Archive for September, 2017

A Case of Trying to Run from God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodnight and God bless.

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September 27 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodnight and God bless.

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September 22 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

What’s Life All About Lord?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just as God said, it came to pass:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodnight and God bless.

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September 13 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

God Never Said That Money Was the Root of All Evil

What He did say was this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodnight and God bless.

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September 07 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »