Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Horse With a Name

[This is the sixteenth post about the Blessed Hope–the return of Jesus Christ (Famine)]

“I’ve got the plague,” we often hear someone say, when they’ve battled a long bout of cold or flu that just won’t go away.

Real plagues are more serious than the worrisome but short-lived sicknesses we endure.

Another word for plague is pestilence. It is a sudden, fatal epidemic and one of the things Jesus warned about when he listed harbingers that would signal the beginning of last things (Matthew 24:7).

The opening of the fourth seal in the book of Revelation releases a pale horse named Death (Revelation 6:8, nkjv). It’s hue is not just white, but sickly green. It is the color of disease and demise.

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Disease follows quickly on the heels of war and famine. In war-torn Syria, a new infectious plague has sprouted wings. Carried by the sandfly, “Aleppo Boil” is a parasitic disease that causes skin ulcerations and can spread fatally to internal organs.

War, impoverished health, and societal breakdown are breeding grounds for infectious disease.

And will we ever escape the dark grasp of cancer that seems to reach into every home and family?

This is depressing, I know.

Here’s the good news. The Psalmist wrote:

“Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence” (Psalm 91:3, nkjv).

In Christ we have a hiding place from the pestilence that comes when evil reigns. Whether it is through evil governments that withhold grain from starving people, through drought and war, or through ignorance and despair, our Rock, Jesus Christ will keep us. pexels-photo-755385.jpeg

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by” (Psalm 57:1, nkjv).

 

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Spam or Roast Beef?

[This is the fifteenth post about the Blessed Hope–the return of Jesus Christ (Famine)]

Thankfully, our bodies reward us when we try to eat healthy.

Well-being flows through us after we savor a satisfying meal–like eating robust vegetables and chicken in a aromatic stew. We are filled with buoyant energy and glowing vitality.  

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The opposite is true when we’re undernourished. It’s draining and debilitating.

When Jesus taught about the signs of His Second Coming, He said that famines would take place in different places of the world.

A crisis of hunger ensues when adequate, nutritious food is not available. Famine is a painful, heart-rending march toward death.  

I read with admiration stories about the Great Depression of the 1930’s, when families did whatever they could to make their food stretch. Watered-down milk filled more glasses. Cornmeal or bread were mixed into casseroles. Beans stood in for meat. Ritz crackers were disguised as apples in recipes like Mock Apple Pie.

Depression-era food reminds me of the fish sticks I ate in my grade-school cafeteria. Eating the same food over and over eventually didn’t satisfy.

But there is another type of hunger mentioned in the Bible. It is the famine spoken of by the prophet, Amos.

“‘Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,

‘That I will send a famine on the land,

Not a famine of bread

Nor a thirst for water,

But of hearing the words of the Lord.’” (Amos 8:11, nkjv)

Along with the physical catastrophe of famine, is there now a spiritual famine taking place?

The inner man hungers when Bible verses are watered down. We grow weary when witty anecdotes are substituted for sound teaching or new philosophies stand in for revealed truth. A philanthropic deed is disguised as repentance and obedience.  

We’re tricked into eating Spam, when we’ve been promised roast beef.

In a food crisis, people wander from place to place looking for a morsel of bread. Is it any different spiritually, when people move from church to church, change denominations, or completely overhaul their beliefs because they are spiritually starving?

People are feeling drained and debilitated. Spiritual emptiness is painful. It is a heart-rending march toward numbness and death.

In days of spiritual famine, we can take comfort in the rich sustenance of God’s Word.

Meditating on the words of the Bible is like sitting down to a bountiful feast. Even if we’re not being served, we can always help ourselves.

 

The Next Big Thing

[This is the fourteenth post about the Blessed Hope–the return of Jesus Christ (Famine)]

It’s that time of year again.

Winter and Spring are duking it out for dominance. I don’t know about you, but the changing weather had me wearing my warmest down jacket on Saturday and open-toed shoes by Tuesday.

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Can the same be said for the signs we see taking shape all around us? Like towering clouds, change is moving swiftly across the landscape of our existence.

Jesus described the “beginning of sorrows” as birth pangs–one remarkable crisis building to the next, even more shocking reality. We have given up trying to predict the NEXT BIG THING.

War brings death and destruction and sends aftershocks in its wake. Is it any wonder that hunger follows quickly in its path? Famine is one of the birth pangs Jesus talked about:

And there will be famines . . . in various places.” (Matthew 24:7, nkjv)

In war-torn countries famine is an ever-present reality. Families thirst for clean drinking water and scavenge for food.  

Even in America, hunger strikes 1 out of 6 people. Unbelievable.

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While we are looking for our Blessed Hope, how about giving hope to others? Why don’t we find ways to contribute to our local food banks and give donations to reputable organizations like the Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse who are boots on the ground in destitute and war-torn countries?

The Salvation Army

Crisis in Syria: Relief for Refugees – Samaritan’s Purse  

 

 

 

 

 

Kingdom v. Kingdom

[This is the thirteenth post about the Blessed Hope–the return of Jesus Christ (Wars and Rumors of Wars)]

Many Christians are aware of the prophecy that Jesus gave to his disciples concerning the last days. His prophecy includes these words: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom . . . ” (Matthew 24:7, kjv).

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In the last decades, we’ve been exposed to many wars. So many that we’ve almost become numb to this passage of Scripture. We shake our heads, feeling powerless in the face of ongoing conflict.

But could this verse have another layer of meaning we have missed? I’ve often wondered why the passage seems to repeat itself. Wouldn’t it have meant the same thing if only “nation against nation” had been written? Why the additional words about “kingdom against kingdom”?

Could it be that the kingdoms that are mentioned refer to conflict in the spiritual realm? The Kingdom of God overcoming the kingdom of the world, now under the persuasion of Satan?

In case we imagine that Evil doesn’t claim a kingdom, the words of the apostle John remind us, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19, nkjv). 

Also consider Satan’s arrogant assumption of kingdom ownership when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and said, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Jesus responded with, “Away with you Satan!” (Matthew 4:9-10, nkjv).

As we see and hear about the rage of nations, behind the scenes are spiritual kingdoms at war. Unseen forces are controlling dictators–evil men who lust for power and control.

In the present Middle East conflict, the leader of Syria has descended into the darkness of genocide. He has twice used chemical weapons, including Sarin and chlorine gas, on his own people.

When we are assaulted by reports of evil, it is easy to fall into despair.

In an Old Testament story about Israel and the King of Syria, the prophet Elisha’s servant is panicked.

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The King of Syria has surrounded them with his powerful army:  

. . . there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?'” (2 Kings 6:15, nkjv).

Wise Elisha responded, ” . . . ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:16-17, nkjv).

As spiritual battles are fought at every level do we as Christians believe God has us surrounded with his mighty help?

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Christ is Risen Indeed!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the great turning point of creation. It is the singular moment upon which the Eternal Now rests. The present, past, and future revolve around the point of redemption like the galaxies of the universe in monumental motion.

To the eyes of those who witnessed it, it began as a shattering act of cruelty upon an innocent man– a Man Who walked the earth healing, helping, loving, and delivering from heartbreak. Sickness and pain, oppression, enslavement, loneliness, and even death were no contest for Him.

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An unjust trial condemned an innocent man to the brutality of the cross.

The pinnacle of evil manifested itself in the hatred that was flung upon Him like the spittle of the soldiers who abused him.

Words can’t be found to describe the importance of Christ’s suffering, death, and powerful resurrection from the grave. He who proclaimed, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11 :25) proved that death could not hold him.

The crucifixion–the epic act of ultimate evil, was turned to serve the magnificent purpose of God, the redemption of mankind.

For the earth and God’s children, it is salvation and the hope of everlasting life.

What Jesus once spoke to Mary he says to us today: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 nkjv)

Alleluia! Christ is risen indeed! All honor and glory and praise belong to our Lord Jesus Christ!

 

What Is to Be Has Already Been

[This is the twelfth post in a series about the Blessed Hope–the return of Jesus Christ (War and Rumors of War)]

I’ll admit I’ve been watching reruns of Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show.

One episode featured the iconic movie star, James Stewart.

On this episode from the 1970’s, Stewart exuded that trademark humor and charisma. Respectful and attentive, Carson asked him about his interest in flying. Stewart shared about the thrill he had taking off in airplanes, beginning in childhood.

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During the 1920’s, rogue pilots called Barnstormers made a living by landing in small towns and taking wide-eyed youngsters on plane rides. Stewart told Carson his first flight took off from an area called “Mines Field.”

Curious, Carson asked, “Mines Field? Is that anywhere we’d be familiar with now?”

Stewart smiled and slowly answered. “Yeah, it’s LAX.”

Fields, roads, buildings, bridges, and landmarks all change. Generations come and go. Kings, presidents, borders, and nations change. The earth has been host to all of them.

So is it any wonder that the nations mentioned in Bible prophecy are now known by different names?

It’s easy to brush off Bible predictions like a dusty old book. Names like Magog, Persia, and Beth Togarmah puzzle us. These reflect powerful countries who have since faded into history.

The ancient names signify land areas and peoples who will come against Israel in the last days. These nations will form a coalition just before the return of Jesus Christ.

The “mystery nations” mentioned above are important players in the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecy. So who are they?

They are Russia, Iran, and Turkey.

Recently, the leaders of these countries (Putin, Rouhani, and Erdogan) formed a coalition and met in December of last year. They are meeting again in April, 2018.

These nations now have military strongholds in Syria, within miles of the Israeli border. On February 28 of this year, Iran and Israel clashed in escalating conflict.

If this modern axis of evil attacks Israel as predicted in Ezekiel 38, God has promised He will defeat them. He will catch Magog (Russia) and its allies by putting a hook in the jaw of the invaders.

It ain’t gonna be pretty. Think earthquakes, firestorms, and bloodshed.

Although wars and rumours of wars alarm us, we find comfort knowing we are not destined for wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

When evil invades, God stands and His enemies are before Him as nothing (Isaiah 40:17).

 

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War-Ravaged Damascus

“Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap.” (Isaiah 17:1, nkjv)

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[This is the eleventh post in a series about the Blessed Hope–the return of Jesus Christ (War and Rumors of War)]

Wars and rumors of wars are taking place around the world, but in Syria there are at least ten different conflicts playing out to a horrific end for the Syrian people.

In the last year, over 400,000 lives have been lost due to the civil war and the cruel bombing of  civilian neighborhoods by Bashar al’Assad ‘s army. Millions have been driven from their homes into surrounding countries.

Children have not escaped the ravages of war.

How sad it is to see a grieving parent carrying a bundle of blood-stained cloths, knowing a beloved child is wrapped inside.

Gut-wrenching tears mingle with sweat as rescue workers pull families from jagged concrete– a daily 9-11. Chemical attacks fill the air with chlorine.

This is real.

Damascus was a city of over 1.7 million people. Eastern Ghouta has been bombed to near-ruins. Imagine New York, London, or Beijing decimated to smoking piles of rubble. The world should be outraged.

Yet, this genocide continues with barely a blip on the evening news. There is more said about the low ratings of the Oscars than the slaughter of nearly half a million people.

Students of Bible prophecy are witnessing the destruction of  Damascus with heavy hearts. The predictions that the prophet Isaiah wrote 2700 years ago are unfolding before our eyes.

Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the world and has been continuously inhabited for thousands of years. If the warfare continues, it will indeed be a heap of ruins. A long-ago predicted destruction is now coming to pass.

 

 

 

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War, What is it Good for?

[This is the tenth post in a series about the Blessed Hope–the return of Jesus Christ (War and rumors of War)]

“War, what is it good for?”

The first line of Edwin Starr’s famous protest song hits me in the gut, right along with his emphatic “Huh!” (more…)

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No Vacancy

[This is the ninth post in a series about the Blessed Hope–the return of Jesus Christ. (False prophets)]

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No Vacancy

There is a verse in the New Testament that had always puzzled me. It’s Luke 19:13:

“And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, ‘Occupy till I come’” (kjv).

The word “occupy” stuck in my brain like a burr on wool socks.

The above verse is in the midst of a story Jesus told about a nobleman who left on a journey to a far kingdom and left each of his workers a different amount of money to carry on business while he was gone.

I understand the parable. But there’s still that word, “occupy.”

Some Bible translations interpret the word as, “carry on business,” which goes well with the surrounding verses.

Yet I like the King James version on this one, and this is why: to me, occupy means taking up space or holding a position. It’s being in the right place at the right time.

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The Apostle Paul grieved over the people of Corinth when he learned that after he’d left them, false prophets saw an opening and tried to move in. They spread false teaching and had the whole community fearful and anxious.

Paul returned to the city and straightened their course. He wrote:

“But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who . . .  are false apostles,”  (see 2 Corinthians 11:12-13).

Staying in the place of service God leads us to is part of walking in His plan.

It can be a difficult battle. Staying and standing, whether in the workplace, your home, or in the ministry, keeps the Enemy out.

When we serve God, we are taking away opportunity from those who might use or abuse, mislead, deceive, or ultimately, destroy.

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The recent Super Bowl game renewed my hope. The winning quarterback, Nick Foles, is a Christian who wore a cross during after-game interviews. His wife tweeted her euphoria over the win and ended her tweet with “God is good.”

The Eagles’ head coach, Doug Pederson, gave the reason for his success. He said, “I can only give praise to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for giving me this opportunity.”

In the midst of a game fraught with big money, big egos, and big controversy, God is sovereign.

Had the Patriots won, I think the Christians on that team would have given Him thanks, too.

God’s people were placed in just the right place for just the right time. They magnified His Name and their testimony reached 103 million souls.

          

 

Sifting the Haystack

[This is the eighth post in a series about the Blessed Hope–the return of Jesus Christ. (False prophets)]

Sifting the Haystack

Recently, our AT&T guy made a house call to hook up our new television to cable. He asked if I understood everything on the remote.

I glanced down at the black controller. The white, blue, yellow, and red buttons were neon signs taunting me. I had no idea how to use most of them.

Not long ago, televisions had an on/off button and a dial that let you choose from three channels.

Simple.

The only complication was adjusting the V-shaped antenna to tune in to our favorite shows. We’d quickly adjust the “rabbit ears” trying to get a clear picture.

Things are more complicated now.

Our spiritual lives can also become complicated. The flood of Christian media overwhelms us with books, songs, oversize screens, podcasts, tweets, Youtube broadcasts, preachers, teachers, and personalities.

An overload of information.

I’ve noticed two ways the Enemy tries to hide truth. First is by outlawing it and making it rare.

The second is by hiding it in a mound of misinformation.

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Although there is sound teaching to be found, you have to search for it. False teachers are having a heyday, or maybe a hay day.

Recently, my heart ached when I heard a preacher say, “There’s only one time when God spoke and it didn’t come to pass.”  

Huh? My spiritual antennae sparked. I listened carefully, trying to adjust my antenna.

The speaker actually said that God had spoken and His Word had not come to pass.

I knew from Isaiah 55:11 that when God speaks, His words always come to pass.

The preacher continued, “It’s when Jesus prayed, ‘Let this cup pass from Me.’”

The speaker had omitted the last and very important part of that prayer, “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42 nkjv).

Was this man a false teacher? Maybe he’d misspoken or thought the omission was okay to emphasize some point he was trying to make. Did he understand how the last part of the verse was vital to its meaning?

God taught me  to listen carefully. I shouldn’t assume that the person behind a pulpit, on a platform, or projected on a screen is teaching the Word of God fully and accurately.

If we have an uneasy feeling about what is preached or taught, do we take the time to look it up in the Bible?