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Archive for May, 2017

 

Di

I’m a Florida gal—Eastern seaboard. Grew up less than twenty minutes from Jacksonville Beach. And ‘til we were transplanted to Texas, I roamed the Florida to Carolina seashores—and I love the ocean. Ocean anywhere. Wish I had a nickel for every mile I’ve walked along sandy beaches. So, imagine my questions when I read:

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1 NKJV).

No more sea? Really. Why God? I was troubled and asked why on more than one occasion.  Then a few weeks ago, during some extended windshield time, I listened to a radio program where a distinguished biblical scholar was asked, “Why does God say there will be no more sea in the new heaven and earth?”

I listened for several minutes as this smarter-and-more-educated-than-me prof stumbled all over himself. He finally said, “I don’t know. Maybe because the sea is chaotic and scary.” He never gave biblical truth to give the caller.

The fire of the heavens

God makes statements of truth throughout the whole Bible—from Creation to the flood, through the whole history of Israel, the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the early church history, The Epistles, to the visions of the end times in The Revelation. So why do we identify and isolate some truths, but brush right by others?

Dr. Henry Morris III, of Institute Creation Research is our Sunday School teacher and Dr. Morris states every word was carefully placed in the Bible according to the will of God. So, “Come, let us reason together, says the Lord…” (Isaiah 1:18(a)NIV). God’s Word is not some illusive composition meant to keep us guessing or dwelling  in darkness. His instruction tells us:

“Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV).

Jesus said:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV).

And I’ve always taken Him at His Word. So when things trouble me or I don’t understand, I ask. Don’t you? It’s okay to ask, you know. But sixteen years ago, when our daughter died, suddenly, I pounded heaven with unending pleas of why. And God answered, through His Spirit and His word—not in words I wanted to hear, but with words that satisfied and wrapped me in the peace of His presence.

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29 NKJV).

There are secret things we don’t need to know. And our Michelle’s death was one of those secret things; and then, He asked, “Do you trust Me?”  I’d love to tell y’all I gave a resounding, “I trust you Lord.” But in fact, in that moment I could barely whisper, “Yes, Lord.”

So, now I preface questions with, “Lord, if this is one of those secret things I don’t need to know. I’m okay with your not answering. ‘Cause You know my heart and know I’m not trying to be disrespectful. I love the ocean and it bothers me there won’t be any more sea.”

Colors run into sea

Precept Bible Study teaches us the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible. Sometime after reading that verse in Deuteronomy and while studying about a totally unrelated subject, I read:

“I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh, the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth” (Genesis 9:13-16 NKJV).

Gracious God, I didn’t know You need to be reminded. Silly me. So, I went to my Strong’s Concordance and looked up the Hebrew word for remember—zakarto mark, record, to recall. And the notes said: “Remember means more than ‘to recall.’ It means to retain in thought so as to take action.

Remember God tells us throughout His Word—He is holy. And in His holiness, He can’t be in the presence of anything unholy or nonredeemable. If in the presence of sin, He judges. Immediately.

I recalled other scriptures where Isaiah said:

“But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption. For you have cast all my sins behind your back” (Isaiah 38:17b NKJV).

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake. And I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25 NKJV).

And in Micah:

“Who is a God like You. Pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever. Because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us. And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19 NKJV).

Atlantic Crashes

And it clicked in my mind. I pictured the gargantuan garbage dumps of transgressions and sins God has pitched into the depths of the sea. Sins since the beginning of creation. Every sin you and I have committed—sins of all believers for all times, cast behind His back, into the depths of the sea.

But wait, there’s so much more! And it’s all here, recorded in the pages of His wonderful Words.

Revelation 8:8-9 tells us what God is going to do “In That Day” that will involve the sea.

“Then the second angel sounded. And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.”

And in Revelation 16:3:

“Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man, and every living creature in the sea died.”

“The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:13-15 NKJV).

To be sure of the word sea I consulted my Strong’s Concordance again and found the Greek word used there for sea is Thalassa meaning actual seas.

Rocks, Gulls, Waves

And I said, “Thank you, Lord. You answered my question in the pages of Your Word, but now I understand. No wonder the sea can’t be part of the new heaven and earth. Nothing impure or unrighteous can be there. The sea is putrefied and defiled from all our sins and death. So as you told John over two thousand years ago, the sea indeed must go. There will be nothing in the new Heaven and new Earth to remind the Father of our horrid, ugly past.

The vast problems in our churches today would be resolved if those who claim the name of Jesus would develop a ravenous appetite for the Word of God. Searching every day for answers themselves, rather than trusting what others say the Bible says.

“And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.

And He said to me, It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, immoral persons, sorcerers, idolaters and all liars shall have their part will be in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:5-8 NKJV).

The only reminder in eternity of the price Christ paid for you and me will be imprinted on our King’s hands, in His side, and on His feet—forever.

But if you, like me, have loved the ocean and the sound of the pounding waves, don’t be dismayed. God leaves us with this assurance:

DSCF3551

“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there. They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:1-5 NKJV).

“Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book…And behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.

I, Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Off-Spring of David. The Bright and Morning Star…Surely I am coming quickly” (Revelation 22:7, 12-13, 16, 20b NKJV).

Glory! Hallelujah!  And songs of worship and praise from the twice born to our Sovereign King will rise and crescendo like the waves for all eternity.

What questions linger in the corridors of your mind? Questions you would truly like to ask Him? Why don’t you ask Him right now? Remember, He tells us we have not because we ask not. Questions and answers build relationships and trust. Then keep on asking…because He loves you enough to die for you!

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Exquisite

A very special blog by my friend and author, Kathleen Brown. If you are a caregiver please take a moment and allow God to replenish your soul as you read Kathleen’s message from The Father.

Alzheimer's: Hope and Help for Caregivers

This is not new information: Every caregiving path is different. As different as each caregiver and the person he cares for, as different as the relationship between them has been and is, as different as their environment and lifestyle and family or lack of family—as different as each of our lives is different. But unique as we are, caregivers recognize each other. With a pang of empathy and immediate respect, we recognize each other.

On Easter Sunday, my husband and I met one of my sons and his family at a restaurant for brunch. At a big round table in a beautiful dining room, our oldest son and his wife and our three senior grandchildren entertained us in the way only they can do—just by being themselves, unique individually and a unique unit in our larger family.

Though the room was full, tables were arranged so everyone had plenty of…

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 A promise of whats to come 4

We study about, talk about, and read about history, but our view of history is so narrow—generally focused on the span of our lives—give or take a few years. Or about a hundred years.

That’s why God gave us sixty-six books of His story. His life, death, life story. So, we would have a constant reminder His plan is far beyond our peep-hole into past, present, and future.  God’s view of history encompasses the beginning through all eternity.

A promise of whats to come 5

 

Scripture tells us: “Whatever things were written in earlier times were written for our instruction, that through perseverance and study of the scriptures, we might have hope” (Romans 15:4 NAS).

But we moan and groan, I don’t understand the Bible. So many words, all the thee’s and thou’s. It’s so confusing. And I just don’t have time to sort out all that stuff.  We can’t understand. Without the stirring power of the Holy Spirit inside our heart and soul, we can’t possibly understand God, His Word, or even believe that Jesus is His Only Son and our only Savior. But every one of us, believer or not, has clearly seen the evidences of God.

A promise of whats to come 3

Romans 1:20 says:

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, HAVE BEEN CLEARLY SEEN, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

A promise of whats to come 6

There is a warfare beyond our ability to comprehend, a battle that began when Satan desired to be greater than God. And then Adam and Eve chose to believe Satan’s deception, rather than believe their Creator—the Holy God of the Universe. So, if you haven’t received Truth, being sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, you can’t tell the difference between God’s Truth or Satan’s lies. But God says “…we are without excuse.”  Because we know that He is and always will be God. And there will be consequences for your choices. Eternal consequences–for life or for separation.

But my question to you today is: What happens to believers when God judges His people during their time of disobedience? I look back at the Nation of Israel in the Books of I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, and I and II Chronicles, and then to the Books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Lamentations, I see the application in the high definition color of consequences.

A promise of whats to come 2

Yes, consequences! A word we’ve failed to define, acknowledge, and teach our children. But God will teach them, and they will learn, the hard way. Because throughout all history His promises show us what is sure to come.

A promise of whats to come 7

Let’s go to the Book of Jeremiah and find out what happened to one certain family—good people who were stuck in the middle of God’s judgment. The Rechabites. Ever heard of them? No? I hadn’t either until we studied Jeremiah in Precept Bible Study this year.

Chapter 35 of Jeremiah is all about these nomadic people. God told Jeremiah to call them to the House of the Lord and give them wine to drink. My mind shouted, “Why, God? Why? In the middle of all this battle and judgment would You bringing them into the House of God for a wine tasting?”

But the prophet did what he was told, and when the men came, Jeremiah set out pitchers full of wine and cups and said to them, “Drink wine!”

“But they said, ‘We will not drink wine, for Jonadah the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us saying, ‘You shall not drink wine, you or your sons, forever…We have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son or Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, not to drink wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons and our daughters…” (Jeremiah 35:5-8 NAS).

And God used the obedience of these men to speak volumes to the whole nation of Israel saying:

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Go and say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, “Will you not receive instruction by listening to My words?” declares the Lord. “The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are observed. So they do not drink wine to this day, FOR THEY HAVE OBEYED THEIR FATHER’S COMMAND. But I have spoken to you again and again; yet you have not listened to Me” (Jeremiah 35:13-14 NAS).

“Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am bringing on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the disaster that I have pronounced against them because I spoke to them but they did not listen, and I have called them but they did not answer” (Jeremiah 35:17 NAS).

Then Jeremiah delivered God’s message to these faithful Rechabites:

“Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father, kept all his commands and done according to all that he commanded you; therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me always” ‘ (Jeremiah 35:18-19 NAS).

WOW! How would you like to hear those words uttered about you and your family, and know the promise of standing before God extended to you, your children, and all the grands forever?

A promise of whats to come

Did the Rechabites have to go through the destruction of Judah? Most certainly, but God spared them. They had to endure the battle, see the destruction, live in post-war poverty. However, they also had the promise of God their family would not only be spared, they would stand before God forever.

I don’t know about you, but as we look at our nation and the world can’t we draw a parallel? Hasn’t God spoken to America as a nation, as individuals, and as families? Yet the grand majority refuse to listen. He has called us again and again, but sadly again the grand majority have not answered…and I’m talking about the 11 o’clock crowd on Sunday morning.

Remember the people in this Chapter of Jeremiah were God’s chosen people run amuck. They brought their sacrifices to the temple on the Sabbath. But they remained unchanged. Rebellious, proud, arrogant people who wanted to be more like the world than the God who called them to be “a peculiar people of His own choosing. A holy people.”

Over and over throughout the Old Testament God repeated: “Do not move the ancient boundaries.” We’ve not only moved the boundaries God gave us, we’ve leaped over them, then turned and chopped ’em in pieces.

Where does the Spirit of the Lord find you today? Like the obedient Rechabites who obeyed the teaching of their fathers regardless what the rest of the world did? Or like the people of Judah whose pride lay in the fact they were “chosen,” but had no desire to be holy, and refused to become “a peculiar people of His own choosing.”

Choose carefully, dear friend, because God has promised us what’s to come! It’s clearly seen in all His creation.

NOTE:  For more information on the Rechabites and Jonadab, see Amos 1:9

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