"This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, thatGod is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." 1 John 1:5
"I am the LORD, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these." Isaiah 45:6b,7
God is eternal. He existed before light and darkness existed. He created light and darkness. In Him there is no sin, whatsoever. He tells us through Isaiah that He causes well-being and creates calamity. He creates events that bring terrible loss, lasting distress, and severe affliction. He is not doing anything wrong, bad, or evil in creating these events. In the well-being God causes, His purposes are good - in the calamity God creates, His purposes are good, because in Him there is no darkness at all. By faith, we believe these truths, by faith we rest in these truths.
And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.
Come, my people,enter into your rooms
And close your doors behind you;
Hide for a little while
Until indignation runs its course.
For behold, the LORD
is about to come out from His place
To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;
And the earth will reveal her bloodshed
And will no longer cover her slain."
"For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."
"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."
"And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them."
Hmm...so here's what I have going through my head - resurrection, gathering of all the elect at the sign in the sun, moon, and stars, the signal that the day of the Lord's wrath is about to begin on the inhabitants of the earth for their sin. Will all the elect be shown their dwelling places in the New Jerusalem, before God's wrath begins to fall? There will be a remnant of Israel being protected in the wilderness at this point in time...of course I'm thinking it would be after we are standing before the throne and before the Lamb, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
Resurrection, rapture, 'round the throne, rooms, wrath - just letting you know what's been on my mind today... Looking forward to finding out, longing to see Jesus, face to face...aren't you?
Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad.
“I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism toundergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!” Luke 12:49, 50 Jesus abhors sin. It is the opposite of His pure, holy character. We should hate sin too. Jesus is going to pour out His wrath against it. And He is literally going to cast fire on the earth. (See Rev. 8:7) At the time He made this declaration, His judgment on the earth was yet future. But before He judges the earth, He had to undergo a baptism. Jesus was referring to His death and He was in agony over facing the full fury of God's wrath. The knowledge that He would be crushed by His Father's wrath crushed His emotions. Jesus experienced emotions, we see that all throughout scripture. The money changers angered Him when they turned His Father's house into a house of merchandise. He experienced anguish and sorrow over Israel's unbelief in Him as the Messiah. The emotions Jesus experienced never led Him to sinful behavior, but that cannot be said about us. We often make choices to live based on how we feel. Living by our feelings is sinful. Living by how we feel often keeps us from doing the will of God. What are we to live by? We are to live by the same thing Jesus lived by - the Word of the Father. We are made in God's image. He created in us the ability to experience emotions, just like He does. He created the emotions themselves. The emotions we experience are not sinful, but they can lead to sinful behavior. Our circumstances produce emotions in us - how someone treats us. I hadn't seen Daniel for two weeks and on Friday he spent part of the morning with me. Three times, he came over to me, wrapped his sweet little arms around me, and told me he loved me, all unsolicited. This is something he's never done before. If my heart had been a dish of ice cream, there would have been a puddle of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream on the floor. Thank you, Lord, for creating us with emotions! When others act sinfully towards us, this can produce emotions in us. Sometimes it will be sorrow, sometimes it will be anger. We must give the emotions directly over to the Lord. When we find our emotions in turmoil over negative circumstances, we need to set our eyes on Jesus and not the circumstances. We need to go the Word and be in the Word. It's the only place where we find moorage. We need to remember that every negative circumstance is being filtered through God's sovereign hand, to accomplish His purposes. What man meant for evil at Jesus death, the Father used for granting us eternal life. When we live by and act on God's Word, it produces joy and peace in our hearts, even under crushing circumstances, and that's exactly where we want to be, isn't it?
"If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
The last part of this passage where Jesus lays out the requirements for true discipleship has been reverberating through my mind ever since I left the laundromat yesterday. I have the wonderful opportunity of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ almost every Thursday. Thursday is laundromat day for me and I am always meeting new people. I wouldn't be honest with you if I told you it was always easy for me. Sometimes I battle with the fear of being rejected. I also battle with the fear of not knowing what to say. Yesterday, I finished packing up the van with all four baskets of my clean clothes, and hadn't talked to anyone yet about the Lord. A mom with her daughter was there when I first arrived, as well as an elderly gentleman with his dog. Later on, another man came in and began filling up the machine that was next to one of mine. We exchanged hellos, but I remained in my comfortable cocoon. I took the last basket out to the car and got in the driver's seat, but before I closed the door the Lord prompted me to go back in and talk to the man with whom I'd exchanged hellos. "But I don't feel like it, Lord." Then I came under conviction about being ashamed and fearful. I was making the situation about me and my comfort. I was setting my mind on my emotions. Not good. Sinful.
Our flesh's tendency will always be for comfort and self-preservation. By using the word "ashamed," Jesus understands the inward struggles we face. In the first part of this passage, Jesus gives us the formula for not being ashamed of Him - self-denial to the point of death, and pursuing Him. "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." When we deny ourselves, refraining from satisfying our fleshly desires and we set our eyes on Him and follow Him, when we stick to Him, we will not be ashamed or embarrassed by Him.
As I sat there, struggling, the Lord graciously reminded me of His sacrificial love for me. He put me before Himself, He took my filthy garment of sin, put it on His purity and holiness, and wrapped me in His righteousness. He stepped into the bull's eye of God's wrath that should have crushed me for my sin. He died for me, paying the price for my sin, so that I could be forgiven and have eternal life, so that I could know Him throughout eternity, so that He could continue to lavish on me, in the ages to come, the unlimited, unfathomable riches of His favor. I could start the van and pull away and Jesus would still love me. His loving us is not prerequisite upon our performance. His love is the love of choice and the will and it is steadfast for us, enduring forever, and it began before He even created the world. I realized however the sorrow it would bring Him if I drove away, being embarrassed and ashamed of Him. He reminded me that His hand was upon me. He reminded me that I am enclosed behind and before, with Him, the sovereign God of the universe. Whatever response I would get would not separate me from His love. Boldness for Jesus comes when we set our minds on Him, by spending much time with Him in His Word, enlarging our view of Him. I got out of the van and walked back into the laundromat, and was blessed with meeting a brother in Christ.
May we let the joy Jesus had in doing the will of His Father, His joy over our salvation, and His glory and beauty be our strength in sharing the gospel.
Both Matthew and Mark record Jesus discussing and giving instructions concerning His return. He said He would return after He cuts the great tribulation short.
By how many days?
Jesus doesn't tell us.
A world leader, titled the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, will commit what is known by Daniel and Jesus as the abomination of desolation in the temple. (Dan. 9:27, Matt. 24:15, Mk. 13:14) It will be a declaration that he believes himself to be God. Many will believe this and will worship him, who will also be known as antichrist. Those who do not worship him, he will seek to put to death.
No one knows the day or hour of Jesus return (Mt. 24:36), but it will occur sometime after we see the revealing of antichrist, when he makes his declaration, and sometime after the greatest persecution ever against believers begins. Jesus returns and cuts the persecution against believers off, the great tribulation, and gathers the elect, at an unknown day and hour. Jesus said if He didn't, no elect life would be saved. (Mt. 24:22)
(The last half of Daniel's 70th Week lasts 1260 days (forty-two months), the number of days the beast is given authority...Rev. 13:5, but the great tribulation will be an unknown number but less than 1260 days...make sense?)
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid."
The bad news is that bad news will continue to get worse in a world encrusted in sin. We can expect more bad news, the closer we get to the return of Christ. A firm and steady heart in the face of bad news comes from knowing who God is. With some of your free time today, sit down with Him and His Word, and work on that steady heart.
Just before Jesus gives instruction to us regarding His return, He turns to His beloved Jerusalem, lamenting over her with these words, because of Israel's rejection of Him as the Messiah -
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' "
Here is Psalm 118:19-29. You are going to recognize a verse also found 1 Peter 2. I've highlighted it in pink. In purple, you will see the same words from Matthew 23. Highlighted in blue are some very familiar words to you, also.
"Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!"
Let me cut right to the chase. I think Israel is going to sing Psalm 118, as she is being led by Jesus who is approaching the temple. This will be after He has destroyed His enemies at Armageddon. He is gathering Israel, which He had longed to do at His first coming, and is leading her to the temple, or perhaps they are already gathered around. While everyday is a day we can rejoice in because it is a day that the Lord has made and we witness His glory and majesty in a myriad of ways each day, the day the nation of Israel blesses Jesus is truly going to be a momentous, wonderful, awe-inspiring day. Jesus, the stone that Israel rejected, will become the cornerstone of the spiritual house, in which Israel and the church will be a dwelling for God. (Eph. 2:20-22) Jesus will be approaching and entering the courtyard to the literal house of God as this unfolds. The nation of Israel will be rejoicing in her Messiah. Her scales of unbelief will have fallen off. She will have been given her new and believing heart. She will truly recognize and give Jesus glory for His goodness and salvation and love that never failed for her, and that will continue on into eternity. I cannot fully grasp with my mind just what will be happening here, but it causes my heart to rejoice, and I sure am hoping for a front row seat...
(Thanks to my blogging friend, Orange, for the inspiration of this post...)
..there’s not a day in our lives that we don’t need to be forgiven and we will never graduate from our need for grace until we reach the consummation of our sanctification. For every person who has trusted Christ, God's wrath was appeased on the sinless flesh of His Son. We are in Christ, Christ is in us, and we are wrapped in His righteousness. The love and grace of God has been poured out into our hearts. His love and grace continues to wash over us and through us and in us, in a never-ending flow. When we are sinned against, we need to go immediately to this continuous flow of grace. It is from this flow of grace to us that we draw mercy and grace for others. It is into this flow of grace which we must place the seeds of anger and malice for the wrongs committed against us, that can take root in our hearts, sprouting into bitterness and finally into unforgiveness. Those seeds will never make it to the ears of another when placed in the flow of grace. It is in this continual flow of grace from which we draw a forbearing and forgiving spirit. It is from this flow of grace that we overcome evil with good. When reviled, we can say we are hurt by the words, but we still choose to love, we don't revile in return. Are you holding a grudge? Withholding forgiveness? Remember this lavish flow of beautiful grace continually washing over you, with it's origins at the cross, where Jesus was crushed by the fury of the wrath of God for an eternity's worth of your sin, and mine.
Yesterday, my pastor's message was out of Matthew 14, the account where the disciples are sent by Jesus to Gennesaret, via a boat, immediately after Jesus feeds the five thousand. Matthew tells us Jesus made them get into the boat, while He sent the crowds away. He told the large group to go one direction, and His disciples to go ahead of Him, to the other side of the sea. As they shove off, Jesus goes up on the mountain to pray. The boat is a long way from the shore and is being battered by the waves that a contrary wind is whipping up - (which Jesus ordained, as Creator). The disciples could have turned the boat around and headed back with the direction of the wind, but they kept to the course that Jesus had set them on. So we find them in the midst of a storm, but also in the midst of obedience. You know the rest of the story. Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. They are terrified, thinking He is a ghost. When Peter hears His voice, "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid," I think he recognizes it immediately as the Lord's, even though he questions Him. Peter says to Jesus, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." Jesus commands Peter to come. Peter continues with his obedience, steps out of the boat and walks on the water toward Jesus.
One of the things I love about Peter is that he wanted to be right where Jesus was. I bet when Jesus and the disciples were walking down the road, Peter was either right beside Him, or right behind Him, and when Jesus stopped, Peter would run into the back of Jesus. Peter had seen Jesus quiet a storm earlier while being in a boat with the disciples, He simply told the storm to be quiet. Peter already had a measure of faith from that experience. So here he sees Jesus walking on the water, in the midst of the storm, and once again he wants to be right with Him. He exercises faith and gets out of the boat at Jesus command.
We know from the account, that at the moment Peter took His eyes off the Lord and placed them on his circumstances, his faith faltered. Jesus said to Peter when he began sinking, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" But as Jesus said that, He reached out His hand to Peter and took hold of him. When our faith falters, the grace of Jesus will never let it fail us completely. Peter later went on to write in his first letter, that we are protected by the power of God through faith. Our faith is a gift from God, which He builds and refines and burns the impurities out with various trials. God cares about refining our faith like gold so that when we reach the end it is praised and gloried in and honored - and I think this attention will go straight to Jesus for He is the author and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
One of the truths of the story is to teach us that when a believer is in the place of obedience, no matter how severe the storm, we are as safe as if we were at home in our own bed, because the place of security is not the place of proper circumstances or of desirable circumstances. The place of security, for the believer, is the place of obedience to the Lord. An example is in the wife with a husband who is resisting God's call on his life, who is not loving his wife as Jesus loves the church, as a sacrificial-servant leader, and the sorrow and tumult this brings into the wife's life - the wife's security and blessing is not found in leaving him, or nagging him to do what God has revealed in His Word for him, but to do what God has revealed in His Word for her. (1 Peter 3:1-6)
The miraculous happened for the disciples when in His presence, to demonstrate to them that He indeed was God in the flesh. He can be trusted in the things that He asks for our obedience, even when we don't feel like it, and He is to be worshipped, which is what the disciples did after they saw the storm stop as soon as Jesus and Peter got into the boat.
Where have you been resisting obedience? What circumstances are you keeping your attention on rather than the Creator Who is Lord over your circumstances?
Faith is believing the Word of God, and acting on it, no matter how we feel. Our faith is strengthened when we place our eyes on Jesus and with every act of obedience when we feel like it, and when we don't. We place ourselves in the path of God's blessing when we exercise our wills according to His Word. We forfeit peace and joy and set ourselves up for depression and bitterness when we live according to our emotions.
I say this just as much to myself as I do you, my beloved readers - Let's fix our eyes on Jesus, remembering He has enclosed us behind and before and His hand is laid upon us. (Psalm 139:5)
Be obedient, and be blessed and secure, in the midst of the storm.