Wednesday, December 31, 2008

God's Perscription for a Happy New Year

2009 is standing on the threshold and once again the question arises … “What about New Year Resolutions?”
I think most of us have been there, done that, and realized they are all too soon forgotten!

I wondered about why we have such a fascination with the first day of a new year !
I thought .. usually when something seems to have such an ingrained importance somewhere there is a link back to a God-deposited truth or principle.
And then the thought struck me that if that were true then there would be something to glean from scripture.
I did a search and found some interesting references. I used them to create this post, leaving the verses in the order of occurrence in the bible.

I invite you to walk with me through “God’s Prescription for a Happy New Year!”

Trust His Promises

The very first reference to the first day of a new year is in Gen. 8:14 where it says……”And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry.”

Here we have the first reference to a New Year’s Day .. and isn’t it exactly how we see a new year - as a new beginning, a clean slate, a reason for renewed hope and excitement of what the new year will bring?

Here we see Noah standing with the promises of God over him , symbolized by the rainbow !

How thankful we can be for God’s promises that are new again on the first day of a new year!
What promises of God are important to you as you begin 2009?

Pay attention to His Commandments

In Ex. 12:2 we read…”This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Then followed God’s instructions to Aaron and Moses regarding the Passover. If they would follow His instructions God promised the destroyer would not have power to strike them !

What a great time to review God’s commandments…. Are we obeying God’s laws so that He can bless our coming in and going out in 2009 ? Is His Word held high as our shield to protect us from the firery darts of the enemy ?

Prepare a Place of Worship

In Exodus 40:2 , God commanded the Israelites ….. “On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.”

What a perfect time … the first day of the first month… to set up a time and a place for us to fellowship with God - to prepare our heart as a tabernacle in our busy lives where we can retreat to meet with God face to face throughout the year !

Make Necessary Repairs

In II Chron. 29:3 we read about Hezekiah , the king. “In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them.“

Perhaps your ‘tent of meeting’ needs some repair. Has something crept into your life that has broken it down or made it a place cluttered with things that should not be there?

Santify Yourself

2Ch 29:17 "Now they began to sanctify on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the LORD. So they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished."

Though the sanctification began on New Year’s Day .. it took some time.
As it should for us as well. It takes time to examine the things in our life and put them in order. To prioritize, to downsize, to sort and discard, to clean.
We belong to the Lord, we are His tabernacle. Is everything in our life ‘sanctified’ -- set apart ‘ for His use? Or are there things that we keep just for ourselves, our own selfish pleasure or profit?
If we ,at the beginning of each year, examined the things in our life - our personal inner life as well as the outer things seen by others, would we not be putting ourselves in a place of service to honour and glorify our Lord ?

Prepare for a Jouney

It is interesting that Ezra, having received permission from the king to travel to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of his beloved city, began his journey on the first day of the first month --- and .. I love this…. “according to the good hand of his God upon him.” (Ezra 7:9)

On New Year’s Day we embark on a journey, it promises to be be exactly a year long. We have no idea where the journey will take us …or even if we will complete the journey. Though the journey is one into uncharted territory, how comforting to know it is ‘according to the good hand of God upon us’ !!
He has already gone ahead to prepare the way for us !


In Ezra 10:17 we read “By the first day of the first month they finished questioning all the men who had taken pagan wives.”

Is there sin in our life that is displeasing to God? Are we willing to rid ourselves of it, repent and then wholeheartedly follow after God and His righteousness?

Listen for God's Voice

There are several verses I found where it spoke of hearing God’s voice as in Ezra 29:17 “And it came to pass in the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying…”

Do we hear God’s voice this New Year’s Day ? Are we listening, eager to hear what He is saying to us ? We are so quick to make our own plans….but how important it is to listen first to what God has to say and then our choices, our decisions will be good ones and our steps will fall in solid places!

Prepare a Sacrifice

In Ezra 45:18 God called for a special sacrifice on New Year’s Day…. “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a young bull without blemish and cleanse the sanctuary’ .”

A sacrifice… something special you offer to God that is of value to Him because of what it accomplishes.
I offer you a challenge. This new year give something to God that is just between you and Him…perhaps something He has already been speaking to you about… perhaps something you have never done before… perhaps something no one else will ever know about!

I already know what mine will be…. Do you know what yours will be ??

I wish YOU, my blogging friend, a very blessed New Year ! and pray that it might be a special journey that leads you into a closer walk with God.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Parable with a Christmas Proof !

I think that if I could have lived in the time that Jesus walked this earth.. I would have loved to sit at His feet and listen to Him tell stories !
But, the truth is, He still walks among us, doesn’t He? And His stories are still fascinating and the pearls of truth they teach are still valid for today !
One of Jesus' parables caught my attention just a few days before Christmas!

A man, late one night, heard a knock on his door and opening it found a friend seeking shelter. Of course he welcomed him in … but…his mind was racing ! He had no bread.. what was he going to feed his guest? NOT to feed him was the ultimate disgrace of an ungracious host! Ah... yes.. of course.. . he would run across the street to another friend’s house.. and borrow a few loaves of bread!
Quickly settling his guest… and barely taking time to throw his cloak around his shoulders he quickly ran out. Reaching his friend’s house he banged loudly on the door, breathlessly calling his friend’s name. The startled voice of his friend came from inside …. “I can’t get up .. all the kids are in bed with me… and I don’t want to wake them all up !! !”

Ignoring his friend’s reluctance, the man refused to give up and kept knocking …. And calling .. and begging…. until his friend …. FINALLY.. opened the door and handed his friend as many loaves as he wanted !!

Jesus told this story immediately after He taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer!
The most common interpretation of this parable is that when we pray we should keep on praying until we get what we are asking for !
But that is really missing the point of Jesus’ teaching.

There is a clue at the end of this parable in Luke 11:13…. Jesus says… “If you, then, being evil……” Those few words unlock the truth Jesus wanted us to understand from this parable.

The man in bed did not answer his friend’s request because he felt compassion or even sympathy with the man’s need ! He didn’t care if he would be humiliated in front of his guest ! Look at his first response… “Go away .. you are bothering me… I’m in bed… I don’t want to get up … you are inconveniencing me!”
And why DID he finally answer his friend at the door ?? Because the friend’s insistent ‘noise’ was going to keep the whole family from sleeping …and probably awaken the ire of his neighbours as well, so he answered him – TO GET RID OF HIM !!!!

And here is the beauty of Jesus’ teaching … He was saying… “If you ,being by nature evil, can be PERSUADED to do the right thing… then how much more will God, who is by nature righteous, answer you at your very first knock!”

A few of the NT scriptures that fit with this parable are…..

Jas 4:2 "... you do not have because you do not ask."

1Jn 5:15 "And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."

Php 4:19 "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

I love how God will always confirm His word.
A couple of days after I was thinking about this parable, it was the 23rd of December.
Vic and I were down to one last gift for my oldest granddaughter … just to even up her gifts with her sister’s.
Trying to save time … and gas… I suggested we go to the drug store just across from our grocery store where we needed to go anyway!
To our surprise we found very few shoppers wandering the aisles of the drug store, even though it was the last shopping day before Christmas… and I soon saw why. Virtually NOTHING was on sale in the store.. not even their Christmas wrapping paper!
I found a gift nail-care set that I knew my granddaughter would love but it was a little too expensive.
We decided we’d drive a little further into town and see if we could find one cheaper. We did and found nothing . All nail-care sets were sold out.
Finally, we decided we're rather just get our shopping done than focus on saving money! We decided to go back to the original drug store and get the set we saw there.
Back at the drug store, I stood at the shelf .. searching for a ‘hidden’ sale sign that I had perhaps missed earlier … but there was just the “Great Gift Idea” sign with the reg. price on it !

I picked up one of the boxes and on the short walk from the display shelf to the counter I prayed a very quick prayer … “Lord, you see there is nothing on sale in this store.. but You could still make this nail set be on sale, couldn’t You?… Please ?”

I got to the cashier.. she scanned the price bar.. and with a startled look on her face exclaimed .. “OHH ! this comes up on sale !!” I looked at the screen.. Yes, indeed !
It came up at 50% off !!
I smiled…. NOT at the cashier… but at my Heavenly Father ! who truly DOES give good gifts to those who ask !!!!

PS...... Please note -- There MAY, at times, be a delay from the time your ‘answer’ is shipped to your delivery date !


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Morning Walk

I'm happy you stopped by !
I left an invitation for you to join Vic and me on our Christmas Day morning walk through our 'snow-covered' back yard!

I love the little snow caps on our fence posts.

This is looking out from my front door, and up at Thom Mt.

It snowed again early this morning, but by the time we started on our walk the blue sky was breaking through.

The mountains in the distance were beautiful.

The deer have been making their rounds to the houses in our complex where they can count on apple handouts.

Just checking out the reindeer ornaments, 'wanna take my picture' ?

"How do I look?"

A little stream still running.

The snow capped shrubs soo pretty with the sun shining on them.

Good thing Vic took his shovel... so that he could shovel off the 101 steps !
The snow laden branches against the blue sky are stunning.

So quiet...except for the crunch of the snow under our feet ! The mountain trail so beautiful .

Me in the knee deep snow with a final wave!! "Thanks for joining me !!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wishing YOU a Blessed Christmas!

"I wish each and every one of you, my dear friends, the most blessed and joyous Christmas. As you celebrate , each in your own traditions, may the love of family and friends fill your hearts and overflow to the One who is the Reason we celebrate!"

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (Luke 2:14)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Joy of Wrapping Paper

It was a Sunday close to Christmas Day and our pastor asked people to share their favourite memories of childhood Christmases.
A friend of mine, Jeannie, stood up and went to the mike.

Her eyes sparkling and her voice animated, she told of her childhood joy at Christmas.

Jeannie grew up in a poor family, that lived gypsy-style. Her father did not believe in education and refused to send his children to school so the family moved often to keep the authorities from catching up with them. My friend never set foot into a schoolroom until she walked through a classroom door with her own child by the hand.

Her home was not a Christian home and she had few of the things most children take for granted.
There were no Christmas traditions .... no special dinner .... no extended friends.... and there were no gifts waiting for her or her siblings on Christmas mornings.

But…. she found her own Christmas joy.

Every year, Jeannie, would eagerly wait until after Christmas when everyone put out their garbage including the wrapping paper all their gifts had been wrapped in. Then my friend would sneak unnoticed out to the garbage cans and collect all the discarded Christmas paper and sometimes even pretty ribbon!

The beautiful designs and finishes … the colours , the shine, the gold and silver accents…delighted her and she would spend hours smoothing out the paper, cutting and folding making little shapes and cut outs and paper designs… teaching her creative ideas to her siblings.

I had the bitter/sweet feeling that the throw-away paper brought her more joy than the gifts brought to the ones who thoughtlessly tore off the paper wrapping them.

Those who have an abundance often miss out on the joy that simple things can bring.
This Christmas….. will you have time to notice and enjoy the simple things?
A single ornament.... loved ones around the table.... the wide-eyed joy of a child.... a favourite carol….. a walk in the snow…..the voice of a loved one..... a Christmas card....a nativity scene …..stars in the night sky ..... the familiar words of the Christmas story....

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy." (Mat 2:10)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Picture Tag

Marg tagged me for a picture game. Here are the rules…..

1.Open the 4th picture folder on your computer
2. Open the 4th picture and post it on your blog.
3. Explain the picture.
4. Tag 4 people to do the same!

Having an addictive amount of curiosity.... smile... I HAD to know what my photo would turn out to be...

I found that it was a school photo of me in first grade. I am in the first row second from the right. The year? 1953.

Time passes sooo quickly, doesn't it ? I can't believe how many years, how many memories have crowded into my life since the day that picture was taken.
How little I knew then about what my life would bring... what I would do ... who I would become.
We are once again celebrating the Christmas season..... How many Christmases have come and gone since that night the shepherds gazed upon the new babe born in Bethlehem!

The people alive at that time, lived that 'special' day as ordinarily as they had the day before.. little guessing that the world would never be the same again.

History has recorded the changes.

We all love to look back on the past... we try to preserve our memories , capturing them through the written word or imprisoning them in a photo.

This festive season, even as we enjoy the traditions that have become important to each of us...may we not forget the WHY this time of year is a time of celebrating ... It is a time we look back over the last 2000 years and see that God's love has never ceased. Once more this Christmas season we have an opportunity to remind the world that the God-given invitation to accept the baby boy child we now worship as God - is still open to anyone who prepares room in their heart to receive Him.

May you be blessed this holy-day season ! and may His joy and peace flood your soul as you reflect on the Greatest Gift ever given to mankind !

Now I must tag four - I choose ....

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Name

A name is a label… In itself it has nothing to do with ‘who’ a person is – it is simply an enabling identification for the purpose of communicating with others.

And yet…
When you hear a name spoken…. You either draw a blank because the name has no meaning to you beyond the sound of its letters…. OR … there flashes into your mind the image of the person who bears that name.
In your mind's eye you see much more than just his/her physical features which are but the frame for the character traits you immediately think of …. His/her smile… his mannerisms….his voice…the way you know him to act and react….the memories you have of interacting with him.
His name brings to mind the PERSON of his character that has become synonymous with his name !

There is a beautiful prophecy of the coming Messiah in the well know passage in Isaiah 9. Verse 6 says…. “…and His name shall be called Wonderful, Couseller, The might God, The everylasting father, The Prince of Peace.”
His ‘name’ - Jesus - is not mentioned but how easy it is to recognize Him by the description given of Him.

Wonderful !! - synonyms for ‘wonderful’ are extra-ordinary, breathtaking, grand, splendid, tremendous, magnificent, superb, amazing, astonishing, fantastic, brilliant, great, miracle!!
“And when the chief priests and scribes saw the WONDERFUL things that He did…” Matt. 21:15

Counseller ! someone full of wisdom, able to advise, direct , guide and teach !
" Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

The Mighty God ! Powerful, All-knowing, All-seeing, All-Present !
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
“ and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” Eph.1:19

The Everlasting Father! Tender, compassionate, loving, caring, disciplining.
"O Jerusalem….. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” Luke 13:34

The Prince of Peace ! the Creator of Peace, the giver of Peace, the Ruler over Peace.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

Jesus came, born a babe in a lowly stable, and yet was recognized from the description of His name - a description that preceded His birth by some 700 years !

In this beautiful time of year, Jesus is the reason……He is either recognized for who His is and worshiped. or His name has become a reason for mocking .

Everyone knows His ‘label’ … Jesus… but do you KNOW His name? Intimately ? Does who HE is rule who YOU are?
If you have taken His Name - His character- do people ‘recognize’ you for your likeness to Him?

“O Come , let us adore Him,
Christ, the Lord! …. For He alone is worthy! “

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"How are we doing, God?"

Last Sunday I was so blessed by the little 4/5 year old boy who asked to say the prayer for the little ones gathered up at the front of the church before being sent off to children’s church.
He prayed…. “God, thank you for this church, thank you that we could be here today , thank you for this day..... How are we doing God? …..”
Out of the mouth of babes is often wisdom spoken. His innocent words should be our prayer every day , should it not?
To ask “How we are doing, God?”

His prayer especially caught my attention because of what had filled my thoughts on the way to church.
As we drove out of our complex we passed several people out walking their dogs. I remarked to my husband how we would have reacted with astonished disbelief if any of the adults in our childhood had put the family dog on a leash and taken him for a walk down the road.
Before you jump to conclusions . .I AM an animal lover! BUT.. I’m wondering if we as a society don’t need to stop and ask… “How are we doing, Lord?”

Animals can teach us many things.
Who hasn’t been moved by the ready forgiveness of a pet for the neglect or cross words of its owner?
Who hasn’t been touched by the love of an animal for its young.
Who hasn’t been moved to tears by a bird sitting on the road beside its ‘road kill’ mate.
Whose heart has not swelled with love in response to an adoring, tail wagging dog-welcome?

BUT… have we turned God’s intended purpose backwards?

When God created animals … he called Adam to ask him to name the animals. I grew up on a hobby farm, we raised our own beef , pork and chickens.….but we did not eat the animals we named. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to ‘eat’ an animal that has been a pet!!
So God, in asking Adam to find names for the animals, obviously meant there to be a relationship between man and his four legged friends.
But what was it meant to be?
Was it not that the animals would serve man and teach man, by example, some of the finer points of life ? and not the other way around?

I know a woman who cannot stay for coffee too long because her dog will be waiting for her and doesn’t like to be alone.
Another woman down my street will not go anywhere without her dog and if she is invited somewhere that is in appropriate to bring her dog she simply will not go. She stays in seclusion in her house with her dog.
My neighbour lady has in her will left a large sum of money to her cats and dog for their care in the event of her death.
There are dog hotels with TV sets …. There are dog funeral homes and pet cemeteries.
A local church has a yearly animal blessing service where animals are brought into church and individually blessed by the priest.
There is a retired pastor here in our complex who daily walks his dog…. But he is always alone .. just him and his dog.

There is nothing wrong with having pets and loving them and enjoying their devotion in return …. But have we crossed a line somewhere?
Instead of letting the animals teach us how to love people better …have we allowed the love of our animals satisfy our need for human connections?
Do we now prefer the easy commitment to pets instead of working at building relationships with people?
Do we find it easier to give to pets who require soo little… rather than giving of ourselves and our gifts to the people God put into our lives ?

I’m just asking … I’d love to hear your opinions ……

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Stoning

While I was in the middle of writing this post , I got an e-mail from an atheist here in our complex. He sent me a bible quiz put together by the Freedom from Religion Foundation .. and the bible quiz was set up in such a way as to provoke people to scoff at the bible and show God up to be an evil tyrant.
Interesting timing considering the subject of my post......

“Come..” said Shelomith to her son…”lets go for a walk around the camp.” The boy willingly went with her.
At some point in their stroll a quarrel was provoked in the camp …..and the boy and a man fought with each other.
Perhaps the quarrel centered upon their opinions about God.. because the boy suddenly blasphemed and cursed the name of God.
His voice rose above the normal sounds of the camp.… and the people who heard him … were shocked into stunned silence and could only stare in horror.. What would happen now? This kind of talk was unheard of !
The mother’s pleas went unheeded as the boy was seized and brought before Moses.
Moses demanded that he be put into custody until he could seek the Lord’s face to know what was to be to done with the boy.
The Lord spoke His judgement - swift and unmerciful. “Take him who cursed outside the camp, let all those who heard what he said, lay their hands on his head.. and then instruct all the congregation to stone him to death.”

When Moses spoke the Lord’s words to the people… they obeyed immediately and did as the Lord had commanded.

If this would have happened today instead of several thousand years ago… there would be an immediate public outcry ! “Cruel and unusual punishment!!!” And who would believe that Moses had truly heard God’s voice commanding him to have the boy publically stoned ?

Granted, the most stern among us grapple with this kind of punishment – at least our first reaction! But it is in our bible. It is recorded for our learning .. for our admonition.
I wonder how many of you reading this today were familiar with this story tucked into the pages of a little read book .. Leviticus. (24:10-23)

Does this account fit with your image of God?
Is our God not a merciful God, a forgiving God ?
Before you brush this aside as being Old Testament.. lay this story alongside the New Testament story of Ananias and Sapphira whom God struck dead for “a little white lie”.

Our Leviticus story is the very first reference to anyone blaspheming against God or of someone cursing God.

Are you curious what the boy actually said ? Where did the words come from ? We are given one hint… his father was Egyptian. Had his father taught him what he had learned back in Egypt ? Although, if you are a parent have you not been shocked at how early our little ‘angels’ find the words to tell us how angry they are with us when we don’t let them have their way?
I do not believe this boy was a very small child. He was probably more a youth.

I did a bit of a word study to gain some insight into the severity of the boy’s crime.
What does it mean to blaspheme? The original Hebrew word means literally to bore through… to violently poke holes. Poke holes in what ? The character of God – either by scoffing, making light of God or by slander….telling lies about Him!
To curse is to declare someone to be evil, utterly detestable.

No one of any culture would dare to speak thus about their gods – not without fearing for his life.
Could God turn a blind eye? Could He say .. “awww.. I’ll let it go this time… maybe he didn’t understand.”
Obviously, he did understand! He used the words to express the thoughts of his heart. He believed that he could get away with it. But he couldn’t. If God had allowed Him to get away with it …….. people watching would have lost their fear of God. And when fear of God is gone.. a violent criminal society is not far behind.
Are we not living the consequences of a non-God-fearing society ? Are we not a criminal society surrounded by uncontrolled violence?

We have taken on the mind set of defending the criminal, protecting his rights, making sure he isn’t mistreated ! YES ! he is innocent until proven guilty! But when he is undeniably guilty he must bear his shame and appropriate punishment.

Was God unfair? Hardly! God had given the warning… He commanded the people that none should blaspheme Him… nor curse Him. Exo 22:28 "You shall not revile (same Hebrew word translated ‘blaspheme’ in our Lev. Story) God, nor curse a ruler of your people. “
The people all understood – we have the evidence of how quickly the boy was taken to Moses.

If we do not let God’s love burn away our weakness toward sin … then our sin will be our curse.

Man needs strong deterrents.
No one drives down the wrong side of the freeway.
No one drinks the insecticide that they pour on their garden.
No one puts their hand into the fames of a campfire.
No one opens the door of an airplane and steps out.
Why ? the deterrent is too strong… We KNOW and BELIEVE the consequences that are unavoidable.
So is it not wise on God’s part , when He sets up the government of His kingdom ..both physically or spiritually, that He makes the deterrents strong to help us live the way we should ? and also to create a free and safe environment?

But there is also another reason … God is a holy God and hates sin. Sin is contrary to His nature and destroys what He loves. We need to change the way we have today diluted ‘sin’ to the realms of ‘mistakes, or missing the mark, or physiological tendencies, or mental disorder, or even justified by excuses- ‘I’m only human’ ’ Sin is Sin – live contrary to the laws and commandments of God and the consequences are fatal – every time.

By making an example of the one boy… God saved many more who would , through this example, avoid the danger. We know the wisdom of that reflected in our every day sayings, “A stitch in time saves nine” “Nip it in the bud” “Do the crime, do the time”. We are always crying for stronger police protection, tougher laws, stiffer sentences. Why do we think God should have a lower standard of justice than we have ?
God knows exactly what works and what doesn’t. Had we followed God’s rules for government we would not be in the mess we are today – a society gone mad. And had we followed His rules for the church we would not have the problems we have today with the world's standards and thinking sooo infiltrating our sanctuaries that we have made it ‘user friendly’ to those who have never been born again.

We have the example of Ananias and Sapphira…. God revealed His judgement against sin through their sudden death.. and the result ? The people feared … and a pure church was the end result.

I know that there is a wave, a move spreading abroad to day to make God a permissive, all encompassing, compassionate God who in the end will bring everyone into fellowship with Him, regardless of the life path they chose.
My friends… that is not true! And in the end those who buy into that philosophy will pay with eternity .
I think the time has come where we need to stand strong and declare that our God reigns.. Our God is Powerful and the One most Wise and before Him every knee will bow !
He is a God who demands our obedience but He is also the most loving Father to those who love Him and have fellowship with Him and one with another.

"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." (1Jn 3:3)

Friday, November 28, 2008

"I Promise...." says Jesus (part 4 of End Times)

For the introduction to this series see: A Pillar or A Wind

While Jesus warned His followers to be on guard and Watch, making sure that we would be ready when He returned … He also left us promises that we can hang onto - Promises that we can trust in !
I always smile at how early a child learns to ask "Promise?" to make sure that he can really count on what is being said to him. We never lose that yearning to have something 'promised' to us...something that we can 'take to the bank' !
We can know... that ALL of the words of Jesus are 'promised' with that divine stamp of authority that trumps all authority !!

When we look at our world and we see the very signs Jesus said to watch for is so easy to let fear fill our minds and hearts. But Jesus said... "Do not fear!" and He gave us His promises to hold onto when everything around us is shaking.

Let's refresh our minds to know that Jesus promised...........

1. That He WILL return…
“I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matt. 26:64)
“You have heard Me say to you, 'I am going away and coming back to you.'” (John 14:28)
"Behold, I am coming quickly" (Rev.3:11)
One of the temptations is to feel discouraged with waiting and think maybe it is never going to happen. Peter warned against this kind of thinking ... saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." (II Peter 3:4)
Jesus IS coming back... It is an event already recorded in God's history !! We can count on it !!

2. That when He comes He is bringing rewards….
"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” (Rev.22:12)
I am often amused at how even though the world continually tries to distance itself from the God of the Bible.... they just can't seem to get away from Him. Even in the fabled Santa Claus, this thought is build into the story children are told... 'If you are good you will get good things.. if you are bad you will get black coal'.
There will be a reward for us one day ... what no one notices in this life is being recorded and one day it will make the headlines of the Eternal Proclamation ! And there will be an award ceremony.

3. That we need not be afraid , in fact , we can rejoice when we see the end coming!
“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid!” (John 14:27)
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption draws near.” (Luk 21:28)

Satan has done a very good job in building fear into people's hearts regarding the end times. Yes.. it may be difficult ... things that are important to us now may lose their importance... but Jesus' promise is that we do NOT need to fear !! Can we not trust His word, that if He says "don't worry, don't be afraid' that we really CAN hold our heads high and look to what is about to happen ? The joy of seeing Him come in the clouds?

4. He is preparing a place just for us !!
“In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
(John 14:2,3)

The only time we do not panic with stress and anxiety in leaving our home is when we are excited about moving into our 'dream' home. Jesus addresses man's fear of being 'homeless'. He promises that He has our new home ready for us and He will be our closest neighbour.

How exciting is that ? I know whenever I've moved (which has been as few times as I could manage.. smile) it was absolute chaos with everything uprooted and packed in boxes. For the brief time between two 'empty' houses I felt very lost... but it was also filled with excitement and anticipation of setting up my new home. Is that not how it will be when Jesus is at the doors with the Angel-Moving-Co ? Should the small inconvenience of being separated from the things of this world not pale in anticipation of what is awaiting us ?

5. That we will need no lawyers to defend us !!

"Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." (Luke 12:11,12)

I know that many of us are hesitant to speak of our faith....afraid of offending ....afraid of sounding 'preachy' ... but we may well be coming into a time where keeping silent about our faith in God will not be an option. God in His mercy .. says.. "Don't worry about it!" If we are falsely accused and brought before the courts...we don't even need to hire someone to represent us. It is interesting that Jesus refers to us not needing to worry about how we will defend ourselves...... was He thinking about how in our times as soon as we are accused - falsely or otherwise- we run to find a lawyer ? It may well be that lawyers in the time just before Jesus comes back will not want to represent Christians... but we need not fear even then. We have the best lawyer we could wish for... the Holy Spirit Himself and He will tell us what we should say.

6. That His Words will NEVER fail - they will never be proven to be false and every word will stand… even though the destruction of both the heavens and the earth will come!
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." (Matt. 24:35)

It is impossible for God's words to ever fail... His promises are more sure than the fact you lived through yesterday! His promises can simply NOT fail! When nothing in this world is sure anymore and changes swirl faster than we can keep track of, we have this promise. God will never change and I love this verse.... "
" I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him."
(Ecc. 3:14)

7. He will never leave us !!!

"For He Himself has said. "I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU!" (Heb. 13:5)

I am not an adrenalin junkie.... I do not admire people who love extreme sports and so recklessly take their life into their own hands. But maybe there is something of the love of excitement in all of us .. we just vary in how far we push the safety net.

When we find ourselves in the end time scenario , we may be tempted to fear what we see coming but KNOW THIS - Our safety net is secure enough for the most timid among us!! Jesus has promised never to leave us ... He will go through it all with us. We are sky jumping in tandem with Him. Need we fear ? Definitely not !! In fact we may boldly declare the rest of the Hebrews passage..... "THE LORD IS MY HELPER; I WILL NOT FEAR. WHAT CAN MAN DO TO ME"

With Jesus' promises above me.. and my hand securely held in His... I do not fear what may come. My heart is filled with excitement for what is to come. How reassuring it is to know I will not be left alone! God already knows exactly what will happen and has already made all the arrangements necessary to keep His followers under His watchful care - that we will be able to stand strong and true, our hearts centered on Him and His promises!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Prophetic Events in Focus (part 3 of End Times)

For the introduction to this series see: A Pillar or A Wind

There are many prophetic scriptures regarding end times that were so difficult to understand they hardly even seemed possible. But recently, many of these obscure passages have come into sharp focus.

I’d just like to present a few that have been of particular interest to me, ones that show how when a prophecy is fulfilled it becomes very 'normal'.

Two End Time Prophets

Revelation speaks of two end time prophets. I’m not about to predict who they could be. At the end of their ministry, they are killed by the antichrist and their dead bodies left lying the street. Look at what Revelation then reveals about a key detail concerning the times in which they will live …..
Rev 11:9,10 "Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves."

I used to read that verse years ago and think.. how can that be possible? How can the whole world see their bodies in a street in Jerusalem? Even if by some miraculous means of transport the whole world could gather in one spot… the crowd would be so thick and so deep that only a few standing in front would be able to actually view the bodies.
But read with today’s live media technology in mind, no-one would even wonder at this verse. Of course the whole world would see them – we take live coverage of world events for granted !! Who doesn’t have a television – even the poorest people in third world nations have TVs and now Internet access is possible from hand held iPods.

Pandemic Plagues

The bible end time scenario also speaks of horrific plagues .
I remember not so many years ago these bible prophecies were scoffed at. Since medical science had developed anti-biotics scientists insisted there would never again be another plague. And yet now we are told because of the super bugs it is not a matter of IF but WHEN a world wide pandemic strikes.

There is an interesting description of a plague in Zec. 14:12 “And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet …”
Hmmmm…. Couldn’t be Necrotizing fasciitis - flesh-eating disease….. could it ??

No Repentance

Rev 16:9 “And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.”
Rev 9:20 "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not.."

I remember as a child reading about the horrors of plagues and disasters that would come upon the world in end times and I read that men refused to repent! I marvelled at that, thinking .. “How could they NOT?” Always down through history, man recognized that natural disasters were a judgment from God….and they feared and repented. Have you noticed how lately if anyone dares to say that ANYTHING could be a judgment from God they are very quickly condemned – even by Christians? “Mother Nature” is blamed for natural disasters now, and she demands no repentance.

Motor Vehicles

Cars have only a comparatively recent history … The Model T Ford made its debut in 1908 – a mere hundred years ago.
Imagine that you lived thousands of years ago where the fastest mode of travel was a chariot drawn by horses. God shows you a vision of what the world will be like in the end times and you see a multi-laned freeway at night. Since descriptive words like cars…headlights….freeways… traffic…are not in your vocabulary, how would you describe what you saw ?? How about Nahum’s attempt here…. “The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall jostle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings.“ (Nah.2:4)

Knowledge and Travel

God told Daniel two things that would mark the end times.
Dan 12:4 “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”

Run to and fro ? With modern travel , people are able to fly almost instantly anywhere in the world….and so they do ! To and fro -- back and forth!

Have you read the lastest statistics on knowledge increasing ? We now have knowledge increasing at such a rate that men no longer have time to assimilate information into wisdom.
I found this quote on the internet,

“The question to consider is, "How quickly does what we know change?" What would happen if we assumed that all of the scientific knowledge that mankind had accumulated by the year One AD equaled one unit of information. "How long did it take that one unit of knowledge to double?" This research was actually done and the answer was 1500 years or until the sixteenth century. The next doubling of knowledge from two to four units of information took only 250 years or until 1750 AD. By 1900, one hundred and fifty years later, knowledge had doubled again to 8 units. The speed at which information doubles was getting faster and faster. The doubling speed has now reached every 1-2 years”.

Heart attacks

I have read reports that prove that our fast pace of living and overload of information is very stressful. Stress is the leading cause of heart attacks and medical science defines stress as a form of fear.
Look at this end time prophecy…. “Men’s hearts failing them for fear.” (Luk 21:26)

One World System - Computers?

How quickly we have taken computers for granted. But do you realize that in as little as 12 years the internet has completely changed our world? I remember when my oldest granddaughter was born, I was just beginning to hear the words 'internet highway'. Stop and think how drastically that one discovery has changed how we do life, and how it has interconnected our world with no boundaries or borders into one Global Village.
Has it helped to create an environment that facilitates a one man world dominance? I think more so than any other one thing.

I mention the things listed above to show you how 'normal' end time prophecies are... prophecy fulfilled loses its power to terrify by strange misunderstood images.
I'm not suggesting that the end times will not be hard, or that we will not need to be strong in the face of serious presecution.
Times are already hard and persecution very real in many parts of our world. People are dying for their faith! We are now facing a global financial crisis.....will man find a way to solve it? or is it a piece of the final end scenario that allows the 'antichrist' to stand up declaring he has the answers the world is desperately looking for.

Recent changes in our world have brought about conditions that fulfull prophecies that could not - until our lifetime - have been fulfilled! I believe that we are very close to Jesus coming back. He says that when we see these things happening to look up and take heart... our deliverance is coming!

Luk 21:28 "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."

** next post - promises Jesus makes to those who live in end times.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Two Stories - One Teaching (part 2 of End Times)

For the introduction to this series see: A Pillar or A Wind

Israel looked for a Messiah for 4000 years !
They expected someone who would come as a conqueror, a King ! Someone great and wonderful who would come with power to destroy all their enemies, freeing them from oppression and set up a perfect kingdom for them on earth !
But, instead, a baby was born in a stable who for 30 years lived a quiet humble life helping his father as a carpenter. When He began to teach, He seemed far too ordinary to be the Deliverer that they had been waiting for ! Even His disciples were confused and when Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection they finally outright asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6)

We have all seen movies and read books depicting the author's view of what end times will look like. I’m thinking that many have taken license for dramatic effect. I have a suspicion that the time before Jesus comes back will be much more ‘normal’ than many of the end time teachers have portrayed !
Yes, times will be difficult (as they are now – we need only watch the evening news) and the signs that Jesus said to watch for will be happening but there will also be places on earth where life just carries on !
Why do I say that ?

Look what Jesus says will be happening just before He returns.… people will be eating and drinking and planning and attending weddings (Luke 17:26) . People will be carrying on their daily tasks, preparing food, working in the fields or sleeping in their beds! (Luke 17:34) If things were not going to be distractingly ‘normal’ would He have had to tell us over and over to Watch! So we don't miss it ?

Can we know what to believe about end time scenarios? Would Jesus not be the One to ask? He gave us two OT examples that He says picture for us what the end times will be like.

The two examples are Noah and the flood, and Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah. Isn’t it interesting that these two stories are two of the best known bible stories even among those who have never darkened the door of a church ? Listen and take note of how often they are referred to !

Let us look at these two stories. If Jesus says they are important then they must hold the key to unlocking the end time scenario.

The two examples Jesus points us to are amazingly similar for a purpose, because where they are similar, reinforces the teaching they reveal.

Lets look at the what they show....

A Supernatural Rescue

In both stories, there was a supernatural rescue ! God shut Noah into the ark and the angels grasped Lot’s arm and led him out of Sodom.

Are we looking for a supernatural rescue ? Yes, definitely ! Jesus has promised !
1Th 4:17 “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

Preaching to the Lost

Noah preached to the people of his world for 120 years !! By the time he stepped into the ark every person had heard this “preacher of righteousness !” (II Peter 2:5)

Lot is described as…..”that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds" (II Peter 2:8)
In the Sodomites own words, they complained that Lot set himself up as a judge constantly accusing and condemming their deeds. (Gen. 19:9)

Does Jesus not say that the gospel will be preached throughout all the world before the end comes ?
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." (Matt. 24:14)

No repentance - not ready!

In both stories although Lot and Noah begged the people to repent there was no repentance .. and the people were not ready when the end came.
We see Jesus encountering the same problem …. "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not" (Matt.11:20)
And again at the end in Rev 9:20 "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk"
Do we not see today a resistance to the gospel… and an openness to everything else? People following after the gods of their own making!

No Second Chance

Once God closed Noah into the ark … there was no longer any way for anyone to be saved. I’m sure people ran toward the ark when the rain began to pour from the heavens and rise up from the earth… but it was too late ! and Noah could not have opened the door had he wanted to.. God closed the door from the outside.

In Lot’s story the same was true.. no one was saved from Sodom and Gomorrah after Lot and his family were taken out.

Will there be a second chance for anyone who is not ready when Jesus returns? Not according to the examples Jesus gave us to look at … nor according to His parable of the 10 virgins - once the door was closed the five found not to be ready when the bridegroom came found no entry and were turned away. Jesus ends the parable with this warning. "Watch therefore , for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming!"

Swift Judgement- The Wrath of God

Again in both stories , the wrath of God fell immediately after the supernatural rescue. As soon as the door of the ark was closed the rains came ! and Lot was barely out of the city before the fire consumed it !

Will it not be the same when Jesus comes back ?
“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (IThess. 5:3)
“Those who do not obey the gospel … these shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord …… when He comes in the DAY to be glorified in His saints…” II Cor.1:8-10)

And agian in Jesus’ own words… Mat 13:47-50 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.
So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

There is one harvest time when both the wheat and the tares will be havested. (Matt.13:27-43)

Nothing Secret

When Noah was rescued into the ark.. the ark was not a spiritual invisible thing. It was clearly visible to all the people who were left outside.
When the angels came for Lot, they did not come secretly. The angels were visible to all.

So also Jesus says that when He will return it will not be secret !
Rev 1:7 “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Rev.1:7)

Perhaps there have always been disagreements about how the end would play out. Paul addresses this very problem among the Thessalonians. He says, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering to Him…” (I Thess.1:8)
There is no argument from any theological corner that the ‘gathering to Him' is referring to anything other than what we today call the rapture.
Greek scholars such as Ward or Williams say that the way the sentence is structured there is a single article joining the two things Paul is talking about here, which, they say, can only mean that Paul is talking about a single event. ( )

But really, we do not need to be Greek scholars to understand that. I think it was not by accident that Paul writes the order in the way that he does… Paul is saying… “Do not be soon shaken in mind about the second coming of Jesus and the rapture.”
I know that the popular teaching has the rapture coming first and then some years later, the return of Christ but scripture does not support that.

Paul goes on to tell the Thessalonians two things that must happen before this event of the second coming and the rapture will happen…. There will be a falling away and the antichrist will be revealed.

Yes… the believers will still be here when the antichrist appears on the world stage.

Could it be in our lifetime ? Is he already alive and waiting in the wings? He could well be ……

Next post … recent changes/events that have brought the hands of the clock much closer to midnight when this earth will be changed for ever !
And also – the promises of Jesus to us who live in the end times.

Please NOTE !! - If any of you have comments, opinions or questions.. I would love to have either a dialogue in the comment section or I could try to answer your questions in a separate post !

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Watch !! (part one of End Times)

For the introduction to this series see: A Pillar or A Wind

Maybe you are asking .. “Does it matter? Do we need to know what the bible says about the end times ? It ‘s all so confusing, no one seems to agree!”

But to your question I answer , It MUST be important.. or Jesus would not have told His disciples to “Watch!” and lest we think He didn’t mean us .. He said .. “And what I say to you , I say to ALL, WATCH !!”

The book of Revelation begins with a promise -- “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep in it, for the time is near!” And the book ends with “Behold, I am coming quickly!” If you listen, you can hear the echo of His warning, “Therefore, Watch!”

Why would Jesus tell His disciples to Watch for His coming when it was still more than 2000 years in the future ? And why should every believer since then also be ‘watching’ ?

I think I know….
If you stop to think, you will realize that everything you do , you do for an end cause or purpose. Would you go to work in the morning if there was no remuneration or reward? Would you plan and prepare a dinner fit for company if there was no company coming ? Would you keep walking if you knew there was nothing to walk toward? Would you save for your vacation if you knew you would never go ?

We clearly need a goal that gives purpose and reason to what we are striving for. It keeps us on track – otherwise - we give up, we sit down, we lose our zeal , we are distracted, we fall asleep !

There fore, Jesus said “Watch! Because you do not know when I am coming!”
That was to be the focus, the impetus to keep the church steadily moving forward , yearning, longing for the day that Jesus would come back ! Each generation was fuelled by the hope and it kept their love strong!

After the fall, God promised Eve that a deliverer – a Messiah- would be born through her. Eve thought it was Abel, then she thought it was Seth….. but it was to be a long 4000 years that this torch of hope was kept alive , passed from generation to generation , from mother to daughter, each hoping that she would be the blessed woman to give birth to the Coming One !! Then, when hope had almost died, the Messiah WAS finally born - to a virgin in Bethlehem!
And now the promise remains of His second coming ! Once more He returns… and this time it will be the culmination of all life as we know it. A new ageless eternity will begin and how you and I fit into that depends on what we do with this present earthly sojourn.
Look what Hebrews 9:28 says…. “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
To those who are watching… who have kept the eagerness alive in their hearts… will He return the second time!

Do you think about Jesus coming back ? Does that figure in to the decisions , choices, plans you make?
Do you know and keep yourself aware of what Jesus tells us to watch for ?

If you don’t, let’s look…….. if you do , let’s review !

Jesus says……..

1. Watch your ‘WEIGHT’ …..
Luk 21:34 "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly."

2. Watch the barometer of your Faith !
Luk 18:8 "...... Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"

3. Watch to keep your hope alive….
Rev 22:7 "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."

4. Watch and keep your ‘clothes’ clean ….
Rev 16:15 "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."

5. Watch that you are faithful in your life work
Luk 12:43 "Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes."
Mat 25:21 "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' "
Mat 25:30 "And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' "
(parable of the servants.. Matt. 25:13-33)

6. Watch the gospel being preached to all peoples…. and do your part!
Mat 10:23 "When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes."

Mat 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."

7. Watch that you have enough ‘oil’ Keep your lamp burning !!! Stay strong and ready !
(parable of the wise/foolish virgins) Mat 25:13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
Luk 12:35 "Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning;
Luk 12:40 "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."

8. Watch for the following signs….
· Nation rising against nation
· Famines
· Persecution of believers
· Believers turning away from the faith, betraying and hating one another
· Many false prophets, even doing signs and wonders , but deceiving many
· An increase of wickedness and lawlessness
· Love growing cold
(from Matt. 24)

When you see these signs begin to happen - The end is near
Mat 24:32,33 "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.
So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!"

9. Watch and pray ….
Mar 13:33 "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is."

Therefore, “He who has ears to hear”, Listen ! We are called to WATCH !!

Mar 13:35-37 "Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping.
And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"

**Next post --- "What are Jesus’ promises regarding His second coming ?"
and "Could it be that we will be the generation to see Jesus’ return ?"
"What will the end look like?"

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Pillar or A Wind

When you need security, something you can trust….would you choose a pillar or the wind ?
The answer a given ? Maybe not, considering how many people choose to put their trust in the ‘wind’.

Eph. 4:14 talks about how ‘children’ "are tossed to and fro" following the wind … teachings, doctrines, opinions of men that blow and swirl around them. The wind is tantalizing, exciting, something you can ‘FEEL’ ! It moves you to toss aside rational thinking and go with the heady flow! Join the crowd!

In contrast stands the pillar. Tall, strong, made of stone or marble! Unmovable, let the winds blow! A strong support! A beacon … seen from a distance, grounded firm and reaching for the sky! The ageless pillar standing through countless generations.
A pillar does not come to you … you must go to it !

In I Tim. 3:15 truth is compared to a pillar ! “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth”

So man's opinions, erroneous doctrines are pictured as a wind, and God's unchangeable truth as a pillar !

Have you ever been caught up with a current fad teaching that had everyone buzzing with excitement … and then after a time it became passé …. until a new wind began to blow ?

I think this is especially true about end time teaching.

Look back and remember the winds of teaching that have blown through through the church, ….. whether it was someone with an infectious charismatic zeal complete with charts and predictions or whether it was a movie or book series. All of them had their time and then receded , just like a dying wind.

Someone asked if I wouldn’t share my thoughts about end times, considering the current state of affairs in our unstable world.

I hesitated at first because I really don’t like conflict ….. and I know there are many varying opinions on what the end time scenarios will look like.
But as I prayed about it I began to sense where the Lord would have me go. A simple path toward the pillar, ignoring the winds.

So, if you are interested.. come back over the next couple of days and I will share my thoughts with you as to how I see the simple teaching of scripture regarding the return of Jesus - without the frills and ruffles of man’s hype and creative license.

Other posts in this end time study:

More to come ...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Have a New Label

Have you ever considered how empowering a label is ?
When I was young a favorite wedding prank gift was to buy a dozens of tins of food and take off all the labels before presenting the 'gift' to the bride and groom!

A label not only identifies contents but allows you to make well informed decisions on what to do with the contents. A label also explains what you could not see with your naked eye - hidden ingredients that could hurt you if you have a sensitivity to them or it informs you of the valuable vitamins and minerals the food contains.
Without labels we are stabbing in the dark.... floundering without the knowledge that empowers us to walk in wisdom and confidence, making well informed choices.

I was given a 'label' a couple of days ago that made me so excited !

Vic and I were watching the early news as I was finishing details for dinner. Suddenly, my attention was riveted on the screen.
The announcer was reporting on a new discovery made by the University of British Columbia! A study has shown that a problem medical science had believed could only be a result of some trauma to the brain, has been discovered to also be a brain disorder in 'normal' people !!

This brain disorder is called "Selective Developmental Topographical Disorientation".

EVERYTHING they said about it .. I could SOOOOO relate to !!!
All my life I have known the horrible feeling of being 'lost'. I have learned to deal with my lack of a sense of direction and have let it be a source of amusement among my friends and family!
Laughing at something always makes it better, doesn't it ?

I was out with a friend of mine a few weeks ago and she exclaimed at one point... "I don't know HOW you can be so smart in every other area of your life .. and then sooo hopeless when it comes to finding your way around ! It makes no sense to me !"

What the researchers have discovered is that this brain disorder does not allow people to use the spatial memory part of their brain, which results in an inability to form 'maps' in their head. So finding their way around is a major challenge.

I was so excited to have a 'label' . At least now I can understand what has been soo frustrating to me. My husband, thankfully , has always been most patient with me ... drawing detailed maps to even familiar places so I won't get lost.
One thing I have always found amusing is that no matter where I am -- a public place or even just walking along the road... people invariably will stop ME to ask for directions. I usually smile and say .. "Well, I'm probably not the best person to ask..." but then because I really do want to help them I will try to give them directions as best I can. I'm really not sure where some of them ended up !!

But just think !!!.... NOW if someone stops me to ask for directions ... I can just say .... "I'm really sorry , but I have a brain disorder called 'Selective Developmental Topographical Disorientation'. "
How impressive is that ?
Can you see the expression on the poor person's face who was hopefully expecting some easy directions in response to their innocent question ?

After my excitement - over discovering that there was a label identifying a troublesome part of my brain - settled a little , I started to think about labels. The labels we put on the things we deal with in every-day life.... people.... actions.... diseases.... habits..... character traits.
I thought - how important it is to get the labels right !

A packaged food with the wrong label on it can be much more than just inconvenient can be life threatening !
God, who is the Manufacturer of all His creation, has in His Word given us the right 'labels' to put on things. The labels the world puts on things are often wrong - Only God's are always the right ones !!
If He puts the label 'Sin' on immorality .. then we cannot re-label it with another name , except we do so at our peril.
If God puts the label of 'Only Way' on His Son .. .then anything else with a label promising eternal life is just simply life-threateningly wrong!

In our world where things are being relabeled every day, how quick should we be to run to His Word to 'check' a label before we accept it as truth !!

"The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgements (LABELS) endures forever !!" Psalm 119:160


Friday, October 31, 2008

Prayer Worrier or Prayer Warrior ?

Yes.. you read the title right ! I think there really are prayer worriers and prayer warriors. Which one are you ??

I think ‘worry’ is the emotion that sits right next to our ‘concern’ button. We all appreciate people who are quickly concerned and eager to come along side someone who is suffering or in pain or going through a difficult time.
I don’t think it is possible to be a person with a caring heart and not be tempted to worry !

So how does worrying relate to prayer ?

What drives you to your knees quicker than worry ? Worry is an alarm clock meant to alert us that it is time to pray ! Many of us hear the alarm clock quick enough but we never turn it off… we try to pray over the aggravating sound of it !!

The Prayer Worrier

What does our prayer look like when we pray without turning off the alarm clock?
We pray the begging prayers, the pleading prayers, the prayers that never bring us more than a moment of peace -- the prayers that lack faith !

I had a friend named Carrie who was a great prayer worrier !
She had a heart for the suffering of others and she wanted everyone’s life to be happy – including her own ! She wore her ‘worry’ emotion on her sleeve where it was always ready for a quick response. While it would drive her to pray , five minutes later she was worrying the problem in her own strength, trying to find an answer, trying to think of how she could manipulate circumstances, people, and yes.. even God … to the end solution she was sure was the right one! I told her once that she needed to give her prayer concern to God then get a tall ladder and put that concern on a very high shelf and put the ladder away. It became a joke between us – this ladder that was so often put back up so she could reach that top shelf and take her concern down again !

I know that there are times when our burden is heavy and a quick prayer isn’t enough. I’m not talking about those times … but it is the ‘worrying’ kind of situations that we are often most reluctant to trust God to take care of.

The Prayer Warrior

In contrast, a prayer warrior prays with faith - the kind of prayer that comes out of knowing God’s heart and Word and is full of trust that He will hear and answer... His way , in His time. A prayer warrior knows the tactics of the enemy and is not taken in by them. A prayer warrior goes with confidence into the Holy of Holies to bring his request before God.

Heb 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

When I think of a prayer warrior, I often think of the ‘example’ of my granddaughter.
She was a precocious child , talking in sentences when she was 18 months old. Somehow- perhaps by over hearing her Mom who asked me to do her mending - she got the idea that I could fix anything. So when ever something was wrong… a hole in her pyjamas, a broken doll or toy, a torn blanket ….her immediate response was, “Nanna fix it!” and she would drag it to the front door to be ready for me the next time I came over!
I, of course, did all I could not to disappoint her faith in me !!!

I have often thought… God must feel the same way. He looks down at His children who are prayer worriers, those who never shut the alarm clock off… and wish they would just realize how powerful and willing He is to answer their prayers!
I think how His heart must swell , as mine did, with pride at a child that trusts Him so completely!
And He too is careful not to disappoint His prayer warrior’s trust that their prayers will be heard !!
1Pe 1:7 “That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ”

How often we think a prayer warrior is one who knows how to storm the gates of heaven! I think a prayer warrior is one whose heart is big in childlike trust ! One who hears the alarm clock at the first stroke of worry , and quickly reaches over to turn it off, and immediately seeks the God that has all the answers!

A prayer warrior makes sure his "whole armor" is in place, and then "praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" is assured that he will "be strong in the Lord" who always has the victory over every battle !
(Eph .4:10-18)