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!

 

 

 

Be Still My soul!

I woke up with one line of an old hymn, “Leave to thy God to order and provide,-” As the hymn didn’t come to mind immediately, I searched my hymnal and found the beautiful old hymn, “Be Still My Soul!” I spent my quiet time with the Lord pondering the meaning of the words, the comfort and encouragement of  each thought expressed!

“Be still my soul! The Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He faithful will remain. Be still my soul! thy best, thy heavenly Friend thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still my soul! thy God doth undertake, to guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still my soul! The waves and winds still know His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still my soul! the hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord, When disappointment, grief and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still my soul! When change and tears are past, All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”

The words are so applicable at this time of year as we prepare to end one year and begin another. In the rush and worry of Christmas we need to spend time in stillness! Life is short and stress is a thief, robbing us of joy and often our health. Be still in your soul!

Psalm 46:10 expresses some of the same thoughts which I will paraphrase, “Cease striving, let go, relax, stand silent, Know that I Am God!” The reason we can have the stillness of soul is because we know God (intimately)! We have a relationship with Him that is immovable no matter what comes our way. He is my God!

The Psalm begins with, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help. He’s abundantly available for help in trouble (or tight places.) Therefore we will not fear even if the world blows up and the mountains crumble into the sea.

4-There is a river of joy flowing through the City of God, the sacred home of the God above all gods. God, Himself is living in that city; therefore it stands unmoved despite the turmoil everywhere. He will not delay His help. The Commander of the armies of heaven is here among us. He has come to rescue us. Come and see the glorious things God does.”

When God is in the city, in my heart, in my home, I can stand unmoved by the turmoil around me. I can commit my future to Him, leaving the ordering and provision to Him because I know He has looked after all my needs and even some wants in the past.

I refuse to let my hope and confidence be shaken because I know the waves and winds, the storms that come my way, are subject to Him. They still know His voice!! On the Sea of Galilee, Jesus spoke to the waves and the wind which stopped at His command.

This world is not my home! Someday all sorrows, disappointments, fear and grief will no longer have any place in my life and I shall go to my forever home to be with Him. In the meantime I make time to be still, to reflect on the goodness of God towards me. I spend time in His Word as He speaks to me and I talk to Him with thankfulness!

 

 

 

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.

 

My Times Are In His Hands

Today is my 80th birthday! To me it’s a milestone and a time to reflect on my life. Was I born for a reason? Does it matter that I was even born? What does the future hold? There’s a song that expresses some of my thoughts. I heard the Singing Hills sing it on Tribal Trails. I think it was written by Hoppers who sing it on Youtube.

TOO FAR TO LOOK BACK

I’ve come too far to look back again, there is nothing behind me,
All the treasures I used to love have all faded from view
There’s a new day ahead for me. all my heartaches are over
For I left them at Calvary where my new life began.

Chorus
I’ve come too far to look back
My feet have walked through the valley
I’ve climbed mountains, crossed rivers, desert places I’ve known,
But I’m nearing the home shore, the redeemed are rejoicing,
Heavens angels are singing, I’ve come too far to look back.

Look around, there’s no happiness, there’s no reason for living
Life will give you a broken dream, full of sorrow and fear.
Turn around, don’t look back again, face the new day before you.
Place your heartache in Jesus’ hand, He can mend broken dreams.

Chorus
I’ve come too far to look back
My feet have walked through the valley
I’ve climbed mountains, crossed rivers, desert places I’ve known
But I’m nearing the home shore, the redeemed are rejoicing,
Heavens angels are singing, I’ve come too far to look back.

Tag:  But I’m nearing the home shore, the redeemed are rejoicing,
Heavens angels are singing, I’ve come too far to look back.

Yes!! I am nearing the home shore! The broken dreams, the mountains and valleys I have placed in Jesus’ hands. My times are in His hands! He has brought me thus far and He will lead me on to whatever the future holds.

THE NEXT TIME THAT YOU SEE ME

The times we live in are even more uncertain than they were in my grandparents time. We have no guarantee that any of us will be here tomorrow and when we say good-by we can’t be certain we will see each other again in our life on earth. This world is not my forever home, I am bound for heaven where I shall spend eternity with my Lord Jesus. What a glorious thought!

This song really touched my spirit when I heard it sung by the Singing Hills on Tribal Trails. It awakened a longing to be there in my heavenly home with my Savior and all my loved ones who have gone before me whom I will meet again with joy!

THE NEXT TIME THAT YOU SEE ME

I’m ready to move to heaven to a land that’s fair and bright,
Where there is perfect peace, in that everlasting life.
Jesus has gone to build for me, a mansion there I know
And the next time that you see me I may be living in my heavenly home.

Chorus
The next time that you see me may be on streets of gold.
The next time that you see me I may be wearing a brand new robe.
May be kneeling at His feet or shaking His nail scarred hand.
The next time that you see me I may be living in gloryland.

You may come to visit me and knock upon my door,
You may not get an answer, I won’t be living there anymore.
I’m just here for a short while and then I’ll soon be gone,
For the next time that you see me I may be living in my brand new home.

 

 

This song can be heard on utube, sung by the Whisnants and a demo can be downloaded from Crossroadsmusic.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DRIFTING IS DANGEROUS

 

There are many Evangelical preachers, teachers and church leaders who believe we are living in the last days before Jesus comes again. They do not know the day or the hour but from everything they study in the Bible they see events as shaping up to His soon return. Never before have so many things come together as signs which Jesus said to watch for. (Matthew 24)

If you grew up in Church you heard sermons and read books or heard people talking about this. I remember in the 60’s people feared that another war was imminent.They began gathering food and other supplies and a few even made themselves underground shelters. Along the way there were some books written that actually set dates like, 1988 which was changed to 1989 when it didn’t happen.

When we hear something often we may tune out or tend not to listen very carefully. I remember when I was a child and my mother would tell a familiar story from her past. Because I had heard it before, I did not listen very carefully. Now, many years later I wish I had paid more careful attention. I let her words drift by because they were nothing new. I heard it before.

The writer to the Hebrews says, long ago God spoke through prophets and in many other ways but in these last days, He has spoken in His Son, Jesus. He then gives a warning, ” For this reason, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” It’s possible to hear the message of salvation but not pay attention, instead let it drift, in one ear & out the other. (Heb 1:1-2; 2:1)

He gives another warning  in 3:12 “Take care, lest there be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away (standing aloof) from the living God.” More than once he entreats them not to “harden their hearts.” There’s a downward trend; drifting, then doubting and finally disbelief, refusal to believe because of a hardened heart. Today as He speaks, we need to pay careful attention.

Peter writes to his followers so that they will remember the words spoken to them by the prophets and apostles. He wants them to know that in the last days, mockers are going to come who will say, “Where is the promise of His coming? It didn’t happen in our fathers day and everything is carrying on as it always has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:1-4)

“When they say this, they willfully forget that, by the Word of God, the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water through which the world at that time was destroyed being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth, by His Word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgement and destruction of ungodly people.”  (3:5-7)

Peter also wants them to pay close attention, to not let the truth drift by. “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, with the Lord, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (3:8-9)

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” (3:10-11)

The message of salvation is an old, old story. God created man to have fellowship with Him but man rebelled. His rebellion carried the death penalty but Jesus, God’s Son paid the death penalty by dying on a cross, in our place. God raised Him from the dead and now He lives and is interceding for us. My part is to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus died for me and that He is alive today. (Rom 10:9-11)

You may have heard this message many times but you have not taken it seriously. You think you have lots of time to make a commitment to Jesus Christ. Drifting is dangerous! Drifting is perilous to your soul! Time as we know it, is running out! It’s time to stop drifting! An old gospel song depicts this as someone who is out on a sea drifting farther and farther from the safety of the shore.

DRIFTING TOO FAR FROM THE SHORE           by Charles E. Moody 1923

Out on the perilous deep where danger silently creeps
and storms so violently sweeping, you’re drifting too far from the shore.

Today the tempest rose high and clouds o’ershadow the sky
Sure death is hovering nigh, you’re drifting too far from the shore

Why meet a terrible fate, mercies abundantly await
Turn back before it’s too late, you’re drifting too far from the shore.

Chorus
Drifting too far from the shore, you;re drifting too far from the shore.
Come to Jesus today, He will show you the way.
You’re drifting too far from the shore.