Monthly Archives: October 2019

Take The Next Step By Faith” (Obey) Pt 1

Today’s Sermon, “Take The Next Step By Faith” Pt 1 of Luke 17:11-19

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

Luke 17:11-14 –

The text does not suggest they were healed before the started off toward the priests. The text says “As they went” meaning “along the way” to show themselves to the priests- they were cleansed. Yet Jesus here in this story, unlike some miracles he did where He just touched the person and healed them. In this case, He gives a simple instruction that required first obedience before results were seen.

Jesus required that they do something to exercise their faith in His healing by an act of obedience. What would you think, if you were one of these ten lepers and asked Jesus for help and he says, “Well, go show yourselves to the priests.”

First we must understand the significance of being examined by the priests.

Leviticus 13 goes over how the priest had to examine someone with a skin sore or lesion or peculiarity and then make a verdict as to whether or not the person was clean or contagious.

Yet as these ten lepers went out their way to the priests they were miraculously healed on their way. Yet the priests would assumably pronounce the lepers officially cured when they arrived.

Yet there is a gap between where the priest confirming their cleansing, and their leprosy requesting Jesus’s help. Jesus did not say “You will be healed as you go that way.” He just said “Go show yourselves to the priests.” So there had to be probably some questions in their minds as to what would come of just going on a journey to the priests. Jesus did not explain all the details but just required they obey.

Jesus to, very often requires us to simply obey, not try to figure out the details or what will happen but just to do what we know He has revealed as an act of faith that results in obeying.

Had the lepers said “Well Jesus, I think we want to see healing first before we go to all the trouble to get pronounced clean by priests.” Then they would not have likely received any healing at all.

The fact he asks them to go show themselves to the priests eluded that they would be clean when they arrived and given a clean bill of health to be in society again. They were not merely told to go there to confirm they were lepers, they already knew that. Yer why else would Jesus have them go show themselves, if it was not to be pronounced clean!?

They obeyed by faith and the miracle happened. Yet so is a model for us as well. When we have prayed and sought the direction of the Lord on a matter we feel is perplexing and beyond us. Often God may show us a step we must by faith take. Something we must do in our reach as an act of faith-filled obedience. It may take time to see the results of that, in this story we are not told whether they made it a third of the way there and were cleansed, or half way, or nearly all the way. We are merely only told that “as they went they were cleansed.”

So if we put forth effort to by faith obey and we are not instantly seeing some solution or result, we must continue in faith and obeying.

Yet the lesson is, if we want God to work wonders on our behalf, we should be willing to obey Him and have faith as we do what He makes clear what we must do as our next step.

The Gospel According To Isaiah 26:18-20

The Gospel According To Isaiah 26:18-20

Isaiah 26 vs 18 speaks of Israel in this way “We have not brought salvation to the earth, and the people of the world have not come to life.” Then in vs 19 it says, “But your dead will live, Lord, their bodies will rise.”

Yet let’s understand that Jesus Christ succeeded where the Jewish nation had failed, they failed and sinned like the other nations and God had originally purposed they be a light to the nations around them. God had originally purposed that He reveal Himself to them as a nation and He taught them His ways and laws and commands, but they failed to be all that God had in mind.

Yet this is not the end of the story. It has later in the New Testament been revealed who would be the true one to “bring salvation to the earth” and “make the people of the world come to life.”

Thousands of years later in our time, we have now people in every country that make up “God’s people” those who have heard the gospel and believed in Jesus Christ.

Paul in Romans explains two passages he quotes from Hosea and Isaiah

As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” and, “In the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’” Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.” Romans 9:25-28 –

First off the children of Israel made up a vast sum of people. Millions of people, but “only a remnant will be saved”

Meaning that not every Jew of Israel believed in Jesus Christ when He was revealed. Those who earlier on hundreds of years prior who were exiled, only a remnant found repentance and went back to their homeland from the exile. When Jesus did arive, most of the Jews aside from a number believed in Him and were saved. The ones who believed were saved and those who rejected Him were condemned

The Apostle Paul in Acts 28 preaches to a crowd of Jews and some believed but most turned away and went on their way.

They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet: “‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”

Acts 28:23-28 –

As a result God has made salvation’s offer not merely for Israel, but everyone from every country and people group who will turn from sin and believe the gospel.

The gospel, Jesus Christ died on the cross as the final blood sacrifice for sin, God rose Him from the dead on the third day- and that we have forgiveness of sin by believing this message and turning from sin to follow not a dead Christ but one who is very much alive and active.

This gospel made it possible for not merely Israel to be the LORD’s people, but anyone who will turn to the LORD and submit their lived to His call.

Crown Jew-els

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27)

The whole concept Paul is speaking of is one that is hard to grasp. Yet Paul is saying that much of Israel has been hardened to the truth that Jesus Christ was their long awaited Messiah. As a result of their not recognizing it, God saw fit to have the gospel preached to the Gentiles too, the people who are not of Israelite descent.

Imagine it like a king’s crown, the outerframe is made of pure gold and there are twelve fixtures in the crown to place precious gem stones. Suppose then that those who receive the gospel by faith in Christ that were not ever Jews are the gold that makes up the frame of the crown. Yet now lets say these 12 gems that go into the crown eventually are people who come to faith in Christ from the 12 tribes of Israel.

Revelations speaks of 144,000 being saved and sealed for redemption during the tribulation.

It says: “saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad, 12,000 from the tribe of Asher, 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh, 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon, 12,000 from the tribe of Levi, 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar, 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed. (Revelation 7:3-8)

From my personal study of Scripture, I am led to believe these 144, 000 are Jews that receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord in the last time.

Presently, we live in the age known as the age of Gentiles, meaning, the Gospel must be preached to all nations so that those who are scattered throughout the world in all countries and languages have a chance to hear the gospel and respond.

Once all who have come to faith that will from the Gentile world, (That is to say, non Israelite people groups) then God will begin to work to draw the people of Israel who will respond to the gospel.

Some may not understand how important the Old Testament truly is. It is hard to wade through it and is sometimes difficult to make sense of.

Few questions people may ask, “So Israel was once God’s chosen people, but are they not anymore?”

First let’s define what chosen means in Old Testament context. We must understand whether it means chosen by salvation or chosen by nationality.

Chosen by nation- this is to say, God selected a nation, one nation out of all the nations of the World to reveal His identity to. God is the God of all people, nations and races that make up the world population but He chose specifically to reveal Himself to the descendants of Abraham, through the promised son, Isaac.

Why did God do this? Well for one, He promised Abraham,

seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? (Genesis 18:18)

And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.

(Genesis 22:15-19)

What is the large scale implications of this promise to Abraham? How does it impact our lives as Christians today?

Let’s understand why God needed to create for Himself a people (Israel) first.

God had in mind, to bring salvation from sin and had a time in mind in which this would take place.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4-7)

God needed to preserve for Himself a line of people that were holy and became a vehicle to bring about the Messiah. God desires to use holy things- he was not going to merely use a vessel of dishonor to bring about his holy redemptive plan, so He chose to reveal Himself to Israel. Taught them His ways and provided a temporary ceremonial and sacrificial system to preserve a race of people (Namely the Jews) long enough so that through their ancestory, Abraham’s ancestory, a Messiah would come.

This is how “and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,”

Because from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s descendents eventually came the Christ.

Many in the time of Jesus in Israel could not understand He was the one to come.

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

John 1:11-12 –

This is what Jesus meant when He sees the faith of a Roman soldier who asks Jesus to heal his servant

“When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 8:10-12 –

Here we have a “Gentile” Roman who believes Jesus is truly who He claimed to be. Yet many of the Jews had no faith in Him and His claims.

Therefore Jesus says, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Many who have turned to Christ by faith have come indeed from “East and west” and are now followers of Christ. Yet Jesus is saying those Jews who reject Him and the Gospel, even though they are biological “sons” of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, will not enter eternal life. Why, for the fact they rejected the Son of God who came to redeem Israel, and also the world who will receive His message.

Paul says, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” Romans 9:3-7 –

Paul had great anguish over the fact that not every Israelite would be saved. There is a remnant (A sum of people from the entire whole group) that will, but the ones who persist in unbelief will not.

So the truth is that faith, has always been the means for eternal life- the Jews of old who were true Jews were faithful to the Lord there God. Yet we see many forsook him by worshipping idols, Baals, and became like “the surrounding nations”

They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them. And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only. 2 Kings 17:15-18 –

Eventually, God sent Judah into exile in Babylon and only a remnant repented in their captivity. The remnant returned and later after 70 years filled the land of Judah again.

Yet the timeless principle is there were always people in Israel who turned away from God and others who remained true to Him. The one group had really no “faith” and those who remained loyal to God or repented and turned to Him showed their faith through that.

Ahaz king of Judah as an example of am Israelite who had no faith (2 Chronicles 28:22 says he became more “faithless” in the “time of his distress.”

So werent people like Ahaz technically “Jews” ? By name only but the true worshippers of God are Jews inwardly the Apostle Paul explains

Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

Romans 2:25-29 –

So the truth be told, through Jesus Christ by faith we receive a newness of heart, a circumcision of not the body but a changed heart

This is what Jeremiah says “This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it.

Jeremiah 4:3-4 –

Being a Jew means being loyal and faithful to the living one true God, not merely being a certain nationality.

Felix Gets Freaked

From July 23, 2018

Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him. When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.

Acts 24:24-27 –

Interesting and slightly comical. Obviously Felix was a curiousity seeker but when Paul spoke on “righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come,” Felix got a little unsettled by this.

He also had some alterior motivation to why he sent for Paul often. “At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him,” the Scripture says. Felix was not an outright opponent to the Gospel but he was an accessory for reasons of greed and desire to please people. It also says, “When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.”

Felix delayed deciding Paul’s case. The Jews who had made claims that he was stirring up trouble with his message had brought him to trial and instead of quickly rendering a fair verdict on the matter Felix delayed long hoping to get a bribe as well as kept him in prison to grant his Jewish opponents a favor.

What do we see here? Like Pilate who was very indecisive over how to deal with Jesus at his crucifixion, Felix let the pressure of people and desire for personal gain be the decider instead of what was right.

•Felix and Pilate (earlier on made their decision about Jesus by failing to make a decision. They became passive accomplices to those who outright opposed the message.)

• For two years Felix had exposure to the message but let self interest and those around him decide for him.

• There are many today who delay making a decision for Christ for fears like Felix, that they will have to change how they live. Felix was seemingly afraid of “The judgement to come” yet was not interested in “Righteousness or self control”

• He would say “I will send for you at a convenient time.”

• Felix put off deciding like many in our day also do, thinking, “I can decide tomorrow, or at a more convenient time.” However, the Word of God says, “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:12-15)

If you are anything like I used to be, before the Lord changed my life, the idea of repentence and following Christ totally seemed to be a future thing, “I will do it tomorrow, I will repent before it is too late or I die.” Yet in hindsight I was so foolish and fortunately God had mercy on me and spared me in ignorance. Yet adopting such a mindset can harden our hearts and get us deeper and deeper in sin. For the course of 7 months I headed in that aweful direction being “as immoral and wild as I could until Jesus Christ confronted me and I was changed. The love that I felt gave me a fresh passion and purpose in life and realized that even though I had gone so far into the mire, God still loved me enough to find me where I was and I could not live the same as a result.

What about you reader? Have you had this experience yet? Jesus in John 3:3 says “Unless a man be born again, he will not see the kingdom of God”

This means that it takes more then being raised religious or having parents who are that way. It is more personal then this, and involves an individual’s decision when they realize that they need forgivenesd for sin and that Jesus Christ came to pay the price for our sins we cannot pay, no matter how many good things we try to do or how religious we see ourselves to be. Personal relationship with Christ is the answer, not going to church, mass or praying alot, reading the Bible often, or doing good works. Apart from a authentic relationship with Christ these things do not mean much. Just as buying flowers for a woman you are not in relationship with is both weird and means nothing- (the analogy I use) so too is our efforts to please God whom we are not close to in relationship. This is why Christ died for our sins, to make it possible to draw close to God in a relationship based on true faith and a heart of sincere love.

He loved us enough to leave an open door for that.

The Gospel According To Isaiah 59

The Gospel According To Isaiah 59

“And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression.” Isaiah 59:16-20 says here. Yet whom is it speaking of? It is speaking of Jesus Christ and Jesus came on the scene saying “Repent and believe the gospel.”

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Mark 1:14-15 –

Specifically in Isaiah 59:20 it speaks of a “Redeemer” and only those who “turn from transgressions” will receive favor and mercy.

Before this the Scripture in Isaiah speaks of what happening to the others

According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment. (Isaiah 59:18)

Who are the “adversaries”? Understand that Isaiah was prophesying to Jews in Israel. Israel, God’s chosen nation. Yet there was only a number who would “turn from transgression”

When Jesus did arrive, only some believed his message and became followers. Only a handful, yet many were too dull to realize that He was whom the Scripture prophesied would come

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

Luke 13:31-35 –

The same is true today in our times, salvation is a gift we must receive by turning from transgression to follow Christ. There is no way we can earn it, but we do have to decide what we will do with the invitation, whether reject it or receive it, whether love sin more or turn from sin to have eternal life through Him!

In Isaiah 59 it also says “So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives.

Isaiah 59:19 –

The west, the east, the north and the south, God made it possible through Christ for all people of the world who believe the Gospel to be included in God’s People.

Jesus said, “11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

(Matthew 8:11-12)

What is Jesus talking about “The sons of the kingdom will be thrown out”? He is saying that many in Israel, natural heirs of Israel and descendants of Abraham biologically, though Israelite Jews, will fail to enter eternal life because they rejected Him their messiah, – For it says “He came to his own, his own people would not receive him” (John 1:11)

–But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

John 1:12 –

It’s a trap

So do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go—to the point of exhaustion— and give your neighbor no rest! Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler. (Proverbs 6:3-5)

The Proverb above tells us if we fall into our neighbors hands we are to try to free ourself to the point of exhaustion and try to get loose like a bird from the snare of a fowler.

Yet if it is such serious business to free ourselves from a human being, how much more should we seek to make our peace with God.

Human beings may pose a threat to physical well being or many areas of life, yet truly the Lord has power to “after killinf the body has the authority to throw your soul into hell.” Jesus says.

“And what a dreadful thing it is to fall into the hands of a living God” (Hebrews 10:31)

Yet, there is hope for all those who in that dread of God and knowledge of their sin cry out as David did

David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” (2 Samuel 24:14)

Our sin is a trap, trapping us before God, trapping us under a overhanging sentence of His judgement. There is no escape for this trap but to plead with Him who has imprisoned us

What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; those he imprisons cannot be released. (Job 12:14)

And behold, “But if people are bound in chains, held fast by cords of affliction, he tells them what they have done— that they have sinned arrogantly. He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil. If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment. But if they do not listen, they will perish by the sword and die without knowledge. (Job 36:8-12)

Shall we not submit ourselves to His terms and humble ourselves? After all, who is great in mercy like our God. Who is rich in love like He? Shall we not to the point pf exhaustion make our peace with him?

For if we do not we indeed will “perish by His Sword and die without knowlege” and never find the “Key of knowlege” to enter peace and salvation.

Jesus Christ is that peace. We must not try to appease God any other way. None of our good works can cleanse away our sins and the only cleansing is to own up and say

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:13-14)

For the Lord gives himself not to they who think they deserve him, but they who magnify Him as so worthy they never could deserve Him!

(Isaiah 24:13-20) -13Throughout the earth the story is the same— only a remnant is left, like the stray olives left on the tree or the few grapes left on the vine after harvest. 14But all who are left shout and sing for joy. Those in the west praise the Lord’s majesty. 15In eastern lands, give glory to the Lord. In the lands beyond the sea, praise the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 16We hear songs of praise from the ends of the earth, songs that give glory to the Righteous One! But my heart is heavy with grief. Weep for me, for I wither away. Deceit still prevails, and treachery is everywhere. 17Terror and traps and snares will be your lot, you people of the earth. 18Those who flee in terror will fall into a trap, and those who escape the trap will be caught in a snare. Destruction falls like rain from the heavens; the foundations of the earth shake. 19The earth has broken up. It has utterly collapsed; it is violently shaken. 20The earth staggers like a drunk. It trembles like a tent in a storm. It falls and will not rise again, for the guilt of its rebellion is very heavy.

Througout the earth will be people who respond and repent and turn to the Lord and become a remnant of the redeemed. Yet those who reject him and refuse His Message will indeed:

17Terror and traps and snares will be your lot, you people of the earth. 18Those who flee in terror will fall into a trap, and those who escape the trap will be caught in a snare. Destruction falls like rain from the heavens; the foundations of the earth shake. 19The earth has broken up. It has utterly collapsed; it is violently shaken. 20The earth staggers like a drunk. It trembles like a tent in a storm. It falls and will not rise again, for the guilt of its rebellion is very heavy.

Though a rebel may seem to be at ease and flourish, when they die, they are fave to face with their Judge

“The lamp of a wicked man is snuffed out; the flame of his fire stops burning. The light in his tent becomes dark; the lamp beside him goes out. The vigor of his step is weakened; his own schemes throw him down. His feet thrust him into a net; he wanders into its mesh. A trap seizes him by the heel; a snare holds him fast. A noose is hidden for him on the ground; a trap lies in his path. Terrors startle him on every side and dog his every step. Calamity is hungry for him; disaster is ready for him when he falls. (Job 18:5-12)

Let us be warned;—-34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)

Life can cause many distractions to draw people away from this most critical decision. Pleasure, riches, deception all about serve to trap many to cause them to dull their ears and never find the hope of salvation. Like carbon monoxide that slowly puts a person into a deep sleep, never to wake up again. The person feels no pain through this poisonous gas, just grows tired and falls asleep only to never wake again.

So too sin’s deception may not often alert us to what peril it brings yet it’s end is deadly.

Balaam, A Reckless Driver Who Did Not Drive Safe.

Balaam was on the road to meet Balaak who had tried to hire him to curse the Israelites.

Now if you read the story closely it may seem as if Balaam obeyed the Lord. Outwardly he did but God was not pleased with him and used a stall in his transportation- donkey- to try to wake him up.

In the New Testament we see what Balaam’s problem was.

They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. (2 Peter 2:15-16)

Balaam may have obeyed God outwardly only because he feared God was about to kill him. Yet we see the root of Balaam’s problem was in his heart. He “loved the wages of wickedness”—Balaam liked money and bribes. Balaam’s heart was tempted toward riches. Even though he held himself back from accepting the bribe that Balaak offered, deep down he only did the right thing from fear that the Lord would kill him.

Ah, there are also many today in our time who would only do right for fear- fear of consequence, fear of judgement. Yet they are not truly sorry for their sin.

The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.” Numbers 22:32-33 –

Balaam was not driving safe, his life according to Scripture was “reckless.”

The truth though is until God radically changes our hearts, we too lived reckless in our ways.

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

1 Peter 4:3-5 –

When we truly turn to Christ, we surrender the control of the steering wheel to Him to drive our lives. Balaam lived his life however he saw fit and later on we see how he shows his true colors

He advises the Mideonites to seduce the Israelites to sin.

“They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people. Numbers 31:16 –

Now if Balaam was a true prophet of the Lord we would see he would not have done such a thing. Balaam was a false prophet and we see before the Lord confronted him, he practiced divination

Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not resort to divination as at other times, but turned his face toward the wilderness.

Numbers 24:1 –

Balaam could have repented of his sin but did not. In Revelation we see Balaam mentioned again to depict the problem in the church of Pergamum

14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.

Revelation 2:14 –

Balaam was by all means immoral in his lifestyle and what he taught led others into sin. A true prophet of the Lord is called to present the Word and try to turn people from sin. Also the lifestyle of a true Old Testament prophet or a modern preacher should be modeled through a life of obedience, not hypocrisy and sin.

Reader, if you read this today and it could be said of you “Your way is reckless before me,” then it is not too late to turn from the reckless road you are on and find mercy, forgiveness and a new start.

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

Proverbs 16:25 –

Christ came to save us from our reckless sinful ways so we won’t die in our sins and be eternally judged. He is merciful if we turn to Him by faith, and relents from the harm He will bring

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

Joel 2:13 –

Conversion is in the heart, it is not just trying to clean up our act and be better, but a true rending of our hearts and seeing our ways are wrong and seeking Him.

“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’ (Acts 3:17-23)

Temptation After Success

Today’s Encouraging Message

Temptation After Success.

When Amaziah returned from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought back the gods of the people of Seir. He set them up as his own gods, bowed down to them and burned sacrifices to them. The anger of the Lord burned against Amaziah, and he sent a prophet to him, who said, “Why do you consult this people’s gods, which could not save their own people from your hand?”

2 Chronicles 25:14-15 –

Here is a Biblical concept throughout Scripture. Often with success or after some great victory in our lives, some temptation may be waiting to trip us.

We see this in Gideon’s case (Judges 8:23-27) Gideon through the help of the Lord defeats the Mideonites yet after the victory came temptation and he creates an ephod that the people end up bowing down too.

We see this with King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26:16-18 whom it says became powerful but his pride grew and caused his downfall.

We also see in Matthew 3:17 we see God speak from heaven to Jesus and say “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” yet right after “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1)

Yet, who of all these cases emerged totally victorious but Jesus Christ himself! Jesus did not fall in the way these others did who preceeded him. We must learn the truth that no matter how much Christian success or victories we have, we can always fall. Jesus however never failed, fell or sinned.

The truth is our victory must be rooted in dependence on God and earnest seeking of Him to cause us to stand firm.

In the case of King Rehoboam we see “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord. (2 Chronicles 12:14)

After Rehoboam became strong and well established as king, he got too careless and lazy in seeking the Lord, as a result he sinned.

Amaziah in the head passage walked faithfully to God until he sinned against God when the Lord gave him victory over the Edomites. He sinned by taking their gods and worshipping them.

So let us not be foolish, but learn from what David says “When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed. Psalm 30:6-7 –

David too seemingly in prosperity and strength thought he would nit be shaken, yet he learned that is not true- we too often learn this lesson. We may experience success, victory and progress yet must not tempt the devil or tempt our sin to tempt us!

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 –

What can we do to help us not fall? First of all Jesus tells us to “38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Mark 14:38 –

Jesus also says we ought to pray “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” Matthew 6:13)

Does God tempt us or lead us into temptation? No. We may get tempted easily enough by carelessly putting ourselves in temptations line of fire.

So we must be practical and not be in a situation we know tempts us- if we do that then we have “led ourselves into temptation.”

We also must cultivate godly appetites

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9-11)

The Psalmist feeds his mind and heart with the “Word” so he “might not sin” against the Lord.

These are some very basic practical ways we can help safeguard our paths from snares that may try to entrap us. If we go our way and not carefully consider or prayerfully ask God for wisdom and help we may end up in a trap and fall to sin.

Yet there are simple ways we can give ourselves the advantage and upperhand. We can pray, read the Word and avoid people or places that tempt us.

Esther, A Beautiful Woman With A Humble Heart.

Esther, A Woman Of Beauty and Humility

Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.Esther 2:7 –

Esther was undoubtedly used by God for His plans. Yet let’s look at something critical, she never let her good looks go to her head. She did not trust her beauty but rather used it as a resource and tool and went on to glorify the Lord with it.

In our 21st century culture, especially in the west people idolize looks and appeal. Yet we see how this fine young lady did not use her beautiful looks and lovely figure to just get what she wanted or do what she pleased. She was both a beautiful woman physically but her heart was even more lovely!

Many times we may think enjoying blessings like this is sinful, but it is how we use what God has blessed us with that truly matters, whether wealth, success, influence or beauty.

We see in the story of Esther, she won favor with the King of Persia and became a key player to help save her Jewish people from being exterminated.

In chapter 4, she heads the wise advice of her uncle Mordecai who raised her.

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:12-14 –

What does Esther do?

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.

Esther 4:15-17 –

If Esther had been prideful, she may have said “Listen, Im queen and I look so good, how could the king refuse me?”

She was not trusting herself to get an audience with the king and come put alive, rather she asked Mordecai to have the Jews pray for her and fast, and she said she would do the same.

Esther was far from arrogant. Often the temptation for many fine young beautiful women might be to think they have men wrapped around their fingers and can just pull the beautiful card out as a magic ace. Yet Esther did not see it that way. She trusted the Lord and not her looks.

God honored this humble yet lovely woman and used her in a marvelous way.

Today’s challenge question to ask, “What has the Lord blessed me with and am I using it for Him or just myself?”

Esther was invested in more then just her own good but sought the good of her people too! Esther was willing to risk her life to try to save her people!