WHAT DO YOU SEE?

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.2 And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. 3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. - Habakkuk 2:1-3

The Prophet Habakkuk

I have written these past few days on Psalm 1, and spoken of both the blessed person and that who is wicked. This morning as I was reading some commentary on Psalm 1, I came across some interesting points to help drive these points home, and hopefully give you, the reader, some things to ponder for your own walk with God. We are going to look at two different viewpoints from two different prophets, Habakkuk mentioned in the opening quote, and from Elijah in 1 Kings. I will use Habakkuk to set the stage and Elijah and Psalm 1 to bring it all together.

Have you ever finished watching the evening news with all the violence and injustice in the world and in frustration asked, Why isn’t God doing something? Why do the wicked and the dishonest people prosper. Why do they get elected to the White House? Well, that is not a new feeling. A prophet named Habakkuk felt that way around 620 B.C. and wrote a book about it.

Habakkuk’s name means to “embrace” or “wrestle.” As is usually the case, his name has something to do with the message of the book. I think it relates to the fact that he was wrestling with a difficult issue. If God is good, then why is there evil in the world? And if there has to be evil, then why do the evil prosper? What is God doing in the world? We discussed a similar thought coming from the Israelites in Zephaniah 1:12. They said God did not do good or evil. They thought God was not involved and so continued in their sin. Habakkuk is one of the good guys. He fears God and does what is right, but it is getting him no where. (Taken from Bible.org – https://bible.org/seriespage/8-habakkuk)

Here is also an outline we can use as we read for ourselves the Book of Habakkuk.


Title (1:1)

Habakkuk’s First Complaint: Why does the evil in Judah go unpunished? (1:2-4)

God’s Answer: The Babylonians will punish Judah (1:5-11)

Habakkuk’s Second Complaint: How can a just God use wicked Babylonia to punish a people more righteous than themselves? (1:12;2:1)

God’s Answer: Babylonia will be punished, and faith will be rewarded (2:2-20)

Habakkuk’s Prayer: After asking for manifestations of God’s wrath and mercy (as he has seen in the past), he closes with a confession of trust and joy in God (ch. 3)
(https://www.biblestudytools.com/habakkuk/)

So how does all of this matter between the Book of Habakkuk, Elijah, and Psalm 1? Patience dear reader, patience!

So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” – 1 Kings 18:42-22

Two things I would like to point out in these verses in 1 Kings. The first being at the end of verse 42 “And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees.”

Not only did this prophet know what it took to be alone and away from the world and the problems therein, but Christ Himself, the GREAT Prophet, Priest, and King do likewise. Many times He would seek to get away to be with and commune with His Father (and ours who are truly saved), should we not be doing likewise if we are following Christ? The prophet Elijah also submits himself humbly. Not only did he bow his knees, but put his face between his knees. Could it be that he was so ashamed of his sins and that of his countrymen Israel? If so, when we seek God, should it not be the same for us, that we humbly submit and not hide our sins, rather our faces from He who is Holy?

The other part I want us to see and mediate upon is that at the end of verse 43 and the first part of verse 44 “And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”

It has been said that at times, the number 7 mentioned in the Bible is referenced as that God is communicating the idea of divine completeness, perfection, and wholeness by means of the number 7, and I do believe this one of those times that God used Elijah to teach his servant how to look for God, wait on God, and that things happen in God’s timing.

Okay, great! So how does all pertain to Psalm 1?

Well, as we saw the past couple of days the compare and contrast of the blessed man and the evil man, we can conclude the following. The blessed man knows God for that is from whom all blessings flow, and he desires to spend all his time with God, not because of worldly blessings, but spiritual, whereas the wicked man is not interested at all in the things of God, but the things of the world are his false god.

2) In both Habakkuk and 1 Kings, we see there are times of properly questioning God, seeking His will and wisdom in what is going on in His creation, and waiting on His timing in all things, especially when it comes to; reading, knowing, and understanding His Word.

Let us learn from these two prophets and see what it means to truly be blessed by God! Are there times of struggle, doubt, fear, anxiety, anger, disappointment, regret, etc. You bet!! But I dare say it is because we do not know God, trust God, spend much time with God, pray to God, etc. For it is these doings that bring peace by God, through God, and for our comfort. So the question still remains, are you spending time with God during these difficult times in the world today, or do we start out in frustration like Habakkuk did? Thankfully there is daily grace and mercy, that we can turn from our doubts and fears because of the world, and trust God, who is Sovereignly in control.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

ARE YOU PLANTED PART 2

ARE YOU PLANTED PART 2

Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. - Matthew 3:10

John the Baptist

One of the greatest ways that the Bible teaches us, the students who study the Bible, the way to absolute truth and wisdom is by comparing and contrasting.

We may have at some point in our lives heard the idiom of “Comparing apples to apples or Apples to oranges”, which means comparing things that are alike to each other or indifferent.

So it is with the Bible. Imagine if God the Holy Spirit inspired man to write everything in the viewpoint of nothing to compare the Word to. Granted, the purpose of the Word of God IS to lead and guide into ALL absolute truth, for God cannot lie. Yet, since the fall into sin was so great, and man so easily deceived, many times God teaches by comparing and contrasting to lead us to the truth. Vivid imagery like light and darkness, good and evil, hope and despair, love and hate.

Yesterday we started out with such a description in Psalm 1, and it starts out on a positive note, Blessed!

However, we are not automatically blessed, for the scriptures say “Blessed is the man who walks NOT in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers”. Man is doing an action verb, walk(ing) and either in the ways of righteousness or in the ways of evil, and if walking in the way of righteousness, He is spending much time with God. If we too use our time wisely in study, prayer, meditation on the Word that we read, we will find we have less time for sin and are more at peace with God.

This psalm also has one of the most clear, most vivid descriptions of what takes place to evil wicked people, and this warning should get the attention of many, yet sadly does not.

Yesterday we read that the Blessed man, grows strong, bears fruit for the Kingdom of God, he does not wither, and continues to prosper in all that he does. BUT… The wicked are not so, but are like the chaff the wind drives away. Have you ever studied what chaff is? Chaff is the loose, outer covering on wheat and other grains that must be separated in the threshing and winnowing process of harvesting grain. Chaff is pretty much worthless and was either used in adding it to the feed of the livestock, for they were able to process it whereas humans cannot, or it was used for burning fuel, which would not last long for it was so lightweight and a quick burn time. God created ALL things with a purpose and of value, and like the chaff is to protect the grain within from damage and retain its purpose and value, so it is with the Word of God, the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer, in that they (believers) will not be burned with the judgment of fire.

When we study intently the Word of God, we find out how chaff was cleared from the threshing floor. Sometimes the grain lightly tossed in baskets into the air to blow the chaff away, but many times it has beaten and threshed or tossed about by the winnowing fork, or as we know it today as a pitchfork.

If we look again at our opening quoted scripture, shortly after John the Baptist says this in Matthew 3:12 “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

This speaks of the final judgment to come which is also referred to at the end of psalm 1:5-6 ” Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

This psalm and these words are both words of comfort and of concern. They comfort those that are truly saved, and should be of great concern of the judgment to come! They should also be of concerned to those who are saved in that we have work to do to a dying world! We were not saved just for us to have a good life, to lay back in comfort until we die. Oh dear child of God, may it not be so that are hearts or so calloused, so cold, to those that will one day be threshed and beaten into damnation and judgment. We have good works, Gospel works, that we are called and commissioned to! I dare say if we are not about the Father’s business as Christ was, we too might want to not only read this psalm, but pray through it that God would gives us eyes to see, and spiritual hearts to compare and contrast our own lives to that of His Word. We are to be daily self-examining ourselves, judging ourselves to His Word, not others.

Dear reader, I hope you see not only the seriousness in these few words in psalm 1, but will continue to make the Word of God a daily part of your life. By doing so, He will bless you when you seek Him with all your heart, all your soul, all you might, and all your strength. He will give you a peace that surpasses all understanding, especially in these times of uncertainty, and one day will come for His bride.

So again, are you firmly planted, or are you easily blown away like worthless chaff? Only you and God can determine that.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

ARE YOU PLANTED PART 1

ARE YOU PLANTED PART 1

Spiritual growth depends on two things: first a willingness to live according to the Word of God; second, a willingness to take whatever consequences emerge as a result.

Sinclair B. Ferguson

This is beautiful imagery using an analogy of what a true Christian is like. First we have that the Christian is like a tree planted by streams of water. Trees when properly planted serve purpose, and are not haphazardly planted. Trees that are also planted with purpose means that there was a planter. God, the creator of all things, created us, planted us in our mothers womb, bore us, daily sustains us by giving us life. We were the greatest of all His creation on earth that we would reflect the glory of His image to the world, which brings us to the next point in the analogy.

It signifies there was a specific place to be planted, in this case by streams of water. There are many verses in the Old and New Testaments on living waters, but the main one that comes to mind is when Jesus is speaking to the woman at the well in John 4:10-11. Even more importantly Jesus Himself says later in John 7:37-38

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as  the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Now we know how important physical water is to survival of all creatures and humanity, more importantly is the spiritual waters, and in the case of John 7, Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit who had not yet, but who is yet to come after Jesus ascends into heaven.

Being planted near a stream also allows the tree to drink in a healthy manner without being drowned. If too much water is consumed too fast, it can have an adverse affect on the tree. Streams also representing a flow, a constant source of water, one that does not dry up. So it is with the Christian that is firmly planted daily in God’s Word, spending time and communion with their creator, being filled with the living water to withstand the challenges of their day.

As I stated earlier, these specifically planted trees have purpose, and in this case, they are supposed to bear fruit in yield its fruit in season. Newly planted trees do not bear fruit, but need to be properly tended to so that one day they will. More mature trees should be bearing much fruit as to also provide more good seed to plant other trees as well.

It is quite interesting that the Holy Spirit hear led the writer of this psalm to use the word yield, which is used in verb form eluding to the fruit having a purpose. When God invests in us, the planted tree, when He cares for, nurtures it, tends to it, He expects the trees to yield fruit. And not just any fruit, but that of the Gospel to the world.

Charles Spurgeon, the famous preacher and theologian quotes fellow Englishman and theologian, Adam Clarke “Fruit is expected, fruit is borne, and it comes also in the time in which it should come. A godly education, under the influences of the divine Spirit, which can never be withheld where they are earnestly sought, is sure to produce the fruits of righteousness; and he who reads, prays, and meditates, will ever see the work which God has given him to do; the power by which he is to perform it; and the times, places, and opportunities for doing those things by which God can obtain most glory, his own soul most good, and his neighbour most edification.”

We also see that the leaves of the tree do not wither. Just as the roots of the tree bring water into the base of the tree to give it growth and make it strong and firmly planted in the ground, the leaves also have a purpose. Just as in a natural tree is to gather in the sunlight and oxygen to help grow the branches and help in the bearing process for growing the fruit, the spiritual trees leaves gather breath from the Holy Spirit, and Gospel light from God the Father and Christ the Son. Without out these things, the tree will wither, dry up, and die.

However, a tree planted by God cannot wither and die, rather it will prosper. It is a prosperity that is not rich by means of this world, but is rich from the heavens above. For the things of God in the Christians life are far greater than anything this world has to offer. As the psalm starts out, so it will one day end, Blessed is the man!

But the question is, have you been planted by God?

#ToGodBeTheGlory

THERE IS NO TRY, ONLY SUBMIT

THERE IS NO TRY, ONLY SUBMIT

This attitude of complete submission and complete trust is of course the key to working out our own salvation in fear and trembling and is the mark of a truly spiritual Christian.

John F. Walvoord

For many of us in the world, we live lives of modern convenience, and by this I mean, anything within (and sadly many times beyond) our means, in that we can have something whenever we want it. You want this style of clothes, you go to that particular store and try them on. You want this particular type of car, you go to that kind of dealership. You want to eat that particular style of food, you go to that restaurant.

Unfortunately that is how many treat the church, and worse, Christ today.

The majority of churches in the Western culture greatly vary in their teachings, worship, doctrines and beliefs from one another. One has this style and method, and another completely the opposite. Not that this is necessarily bad in and of itself, but we try church until we find something that fits our lifestyle rather than submitting to God for our lifestyle to change. After all, that is what Christianity is all about, us being changed from the fallen sin of the world in us, being made back whole again to the image we were created in, HIS!

Being a Christian is about being like Christ, and one of the greatest lessons He teaches is that of submission. That of laying our lives down for others, submitting to His will and not ours, dying to self, picking up our cross daily and follow Him. Yet, few of us actually do, and have you ever wondered why? My take is this, we love too much of the world and everything in it! I have said it in recent posts, but think it is well worth not only repeating, but memorizing these verses.

1 john 2:15-16 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world.

Don’t believe me that is a large part of our problems as Christians, then here is a very simple test, but it is going to take complete honesty and transparency on your part. If you want to share your results with others and encourage them to take the challenge, then do so.

Here is the challenge. For three consecutive days (longer if you so choose, but three days) keep a journal of everything you do and account for as much time as possible. So if you know you slept 8 hours, then 6 the next, write it is such. How much time you spent in leisure (and break it down specifically); social media, watching tv, playing sports, working out, etc. Now here is the difficult one! Write down how much time you spent with God. How much time reading His Word, praying, worshiping, maybe listening to Christian music thinking of Him, praising Him. This will give you an idea of how much time we submit to the world and not to Him, and when we are yoked to the world, we are not in submission to Him.

In the John’s first epistle he writes to the church, he repeatedly uses a specific word 16 times to remind the church what they should do, and that word is abide, which is a verb, one that is to be acted upon. This is where the rubber meets the road, are we truly followers of Christ, or like the things of the world, are we just trying Him out. Taking Him for a test drive to see if He will fit into our lifestyle and when convenient. This is NOT Christianity, and sadly, this is how many churches treat God.

Christ did not die so we could have more of the world. Christ died that we may be saved from our sins in the world, that we would submit to His ways by following Him. The scripture quoted in 1 John chapter 2 should be a wake up call to many of us in our slumbering of the world, cause great alarm and repentance, and to seek first the Kingdom of God in our lives. Two things are sure, 1) Our days in this world are numbered, and one day judgment will come. 2) He will not tarry for every and come back quickly. This should give us enough cause and concern to be about the business of the Gospel and quit loving the world with out time, talents, and treasures.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

LET THE REDEEMED SAY SO

LET THE REDEEMED SAY SO

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. 18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

Romans 10:14-18

This has been upon my heart so much during these trying times of what the world is calling a pandemic and is using constantly and feeding daily reminders about what is being called the “new normal” and trying to get people conditioned and acclimated to what the world wants us to believe. If we are a logical and critical thinker, we would quickly deduce that the opposite of normal is not a “new normal”, like it is some sort of new soft drink, the opposite of normal is abnormal.

As I finished up reading the book of Revelation and know what one day (possible soon) will come, and a level of death that will be far far worse than what this pandemic has and will cause (for the death will be in the millions), the Gospel of Jesus Christ needs to be proclaimed more than ever today.

One of, if not the greatest and most important duties a Christian has, is that of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So many new believers struggle with knowing what God’s will is for their lives, and this is the first thing we are to do is go and tell others the “Good News” which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So why is this duty of doing so important? Well, for one, not only as believers, but more importantly disciples of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to do so in Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The thing is however, we cannot do something that we ourselves do not know and understand, nor are we capable of doing something that we are not, and in doing so, could very well be in danger of hypocrisy!

How can that be, and why would I say such a thing! Let’s look at an analogy right quick. Say you had the money (represents the great gift of proclaiming the Gospel) and you used the gift to purchase a nice leer jet. Now if you have the money, they will sell you a jet even though you don’t know how to fly it. So you get your jet and then go around bragging about all of the wonderful places you will go, but you cannot fly the plane without a pilot (the Holy Spirit), and you yourself do not have a pilots license. Yet, you go around and tell people you are going to go, but never do. What good is it to have this wonderful gift and not be able to use it?

That is the same way with many so-called Christians. They do not go because of one of two reasons. 1) They are not truly saved, nor have they counted the cost of what it means to be a disciple, a follower of Jesus Christ.

2) They have not been trained! How can a person be expected to do something they themselves do not know how to do? Sadly, this is how many churches today leave their so called converts (believers in Christ) and to those churches, more numbers and more money in the offering plate is all that matters. They will one day be held accountable to what God has given them!

Now many of your might be mad by now, and that’s okay, but I am being honest. And unless you do not see the importance of people’s salvation, true repentant, faith saving, truth believing salvation of others, then I would say you are mad for the wrong reasons. I am not saying these things our of judgment and condemnation, rather out of love and great concern for those going to hell. For the confession that I too have not done as I ought to be doing all of the time, and know I WILL be held accountable just as those churches will be! Why? Because we are ONE BODY and ONE CHURCH!

Just to give you a rough idea of what we are facing in the TRUE spiritual pandemic, that of unsaved people, here are some quick eye opening statistics from last year. Now mind you, these are combined numbers, meaning what the writer is referring to as “religious” not necessarily Christian, for the grouped together Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, etc. but this is just for number effect. We are also going to use the old church saying of “20% of the people do 80% of the work.

In 2009, there were an estimated 233 MILLION “Christians” that means there should have been on average 46,600,000 Christians doing God’s will! Do you think they were? Can you imagine how the world we be today if they were! 10 years later, there is a rapid decline of those who no longer believe (and I contest that many were not truly converted to begin with) 13 million people have given up on their faith! This is 13 million more people that are potentially bound for hell, and that is not even including the millions of others who are definitely not even saved! This is why proclaiming the Gospel is so important!

Lastly, as we see in our opening scripture of how will people respond to a call they have not heard, and how can their hear without someone preaching or proclaiming? Do you remember the old movie scenes where someone (usually a child) was standing in the public square on top of something yelling “EXTRA EXTRA read all about it” followed by the latest news headlines? That is proclamation, and that is how we need to be about the Father’s Kingdom business, and is not only our duty for those who are saved, we have been elected to do so, and willingly, not reluctantly, all for the glory of God alone. This is one of the greatest signs that both shows the dying world that you are Christ’s, and are not ashamed!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

ARE WE THERE YET?

I am of course a skeptic about the divinity of Christ and a scorner of the notion that there is a God who cares about how we are or what we do. ... Religious skeptics often become very bitter towards the end, as did Mark Twain. ... I know why I will become bitter. I will finally realize that I have had it right all along: that I will not see God, that there is no heaven or Judgement Day.

Kurt Vonnegut

Sadly there is much truth to Mr. Vonnegut’s quote, and that truth is, those who know not Christ as their Lord and Savior not only do not know God, nor will there be heaven on Judgment day for the person. For Hebrews 9:27-28 says “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

This mornings devotional is a little longer than usual, and I will not apologize for it, for I think of what is said is of great importance. For not only this day, but EVERY DAY people die and then receive judgment by God. A judgment far worse than any man could ever do to another in a thousand lifetimes! There are also signs of judgment upon the living today, judgments of holy correction, of warnings, and signs to come! The questions are; are we listening, are we paying attention, are we mindful of what God is and will continue to do? These are of GREAT importance to be aware and to be ready!

I would like to begin by saying in no way, shape, fashion, or form am saying this is what is happening at the moment. However, it gives everyone the opportunity to think on it, and especially the true Christian (for false converts truly do not care for the things of Christ, only that they have their false fire insurance or gain great riches of this world by the misuse of His holy name).

Those who know not the Word of God are so because they do not study the Word of God, and care nothing for it. They are weak at best in their religion, they are still asleep in their sins and self-righteousness, and they have no time for the Word of God or their duties that Christ commands, for they are busy chasing the things of the world instead of the care of their souls.

I do not say these words to be judging or discouraging, but being a Christian is not something to be taking lightly(Christ Himself said to count the cost), nor is it something some one makes themselves by professing by name only. By reading this morning the opening of the seven seals in heaven in Revelation chapter 6, there are two things we are not certain of, and one which we are. The uncertainties are that we do not know when the seven seals will be opened. 2) We do not know how long the period each seal remains in effect until the other is opened, but we do and have been given word to read, that as each one is opened, it progressive gets worse until Christ’s return for His beautiful bride. The thing we know for certainty is that Christ is not only able to open the scrolls, but is divinely appointed to do so at appointed times that no man knows.

Granted, the commentary written is that of another man, and not necessarily divine scripture, yet God was gracious to Matthew Henry in the wisdom given that we be thinking, praying, heeding the warnings therein, for I do believe it is quite possible based upon the signs and translations that it has begun, and if so, that should GREATLY increase our concern and awareness of what is going on in our world daily. For what is about to come is nothing compared to masks and a virus, and the death and destruction will be FAR greater than ANYTHING we have EVER seen! You take the warnings and instructions of mere men and are obedient to them, but will you more so take God at his Word, which is truth.

Revelation 6:1-8 – Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.
3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.
5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”
7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.

Now the commentary focusing on seals 2-4.

On opening the second seal, a red horse appeared; this signifies desolating judgments.

The sword of war and persecution is a dreadful judgment; it takes away peace from the earth, one of the greatest blessings; and men who should love one another, and help one another, are set upon killing one another.

Such scenes also followed the pure age of early Christianity, when, neglectful of charity and the bond of peace, the Christian leaders, divided among themselves, appealed to the sword, and entangled themselves in guilt.

On opening the third seal, a black horse appeared; a color denoting mourning and woe, darkness and ignorance. He that sat on it had a yoke in his hand.

Attempts were made to put a yoke of superstitious observances on the disciples.

As the stream of Christianity flowed further from its pure fountain, it became more and more corrupt.

During the progress of this black horse, the necessaries of life should be at excessive prices, and the more costly things should not be hurt.

According to prophetic language, these articles signified that food of religious knowledge, by which the souls of men are sustained unto everlasting life; such we are invited to buy, Isaiah 55:1.

But when the dark clouds of ignorance and superstition, denoted by the black horse, spread over the Christian world, the knowledge and practice of true religion became scarce.

When a people loathe their spiritual food, God may justly deprive them of their daily bread. The famine of bread is a terrible judgment; but the famine of the word is more so.

Upon opening the fourth seal, another horse appeared, of a pale color. The rider was Death, the king of terrors.

The attendants, or followers of this king of terrors, hell, a state of eternal misery to all who die in their sins; and in times of general destruction, multitudes go down unprepared into the pit.

The period of the fourth seal is one of great slaughter and devastation, destroying whatever may tend to make life happy, making ravages on the spiritual lives of men.

Thus the mystery of iniquity was completed, and its power extended both over the lives and consciences of men.

The exact times of these four seals cannot be ascertained, for the changes were gradual.

God gave them power, that is, those instruments of his anger, or those judgments: all public calamities are at his command; they only go forth when God sends them, and no further than he permits.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

In a time of universal deceit
- telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

George Orwell

One of the greatest wars that has been fought in the history of the world started in the beginning of creation and is still one that is well ongoing today. The battle is fierce and many have died for the cause. What is this great war?

The war of absolute truth!

The battle began when man was first created and placed in the Garden of Eden by God, and God had told them they could eat of anything in the garden with the exception of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, and if they did, they would die. This is an absolute truth because 1) It came from God, who has no other over Him or who is greater than Him. 2) God does not and cannot lie.

By a very basic definition of absolute truth, it can be defined as such: Truth is something that is true at all times and in all places. It is something that is always true no matter what the circumstances. It is a fact that cannot be changed.

So God had spoken to Adam and Eve absolute truth, and God tested them on that truth, knowing full well what was about to happen. It is no accident or something that was beyond or out of God’s control by in His Sovereignty allowing Satan to be in the Garden of Eden. This is the first time absolute truth was tested and twisted, and Satan planted the seed of a very distorted and warped version of truth known as relativism.

Relativism, which asserts that all facts are merely relative to one’s perspective, which means it also changes from person to person and situation by situation. Look how Satan deceived Eve by twisting God’s Word.

The first is God’s commandment (absolute truth) to Adam and Eve found in Genesis 2:16-17 – And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Now look how Satan twists what was said to deceive Eve by making what was commanded (absolute) to relative (what seems true and best for her).

Genesis 3:1-4 – He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

Between Eve misunderstanding what was said (AND Adam never corrected her and was right there with her!) and Satan using that to his advantage as well, almost 100% of what God said was twisted and NOT absolute truth! God never mentioned a tree in the “midst” of the garden to Adam and Eve. Genesis chapter 2 does say that in verse 9 that God planted the tree of life in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but God never told them in the midst (at least that we are aware of in His Word). See how Satan also says “Did God say..” as if almost implying, surely He did not say you could not eat.

We must ALWAYS be aware of Satan and how he still plants the seeds of relativism today.

See according to man’s finite wisdom and knowledge, over the years, this evil seed planted has taken root in many other forms labeled as truth, but they are not absolute. Remember what the definition of absolute truth is – Truth is something that is true at all times and in all places. It is something that is always true no matter what the circumstances. It is a fact that cannot be changed.

Here some examples of skewed absolute truths:


Authoritative truths – Example: A prominent economist predicts that there will be a global recession next year. (a person of authority, but using prediction to determine what they deem to be true, but it is not absolute). We are seeing this played out before our eyes today with this pandemic situation.

Personal truth – If I told you that you had to eat or you would die is an absolute truth, but I also did not specifically tell you want to eat, and you make that personal decision of what good nutrition and longevity are based upon your eating habits and food types, but ultimately we all still die some day, which is still and absolute truth. 

Empirical truths – Truth as confirmed by our experience, such as our senses, sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste. Water is wet, the sun is bright, but some would still debate they are not absolute truths. Say for example, a person who is completely blind and cannot see light at all would not know that the sun is bright, yet to others, it does not change the fact that it is bright.

Many times we argue truth just for the simple fact of wanting to be right about something. Take this example, snow is white. Well, in the world of color, there is a definitive and distinct color code for white, but there are also hundreds of varying hues and contrasts of the color white. Plus when it snows it also gathers impurities that are not seen by the human eye, thereby changing the color white.

So after all this talk about truth, this is why it is absolutely vital and of great importance that the true Christian get and understand the absolute truth from the Word of God. For if we do not tell the truth and share the truth the way God intended, we lead others astray mainly in relativism, which is what thousands believe in error today, because it is what they determine what is true for them, whereas the Christian is to following Christ.

John 6:63-65 – It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

#ToGodBeTheGlory

ARE YOU BUSY?

ARE YOU BUSY?

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. - Matthew 11:28-29

Jesus Christ

I’ll tell you probably the one thing I hate the most as a dog, is having to be on some sort of restraint much of the time. I go outside, and I am either on a leash or on my running chain, both of which seem to hold me back, you know what I mean? I mean, c’mon! I want to be free! I want to do what I want, go where I want, and answer no no one!

Unfortunately there is much truth to this for the Christian as well!

The Bible is VERY clear in that every human being will serve one of two masters, and only one of two, and will be under that masters yoke. But before we look at these two yokes, let me ask you a eye opening question and be honest with yourself. Are you busy?

Being busy in the right way and capacity can be a good thing and lead to a productive and happy life. However, it is one that also needs to be watched closely; with discernment, concern, and especially wisdom through God’s Word! Why? Because we can also become busy with the wrong things, motives, and tendencies.

Now I want to offer this disclaimer here, this is probably more so for me than it is you, but again, only you can decide for you, but be honest with yourself and with God.

Now days in many families both parents work, some 60+ hours a week, maybe even both. Then there is sports, all of this entertainment on TV, summer camp, sports camp, run here run there, juggling schedules, and them come Sunday, too tired to go to church because we are run down. We are worn out because of all of the chasing of the world instead very frequent periods of rest in God’s Word and prayer. And when when are priorities are not correct, bad things tend to happen. But this acronym really says it all!!

B.U.S.Y – Burdened (some others say Busy) Under Satan’s Yoke!

Is that really where we need to be Christian, under such a burdensome yoke?

Even Jesus Himself was tempted as such and under the great burden of no food or water for 40 days while in the wilderness and Satan tries to tempt Him and give up His Kingdom.

Matthew 4:8-10: –

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

So here Jesus gives us the great example of who and what we should be following. We should also see, Satan tempted Jesus with the whole world (which was foolish on Satan’s part for it was all Jesus’ already anyway), isn’t that what He still tries to do today. Here are some examples of what to look for to determine what Satan is not only tempting us with, but probably already controlling us with!

1) Keep the Christian busy with non-essentials
2) Tempt them to overspend and go into debt
3) Make them work long hours to maintain empty lifestyles
4) Discourage them from spending family time together
5) Overstimulate their minds with Television and computers so they cannot hear God speaking to them.
6) Make sure married couples are too exhausted for physical intimacy, so they will be tempted to look beyond their marriage for fulfillment elsewhere.
7) Make holidays features like Christmas (santa), Easter (bunny) , Halloween (yuck!) the focus for bringing people into the church and focus more on that than the real reason, Christ!
8) Keep glamour models on the covers of magazines and other advertisements so they stay focused on outward appearances. That way they will be dissatisfied with themselves and/or their mates.

In turn, these and MANY other sins that beset even the best of Christians, need to not only be watched for, but prayed against as well, and I believe that is why many Christians are nominal at best these days, because they are burdened by the enemy and the things of this world instead of the blessings under the yoke of Christ, God’s Word and direction, and a Holy Spirit filled life.

In closing today’s devotional, look at these 12 things that make up one entire problem, and that sadly is the utter DESTRUCTION of a Christian.

  1. Defiled him/her to disqualify him/her to Worship (walk) with God. By doing so, they will quench, and even grieve the Holy Spirit.
  2. Deceive their thinking.
  3. Disinterest the Christian in Spiritual things and matters.
  4. Divert the Christian (his/her) direction in holy living.
  5. Dullen (his/her) heart and mind towards the things of the Gospel of Christ
  6. Dilute the Christian (his/her sharpness and passion) towards God and His Word.
  7.  Destroy the Christian his/her effectiveness for the Gospel of Christ
  8.  Detain (make a prisoner of) the Christian (with unequal yoking to a non-Christian, job, etc.) thereby giving up his/her freedom in Christ.
  9. Depress or discourage the Christian – Rob him/her of their joy in Christ.
  10. Make the Christian doubt – Plant seeds of doubt and dismay in their minds and hearts, thereby crushing their faith
  11. Make the Christian disobey the Lord. Without following Christ they will follow their way which is the wide road that leads to destruction
  12. Destroy the Christian – Suicide, self-harm, harming others, imprisonment
My prayer and hope is that everyone will find something in here that God uses to speak to them before it is too late. Hear Christ again this day!
 
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Matthew 11:28-29
 
Turn back to God, your first love because He first loved us, so much, that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ), that whosoever repents and believe on Him (that is He paid the price for your sins) shall not die (spiritually), but have ever lasting life (eternity in heaven with Him!)
 

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WHAT DOES CHRISTIAN LOVE LOOK LIKE

WHAT DOES CHRISTIAN LOVE LOOK LIKE

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The Apostle Paul

You know something… I cannot think like you do, but I can feel like you do and somewhat express things like you do. What do I mean by this? Well, like you, I know what it is to be hungry, experience pain and suffering, happiness and sorrow, and to a certain extent, love. I mean after all, I am only a dog. See, when God created creatures and man, he created us different. If left alone, I will live by instinct, but you live by reason (a story for another day perhaps).

Before we go on to love, I want to use an extremely absurd analogy to (hopefully) get my point across clearly.

Say you saw a quick glimpse of someone doing something extremely crazy silly, say smacking themselves in the head with a hammer, and you found it funny. The next day, you saw the same person doing the same thing, and still found it some what funny, but now it is starting to concern you. The next day you see the same thing, but you stop for a moment and realize that the person eventually starts to show signs of pain and bleeding. Would you think it to be funny anymore? I should hope not, but even more so, should be showing great cause for care and concern for this individual and why they would be doing such a thing. You see, you missed it the first few times because you were just passing by. Maybe you were in a hurry or concerned with just yourself.

Sadly this analogy is not far from the truth of real life and real people. Many times we see others hurting themselves in many ways that cause much pain. Many do not stop and show them love by being concerned not just with the physical being, things that are seen, but more importantly, their spiritual well-being, what is both seen and unseen. And just as sad, many of the times people don’t want to truly be loved, because they like their lifestyle of sin (which can hurt them spiritually and physically). Many have even been hurt by the church of all things and have lost faith and hope in Christians, how sad is that!

Look again at what Christian love should look like in the opening quote. Did you know that love is both a noun and a verb, in the sense of 1 Corinthians 13, it is a call to action. We are to be patient, kind, not envy or boast, be not arrogant or rude, selfish (our way), love bears others burdens. Does this describe you? If we are Christians it should, and if it does not reflect our character towards others in a Christlike manner, this should greatly concern us and grieve us. It should cause us to take as much time as needed to examine ourselves and our motives in the Christian faith. As the Apostle Paul says in the second half of verse 1 “but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Let me boil this down real quick for us. You cannot truly love God if you do not truly love people, and your cannot truly love people if you do not love God. Clear as mud?

We are called, commanded, exhorted, even disciplined all because of God’s love. The Bible even says we love because He first loved us – 1 John 4:19

If you profess to be a Christians, please take these words to heart, examine yourself in light of the scriptures, spend time with God daily in His Word and prayer, that He would grant you tenders and love towards others, and a heart to be like Christ in their lives. As the old hymn goes “They will know that we are Christians by our love!)

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WHEN YOU THINK OF LOVE

WHEN YOU THINK OF LOVE

This is my commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:12

Jesus Christ

When you think of love, what are some of the first things that come to our minds? Maybe it is our spouse, our kids, our family, our lifestyle perhaps. Maybe it is a certain food, or a vacation memory or certain event. These are all well and good when kept in their proper perspectives, unfortunately most don’t and this is what makes up their perception of love.

1 John 2:15-16 – Gives us this very stern exhortation: Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world.

So why this warning and why is it so dangerous? Well, we must look back to the Garden of Eden (there is so much to learn from Genesis 3) where the fall took place.

Genesis 3:6 – So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Do you see the deep similarities compared to 1 John 2:16? Eve falling for Satan’s lure of slick rewording of God’s command not to eat… You will not surely die (exactly the same words but in a different order!)  then to set the hook of sin, Satan says “Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…” Let’s be honest with ourselves and especially with God. How many times have we wanted things our way and did not like His ways? So Eve sees, and it turns into delighting desires, and ends with her pride that she is not going to have God telling her what to do! Yeah, us either!

But wait, I thought this was about love? Oh, it is alright!

So after all of this in the garden, what does God do? He curses everybody! Satan goes on his belly and eats dust all the days of his life, eve pains in giving child birth, Adam having to work for their food and provide for their families. But God also showed great mercy and the type and shadow of His Son, Jesus Christ was also their in the garden, when God slew the animal and made skins for Adam and Eve to cover their shame. So it is to this day, that Christs’ blood is still the only and perfect atonement to cover all of our sins who have been given grace and mercy to believe in Christ and why He came.

Now look John 15:13-14 – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. What is it that He commands those who He has saved? Well, we again need to go back to the Old Testament for some background.

Leviticus 19:17-18 – You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Deuteronomy 6:4-6 – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

Deuteronomy 10:12 – And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

These two laws sum up the 10 Commandments, the first 4 Commandments belong to the worship of God alone, and the other 6 commandments are how to properly live in this world loving others and obeying God. However, we do not keep these commandments for ANY reason to earn or keep our Salvation, rather we use them as a mirror or God’s law and expectation on how to live for Him and bring Him glory. 

However, we fail so much and so often because we live more of our lives in the world and its flesh than we do of faith in God, trusting His Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the narrow ways of this treacherous sinful world. That is why many times you see in John’s epistles the word “abide”, which means to accept or act in accordance with. 

We all need to properly use all that God has blessed us with accordingly in that He always has first place in our lives, but He also gave in abundance so that we may also love others, but do we? Do we truly love God and truly loves others, especially Christians as we are commanded, not suggested, COMMANDED to do? May this give much to think about, pray about, repent of, and seek to be more like Christ.

Be sure to come back tomorrow as we continue more deeply into loving our neighbors as ourselves.

#ToGodBeTheGlory