Perfect You, Perfect Me, Paradise

“Why isn’t the world perfect?” This was an interesting question which surprised me.  I did not have a ready answer but I responded with another question, “What would the world or people look like if they were perfect? ” To be perfect is not necessarily the same thing to everyone so we need to agree on the meaning.

Some dictionary meanings given are; free from faults or defects; as good as it is possible to be; lacking nothing essential to the whole. These are helpful but we also need a standard to measure everything by. What does it mean for the world or people to be as good as it is possible to be? There are as many answers as there are people.

There is only one unchanging standard for determining what is good or perfect and it is found in the Word of God. One of the standards, called the golden rule, is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Although there are some people who try to live that, not everyone does, so our world and humanity is imperfect and not good.

But there is a perfect world coming, one that is as good as it is possible to be. That perfect world will be filled with perfect people who are free from faults and defects. “Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Cor 2:9  Can we even imagine?

Genesis 1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  He made the sun, moon and stars, the vegetation and all living creatures and He said it was good.  He made man in His image, as a reflection of Himself and  breathed life into his body, soul & spirit. Then God planted a garden in Eden and He put the man,  Adam in it.

Finally  God made Eve to be  Adam’s female companion and God said that everything  was very good.  It was good but it wasn’t perfect because the  serpent, (devil,  Satan, Rev 12:9) was there. He deceived Eve and she and Adam disobeyed God. The sin of disobedience brought upon them and all of creation, the consequence of death!

As their bodies were no longer clothed in God’s glory they knew they were naked. Adam had enjoyed close fellowship with God, walking and talking together in the garden but now when he heard God’s voice he felt shame and he hid. As a result of Adam’s disobedience nothing was good anymore.  All of creation was under a curse!

Mankind, animals, nature, vegetation and all of creation was forever changed. Their life from now on would be difficult and everything  would deteriorate and eventually die. God removed them from the garden and He placed cherubim and a flaming sword at the entrance to guard the way to the tree of life.

The basis of their sin was that Adam and Eve wanted something different than what God wanted for their life. They didn’t trust God and didn’t believe that God’s plan for them was the best. Since then in every human heart there is that same cancer cell of rebellion that says I want something different than what God wants for me.

But God had a plan for their redemption and the eradication of evil forever. In sentencing Satan , God pronounced a curse on him saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall crush you on the head and you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Romans 5:12 “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned -” Galatians 4:4-5 says, “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, …in order that He might redeem those who are under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When the time was right God sent His Son, Jesus, into this world, to be born as a perfect, sinless baby to a virgin named Mary. Laying aside His divinity He  took on the form of humanity and came to do the will of His Father in heaven.

Born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, He lived in subjection to His earthly parents, growing in favor with God and  man. Except for once when he was twelve years old we don’t hear much about Him until He was  thirty years old. Then He was baptized in the Jordan river, the Holy Spirit came upon Him and the voice of His Heavenly Father said, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.”

After He had overcome the devil’s temptations in the desert, He returned to Galilee preaching the gospel, casting out demons, healing the sick and doing many miracles. He chose twelve men as disciples to whom He could entrust His work after He was gone, and for three years He taught them how to live by God’s kingdom principles.

Wicked men who did not believe He was the Son of God, had Him arrested, tried and convicted as a criminal. He was mocked, whipped and nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men. In the plan and foreknowledge of God He died, crushing the head of Satan, and redeeming us from the curse. But God raised Him from the dead!

He spent the next forty days preparing His disciples for His departure and return to heaven. Then He gathered them together and gave them final orders not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the Father’s promise. They would then be baptized with the Holy Spirit, Who would  empower them to be His witnesses to the whole earth.

As His disciples were looking on, He was lifted up and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Suddenly, two men in white clothing stood  beside them and said, “Why are you looking into the sky? This same Jesus Who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in just the same way in which you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10-11

Ten days later, on the day of Pentecost, as they were all together in one place, the Holy Spirit filled them and they began speaking in other languages. As Peter preached the gospel, the people’s conscience was smitten and they said, “What shall we do?” His reply was, “Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:1-41

“For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the LORD our God shall call to Himself.” All who repent and receive Christ’s provision of salvation will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit Who will empower them to change. They are not perfect yet but they are born again spiritually with a new heart and nature.

OUR PERFECT BODIES
One day Jesus will return, “He will descend with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God. The dead in Christ will rise first, 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 shall we always be with the LORD.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

We shall not rise with earth bound, flesh and blood bodies but we will be changed. We will have perfect, imperishable bodies fit for heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:42-53  says, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable,…we shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable and this mortal must put on immortality.”

Philippians 3:20-21 says Jesus will transform our bodies into conformity with His body. The kind of body we will have will be like the body of Jesus after His resurrection.  In John 20:26 we read that the disciples were in a room with closed doors and suddenly Jesus appeared and in Luke 24:31 He disappeared while talking to His friends.

In his book, “Beyond the Cosmos,” Hugh Ross brings insight into what our changed bodies may be like. Right now, from birth to death we exist in the four dimensions of length, width, height and time. In the new creation, our bodies will have different characteristics and capacities.  We will be extradimensional and Romans 8:18-21 says creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay.

PERFECT LIFE
Our new habitation will be free of natural and man made disasters and crime, as nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination (detestable things) shall come into it. Sorcerers, immoral persons, murderers, idolaters, prostitutes (males called dogs in Deut 23:18) and everyone who loves and practices lying will not be there. The devil, the cowardly and the unbelieving  will not be there, and there shall be no curse.

God will dwell among His people and He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There shall no longer be any death, mourning, crying or pain. They shall not hunger nor thirst any more, neither shall the sun beat down on them. There shall no longer be any night. There will be no need of a lamp, nor light from the sun or moon because the Lord God will illumine them with His glory.

We will recognize each other. Moses and Elijah were recognized when they appeared at the transfiguration of Jesus. Matt 17:3. We will also have perfect love and intimate fellowship with one another without sex, sexuality or marriage. Matt 22:29-32. War and fear will not be there. Isaiah 65 says the wolf and the lamb will graze together and the lion shall eat straw like an ox.

Whether we will live in the new heaven, the new earth or the new Jerusalem, only those whose names are found written in the book of life, who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior, will be there. The people who are there have overcome the devil because of the blood of the Lamb, Jesus, and because of the word of their testimony and they were willing to die for their faith.

John 14:1-3 Jesus told His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me. I am going  to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also.” As perfect people we will live forever in a perfect place! Paradise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jesus Is Coming Again

Jesus is coming back to earth someday! If He came today would you be ready? Are you looking for Him and longing for His coming? Heb 9:28 says, “…Christ …shall appear a second time…to those who eagerly await Him.”

The early believers spoke and wrote about His coming soon but they did not know when. When the disciples asked when it will happen,  Jesus answered, “…No one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Matt 24:36

Not long before His crucifixion,  as Jesus was sitting with His disciples on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, they asked Him,  “What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)

Several times before this as He was teaching the disciples He told them that He was going to be killed and raised to life again.  Mark 9:32 says,  “They did not understand this statement and they were afraid to ask Him.”

Now Jesus begins speaking about His coming and of the end of the age. He begins with a warning, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ, the Messiah’  and will mislead many.”

Then He describes the state of chaos the world will be in. There will be wars and rumors of wars, nations rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom and in various places famines and earthquakes. This could be today’s newspaper!

He says they will be persecuted and hated by all nations  because they bear the name of Jesus.  Many will leave the faith and  betray and hate one another. The love of many people will grow cold because of the lawlessness and iniquity.

False Christs and false prophets  will show great signs and wonders so as to mislead people, even Christians. If someone says He is in this or that place, do not believe them because Christ’s coming will be like a flash of lightning, from the east to the west.

Just like in the days of Noah, people were living ordinary lives, eating and drinking, and marrying until the day Noah entered the ark, and they didn’t understand until the flood came and took them all away; that’s how His coming will be. There will be two men working side by side, one will be taken and the other left.

Over and over He told them to be ready because they do not know when He will come. He is coming on a day and at an hour when they do not expect Him. He warns them not to live without restraint, as if His coming is a long way off.

Luke 21:25-36 says “there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars and upon  the earth, distress of nations in bewilderment and perplexity at the roaring of the tossing of the sea . Men will be fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

“Then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near…recognize that the kingdom of God is near….Be on your guard….keep on the alert at all times, praying….”

At the Passover meal, the last supper Jesus had with His disciples, He knew His time had come to leave this world and go back to His Father in heaven.  He tried to prepare them but they didn’t understand. He told Peter, “Where I go, you cannot follow me now, but you shall follow later.”  John 13:36

He told them, “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places… I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3

After His crucifixion and resurrection Jesus was with them for forty days teaching them.  His last words to them were, “Stay in Jerusalem, wait for the Father’s promised baptism of the Holy Spirit that I told you about, Who will empower you to be My witnesses to the end of the earth.”  Acts 1:1-5

After He had said these things, as they were looking into the sky, He disappeared into a cloud. Two men in white clothing appeared and said to them, “Why are you looking into the heavens (sky)? This Jesus will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:9-11

Peter, who was there as Jesus disappeared in the cloud, that day, waited with others in the upper room in Jerusalem for the promised baptism. After he received the Holy Spirit with power to witness, he stood up and preached his first sermon with the result that three thousand souls believed on Jesus.

From that day on Peter determined to tell people about Jesus! The man who had run in fear and denied that he knew Jesus, now boldly encouraged believers to continue in the faith in spite of the Roman persecution under Nero’s reign. He wrote letters of encouragement and also of warning.

He reminded them that he was an eye witness to all that he told them about Jesus. He had heard the Father’s voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son with Whom I am well pleased.” But the message will not be accepted by everyone!

Mockers will come saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since our fathers passed away, all continues as it was from the beginning of creation.”2 Pet 3:3

They forget that God already destroyed the earth once by a flood. He is not slow about His promise, but He is patiently giving people time to repent. He does not want anyone to perish. His patience is their opportunity for salvation.  But eventually the Lord will come as He promised.

In Paul’s letter to Timothy he told him, “Realize this, that in the last days difficult, perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable,”

“Malicious gossips, without self control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as this.” 2 Tim 3:1-5

As believers who are looking eagerly for His coming we are to live differently. We are to “abide (stand firm)  in him, so that when he appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him at His coming.” 1 John 2:28

“Now we are children of God, and it has not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3

“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes (kindred) of the earth will mourn (lament) over Him…’I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, ‘Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev 1:7-8

In a  letter to the Thessalonian believers Paul  tells them that those who are alive when Jesus comes will not go before those who have died. He describes the coming of the Lord. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God;”

“And the dead in Christ (believers who  have died) will rise first. 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…Comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13 -18

Jesus’ words of comfort to Martha regarding Lazarus’ death were, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” John 11:25-26

Paul explains a mystery to the Corinthian believers, “We shall not all sleep (die) but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Cor 15:50-53

In the light of Christ’s coming, how should we live? Jesus explained the way to live to the multitudes and to His disciples. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

“For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

“For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man (Jesus) will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38

Jesus is coming for all those who have repented of their sins and have accepted His salvation. He is coming for all who believe in Him. Those who are trying to establish their own righteousness will not go with Him. They will be left behind!

Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus is not going to take unrighteous sinners to heaven. His death on the cross made salvation available to all who believe and accept His provision.

Romans 10:8-10 “The word of faith is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”

Jesus is coming! The fact that He has not come yet does not mean He is not still coming! His words to us are, “Be ready! Live as if He is coming today! Watch!”

 

 

 

God’s Love And His Anger

On July 8, 1741, Jonathan Edwards delivered his famous sermon entitled, “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God.” The message was given in Enfield, Connecticut at the height of the Great Awakening. The powerful imagery of hell invoked fear.

The text was Deuteronomy 32:35, “Their foot shall slip in due time.” God was angry with the Israelites who had forsaken Him and provoked Him to anger with their worship of demons and other gods. Over and over He had been their Rock, their provider and their deliverer but they turned away from His love and now He was angry with their rebellion.

The message was meant to make people think seriously about their eternal destination. He wanted sinners to realize that someday they will be judged by God, whose judgement will be more fearful and painful than they can comprehend. Graphic descriptions and vivid imagery enhanced the themes presented. A short summary of some of the main points were;

1. Unrepentant sinners face a fearful judgement from which there is no escape
2. Time is short for the unrepentant; God’s wrath will come suddenly and unexpectedly
3. It is only God’s free choice that extends the ‘day of mercy’ and provides another opportunity to respond to His call.
4. Although there are not visible means of death before them at the moment the wicked should not feel secure.
5. All that wicked men may do to save themselves will not save them from the pain of hell if they reject Christ.
6. God has never promised to save anyone from hell, except for the provision of salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross.

His words were meant to condemn the sin in those who were unrepentant and to shake the “fence sitters” out of their complacency. People responded in various ways. Many times the sermon was interrupted as listeners were moaning and crying out, “What must I do to be saved?” Some fled the church and others screamed and nearly fainted! He scared the hell out of a lot of people!! Some repented, believed and received Christ.

Most of the time we want to think of God as all loving, giving and kind. And He is! Scripture says God is Love, that’s His very nature, but He created us with a will, we are not robots. We can exercise our will to love Him and live a life pleasing to Him or we can turn our backs on Him and follow everything that is pleasing to us. We always have a choice.

When we choose our way, He still shows us His love and stands with arms extended, calling us back to Him as He did with Israel. Unfortunately many people reject His call and decide to go their own way. They think they can do it their way and it will be accepted. God says our righteousness is like filthy rags. We can never be good enough or do enough good deeds to cover our sins.

God created us as eternal beings which means, each person will live forever. We were made with a body, soul and spirit. Our body of flesh and blood will die but our soul and spirit will always live somewhere in eternity! God has provided two places for us to live; heaven or hell. There is no third choice! There is no waiting place where we can buy more time to be made ready for heaven!

Two choices;  #1. Heaven, in the place Jesus has prepared for us, to be with Him forever, in the presence of our Father and His angels,  and #2. Hell (the lake of fire) which is prepared for the devil and his demons but where unrepentant sinners will be sent after they face Almighty God! In his book,”Beyond the Cosmos” Hugh Ross says, “The lake of fire is a place where people and demons get what they want above anything else: freedom from the will and rule of God and freedom from the restraints of conscience.”

Jesus told the disciples, don’t worry about the persecution you will encounter as you witness for Me. “Don’t fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;…” Proverbs 1:7 “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.”

Hell is a real place! It’s a place of torment from which there is no escape once you are there! In parables and stories Jesus spoke of people being  sent to a place of outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The book of Revelation speaks of fire and brimstone as the final end of those who refuse God’s offer of salvation. Those who accept the world’s system will be tormented with fire and brimstone with the smoke of their torment ascending forever. Revelation 14:9-11

Today is the day of salvation! James 4:13-14 “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will…’  Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.” Hebrews 2 (paraphrased) “We must pay attention to what we’ve heard. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Jesus came to deliver us.” Hebrews 3 and 4, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”

Jesus, the sinless Son of God, came from heaven to earth, took on human flesh, lived as a man, was crucified as the Lamb, sacrificed for the sins of all mankind. The blood of Jesus, now cleanses from sin and saves all who receive Him as their Savior. Romans 10:9-13 (paraphrased) “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart… the word of faith…  if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you shall be saved.”

“For with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation… Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed… Whoever will call upon the Name of Jesus will be saved.” John 3:16 “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

My friend, what about your soul? Will you spend eternity in heaven or hell? The decision is yours! Do not wait, you may not have another time! Christ stands at the door of your heart but you must open the door! Can you say the words from the hymn by Horatio G Spafford, “It is well with my soul!  – My sin – oh, the bliss of this glorious thought – my sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul.”

Today is the day! There is no guarantee of tomorrow!

 

 

 

The People Who Know Their God!

Daniel 11:32 “The people who know their God will display strength  and take action (do exploits for God.) Daniel was talking about bad things that are going to happen, evil and wickedness will seem to be winning, but in the midst of it there will be people who will know their God, the true God, the Lord of heaven and earth and they will stand strong!

As we look at the world and we listen to the news we could feel sick. Because of the Media we are more aware of everything that is happening around the world and it does not look very promising! We need to know God in order to stand strong! I need to trust Him in every area of my life.

In my quiet time one day a familiar story in Mark 8 caught my attention. The disciples & Jesus were in a boat, crossing the lake when the disciples expressed concern that they had forgotten to bring food & had only one loaf of bread with them. Jesus said to them, “Why are you arguing about having no bread?”

“How is it that you do not understand? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? Having eyes do you not see? And having ears do you not hear? Do you not remember? When I fed the 5000 with 5 loaves of bread how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up? ” They answered “Twelve.”

And when I fed the 4000 with 7 loaves how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” “Don’t you understand yet?” He asked. Mark 6:52 says they had not gained any insight from the miracle of the loaves, their hearts were too hardened.

Like the disciples we fail to trust Him many times and in much the same ways.We forget His provision in the past. They had forgotten the miracles. He reminded them, “When I fed the multitudes there was more than enough!”

We look at our resources to meet our need. We think we have to figure out how He will do it! We look at what we have   and do not see how He will be able to do anything with the small amount we possess. The disciples knew one loaf of bread was not enough. We know our limited resources are not enough.

We don’t trust Him when we do not know Him or believe His promises. The disciples didn’t fully understand who He was. He told them but they didn’t believe His words. We do not trust Him when we allow fear to invade our mind & heart. We are afraid He won’t come through for us. We aren’t sure He cares!

The disciples on the stormy sea woke Jesus up & said, “Don’t you care that we’re perishing? Do you know about our situation?” Overwhelmed & afraid, we don’t see any way out. Jesus said to them, “Why are you fearful? How is it you have no faith?” We can’t have fear and faith at the same time, they are not compatible!

Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the man whose trust is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream & will not fear when the heat comes, but its leaves will be green. And it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”

Consider four basic ways we can have faith that counteracts the reasons we don’t trust Him.  1. We can live in faith when we look back & remember His past provision! We know He can do it again! Jesus said to the disciples, “Do you not remember?” He reminded them of what He had done before. We need to look back at His miraculous provision in the past.

2. We can live in faith by not looking at what we have in our hands and trying to figure out how God can possibly meet our needs from that. Adrian Rogers told a story of some humanitarians who were caring for some orphans after WW2.  Every night the boys were waking up with nightmares.

It was thought they had fears of an uncertain future, so every night they were fed a big meal and they were given a piece of bread to hold in their hands which would be their breakfast. Somehow, just holding the bread in their hands helped them sleep better. Jesus is our supplier, He’s our bread!

3. We can live in faith by spending time in prayer &  His Word every morning. We get to know Him & his promises. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing but in every thing by prayer & supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace which surpasses comprehension will guard your hearts & minds in Christ Jesus.”

4. We can live in faith as we do not allow fear to stay in our mind & heart. 1 Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power & love & a sound mind.” God is not surprised by the things that happen to us and He is able to work everything out.

Romans 8:28 says, ” God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” We can have hope even when the world around us is falling apart because we know God will take everything in our lives, the good & the bad, and He will work them for our good when we love & trust Him.

In his book, “The Coming Economic Armageddon,” David Jeremiah tells a story about a man named Samuel S.Scull who lived on a farm in the Arizona desert. “One night a fierce storm struck with rain, hail & high wind. Fearing what he would find, Samuel went out at daybreak to survey the loss.

The hail had beaten the garden into the ground; the house was partially unroofed, the hen house was blown away and dead chickens were scattered around. Destruction & devastation were everywhere. While standing, evaluating the mess & wondering about the future, he heard a stirring in the lumber pile that was the remains of the hen house.

A rooster was climbing up through the debris and he didn’t stop until he had mounted the highest board in the pile. That old rooster was dripping wet & most of his feathers were blown away, but as the sun came over the eastern horizon, he flapped his bony wings and proudly crowed!

That old wet, bare rooster could still crow when he saw the morning sun. And like that rooster, our world may be falling apart, we may have lost everything, but if we trust in God, we’ll see the light of God’s goodness, pick ourselves out of the rubble, and sing the Lord’s praise!”

An old song by Ira Stamphill says, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.”

“I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day, I don’t borrow from its sunshine, for it’s skies may turn to gray. I don’t worry o’er the future, For I know what Jesus said. And today I’ll walk beside Him, For He knows what is ahead.

I don’t know about tomorrow, it may bring me poverty, But the One Who feeds the sparrow is the One Who stands by me. And the path that be my portion may be through the flame or flood, but His presence goes before me, And I’m covered with His blood.”

Chorus  – “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand;                                                                 But I know Who holds tomorrow and I know Who holds my hand.”

People who know their God do not fear tomorrow, they know He has it in His control.

 

THE GOOD SHEPHERD AND THE BUMMER LAMB

I first learned about bummer lambs when I heard Sheila Walsh telling her story to Leon Fontaine on his TV show. Sheila grew up in Scotland and her mother did accounting for farmers and shepherds. Sheila saw spring lambs being born and loved being around the ewes and their lambs. Once in awhile a ewe would give birth to a lamb and reject it. She wouldn’t feed it or accept it in any way. These lambs were called, “bummer lambs”.

If the shepherd does not take the lamb it will die of a broken spirit. A good shepherd watching his flock finds the little lamb, takes it into his home, feeds it with a bottle and keeps it warm by the fireplace. Then once in awhile throughout each day, the shepherd carries it in his arms, close to his heart so the little lamb can hear and feel his heart beat.

As the lamb spends time with the shepherd it comes to know him and recognizes his voice. When the lamb is strong enough, the shepherd puts it back in the fold with the other sheep and whenever he goes out and stands on the end of the field and calls “Sheep, sheep, sheep!” the first to come running to him are the bummer lambs.

They know his voice and they run to him as soon as they hear him call. They are not loved more than the other sheep but they believe they are loved by him and they respond to his call. When Sheila was going through a very difficult time in her life she remembered the bummer lambs. She was reminded of the shepherd’s care for those little rejected lambs.

When she was little she was a daddy’s girl but when she was 5 years old his attitude toward her changed and she didn’t understand why. One day as she was sitting on the floor playing with her dog the little dog suddenly growled. She looked up to see her dad standing behind her with his cane raised, ready to bring it down on her skull.

The look of hate on his face haunted her for many years and caused her to think there was something wrong with her that caused him to hate her that much. She questioned her value as a human being. Because he fell down when she ran, she blamed herself for his aneurysm and resulting death.  She never voiced it but she tried to stuff it deep inside.

After some years of depression one day everything came to a head and she fell apart. She contacted a Psychologist friend and with his help she checked herself into a Psych ward. About 3 am. as she was sitting in the corner of the room holding onto a blanket she heard the door open. Because she was being watched she didn’t look up right away.

The man came and stood in front of her, so she looked up at him. She thought he was probably a doctor, going off duty, but afterwards she believed he was an angel. Looking at her, he placed in her hand a little stuffed toy, a tiny lamb, and he said to her, “Sheila, the Shepherd knows where to find you!” She remembered the bummer lambs.

In that moment she knew that the Lord, the good Shepherd was with her. She recalled some scriptures that she loved, “Nothing can separate us from God’s love.” “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Today she says, “I’ll always be a bummer lamb.” The bummer lamb is close to the Shepherd’s heart.

Many people have suffered rejection and somehow being rejected or abandoned by a parent hurts the most. We think parents are supposed to love their children but it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it is not actually said in words but is expressed by abuse or neglect. Often our response to the hurt is not voiced but is something we carry inside.

This is not an uncommon problem. Some people who seem to have it altogether have been living with deep grief. I will mention two such people that I have heard recently tell of their own relationship with their father. Lee Strobel,  author of “The Case For Grace” told of his father’s words to him, “I don’t have enough love for you to fill my little finger.”

Alex McFarland, author of “The God You Thought You knew,”said that shortly before his father died, he looked at him and said, “You’re nothing to me but a big, dumb ape.” He went out in the dark backyard and sat on a swing. He felt like he wanted to die, like his life was futile. At that moment God spoke to his spirit, “Trust Me, you have value to Me.”

In my own life I have felt the hurt of rejection by my earthly father and I understand how devastating and far reaching the consequences of that can be but my feelings of self worth can not be tied to people or circumstances that change. Like Sheila, Lee and Alex I have heard the voice of the Lord, my Shepherd, telling me I am accepted by Him!

In John 10 we have some of the most precious statements Jesus made about Himself as our Shepherd. He said, “I am the door of the sheepfold” no one gets in except through Me. “I am the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.” I am the good shepherd and I know My own and My own know Me.”

“My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” As the good Shepherd, He goes out, looking for the bummer lambs, the lost, rejected and unloved lambs and He carries them close in His arms where they feel His beating heart.

Healing comes as the bummer lambs spend time with Jesus, our good Shepherd and we learn to know His voice. No one loves the bummer lambs like the Shepherd! Our acceptance is in Him, our worth and our value comes from His estimation of us. We are known intimately, loved deeply and greatly valued by Him.

I am a bummer lamb who wants to spend more time with Jesus, my Shepherd! I want to know His voice and follow Him!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE REASON FOR MY HOPE

1 Peter 3:15 “- be ready always to give an answer to everyone that asks you a reason for the hope that is in you -”

To begin with I must define  what is meant by the word “hope.” It is not talking about some wish for something which may or may not be a reality. It is not an unknown hope in an unknown future. The word used here means “a desire of some good with expectation of obtaining it.” I am expecting the good I hope for.

The first reason for my hope is that God is real. He is the creator of the Universe, the heavens above and the earth beneath. “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood  through what has been made-,” Rom 1:20

I believe that God made human beings, animals and every form of life. Without God, no living creature exists. Nothing just happened to come into existence by itself. God, the Master Designer created the world and now sustains the world. He keeps the sun and moon in their places and provides the air we breathe.

The second reason for my hope is that God speaks to people. He has always spoken since time began, in various ways. He spoke directly to people like Adam, Moses and Abraham as well as others. He also spoke indirectly through His prophets and others.

He also speaks through the Bible, written by men, at different times in history, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  The Bible is the living Word of God. The message in it’s pages is the good news of our deliverance from the slavery of sin.

The Bible is reliable because of prophecies that have been fulfilled, the unity of the message and the many historical facts that are correct. The Scriptures answer the questions: “Why are we here? Where are we going? What’s the purpose of life? ” And most important of all it changes lives.

Some years ago I heard an interesting story that was told by Barry Buzza. There was a missionary in Africa who was preaching the Word and giving out Bibles free to anyone who wanted one. He offered one to a rather inebriated young man who said, “No, I don’t want one!”

The missionary said, “Well take a Bible, it will really help you. This is God’s Word to you!” The man said “No, I’m not interested in having a Bible.” As the missionary kept insisting he should take it, the man said, “Preacher, if I took that Bible I would rip out the pages and use them to wrap my cigarettes in.”

The missionary said, “OK, you can do that but you’ve got to make me a promise that every page that you use for a cigarette wrapper, you’ve got to read it before you wrap your cigarette.” The guy thought that’s a fair deal so he took the Bible and walked away.

About 25 years later the missionary came back for a retirement celebration. A young, black man was preaching up on the platform. After the service the young man came up to the missionary and asked him, “Do you know who I am?” The missionary said, “No.”

He said, “I am the young guy you gave a Bible to years ago and I said I would smoke it.” The missionary said, “Yes, I remember that.” The young man said, “Well, I smoked through Matthew, I smoked through Mark and I smoked through Luke.”

“I was smoking my way through John and I got to John 3:16 where it said,  ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believeth in Him would not perish but would have eternal life.’ I knelt down and accepted Jesus as my Savior.”

Hebrew 1:1 says “In these last days God has spoken through His Son.” God spoke when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to show us the Father and make it possible for us to know Him. He came to reconcile mankind to our heavenly Father.

When man chose his own way instead of God’s it caused us to be estranged from Him. That sin carried the penalty of death. Jesus came to earth and paid that penalty for us when He died a cruel death on a Roman cross. But His death was not the end.

He did not stay in the tomb. Three days later He was resurrected. Everyone who believes that Jesus paid the penalty for their sins receives forgiveness and begins a new, changed life with a desire to know and please God.

Everyone who trusts in Jesus as their Savior has the hope, the certain expectation of a resurrection and eternal life with Him.  I have the hope of fellowship with my heavenly Father in the life I live here on earth and for the life I will live with Him in eternity.

I could not hope to keep the law or do enough good deeds to make it to heaven. The hymn writer put it this way, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” My hope is in the salvation He has made possible for me.

Heb 6:19 says, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil (the holy of holies in heaven) where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us.” This hope is my sure anchor!

K. Wuest, said this, “This life is the sea; the soul, a ship; the hidden bottom of the sea, the hidden reality of the heavenly word. The soul is seen as storm tossed on the troubled sea of life. The soul of the believer, as a tempest tossed ship is held by the anchor within the veil, fastened by faith to the blessed reality within the veil.”

But what about those who do not choose to put their hope and trust in Jesus? We are eternal beings and will live forever somewhere, either in heaven with God or in hell without God. Hell gives people the right to live apart from God! We have a choice!

I choose to live with and for Jesus Christ. My hope is in Him! Where is your hope?

GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE

“God is still on the throne and He will remember His own,” echos in my mind from many years ago when we sang this in our church quite often. I didn’t really picture God sitting on a throne but I understood the implications of God’s rule and absolute authority. The fact that God is still on the throne should bring us a feeling of security and peace.

We should heave a sigh of relief and say, “God is in control of everything, I don’t need to worry.” There are many Scriptures that speak of God’s throne and His Sovereign rule in heaven and on earth. Isaiah 66:1 God says, “Heaven is My throne and earth is My footstool.” Psalm 45:6, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.”

Psalm 47 says the Lord Most High is to be feared, He is a great king over all the earth. He is our King, the King of all the earth. vs 8 ” God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne.” In Psalm 50:12 God says, “If I were hungry I would not tell you, or the world is Mine and all it contains (its fullness).”

When we look at the world around us it doesn’t look like God is on His throne. In fact, it looks like the world is out of control. In many places in the world being one of God’s children can cost you your very life or the life of someone you love dearly. People who refuse to deny Jesus Christ as their Lord are being imprisoned or martyred for their faith.

More than once Jesus said we would have tribulation.The truth is we have an enemy who hates us and he is doing everything in his power to destroy all that God has created. Since before creation, he wants worship and he wants to be god. God and Satan are not equal! Satan was created as a beautiful angel but his pride was his downfall.

As a created being he said in his heart, “I will ascend to heaven, I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:12-15 The Lord said to him, “You will be thrust down to Sheol.”

In Luke 10:18 Jesus said, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” The devil then set about to destroy man and everything else he could destroy. Starting with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, he planted doubt of God’s goodness in their minds and hearts and tempted them to disobey God and he is doing the same with people today.

Just as he influenced Adam and Eve and everyone who was born after them, he now works in and through the sons (and daughters) of disobedience. Evil is rampant because ungodly men have rejected God and they are following the devil. One of his main works is deception. People think they are doing what they want to but they are doing what he wants them to. They have been deceived by him.

Our enemy is referred to by various names describing his work in the world and his character. One of those names is 2 Cor 4:4  the “god of this world” meaning the world system. For His own reasons, God is allowing him to work in this world for a certain time until His purposes are fulfilled in this earth.

God has given men and women a will, they can choose to follow Him or they can follow the deceiver. Satan’s end will be the lake of fire and all those who follow his ways will join him and his angels there. The good news is, that Jesus Christ has made a way whereby everyone can return to follow God and live forever with Him. No one has to be lost forever.

Look at the world! Is it getting better? No!! Turn on the news! Terror, grief, turmoil, murder, fear and anguish are the order of the day. Tornadoes, out of control fires, disasters on the earth. Man can not control the atmosphere. He can’t command rain or sunshine. God is still in control.

Persecution will continue and even escalate. Even in the family those who do not believe will turn on the believers. But, Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Those who follow Christ, carry their cross. But, in the end, they will be victorious over the enemy!

GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE

by Kittie L. Suffield 1929

Chorus-
God is still on the throne and He will remember His own;
Tho’ trials may press us and burdens distress us He never will leave us alone.
God is still on the throne, He never forsaketh His own;
His promise is true, He will not forget you,
God is still on the throne.

Verse 1
Have you started for glory and heaven? Have you left this old world far behind?
In your heart is the Comforter dwelling? Can you say, “Praise the Lord, He is mine”?
Have the ones that once walked on the highway gone back, and you seem all alone?
Keep your eyes on the prize, for the home in the skies;
God is still on the throne.

Verse 2
Burdened soul, is your heart growing weary with the toil and the heat of the day?
Does it seem that your path is more thorny as you journey along on life’s way?
Go away and in secret before Him tell your grief to the Savior alone;
He will lighten your care, for He still answers prayer;
God is still on the throne.

Verse 3
You may live in a tent or a cottage, unnoticed by those who pass by;
But a mansion for you He is building, in that beautiful city on high;
It will outshine the wealth and the splendor, of the richest on earth we have known;
He’s the Architect true, and He’s building for you;
God is still on the throne.

Verse 4
He is coming again is the promise, to disciples when He went away;
In like manner as He has gone from you, you will see Him returning some day;
Does His tarrying cause you to wonder, does it seem He’s forgotten His own?
His promise is true, He is coming for you;
God is still on the throne.