TIME TO LOOK UP!

Epidemics and catastrophes have been around for sometime. They fall under the heading plagues and can be attributed to divine judgment on occasion (Exodus 9:14) as in the case of the 10 plagues of Egypt. I believe that both our Lord and Savior do not desire to send these judgments upon us but when mankind hardens their hearts, close their minds and try to trap God and Christ (for example agnostics and atheists) then it seems inevitable.

In Exodus chapters 7-12 we read of the ten Egyptian plagues used by God to free the Jews from Egyptian slavery. God turned against the Egyptians what they worshiped (River Nile, beetles, frogs, and weather). A message for we today who seem to be more about worshiping nature than nature’s God.

The message behind the Egyptians plagues seems clear. When the Israelite’s were told to slaughter a lamb and place the blood over their door posts to avoid the angel of death. We today are also only saved by our taking on the blood of the Lamb of God (Christ Jesus). Indeed it is as the words of one famous hymn which states “nothing but the blood of Jesus”. We all need to gaze toward heaven with spiritual  eyes on our raised Messiah from where our help comes.

The final judgment one day will again bring plagues upon the earth (Revelation 8:6 through chapter 9), Today we read of asteroids coming dangerously close to earth and so much more. For all of us I believe it is TIME TO LOOK UP.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY:  Plagues are a plight that should bring us to prayer and confession.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Exodus 9:14 “plagues are divine judgment”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord my faith is always and only in You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is the fine line between worshiping nature versus appreciating nature?
  2. What does it mean to see with spiritual eyes?
  3. What are the final plagues or judgments recorded in Revelations chapters 8 and 9?
  4. What end time signs seem to be stirring as a possible warning?

THE DAY MAY BE DRAWING CLOSER!

Theologians and others with a great deal more wisdom than I have, have discussed a subject that bears mentioning in this column. It is the  matter of ‘rapture’. When believers will be taken to return to Jesus (living and deceased).

A great many discussion points are involved here that for most believers are quite confusing. Matters such as the role of Israel in these events (Romans 11:16-24), the Scriptures discussion of a 1000 year reign of Christ (Revelations 20:2-7) and a period of time many believe to be 7 years when the anti-Christ will rule and play havoc with this world.

Of one thing I am certain. When I saw my father on his death bed after his passing, I became convinced his soul and spirit were no longer before me. What I saw before me was simply the human frame God gives each of us to travel through this life with. For me when we accept the Holy Spirit (being born again) into our life we are already starting our journey to that moment when we will meet Christ in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17) and one day be a part of His Kingdom. As one person said: “it is like going to the airport to meet the arrival of the King of Kings”.

Until then what is  important to know about the rapture is that there will be one in some form so prepare yourself now. THE DAY MAY BE DRAWING CLOSER.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The real importance of the rapture is our being received by  our Redeemer.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY:  1 Thessalonians 4:17 “saints caught up in the rapture”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I always be ready for Your coming.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is dispensationalism and its role in end times theology?
  2. How will Christians be protected if at all during the time of tribulation?
  3. Will Christians face the time of tribulation or are we in that period of  time now?
  4. Are you prepared to be taken up with the Lord?

DANGER IN MAGIC!

Magic when defined as doing super human things by ‘supernatural’ means has always been a concern for me. The reason is that in end times satan will show this type of power (Revelation 13:13-18) and many will follow him as a result. What we now call magic is perhaps better named parlor tricks even if somewhat sophisticated but their effect on some should be of concern.

The magic which has been recorded as being of concern is what has been around since the time of the exodus and acknowledged as sorcery which is evil (Exodus 7:11). During apostolic times as now sorcery continued (Acts 8:9) but as the Biblical figure Simon discovered was totally separate from the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:18-24). This is where as Christians we need to be concerned.

Comfort for believers comes in knowing God’s power is greater than satans out of whom comes all which is evil. This can be seen in the example of Exodus 7:11-12. Good will always at some point overcome evil when we call  upon God. If we choose not to call upon God it would be well for us to read the prophetic words of 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 and especially the words of the last verse where we read “all will be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (deception)”. This is where there is DANGER IN MAGIC.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Magic often mistakenly magnifies mankind and not the Master.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 “Magic as recognized in prophecy”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I seek only the power of Your Holy Spirit.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Can there be both white and black magic?
  2. What is the danger of magic?
  3. Do you have the power of the Holy Spirit?
  4. How do you feel about magic?

ETERNAL DEATH!

There are a great many in the world who will experience what the Bible calls a Lake of Fire and sulpher (Rev. 20:15). They are those who in this life did not live such that their names would be written in the Book of Life. Sadly, I believe, there are many who affirm our Lord and Savior but it is simply an intellectual affirmation and not a saving faith affirmation. Satan himself believed in our Lord and Savior as seen in Matthew 4:1-11 but did not understand or chose not to understand what it means to truly worship Him.

God is indeed a God of mercy but He is also a God of judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).  It is important as Christians we understand this. If we accept the Bible as God’s Word then we have to know that from Genesis to Revelations this understanding of a Lake of Fire and judgment are mentioned and illustrated. We all need to deal with it now or face its consequences later.

My understanding is that those who die in sin until the end of time will find themselves in Hades (Sheol) which will have a torment all its own. Christ shared this with us in Luke 16:23. At an appointed time history will end and all demons, beasts and satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire experiencing a second (Revelation 2:11) and eternal death.

Satan and the beast will be released prior to this time for a short period when there will be tribulation on earth (Revelation 17:8) but that will be short lived before the final ETERNAL DEATH!

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: A lengthy life truly committed to the Lamb of God will keep us out of the Lake of Fire.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Revelation 20:14 “Death itself will be cast into the Lake of Fire”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire to live with You eternally.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1.  What is intellectual affirmation that some Christians mistakenly show?
  2.  Are there degrees of righteousness and judgment?
  3.  Will hell be a place of intense fire or as some believe simply separation from God?
  4.  Why is fire more powerful than water and its significance?

DON’T BE SO IMPATIENT

Living in a world of instant gratification has led many to become ever more impatient. For many we want what we want now or as quickly as possible. Technology has led us to this point and futurists are now looking at implants that will allow people to communicate through thought and that is just the beginning. If or when that happens it will fit right into what Revelations tells us about the time of Christ’s return.

Until then we as Christians need to understand the danger of impatience. In Scripture we see it come out of lust such as Sodom showed in Genesis 19:4-9. An example being played out in the LGBT community now growing ever more vocal and ‘in our face’. Impatience also is seen in acts of revenge such as Genesis 34:25-27 shows. When someone feels hurt the first reaction is often violent making the situation often worse. Numerous examples of that happen every day.

These and more causes of impatience have obvious consequences. One of the best examples in Scripture being the people of Israel building a false god while waiting for Moses as told in Exodus 32. This impatient nature would later keep them from the promised land (Numbers 20:10-12) as our impatience today may also keep our souls from Heaven. What God desires of each of us is that we DON’T BE SO IMPATIENT.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The more we identify with Christ the less we show impatience.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Numbers 20:10 “irritability causes impatience”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord keep me in control of my actions.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What causes impatience?
  2. What are some violent reactions brought on by impatience?
  3. What is the relationship between sin and impatience?
  4. How can impatience keep us from Heaven?

ARE YOU HUNGARY?

At some point all of us answer this question in the affirmative but not for Scriptural reasons. Hunger can either be physical or spiritual. The worst case scenario for physical hunger is the experience that will happen at the end times where Christ Himself tells us in Matthew 24:7 that their will be famines during a period of tribulation. At this time many will fall away from the faith as they loose any courage or strength they had in remaining true to God’s Word despite all odds.

The second hunger comes from the lesson the nation of Israel experienced which is described in Deuteronomy 8. A lesson that spiritual hunger is more important than physical. That God desires we return to Him through the invitation of His Spirit into our lives or judgment will come upon us as happened to Sodom and Gomorrah (Amos 4:11).

If we come to God to be spiritually filled our lives will be enriched almost beyond belief as shown so well in the words of Isaiah 55:1-2. In fact Christ Himself underscored this in His Sermon on the Mount telling us that “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6)”. If we never want to hunger again we need only to come to Jesus as He Himself has told us “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger (John 6:35)”. ARE YOU HUNGRY?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Hunger happens when humanity hides from the Heavenly Father.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 5:6 “blessing of spiritual hunger”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord fill me with Your Spirit.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is the world’s current famine and hunger situation?
  2. How strong would your faith be if confronted by serious famine?
  3. Do you have spiritual hunger?
  4. What are you doing to fulfill yourself spiritually?

CONTINUING TO GROW SPIRITUALLY

Infidelity is a serious matter. It occurs when a person(s) no longer believes in a relationship that has been revealed or opened over a period of time to two people or as in the case of Scripture between God and man. When relationships break up there is always a big price so it is important to look at the cause, effect and treatment of infidelity and its impact on our spiritual growth.

The cause begins with a hardened and impenitent heart (Romans 2:5). When the focus is on self rather than growing a relationship and forgiveness is not at the forefront all relationships break down. This brings blindness to matters spiritual in nature. As humans we lock ourselves out from the rich teachings of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14). Unbelief ensues and individuals then turn to earthly wisdom which is pure foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). That it seems is where we are today in many friendships, marriages and the faith of mankind in God.

The result is a world where humanism grows stronger and Christianity declines. A world that not only rejects God’s Word (2 Peter 3:3-5) but that will laugh, scorn and mock believers much as it did in 2 Chronicles 30:10. We are told in Scripture this world will hide itself in lies, growing evermore so in doubt even to the point of looking at religion (or at least the Christian version) as worthless.

This will not go unpunished as those individuals who choose this path will experience eternal separation from God (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9) and face the horrors of hell as Christ shared in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).

Fortunately there is a remedy against all forms of infidelity. We need to turn to the example of Christ when tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:3-11) and stand strong upon God’s Word while putting on God’s Armor (Ephesians 6:10-19) and CONTINUE TO GROW SPIRITUALLY (2 Peter 1:4-11).

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Infidelity imprisons the soul of an imperfect mankind.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Matthew 4:3-11 “Remedy for infidelity is to stand upon God’s Word”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Has infidelity been a part of your life?
  2. What steps did you take to overcome infidelity?
  3. In what ways has humanism taken over this post-modern world?
  4. Does eternal separation from God concern you?

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF IMAGINATION

Growing up I was a fan of Walt Disney and his wonderful world of imagination. There was Frontier land, Adventure land and of course Fantasy land. A child (and adult) could pretend and imagine most anything. That has changed after Mr. Disney died to a more politically correct theme park in many ways but imagination goes on all around us.

At times as I look out upon God’s creation my thoughts or imagination still run wild, in a good way, through the high plains grass surrounding my acreage. As crazy as it may sound I still see puppy dogs in clouds and imagine hearing God’s majestic voice in the rolling thunder before a summer storm.

Imagination contains within itself a great deal that is positive but we are also warned in Scripture (Jeremiah 18:12) not to let it become willful guided by an evil heart. A heart conceived in sin and guided by human nature to do that which is contrary to the will of God. A heart that Proverbs 12:20 tells us can be filled with deceit. Even our imagination must be reigned in at times.

The good news is that when Christ returns we are promised a cleansing (Jeremiah 3:17) of our evil hearts and the wonders of imagination and though as God designed will be ours. I pray earnestly for that WONDERFUL WORLD OF IMAGINATION.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The immortality of imagination is illuminated when under God’s influence.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Jeremiah 3:17 “cleansing of imagination”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord guide and release my imagination.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. In what ways can imagination be evil?
  2. In what ways can imagination be good?
  3. How is your imagination fed by God’s creation?
  4. How is your imagination?

WHAT ABOUT GOVERNMENT?

The word government in its Greek form is used only once in the New Testament as I understand. Generally it applies to those given responsibility to guide a ship of some sort through treacherous waters or paths. Interestingly enough the modern word cybernetics comes from this Greek origin which is control by means of computers. For we today I think we can cull at least two primary pieces of information from this topic. One is how we as a society and country understand submission. The second is how we select leaders who are of an even Kiel personally.

It is important to note we must have a voice or say in who leads us in a non or anti christian way. Paul warned us of this in speaking to the church at Thessaloniki (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12). The ways of the antichrist are lawless and oppose God’s way of ordering the universe. Those who follow him (and there are many in leadership today) will do whatever they can to destroy Christianity and what it stands for. When necessary they will use methods of deflecting and denying and whatever else is necessary to defeat Christians and the furtherance of God’s Kingdom. One of the first places you will see it is in false teachings and moral decline. Something we are all too familiar with today. These individuals will be ignorant of all matters spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:6-8). You will not be able to debate with them logically or even use common sense. Their starting point is an end objective where evil rules. Our starting point is Genesis chapter 1 and begins with an omniscient and all powerful God.

Despite all this it is our responsibility to pray for and be obedient to our leaders as Paul once wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1-3. This must always be the case unless what is asked of us is contrary to God’s Word (Acts 5:29). Just one example of this is smuggling Bibles into places that are not familiar to receiving God’s Word. This and more is what we should consider when we ask ourselves the question WHAT ABOUT GOVERNMENT?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Truly great governments are guided by our Lord God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 “ignorant government”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord speak to the hearts of our leaders.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How might computers play a role in end time government?
  2. What are the ways of the anti christ?
  3. How are the the anti christ’s ways being carried out today?
  4. What are examples when we should not be obedient to  our government?

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO KNOW GOD!

The heavens are fascinating to many including myself. Why should it not be since Genesis 1:7 tells us “God made the firmament”. The great expanse between our universe and God was created so that we may know God. In fact if we do not know God it is our fault as God and His attributes are clearly evident in the firmament He has given us (Romans 1:18-20). It shows us God’s eternal power and nature. To not see and understand this makes us the fool as Scripture attests to.

As a fan of all things natural, I am constantly fascinated by how nature acts and how each element of it no matter the size is placed so precisely and operates with such precision and efficiency that only an omniscient God could have done it (Psalm 19:1). The evolutionary slime theory much of mankind has bought into is for me the ridiculous.

One day the firmament we have before us will signal the end times have arrived (1 Corinthians 15:52) and then those who acknowledge Christ as their Lord and Savior will ascend above the firmament (Ephesians 4:10) to God in the highest Heaven. Indeed IT IS IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO KNOW GOD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The firmament is the finger of God pointing us to His Divinity.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 19:1 “the heavens proclaim God”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:  Lord help me understand You  better through Your creation.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Is it possible God’s Word has reached all people by the mere existence of His Creation?
  2. What makes the expanse of space (firmament) so fascinating?
  3. Are you a weather watcher in its fullest definition?
  4. How will the firmament declare the end times?