper And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine And all the hills will be dissolved.
14  "Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, And make gardens and eat their fruit.
15  "I will also plant them on their land, And they will not again be rooted out from their land Which I have given them," Says the LORD your God.

It would seem that while this prophecy awaits complete fulfillment, Israel today is enjoying some of this scripture's benefit. It would, in my opinion, behoove us all to focus on the last part of the above Scripture.

Amos 9:14-15 (NASB) 14  "Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, And make gardens and eat their fruit.
15  "I will also plant them on their land, And they will not again be rooted out from their land Which I have given them," Says the LORD your God.

The Apostle Paul thought Israel so significant that right in the middle of his great theological discourse known as the Book of Romans, he turned on a dime and devoted three chapters(9-11) to explaining about their future salvation. I won't belabor it here, go, read it, and make up your own mind. My point is manifest isn't it? If we as a people, if we as a nation go the way of the world and turn our backs on the nation of Israel...we do it at our own peril. We need to seriously consider what God has to say about His people. 

Psalm 126:1-2 (NASB) 1
 When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream.
2  Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."

God Bless


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jesus Saves                                                                           07-12-14

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

The old Pogo quote is relevant here today. You remember Pogo don't you? The Okefeenoke Swamp sage is credited with the following saying,"We have met the enemy and he is us." That quote came to mind recently while I was speaking with a friend.They told me of a mutual acquaintance that had decided to give up on God. This person had been beaten down by folks for a long time. He related how he had been criticized over and over for his behavior and some of the choices that he had made. He had endured it for so long that he had started believing it himself. To hear him say it, people never noticed the positive aspects of his life, instead they droned on about his "sins." He became so discouraged that he finally resigned himself to the fact that he didn't measure up and never would. He determined that he was done with church, God and all the rest of it. This laid on my heart for a while and I thought that today would be a good day to give my take on the subject.

We humans and I include myself in that number(smile) are skillful at pointing out others shortcomings. We are expert fault finders. We set up arbitrary and SUBJECTIVE standards of behavior that we expect everyone EXCEPT OURSELVES to adhere to. When it comes to holding ourselves accountable we always can find a good reason for doing what we did. We had a good excuse. We justify our behavior to ourselves. Keep that word justify close. According to the above verses, nothing separates us from God's love. This is spoken in a context of salvation and the new birth. No created thing (we humans are included in that lot) can separate us from God's love. Now, look at this.

Romans 8:29-30 (NASB) 29  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
30  and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

Look at the word foreknew. It means "to determine ahead of time to enter into a loving relationship with someone."  Predestined means "to decide upon beforehand." He determined ahead of time to embrace you and I SPECIFICALLY! We were chosen in eternity past. Not only that, we were destined to become conformed to Jesus' image. In down home language this is what God is saying here," Look, I decided long ago to pick you up when you fell off the turnip truck and long, long ago I decided that I would save you and clean you up through my Son's blood. Why? BECAUSE I AM SOVEREIGN, I AM GOD ALMIGHTY,  AND I WANTED TO, THAT'S WHY!!Didn't have anything to do with you or anybody else." Let that sink in. Let's move on. "..those whom He predestined,He also called." Listen, we didn't do anything when we got saved. God chose and called us. That's why Jesus said that we didn't choose Him, but He chose us. Look that verse up. Now, this is where it really takes off.

"...those whom He called, He also justified..." In a nutshell we not only were acquitted of guilt but we are seen as never having missed the mark. Through Jesus blood we are seen as having kept the standard that Jesus kept. At the cross we are put right with God. Sin is done away with not covered. Through the cross we have kept God's righteous standard. If you and I have been justified then we have also been glorified. Now, I don't understand the structure and grammar of the Greek but this verse is in what is called an "aorist comprehensive." Now, they tell me that means a full complete action. There is no discrimination between the four verbs. They are a whole unit. All are complete. If you have been called,then you have been glorified. There is no stopping in between the actions. Now here is my point for saying all of the above. Listen to this and think about it this week if you are struggling with doubt, and/or self or otherwise imposed condemnation. 

Here is the God of all the universe telling us that nothing can separate us from His love. Here He is telling us that in eternity past He planned and made secure our destiny not because of any BEHAVIOR OR EFFORTon our part. No,no it was because it pleased Him to do it. It was His choice,not ours. Don't ask me why, I do not know. Only when He brings me into His Glory will I ever know. All I can do is accept it and say thank you. Now, if that is the reality of my relationship with God then should I allow anything or anybody to say otherwise? Of course we all do from time to time. Feelings are fickle but they are also powerful. If you are struggling today with your own frailty or if someone else has told you how sorry you are,.. don't fret. God chose you to be His a long, long time ago. No one, not even you can snatch you out of His Hand.

Psalm 27:1 (NASB) 1
 The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?

God Bless

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Thirsty                                                                                         07-05-14

Psalm 63:1 (NASB) 1
 O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

This week for some odd reason I was reminded of sitting in the parking lot of a music store in Marietta, Ga. many years ago. As the picture rolled across my mind, I could see my dear friend Pastor Doug in the passenger seat as we waited for Adrian and Bubba, our kids, to finish their trumpet lessons. They took lessons back to back so we spent a couple of hours once a week, every week, in that parking lot talking about all sorts of stuff. The conversation would invariably center around God, church, the kids, what did the Bible have to say about it and whatnot. Over the years we have spent countless hours in cars, over the phone, etc., talking about those subjects. Well anyway this week as I had that picture in my mind a phrase came across my mind. It was something that Doug and I spoke about over and over. We would and have prayed countless times over our children and loved ones that one phrase. We would proclaim and pray that our kids would find God for themselves. We would remind those kids (and God sometimes, smile) that they could not rely on their parents' God or their friends' God. That just because their lives were surrounded by parents, friends, church people who had found God, that would not work for them. They had to find God for themselves. Mama and Daddy or the preacher would not be around forever to help them in time of need. Then, they would have to know God for themselves. Pastor Doug's God won't be around to help me. See that's what the Psalmist David is saying in those verses.

"O God, You are my God;....." David wrote this when he was in the wilderness, possibly, when fleeing from Saul. You see Jesse, David's father wasn't with him in this trying time. Jonathan, his best friend, was of no comfort to him. He was alone and he was in the wilderness. Have you ever been there? He HAD to find God for himself. His father's or his friend's God had to become HIS GOD, for there was no one else to help him. And what do the scriptures say about David and what he did? Look at the above verse. "...I shall seekYou earnestly.."  Look a little further down.

 Psalm 63:6 (NASB) 6  When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches,

"..I meditate on You in the night watches,..." That word meditate means to ponder, to groan, to muse about or to speak about. Look at another Psalm.

Psalm 42:1-2 (NASB) 1
 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.
2  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?

Have you ever been thirsty? I mean really thirsty? I can remember only one time in my entire life being really thirsty. It was when I was 12 years old and our Little League team had been playing a couple of practice games. It was in the middle of summer and we had been at it all day. We didn't know or care about hydration in those days, we just wanted to play ball until we dropped. I remember riding back from that game that day and man I was toasted. I mean my throat felt like I had poured a glass of sawdust down it. For some reason, unknown to me and my teammates, the coaches would not stop at a gas station (no convenience stores in those days lol)  to get a Coke. I mean me and my buddies were howling from the back of the station wagon to stop, please we are dying back here!But alas on this sweltering day, to no avail. I was in panic mode. All I could think about was a glass of water to wet and cool my dry throat. NOTHING ELSE MATTERED. When I finally got home, I RAN to the kitchen sink and without stopping to get a glass, I turned the faucet on full blast and drank until I was swishing on the inside. You know what I'm talking about don't you? Swishing?  All the while listening to mother scold me for putting my mouth on the faucet, risking the deadly germs to be found there. But, at that point in time I didn't care. I WAS THIRSTY!!  You feelin' me here? That's what David is talking about here.

You see in that verse above David is asking God when he can get alone with Him. He's thirsty. He can't wait any longer. "When shall I come and appear before God?" And that is the secret. Until I decide to appear before God. Until I make room for Him in my life. Until I begin to earnestly seek for Him and enquire of Him, He will continue to be someone else's rock, but not MY rock. He will continue to be another's strong tower, not MY strong tower. I have to find Him for myself. Pastor Doug's God just won't do. He must become MY God.

 Psalm 1:1-2 (NASB) 1

 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

God Bless