Friday, April 23, 2021

 The Eternal Living Word of God 

"Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven."
Psalm 119:89 

"But the word of the Lord endures forever"
I Peter 1:25 

When I was a child I loved the book Anne of Green Gables.  I lost count of how many times
I read it.  The most moving part of the book that always brought me to tears in sympathy for poor Anne was the part of the book where she longed for a dress with puffed sleeves. 
She begged and pleaded, but Marilla was unmovable, her cold 'no' so hurtful to Anne.  Finally, Matthew secretly arranged for to have a dress made for her with puffed sleeves and OHH !!  JOY !!  FINALLY, Anne's heart longing was satisfied and she got her puffed sleeves !  
Just because .. I decided to reread the book some years ago.  I was shocked.   The 'main' part of the book was reduced to a few sentences on a couple of pages?  I would have believed the book was an  edited edition  if it wasn't an old copy I was holding in my hand.  How could these few sentences have made such a mountain in my emotions and memory ?

In the early years of my marriage, my husband and I watched the movie "The Birds".  It was terrifying beyond any terror I had ever felt.  I had nightmares for weeks afterwards and jumped whenever I heard a flock of birds outside.    
Years later,  I suggested to my husband that , just for fun, we watch the movie again.   We did, but something had happened to the movie !   It wasn't scary at all - in fact the effects were so contrived and fake that we laughed and laughed throughout the movie .. How could it have struck such terror into my heart the first time I  watched it?

Recently, my sister reminded me of a book we had both read in the early '80's .  It was a best seller at the time  called "This Present Darkness" by Frank Peretti.  For both of us, it was a life-changing book - the kind you never forget !  She expressed the desire to read it again.  I told her I had a copy she was welcome to borrow.   Before I had opportunity to give her the book, I thought I might as well re-read it as well.   I started it thinking it would grab me as I remember it grabbed me the first time I read it years earlier.  I had to force myself to keep reading but gave up after I was about 1/3 through.  It didn't grab me at all.  In fact, I wondered what in the book had seemed so deep and spiritually enlightening?   It seemed kind of silly now, almost.   I did not say anything to my sister when I gave her the book. 
She returned it yesterday and I asked her... "Did you read it all the way through?"   "No", she admitted. 
She said she forced herself to keep reading thinking it would get better, but finally she gave up about 3/4 of the way through.   We agreed that whatever had so impacted us the first time we read it was gone. The book now left us cold and critical of the error and inconsistencies in the book.   

As I considered this and linked the above 3 experiences, I realized something.   
Times change, people change. At different times in our life things speak to us and we interpret them through the circumstances that define our space at the time.  
Even in our spiritual walk, God can use certain books  and speak to us through them.   Yet, we go on, past those check points in our spiritual life. We mature... Our understanding grows.   
Considering the above, I had a flash of insight.  
The Bible is thousands of years old, it has been read and reread by millions and millions of people.   Yet... it never gets old, it never loses its power to impact and change lives, it never loses the living truth expressed and expounded on every page.  The main Character, Jesus, never changes, His message never changes,  His purposes never become trite or out of date, every word is eternally true!  Every time I open it, it is fresh and relevant and speaks the truth and guidance that I need for the day. .  

I had never quite put it together in the same way before - that the fact the Bible is unchanging in its power to impact is an undeniable proof that the Bible truly is the Word of God -- so much more than an ordinary book.   

Wednesday, March 3, 2021


"Before the foundation of the world"

  While God has given us details of what we can look forward to in our 'eternity' with God after the time of this earth,  we do not have a lot of information on what God did in His eternity  before  time on this earth began.  We do however have a few verses that contain the phrase  'before the foundation of the world." 

These passages are...... 
Eph. 1:4,  - God chose us in Him 'before the foundation of the world" 
Matt. 25:34 -  Jesus says that when He returns in His glory the Father will say .. "inherit the Kingdom prepared for you 'from the foundation of the world.'" 
 I Peter 1:19 ..  Jesus was "foreordained 'before the foundation of the world' ..."
Matt. 13:35 -  Jesus said He would fulfill the prophecy that He would speak of things that had been kept secret "from the foundation of the world."
John 17:24, Jesus, in speaking to the Father, says " ...for you loved Me before the foundation of the world." 
II Tim. 1:9 ,  we are told that 'according to God's own purposes and grace, we were saved and called in Christ Jesus ... 'before time began' 
Heb. 4:3  -  God says all His works were finished "from the foundation of the world." 

All of the above passages speak of wonderful truths  and we could build a great study based on them, but that is not where I want to focus today. 
If you look at the above list of passages you will notice something they all have in common.   ALL of them speak of what God thought or planned or determined as His purpose.  NOT ONE of the above verses depend on anything except God Himself.  NOT ONE of them need or  allow any input from us.  We have no part in the plans nor in the 'work' of God.   
Yes... God's plan and purpose was FOR us  and we can enter by faith into God's marvelous plan, but God 'before the foundation of the world"  planned, ordained and fulfilled it  ALL BY HIMSELF 

One Verse that Stands Alone
We all agree, God's plan and purposes and all His creation were His alone, but there is however something God did 'before the foundation of the world'  that DOES involve man's  'work'  or 'involvement'. . 

There is one verse that I did not include in the list above and it is found in  Rev. 17:8 .  There we read ... ".... whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world...."

If we consider that verse and follow its thread ..we will find God did something 'before the foundation of the world' that did involve the 'will'  and action of man.   

Be Fruitful and Multiply 
Adam and Eve were created directly by God  -- they were part of the God-alone thoughts and purposes of God.  But after they were created God told them what their 'work' was. They were to go and ..."multiply and fill the earth".   In other words,  all of the people born AFTER Adam and Eve .. were not by the 'will' of God, but by the 'will' of man.  
If this is not true, then we would have to believe that God decreed  that a certain man would rape a certain girl so that the resulting 'predestined'  child could be born. That, of course, could never be!  
So then we know that the 'multiplying'  of people is by the will of man...Man chooses and marries a woman and they have children, who grow up and  choose  spouses and they have children. And included in this 'multiplying'  process,  you and I came to be.  

We all  have a deep need for 'significance'.  We want to know we are loved, that we belong and that we have purpose.   I think we have all at times-- some more than others - felt that we were just 'one of a crowd' - lost in the masses of people.   Is God even aware of me?  Does He see me?  How can He care about me when I am so insignificant?"  

God does not want us to feel that way -- because we are   - every one of us -- important to Him. 
And He did something to prove it ...I am sorry it is not something often talked about , so I want to focus our attention on it today and hopefully you will never again doubt that you are important to God!!  

The Book 
Before He began the 'work' of His creation -- BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD -- God created a book.   A Book created by God has to be the most beautiful book you or I have ever seen.  I can't even imagine how intricately beautiful the details of the cover are.  I think just looking at it would leave us in such awe that we would not dare even touch it.   Yet if God smiled and encouraged us to open it, we would be so surprised and 'shocked' to see what was written in the book.  
When God created this Book, BEFORE He created anything else,  He looked down the long corridor of time and -  by His foreknowledge - NOT predestination - He saw every human being that would be conceived and born on this earth.  He lifted His finger and wrote down the name of every person who has ever lived or ever will live !   Imagine that ... before Gen. 1:1 , God wrote my name,  Julianna Joy Klassen, in His book .. and He wrote down your name !  
Is it hard to believe that that is possible?  even for God?   Consider what science has been able to discover about our DNA..   ALL our DNA would fill about 1/2 teaspoon, but if the information were written out it would not fill just one book but enough books to stack from here to the moon -- not just once, but 5 times !!  It is so mind boggling that nothing  God does should surprise us !!  

BUT .. BUT .. you correctly point out , in the  Rev. verse I quoted above it does not say EVERY name was written in the book...  No it doesn't, but follow with me and you will see why I can say that every name was written into the Book of Life 'before the foundation of the world'. 

We sometimes hear someone say .. 'even if you were the only person on this earth, Jesus would still have died for you!"   and yes, that is true ..  for ANY one of the names written in God's Book of Life, Jesus would have come and died to save them.   That is how great God's love is .. and He wants us to know that we know that EVERYONE is so important to Him that He recorded their names in His Book -- BEFORE He laid the foundation of the earth that would be our home. God is LOVE and love needs somewhere to be expressed and God chose 'mankind'  and built His whole creation plan on His ultimate relationship with mankind -- specifically you and me !   Wow !!  

So you may be stuck on the thought ..." but, but ..  she is wrong in saying the name of every person ever born is written in this Book, obviously Rev. 17:8 says  some names are not!"  
Granted, that is a valid objection at first glance  .. but stay with me.  

The Most Important 'Invited Guest'  List
God has revealed His heart to us  and  we know His character. 
We know that it is God's will that EVERYONE should be saved... I Tim. 2:4.  We also know that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked- Ez. 18:23, Ez. 33:11  and He proclaims for all to hear ... "Whosoever will may come ...   "   His invitation to come to Him is extended to every human being -- Rom. 10:9-13, Rev. 22:17, Joel 2:32, John 3:16, Acts 2:21, John 12:46.  

If I am planning a milestone birthday party I will send out invitations to everyone I want to be there.  It would not make sense for me to say ... "I really want Susie to be there, but I won't send her an invitation."   
In the same way, we know  that if God desires EVERYONE to be saved they would ALL be on His list of people who are invited -- and that would include every human being that has been or will be born on this earth.  As with any invitation, however,  not everyone accepts the invitation and shows up at the event. 
While that conclusion is logical, it is not my 'proof'  to show that God wrote EVERY name in His Book. 
(I believe that every aborted baby that is not given a name, God Himself names it  and records the  name in His Book!!) 

 Names we know are Written 
There are other passages that speak to our names being written in the Book of Life.  Jesus Himself refers to it in Luke 10:20 when He tells His disciples to rejoice because their "names are written in heaven". 
Paul refers to the Book of Life in Phil. 4:3 when he speaks of his fellow workers "whose names are in the Book of Life."
Daniel prophecies in Dan. 12:1 that God will deliver those "whose names are written in the book." 
Rev. 21:27 speaks to the fact that in the New Jerusalem nothing will be allowed to enter it that defiles ... but ONLY those who are "written in the Lamb's Book of Life" 
Heb. 12:23 assures us that those in the 'church' of Jesus are "registered in heaven" 

So we know that the above names are those who are 'saved'. All those who have put their trust in Jesus have their names written in God's Book,  And we know the names that are there were recorded 'before the foundation of the world."

Let's look at whose names are NOT found in the Book 
Rev. 17:8  tells us  that the names of the beast worshippers are not found in the Book, and we also see in Rev. 13:8  that this fact is repeated -- beast worshippers do not find their name in the Book. 
We know that those :beast worshippers' whose names are NOT written in the book are outside the Kingdom of God,  
So now we must consider  --  if every human being's name was written in the Book of Life before God created the earth, then why do these verses point out that some names are missing? 

Names Blotted Out 
It seems that Old Testament saints knew about the Book of Life. . 
We first see reference to it with Moses in Ex. 32:32.  Here Moses is interceding for the rebellious Israelites who have angered God to the point He severely punished them and Moses was afraid God would destroy them all. In a desperate plea Moses begs God to forgive, but if He cannot forgive Moses offers Himself for the lives of the Israelites.  He says, "Yet now, if You will, forgive their sin - but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written." 
"Blot me out?"  Moses can only be referring to the Book of Life.  And he is saying .. "Put the people's sin on me, blot MY name out of the book instead of theirs."  
Moses knew that if  his name was  blotted out meant he would be condemned. His offer points to Jesus who DID take the sin of the world upon Himself to let them go free. 
God's answer to Moses, of course, was a refusal. He replied, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book."   Everyone is responsible for his own name in the book, whether or not it is blotted out. 
So we know that 'sinners' have their names blotted out of the Book of Life -- but names can only be blotted out if theu were first written in, right?
We also see David. In Psalm 69:28, asking for God's judgment against his enemies.  The worst he can wish upon them is that they would be blotted out of the Book of the Living - that their names should not remain with the names of the 'righteous'.  

NOTE - In Rev. 3:5 Jesus promises that those who overcome shall be dressed in white garments and Jesus will NOT blot out their name from the Book of Life. 

Is it Easy to Have our Name Blotted out?
When I don't want to do something, it takes a lot of will power to make myself do it, so I would think the same would be true of God. 
He says He does not want anyone to perish but ALL to come to repentance that they might be saved ....  so then how hard do you think He would try to save everyone?
We see God had patience with the  Amorites for 400 years  (Gen. 15:16)  He says He had patience because their 'iniquity was not yet full' ... What does that mean?   It means He still had hope, still gave them room to repent , and only when their hearts were so hard  that they would never turn from their sin,  did God finally bring judgement.  
So we know,  God will continue to draw, to woe, to convict EVERY soul until there is no hope left because the heart is tooo hard for His mercy to soften it.  Man has the free will to reject God,  but he has to harden his heart to resist  the love of God drawing him. 

Warning - how important God's word is 
There is a warning in Rev. 22:19 that states how serious an offense it is  to  take away from the words of the book of this prophecy' .. We have this same warning in Deut. 4:2 and Prov. 30:5,6. God is warning that if man 'takes away or adds'  to the Word of God the penalty is that their name is removed from the Book of Life and their inheritance in the holy city taken away..  
God's word is true and there is no other truth .. no other path to heaven ... no other salvation.    
We need to keep a holy fear for the things of God and guard our hearts from the  lies and deception of the enemy. .
"Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You."  Psalm 119:11 

Why is it important for us to understand the Book of Life?
Other than the simple explanation that every word given us by God is important I think there are some important conclusions that encourage us greatly to trust God more ! 

1. God knew and cared about me before time began !   How mind boggling is that? That God wrote down my name in His Book -- just imagine for a moment that book in heaven - lying before God's throne open to the page that has your name written in a heavenly script with liquid gold !   We know of the Hollywood Walk of Fame where celebrities have their name written on a star on the street and people come to gaze on these names.   How much greater a privilege is it to have YOUR name written in God's Book !!  

2.  Knowing our name is written -- and not written and placed on a heaven-shelf - but this book is in God's hand -- Is. 49:16  is a wonderful encouragement to our faith to believe how personally detailed God's interest in us is .. and how much He is watching to fulfill His plan and purpose for us !  see..   Ps. 56:8, Ps. 139:16, Jer. 29:11 

3. It keeps us on guard against anything that could take us away from the Lord -- We don't want our name 'blotted out' ..We want God to smile when He looks at our name and pours His love out upon us and delights in our return love for Him ! 

4. Because God wrote our name in His Book, we KNOW that He is committed to fulfilling every promise He made -- to us PERSONALLY --  
 I learned something this week.  There is a verse that has always somewhat bothered me ... "It is found in Luke 1:37 where it says .. "For with God nothing will be impossible."  We know even with God some things are impossible --for example,  it is not possible for God to lie .   I took the verse in the general sense that God could do anything He wanted to do ...  But if we go to the Greek we see that the original meaning sheds light on the intended meaning.    In the Greek it does not say that NOTHING is impossible with God ... it says that it is impossible for His  REHMA  (living) WORD to fail.   And we have the confirmation in Mary's response when she says .. "let it be to me according to your WORD"
All of God's promises to me ... to you ... stand !  Not one of them can fail !! 

5. Bottom line conclusion --   YOU and I are important to God - it is IMPOSSIBLE for Him to forget about us !!  We truly are VIP IN  His eyes!  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Time Eraser

                                                                                     street in ancient Laodicea

If I wrote a note to a friend commenting that I was so tired of this isolation, I would not have to add that I was talking about the Covid restrictions - she would immediately know. 
 BUT .. if for some reason my note was preserved for a thousand years and someone found it so many years later, they would be rather confused about  the isolation  that I referred to and might wonder if I was in a prison cell sentenced to solitary confinement. 

Time often erases information that at the time it is shared needs no explanation. 

We sometimes struggle in understanding some Bible passages for exactly the same reason. The scriptures were written  to people who understood what the writer was referring to without needing detailed clarification. But for us in another time, another culture, another language we can easily miss the intended meaning of certain scriptures. 

In recent times knowledge has greatly increased regarding details of ancient history, credit largely going to the discoveries of modern archeologists. Those uncovered details now allow us to fill in some of  the cultural  gap in our understanding. 

For example .... We now have a fresh understanding  of  what Jesus was talking about in his letter  to the church in Laodicea.  He comments in Rev. 3:15,16 --  "I wish you were either hot or cold, but because you are lukewarm I will spew you out of my mouth."   That statement would have immediately resonated with the Laodiceans as they read it, but to us it has been  a blank statement that we have grappled with to understand.  

Laodicea was a rich and prosperous city on a major trade route. It had a thriving textile production and had was admired for its finances and banking.  But there was one thing they could not control - access to good drinking water. 

Some miles away was the city of Colossae that enjoyed the cold, clear, pure water from mountain streams.  In the other direction were the hot springs of Hieropolis, known for their healing minerals. The Laodiceans were very familiar with these two cities and I'm sure envied them.     

Since they however had no fresh source of water , water had to be brought in by viaducts.  Not only was the incoming water lukewarm but it was also full of sediment.   It was not pleasant to drink  -- and  it would have been a shock to them that Jesus would compare them to this despicable water !  Unthinkable!!
 Jesus put His finger on the problem in a way they could not miss His meaning. 
Of course Jesus would rather they were like cold pure water, that satisfied thirst or like the hot healing water.   But the lukewarm gritty water was not desirable at all and neither were the Laodiceans. 

There is another analogy in Jesus' comparison to gritty, lukewarm water.   When we 'hew our own cisterns of water "  (Jer. 2:13)  we forsake the fountain of living water.  And when we compromise with the world, seeking its pleasures more than Christ,  we find that the resulting 'water' is gritty and disgustingly  lukewarm in its ability to satisfy.   

Only the Fountain of Living Water can satisfy - that springs up within us  into eternal life! If we drink from this water, we will never be lukewarm or in danger of Jesus spewing us out !!  

"Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.
 But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water
springing up into everlasting life." 
John 4:14

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A New Year - 2021

I  wish you all a very special, God-blessed NEW YEAR !!! . 

Today is the last day of 2020, a year we would never have believed had we been told last December. It has truly been an unprecedented year ! and one I hope we never have to repeat. 
But it is the eve of 2021 and a new year is at the dorr,  a new beginning ...  

Are you not thankful that our God is a God of new beginnings?

I remember how I loved the beginning of the  new school year when all my notebooks were blank. I always resolved to fill the book with my neatest printing from the first page to the last ... but every year the story was the same.  With each filled page my printing became more hurried and the pages messier.   

God knows we can never live up to our own highest standards, let alone attain HIS standards of righteousness , so He so encouragingly gives us each day as a blank slate - We get a new beginning every morning !!! 
"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not, They are NEW EVERY MORNING .
Great is Your faithfulness !!"
Lam. 3:22,23 

Before my daughter left home, I loved that when I cooked, she cleaned up after me !  
Are you not thankful that God cleans up after us ? 
We too often drag our feet in the past, feeling the guilt and the sting of failures .. but God tells us not to look back but to look forward and He will work our 'messes' out for good. 
I John 1:9, Phil. 3:12-14, Rom. 8:28, 

May 2021 be a year of new beginnings when once again we can enjoy the blessings of 'togetherness' !!! 
May it be a new beginning, where the Lord takes the 'messes' of 2020 and works them into the good He has planned for 2021!

  A wonderful word from the Lord to encourage us as a new year dawns is found in Is. 43.  
"Do not remember the former things, 
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth. 
Shall you not know it?
 I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the dessert"
   Is. 43:18,19   

May this be our hope and our prayer for the coming year ..