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?

WHO YOU GONNA CALL?

A popular movie some years ago would have answered that question with the reply ‘Ghostbusters’. A group of men who took on evil and captured it but not permanently. Today evil continues to exist no matter how much society wants to sugar coat it and as Christians we are forbidden to form an alliance with it (Romans 13:12). We are to be light midst its darkness just as Christ showed in His resistance of it (Matthew 4:1-11).

So why can’t we at least go out and party with it once in a while. What harm can it cause to a ‘strong’ Christian like us or so we think. God’s word answers it clearly. Alliance with evil in any fashion is forbidden. This goes back to the early days of Israel where evil’s deceptive nature seduced them into idolatry away from the one true God (Numbers 25:1-3,18). That seduction is again being put before Israel today as it is to each of us.

Alliances with evil enslave (2 Peter 3:18-19) and defile as one example in Ezra 9:1-2 shows and will lead to God’s anger (Ezra 9:13-15). The principles of the Old Testament as experienced by Israel are no less applicable today for those of us who are or claim to follow Christ.

So what should we do. First of all we should avoid evil no matter what its appearance (Proverbs 1:15). As 2 Corinthians 6:17 tells us we are to separate ourselves from it wherever it may be. If we have let evil come into our lives we can look again to Ezra in chapter 10:11 and do as he once suggested which is to confess our wrong doing. The bottom line is that the answer is God when the question is WHO YOU GONNA CALL?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Alliance with evil is alien to those who abide with Christ.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Romans 13:12 “Evil is forbidden to Christians”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may my alliance be with You alone.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How is Israel being seduced today?
  2. How are we being seduced by evil today?
  3. How does the Bible define evil?
  4. Have you aligned yourself with evil?

TIME TO SHOCK THE WORLD!

Life is truly amazing. There is so much of the past, present and future that can astonish or cause us wonder that it makes each day an exciting journey. Today I want to share a small piece of why I believe this beginning with the fact that miracles (works or signs of God) are still available to us. Throughout Scripture acts which manifest God and His presence took place. They continue to do so today to bring people to Him and to provide evidence of His presence in our lives. When we experience these moments we can join with Luke (5:26) in being “amazed (as) we have seen strange things today”. Strange only to those who don’t believe.

Christ Himself was a source of amazement at 3 levels. First of all that He taught as a Rabbi (Mark 1:22) without the training. He also assumed authority for indeed He was God coming to mankind and finally He offered forgiveness of sin (Mark 2:10-11). That boldness Christ showed should be ours as well. We also have authority from God to speak and spread His Word. In fact Christ Himself proclaimed we will be able to work wonders (John 14:12).

Watching the news I am also amazed how prophecy is being fulfilled. An example of this is seen in the recent ingathering of the Jewish people (Isaiah 11:12) to become the nation of Israel. At the same time we have what appears to be the restoration of the Roman Empire which will come against Israel (Revelations 13). In so many ways on a daily basis we are seeing this played out.

Socrates once said “wonder is the beginning of wisdom”. A wonder such as the opportunity to have the presence of God within us through the Holy Spirit and all else some of which I have mentioned begins us on that journey. Now it is time for believers to share our faith and TO SHOCK THE WORLD.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Amazement is always available and alive to active Christians.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Luke 5:26 “amazement as a believer”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for being ever present.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What miracles occurred in the Old and New Testament that reassure and convict?
  2. How has God shown His presence in your life?
  3. How does the group B.D.S. (boycott, divest, and sanction) being against Israel play a role in the possible end time scenario?
  4. Are you ready to SHOCK THE WORLD?

A SECURE BORDER!

We live in an interesting time. Perhaps one of the greatest understatements you will ever read. People feel to a large extent less secure than they ever have. That should not surprise us as Christians for in John 16:33 Christ tells us “in the world you will have tribulation”.

Thankfully our life’s story does not end there. In John 16:33 we also read “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”. It is as one person said that “God promises a safe landing not a calm passage”.

All this being said, I believe it still important to look at the matter of secure borders. In Psalm 78 we read the history of Israel and most especially in verse 54 where we are told of God bringing the Israelite’s to “His holy border”. God certainly sets borders or boundaries in this life. The directions for managing these physical and spiritual boundaries are clearly laid out in His Word to us. Should we choose to go by standards other than His Word would guide us we will face hardship.

The key is obedience to God personally and as a nation united in upholding our Judaeo-Christian principles. If we do so we will find our nation receiving the blessing spoken of in Exodus 34:24. By God’s power we will be blessed. In fact the prayer of Jabez was answered in just such a fashion as recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:10. Today each of us should begin to do our part in making sure we have A SECURE BORDER. A border within which God’s Word reigns supreme.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Borders are a blessing when within them the Book of Life is lived out with boldness.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 78:54 “example of God’s holy border”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord Your Word is my border.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are your personal borders?
  2. How does understanding God’s plan for secure borders apply to today’s border issues?
  3. How should our country approach step by step the issue of borders/boundaries?
  4. What can you do personally in this effort?

THE BLESSING OF A NATION!

I often wonder if our nation will ever be blessed again as it seems to me it once was. The reason I say this is because its leadership and seemingly most of its people no longer want to hold to God’s Word and instruction. False gods, if any at all, are equally welcome in this country and that is a recipe for disaster.

The gift of God’s grace (blessings) are clearly understood if we look to Scripture beginning with Genesis 12:1-3 where we see national blessings come through Israel. It could not be more clear than verse 3 where we are told “I will bless those who bless you and curse him who curses you”. To not defend the nation of Israel is to invite trouble to our shores. The result is similar to what Paul spoke of in Acts 14 when certain Jews spoke against Paul’s preaching of God’s Word and so the blessings instead went to the Gentiles who eagerly listened. If we reject our Lord our blessings will be removed.

Blessings we see in Romans 2:17-29 come with right understanding of God’s Word and not perverting it. Examples of this are the hypocrisy of those who profess a faith in Christ yet twist the words to suit there lifestyles.

As the nation of Israel will always be God’s chosen there blessing will be fulfilled (Romans 11) just as ours would be if we followed God faithfully and blessed others as we have been blessed. Doing so our nation may one day again be the recipient of THE BLESSING OF A NATION!

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Blessings come when we bless God by blessing others.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Genesis 12:1-3 “general blessings upon Israel”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I bless others as You have blessed me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Are we a blessed nation?
  2. Is Israel still God’s chosen people?
  3. What national actions should we take to regain or keep God’s blessings?
  4. What can you personally do for Israel?

RELATED BLOGS: Count your blessings! as well as Boy am I ever blessed! and God’s Plan for Israel!

GOD’S PLAN FOR ISRAEL!

With each passing day we will hear more and more about the religion (Judaism) and land of Israel. While our governments mistakenly fight a military war what is in reality happening is a spiritual war between Jews and Christians on one side and the enemies of all that we stand for, as directed by the Holy Bible alone, on the other side. In light of this we need to remember the Lord God’s words in Isaiah 65:19 when He tells us He will take “Joy over Jerusalem and His people”.

This being said it is important we understand the history of the religion of Israel beginning with the fact that Israel as a country was given as a fulfillment of a promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 by God and as verse 3 tells us remains today as a people and place we need to support if we wish to be blessed by God. The boundaries are clearly laid out in Genesis 15:18-21 and Joshua 24 and elsewhere and no peace treaty can alter those God given boundaries no matter how politicians may feel.

The religion and rule of law for the Israelite’s was laid out in Exodus 20 and remains today the backbone of many nations. The key being as Joshua 24 also tells us is that we serve only the one True God as shown to us in Christ Jesus and no other gods.

To underscore the selection of this land and these people we see King David in 2 Samuel 6 bring the Ark of the Covenant which contained the presence of the Lord to Jerusalem and ultimately to its final resting place in King Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 8) where Christ will one day return to sit upon His throne when it is rebuilt the process of which has already begun.

As time went on the temple and Jerusalem became corrupt not unlike churches today and it needed reforming or cleaning up as seen in 2 Kings 23:4-14 and 2 Chronicles 29. Despite all this and the importance of reading of the law as pointed out in Nehemiah 8 and 9 Jerusalem would be destroyed (Jeremiah 6) until serving its intended  purpose again one day. What remains important for us to remember is that GOD HAS A PLAN FOR ISRAEL and we need to understand and support it.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Intolerance by anyone toward Israel invites iniquity upon the guilty.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Genesis 12:1-3 “Israel fulfills God’s promise to Abraham”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord help me to remain strong in support of Israel.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. According to Scripture how should Israel’s boundaries look today?
  2. How does God’s law for Israel serve as the backbone for nations today?
  3. How is the Ark of the Covenant important to Israel?
  4. What is the role of Judaism and Jerusalem today?

RELATED BLOGS: Does God own land? and A land of promise!

YOUR ZIP CODE!

Yesterday when getting a haircut I was asked my zip code. From this and my phone number the person asking knew my name, haircut preference and who knows what else. I am reminded of that today as I read Psalm 87:2 and elsewhere in the chapter how if God were to have a zip code it would most likely be Zion (Jerusalem) which Jews and Christians know as the City of God.No visit to Israel is complete without seeing and praying by the western (or wailing) wall of Jerusalem which is the only remaining wall of the second temple.

Zion or Jerusalem also known as the city of David has been conquered and recaptured on occasion with the most notable being when David conquered the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6-9). This seems to be playing out again as I write this with Jerusalem divided into 4 parts and Arabs telling Jews where they can and cannot go. This will change perhaps sooner than later.

The importance of the temple wall lies in the fact of it’s closeness to God. In fact we are told in 2 Chronicles 5:2 that it was to this temple that the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ was brought which contained God’s presence through His law (10 Commandments). This presence of God is affirmed as being there in Isaiah 8:18 and today I believe we should honor any effort to unite Jerusalem under Israel authority and speak against any notion to the contrary. Jerusalem for Christian and Jew alike is OUR ZIP CODE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: With zeal Christians should proclaim Zion’s special nature.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 87:2 “the Lord’s love for Jerusalem”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord lead me to Your home.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you feel about a divided Jerusalem?
  2. What was the cause of the division of Jerusalem?
  3. How would you respond in the presence of the ‘wailing’ wall?
  4. Why did God consider Jerusalem so favorably?

YOU HAVE MY WORD!

Someone’s word should be like gorilla glue and good as gold. Sadly that is seldom the case anymore and so we have a broken society filled with lawyers at every turn ready to clean up a mess that comes from broken agreements and promises. I still believe a handshake should be sufficient but few believe or are willing to stick to their word as we should.

My example and reason for this is none other than our Lord God Himself who continues to fulfill His spiritual agreements He made between Himself and mankind beginning with the first (Edenic covenant found in Genesis 2:16-17) made with Adam to the last spoken of in Psalm 89:3-4 and fulfilled in Christ (Luke 1:68-79). God has never nor will He ever break His Word and for that we can be eternally grateful.

This is important for several reasons and most especially today as we see what I believe is a gathering storm building up against the nation of Israel beginning with the United Nations recognizing Palestine as a country while its leader proclaims all agreements with Israel previously made null and void and at the same time the United States moves further along in agreements that do nothing in the long term to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon that may well be used against Israel a nation they vow to bury.

I believe God will not allow this and if there is a time when Christ will return this may well be bringing it on. My reason is in Deuteronomy 7:9 where we read of God keeping his covenant for a thousand generations (many not yet born) and one of those covenants dealt with Israel as His chosen people along with we gentiles who follow Him. Sadly our nation and many who call themselves part of a ‘United Nation’ do not understand this spiritual war that is going on and are blinded to it.

I will continue to support Israel and honor that which is a part of God’s covenants as I desire to be called a ‘covenant keeper’ and receive the many blessings spoken of in Exodus 19:5. YOU HAVE MY WORD on that.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Covenant keepers consist of all who copying the character of God forever keep their word.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Exodus 19:5 “God’s blessing upon covenant keepers”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for keeping Your Word.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Are you a covenant keeper?
  2. Should we defend Israel?
  3. What does Scripture tell us is God’s reaction to those who go against His covenants?
  4. Are we entering the end times and why or why not?

RELATED BLOGS: God’s agreements with mankind! and Promises!Promises!

HOW DO I KNOW GOD CARES FOR ME?

Ask yourself what you care for most. What evidence is there to show that to be the case? For me the evidence lies in how I use and care for that which I am responsible for or even desire to be responsible for. A few examples are my personal Bible which is worn from my desire to study it and in the human realm my family which my wife and I have made a commitment to love forever both children and each other. That which you care for should show the signs of your love in how it is either used or maintained be it a personal object or a relationship.

Divine care (how God cares for His creation) should be our example beginning with Psalm 104 where we see He cares for all His creation. As it is with mankind when your hands are involved in the making of something you take better care of it. It is why the entitlement mind set needs to be discussed as individuals have no vested interest in what they are given. Ownership tied into a person’s commitment of time and talents makes a huge difference.

Evidence of Divine Care also exists I believe in God’s oversight of the nation of Israel as David expressed in Psalm 28:9 and also for we Gentiles who believe in Christ as Christ Himself shared with us in Matthew 6:32-33 and previous verses. We could each write a book on ways God has cared and continues to care for us. In fact in Jonah 4:11 we see God cares for pagans as well exemplified by the city of Nineveh but pagans are on a short leash. Their arrogance or uncertainty will be their downfall if left unchecked over a period of time.

I KNOW GOD CARES FOR ME. I believe this without question and His Word affirms that, but now it is time to return the favor upon Him, others and all that has been entrusted to each of us.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Divine care requires we care for others as is our Christian calling.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Psalm 104 “God cares for His Creation”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for caring for me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. What do you care for most?

2. What is the danger in not having any vested interest in what you receive and how can it be corrected?

3. How has God shown His care for You?

4. What is the meaning of God’s care for those who have not sorted out right from wrong?

RELATED BLOG: What are you gathering?

REMAINING LOYAL!

I have always thought of it as an honor to be a citizen of the United States. I early in life studied Government and Civics textbooks in school with great interest, visited places later in life where our founding fathers weaved together the fabric of our nation and for a time served my state in public office. That honor is now rapidly fading as our ‘One Nation Under God’ continues to act and rule in a fashion where the one true God no longer matters.

Loyalty is a fragile matter as we see in the history of Israel. At the time of King David Israel was divided for a period of time by those who followed him (Tribe of Judah) and those who followed the family of Saul (remaining tribes). The Tribe of Judah is known for its being the tribe out of which Christ Jesus came (Luke 3:23-31) and has led me to the conclusion that irregardless of how a majority of a nation goes I also must remain loyal to God’s plan and join those who live under the banner of Christ as the followers of David did. A true Christian I believe can do no else.

The Tribe of Judah is interesting as Judah is the great grandson of Abraham who through his son Isaac (grandfather of Judah) transferred God’s blessing to Israel and all the followers of Christ and not to the ancestors of today’s Islamic nations (Genesis 17:20-21 and Galatians 4:21-31). Sadly, the United States is now by various political actions or inaction’s strengthening those nations  through whom God’s blessing did not come while distancing itself from Israel. One day that will be corrected and those who think themselves wise will become the fools.

The Tribe of Judah, as I believe families should today, kept close count of their numbers (Numbers 26:19-22) as they were looked upon to lead in the wilderness journey and also to defeat those who lived on the land God had chosen for His select nation (Joshua 16 and Judges 1) known as the Promised Land. The Tribe of Judah REMAINED LOYAL to God and we must do no less irregardless of where we live.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: From the Tribe of Judah comes joy and judgment.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Genesis 49:8-12 “prophecies concerning the Tribe of Judah”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord give me understanding of Your Word.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1. What does the history of the Tribe of Judah tell us about loyalty?

2. How does the importance of numbering of the Tribe of Judah apply to those who do genealogy and hold family reunions today?

3. Does God’s blessing follow those who remain loyal to the lineage of David?

4. How does this message speak to our nation today?