Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Future and a Hope

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Usually when I read a 300 page fiction book, it takes me two or three weeks to complete. I read 20 to 30 pages one day, the same the next, then I skip a day or two here and there. I just read a bit, then I am off to something else. A couple days ago I picked up a book titled "The Planner" by Alexandra Swann, this is one of those books I cannot put down. In two days, I am already half way through it. This books, the first of a two in a series, has got me thinking about the future of America. The book opens in the year 2013, however I think the author would be better served setting the book at some point in the future. However, this being said, the book thus far paints a picture of what life in America might be like when the government runs out of money to meet the obligations which it has promised.

To make a long story short, Washington realizes they are quickly approaching a shortfall of money to pay Social Security. As a result, the President initiates a plan to solve this problem. In 90 days some retired people will stop receiving their social security checks. As time passes, more retired people will lose their Social Security. The government gives those affected an option, one is to do nothing, stop receiving their checks and make ends meet on their own. For many this is not an option as they do not have the resources to do so. The other is to give the government all your money and possessions, then live under a new retirement plan. If you choose this option, you must live in an enclosed government managed community living by all their rules. However, the government promises to take care of you for the rest of your life. Instead of a check from the government, you receive credits which can only be spent in the community. A married couple is given a 500 sq. ft. apartment with no kitchen. You must only eat in the cafeteria, and eat what they say you will eat. You are not allowed to cook your own food. Basically, you are taken care of for the rest of your life, but lose your freedoms. Here in the USA, Washington keeps piling on the debt. If this continues, it is only logical to conclude that the end result will not be pretty. I ask of myself, "If we here in America stay on this path we are on, what will life look like when the government no longer has the money to meet its promised obligations?"

In the Bible, I hold to a a futurist interpretation of end times eschatology. As a result, I believe their will be a tribulation period before Christ returns to set up His 1000 year millennial kingdom. This will be followed by a new heaven and earth in which believers will dwell with the Lord forever.

21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:21-22 NKJV)

While we are looking at a time of tribulation which the world has never experienced before, I am not the doom-and-gloomer type. I firmly believe for all us who are in Christ Jesus, we have a future and a hope. The devil will come out like a roaring lion seeking to whom he may devour, but Jesus has already won the battle. While the devil is running around killing all of those who will not pledge allegiance to him, Jesus is busy saving souls. Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— (Revelation 14:6) As a follower of Christ Jesus, I need not fear what the future may hold. I have read the end of the book and I know the ending. The devil loses, and those of us who are in Christ Jesus will have a life beyond all our wildest imaginations.

All Things Made New

21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:1-8 NKJV)

I would like to ask one question. "Who or what are you following?" You can be certain of this, if you follow Jesus, He will take you to a place you want to go. If you are following anyone or anything else, the devil will take you to a place you do not want to go.

“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32NKJV)

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)

Just as a side note, I do not receive any compensation if you go to Amazon and buy the book, "The Planner."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Only Good Gifts

Photo Credit: Picdream / Pixabay
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:9-13 NKJV)

God’s desire is that we come to Him boldly, asking, seeking and knocking for God’s good gifts. When we call upon the Lord and He delays His answer, we should not give up, but be persistent in our prayers.  One might not know why the Lord has yet to answer, but we must continue asking, seeking and knocking. If a reluctant parent will meet the needs of his or her children, how much more would our Heavenly Father meet the needs of His children? The beautiful thing is, the more we continue in prayer, the more our prayers will align up with the will of God. As we pray in agreement with God, that is when we will receive an answer to prayer. Because we continue looking, we will find and the door will be opened to us. He will not give any of His children something which will deceive or harm them, but only good gifts. The best of gifts is the Holy Spirit, which He gave to believers at Pentecost. Today all believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit at salvation, so let us be led by Him. (See Eph. 1:13, and Romans 8:9, 14) When we are led by the Holy Spirit, we will abide in Jesus. We must remember what Jesus said, “… He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit...” (John 15:5b) Oh how precious this fruit is.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV)

I do not know about you, my friend, but I want to bear much more of these fruits in my life.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Children of God

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For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:50 NKJV)

Some people may feel that this passage of scripture is disrespectful to Mary, the mother of Jesus. However, Jesus was, (is) so much more than her son. Jesus is the Messiah, God incarnate, who came from heaven to earth to pay for the sins of all those who would believe. The good news is that this Jesus desires a close and personal relationship with each of us. Then there is even more good news:

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 
(John 1:12-13 NKJV)

What an awesome thing that a holy, majestic, all knowing and powerful God who created the heavens and earth pursues a personal relationship us and receives sinners into His family. For those who are the children of God, He will cast our sins as far away as east is from the west and make us into a new creation.

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool. 
(Isaiah 1:18 NKJV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

Is this disrespectful to Mary? Not, but good news to her and all who believe upon the Son of God. What an amazing blessing, isn't it? However, one must be in Christ Jesus to receive such a blessing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

To Judge, Or Not to Judge

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Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:1-2 NKJV)

I am not sure of how many times when someone is confronting the sin of the world, that unbelievers use the verse above to justify their sinful life style. They will say, "Leave judging up to God." This is because they “love darkness rather than light.” I know in my own personal life I have been confused about this passage because I know there are times when I must make judgments. I ask of myself, what exactly does this verse means? After all, Jesus also instructed us to “judge with righteous judgment.” (See John 7:24) This is important as I do not want to play God nor do I want a stricter judgment brought against me. While the world will quote the above verse, they will not quote the following verses where Jesus goes on and instructs us how to judge.

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. (Matthew 7:3-6 NKJV)

How do we know that someone has “a speck” in their eye without making a judgment? How do we know who the “dogs and swine” are without judging? Of course, we must judge to come to these conclusions. So is Jesus contradicting Himself, or what? No, actually He is speaking of the attitude in which we judge. That is, we are not to be hypocritical and condemning, but judge with a heart of love and restoration. 

As far as a hypocritical heart is concerned, I would like for us to consider the following analogy. Suppose you had a something in your eye and went to the doctor to have it removed. Your doctor is highly trained, yet when you went into his office, you notice that your doctor has debris in his eyes, thus he cannot see to remove the object form your eye. Yet he proceeds to remove the object anyway. How would you feel? Our sin has the same affect; it blinds us so that we are unable to judge with a righteous judgment. In other words, we must first deal with our sin, or else we will be judging hypocritically. Often times own sin leads us to have a condemning heart while judging. It is so much easier to see someone else's faults and sins than our own. Then we cop an attitude saying, "I want to see this person fry!" Consider when King David committed adultery with Bathsheba. Not only did David set up Bathsheba's husband to be killed, he cast judgment against someone for an evil David thought that he had done. King David’s verdict was “death” for this individual. Please read the passages below.

12 Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” (2 Samuel 12:1-4 NKJV)

Upon hearing of this, King David wanted this man put to death. However, David had not realized that he was this man.

So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. (See 2 Samuel 12:5-7) 

Thankfully upon understanding, David repented of his evil. Whenever we see someone in sin, our hearts should be broken. We know sin leads to destruction; we hate the thought of the consequences our neighbor will face as a result of their actions. It should be our hearts desire that this person not only avoid the consequences of their actions, but also come into a right relationship with the Lord. Even if someone has to be put out of the church because of their sin, our ultimate desire for them is to realize their wrong, come to repentance and be restored to a right relationship with God. We should rejoice when they have repented and been brought back into a right relationship with God.

The following is an example of how one may approach someone in sin:

"My friend, I do not know your heart, but I do see your actions. I am concerned for you. I want God's mercy to fall upon you, not His wrath. It is out of my concern and love that I come to you seeking to tell you of the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ in hopes that you will listen and receive it so that you may receive all the good that God has to offer you, and not His wrath."

For further study, you may wish to read Romans chapter 2.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My New Year's Thoughts

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Well, 2012 in now in the history books and I hope all of you had a happy and safe New Year. I remember last year as being a year of fear for many people. I heard story after story of how the economy would crash along with others who believed the world would come to an end. Obviously, neither of these things happened. There was also the crowd who believed we are on the eve of destruction, so they are committed to prepping. While some prepped to be prepared just in case of emergency, others prepped out of fear of the crash which they believed is to come. I am sure prepping will continue to be trend of this year. Yes, there are many threats which could result in a major catastrophe in the near future, but will they happen or not is something we will have to wait and see. I have to wonder how many are prepared for the one thing which we know lies ahead. That is: "It is appointed for man to die once, and then comes judgment." (Hebrews 9:27) Then another area of fear for some is that man will destroy the environment through green house gases, weapons of mass destruction or by some other means. But the Bible says that God will destroy this world and then He will create a new heavens and a new earth. (2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21)

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I do not have to allow all the concerns of this world consume me in fear. Nothing can separate me from the love of God for I know one day I will live in His Heavenly kingdom. There is no need to fear an economic collapse as God owns all the resources any way and He can give them to whom He so chooses. God promises in His Word to "provide for all our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19) Jesus said all we have to do is “seek the kingdom of God and all His righteousness and all these things will be added to us." (Matthew 6:25-34) While Jesus warned with these words; “in this world we will have tribulation,” He also comforts us with His encouragement "to be of good cheer because He has overcome this world." (John 16:33)

Since making New Year’s resolutions is common this time of year, I guess I should talk a bit about that since I am rambling on with my thoughts. I usually do not go out and make New Year’s resolutions, but fear and worry is something which I have battled with. This year I desire to have growth and victory in this area through Jesus Christ. Second, I want to grow in my relationship with the Lord and in my relationship with my wife. Finally, I desire continuing serving the Lord in whatever way He leads me.

Enough rambling on, but I hope and pray each of you have a blessed 2013 in Christ Jesus.