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!

 

 

 

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.

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.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

In his book, “The Bush Is Still Burning” Lloyd John Ogilvie describes an experience he had in Israel as he sat on a hillside watching shepherds and their sheep in the valley below. As the sun began to set, he saw something remarkable take place. The shepherds began to call out to the sheep, each walking in a different direction. After milling around a bit, the sheep divided and a separate group followed each shepherd.

What a sight, the shepherd in front and the sheep faithfully following. They knew their Shepherd and he knew his sheep.Each shepherd led his sheep to a different sheepfold, an enclosure with four walls and a man sized opening on one side. The shepherds stood inside and called their sheep to enter.

Then they built a fire just inside the door and prepared their evening meal. Before long the fires would be banked and the shepherds would curl up in their blankets for a night of watchfulness inside the doorway of the sheepfold. No sheep could go out and no predators or invading danger could come in past the shepherd.

The imagery of shepherds and sheep is used all through the Bible, depicting God and His relationship with His people. Psalm 100:3 “Know that the Lord Himself is God. It is He Who has made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” God is frequently referred to as the Shepherd and Israel as His flock.

He is the Good Shepherd Who provides everything for His sheep as Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Often Jesus spoke of Himself as the Shepherd and the disciples or followers as His flock and when He said He was the Good Shepherd, He identified Himself with God.

In John 10, we have the words of Jesus teaching His disciples. He compares His relationship with them as that of a shepherd and his sheep. When He spoke using figures of speech, they didn’t understand so He began to speak more directly. In verse 7 and 9, Jesus tells them, “I am the door of the sheep.”

Then He says, ” I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Not only am I the protector of my sheep, the only way to go in and out of the sheepfold, but I willingly lay down my life for my sheep.”I am the good shepherd and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

Vs17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.” Vs18 “No one takes it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

But there were other people who heard the words of Jesus and they argued all the time about His words and whether He was the Christ or not. Jesus pinpointed their questioning attitude by saying to them, “You do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.”

So, not everyone is a sheep who is following Jesus, the Shepherd. There are those who are not interested in what He has to say except to find some fault. There are some who hear His voice and seem to be one of the sheep but they do not really want to follow Him and obey Him.

All through Scripture there are solemn warnings not to harden our hearts to His voice. In Psalm 95:6-7 “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts -,”

Hebrews 3 says. “Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts,” God requires our obedience if we truly hear His voice and desire to follow Him. Proverbs 29:1 “A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.”

In his book, “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23” Phillip Keller talks about a beautiful ewe he had which he really loved. She was healthy and bright eyed, and she had sturdy lambs which matured rapidly. But she had one fault, she was restless, discontented.

He named her Mrs.Gadabout. Because she was a fence crawler, she produced more problems than all his other sheep. No matter what field or pasture the sheep were in Mrs.Gadabout would search for a loophole to craw through and feed on the other side.

Often she would end up feeding on bare, brown, burned up pasturage that was inferior to the place she was in before. She never learned but continued to fence crawl time after time. Not only that but she taught her lambs the same tricks and soon they were skilled at fence crawling too.

Even worse was the example she set for other sheep. In a short time she began to lead others through the same holes and over the same dangerous paths down to the sea. After putting up with her perverseness for a summer, he came to a conclusion. In order to save his flock from becoming unsettled, she would have to go.

He could not allow one obstinate, discontented ewe to ruin the whole ranch operation. It was the only solution. It was a difficult decision to make because he loved her as much as the rest. One morning her fence crawling career was cut short. He took the killing knife and he butchered her. In spite of the good care he had given her she always wanted something else.

To quote Phillip, “She was not like the one who said, The Lord is my Shepherd – I shall not want. It is a solemn warning to the carnal Christian  – backslider – the half Christian – the one who wants the best of both worlds. Sometimes, in short order, they can be cut down.”

There is another type of sheep Jesus mentioned, those who are not a part of the fold yet. Vs16 “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice; and they shall become one flock with one Shepherd.” Jesus, the Good Shepherd is calling the lost.

In Luke 15 we have a parable Jesus told to illustrate the great love He has for lost sheep. The shepherd who has one hundred sheep finds that one is missing. He leaves the ninety nine and searches for the lost one until he finds it. He calls his neighbors to rejoice with him because he found his sheep that was lost.”

“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over ninety nine righteous persons that need no repentance. Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”

At Easter we remember the death, burial and the resurrection of Jesus. Isaiah tells us He bore our iniquity, our sins. We were disobedient, like straying sheep and Jesus laid down His life for us. If we hear His voice and follow Him we will never want or lack any necessity of life. He promises to care for us forever, in this life and the next.

Vs27-30 “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. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one (essence).”

HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN

How long has it been since you talked with the Lord,
And told Him your heart’s hidden secrets?
How long since you prayed? How long since you stayed
On your knees till the light shone through?

How long has it been since your mind felt at ease?
How long since your heart knew no burden?
Can you call Him your friend? How long has it been
Since you knew that He cared for you?

How long has it been since you knelt by your bed
And prayed to the Lord up in heaven?
How long since you knew that He’d answer you
And would keep you the long night through?

How long has it been since you woke with the dawn
And felt that the day’s worth the living?
Can you call Him your friend? How long has it been
Since you knew that He cared for you?

 

Song by Mosie Lister

You Can’t Can God!

In Psalm 78, Asaph gives a good description of Israel’s up and down relationship with God. They were supposed to instill faith in the next generations by telling them about God and His wondrous works on their behalf. They were told to teach them to their children, so they would put their confidence in God, but they didn’t always do that.

God had led them through the Red Sea, on dry land, and He had given them visible proof that He was there, in the cloud by day, and the fire at night. He had provided daily food, in the form of manna, and water from a rock. But they grew tired of the manna, they longed for the foods they had eaten in Egypt. They forgot about their miserable existence in Egypt, when they were slaves, and they remembered only, the foods.

They didn’t really have a heart for following God, in spite of the many miracles, so they spoke against God. They chose to forget all that He had done for them, and they said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? We know He’s provided water, can He give bread also?” Then they took it one step farther, they said, “Will He provide meat for us?” The Lord heard their complaining, and He was angry with them, because they chose not to trust in His salvation, deliverance and provision for all their needs.

Over and over again, they grieved Him by their failure to remember His power, which was demonstrated in all that He had already done for them. Their failure to believe in His good intentions towards them, also grieved Him. They forgot the  Covenant that God had made with them, and they forgot that the land they were going to, was promised, as a part of that Covenant.

Because of their unbelief, they wandered in the wilderness for the next forty years, until that generation was gone. Their unbelief caused them to make an eleven day journey, last for forty years. Then, God brought the next generation into the land which He had promised. Their constant unwillingness to believe, caused them to fail to receive, all that God had promised. They questioned, first “Can God?” and then, “Will God?”

If God, Who is all powerful, gives His Word, why would I ask the question, “Can God?” If God, Who loves me, has said in His Word, “Don’t be anxious about your life, what you will eat, or what you will wear, or even about tomorrow,” should I ask, “Will He?” When I consider the lilies and the sparrows which He provides for, I know He will provide for me! Jesus said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” My part is to believe, He can and He will!