Posted in 2Corinthians, Daniel, Jeremiah, Luke, Mark, Matthew

Two Events of Judgment

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.  But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.  For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.”  Matthew 24:34-37

 I have come to believe that Jesus is describing two events of judgment in His discourse on the future (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 17 and 21) and that they are very different to prepare for.

One event, the destruction of Jerusalem, will happen in their lifetime, or their “generation.”  It is a time of God’s wrath on the Jewish people for rejecting Christ (Luke 21:22-24); it will feature an abomination of desolation being set up in the holy place (Matthew 24:15); and  it will be horrible but “cut short,” otherwise all of the Jewish elect would be wiped out.

  The rescue for the church at this time is to flee Jerusalem when you see these things happening.  “All these things” were to be expected within their generation and they would be as visible as a fig tree budding indicating that summer is near.  There will be a fulfillment of  “all that is written” (Luke 21:22), a reference to Daniel’s seventieth ‘seven’ (Daniel 9:27), and Jeremiah’s allusion to a time of Jacob’s trouble. (Jeremiah 30:7)

   The second event Jesus describes is not just in Judea, it’s world-wide (Luke 21:35); Jesus doesn’t know when it’s going to happen; the elect don’t have to flee, they are taken; and there are no signs to prepare for it, so people have to live ready.  This coming event is not a judgment on the Jews for rejecting Christ (that already happened in the destruction of Jerusalem), but on the Gentiles who have rejected Christ. (Luke 21:24) 

 By the end of their generation this second judgment will be imminent, or “at the door,” (Matthew 24:33-34) because it will occur immediately after Jesus appears in the clouds.  We are now living between the first and second judgment events in a time of God’s favor. (2Corinthians 6:2)  This is the time to respond to God’s salvation!

Posted in 1Thessalonians, Colossians, James, Jeremiah, Psalms, Romans

Give Thanks

“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5:18

Many times we aren’t sure what God’s perfect will is for a situation, so we waver between one direction and another. “God, couldn’t you speak more clearly so that I would know for sure?” Well, this passage is crystal clear and it’s right in the word of God; “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will…” The interesting thing about God’s will is that it is not as much about what we do, as it is about how we do what we do. Listen to this verse: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:23) Whatever you do! Praying, eating, playing, watching football, shopping…. whatever.

Our text doesn’t say “for everything,” evil does happen, but rather, “in everything.” How can we thank God in every single circumstance we are in?

We can always thank Him for His love which endures forever. God loves you and me right now no matter what we’re going through! How wonderful is that?

We can thank Him that He is in control. However bad things may seem, everything that is happening has at least been allowed by God and has not surprised Him. We can thank Him for always having a plan for good no matter how badly we have messed things up. (Jeremiah 29:11) We can thank Him for His wisdom which is able to work “all” things for our good. (Romans 8:28) He will use our trials (self inflicted or God ordained) to make us complete and content in Christ alone. (James 1:2-4)

No matter what is going on we can thank Him that our real life is, “hidden with Christ in God,” (Colossians 3:1) and that our real home is in heaven. We can thank Him for the forgiveness of our sins and for His guiding presence in our future. We can thank Him for the cross, and that whatever hardship we are going through is nothing compared to what He went through for us. We can thank Him for being good, for being our Father, for being our Savior – for being our everything. As the Psalmist has said, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His loving-kindness is everlasting.” (Psalm 107:1)

Posted in 2Chronicles, Jeremiah, Matthew, Psalms

Seeking Prayer

“Seek, and you will find.” Matthew 7:7

Jesus describes three types of prayer that we will look at over the next three days. The first is seeking prayer which is a description of prayer that seeks after God for who He is. Jeremiah 29:13 gives the essence of this kind of prayer: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Singing worship songs is considered part of seeking prayer because it is God focused instead of need centered. Jesus gave us an outline for prayer which starts with who God is: “Our Father who lives in heaven; hallowed by Your Name.” Seeking prayer is when we remember it’s not about us or our name (reputation), but about God and His Name.

The best selling book The Purpose Driven Life, starts with the words, “It’s not about you.” In seeking prayer we remember this truth and long to find our satisfaction and identity in God, instead of in ourselves.

“When you said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.’” (Psalm 27:8) God invites us to come after Him and find a deeper faith based more and more on His character and less and less on our momentary feelings about Him.

People often start prayer by asking for God’s hand which is fine, but the real action comes when we prioritize seeking His face. Consider one of the greatest promises in the Bible: “If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2Chronicles 7:14) Isn’t it interesting that this verse never mentions anyone asking God to heal the land? If you seek His face, you will see His hand move on your behalf without even having to ask!

I remember when my kids were young. A lot of their interaction with me was because they needed something, but once in a while they would bring a picture that they made “just for me.” It didn’t matter what was on that paper, it was a masterpiece that was going on the refrigerator because of their loving intent. I think that’s how God feels when we seek His face!

Posted in Genesis, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John, Revelation

The Age of the Earth – Part Three

“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning…” John 8:44

Satan was already Satan at the beginning; not his beginning, but our beginning. Even though God called everything He made good, there was something evil left over from another time. The story of Satan’s fall is an untold story in Scripture even though we are repeatedly assured of the presence of an evil kingdom and given many instructions on how to stand against evil and how to exercise authority over demons.

So when did he fall? Genesis 1:2 says that after creation; “The earth was formless and void.” The greatest Hebrew scholars in the world say that the word “hayah” translated “was” in this text, can just as easily be translated, “became.” (See the footnote in the 1984 translation of the NIV Bible) In fact, the King James Bible translates “hayah” as “became” in 67 other places. Is it possible that God didn’t create the earth formless and void but that it became formless and void sometime after the creation?

The Hebrew words translated “formless and void” are “tohu va bohu.” The phrase “tohu va bohu” is only used in two other places in Scripture. One is in Jeremiah 4:23 where God is describing the result of His desolating judgment on Israel’s rebellion. Because they rebelled, God left Israel “tohu va bohu.” The other place this phrase is used is in Isaiah 34:11 where God is describing the result of His desolating judgment on Edom. Because Edom rebelled, God left the land “tohu va bohu.”

What if Genesis 1:2 is describing the result of God’s desolating judgment on the earth following Lucifer’s (Satan’s) rebellion? God created the early earth perfectly and it was inhabited by angels and animals but when Lucifer fell, God’s judgment followed. We don’t know when or how long until other angels followed him, we only know that a third did fall (Revelation 12:4, 7) and that judgment did come. The earth is covered with water and darkness in Genesis 1:2, not because God created it that way, but because it became that way after Satan’s rebellion.

Posted in Exodus, Jeremiah, John, Revelation

Drinking the Spirit

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39

We will never have rivers flowing out of us into this needy world until we learn how to regularly drink of God’s precious Spirit. It is not enough to believe in the Spirit, or even acknowledge our need for the Spirit; we must drink. Why don’t we regularly drink of the Spirit?

  1. We don’t drink because we are often trying to get a drink of something this world offers. “My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) Sports, TV, hunting, fishing, video games, work, and education are all neutral things unless we are looking to them for the renewal that only God can give, then they become leaky cisterns. Alcohol, pornography, gambling, smoking, and drugs are often the doorways to addiction for desperate people that started out only knowing that there was a thirst in their souls. God said that He alone is a fountain; an unending supply of renewal and refreshing for those who truly bring their thirst to Him.
  2. We don’t drink because we presume we already have drunk because we go to church, pray, and read the Bible. One of the saddest pictures in the Bible is Jesus outside the door of His own church knocking in Revelation 3:20. He has everything they need but He’s unable to give it to them because they have adjusted their lives and expectations to what they already have so they aren’t even asking for more. “I have need of nothing,” is what they say. 
  3. We don’t drink because we aren’t confident of God’s heart toward us. Exodus 34:14 in the New Living Translation says, “The Lord your God is passionate about His relationship with you.” God doesn’t just love you and me, He likes us. He wants to be with us. Jesus didn’t just die so that we could be forgiven and go to heaven some day. He died so that we could come into God’s presence now, and regularly drink of His Spirit.
Posted in Hebrews, Jeremiah, Romans

Seeking God 

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

God tells us that if we will seek for Him with all our heart we’ll find Him, but there is a problem with this. Sin has so corrupted us that we are unable to wholeheartedly seek God without God’s help. “No one is righteous, no, not one… no one understands, no one seeks God.” (Romans 3:10-11)

It’s sad, but even though we are able to be wholehearted about football or shopping or even our version of religion or church, it is not in us to wholeheartedly seek God without the Holy Spirit first inviting and freeing us to do so. When He reveals our sin, we are able to wholeheartedly ask for forgiveness; when He shows us our emptiness, we are able to wholeheartedly ask for His fullness; and when He shows us the depth of our need, we are able to wholeheartedly ask for His help; but when left to ourselves we are apathetic toward God. Even when the Holy Spirit is helping us discern our dependence, we are able to harden our hearts instead of seeking God. (Hebrews 3:15) We do have a role to play.

The scripture quoted above from Jeremiah is in the context of the Jewish captivity in Babylon.  Is it any wonder that right before the verse quoted above, God assures them of His purpose for them, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) The judgment they were going through was not because God didn’t love them, or because He was mean and didn’t want them to have prosperous lives. It was because they weren’t listening without these extreme measures. Even then, they had a choice, and so do we today. If everything is stripped from us we can either be offended with God, or allow our desperate situation help us to be wholehearted in our seeking of Him.

Jesus died on a cross so that we could find forgiveness, help in time of need, a sure promise for the future, and a living relationship with God right now. So let’s respond quickly to the Spirit’s promptings and make this relationship our greatest priority while trusting God’s goodness for everything else.

Posted in Jeremiah, John

Drinking the Spirit

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit…” John 7:37-39

The words Bilbo spoke in The Lord of the Rings came to me several years ago: “I am like too little butter scraped over too much bread.” Running, ministering, doing… all on fumes. I’d been like a cell phone that is beeping to tell you it’s low on power. I told myself it needed to be charged but maybe I could make one more call before I lost power? Recharging takes time and sometimes we feel like we don’t have any to spare.

How about you? Do you need a drink from the fountain of living water? Have you learned how to survive even while you’ve got signs everywhere that there is nothing in the tank?

Jesus invites me and you to come to Him again for a fresh drink of the Holy Spirit. How do we drink of the Spirit?

  1. Recognize that there is a difference between actually drinking of the Spirit and only believing in drinking, reading about drinking, or talking about drinking. (If any of these constituted drinking, I would be continually renewed.)
  2. To drink I must own my need to drink and bring that thirst to Christ Himself. Oftentimes we bring our thirst to the empty pleasures of this world that turn out to be cisterns that are leaking. (Jeremiah 2:13) We get a small emotional renewal up front but in the end we become even more weary.
  3. To drink I must believe in the abundant grace of God and that He has created me for intimacy.  He died so that sin could not keep me from Him, and He lives to help me drink of His Spirit who He knows I need.
  4. To drink I must make time. Bilbo got away. The cell phone must be plugged in for a while and be unavailable to carry around for a time.

But what about all the people who “need” me? If you take serious time for renewal you may touch fewer people, but God will be able to touch more. And in the end, people really need God, not you, anyway.

Posted in Jeremiah, Psalms

The Greatest Reward

“Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things…” Jeremiah 9:23-24

The greatest benefit of being a Christian is not something God does for us, but God Himself. The greatest reward for praying, serving, or sacrificing therefore is not an answered prayer or a changed circumstance, but an increased revelation of who He is. Think about it: our future is only as good as God is. It wouldn’t matter where we went if the One who was there was not filled with beauty, love, and righteousness. If God wasn’t perfect in every way then our future would be unstable and unpredictable. It’s not His promises, but His character behind His promises that is our ultimate guarantee.

It is a shallow Christianity that is just trying to get what God offers in salvation without seeking the God behind the offer. Who is this that has promised all of heaven to those who come to Him in faith? Who is this who has died for us and calls us to be His bride? Who is this who has made us to be the very children of God, sons and daughters, who no longer are to live in shame, fear, and guilt but in the security of the beloved?

Do you enjoy God? I hope so. If not, you’re missing something very important. Instead of trying to make your life work just so, or trying to make your dreams come true, seek to make God Himself your delight. Everything else will fall into place if you aim for the greatest reward. As David wrote, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)