Monday, 30 December 2019

The Hope in Our Future

This is the time of year when we consider what we've accomplished and what the new year will bring.  Better still, we Christians know who is in charge of our futures. Knowing and believing this takes so much worry and pressure off of us.

Thanks to our heavenly Father, we are always watched over by him. Psalms 33:18 and 19 (BBE) assures us, "See, the eye of the Lord is on those in whose hearts is the fear of him, on those whose hope is in his mercy; To keep their souls from death; and to keep them living in time of need."

But whenever we feel anxious or depressed, we need to read Psalms 43:5 (BBE) and ponder what it says. "Why are you crushed down, O my soul? and why are you troubled in me? put your hope in God, for I will again give him praise who is my help and my God."

Remember too that we can please our Father by doing what Psalms 147:11 (BBE) says. "The Lord takes pleasure in his worshippers, and in those whose hope is in his mercy."

And we know that God's mercies are new every morning but Lamentations 3:24 (BBE) explains why. "I said to myself, 'The Lord is my heritage;' and because of this I will have hope in him."

What a heritage that is! If it wasn't so, we'd be as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:19 (BBE). "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most unhappy."

Though the world may wish us a prosperous and happy 2020, we know that our eventual destination is heaven. We know too that a day will come when wickedness is banished forever. Revelation 21:3 (BBE) gives us the wonderful promise of the Father himself living with us. "And there came to my ears a great voice out of the high seat, saying, 'See, the Tent of God is with men, and he will make his living-place with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them, and be their God.'"

This promise is why I want as many people as possible to read my next book, You Think You're Going to Heaven? Far too many sincere churchgoers have never surrendered their lives to Jesus, assuming their works are good enough. They aren't sufficient and neither is sincerity a reason for salvation.

On Thursday, I hope to post about what hell is. People have so many silly and unbiblical notions about that place of punishment.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Saturday Song: Dr John, "Right place Wrong Time"

This seems to have been the story of my life. Whatever I did often offended others or caused them extra work. I know now that many folks who I offended were selfish and my desires were at odds with their plans. In God's sovereignty, things worked out for his glory and my benefit.

Listen to this song here.

Why do we often end up at cross purposes with others? It's because of incorrect expectations. For example, people in the first century expected Christ to kick out the Romans and establish an earthly kingdom of Israel. Even Christ's disciples were fixated on this notion, as Acts 1:6 and 7 (BBE) demonstrates. "So, when they were together, they said to him, 'Lord, will you at this time give back the kingdom to Israel?' And he said to them, 'It is not for you to have knowledge of the time and the order of events which the Father has kept in his control.'"

Earlier in Israel's history, false prophets were claiming that their captivity in Babylon would be short. Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles, saying in Jeremiah 29:10 (BBE) that, "For this is what the Lord has said: When seventy years are ended for Babylon, I will have pity on you and give effect to my good purpose for you, causing you to come back to this place." It happened, just as he said.

Before that, the king of Asyria sent an official called the Rab-shakeh who came against Jerusalem to besiege it. He bragged in 1 Kings 18:33-35 (BBE), "Has any one of the gods of the nations kept his land from falling into the hands of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim, of Hena and Ivvah? have they kept Samaria out of my hands? Who among all the gods of these countries have kept their country from falling into my hands, to give cause for the thought that the Lord will keep Jerusalem from falling into my hands?"

But we read in 1 Kings 19:6 and 7 (BBE) what God spoke through his prophet about the fate of this man. "And Isaiah said to them, 'This is what you are to say to your master: The Lord says, "Be not troubled by the words which the servants of the king of Assyria have said against me in your hearing. See, I will put a spirit into him, and bad news will come to his ears, and he will go back to his land; and there I will have him put to death by the sword."'"

We're also warned in James 4:13 and 14 (BBE) about, "How foolish it is to say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into this town, and be there for a year and do business there and get wealth:' When you are not certain what will take place tomorrow. What is your life? It is a mist, which is seen for a little time and then is gone."

So what might seem like the wrong time to us is used by the Lord for his plans.

On Monday, I'll post about the hope in our future.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

God's Mercy for Gentiles

One thing we Christians tend to forget is that we have been given the privilege of becoming God's people. It's too easy for us to think we're special and therefore have the automatic right to the throne room of God. But according to the Bible, we have been invited in because of God's mercy.

Of course we aren't the only dense ones. The Jews of Christ's time assumed they were the only folks God cared about. That wasn't god's plan from the beginning, as we read of Christ in Isaiah 11:10 (BBE). "And in that day, the eyes of the nations will be turned to the root of Jesse which will be lifted up as the flag of the peoples; and his resting-place will be glory."

God also welcomed the gentiles so they could help his people. Look at Isaiah 49:22 (BBE). "This is the word of the Lord God: 'See, I will make a sign with my hand to the nations, and put up my flag for the peoples; and they will take up your sons on their beasts, and your daughters on their backs.'"

Jeremiah 16:19 (BBE) shows how pagans will come to faith in God. "O Lord, my strength and my strong tower, my safe place in the day of trouble, the nations will come to you from the ends of the earth, and say, 'The heritage of our fathers is nothing but deceit, even false things in which there is no profit.'"

Another verse which the first-century temple rulers glossed over is Malachi 1:11 (BBE). "'For, from the coming up of the sun till its going down, my name is great among the Gentiles; and in every place the smell of burning flesh is offered to my name, and a clean offering: for my name is great among the Gentiles,' says' the Lord of armies."

God also sent a former persecutor of the church to reach those who weren't Israelites. We're familiar with the story of Saul and how he went to Damascus to arrest Christians. God told Ananias to lay his hands upon Saul and pray for his healing. When he objected, God said in Acts 9:15 (BBE), "But the Lord said, 'Go without fear: for he is a special vessel for me, to give to the Gentiles and kings and to the children of Israel the knowledge of my name:'"

What a blessing God has given through Jesus to the entire world! No one who has a broken spirit and a contrite heart will be excluded from the Israel of God. This is one of many reasons which we celebrate Christ's birth.

I'll be writing about the Israel of God and what it means in my next book, You Think You're Going to Heaven? Far too many churchgoers lack the understanding of this magnanimous offer which the Lord gave us.

On Saturday, I hope to publish the truth about God's sovereignty in our lives.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Jesus: Saviour of His People

We know that Jesus is called the Saviour but God also saved his people. One way was in battle.

When King David was free from his enemies and Saul, he sang this song which 2 Samuel 22:2 and 3 records. "And he said, 'The Lord is my Rock, my walled town, and my saviour, even mine; My God, my Rock, in him will I put my faith; my breastplate, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my safe place; my saviour, who keeps me safe from the violent man."

And even though Israel was unfaithful to him, God sent saviours to save the nation. As 2 Kings 13:5 (BBE) describes regarding the oppression of the king of Aram, "And the Lord gave Israel a saviour, so that they became free from the hands of the Aramaeans; and the children of Israel were living in their tents as in the past."

Since Christ is God incarnate, the verse in Isaiah 43:11 (BBE) is true. "I, even I, am the Lord; and there is no saviour but me."

Even though Mary had the Son of God growing inside of her, she still knew who her saviour was. The paradox of God and Christ being saviour didn't confuse her at all.  Luke 1:47 (BBE) quotes her as saying, "My spirit is glad in God my Saviour."

The angels also confessed that Jesus was the saviour. Luke 2:11 (BBE) tells us, "For on this day, in the town of David, a Saviour has come to birth, who is Christ the Lord."

After Jesus' resurrection and ascension, the apostles proclaimed Christ as the saviour. Acts 5:31 (BBE) shows Peter's answers to the temple rulers when he and the others were arrested. "Him God has put on high at his right hand, as a Ruler and a Saviour, to give to Israel a change of heart and forgiveness of sins."

So we can tell that there is no confusion of whom the saviour is. Jesus and his father save those they chose from both temporal and spiritual danger. And even when we die, we merely go home.

I'll be writing more about the Godhead in my next book, You Think You're Going to Heaven? Some folks think that whatever they can't understand mustn't be true. What a foolish notion that is, especially regarding the Trinity.

On Thursday, when we Canadians celebrate Boxing Day, I'll post about God's mercy on gentiles. How nice that we are included in the Israel of God!

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Saturday Song: BB Gabor, "Consumer"

This time of year is the most profitable for stores. I've heard that the last two months of the year make up for the previous ten in sales. That's why the day after American Thanksgiving Day is called Black Friday.

A singer named BB Gabor released this social-comment song on an album in 1980. It highlights our consumer culture and how fanatical some folks are about getting inside the stores first.

Listen to Mr. Gabor's song here:

The problem with possessions is that they sometimes possess us. We buy a smart phone but it needs apps. We buy a DVD player and it begs us for disks. We buy a car and it requires insurance, gasoline, and oil changes.

Jesus spoke about the eternal worthlessness of possessions in Mark 8:36 (KJV) when he said, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

Jesus might have had Proverbs 11:4 (BBE) in mind regarding riches and Judgement Day. "Wealth is of no profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness keeps a man safe from death."

And as Solomon also wrote, riches are fleeting. Proverbs 23:4 and 5 (BBE) reads, "Take no care to get wealth; let there be an end to your desire for money. Are your eyes lifted up to it? it is gone: for wealth takes to itself wings, like an eagle in flight up to heaven."

We also need to remember that God is our God, not the things we own. A rich, young temple ruler asked Jesus how he could gain eternal life. When the man told him how he kept all the law from his youth, Jesus saw that his wealth was his god. That's why the Lord said in Mark 10:21 (BBE), "And Jesus, looking on him and loving him, said, "There is one thing needed: go, get money for your goods, and give it to the poor, and you will have wealth in heaven: and come with me'".

On Monday, I'll post about how Jesus is the saviour of all his people.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Let's Ponder These Things Too

One of the biggest tragedies of this time of year is how busy people become. If they do think of Christ at all, it's just for an hour at church on Christmas Eve.

We read in the gospels how Mary pondered the supernatural things done in her and through her. Luke 2:19 (BBE) shows that she kept mulling over all the events of Christ's birth in her mind. "But Mary kept all these words in her heart, and gave much thought to them."

Certainly the prophecies she heard made her wonder how they would play out. We read in Luke 1:30-33 (BBE), "And the angel said to her, 'Have no fear, Mary, for you have God's approval. And see, you will give birth to a son, and his name will be Jesus. He will be great, and will be named the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his father: He will have rule over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.'"

A man also prophesied of Christ to Mary in Luke 2:34 and 35 (BBE). "And Simeon gave them his blessing and said to Mary, his mother, 'See, this child will be the cause of the downfall and the lifting up of great numbers of people in Israel, and he will be a sign against which hard words will be said; (And a sword will go through your heart;) so that the secret thoughts of men may come to light.'"

But Simeon wasn't the only one speaking God's words to those in the temple. Luke 2:36-38 (BBE) reads, "And there was one, Anna, a woman prophet, the daughter of Phanuel, of the family of Asher (she was very old, and after seven years of married life She had been a widow for eighty-four years); she was in the Temple at all times, worshipping with prayers and going without food, night and day. And coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, talking of him to all those who were waiting for the freeing of Jerusalem."

The prophecies from Simeon came to pass in Christ's life. Mary herself saw her firstborn rejected by Israel and crucified. John 19:25-27 (BBE)describes the scene.  "Now by the side of the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister Mary, the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple who was dear to him, he said to his mother, 'Mother, there is your son!' Then he said to the disciple, 'There is your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his house."

This shows us the importance of those scriptures quoted in Christmas pageants each year. By pausing and analyzing them, we gain more from the words.

I'll be writing about the certainty of prophecies in You Think You're Going to Heaven? Our faith isn't based on wishful thinking and hopes based on our desires for happiness. Scripture is God's Word.

On Thursday, I'll post about the arrival of Israel's Holy One.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Saturday Song: Depeché Mode, "People Are People"

We certainly do live in a violent world. What makes it worse is inconsequential divisions such as skin colour, religion, and place of birth. The English technopop band Depeché Mode recorded this song in 1982 and it's still relevant today.

Listen to this thought-provoking song here:

Ever since Cain killed Abel, humanity has been at war with God and itself. But we aren't the only creatures who fight one another. Revelation 12:7-9 (BBE) informs us, "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going out to the fight with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels made war, And they were overcome, and there was no more place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was forced down, the old snake, who is named the Evil One and Satan, by whom all the earth is turned from the right way; he was forced down to the earth, and his angels were forced down with him."

I know that there are different opinions on when this happened or will happen. The point is that war is a part of our fallen world. There will always be those who want to fight others as long as we humans are in charge. As Psalms 120:7 (KJV) says, "I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war."

A day will come when we will have peace but it won't come through any human agency such as the United Nations. Isaiah 9:6 (BBE)for tells of the one who will bring war to an end eternally. "For to us a child has come, to us a son is given; and the government has been placed in his hands; and he has been named Wise Guide, Strong God, Father for ever, Prince of Peace."

We read in Hebrews 2:8 and 9 (BBE) that Christ is the one who will rule humanity eternally. "You put all things under his feet.' For in making man the ruler over all things, God did not put anything outside his authority; though we do not see everything under him now. But we see him who was made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, crowned with glory and honour, because he let himself be put to death so that by the grace of God he might undergo death for all men."

What a wonderful day that will be for those who place their faith in Christ! But for those who refuse his magnanimous offer of salvation, it will be a terrifying day. May all who read this be those whom Christ will praise and then admit them to his eternal bliss.

On Monday, I'll be posting about the things we should ponder at this time of year.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Why Was Christ Called the Prince of Peace?

Isaiah 9:6 is one verse commonly quoted during this season. The Bible in Basic English renders it as, "For to us a child has come, to us a son is given; and the government has been placed in his hands; and he has been named Wise Guide, Strong God, Father for ever, Prince of Peace."

Cynical people might say that Christ was far from being a peace maker. To them, he was a teacher who got killed for telling people to be nice.

The truth is that Christ came the first time to save sinners from hell. Even the Samaritans who heard him teach understood this. John 4:42 (BBE) quotes the villagers as saying, "And they said to the woman, (whom Christ met at the well) 'Now we have faith, but not because of your story: we ourselves have given ear to his words, and we are certain that he is truly the Saviour of the world.'"

But this salvation was of the soul, not the temporal nation of Israel. Even after Christ's resurrection, his disciples still had the political kingdom notion stuck in their heads. Luke records in Acts 1:6 (BBE), "So, when they were together, they said to him, 'Lord, will you at this time give back the kingdom to Israel?'"

A day will come when Christ will return as conquering king and judge of humanity. As Isaiah 9:7 (BBE) prophesied, "Of the increase of his rule and of peace there will be no end, on the seat of David, and in his kingdom; to make it strong, supporting it with wise decision and righteousness, now and for ever." By the fixed purpose of the Lord of armies this will be done."

We also read in Isaiah 2:4 (BBE) how Christ will rule forever. "And he will be the judge between the nations, and the peoples will be ruled by his decisions: and their swords will be turned into plough-blades, and their spears into vine-knives: no longer will the nations be turning their swords against one another, and the knowledge of war will be gone for ever."

What a glorious time that will be! But for many folks, their future is eternal separation from all of God's goodness in hell. That's why I'm working on a book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? I hope it steers people away from that horrid place.

On Saturday, I hope to publish my take on a song from 1982 and why we can't live in harmony at this time.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Israel's Hope

Throughout the Bible, we read about the Messiah. Israel's hope was that he would come and rescue them from their punishment for sinning. Though the people felt abandoned, God measured out the time of chastisement for their nation time after time. And even though they kept wandering away from him, he still cared about his chosen people.

One example of Israel's apostasy and their laments is written in Jeremiah 14:8 and 9 (BBE). "O you hope of Israel, its saviour in time of trouble, why are you like one who is strange in the land, and like a traveler putting up his tent for a night? Why are you like a man surprised, like a man of war who is not able to give help? but you, O Lord, are with us, and we are named by your name; do not go away from us."

I feel sad for all those generations of Israelites who waited for Messiah to come. God sent prophet after prophet, promising a coming saviour, but he seemed to take his time in arriving.

Why did it take Christ so long to come? Galatians 4:4 and 5 (BBE) explains, " But when the time had come, God sent out his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, That he might make them free who were under the law, and that we might be given the place of sons."

At the time of Christ's birth, the Holy Spirit told a man named Simon that he wouldn't die until he saw the Messiah. Luke 2:27-31 (BBE) records, "And full of the Spirit he came into the Temple; and when the father and mother came in with the child Jesus, to do with him what was ordered by the law, Then he took him in his arms and gave praise to God and said, 'Now you are letting your servant go in peace, O Lord, as you have said; For my eyes have seen your salvation, Which you have made ready before the face of all nations; A light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.'"

The Apostle Paul also spoke of Israel's hope to Jewish leaders when he was a prisoner in Rome. Acts 28:20 (BBE)quotes him as saying, "But for this reason I sent for you, to see and have talk with you: for because of the hope of Israel I am in these chains."

During the darkest time in the northern hemisphere, we acknowledge and celebrate the Light of the world: Jesus the Christ. Through him, all who call upon him for salvation are rescued from hell.

This is the main theme of my next book, You Think You're Going to Heaven? May the Lord bless this work of my hands.

Thursday's post will be about why Christ is called the Prince of Peace.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Saturday Song: James Taylor, "Fire and Rain"

Family-oriented holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas can be hard on people who lost somebody through suicide or another form of death. All the happy wishes sound hollow when a loved one is missing from the traditional family gathering.

This song by James Taylor was written for a friend of his who died. Listen to it here.And though we Christians miss our loved ones who are faithful and whom God calls home, we know that we'll see them again someday. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (KJV), "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope."

And as he explained in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 17 (KJV), "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

So, what do you think of this song and what I wrote. Please comment below. But if you don't want to, I wish you and yours a blessed Christmas. We'll all be together someday.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

The Destroyer of Hope: Foiled

To put it mildly, Satan was furious at Christ's birth. He knew his scriptures and how this seed of the woman would defeat him. It didn't take that snake long to take out his wrath through Herod either.

We read in Matthew 2:16 (BBE) how the Devil tried to kill Christ. "Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was very angry; and he sent out, and put to death all the male children in Bethlehem and in all the parts round about it, from two years old and under, acting on the knowledge which he had got with care from the wise men."

When Jesus began his preaching ministry, Satan tried to tempt him to take a shortcut to glory. In Matthew 4:8 and 9 (BBE), we read about the third and final attempt that snake made to derail the plan of salvation. "Again, the Evil One took him up to a very high mountain, and let him see all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; And he said to him, 'All these things will I give you, if you will go down on your face and give me worship.'" But Jesus knew that he had to die to pay for the sins of his chosen ones.

I believe that Satan tried to dissuade Christ again in the garden on the night before his crucifixion. Luke 22:44 (BBE) demonstrates how Christ struggled with the temptation to refuse the cross. "And being in great trouble of soul, the force of his prayer became stronger, and great drops, like blood, came from him, falling to the earth."

When Christ was crucified and then resurrected on the third day, that snake tried to cover up his failure through the priests. Matthew 28:12-14 (BBE) tells us what happened when the soldiers guarding the tomb reported to them about what happened. "And when they had come together with those in authority, and had made their decision, they gave much money to the watchmen, saying, 'Say, His disciples came by night and took him away secretly while we were sleeping. And if this comes to the ruler's ears, we will see that he does not make you responsible.'"

By the way, letting a prisoner escape was an offense punishable by death. That's why Satan, working through the priests, bribed those men and covered for them.

So we can understand that the Devil is continually fighting a losing battle against Christ. This is our hope which extends throughout history. God never has lost control and never will. In his plan, everything the Devil does works out to our eventual good and God's glory.

This is another aspect I'll point out about salvation in my book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? People must realize that Satan is a mere created being whom God controls.

On Saturday, I'll feature a lovely and tender song by James Taylor which he wrote for a friend.

Monday, 2 December 2019

What is This Hope We Celebrate?

I feel sad that most people today are missing the point of Christmas. All they hear in the malls are songs about Santa, trees, and snow. None of those things were part of the first Christmas.

Even though we don't know which day Christ was born on, December 25th is when we remind ourselves, and the unsaved world, of the fulfilled hope of the saviour.

As early as Genesis 3:14 and 15, (BBE), we read of God's plan to rescue us from Satan's deception. "And the Lord God said to the snake, 'Because you have done this you are cursed more than all cattle and every beast of the field; you will go flat on the earth, and dust will be your food all the days of your life: And there will be war between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed: by him will your head be crushed and by you his foot will be wounded.'"

This pictorial language shows that Christ, who is the seed of the woman, will be killed but his resurrection will crush Satan's power of eternal death over us.

When God called Abram and gave him the name Abraham, he promised something wonderful. Galatians 3:8 (BBE) says, "And the holy Writings, seeing before the event that God would give the Gentiles righteousness by faith, gave the good news before to Abraham, saying, 'In you will all the nations have a blessing.'" That blessing was Christ.

And defying our kind of logic, Christ's birth was announced to the lowest individuals in first-century Jude an society. Luke 2:10 (and 11 BBE) tells us what the messenger of God said to certain shepherds. "And the angel said, 'Have no fear; for truly, I give you good news of great joy which will be for all the people: For on this day, in the town of David, a Saviour has come to birth, who is Christ the Lord.'"

By the way, Christ means the anointed one; the messiah which Israel waited so long for. And as we just read, Jesus is he who would conquer Satan, giving us life eternal.

I plan on emphasizing these truths in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? The world doesn't understand our joy. Therefore, we Christians must proclaim why Christmas begins with Christ. Our rejoicing  shouldn't end there either as he is the fulfillment of God's ancient promise.

On Thursday, I'll expand more on the hope of Christmas.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Saturday Song: Frumpy, "Life Without Pain"

One thing is for sure, living can be painful. Many people suffer from chronic pain. Others have emotional pain plaguing them. And it's safe to say that all of us would love to live in a world without pain.

Listen to this German rock band's song here:

 A day will come when we truly will live in a world without pain and loss. Isaiah 25:8 (BBE) prophesies, "He has put an end to death for ever; and the Lord God will take away all weeping; and he will put an end to the shame of his people in all the earth: for the Lord has said it."

Likewise, John echoes this prophecy in Revelation 21:4 (BBE). "And he will put an end to all their weeping; and there will be no more death, or sorrow, or crying, or pain; for the first things have come to an end."

Furthermore, what we suffer now, be it from Adam's fall or our stand for Christ, will seem inconsequential in that new universe. Romans 8:18 (BBE) encourages, "I am of the opinion that there is no comparison between the pain of this present time and the glory which we will see in the future."

Better still, we'll see our Lord as he is, reigning in glory, when that wonderful day comes to pass. We read in 1 John 3:2 (BBE) how we will bask in his glory and be fit to be in his presence. "My loved ones, now we are children of God, and at present it is not clear what we are to be. We are certain that at his revelation we will be like him; for we will see him as he is."

All people need to do is to surrender the running of their lives to Christ in order to be in his new world. May whoever reads this be in that number of believers called and chosen by the Lord to be at his side.

On Monday, I hope to post about The hope of Christmas. With all the distraction of the secular world, we need to keep the newborn King in mind.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

This is one of Christ's warnings regarding those followers who aren't watchful for his coming. The five foolish friends of the bride groom were careless and foolish. They figured they wouldn't need oil in their lamps. I suspect that they assumed the bride groom would come when it was light. Perhaps they also were careless about being ready.

Whatever  the case, this parable warns us to be alert and not fall into an attitude of complacency. As we read in Matthew 24:44 (BBE), "Be ready then; for at a time which you have no thought of the Son of man will come."

But why are some believers blase in regard to Christ's return? One reason is the anaesthetic of money and possessions. Paul warned in 1 Timothy 6:17 (BBE) regarding rich believers, "Give orders to those who have money and goods in this life, not to be lifted up in their minds, or to put their hope in the uncertain chances of wealth, but in God who gives us in full measure all things for our use;"

Jesus also told a parable about a farmer whose enemy spread tare seeds, a weed which looks like wheat, into his field. The farmer didn't want the servants to uproot those plants lest the good ones would get pulled up too. In Matthew 13:40 (BBE), Christ explained how these look-alike churchgoers would suffer on Judgement Day.  "As then the evil plants are got together and burned with fire, so will it be in the end of the world."

Jesus likewise told a parable about four sorts of ground on which the seeds of the gospel were sown. He explained the kinds of people those soils represented. Mark 4:16   and 17 describe those who are believers only for a while. "And in the same way, these are they who are planted on the stones, who, when the word has come to their ears, straight away take it with joy; And they have no root in themselves, but go on for a time; then, when trouble comes or pain, because of the word, they quickly become full of doubts."

Then there are those who are stunted in their spiritual growth. Mark 4:18 and 19 (BBE) says, "And others are those planted among the thorns; these are they who have given ear to the word, And the cares of this life, and the deceits of wealth, and the desire for other things coming in, put a stop to the growth of the word, and it gives no fruit."

This is why Bible study is crucial. Without the knowledge of the scriptures, believers become stunted spiritually or distracted from growing in the Lord.

It's why I want to write my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? I feel deeply grieved when people attend only Sunday services and just read devotionals. Believers miss so much when they neglect studying the Bible.

On Saturday, I'll post about a lovely rock song and the wonderful world God promised his faithful followers.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Why Were the People in Matthew 25:34-40 Blessed?

Last Thursday, I wrote about those who will be sent to hell by the king in Christ's parable. But who are those whom he blessed and commended?

Those churchgoers who think deeds will get them into heaven might wrench these verses out of context to prove their case. But if works can get people into paradise, why does Romans 10:9 and 10 (BBE) say, ""Because, if you say with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and have faith in your heart that God has made him come back from the dead, you will have salvation: For with the heart man has faith to get righteousness, and with the mouth he says that Jesus is Lord to get salvation."

Furthermore, Ephesians 2:8 and 9 (BBE) make it clear that works have no part in salvation. "Because by grace you have salvation through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is given by God: Not by works, so that no man may take glory to himself."

Since boasting is taking glory to yourself, and since God will not share his glory with another person, working for salvation and entrance into heaven is blasphemy. Ponder what Isaiah 42:8 (BBE) declares. "I am the Lord; that is my name: I will not give my glory to another, or my praise to pictured images."

In Matthew 25:34 (BBE), we hear the King blessing those who are called his sheep. "Then will the King say to those on his right, 'Come, you who have the blessing of my Father, into the kingdom made ready for you before the world was:'"

And as we read in Matthew 25:40 (BBE) the king commends those Christians who wonder how they helped him when he was naked, hungry, and in prison. "And the King will make answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, Because you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'" Please note the phrase, "my brotherrs." His brothers aren't the unsaved poor and oppressed but the believers in Christ.

It's clear that those who do good works without saving faith in Christ won't be commended. These verses show us who believe in the Lord that our works won't save us but they do earn commendation from our Master.

I'll keep pointing out this hard-to-swallow truth in You Think You're Going to Heaven? My book won't make much of a dent in the heresy of works righteousness but at least I'll have done something about it.

On Thursday, I hope to tackle the subject of who the ten virgins in Matthew chapter twenty-five represent.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Saturday Song: 5 Man Electrical Band, "Juliana"

Here's another song from a Canadian band who should have had more airplay. This particular song is about a woman who left her boyfriend but he still loves her.

Hear this great early-seventies song here:

This situation reminds me of all the times Israel turned its collective back on God, even though he never gave up on them. One example of God's undying love toward his people is mentioned in Ezekiel 16:60 (BBE). Likening that nation to a loose woman, God spoke through his prophet of how he came to the nation's rescue but she forsook him. "But still I will keep in mind the agreement made with you in the days when you were young, and I will make with you an eternal agreement."

Likewise, God called to Israel in Joel 2:12 and 13 (BBE), saying, "But even now, says the Lord, come back to me with all your heart, keeping from food, with weeping and with sorrow: Let your hearts be broken, and not your clothing, and come back to the Lord your God: for he is full of grace and pity, slow to be angry and great in mercy, ready to be turned from his purpose of punishment."

We also see God reaching out to Israel's descendents in Jeremiah 30:17 and 18 (BBE, saying, "For I will make you healthy again and I will make you well from your wounds, says the Lord; because they have given you the name of an outlaw, saying, 'It is Zion cared for by no man.' The Lord has said, See, I am changing the fate of the tents of Jacob, and I will have pity on his houses; the town will be put up on its hill, and the great houses will be living-places again."

Jesus made one final appeal to his people in Matthew 23:37-39  BBE) when he cried, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, putting to death the prophets, and stoning those who are sent to her! Again and again would I have taken your children to myself as a bird takes her young ones under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is made waste. For I say to you, You will not see me from this time till you say, A blessing on him who comes in the name of the Lord."

I'll be posting on Monday, computer problems not withstanding, about why the "sheep" people will be blessed on Judgement Day.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Who Were the Folks in Matthew 25:41-45?

As I wrote last time, those who aren't born again and who haven't surrendered the running of their lives to Christ are hellward bound. This is a hard truth to accept but it is what it is.

Part of one of Jesus' parables is recorded in Matthew 25:41-45. It speaks of those who didn't help Christians, and Christ by extension.

The passage in the Bible in Basic English reads: "Then will he say to those on the left, 'Go from me, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire which is ready for the Evil One and his angels: For I was in need of food, and you gave it not to me; I was in need of drink, and you gave it not to me: I was wandering, and you took me not in; without clothing, and you gave me no clothing; ill, and in prison, and you came not to me.' Then will they make answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you in need of food or drink, or wandering, or without clothing, or ill, or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then will he make answer to them, saying, 'Truly I say to you, Because you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me.'"

We must remember too that Jesus considered his disciples as family. Therefore, not helping or helping one of those "little ones" is giving or not giving help to him.

How is this so? Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him once and couldn't get through the crowd. Luke 8:21 (BBE) shows Christ's reply to the news of his family members seeking him. "But he said to them in answer, 'My mother and my brothers are those who have knowledge of the word of God and do it."

We also know from the Bible that persecuting Christians is persecuting Christ by extension. Remember when Saul was arresting Christians and went to Damascus to incarcerate more believers there? Acts 9:4 and 5 (BBE) shows that Christ experiences the cruelty done to persecuted believers. "And he went down on the earth, and a voice said to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you attacking me so cruelly?' And he said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And he said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are attacking:'"

What a blessing it is that Jesus feels the persecution of his beloved children. This fact will be included in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Christ not only knows what we do but how we suffer for his sake. What a reassurance this is to us who suffer because we trust in him!

On Saturday, I'll post about a great Canadian band's song and how our Lord cares for broken-hearted people.

Monday, 18 November 2019

Who Were the Folks in Matthew 7:21-23?

John MacArthur said, and I agree, that this is the most frightening passage in the Bible. A vast number of people today claim to be doing miracles and speaking in "heavenly" languages but they are hellward bound.

Matthew 7:21-23 BBE) reads, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will go into the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the pleasure of my Father in heaven. A great number will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, were we not prophets in your name, and did we not by your name send out evil spirits, and by your name do works of power?' And then will I say to them, 'I never had knowledge of you: go from me, you workers of evil.'"

These "Lord! Lord!" people are those who think they serve Christ but they're really serving themselves. As Jesus said to his disciples in Luke 6:46 (BBE) "Why do you say to me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not the things which I say?"

Remember too that Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve. Before he betrayed Christ, he seemed like a model disciple. But Jesus wasn't fooled by his fakery. John 6:70 (BBE) proves his omniscience. "Then Jesus said, Did I not make a selection of you, the twelve, and one of you is a son of the Evil One?"

We can tell by these verses that Christ isn't fooled by fake praise. Many people act as if the Lord's name is a sort of magical invocation of power. But being in Christ's name and doing things in his name means that we've been adopted into his family. Check out what Galatians 4:4 and 5 (BBE) says. "But when the time had come, God sent out his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, That he might make them free who were under the law, and that we might be given the place of sons."

We also are assured in John 6:37 (BBE) of our acceptance in Christ's family. "Whatever the Father gives to me will come to me; and I will not send away anyone who comes to me." What an assurance that is!

But this adoption is conditional in that we must repent and surrender the running of our lives to Christ. Luke 18:17 (BBE) speaks of this total trust we must place in the Lord. "Truly I say to you, Whoever does not put himself under the kingdom of God like a little child, will not come into it at all."

This will be the main theme in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Far too many people assume they're saved but their deeds and lives betray them.

On Thursday, providing the Lord doesn't return before then, I'll post about five foolish virgins and who they were.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Saturday Song: Edwin Star, "War"

Certain people believe that there is no acceptable reason for waging war. I agree that war for conquest's sake is an evil that humanity has suffered from since the beginning. In an attempt to answer Edwin Star's histrionic question regarding what war is good for, we need to examine what the Bible says. According to the Apostle Paul, among others, it's for God's appointed governments to administer justice.

Listen to the song here:

Let's look at what Paul wrote in Romans chapter thirteen. From The Bible in Basic English, verse one says, "Let everyone put himself under the authority of the higher powers, because there is no power which is not of God, and all powers are ordered by God."

This verse, and the next one, shows us that governmental authority has been given by God. There job, as verses three and four explain, is to reward good and punish evil. Part of that good is the protection of the people from foreign as well as domestic enemies.

As Christians, we are commanded to love God and our neighbour as ourselves. Vengeance is the Lord's and he will repay. Part of this repayment comes through the military and the justice system. Furthermore, God is the one who places kings on thrones and takes them out. We who live in democratic countries have the privilege of voting but it's the Lord who decides the fate of nations.

The Bible has many examples of when God commanded kings and leaders to wage war. Though Christ is the Prince of Peace, he will come in flaming fire and take vengeance on this rebellious world. As Solomon  wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:8 (BBE), There's "A time for love and a time for hate; a time for war and a time for peace."

War is a horrible thing but there are times when it must be fought. We only realize that fact after it ends.

Monday's post will be about who the folks mentioned in Matthew 7:21-23 were.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

What About Kind Deeds?

Many folks assume that the more kind deeds they do, the greater their chance of going to heaven is. In fact, some people teach that God weighs the sins against the good works and uses that to determine who's worthy of heaven.

The Bible doesn't teach that idea. We must first repent of our sins. That means to forsake sinful ways and beg God's forgiveness for what we've done wrong.

But people such as the Pharisees, who think they're perfectly righteous, refuse to admit their sinfulness. That's why John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:11 (BBE), "Truly, I give baptism with water to those of you whose hearts are changed; but he who comes after me is greater than I, whose shoes I am not good enough to take up: he will give you baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire:"

Jesus, whom John the Baptist spoke of, received criticism from the self-righteous Pharisees regarding his outreach to wicked people. Matthew 9:12 and 13 (BBE) records Christ's rebuke. "But on hearing this he said, 'Those who are well have no need of a medical man, but those who are ill. But go and take to heart the sense of these words, "My desire is for mercy, not offerings:" for I have come not to get the upright, but sinners.'"

Jesus demonstrated the attitude of those who wanted to appear righteous in Matthew 6:5 (BBE) when he said,  "And when you make your prayers, be not like the false-hearted men, who take pleasure in getting up and saying their prayers in the Synagogues and at the street turnings so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward."

But is doing good works wrong? It all depends on one's motives. Paul explains this in Ephesians 2:8-10 BBE) when he wrote, "Because by grace you have salvation through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is given by God: Not by works, so that no man may take glory to himself. For by his act we were given existence in Christ Jesus to do those good works which God before made ready for us so that we might do them."

We also can understand that the salvation of Christ generates generosity in us. When a tax collector came to believe in Jesus, he said in Luke 19:8 (BBE), "And Zacchaeus, waiting before him, said to the Lord, 'See, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken anything from anyone wrongly, I give him back four times as much."

Jesus said in the next verse that salvation came to his house, showing that Zacchaeus' heart was righteous. He wasn't showing off or salving his conscience.

Since motives matter to God, I'll be writing about them in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Far too many people can't understand that it's what motivates a person to do good deeds that the Lord considers.

On Saturday, I'll feature a song about the evils of war and what the scriptures say about it.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

The Risk Bible Teachers Take

Did you know that Bible teachers are at greater risk of punishment than ordinary Christians? If we teach error, God will deal harshly with us. Therefore, teaching God's Word is dangerous for individuals with big egos who crave a following.

As we read in James 3:1 and 2 (BBE), "Do not all be teachers, my brothers, because we teachers will be judged more hardly than others. For we all go wrong in a number of things. If a man never makes a slip in his talk, then he is a complete man and able to keep all his body in control."

God takes lies seriously and apportions just punishment to whoever spreads them. Look at 2 Peter 2:1 (BBE) which explains, "But there were false prophets among the people, as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly put forward wrong teachings for your destruction, even turning away from the Lord who gave himself for them; whose destruction will come quickly, and they themselves will be the cause of it."

As Peter noted, Israel had its share of false prophets, teaching lies while claiming to be sent from the Almighty. Jeremiah 23:21 (BBE) tells us which sort of people the false prophets were and are. "I did not send these prophets, but they went running: I said nothing to them, but they gave out the prophet's word."

Because some people have no understanding of the Bible and how to correctly read it, they spread error. Paul warned the believers at Troas about wicked teachers in Acts 20:28 and 29 (BBE), saying, "Give attention to yourselves, and to all the flock which the Holy Spirit has given into your care, to give food to the church of God, for which he gave his blood. I am conscious that after I am gone, evil wolves will come in among you, doing damage to the flock;" The word "food" is a metaphor for spiritual teaching.

What tricks people, even today, is that these false teachers claim to be Christians. Jesus warned his disciples, and us by extension, of these liars in Luke 21:8 (BBE), ""And he said, 'Take care that you are not tricked: for a number of people will come in my name, saying, "I am he;" and, "The time is near:" do not go after them.'"

So, how can we determine who's telling the truth? Paul answered this in Galatians 1:8 (BBE. "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, were to be a preacher to you of good news other than that which we have given you, let there be a curse on him." In other words, it must align with what Scripture teaches.

Because of false teaching regarding the afterlife, I'm working on a book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? False teachers claim that most folks will go there but the Bible says few are chosen.

On Thursday, I'll post about kind deeds and which motivation for them is given by God.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Saturday Song: Gordon Lightfoot, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

Isn't it interesting how news reports can impact some folks but not others? I was in Toronto, Ontario in November of 1975 when I heard the news one morning. Though I felt a twinge of sadness for those twenty-nine sailors, it was just one of many tragic news stories that day.

But Gordon Lightfoot was deeply moved by the news, so much so that he wrote a song about it. Almost a year later, that song was in rotation on radio stations across Canada.

Hear the song here.

The fact nobody is willing to face is that we all die. As the scripture says in Isaiah 64:6 (KJV), "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."

And as it says in James 4:14 (KJV), "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."

But death isn't the end, as many people believe. Each one of us will stand trial for what we did in this life and for accepting or rejecting Christ's magnanimous gift of eternal salvation. As the Bible says in Hebrews 9:27 (KJV), "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

This is good news if you've placed your life in Christ's hands but bad news if you haven't. Message me if you'd like to learn more about eternal life.

Well, what did you think of this song and what I wrote? Please leave me a comment below. Also, have a great weekend.

Monday's post will be about the danger of being a Bible teacher. Those who teach error will be harshly punished by God.