Sunday, December 17, 2017

GOD'S LOVE GIVES US VALUE

   
 
What does it mean to love God's way?  Understanding love is not that difficult... or is it?  Children understand love to the degree they respond positively to love and express love to others.  If children understand love, how hard could it be, right?  Unfortunately, many of us have a warped sense of love.  Selfishly, we want, even demand, love be reciprocated.  In order to gain love from others, many place themselves in dangerous or degrading situations.  Often we love those who give us some value in return.


     As God is the author of love, He should be the one to define it.  Loving others as God intended requires nothing in return.  Loving others as God intended transcends circumstances and reciprocation.  Loving others as God intended means imparting value to the object of His love, not expecting some value in return.  

     It is easy for me to love someone whom I believe adds value to my life.  What happens, though, when that value is diminished?  What happens when my emotional investment is not returned?  What happens when love feels more like work than fun?   

   Marriages, personal relationships, and ministries collapse because we do not fully understand the true sacrificial nature of love.  Remember the Greatest Commandment - love God, love others. There is no addendum added stating: "as long as everything is cool." 

      The book of 1 John is a crash course true love.  It is in 1 John we learn love is way beyond feeling and conditions.  True love must be unconditional and selfless.  Once we place a condition on love, it becomes self serving and is no longer true love.  

    Unconditional love is truly liberating as we can begin to love those whom we deem difficult and unlovely.  This goes back to the whole loving only those who bring value thing.  God loves me yet I bring Him no value.  I have nothing to offer, I have nothing God needs, yet His love for me gives me value.

   There are so many broken people who lack self value, who have been written off as worthless, yet God loves them and His love brings them value.  How will someone know God loves them?  When one of His representatives (you and me!) show love.  

      I can tell you about a beautiful painting all day long, but unless I actually show you the painting, you can not fully grasp the beauty.  That is how love works, we cannot merely tell people God loves them, it is imperative we show them.   

    Loving others God's way imparts value to the object of His love.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things

     Jesus said, "By this, they will know you are my disciples, if you love one another."  So lets get busy doing what Jesus told us to do.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

MY "I CANT" IS GOD'S "I WILL" - A LESSON FROM THE BEATUTUDES


The men's Sunday School group I attend has been studying through the Beatitudes, also known as Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew chapters 5-7.   We have studied about a third of the way through and have come to the realization: NO ONE COULD ACTUALLY DO ALL THIS!  So, why would Jesus tell us all this stuff to do and not to do, when He knew we could never do it?         


     Actually, Scripture is filled with commands and rules that God gave us knowing we could never obey completely.  Now, I know that many are reading this and thinking about some of the Beatitudinal sayings you have memorized and some may actually be thinking: "I do a pretty good job living by the teachings of Jesus."  Well before you get too excited, allow me to draw your attention to: Matthew 5:48  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Ok, now that we are on the same page, lets see why Jesus would give out a sermon filled with commands that could not be kept?
   
     If you study Matthew, you see 3 major sections:

 1. Jesus offers the Kingdom

 2. The leaders of Israel reject the Kingdom on behalf of the people
      For more on Representative Theocracy CLICK HERE 

 3. Jesus begins to speak of His death and His other sheep                     (Gentiles)
                                         

      I submit to you that Jesus offered the Kingdom in good faith knowing it would be rejected so He could go to the cross, which was always the Plan. I also submit to you that Jesus revealed to us God's impossibly high standards of living in the Kingdom so we would realize our need for His grace.

This give us hope today, when we face difficult or even impossible circumstances.  We do not have the resources, the power, or the wisdom required to do all God allows in our lives, He does, however.  The Beatitudes then serve as a reminder to us of what Jesus once told His disciples: "What is impossible with man is possible with God."

      So, if it is impossible for me to be perfect as God is perfect, I must rely on Jesus' perfection to give me good standing with God.  Likewise, when I face other impossible situation, I must rely on Jesus' promises and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside me.  This does not mean everything will always go my way because I am still human and my ways are not always God's ways, but it does mean I will always have all the resources I need to get through every situation in a way that will bring Glory to God, so long as I trust Him. My "I Can't" is God's "I will." 

     Knowing God is able to overcome our impossibles, what can we not face standing with God?  In light of this, go in faith, trust God for the impossible, rely on Him for provision and stand firm in His promises.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

TRUMP CALLS JERUSALEM CAPITAL OF ISRAEL

  This week, President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem to be the capitol or Israel and vowed to move the embassy there in.... 4 years.  While this "bombshell" news story is taking the world by storm, not much, if anything has really changed.  In 1995, the U.S. Congress voted to recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel.  For the past 22 years, every president has voted to defer the moving of the Embassy for the sake of stability in the Mid-East peace process.  
 

     Trump did not change U.S. policy and made a promise he probably intends never to keep.  This declaration was a pep rally for President Trump's base and nothing more.  In four years, Trump is likely to have been out of office for a year already and his successor will almost certainly be a democrat.  If the Embassy is not in Jerusalem before Trump leaves office, it will never get there.  

     What should be of note is the reaction to President Trump's decree.   Obviously, the Muslim Arab world is in a fervor. Already Muslims leaders are declaring "days of rage" and other such hatred against the United States.  Many will criticize Trump for stirring up hatred among the Muslims but they already hate America and everything we stand for, lest we forget the celebrations and dancing in the streets after 9/11.  Again, little to nothing changes by the Commander in Chief's announcement.  

     Of particular note is the response from Pope Francis.  This blog has been very critical of Pope Francis.  Francis may not be the False Prophet of Revelation, but he sure seems to working hard for the title.  For more on this CLICK HERE
Pope Francis condemned President Trump's announcement and called for the status quo of the city of Jerusalem to remain.  Odd that the self declared Vicar of Christ would be content with a shrine to Satan standing on the Temple mount. Francis pays homage to Satan(Allah) CLICK HERE   

      Yes, declaring Jerusalem the capitol of Israel will gain Trump lots of press and divert some attention from the Russia probe, however it will most likely amount to nothing.  

As believers, we continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we continue to recognize Jerusalem to be the eternal capitol of Israel, the birthright of the Jews and  the future Kingdom of our risen Lord.  I hope and pray that one day the U.S. embassy is in Jerusalem, but I am not holding my breath.  

     Pray for Trump, pray for America, pray for the peace of Jerusalem and now - Go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

AM I WORTHY OF GOD'S BLESSING? NOPE... AND NEITHER ARE YOU!


 What does God owe me?  The obvious answer is nothing.  I know this, you know this, yet I live as if God somehow owes me a smooth trouble free life!  I sometimes pray for things with the expectation that somehow I have merited God's favor and He is now obligated to give me what I ask for.  Isn't that silly?  I bet you do the same thing, though.  



     As we study scripture, we see passages that deal with blessing and obedience and then infer God owes us something for behaving.  Obedience is the key to blessing, but God's definition of blessing may be quite different than ours.  When I think of blessings, I tend to think of material things and life going my way.  When life gets tough or I do not get what I want, I wonder what I must have done wrong.  God sees blessing as equipping us to serve Him.

One of the most dangerous places for me, spiritually speaking, is when I think I have been doing a pretty good job seeking God.  If I have a couple of good days where I am able to see growth or maybe get to serve in some amazing fruit bearing way and suddenly I do not get my requests granted or I get inconvenienced, my first thought is, "what else do you want from me God?"  Shame on me!

     God is not my personal Geni in a bottle who is beholden to my whims because I have met some arbitrary standard of holiness.  God gave me salvation when I deserve hell.  God gave me purpose and meaning even though I spent many years pursuing folly.  

     This places my pursuit of obedience into a whole new light.  I, and you, must pursue holiness because we have been blessed, not so we can be blessed.  When we pray for things, we must not pray expecting something because we think we have been good but because God is good.  God does not bless our goodness, He blesses out of His own goodness.  This in itself is a blessing, after all, how good would be good enough to merit God's blessing if we were blessed according to our goodness?  

 Psalm 25:7  Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! 

    No, we are not worthy of God's blessing on our own merit. Thankfully we are credited with righteousness due to the merit of Christ and on His merit we are able to receive blessings.  

Now take those blessings and go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

  

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

NEHEMIAH - BEREAN BIBLE CHURCH MID-WEEK STUDY

What follows is a study in the book of Nehemiah I will be teaching beginning  11/29/17 at Berean Bible Church in Knoxville TN.  If you are in the area, drop by and join us!  If you cannot join us, please feel free to ask questions or leave comments in the comment section.  I will try to answer any and all questions.  This study will be updated each week as we progress.  Hope this is a blessing!

you can check out other, completed studies by clicking the following links: 
                                                           NEHEMIAH

As we begin this study in the book of Nehemiah, we will look at at man who was not born into high standing, nor was he especially skilled. Nehemiah, whose name means consolation of God was a regular man whose heart was burdend. This regular man sought God's leading and followed it. Not only did this man accomplish an amazing constuction feat, God used him to change the culture.

The book of Nehemiah reveals the proper way to handle the burdens of our heart, the power of God at work when we face adversity and how one man's obedience was able to influence an entire culture.

Written around 430 BC about events that began around 445 BC, Nehemiah's account takes place chronologicaly after the events recorded in the book of Ezra and most likely after the events of the book of Esther. Because there is little extrabiblical evidence of the existance of Queed Esther, there is much debate as to whether she was the queen of the King Artaxerxes. I believe there is sufficient evidence to say Queen Esther was a contemporary of Nehemiah and is even referenced in chapter 2.

The book is a first hand account of Nehemiah's exploits in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and then purging the land of the very things that caused the walls to be knocked down in the first place.

Ezra begins in 539 BC when Cyrus decrees the rebuilding of Jerusalem under the direction of Zerubabel and Yeshua the high priest. Ezra goes from Babylon to Jerusalem in 457 and leads the nation in revival. During this time, Esther becomes Queen and rescues the Jews from destruction. Esther is probably still queen during the reign of her step son Artaxerxes. In 445 Nehemiah is made aware that the walls of Jerusalem are in ruins and this is where we pick up the story.

  1. V. 1-2 – judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, had been conquered by Babylon due to excessive sin and idolatry. The majority of the Judahites were carried into exile by King Nebuchadnezzer. In the midst of Judah's captivity, Persia conquered Babylon. 94 years after Persia conquered Babylon and 20 years into the reign of King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah receives visitors from Jerusalem. Many, but not most, of the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem. Second and third generation Jewish exiles chose to remain in the comfort and familiarity of exile. Nehemiah, as we will see, was one who had chosen to remain in Susa, the capitol and serve as the king's cup bearer.

Nehemiah's brother Hanani and others arrived in Susa and Nehemiah asks about the state of Jerusalem and those who are inhabiting it.

  1. V. 3 – Nehemiah learns that the people living in Jerusalem are living in shame and danger because the city's walls are in ruin. The city is vulnerable to attack and the people are shamed because they are living in ruin.
  1. V. 4 – the city was in the same state for over 100 years, but Nehemiah is apparently hearing for the first time what kind of shape the city is in. Nehemiah is heartbroken and moved in his spirit.
This is where we see the correct response to vexation of the soul, going to God. We fuss, we worry, we spin out of control and when all else fails, we pray... Why do we not go to God first? Think of all the worry and anxiety we could avoid if we followed Nehemiah's example.

Nehemiah went before God, not just a simple “hey God can you help” prayer, but a heart wrenching fasting prayer. Nehemiah is serious and he prays seriously.

  1. lets examine Nehemiah's prayer
A. V. 6 – first we see and element of worship. Nehemiah recounts the greatness of God. This is not the prayer of a Sunday only Christian, Nehemiah demonstrates a knowledge of God. How can we truly worship someone we do not know. Nehemiah's prayer demonstrates that he knows God.

B. V. 7 – Nehemiah's prayer is consistent. Nehemiah does not just shoot up a little prayer, as stated earlier, he is pryaing day and night. Also, we see his prayer is repentant. This shows that Nehemiah also understands who he is in God's economy.

First Nehemiah worships showing he knows God's greatness and now he repents showing he knows his own brokenness. When we pray, we must remember our position. We come offering nothing but our faith. We cannot come arrogantly or thinking God somehow owes us. God has already given us life, our devotion and love should be in response to what He has given.

    1. V. 8-10 – Nehemiah recounts God's promises in his prayer. Does God need to be reminded of His promises? No, we do. When we pray according to God's promises, we are able to pray in faith. James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. When we recount the promises of God in prayer we are reminding ourselves of His faithfulness that we may pray with confidence.
When we pray, we can pray from a position of faith rooted in the very word of God. This is what praying according to His will means.

    1. V. 11 – finally Nehemiah prays specifically. Worshiping, confessing, contniual prayer built on the promises of God and specific requests. This is not some magic formula or blueprint that forces God's hand, it is just good practice. This kind of prayer places us in a proper state of mind to hear from God. This allows us to perceive things from God's perspective.

Nehemiah is going to ask the king to allow him to do something about the problem of which he is concerned. Nehemiah has a plan of some sort and he is asking God to open a door of grace and mercy to him that he might have favor from the king.


What a beautiful picture of prayer we see here form Nehemiah. An example we would do very well to follow. Next time we will see the results of Nehemiah's prayer. 

WEEK 2
DECEMBER 6


CHAPTER 2

When we last left Nehemiah, he was praying and fasting about a serious issue that was burdening his heart. I believe this is a great picture of praying according to God's word. As we will see, it is unlikely that Nehemiah would be so burdened about Jerusalem on his own. Nehemiah had a pretty good job and was prospering in the only home he ever knew. This is well over 100 years since the Jews were removed from the land and so it is safe to say Nehemiah is at least a second generation, if not third generation Jew living in exile.

Nehemiah's brother came, after having visited Jerusalem and gave Nehemiah a bad report concerning the condition of the city. Nehemiah's response is most likely due to God's prompting. As Nehemiah is burdened for the a city he never visited, he begins to pray for God's direction. So burdened, Nehemiah fasts and prays, day and night, seeking God's favor and direction.

This is a lesson to us, that we need to take things that burden our hearts to God in prayer. How much prayer do we really put into matters that burden our hearts? Do we just accept defeat? Do we just assume God doesn't care? God does care, He wants to hear from us and He wants us to beseech Him in prayer. Nehemiah is beseeching God. Beseeching is not just prayer but heartfelt pleading that takes more than just a quick minute. When was the last time you beseeched God for something?

Tonight, we pick up where Nehemiah begins to see his prayers answered.

  1. V. 1 – Last week we noted in our discussion that Nehemiah got the news about Jerusalem in the month of Kislev. Now, it is the month of Nissan, 4 months later! Nehemiah did not just pray for a day or two and get an answer, nor did he quickly give up praying. Nehemiah diligently sought the Lord for 4 months without any clue as to how or when God would answer.
This means we must be diligent in prayer. We cannot quickly give up or get frustrated. God has a timetable and often His timetable does not match our desires. We must trust and wait. We get the idea that Nehemiah began praying with all optimism and went about his daily life trusting God would answer him. After 4 months of heartfelt continual prayer, apparently Nehemiah began to fee discouraged. God knows our limits and He knows we are made of dust. For the first time, Nehemiah's countenance betrayed the burden of his heart in the presence of his boss, the king.

  1. V. 2-3 – As the king notices Nehemiah's despair, he is moved to inquire as to the reason Nehemiah looks sad. I believe God used Nehemiah's discouragement to soften the kings heart. While Nehemiah began to get discouraged thinking God was not going to move on his behalf, God used that very discouragement to facilitate the conversation with the king that would lead to the answer of Nehemiah's prayer.

  1. V. 4-5 – As Nehemiah shares the burden of his heart, the king asks him what he wants to do about the situation. Nehemiah asks permission to go and rebuild the city himself. This is a pretty big request if you think about it.
    Here is a guy that is a cup bearer in the kings court. What building skills does he have? What does he know about the geography or layout of the city. Nothing! His heart is burdened to take on a seemingly impossible task for which he has not formal training or background.
    Jesus said, “what is impossible with man is possible with God.” What can we not do if we are called by God. How unlikely a man to rebuild the city, yet the man God chose and called.                                  
  2. V. 6 – Notice the reference to the Queen sitting there. This is most likely Queen Esther and she probably influenced the kings decision. Once Nehemiah tells the king his plan, he is granted permission. This tells us that not only did God give him a burden but a plan. Nehemiah not only knew what he wanted to do, he knew how long it would take.
    When God calls us to action, He equips us in every way. This does not mean that the act of going was not a leap of faith. Everything about this endeavor was an act of faith, but when Nehemiah needed something, it was there, in this case a time frame to give the king. God is even active in the smallest details!                                 
  3. V. 7-8 – Emboldened by the kings favor, Nehemiah also asks for letters of safe passage and the supplies he will need to do all the work, and the supplies to build a house for himself. God does not send us off unsupplied. God will give us what we need for His mission. We may be tempted to compare this to the disciples who were sent out with no provision to preach during the time of Christ. The tools they needed to do the work were given them, the power to heal, cast our demons, raise the dead and to cleanse lepers.
    The disciples were sent on a spiritual mission and were given the spiritual tools required, Nehemiah is sent on a construction mission so the supplies he needed to accomplish the work is provided to him.

  1. V. 9 – not only did the king grant him safe passage and all provisions, he also gave him a police escort to Jerusalem                              
  2. V. 10 – So who is this Sanballat and why does what he think matter? Sanballat was the Samaritan leader. Samaria was what was left of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and was made up of people descended from the Israelites and other nations placed in the land by the Assyrians. The Samaritans were not accepted as Israel even though they incorporated the worship of God into their religious practice.

It is believed that Sanballat was the builder of a replica of the Jewish Temple on Mt. Gerizim. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, she mentioned worshiping at Mt. Gerizim. This is because Mt. Gerizim was where the Samaritan temple stood. Sanballat was no lightweight and probably had designs on annexing Judah into Samaria in order to increase his influence and power.

  1. V. 11-16 – Nehemiah does not show up and take charge, although we see here that it was indeed God who put this whole thing into his heart. Nehemiah takes some time to get the lay of the land. Nehemiah inspects the work that needs to be done and he assess the extent of the damage. Remember, this is Nehemiah's first visit to Jerusalem. Nehemiah had no idea what the condition of the city was until his brother reported to hm 4 months earlier.

Just because we are called by God to do something does not mean we have to barge into a situation without first getting a feel for things and an idea of what the work is going to actually be. Nehemiah came to town with a broad plan to rebuild, now the plan was getting specific as he learned what the specific needs were.

WEEK 3 
DECEMBER 12

Chapter 2:17-3:32

Last week, we looked at Nehemiah's prayers begin to be answered. The answer took 4 months, but when it came, it came like a flood! Nehemiah fasted and prayed for 4 months and God faithfully answered Nehemiah, even in his moment of discouragement. The King granted Nehemiah everything he asked for and more. This is how God works in our lives, He places a burden on our hear, which is our ministry calling. When we are burdened we are often at a loss to act so we pray. As we pray, God prepares us and He prepares our path and He prepares those with whom we will partner. When the time is right, and we have waited on God's direction, we see the work happen. Nehemiah was burdened for the destroyed city of Jerusalem, he prayed, God answered that prayer and now Nehemiah has arrived in Jerusalem to rebuild the walls with all the provision given him by God through the king. Nehemiah has assessed the work and is now ready to reveal the plan to others

     I. V. 17-18 – Nehemiah now recruits helpers. Nehemiah recruited by first showing a need for action and second showing the hand of God in the action. This is a pretty fundamental method of putting together a ministry team. Having a vision and having evidence of God's hand in the vision. This will bring people who have either had the same vision or people who, once made aware of the need, will catch the vision.

  1. As I am involved in homeless ministry, I am continually amazed at God's evident hand in what we are doing. Even when the rest of my life is in chaos, the homeless ministry is blessed and provided for and well manned. I take no credit because I did nothing but go where God led me.

      II. V. 19-20 – Nehemiah now meets with his first opposition, just prior to his beginning the work. Nehemiah's response is perfect, he defers to God. God's hand is so evident up to this point Nehemiah does not allow the criticism and opposition of those who are not part of God's plan to deter God's plan.

    We will come in contact with those who will attack, criticize and mock what we are called to do. We will find this from unbelievers and, unfortunately, inside the church. The thing we must remember is those who are coming against us have no part in what we are doing. They have no part in the work and they have no part in discouraging or stopping the work. There will be opposition and difficulties encountered in almost everything we do for the Lord. This is evidence of the existence of Satan. We must remain focused on God and not the circumstances that seem to be working against us. We cannot be like Peter who stepped out of the boat and then began to sink because of fear of the circumstances.

    When we see the clear hand of God in our endeavors, we cannot allow opposition from those who have no part in the mission to deter us from the mission.

    1. C. 3 V. 1 – Notice that the narrative begins with the High Priest, Eliashib, building the Sheep Gate. This is significant for a number of reasons

    A. Eliashib means God Will Restore.
    B. The Sheep Gate is significant because it is the gate through
    which the sacrificial lamb was brought into the city
    C. This is most likely the gate Jesus used to enter the city
    on Palm Sunday

    Names in scripture matter. The High Priest who entered the city with Zerubabel in the book of Ezra was named Yashua. That name should sound familiar as it is what Mary and Joseph really named their son, not Jesus. Yashua is Hebrew for God's Salvation. God's Salvation built the temple and God's Restoration rebuilt the sheep gate, the very Gate the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world would enter!

    On the 10th day of Nissan, the Passover Lamb was chosen and kept 4 days until it was sacrificed on the 14th day and eaten after sundown, which was really the 15th and the beginning of the Sabbath. We know that Jesus came into Jerusalem on a Sunday and we know the people were lined up waiting. Why, because the Passover Lamb procession through the Sheep Gate would take place on the same path Jesus would take into Jerusalem. 4 days later, on Thursday, the Passover lamb was sacrificed and 4 day later, Jesus was sacrificed. At sundown, the Passover Sabbath began. So from Thursday night to Friday evening was the Passover Sabbath. From Friday evening to Saturday evening was the regular Sabbath. Sunday morning would have been the third morning after the third night that Jesus was in the tomb fulfilling His words to the Pharisees concerning the sign of Jonah – three days and three nights in the belly of the earth.


    1. V. 2-3 – between the Sheep Gate and the Fish Gate, men built up the wall. Could the significance of the Fish Gate being next after the Sheep Gate be that once we are redeemed by the blood of the lamb we are called to be fishers of men?

    Remember when Jesus called Peter, He told Peter He would make him a fisher of men, meaning he would lead others to salvation

    1. V. 4-5 – the next section of wall is repaired but notice some of the wealthier citizens refused to do any of the work. Have you ever known people who felt too good to get involved. Do not be like that, God is not a respecter of persons. God calls the rich and the poor into His service. In fact, as I read through the book of Acts, I am led to believe God does not expect there to be any rich as long as there are poor in the church.

    1. V. 6 – The Old Gate or the Yeshana Gate is believed to be one of the original gates into the city built by the Jebusites when the city was still named Jebus

    1. V. 7-12 – Here we see many prominent members of society working hard on the project. Many had titles and crafts yet they took time to do the work God called them to. We cannot become so defined by our career or station in life that we lose sight of the fact that we are to glorify God and serve Him according to our calling.

    1. V. 13-14 – The Valley Gate opened up to the Central Valley and the Dung Gate opened to the Hinnom Valley which was a giant burning garbage pit. This valley was used by Jesus as an object lesson on hell due to it's perpetual burning and being a place of discarded refuse.

    1. V. 15 – The Fountain Gate opened to the Pool of Shiloam where Jesus performed a miracle, healing a crippled man.

    1. V. 16-25 – Again, we see many varied people working to repair the wall. Notice how many are working portions of the wall that are adjacent to their own homes. Sometimes it takes a personal stake in order for people to become involved in the Lord's work.

    1. V. 26-27 – The Water Gate protected the Gihon Spring which provided water to the city.

    1. V. 28-32 – The work reaches around back to the Sheep Gate where it all began. The Horse Gate, located near the stables, was used to ride horses out to war.

    The East Gate is very significant – This is the gate Jesus will enter Jerusalem from when He returns to rule and reign as King: Ezekiel 44:1-3 Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east. And it was shut. And the LORD said to me, "This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it. Therefore it shall remain shut. Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD. He shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way."

    In 1540, Suleiman, a Muslim Sultan, sealed the gate to prevent the return of the Messiah. The gate remains sealed to this day. When Christ returns, there will be an earthquake that, it is believed, will break the East Gate open and allow Jesus to walk into the city directly onto the Temple Mount

    The Muster Gate or the Inspection Gate is where the troops gathered for war and where people gathered for census. It is a place of inspection and reminds us of the Sheep and Goats judgment in Matthew 25. The work of the Lord takes many people from all backgrounds and positions. There is no one exempt from serving God.

     

Thursday, November 23, 2017

PRAYER IN A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL UNIVERSE

   
 Have you ever pondered prayer and how it works?  I have wondered how it can be that God knows all things and yet we are not only told to pray, we are told our prayers can affect the world around us.  Hmmm, this sounds like it might be a contradiction and a logical person may question the validity of prayer all together.


Isaiah 46:9-10  remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,

A verse like this almost seems like God's gonna do what God's gonna do and we have no part in it.  But, then, we read a plethora of verses that tell us to pray, pray and pray some more:  1Thessalonians 5:16-19  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you Do not quench the Spirit. 


James 5:16  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 

Ok, so, we have the call to prayer and the assurance that prayer has an effect on our world.  But then we get this: Numbers 23:19  God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?  

     Our concept of reality may be the reason we cannot understand an infinite, all powerful, all knowing God who has decreed and planned yet calls us to pray and assures us our prayers are not only heard, but acted upon.  

     The physical world in which we live is but a shadow of true reality.   This is a fact of which both science and the Bible agree: Colossians 2:16-7  Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ
According to the April 17, 2016 issue of the Scientific American magazine, many brilliant minds in the scientific community are actively discussing the possibility that we are living in a digital simulation of some kind. Because these scientists start at the hypothesis: there is no God, they must come up with a reason the universe is so complex and so they hypothesize a "great programmer".  Nonetheless, science and religion agree, we are not actually living in ultimate reality, there is something of real substance beyond our normal perception.

      Quantum Physics is beginning to reveal to us what the Bible already told us, our grasp of reality is but a shadow of things to come.  We are eternal beings placed in a mortal shell.  We live for 70-100 years and then our true essence is released from this prison of flesh and blood and moves on to what we so charmingly refer to as the Afterlife.  For believers in Christ, this is great news because we are heading for something so awesome we cannot even comprehend it:

1Corinthians 2:9  But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"—

     In Quantum Physics, much of what we thought we knew about the physical universe is flipped upside down.  What does this have to do with prayer?  Pretty much everything.  If there is a multi-dimensional universe (science pretty much believes there are actually 10 dimensions of time and space) and we only currently exist in 3 dimensions of time and 1 of space, that leaves 7 other time/space dimensions through which our perception of reality is filtered.  Without going into some very boring explanations of how these dimensions operate, just think about the resurrected Christ being suddenly able to walk through walls and travel at the speed of thought.  Jesus was traveling within multi-dimensionality.  

      Our prayers must also travel between multi-dimensionality.  Jesus is eternal yet physically he had a birth and thus a physical beginning.  If Christ's physical beginning was a little over 2000 years ago, how is it possible that we see Him taking physical form throughout the Old Testament, thousands of years before He was physically conceived?  Multi-dimensionality!

     As many in the scientific community work diligently to disprove the existence of God, science itself reveals what God already told us: prayer changes things.  

So, do not be discouraged my friend, God hears your prayers and somehow, those prayers are effecting plans He laid down at the foundations of the earth!  Pray without ceasing, cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you!

Now, go live like Christ.... and give the devil hell!




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Thursday, November 16, 2017

LESSONS FROM THE LIONS' DEN

 
       It has been said, "familiarity breeds contempt."  If you grew up going to Sunday School or had more than one children's Bible book, you are more than just a little familiar with the story of Daniel in the lions' den.  In fact, if you are like me, and a preacher begins to preach on Daniel in the lions' den, you will probably soon be daydreaming about what you plan on doing when church is over.  

     Why?  Familiarity!  We must be very careful to not, in our familiarity, forget that this a story of the supernatural.  

Supernatural events are pretty common in the Bible.  Some we just accept as fact because we have learned these stories as small children and never questioned.  The supernatural events in Revelation are not so common to us because Revelation is not usually Sunday School fare.  


     Likewise, we learn all about Noah's ark, the animals coming to the ark and all the supernatural events associated with the flood in Sunday School and accept it at face value.  What we do not learn about in Sunday School is the Sons of God who took the daughters of man to be wives and produced Nephilim, precipitating the flood.   So when, as adults, we hear about angelic/human hybrids, we scoff.  Why can we accept that animals came to the ark of their own accord but we cannot accept that certain angelic beings mated with humans and produced giants?  Familiarity!  for more on the Nephilim CLICK HERE  



But, I digress...  When it comes to Daniel in the lions' den, two things we must keep in mind:

1. Hungry lions not eating a man is a supernatural occurrence
2. Nowhere is it recorded that Daniel had any assurance that he             would not be eaten.

     Daniel spent the night in the lions' den expecting to be eaten at any given moment!  Daniel did not sit there petting the lions, Daniel did not curl up in the mane of a lion and go to sleep.  Daniel prayed and waited, most likely in fear... ALL NIGHT LONG!



      Daniel experienced a supernatural work of God that probably shocked him as much as anyone.  We hear about it now, as adults, and we yawn.  When we study scripture, it is important to not allow familiarity to rob us of the wonder of miracles.  

     I believe God is still in the miracle business today, after all, He is the same "yesterday, today and forever."  Face your seemingly impossible situations with prayer.  Not every prayer is answered the way we want, but, Jesus told us, "what is impossible with man is possible with God."

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES & FREEDOM FROM THE LAW

     I remember a few years ago watching the film, The Island of Dr. Moreau.  Not the original one from the 70's, but the crazy 1996 version with Marlon Brando.  One element of this film has always stuck with me: in order to control man/animal hybrids, Dr. Moreau implanted each creature with a device that would shock them if they gave in to animal impulses.  As the creatures gained in intelligence, one discovered he could remove the implant and be free from the law.  The creature's line, upon discovering this held great spiritual import to me and continues to do so to this day. "If there is no pain, is there no law?"  

     Does the average person live by this idea of freedom from consequences equal freedom from rules?  Do I choose to color outside the lines when I feel safe from the pain of discipline from God?  Am I no better than an unreasoning animal who will perform tricks for a treat (blessing) and avoid sin for fear of the pain of discipline?  


    As I was studying through Colossians this week, I came across this verse: Colossians 2:23  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. The preceding passages speak about creating a set of rules to live by that we may appear holy.  Rules come with consequences.  following rules in order to avoid negative consequences is of no value when it comes to our human nature.

    As I read that passage, I began to ponder my own obedience to God.  Do I obey because I fear God's discipline or do I obey because I truly love God and am grateful for His grace and mercy.  This is a very dangerous question to ask oneself.  The answer may be less than flattering. The real question is: do I take liberty when I have no sense of consequences?  If I am honest, I am sometimes no better than the animal/men of Dr. Moreau's island.  If I have no fear of pain, do I have no rules?  

     According to James, the half brother of Jesus, obedience is evidence of faith.  God does not want me to be obedient for the sake of obedience, nor does He want me obedient out of fear of consequences.  God wants me to be obedient because of my faith and because I love Him.  God wants me to be obedient because I understand His commands are for my good and the good of others.  

    Rather than teaching rules, we need to be teaching love and faith which will naturally produce obedience.  God is more interested in your heart than He is in your behavior because He knows your heart will drive your behavior.  Love God, love others, seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. When we understand God's goodness and love we become obedient.  

     So to answer the question of the man-beast from Dr. Moreau, yes, even without pain, there is law and consequences for breaking the law.  Faith and love fulfill the law and Christ frees us from the consequences of breaking the law, at least in the eternal sense.  So the real question is not, am I free to sin if there is no consequences, the real question is, why should I want to sin when it displeases God, harms myself and others?  

Love God, love others - go live as Christ and give the devil hell!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

WHY DID GOD FORSAKE ME?


   
 

Have you ever felt abandoned by God?  Have you ever felt as if God let you down or did not fulfill His end of the bargain?  If honest, most people will admit they have at one time or another.  "I prayed and prayed and God ignored me..."  "I did everything right and then this happened..."  These are just a couple of things we may have thought at some point.

   Before you are too hard on yourself, even Jesus felt abandoned by the Father, "My God My God, why have you forsaken me?!"  Did God really forsake Jesus as He hung on the cross?  Scholars debate, but I look to the resurrection and have to conclude, no, God did not, ultimately forsake Jesus.   

     The biggest complaint I think is when we feel we have done what is right and somehow God owes us for being good.  The very principles of reaping and sowing dictate: "Do good things and good things happen."  

     What if the principles of reaping and sowing work the same way as real reaping and sowing.  You know, you work your butt off in the field and then you wait months for a harvest.  What if, we, in our microwave society, are unrealistic when we expect instant reward for good behavior?  And really, what is good behavior, anyway?  Is good behavior when we sin less than our neighbor or less than we did last week?  These are all questions we must really ponder when we are questioning God's goodness and care.  

     If a farmer's tractor breaks down while sowing his field, he understands that tractors break.  The farmer is still going to reap his harvest in due time, his sowing will be rewarded.  In the mean time, he has to fix his tractor.  If I do, what I think, are good deeds this week and then I get in a car accident, that does not mean I am forsaken by God, it means that while I am waiting to reap my harvest, I happened to have gotten into a car accident.  Life happens and God doesn't promise us exemption from bad days. 

    When life goes awry, sometimes, it is because we have failed to do one of two things:

1. We failed to seek God on a particular matter or decision
2. We fail to heed God's leading after we pray.

     In Jeremiah 40-42 we see the account of Gedaliah and Johannan.  One a good guy and one a bad guy, both come to a bad end because they failed in one of the 2 aforementioned ways.  Geddy, failed to seek God.  Geddy was warned that a guy he thought was a friend wanted to kill him.  Geddy failed to seek God's counsel, trusted the wrong guy and was killed.  God did not forsake Geddy, Geddy trusted his own judgment rather than seeking God.  

    As much as I like to think I have good judgment, as I look over my life, I realize I need to seek God more on decisions!

    Johnny, on the other hand, sought out God and then directly disobeyed the Word of the Lord.  Johnny sought God's advice on traveling to Egypt, God told Johnny no through a prophet and Johnny declared, "that is not the answer God gave!"  Johnny went to Egypt and died.  Was Johnny forsaken by God?  No, he ignored God and things fell apart. 

    The bottom line is, God promises to never leave us nor forsake us and He promises that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  What God does not promise us is a good day every day.  After all, Jesus never did anything wrong, ever, and He was abandoned by all loved ones, beaten and nailed to a cross.  Now that was a bad day!  Did Jesus feel abandoned by God - He sure did.  Was Jesus abandoned by God - He sure wasn't.  
    
     Sowing good does not lead to immediate reward, it is a harvest that sometimes takes time.  Failing to seek God and trusting your own judgment may lead to some very poor decisions with consequences and failing to heed God's word to will also lead to consequences you will not enjoy.  None of this constitutes God's abandonment.  God did not forsake me when I had an accident yesterday, I just had an accident...  I trust Psalm 119:90-91 Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants. 


Thanks for taking the time to read, please feel free to comment below.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

MY CHRISTIAN LIBERTY VS YOUR SIN

     What is the difference between Christian liberty and sin?  If I approve of it, it's liberty, if not - SIN!  If we are really honest, the subject of sin and liberty is a mine field in which we are willing to throw theological Molotov Cocktails at those with whom we disagree.  The liberty/sin argument is a minefield because most opinion on exactly what constitutes sin or liberty is just that, opinion.  We know without a doubt it is a sin to lie, cheat, steal and kill, but can I get a tattoo, eat pork or smoke a cigarette?  Can I have a beer, can I mow the lawn on Sunday, can I watch an R rated movie?  These are the mine field questions that can blow up a friendship or split a church. 

     Within the halls of American Christianity, there are as many opinions on what is acceptable behavior as there are church buildings.  For some, any music with a syncopated beat is evil, while to others, death metal with God honoring lyrics is sacred.  Unfortunately, our convictions, many times, have more to do with what is acceptable to us than God.  For instance, I happen to like Metal music, so to me, Christian metal is not only a liberty but a major component of my Christian expression. I do not like top 40 music, therefore, I am quick to criticize much of what is played on Christian radio.  Does my taste dictate the divinity of a style of one type of music over another?  In my corrupt heart it does, until I allow the Spirit of God to heal me of my self righteousness. (By healing, I mean convicting my heart and leading me to repentance)

     Great disputes continue to erupt concerning topics such as tattoos, piercings, women wearing pants and Harry Potter.  When your liberty crosses my conviction, you are a heretic.  When your conviction crosses my liberty, you are legalistic.  This is the way of the modern Christian life.  How do we reconcile your liberty and my convictions - and vice versa? 

As always, the answer is found in scripture.  In order to answer the age old question: "is it ok if I...?"  Romans 14 deals with Christian liberty and how it affects those around us. The last half of the last verse of Romans 14 should settle many arguments and should also take much of the guess work out of deciding what is ok for a Christian to do:  Romans 14:23b  For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.  The bottom line is - when in doubt, don't do it.  

     If you want a tattoo, for instance, pray about it and wait to hear from God.  Not everything is for everybody and what God allows in my life, He may not allow in yours.  We are all called to serve according to a God ordained design.  Your design and mine may look quite differently because the ministry to which we are called is different. 

       Be very careful that your liberty does not cause a fellow believer to stumble and be very careful to not allow your convictions to condemn a brother or sister.  What the Bible condemns as sin, condemn, but remember, not everything you do not like is sin.  


Now, go live like Christ and give the devil hell!

    

Sunday, September 24, 2017

THE DAY AFTER THE WORLD ENDED

   
 Well, here we are on September 24, 2017 - and the world did not end yesterday, as promised...   I was moderately disappointed because I was hoping to get out of going to work tomorrow, but as it stands, life is pretty much just as it was on September 22, except I am older, shorter of breath and two days closer to death.  


     If you have been following the news or have been anywhere near social media, you know that there was an astronomical convergence on September 23 that seemed to be a fulfillment of Revelation chapter 12. Revelation 12:1  And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 

The excitement over this passage had to do with the position of the constellation Virgo - the Woman.  Here is a video by one of the plethora of false prophets who were POSITIVE September 23 was the beginning of the end: 


      So what we have is another super exciting non-event that yes, may have caused people to run to the Bible, but also caused many to lose credibility.  We can now add September 23, 2017 to the pile of other non-events that had everyone convinced the end of the world or the return of Jesus was imminent. Y2K, the 2012 Mayan calendar, September 23 2015 Year of Jubilee, Blood Moons and the Great American Solar Eclipse 2017.  Books have been written, YouTube videos have been made and social media has exploded with excitement.  The result: NOTHING HAPPENED - AGAIN!!!.  (except a bunch of false prophets made a ton of money promoting nonsense)

    Jesus said no man knows the day or the hour but that has not stopped super rich, book writing preachers like John Hagee and Jonathan Cahn, to only name a few, from making millions of dollars by suggesting possible dates for Christ's return.  False prophets - every one.  I am saddened and amazed that these clowns are able to continue to write best selling books filled with misinformation, misinterpretation and false prognostications while the misinformed continue to spend millions.

     When I first saw the hype over yesterday's convergence, I was mildly intrigued and part of me really wished it were true, even though, as a student of scripture, I was 99.999% sure it was another Y2K type non-event.  I have read and taught through the book of Revelation more times than I can count Revelation study from 2015 - CLICK HERE  The events of chapter 12 of Revelation come only after some pretty cataclysmic world wide events and the unprecedented loss of human life, outlined in the first 11 chapters of Revelation.  It would be silly to believe that the first 11 chapters of Revelation are allegorical or irrelevant but suddenly chapter 12 is directly related to everyone.

   I believe the book of Revelation is a literal, chronological account of FUTURE end time events.  I believe in the imminent return of Jesus Christ in and event called the rapture of the church The Metal Minister on the Rapture - CLICK HERE    I believe everything in the Bible is true.  What I do not believe in are sensationalist prognosticators who prey upon others with false information and, after being proven wrong numerous times, continue to write best selling books filled with myths and half truths.  These guys should get together with Alex Jones and form a Jade Helm society!

    So, here is sit on September 24, 2017, writing a post about a day where nothing happened.  Nibiru did not crack the Earth, aliens did not reveal themselves to mankind and Jesus did not return.  I wonder what the next big non-event will be and how many will be caught up in end times mania. If you got caught up in this, do not feel badly, just learn from it.   Fool me once, shame on you - fool me twice, shame on me! 

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section - just keep it family friendly!