God Lifts Us Out of Our Afflictions

God never said that life would be easy. There are many setbacks in our lives that we must overcome. We place some of them in the middle of our own path through lapses in our godly thinking and acting. Other setbacks come from other people who suffer from the same and we get blindsided due to active interference from our spiritual adversary.

However, God is bigger than all of that; and He can lift you out of any affliction that you find yourself mired in. There is no better biblical account of this than in the book of Job.

Job is introduced to us as a man of great wealth and one who possesses righteous character – always bent on doing his best to serve God. (Job 1:1 – 3.)

The narrative then shifts heavenward to the throne of God. Satan approaches and tells God that he has been roaming the earth. God responds by asking him if he’d seen His righteous servant, Job. The devil retorts by claiming that Job only acts righteous because He has blessed him so mightily. Moreover, he asserts that if those blessings were stripped away, Job would turn against Jehovah and curse Him.

God is so sure of Job’s righteousness and devotion, that He allows Satan to take away everything Job has, except his life. On the surface, this seems cruel and unjust on God’s part; but God is going to use Job’s upcoming trials and tribulations to show him (and all of us) His glory, in how He honors those faithful to Him and so that He can provide hope and assurance to anyone who is afflicted in life.

The devil takes away all of Job’s material wealth and even his children. How did Job respond? He grieved, as anyone would, but he did not curse God:

And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. Job 1:21, 22. NKJV

(There’s a huge lesson about the fleeting meaning of material things.)

Heavenward, God is pleased with Job. Satan protests, saying that if Job suffered personal injury, he would turn on God. So, he afflicts Job with painful boils.

Job sits in the dirt in resignation. Even his wife screams at him to curse God. Job responds:

“Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:10 NKJV

Life happens. But God never throws things towards you at random. If God is placing something in your way, it has to do with spurring you on towards your highest purpose – love lessons sent repeatedly, until you get it. It’s always about bringing you closer to Him…

Three of Job’s friends come to comfort him, but Job begins to indulge in self-pity. Yet even in his despair, we find jewels of God-inspired wisdom:

“Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in?” Job 3:23 NKJV

I believe that Job was wondering as to why God would bring the good news of His love and salvation to those whose situation would seem to be hopeless. There is no doubt that some people have a rougher time in life than others, with no apparent reason. But it is how we respond to our circumstances that determine whether we expand as a human being.

We must make ourselves available to learn from the lessons that we receive, or from those that others have gotten. I also believe that God uses adversity to bring people to Him.

Job wails again:

“For the thing that I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.” Job 3:25 NKJV

Another great pearl of wisdom. Job was apparently a worrywart – even when things were going his way. Fear leads to worry, worry keeps your fear on the center stage of your mind, and what you think about comes about. You must sweep off that stage and recast it with thoughts of God, His love and abundant provision, and of His protective arms.

After Job’s little fit, his ‘friends’ lambast him – telling him that it is his sins that are the cause of his situation. Job retorts with a little self-righteousness.

A fourth friend shows up and condemns the first three for their attack on Job, tells Job to quit trying to justify himself and adds that he is wasting his time trying to figure out the nature of God.

True enough. God’s big picture will always elude us to some degree because we cannot grasp plans that were made on a universal scale. Yet, God does not leave us totally blind. He tells us what we need to know, to wisely navigate through the part that He wants us to play in His grand design:

“In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction. In order to turn man from his deed, and conceal pride from man, He keeps back his soul from the Pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.” Job 33:15 – 18. NKJV

Finally, the fourth friend tells Job to be patient and wait upon God, keeping his righteousness in the face of duress:

“Although you say you do not see Him, yet justice is before Him, and you must wait for Him.” Job 35:14 NKJV

“He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous, but with kings on the throne he sets them forever, and they are exalted.” Job 36:7 ESV

At this point, God Himself enters the fray – telling Job that none of his assumptions are true. Then He asks Job if he could possibly have any comprehension of the galactic scale that He operates on.

Job does the wise thing. He humbles himself before His Maker:

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted…Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Job 42:2, 3. ESV

“Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:6 NASB

God is a loving and merciful God. It doesn’t matter what we have done – even if it includes blaming Him and doubting His ways. He knows that we cannot grasp His ‘Big Picture’ (which always has our highest and best purpose in it).

He is demonstrating His unchanging character and His desire for us to turn around, (confess and repent). Love, forgiveness and mercy will always follow.

What was Job’s outcome?

And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10 AMP

And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. Job 42:12 ESV

Notice that Job grew prosperous again after he prayed for someone else. Notice too, that even though Job indulged in self-righteousness and self-pity, he never cursed God or lost faith in who He was.

God loves you. There is a reason for everything that is happening around you. Ask God what it is, (especially when it doesn’t make sense), so that you can learn from it. Ask Him to strengthen you, so that you can move through it and grow thereby.

There are no bad times with God. There are only lessons that we need. And God always delivers those lessons (including a way out of them) with love in mind…

Goodnight and God bless.


God is Calling Us Home

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household… Eph. 2:19 AMP

All these died in faith [guided and sustained by it]…having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. Heb. 11:13 AMP

Children of God are heavenly citizens, living on this earth; yet strangers and exiles to the ways of the world – at least, that is our continuing goal. We live in the faith that we have an upward calling when it’s our time to exit, a call to go home.

So, while we are here, we lean on Jesus for the strength to live godly lives; and when we slip and fall, we go to Him immediately in confession and repentance for the cleansing of our transgressions. We don’t want to get caught up in the ways of a wayward environment:

I will judge you according to your ways, and I will repay you for all your abominations…No one will strengthen himself who lives in iniquity…when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it. Ezek. 7:8 & 13; 14:13. NKJV

Let’s face it, our country’s present state of chaos and moral degradation is not something we want to associate ourselves with. It is in major danger of judgment. Thank our merciful God that He loves us so much:

“But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live.” Ezek. 18:21, 22. NKJV

“For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!” Ezek. 18:32 NKJV

God is a forgiving God, not wanting to lose a single soul. Obviously, we cannot of ourselves, keep every single statute. That’s where Christ stands in the gap for us and blankets us with His righteousness. That way, we get to go home – a promise foreshadowed by God’s promise to the repentant Israelites, to bring them back home after they were exiled to Babylon for their sinful ways:

But you, O mountains of Israel, will put out your branches and bear your fruit to My people Israel, for they will soon come [home]. Ezek. 36;8 AMP

I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Ezek. 36:11 NKJV

What God is doing, is lifting up the homeless. You can live in a physical home, but you’re still homeless if you don’t have a loving relationship with God. God offers you a home, but you must contribute a personal note to the restoration of your heart to help spread the glory of God to fill His kingdom:

“…the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.” Ezek. 36:23 NKJV

So, not only must you get right with God through Christ, you must radiate that relationship outwards to beckon those who are still lost. After all, every one of us is commissioned to gather others into the kingdom, are we not? No one can come home to know God’s love, joy, mercy and forgiveness unless they can first see it in the eyes of His children.

Just like Israel, all God’s children get to go home:

“Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.” Ezek. 37:25 NKJV

And that home will be a heavenly one:

“…and the name of the city from that day shall be THE LORD IS THERE.” Ezek. 48:35 NKJV

God is building a house for all of us to call ‘home.’ And if you are willing, your homeless days are over…

Good night and God bless.

Waiting on God is the Hardest Part

Sometimes we have to wait for God’s presence, or for Him to act on our behalf, because we haven’t been holding ourselves accountable for our behavior. This is especially so if our actions have run contrary to His word. In this case, He distances Himself from us, and maybe throws a little discipline our way to get us back on track. We are always just a confession and a repenting, away from God’s restoration:

Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD! Lam. 3:39, 40. ESV

Moreover, even in our darkest hour, we can always depend upon the love, mercy and steadfast faithfulness of our God – who covers us with the limitless grace that we could never earn on our own.

Our loving God takes no pleasure in dishing out the discipline (justice) that we (during our slip and falls) have forced His hand to administer. He only does that to save our lives:

For the Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. Lam. 3:31 – 33. NKJV

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lam. 3:24 – 26. NKJV

Another time that we may have to wait on God, is for answered prayer – especially because we want them granted within our desired timeline.

Jesus tells us that whatever you pray to God for, in His name, Christ will make it happen. (Jn. 14:13, 14.) The caveat is that what you pray for must align with God’s will and not be detrimental to you or others:

You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. Jm. 4:3 NASB

Or, you may be holding a grudge against someone at the time of your prayer. God will not answer your prayers while you practice unrighteousness. (Mk. 11:25)

The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous. Pr. 15:29 NKJV

But God can turn you around in a heartbeat through His mercy, after He first hears your repentant prayer:

He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, he shall see His face with joy, for He restores to man His righteousness. Job 33:26 NKJV

And then the door is open:

…the Lord has set apart for Himself [and dealt wonderfully with] the godly man [the one of honorable character and moral courage – the one who does right]. The Lord hears and responds when I call to Him. Ps. 4:3 AMP

Lastly with regards to prayer, you may need to shore up your faith to get it answered:

…whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mt. 11:24 ESV

Nevertheless, even after you have met God’s conditions for answered prayer, you may still have to wait. Why? Because God loves you so much, He is going to wait until you are ‘positioned’ in your life (i.e. have the maturity and understanding) to use HIs blessing to get the utmost out of it and to accomplish His will in you – and that’s a good thing.

The last thing we may have to wait on God for, is His promises. And as far as I’m concerned, His biggest promise is about gaining the presence of Christ to usher us into eternity. In our eyes, this has been a long wait. And if we think it has been long, let’s consider our ancestors.

It was approximately 3500 years ago when people were first introduced to the Messiah by Moses – when they heard that He was going to take out the devil. (Gn. 3:15). Later, Moses also revealed that Jesus would come from the Hebrew people and speak for God. (Dt. 18:18).

The Hebrews waited another 400 years to get more information, when they find that Christ will come from the line of King David of Judah. Three hundred more years’ elapse until the people learn more about their Messiah from the prophets Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah and Daniel. Another 500 years’ pass before the Hebrews hear more about the ‘Anointed One.’ So many generations of people waited for their Deliverer. Regardless, many stood fast in faith:

By faith, Noah, being divinely warned of things not seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark…and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called out to the place which he would receive an inheritance…By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child who she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them from afar off, were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Heb. 11:7, 8, 11 & 13. NKJV

They (and many more) had faith that God’s promises would manifest in the right time.

A little over 2000 years ago, Jesus did come, and many beheld the promise. Yet a little over 30 years later, Jesus was caught up to HIs Father – all according to God’s plan and promises.

So here we wait:

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I hope in Him!” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. Lam. 3;24 – 26. NKJV

(Still, thank God that we have access to Christ now through the Holy Spirit.)

But regardless when Jesus physically comes, (and He most assuredly will), the promise will be fulfilled at just the right time:

“Surely I am coming quickly.” Rv. 22:20 NKJV

Waiting on God can be hard; but He is a promise keeper. They will be fulfilled for you at the right time. To help that time come about, prepare yourself. Just as it was said in the movie Field of Dreams, “When you build it, he will come.”

For this very reason, applying your diligence [to the divine promises, make every effort] in [exercising your faith to, develop moral excellence, and in moral excellence, knowledge (insight, understanding), and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, steadfastness, and in your steadfastness, godliness… 2 Pt. 1:5 – 7. AMP

Goodnight and God bless.

God is Working Behind the Scenes

“Look among the nations and watch – be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe though it were told to you. For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans…” Hab. 1:5, 6. NKJV

God was delivering a message to the kingdom of Judah through the mouth of His prophet Habakkuk. God’s children had turned their backs upon Him and were rebelling through pagan worship. Here, God is saying that even though they think they can go on living this way, He is bringing a mighty disciplinary act against them by sending the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to conquer them and take them captive.

In our present time, the godless will have to eventually answer for their deeds as well. Followers of Christ don’t see it, but God is working behind the scenes. He never breaks a promise; we must endure in faith:

Though the fig tree should not blossom; nor fruit be on the vines; the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God the LORD, is my strength… Hab. 3:17 – 19. ESV

God always comes through; and though we may not be able to understand it in the moments of our distress, His timing is always perfect:

And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Hab. 2:2, 3. ESV

While God is behind the scenes, He continually pleads to the wayward people to come to Him and get themselves forgiven and saved before they have to suffer judgment for their misdeeds.

“Return, backsliding Israel,” says the LORD; “I will not cause My anger to fall upon you. For I am merciful,” says the LORD; “I will not remain angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God…” Jer. 3:12, 13. NKJV

No matter what we have done or how far we have fallen, our confession and repentance will always place us back into the arms of our Creator. Feel His heart:

“Return, O backsliding children,” says the LORD; “for I am married to you.” Jer. 3:14 NKJV

“Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backsliding.” Jer. 3:22 NKJV

That is the kind of love, grace and mercy that awaits every one of us when we return to Him. There is nothing that you’ve done that you cannot bring to God and receive His forgiveness for. God’s heart is always bigger than your deed.

And we can never forget that we must get right with God through Christ before we die, or prior to Jesus’ return (whichever happens first). We don’t know when either event will take place, so it is urgent that we do so immediately. God gave us His last call when Christ was resurrected.

God gives us free will. We can use that free will to either tether ourselves to Him in love, or use it to hang ourselves through disobedience.

God wants you to pick Him:

Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it, and find rest for you souls.” Jer. 6:16 ESV

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and not anxious in the year of the drought, nor will it cease from yielding fruit. Jer. 17:7, 8. NKJV

God is always gazing upon you with love. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or what you are going through. God loves you. He understands you; and He forgives you when you need it.

If you stick with Him, your live will be blessed and bright, because God is working behind the scenes on your behalf…

Goodnight and God bless.

Your Life Changes When You Become a Child of God

We are all born into God’s grace as His children. Yet, when our brain is old enough to reason and we are subsequently exposed to the word of God, His grace is lifted as we become aware of the stain of Adam and Eve’s ‘original sin,’ that (due to our new awareness) we are now charged with getting it eliminated from our soul.

We can’t do that. We must come to God in prayer and petition Him for our salvation that He provides through the cleansing blood of His Son. Then we receive and hold onto that gift with faith, which then God accepts as payment in full for our sins; and we are once again His children. The only thing then that God asks, is that we publicly profess our faith (via baptism) and live out our days by adhering to His word to the best of our ability.

The most fabulous part? Your life changes…

You have the Creator of the Universe surrounding you on all sides through any situation:

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper…” Is. 54:17 NKJV

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Is. 43:2, 3. ESV

Not even death will be able to hold onto you:

He will swallow up death [and abolish it] for all time. And the Lord GOD will wipe away tars from all faces, and He will take away the disgrace of His people from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. Is. 25:8 AMP

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead. Is. 26:19 ESV

Even the very universe we occupy will be changed for the better for God’s children – a place without war and a home, with God Himself in it:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth…” Is. 65:17 NKJV

…nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Is. 2:4 NKJV

The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light, but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Is. 60.19 ESV

What other big change comes to your life when you regain your status as a child of God? The ever-present Son of God stands by your side.

I have been using the prophet Isaiah’s Holy Spirit-Inspired revelations thus far. Let’s see God reveal Jesus through the prophet 700 years before Christ’s incarnate birth:

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Is. 7:14 NKJV

The only virgin birth ever recorded in the Bible is the birth of Jesus. It was significant because only that way was Jesus able to be born without the stain of Adam’s sin.

‘Immanuel’ means ‘God is with us.’ Next, Isaiah shows us the changes that Christ will make in the lives of God’s children:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them light has shined. Is. 9:2 NKJV

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom to order it and establish it with judgment and justice for that time forward, even forever. Is. 9:6, 7. NKJV

So, Jesus will bring the light of God to His children whom have suffered at the hands of the god of this world (Satan), and will establish an eternal kingdom of peace and righteousness for all of them. Also, we see that being in the presence of Christ will be like being with God Himself.

Jesus also cleans house for the children of God:

…He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Is. 11:4 NKJV

The judgment of God will be given to Christ – who sifts the world at the end of time; and those who do not love God will not inhabit paradise. It is strictly for the children of God – a place of eternal peace, light and salvation. Praise God! These are good changes…

Goodnight and God bless.

The State of Our Christian Nation

Not very long ago, mainstream media was cheering exultantly over a new study that showed that ‘white Christians’ had become a minority (43%) in the USA. Yet what does that mean? A Christian is color-blind. It doesn’t matter what percentage of Christians are white.

Moreover, most of the U.S. (70.6%) classifies themselves as Christians; thus, they would be from a myriad of races – just the way that Jesus would have it. So, always be on the lookout for how the media skews its presentations to divide and inflame the populace, so that it can turn around and make money off its disenchanted viewers.

America was founded upon Christian ideals. Yet the influence of Christians over the nation has waned. It leads us to consider whether the examples of our Christian behavior are lacking and / or our evangelizing efforts leave something to be desired.

There is no doubt that certain elements in the populace are becoming more hostile to Christianity.

If we look to the Old Testament, there are many parallels where we can compare our present state with ancient Israel. After King Solomon died, Israel was divided into the kingdom of Israel to the north, and the kingdom of Judah to the south. Both kingdoms sank into rebellious pagan depravity. In other words, much like America, many fell away from faith.

God sent four prophets to Israel to persuade them to return to Him. They wouldn’t. So, in 722 B.C., God sent the Assyrian army to take the people captive, and they were ultimately displaced in other countries.

The kingdom of Judah fared no better. God was warning them that in the near future, the Babylonians would conquer them and take them captive as well. However, God had promised King David long ago that He would preserve a throne in Judah, specifically in the city of Jerusalem, for eternity. So, God tried to help the people of Judah stop their efforts that were leading to self-destruction. He first sent them the most famous prophet of the Old Testament – Isaiah.

His first task was to tell the people what their present spiritual state looked like in the eyes of God:

Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity…children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Is. 1:2 ESV

Their land is also full of idols; they worship the works of their own hands… Is. 2:8 NKJV

For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their actions are against the LORD… Is. 3:8 NASB

Are we not seeing the same in this country? Many people are hating and hurting one another just for having different opinions. The Ten Commandments are progressively considered archaic and inapplicable, as throngs of rebels are elevating their personal desires over the laws of God. And do not these insubordinates worship whatever new bauble the world has to offer?

In another example, people are trying to foist their self-righteous chromosomal denial – through surgery, drugs and dress, onto those whose only crime is to try to hang onto what their Creator has clearly stated is His created reality. Yet, we as Christians must love them first above all else. We must never judge anyone, but we can judge other’s actions if they run afoul of our Lord’s commands.

The bottom line is that we must stand by the word of God over that of man in all situations; and there is no shame or prejudice in doing so. Indeed, we must persist in teaching His word to all those who will listen – in a manner as when the apostles Peter and John spoke, when ordered by the Sadducees and the high priests to quit talking about Christ:

“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you and obey you rather than God, you must judge [for yourselves]’; for we, on our part, cannot stop telling [people] about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 14:19, 20. AMP

Too many of us are afraid to express our zeal for God and His salvation and about what is right in His eyes, for fear of being labeled ‘prejudiced,’ ‘racist,’ or ‘politically incorrect,’ which are tools of the media and certain ideologues when their objections have no merit – trying to shut the mouths of those who would speak for God.

So, our efforts for God become ineffective and Christian walk loses its authenticity:

“…these people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote…” Is. 29:13 NASB

Being a Christian is not an easy job. Most people of the world do not want to hear our (God’s) message:

For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the LORD; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophecy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” Is. 30:9 – 11. ESV

Yet, we have a God-given mandate to do so:

“…receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you…And go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them, ’Thus says the LORD GOD,’ whether they hear, or whether they refuse.” Ezek. 3:10, 11. NKJV

“…give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.” Ezek. 3:17, 18. NKJV

We must warn those who live in the ways of the world because we are called to obey our God. Thus, we must tell the people that there are consequences to their ways:

“There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.” Is. 48:22 NKJV

Tell the righteous that is shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him. Is. 3:10, 11. ESV

Woe to him who strives with his Maker! Is. 45:9 NKJV

But our message doesn’t stop there. We need to tell those who do not know God, that He is the only way to salvation and that Jehovah is waiting right now with open arms to give it to them:

I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior.” Is. 43:10, 11. NKJV

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. Is. 30:18 ESV

And when they grab that salvation, God shows them how to have that manifest:

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil from your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless; plead the widow’s cause.” Is. 1:16, 17. ESV

There is only two ways that they can go; and as a Christian, you can only bring them to the water. They must decide to drink it – or not:

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.” Is. 1;18 – 20. NKJV

Jesus told us to let our lights shine and to shout His words from the rooftops. We can bring that light into the swirling darkness that this country is sliding into. We can point our potential brothers and sisters in Christ towards the outstretched hands of our God; and He can revive the state of this Christian nation by bringing more of those who are in it, to the grace of His salvation…

“Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ “

If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desires of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom shall be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Is. 58:8 – 11. ESV

Goodnight and God bless.

A Case of Trying to Run from God

Jonah was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel. He was a contemporary of another prophet also located in Israel by the name of Amos, who was preaching about the imminent invasion of the Assyrian army. This was a punishment sent by God because of Israel’s persistent rebellion against Him.

Imagine then, the consternation that Jonah felt when God told him to go to the city of Nineveh, the capitol of the Assyrian empire, to warn them of the dire consequences that would befall them if they did not turn from their evil ways. What great irony.

Jonah decides to disobey God by trying to run away from Him. (How do you do that?) He jumps on a boat heading away from Nineveh. God was not fooled. He whipped up a storm that threatened to destroy the boat and drown the crew. So, Jonah confesses to them that the storm was a consequence of his running from God; and in order to quell it, he must be thrown overboard. The crew was only too happy to oblige.

Immediately, the sea grew calm and the crew became instant converts. Meanwhile, Jonah is swallowed by a fish and spends three days and nights in its stomach. Impossible you say? You would be correct in claiming that there is no fish (or whale) that can swallow a man whole, much less have an inner environment that Jonah could have survived in. However:

Now the LORD had prepared (appointed, destined) a great fish to swallow Jonah. Jon.1:17 AMP

God prepared a fish. He is the Creator of all things; and He can re-create at will. Every word of God is true because He is truth. Jesus Himself attested to the accuracy of the scriptural account of Jonah. (Mt. 12:40)

While inside the fish, Jonah reconsiders and vows to obey God. Subsequently, God made the fish vomit Jonah onto the shores of Assyria, near the city of Nineveh. Jonah enters the city and delivers God’s message:

“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” Jon. 3:4 NKJV

Straight and to the point. And to Jonah’s amazement (and regret), every Assyrian in the city repented, and God responded with mercy.

Jonah was angry because he had hoped that the Assyrians would remain unrepentant and that God would strike them down. Distraught, he asked God to take his life. God responds:

“Is it right for you to be angry?” Jon. 4:4 NKJV

Jonah leaves the city and watches from a distance. God makes a plant grow next to him to provide shade from the sun. However, the next morning God put a worm in the plant and it died – exposing Jonah to the heat of day. Jonah again asks for death.

God asks Jonah if it right to be angry about the plant. Jonah stays entrenched in his bitterness; and then God delivers the zinger:

Then the LORD said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” Jon. 4:10, 11. NASB

Can God make a case for love or what? God loves and values all people – not only those who practice a certain faith, those who live in a particular region, or those who are descended from a distinct gene pool.

He is continually reaching out, trying to get all people to understand the difference that the love of God can make in their lives. But they will never know that difference if they keep on running…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord

After King Solomon died, Israel fell into chaos. Solomon’s son took the throne and tried to rule with an iron fist, prompting one of King Solomon’s army officers to revolt that resulted in a country divided. Ten of the twelve tribes of Israel formed the northern partition, referred to as ‘Israel;’ and the remaining two tribes formed the southern kingdom of Judah.

Both Israel and Judah reverted to paganism. Israel suffers through eight corrupt and pagan kings and Judah is having their own problems as well. Despite having a few good kings, their own corrupt kings lead Judah to pagan worship as well.

God made a promise to King David that the Messiah would be a descendant of his lineage and that His kingdom would last forever. Well, that lineage was part of the kingdom of Judah. To keep His promise, God was going to have to intervene in a big way, to keep Judah from self-destruction.

So, in approximately 835 B.C., God decides to get their attention by sending a plague of locusts that decimates Judah’s crops. Famine and drought follow. Is God being cruel? No! He’s keeping the promise that He made to His children 600 years prior:

“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes…that all these curses will come upon you…Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.” Dt. 28:15 & 42. NKJV

Thankfully, God never runs out of love. He sends His prophet (‘one who speaks for God’) Joel to wayward Judah, to try to convince the people to return to Him. Joel begins by telling Judah to remember God’s discipline (the plague of locusts) and tell it to their children as well. Then, he reveals God’s instructions for returning to Him:

Consecrate a fast, proclaim a sacred assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Joel 1:14 NASB

In other words, the answer to their (and everyone else’s) problems lies in returning to God. Next, Joel presses home the dire seriousness of their present situation:

Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all of the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand; a day of darkness and gloominess… Joel 2:1, 2. NKJV

Joel has delivered a two-fold prophecy: the immediate warning regards a future invasion by the Babylonians, should the people of Judah persist in their disobedience; the second part describes the ‘day of the LORD,’ which occurs at the end of time.

The disobedience God is referring to here is not about the sin traps we fall into throughout life, those that through His mercies, are forgiven (through the blood of Jesus) when we confess and repent. No, God is referring to purposeful, unrepentant sin, which always leads to death.

God (Love) is eternal. However, the time for making the decision to connect or re-connect with God is finite. We must reach out for God before we die. Seeing as how we cannot know exactly when that time will come, we can’t put off for another minute establishing or re-establishing our connection.

For that day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it? Joel 2:11 NKJV

Great and terrible. The day of the LORD will be great for those who love God, but terrible for those who don’t. This is not an exercise of divine capricious cruelty. God laid out these rules to us over three thousand years ago. Yet because of God’s great love for all the people, He continues to reach out for them, even if they have walked away from Him:

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” Joel 2:12, 13. ESV

The Hebrews used to tear their clothes in times of anguish and sorrow because it symbolized having a broken heart. Here, God is asking them to get into a real experience of sorrowful repentance so that He can lavish His love and mercy upon them. To motivate them, He paints a picture of their potential restoration:

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied; and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame.” Joel 2:25, 26. NKJV

God wants to ensure that His children are covered with HIs love, grace and mercy – now and forever. And even though it is we who bring the locusts into our lives, God wants to help us clean them out of it, to deliver us into His love:

“It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophecy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.” Joel 2:28 NASB

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Joel 2:31, 32. NKJV

“…the heavens and the earth will shake; but the LORD will be a shelter for His people…” Joel 3:16. NKJV

Wow! When we approach the end of time, every child of God will be filled with the Holy Spirit. This process actually began to happen shortly after Jesus’ ascension to heaven, on the Day of Pentecost. The exciting thing to see, is that it is still progressing – empowering the recipients to both enter the kingdom of God and to advance it.

We also see that God is going to reshape the earth and the universe it sits in into something so wondrous that we cannot yet comprehend it.

It will be a chaotic time, frightening and final for those who turned their backs on God; but for those whose hearts are bent towards Him, it will be the beginning of heaven…

Goodnight and God bless.

What’s Life All About Lord?

He actually tells us, through the man that He made the wisest that ever lived – King Solomon.

After God gave him all that wisdom, He left him with an important piece of information regarding what to do with it:

“And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” 1 Kin. 3:14 ESV

So, regardless of all King Solomon’s wisdom, it was the godly application of it that brought the blessings. Indeed, as long as Solomon followed that advice, he and his kingdom remained blessed:

And Judah and Israel lived in safety…every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon. 1 Kin. 4:25 ESV

You have to understand however, that there are no shades of gray with God. You are either doing what He says to do, or you are not. There are no half measures. And unfortunately, regardless of all his wisdom, Solomon veered off his Creator’s path:

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women…from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” 1 Kin. 11:1, 2. ESV

Just as God said, it came to pass:

For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods… 1 Kin. 11:4 ESV

And when you violate His commands, there are always consequences:

So the LORD said to Solomon, “ Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.” 1 Kin. 11:11 – 13. NASB

God must mete out His punishment or His word would not stand in truth. But because of his father’s (King David) obedience, God showed mercy to Solomon by delaying His retribution until the time of Solomon’s son’s reign. Moreover, you can see that out of His mercy, God would also leave Solomon’s son one tribe (Judah) to perpetuate the throne in Jerusalem.

Solomon knew that he messed up in a big way and fell into a deep depressive funk, for which he tried to find solace by immersing himself in the ways of the world. Thankfully for all of us, Solomon eventually repented, turned his life around and made himself right with God. At that point, God’s wisdom returned to him in his old age and Solomon left us the wisdom gleaned from his wayward journey:

“Behold, I have acquired great [human] wisdom and experience, more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of [moral] wisdom and [scientific] knowledge. And I set my mind to know [practical] wisdom and to discern [the character of] madness and folly [in which men seem to find satisfaction]; I realized that this too is a futile grasping and chasing after the wind. For in much [human] wisdom there is much displeasure and exasperation; increasing knowledge increases sorrow.” Eccl. 1:16 – 18. AMP

Solomon is saying that the pursuit of the world’s wisdom is laden with errors and dissatisfactions and the only fruit that it bears is misery – a lesson he learned from direct experience:

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.’ But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure; “What use is it?” I searched with all my heart how to cheer my body with wine…I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks…I made myself pools…I bought male and female slaves…I also had great possessions…I also gathered for myself silver and gold…I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines… Eccl. 2:1 – 8. ESV

King Solomon had immersed himself in the world – yielding himself over to gluttony, drunkenness, pride, fornication and greed; i.e. he gave into everything that his flesh yearned for. His conclusion?

Thus I considered all my activities which my hand had done and the labor which I exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after the wind and there was no profit under the sun. Eccl. 2:11 NASB

Then, Solomon applied godly wisdom to his observations and came up with the Holy Spirit-inspired meaning of life:

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or find enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and striving after the wind. Eccl. 2:24 – 26. ESV

So, the ‘meaning of life’ begins with finding contentment through God and from His provisions, as you walk in His ways and know that you play a special part in HIs plan – finding your joy as you perform the tasks that He assigns you.

I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with…I have perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live… Eccl. 3:10 & 12. ESV

Added to the ‘meaning of life’ then, is that walking in God’s ways includes laboring to help others reach their highest and best.

Knowing the meaning of life and living that way allows us to get the most out of it. It doesn’t mean that there will not be hardships from time to time however:

In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed one as well as the other… Eccl. 7:14 NKJV

Our lives have cycles of ups and downs; but the ‘downs’ are not times where God is throwing obstacles in your way. He doesn’t do that. God allows adversities to manifest in your life (usually of your own making) so that you can gather strength of character and godly wisdom to draw you closer to Him and increase your dependence upon His love.

Every day, God gives you an opportunity to connect with Him to see the meaning of life through the eyes of love, so that each day can be the best day of your life.

The last aspect revealed to Solomon about the ‘meaning of life’ is the vision we must keep in our hearts while we live it, that of the eternal paradise that awaits us. God wants us to live our lives to their fullest but even so, the day of our heavenly arrival will far surpass it:

…the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. Eccl. 7:1 NASB

Finally, King Solomon sums up all the aspects of the ‘meaning of life’ in one scripture;

The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. Eccl. 12:11 – 13. ESV

Thus, all meaning in life is found in knowing and loving your God and living by the tenets of His love – which guarantees you a life now and forever, surrounded in complete love. That’s what it’s all about…

Goodnight and God bless.

God Never Said That Money Was the Root of All Evil

What He did say was this:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Tim. 6:10 NKJV

It is the love of money, not money itself, that is the true evil. Why? Because when you love money, you are making an idol out of it (a violation of the first and second of the Ten Commandments).

Money (wealth) itself is not evil; it is a gift from God:

And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you the power to get wealth… Dt. 8:18 NKJV

Money is a tool that gives you the means to provide for your family and for others. It is neutral. But when we obsess over it, a plethora of deleterious effects result:

He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. Pr. 11:28 ESV

That is God, talking through King Solomon – one of the richest men who ever lived. Wisdom to absorb. However, if you keep your wealth in its proper place (acknowledging that it is from God and practice wise stewardship of it to enlarge the kingdom), God takes pleasure in your abundance:

Let the LORD be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant. Ps. 35:27 NKJV

Therefore, it is up to you whether monetary wealth will be a blessing or a curse:

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mt. 16:26 NKJV

What Jesus is telling us, is that selfish indulgence in this life will only lead to eternal despair. There is a very definite division between worshiping money, or, the Source of it:

“No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve God and money.” Mt. 6:24 ESV

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.” Heb. 13:5 NASB

God assures us that if we keep our focus on Him, our lives will flourish. If it’s on the money, we will suffer:

“…the worries and the cares of the world [the distractions of this age with its worldly pleasures], and the deceitfulness [and the false security or glamour] of wealth [or fame], and the passionate desires for all other things creep in and choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Mk. 4:19 AMP

“How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” Mk. 10:23 ESV

What Jesus is saying, is that those who place their focus upon their wealth, are blinded to the fact that their money has them in its earthly grip – to the detriment of their spiritual advancement:

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. Pr. 11:4 NASB

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. Pr. 22:1 ESV

Indeed, Christ points to a better way to position yourself with regards to your wealth:

“So then none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” Lk. 14:33 NASB

“If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Mt. 19:21 ESV

Jesus is not saying to become ascetic paupers. He is showing us that we need to take our focus off of any material distractions, and place it upon Him – because it is Christ who perfects us. And, He is telling us to practice good stewardship with regards to our blessings. One way to do that, is to honor God with our ‘first fruits,’ to thank Him for His abundance, and to remind ourselves that He is the source of all our wealth:

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now on this,” says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” Mal. 3:10 NKJV

Moreover, what is most important (embracing God’s salvation and spreading the kingdom message), does not require money:

“Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy grain and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost [simply accept it as a gift from God].” Is. 55:1 AMP

With regards to the wealthy, they have a godly mandate for their wealth:

As for the rich…charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy…to do good, to be rich in works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Tim. 6:17 – 19. ESV

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday… and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Is. 58:10 ESV

However, you don’t have to be flush with riches in order to share; God asks you to give from the largesse of your heart:

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Cor. 9:7 ESV

Give, taking solace that God will always take care of you:

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Lk. 6:38 NKJV

After all, everything you do for others, you’re doing for Christ;

“Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Mt. 25:40 NKJV

Goodnight and God bless.