March 5, 2010

The Value of God’s Word 2 TIMOTHY 3:14-17

From the opening line of Genesis to the final words of Revelation, all of Scripture is divinely inspired. And every word has purpose and importance.

The Old Testament introduces us to God’s nature, ways, and power; it lays the foundation for us to understand the Lord’s holiness and humanity’s desperate need for a Savior. The New Testament explains that Jesus sacrificially became our “bridge” to the Father (John 14:6). Its writings clarify why we must trust Christ for salvation, how to live as God’s children, and what to expect in this life and after death.

Through the Scriptures, almighty God reveals Himself to us. He also says that His Word is important for teaching, reproof, correction, instruction, and preparation for what we will face in life (2 Tim. 3:16-17). No other book holds such value for living.

Ephesians 6:13-17 compares the Word to armor, and for good reason: in the battle of life, we have a real enemy who wants to destroy us. But God’s power is greater (1 John 4:4), and “dressing” in war gear daily prepares His children for the temptations, lies, and decisions they will face. We ought to be excited about the Word of God, for it is the only hope for mankind—and the only instruction that leads to victory both in life and after physical death.

The Bible predicted that many people would reject the truth, and a glimpse at our culture shows that to be the case. Don’t let yourself fall into the same trap. Meditate daily on Scripture, and ask God to speak to you. Life without His truth is destined for failure.

March 4, 2010

God’s Word to Us 2 TIMOTHY 4:1-5

Most everyone in our culture has easy access to a Bible, yet this remarkable book is too often left on the shelf to gather dust. If only people grasped its true worth, they would prize God’s Word above all other possessions.

All of Scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit. While He used man to pen the words, every thought in the Bible originated with God Himself (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Consider how we treasure letters from people we love. Our response to Scripture should be even stronger. The Creator of the universe—the God who holds eternity in His hand—recorded all the truth that is necessary for His children to live fully and joyfully, both before and after death (2 Peter 1:3). God reveals Himself through His Word, which is alive and powerful to transform our lives (Heb. 4:12).

What’s more, Romans 10:17 explains the great importance of our love for the Word: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. In other words, Scripture is the very means by which saving faith is possible.

How could such a book have become so commonplace in our heart? So taken for granted? It is vital that we realize the preeminence of its author, the Lord, and its potential impact on our lives today.

Think about the last time you saw a Bible. What was your reaction? Did you finger the pages with awe, or did you pass it by with barely a glance? Next time you open this precious book, read the words, savor their meaning, and ask God to help you apply the lesson to your life.

March 3, 2010

Walking in the Spirit GALATIANS 5:16-25

The Holy Spirit is one of God’s most precious gifts to His beloved children. He takes up residence within the believer at the moment of salvation and empowers him to overcome sin and live for God’s glory and purposes. However, the Spirit’s power can be “turned off” or ignored. Only those who choose to walk with Him have unhindered access to His strength and guidance.

Walking by the Spirit denotes reliance upon Him. He leads the way, and we follow. As He speaks, we listen, heed His warnings, and obey His directions. The Spirit’s way is a path of surrender which, although difficult, leads to fullness of life.

God’s Spirit not only guides; He also empowers because the challenge of obeying Him is impossible in our own strength. The Holy Spirit supplies everything we need to live a godly life, and He produces His amazing fruit in us.

Being led by the Spirit should be the natural lifestyle of the sons and daughters of God. As you intentionally seek to maintain an awareness of His presence throughout the day, He is only a thought away. When your mind turns to Him, He gives sensitivity to the things of God and understanding about the situations and people in your life.

Take a walk with the Spirit today, and learn to know His voice. Whenever your mind is not occupied with the duties of the day, focus your thoughts on Him, asking for His guidance and looking expectantly for His leading. When He gives it, rely on His power to obey.

March 2, 2010

Today Is the Day of Salvation HEBREWS 3:7-19

Procrastination can be a big problem: important tasks are neglected, and the benefits of finished work are never enjoyed. However, procrastinating in spiritual matters can be disastrous.

Every person is going to spend eternity somewhere. The destination is determined in this lifetime by a choice to either accept or reject Jesus’ offer of the forgiveness of sins. Some people feel that they can delay this decision. Eternity seems distant, and there is so much to enjoy in this life. They assume, I’ll just wait until I’m close to death. Then I’ll ask Jesus to save me.

The problems with this reasoning are obvious. First of all, there is no guarantee that you will have any warning before death. Second, by spending a lifetime rejecting Christ’s offer, you run the risk of developing a hardened heart. Saying no to God frequently throughout your life may result in being unable to say yes when death comes knocking at the door. In fact, you may not even be interested in Christ’s offer anymore.

There is great danger in abusing the grace of God. All people who are not protected by salvation in Jesus Christ will face the terrifying reality of judgment, as they stand before God without a Savior (Heb. 10:26-27).

By putting off a decision for Christ, you not only lose the immediate blessings of a deeply personal relationship with God now but also risk future separation from Him for all eternity. Don’t procrastinate! Come to Christ today: acknowledge your sin, ask His forgiveness, and trust Him as your Savior.

Spiritual Warfare Faith and Hope

Revelation Round Table Warriors – Lesson three

Lesson Three notes

PART ONE

Remember our Pledge – Remain Faithful, the Truth will set you free and Be Strong.

John 8:31 -32  Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

1st Cor 16:13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.

And Our Quest – To search out the Truth about the End Times.

Rev 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

NLT – God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.

PART TWO

Getting a handle on where we are in the Bible…

Lets divide up the bible into sections starting with vs 19

Rev 1:19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

The Things which thou hast seen – 1:9-20

The things which are – chapter 2 and 3

The things which shall be hereafter – Chap 4 on

Understand what we read and how to find out what it means…

Rev Chapter 4:1-5

1After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

A door – He went thru it – Like Narnia

2And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

3And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

No Pictures that capture this image – See notes on stones. Rainbow 360

Symbolism, not code – Chap 5:1-8

1And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

2And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

3And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

4And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

5And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

6And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

7And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

8And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

lamb=Jesus also Lion=Jesus not a code It is a metaphor – not who it is but what it is, telling us something about Him – This book is full of symbols which helps us understand to new depths…

What does this mean – rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. Throne is authority – signifying power, ruler and king Why a rainbow? And why green like an emerald. – softest/gentlest color by rating – Rainbow – noah promise grace mercy and justice. Thrown of grace

4And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

and government – elders. People who are created, experience time – age. Don’t know who but they have thrones, they work for God. Company office building, top floor is president ceo – then other leaders around and down – org chart

5And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

Chapter 1 seven lamps? – seven spirits – Holy Spirit in perfection

The Olivet Discourse – Matt 24 – 25 and Mark 13 and Luke 21

Daniel 2,7,8 and 9

An In depth look at 4:3 for the stones and the rainbow – most makes sense to me but I’m not buying all of it – see what you think and use your spiritual discernment…


http://doweknow.com/html-files/precious-stones.htm

Exodus 28:15-21
15 And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it.
16 Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.
17 And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row.
18 And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.
19 And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.
20 And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.
21 And the stones shall be with the names of the children of
Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes.

“And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone:…” (Revelation 4:3a).  The first mentioning of these precious stones in the Bible is found in Exodus 28:17-20, and as we just read, it has to do with the stones in Aaron’s breastplate–each stone representing one of Jacob’s 12 sons, and subsequently, the tribe that came from their loins.

To understand the significance of Christ looking like a jasper and a sardine stone, we need to refresh our memory as to how Jacob’s two wives, Leah and Rachel, serve as types.  If you’ll recall the story of Jacob’s marriages, Jacob had worked for Rachel’s father seven years for Rachel’s hand in marriage, but was tricked into first taking her older sister, Leah, to wife to fulfill the custom of the time and place.  Then he was given Rachel on the condition that he would work seven more years for her (See Gen. 29).  The story is chock full of symbolism and types, but for our purposes here, we simply need to know that Leah is a type for the Law while Rachel is a type for Grace.  Furthermore, Leah’s first child (of many) was Reuben whose stone on Aaron’s breastplate was the sardine (sardius)–the first stone on the breastplate.  But Rachel had only two sons: Joseph and Benjamin–whose stones were the onyx (sardonyx) and the jasper–the eleventh and twelfth stones on Aaron’s breastplate.  That the Christ of Revelation was to look upon like a sardine stone and a jasper stone refers back to the stones on Aaron’s breastplate.

Reuben’s stone, the sardine, was placed first in agreement with the Hebrew’s patriarchal blessing of the first born for which Christ was qualified–being the firstborn of a Hebrew family under the law of Moses. Joseph’s and Benjamin’s stones, the onyx and the jasper, (the children of Rachel [grace]) were place on Aaron’s breastplate in positions 11 and 12 respectively according to Scriptural numerology.

Although Revelation does not refer to Joseph’s stone per se, it is very interesting that like Benjamin, he was also born of “grace.”  Joseph served both as an example for the Hebrews and a type for Christ.  As an example for the Hebrews, he demonstrated how that those who lived by the faith of Father Abraham, trusting fully in the grace of God, were blessed beyond measure.  As a type of Christ, he suffered the rejection of his brethren who thought they had done away with him.  He endured all that came his way, not riling against those who thought to do him evil.  Eventually, he was raised to a position even higher than what he should have had as a Hebrew; and in that position, he became the savior of his brethren and of the world around him.  In Biblical numerology, the number eleven stands for judgment/the cross.

Benjamin’s stone, the jasper, was placed in the 12th position on Aaron’s breastplate and this is full of significance.  The number 12 stands for the foundations of the church (called out ones).  The first church in the Bible was Israel and its 12 foundations are the 12 sons of Jacob from which came forth the 12 tribes of Israel.   The second Church of the Scriptures (2 is the number for the Church) is the New Testament Church, the Bride of Christ (His Rachel).  Benjamin with his twelfth stone on Aaron’s breastplate is a type of the New Testament Church who was especially loved of his father and for no apparent reason other than he was his father’s baby.  The 12 foundations for the Church are the 12 Apostles upon whose teachings the Church is built. Christ is said to “look upon like a jasper” because He is in the midst of the Grace-Age Church.  In fact, the believer is admonish to live like Paul whose goal was to live in such a way that others did not see him, but Christ Jesus living in him.

The emerald is also full of spiritual/prophetic significance.  To understand this significance, let’s look at a table of the precious stones that represent the 24 elders of Revelation (the 12 plus 12 of Biblical numerology: i.e., the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles).

The twelve Tribes—-stone on Aaron’s breastplate—-The Twelve Apostlesstone in the foundation of the New Jerusalem
(For order, see Gen. 49.)            (See Ex. 28; 39) (For order, see Mt. 10.) (See Rev. 21)
1. Reuben (Leah)          Sardius             1. Peter                  Jasper                                     (sardine)–first
2. Simeon (Leah)          Topaz               2. Andrew              Sapphire                         
3. Levi     (Leah)           Carbuncle         3. James (of Zebedee) Chalcedony
4. Judah (Leah)           Emerald            4. John                   Emerald
5. Dan     (Bilhah)          Sapphire          5. Philip                  Sardonyx
6. Naphtali (Bilhah)       Diamond         6. Bartholomew      Sardius
7. Gad   (Zilpah)            Jacinth             7. Thomas               Chrysolyte
8. Asher (Zilpah)          Agate                8. Matthew              Beryl
9. Issachar (Leah)        Amethyst           9. James                  Topaz
10. Zebulun (Leah)       Beryl                10. Lebbaeus (Thaddaeus) Chrysoprasus
11. Joseph (Rachel)     Onyx (Sardonyx) 11. Simon               Jacinth
12. Benjamin (Rachel)  Jasper 12. Paul*                  methyst

Let’s note first that the emerald is the only stone that occupies the same position in both law and grace: i.e., the fourth position.  Let’s note that the number four speaks to the earth.  Also, let’s note that both Judah and John had a very important attribute in common–they had compassion and love for their fellow man!   For example, when Joseph’s brothers threw him into the pit to die, it was Judah that talked them into selling him to a slave caravan to keep him alive.  And John’s tender heart is reflected in John 13:25: “He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?” Now, let’s apply our prophetic interpretation to the emerald, the stone that represents Judah, John, and Christ. In Judah and John we saw the “salt” of the earth, those of God’s creation with attributes pleasing to Him.   And in Christ Jesus (Who liked to be know as the Son of Man,  thereby identifying Himself with His Creation) we saw this love and compassion personified and demonstrated to its zenith when he walked among the people and healed the sick and afflicted. “And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14).

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PART ONE

Remember our Pledge – Remain Faithful, the Truth will set you free and Be Strong.

John 8:31 -32  Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

1st Cor 16:13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.

And Our Quest – To search out the Truth about the End Times.

Rev 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

NLT – God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.

PART TWO

Getting a handle on where we are in the Bible…

Lets divide up the bible into sections starting with vs 19

Rev 1:19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

The Things which thou hast seen – 1:9-20

The things which are – chapter 2 and 3

The things which shall be hereafter – Chap 4 on

Understand what we read and how to find out what it means…

Rev Chapter 4:1-5

1After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

A door – He went thru it – Like Narnia

2And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

3And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

No Pictures that capture this image – See notes on stones. Rainbow 360

Symbolism, not code – Chap 5:1-8

1And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

2And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

3And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

4And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

5And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

6And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

7And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

8And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

lamb=Jesus also Lion=Jesus not a code It is a metaphor – not who it is but what it is, telling us something about Him – This book is full of symbols which helps us understand to new depths…

What does this mean – rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. Throne is authority – signifying power, ruler and king Why a rainbow? And why green like an emerald. – softest/gentlest color by rating – Rainbow – noah promise grace mercy and justice. Thrown of grace

4And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

and government – elders. People who are created, experience time – age. Don’t know who but they have thrones, they work for God. Company office building, top floor is president ceo – then other leaders around and down – org chart

5And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

Chapter 1 seven lamps? – seven spirits – Holy Spirit in perfection

The Olivet Discourse – Matt 24 – 25 and Mark 13 and Luke 21

Daniel 2,7,8 and 9

http://doweknow.com/html-files/precious-stones.htm

Exodus 28:15-21
15 And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it.
16 Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.
17 And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row.
18 And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.
19 And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.
20 And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.
21 And the stones shall be with the names of the children of
Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes.

“And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone:…” (Revelation 4:3a).  The first mentioning of these precious stones in the Bible is found in Exodus 28:17-20, and as we just read, it has to do with the stones in Aaron’s breastplate–each stone representing one of Jacob’s 12 sons, and subsequently, the tribe that came from their loins.

To understand the significance of Christ looking like a jasper and a sardine stone, we need to refresh our memory as to how Jacob’s two wives, Leah and Rachel, serve as types.  If you’ll recall the story of Jacob’s marriages, Jacob had worked for Rachel’s father seven years for Rachel’s hand in marriage, but was tricked into first taking her older sister, Leah, to wife to fulfill the custom of the time and place.  Then he was given Rachel on the condition that he would work seven more years for her (See Gen. 29).  The story is chock full of symbolism and types, but for our purposes here, we simply need to know that Leah is a type for the Law while Rachel is a type for Grace.  Furthermore, Leah’s first child (of many) was Reuben whose stone on Aaron’s breastplate was the sardine (sardius)–the first stone on the breastplate.  But Rachel had only two sons: Joseph and Benjamin–whose stones were the onyx (sardonyx) and the jasper–the eleventh and twelfth stones on Aaron’s breastplate.  That the Christ of Revelation was to look upon like a sardine stone and a jasper stone refers back to the stones on Aaron’s breastplate.

Reuben’s stone, the sardine, was placed first in agreement with the Hebrew’s patriarchal blessing of the first born for which Christ was qualified–being the firstborn of a Hebrew family under the law of Moses. Joseph’s and Benjamin’s stones, the onyx and the jasper, (the children of Rachel [grace]) were place on Aaron’s breastplate in positions 11 and 12 respectively according to Scriptural numerology.

Although Revelation does not refer to Joseph’s stone per se, it is very interesting that like Benjamin, he was also born of “grace.”  Joseph served both as an example for the Hebrews and a type for Christ.  As an example for the Hebrews, he demonstrated how that those who lived by the faith of Father Abraham, trusting fully in the grace of God, were blessed beyond measure.  As a type of Christ, he suffered the rejection of his brethren who thought they had done away with him.  He endured all that came his way, not riling against those who thought to do him evil.  Eventually, he was raised to a position even higher than what he should have had as a Hebrew; and in that position, he became the savior of his brethren and of the world around him.  In Biblical numerology, the number eleven stands for judgment/the cross.

Benjamin’s stone, the jasper, was placed in the 12th position on Aaron’s breastplate and this is full of significance.  The number 12 stands for the foundations of the church (called out ones).  The first church in the Bible was Israel and its 12 foundations are the 12 sons of Jacob from which came forth the 12 tribes of Israel.   The second Church of the Scriptures (2 is the number for the Church) is the New Testament Church, the Bride of Christ (His Rachel).  Benjamin with his twelfth stone on Aaron’s breastplate is a type of the New Testament Church who was especially loved of his father and for no apparent reason other than he was his father’s baby.  The 12 foundations for the Church are the 12 Apostles upon whose teachings the Church is built. Christ is said to “look upon like a jasper” because He is in the midst of the Grace-Age Church.  In fact, the believer is admonish to live like Paul whose goal was to live in such a way that others did not see him, but Christ Jesus living in him.

The emerald is also full of spiritual/prophetic significance.  To understand this significance, let’s look at a table of the precious stones that represent the 24 elders of Revelation (the 12 plus 12 of Biblical numerology: i.e., the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles).

The twelve Tribes—-stone on Aaron’s breastplate—-The Twelve Apostlesstone in the foundation of the New Jerusalem
(For order, see Gen. 49.)                (See Ex. 28; 39) (For order, see Mt. 10.) (See Rev. 21)
1. Reuben (Leah)          Sardius (sardine)–first                       1. Peter                             Jasper
2. Simeon (Leah)          Topaz                                                2. Andrew                        Sapphire                         
3. Levi     (Leah)           Carbuncle                                          3. James (of Zebedee) Chalcedony
4. Judah (Leah)           Emerald                                             4. John                             Emerald
5. Dan     (Bilhah)          Sapphire                                            5. Philip                             Sardonyx
6. Naphtali (Bilhah)       Diamond                                            6. Bartholomew                 Sardius
7. Gad   (Zilpah)            Jacinth                                                7. Thomas                         Chrysolyte
8. Asher (Zilpah)          Agate                                                  8. Matthew                       Beryl
9. Issachar (Leah)        Amethyst                                             9. James                          Topaz
10. Zebulun (Leah)       Beryl                                                  10. Lebbaeus (Thaddaeus) Chrysoprasus
11. Joseph (Rachel)     Onyx (Sardonyx) 11. Simon                         Jacinth
12. Benjamin (Rachel)  Jasper 12. Paul*                           Amethyst

Let’s note first that the emerald is the only stone that occupies the same position in both law and grace: i.e., the fourth position.  Let’s note that the number four speaks to the earth.  Also, let’s note that both Judah and John had a very important attribute in common–they had compassion and love for their fellow man!   For example, when Joseph’s brothers threw him into the pit to die, it was Judah that talked them into selling him to a slave caravan to keep him alive.  And John’s tender heart is reflected in John 13:25: “He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?” Now, let’s apply our prophetic interpretation to the emerald, the stone that represents Judah, John, and Christ. In Judah and John we saw the “salt” of the earth, those of God’s creation with attributes pleasing to Him.   And in Christ Jesus (Who liked to be know as the Son of Man,  thereby identifying Himself with His Creation) we saw this love and compassion personified and demonstrated to its zenith when he walked among the people and healed the sick and afflicted. “And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14).

March 1, 2010

Righteous Redemption ROMANS 3:23-24

All people sin against God. When man was created in the garden of Eden, he had a choice to obey or disobey the Lord. At that time, there was only one thing that was off limits, but Adam and Eve chose to partake of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:3-6).

Since then, the entire human race has been poisoned by sin. The daily bad choices we make are only symptoms of the bigger problem—our sin nature. But God is so perfectly pure and holy that sin cannot enter His presence. Therefore, we come into this world with an “inherited” condition of separation from the Father.

Scripture states that sin’s punishment is eternal death, and there’s nothing we can do to correct the problem. In other words, left to fend for ourselves, we are doomed. Each of us desperately needs redemption.

So God, in His amazing love for us, sent His only Son as the solution to our problem. Fully man yet fully God, Jesus lived a perfect life and then gave His life for our sake. He deserved glory but instead took our sin upon Himself and endured excruciating suffering and separation from His Father. Why would He submit to such torture? Christ took our place and our punishment. He allowed Himself to die a criminal’s death on the cross to save each of us. Three days later, He rose to life again, conquering sin and death.

Jesus, in His love, overcame our dreadful fate and offered us eternal life instead. This free gift is available to you. Simply believe that Christ is Lord, He died on the cross for your sin, and He rose from the grave. Don’t wait to accept this great salvation—commit to following Him today.

February 27, 2010

A Faith-Filled Outlook GENESIS 39:21-40:8

If anyone had reason to be discouraged, Joseph did. His mother died when he was a boy. His brothers hated him, sold him into slavery, and convinced his father that he was dead. Joseph worked hard in Potiphar’s household but ended up in prison because of false allegations. Yet he was not an angry person.

The Hebrew slave maintained his faith-filled outlook because he consistently relied upon God, who remained with him and gave him success. Even in prison, Joseph was given responsibility over others (v. 21). Like that righteous young man, we might also be “held captive”—by unemployment, ill health, or a difficult relationship. In those hard places, we can nevertheless experience our Father’s presence and thrive: His Holy Spirit will produce godly fruit in us when we depend upon Him (Gal. 5:22-23).

Regardless of his circumstances, Joseph refused to focus on himself. When two royal servants were jailed, he had compassion for them and gave them aid. In times of both blessing and crisis, we are to help others in whatever ways we can (2 Cor. 1:3-4). And notice, too, how Joseph didn’t shrink back from speaking boldly about God to these men and to Pharaoh. He told the Egyptian leader that the answer he sought would come from the Lord (Gen. 41:16).

Whether enslaved, imprisoned, or serving as Pharaoh’s second-in-command, Joseph flourished. He endured much hardship but saw that the Lord had used it for good (Gen. 50:19-20). Because the Holy Spirit’s presence is in us, we, too, can have a faith-filled perspective that glorifies God.

February 26, 2010

Faith: A Fixed Focus GENESIS 39:1-20

Abiding in God’s will requires a steady, trust-filled focus upon Him. The life of Joseph provides us with a good illustration.

Keeping our eyes fixed on the Lord helps us remain faithful in the midst of hardship. Joseph’s brothers hated him so much that they sold him to a caravan on its way to Egypt. Upon arrival, he became the slave of Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh’s guard. Joseph handled his betrayal and bondage in a godly way. Instead of becoming bitter or refusing to cooperate, he chose to perform every duty with excellence. As a result, he was promoted to oversee Potiphar’s household. The entire time, Joseph kept his gaze centered on the Lord who prospered him.

Having a focus of faith allows us to avoid temptation and choose godliness instead. Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce Joseph, but he rejected her advances. When he refused to sin against God (v. 9), she falsely accused him of attacking her—and her lies were believed. Ignoring Joseph’s record of hard work and faithful service, Potiphar unjustly imprisoned him. Had we been in Joseph’s place, we might at this point be asking our heavenly Father why this happened—or thinking how unfairly we were being treated. However, Joseph did not turn his attention away from the Lord. His belief continued to sustain him.

Adversity reveals the substance of our faith. In hard times, we discover how much we really trust in the Lord. If doubt about God and His promises takes root in our thinking, it can lead us off His chosen path. Because of Joseph’s steady belief, he recognized God’s constant presence and flourished.

February 25, 2010

Why God Closes Doors JEREMIAH 10:23-24

A blockaded opportunity is a useful teaching tool. God’s ultimate objective is to mold us into the image of His Son, and toward that end, He at times prevents us from doing or having something we desire.

– Closed doors prevent mistakes. Just because a path is clear does not mean it is the one God intends for us to follow. Sometimes we won’t have the information we need to make a wise decision, so He bars the way either spiritually or physically. The Holy Spirit can see the whole road map for our lives, which is why we are to follow His guidance.

– Closed doors redirect our walk. Rest assured, God never leaves a willing servant with nothing to do. The alternate opportunity He has in mind will yield bigger fruit, more satisfaction, and greater glory for Him.

– Closed doors test faith and build perseverance. Waiting for the Lord to speak or act is hard, particularly when our desire has been denied. But we’ll learn wisdom, patience, and trust by pausing prayerfully until He reveals His will.

– Closed doors buy us time. We are not always as prepared as we’d like to think. God may temporarily hold shut an opportunity for service until a believer is properly equipped for kingdom work.

In spite of the repeated use of “closed door” in this devotion, the real message is that God opens doors. He has created a perfect pathway for us to follow. Keep your feet on it, and you will walk over thresholds leading to service, satisfaction, and glory for your Lord.

February 24, 2010

Confronting Closed Doors ACTS 16:5-10

Facing a “closed door” can be extremely frustrating. The apostle Paul knew exactly how that felt. On his second missionary journey to share the gospel in Asia, he repeatedly found the way blocked by the Holy Spirit. Eventually the apostle was stuck in Troas with the sea before him and closed doors behind.

How strange it must have seemed to Paul that God would prevent him from spreading the gospel. But he knew this wisdom from the book of Proverbs: The Lord will make a straight path for anyone who chooses to trust God rather than himself (vv. 3:5-6). Instead of getting angry or trying to force his way into new territory, Paul got on his knees.

The Bible does not record how long he and Timothy lingered in Troas, but we can be sure that the apostle did not move until the Lord revealed the entrance to a new mission field. Christians in a period of watchful waiting should view the situation as a chance to seek not only God’s purpose but also His guidance. This is the time to ask the Lord why He has barred the way forward—perhaps the timing is wrong or we need to deal with unconfessed sin. Whatever the reason, we must be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. We want to be ready for the door that will open.

When an opportunity is blocked, God has a reason. And He is providing love and protection, even in your disappointment. The Lord is also keeping His promise to work everything for your good (Rom. 8:28). When one door has closed, a greater one is about to open. Be wise and watch for it.

February 23, 2010

A Gift for Every Believer 1 PETER 4:10-11

Even though the Bible clearly states that every believer receives a spiritual gift, some people nevertheless think they were overlooked. So these men and women mosey through life refusing opportunities to serve. Other folks are so busy wishing they had a different ability that they do not use the one bestowed by the Holy Spirit. Both of these attitudes are sinful.

God has a specific purpose and ministry for every Christian. Our spiritual gifts help us to fulfill His plan. We learn which one (or ones) we possess by getting involved in the life of the church. In other words, a believer will know his divinely appointed abilities when he begins to exercise them.

Moreover, God has a general purpose for handing out spiritual gifts. Christians exercise their special skills for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7). Everyone profits when believers do God’s work though the power of the Holy Spirit. We’re to use our gifts for equipping, edifying, and encouraging one another (Eph. 4:11-13). To appreciate how this works, we may have to broaden our understanding of words like evangelist, prophet, and teacher. Biblically, these terms describe co-laborers who share Christ, spiritual mentors who explain biblical truths to new believers, friends who uplift the discouraged, and others doing similar work.

Every member of the Christian fellowship is important, and each one has a work to do. There are no excuses for bypassing God’s will. Where He has gifted us and opened doors of opportunity for ministry, He also provides the strength and courage to exercise our abilities.

February 22, 2010

The Holy Spirit: Giver of Gifts ROMANS 12:1-13

Do you feel ill equipped to serve the Lord? A sense of inadequacy is one of the many excuses people use to avoid ministering for Him, but it is not a valid one. Failing to follow His call has three consequences: 1) we hinder God’s work on earth, 2) we miss a blessing for obedience, and 3) we lose out on rewards in heaven.

Jesus Christ knew all about the human tendency to feel inadequate. That is why He assured His followers they would receive a Helper—the Holy Spirit—who would come to abide in them forever. The Spirit enables, energizes, and equips believers to serve the Lord. One of the ways He aids us is by providing spiritual gifts, which are special capabilities given to believers.

Our heavenly Father has a ministry in mind for each of His followers. Therefore, necessary spiritual “equipment” has been selected to help us carry out His work. These gifts will complement and augment the natural talents our Creator built into us before birth. It is His purpose that we combine the two in order to serve Him with all of our heart. Even the smallest job contributes to the Great Commission and the strengthening of Jesus Christ’s body, the church.

The Lord has a plan for every believer. To ensure that we can meet the Lord’s expectations, He first builds natural talents into us. At salvation, He adds a spiritual gift. Then God opens doors of opportunity and the Holy Spirit manifests His power so that we can carry out the work set before us.

February 20, 2010

Steps of Faith DEUTERONOMY 10:12-13

The Bible portrays the Christian life as a walk. It speaks of walking in the Spirit, in God’s ways, in love, and in truth. Our lives, then, shouldn’t be stagnant; they ought to move and develop to be increasingly like Jesus’. Scripture calls this “sanctification.”

But what if you feel that you’re going backward instead of forward? Do you know how to turn around? Only by faith in Christ can any of us move in the right direction. Here’s how to correct your course:

– First, have assurance that God keeps every promise. The Bible contains an amazing number of guarantees for believers, including wisdom for the asking, God’s constant presence, and peace when we focus on Him.

– Second, anticipate the Father’s response. In other words, prepare for what He will do because of your confidence in His promises.

– Third, be aware daily of His involvement in your life. By spending time in the Word, prayer, and meditation, you will become sensitive to what He is doing.

– Fourth, pray boldly because you are God’s child (Heb. 4:16). Approaching the Father in such a manner isn’t a prideful confidence, but an overflow of your assurance in Him.

– Finally, obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is the true test of your belief—in fact, the Bible says that without action, faith is dead (James 2:17).

Can you sense that your life is progressing and you are maturing into Christ’s likeness? Or do circumstances and character traits seem to hold you back? God promises to continue making His children beautiful throughout their lives. You can resist Him or cooperate with His gracious work in you.

February 19, 2010

Walking by Faith 2 CORINTHIANS 5:6-8

In the Christian community, we often hear the term faith. However, when such a word is used frequently, it can become familiar, and then we sometimes grow immune to its great depth of meaning. So today, we will consider what faith actually entails.

All people have faith. For example, it takes a measure of confidence to sit down in a kitchen chair without first testing its strength. Yet belief in the fact that furniture will hold our weight is quite different from entrusting almighty God with our lives. A wrong judgment concerning the first may result in a physical bruise, whereas the latter determines not only our success in this life but also our eternal existence.

So what, exactly, is a biblical definition of faith? Hebrews 11:1 tells us that it is “. . . the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” And we know that it is impossible to please the Lord without faith (11:6). In fact, there is nothing we can do that will earn salvation; the only way to heaven is by having confidence in Jesus’ substitutionary sacrificial death on the cross, which paid the penalty we owed for our sin. What’s more, faith is nothing we can create within ourselves; Scripture is clear that it is a gift of God (Rom. 12:3).

Have you accepted the Father’s gift of faith and embarked on the wonderful journey that He invites you to share with Him? God responds to searching hearts. If you are unclear whether you have trusted your life to Him with full confidence, ask Him to guide you and reveal truth.

February 18, 2010

God Makes Us to Be Like Him ROMANS 8:28-31

The Lord manifests His love for mankind in many ways, including a beautiful planet filled with creation’s wonders, the promise of His care and protection, and an offer of eternal life with Him. But have you ever considered that God also shows His care through the transformation of His children? The Bible tells us that He is in the process of conforming believers to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29).

In the beginning, God’s design was to make humanity in His image (Gen. 1:26). But the plan seemed disrupted when Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation. Of all the privileges they forfeited—Eden’s perfect environment, harmony in relationships, and a pain-free life—the greatest loss was their likeness to the Creator. A sinful man and woman do not look much like their holy God. Since each of us has inherited the first couple’s “flesh” nature, we don’t closely resemble Him either.

God wasn’t surprised by this turn of events. His plan went on just as He’d always intended, in that He still provided salvation for mankind. Through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, sins are forgiven and the sinner is reborn as a holy and blameless person. The Holy Spirit enters each new believer’s life and begins molding the renewed heart and mind into Christlikeness.

Like any good Father, God is pleased by a child who resembles Him. He is glorified when we put Scripture into practice and act like Him, talk like Him, and live like Him. What could bless the Lord’s heart more than for you to bear His likeness to those around you?

February 17, 2010

God in Three Persons MATTHEW 28:18-20

Years ago, after I preached about God’s Spirit, a woman came up to complain, “Why do you talk about the Holy Spirit when people need to hear about Jesus and God?” Sometimes even those who have been Christians for a long time regard the Trinity as a hierarchy. To their way of thinking, the Father is God, Jesus is slightly beneath Him in rank and seniority, and the Holy Spirit is their servant. While this may conform to human models of authority, it is not biblical.

According to the Scriptures, all three members of the Trinity are fully God:

– God the Father—Jesus Christ referred to His Father as God (John 6:27).

– God the Son—John 1:1 identifies Jesus as divine. While Christ never specifically called Himself “God,” His Father did apply the title to Him (Heb. 1:8). Furthermore, Jesus acknowledged having unlimited power—an attribute possessed only by the divine Creator (Matt. 28:18)—and also accepted worship (Matt. 14:33; John 9:38).

– God the Holy Spirit—After declaring that God raised Christ from the dead, the New Testament goes on to credit the Holy Spirit with the resurrection (Acts 4:10; Rom. 8:11). Jesus reinforced that idea when He commanded the disciples to baptize new believers in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Bible confirms that each member of the Trinity is equally God. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit function as a unit—no one is more important or less essential than the others. All three are focused upon their plan for mankind: salvation, transformation, and glory for God.

February 16, 2010

The Truth About the Trinity JOHN 14:26-27

The word “Trinity” cannot be found in the Bible, but the truth of it can. While there’s only one God, the Godhead consists of three distinct persons—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All are equally omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal, and unchanging, but each one has unique functions.

Scripture shows how each member of the Trinity fulfills His specific role, and it also reveals how those three roles interrelate. Let me express this idea in simple terms: The Father creates a plan, Jesus Christ implements the plan, and the Holy Spirit administers the plan.

The way of redemption showcases these roles in a clear manner. The Father designed and organized how mankind would be redeemed (Gal. 4:4-5). He set into motion a complex set of events, actions, and prophecies which culminated in the life and death of a Savior. The Son carried out the plan (John 6:37-38). He followed the Father’s instructions to come to earth, even though that meant He would have to die. The Holy Spirit sees to it that every person feels a call toward God’s saving grace (John 14:26; 16:8; Romans 1:19-20). Furthermore, He transforms the lives and hearts of those who receive salvation through Jesus Christ.

The Father, Son, and Spirit are equal in their divine attributes. Yet each relates to mankind in a different way because He has a specific role. It’s very important to understand this distinction: We do not have three gods; we have one God in three persons functioning uniquely and perfectly.

February 15, 2010

The Enemy of Love: Bitterness LUKE 15:25-32

The story of the prodigal son gives us a wonderful illustration of God’s love. Jesus told the Pharisees this parable to reveal how the Father cares for human beings and delights when an errant child returns home. However, the Pharisees were lovers of law, order, and the appearance of righteousness. They probably identified more with the angry sibling than with the prodigal or the father.

The older son had already allowed bitterness to take root as a result of his younger brother’s departure. Even so, he was apparently proud of his appearance as the “good son,” just as the Pharisees would have been (Matt. 23:27). Often forgotten in this story is the fact that there was an inheritance for the older brother too—the land he was working and the animals he tended would all one day be his. In other words, he lost nothing when the wanderer returned.

Yet the brother was eaten up with anger. Instead of rejoicing over the prodigal’s return, he complained about the celebration (vv. 29-30). Jesus’ unspoken question to the Pharisees was this: Which son is it better to be like—the one who repented of wasting his inheritance or the one who served the father but showed no love to his contrite brother?

Human nature often desires recognition for doing right and yet begrudges a celebration for someone else. However, the believer has taken on Christ’s nature. Through His Spirit, we can love those who need it most and rejoice with them in their triumph, even when our own victories go unnoticed.

February 13, 2010

The Power of Love LUKE 15:11-24

At times, those of us reading Scripture in English are short-changed by the language’s limitations. For instance, English has just one word for love, whereas Paul’s original letters, written in Greek, use two words. Believers are promised that God’s love will reside in them (Eph. 3:19). But they often think that refers to a brotherly concern and affection for others (phileo). In fact, the Holy Spirit shows agape love in us—a commitment to another person’s satisfaction, security, and development. We have the same capacity for sacrificial love that Jesus showed at Calvary.

Jesus subtly described the power of sacrificial love in His parable of the prodigal son. The father must have recognized that greed and wanderlust were gnawing at the young man—and that denying his request for an early inheritance would lead to bitterness. So, despite personal and financial sacrifice, he gave the son his share. Then, the father waited patiently while the prodigal learned his lesson.

No doubt that was a trying time—a good dad wants to protect his children from making mistakes! But a wise man also knows that people often must discover hard truths for themselves. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to get out of their way.

The prodigal son returned home dirty, contrite, and seeking a place in the servants’ quarters. What he received instead was the full force of his father’s love and instant restoration to his place as the master’s son. That is agape, and it is the kind of love that wins hearts and minds for the Lord.

February 12, 2010

Decision Making God’s Way PSALM 119:103-105

Have you ever chosen a certain path, only to find yourself regretting that decision later? Life consists of a series of choices, some as small as what to eat for dinner, and others with eternal impact.

Facing these crossroads can seem overwhelming, but Scripture offers guidelines to give us confidence and direction. Therefore, as decisions are imminent, we should keep the following in mind:

First, God promises wisdom to His children who ask with faith (James 1:5-6). His Spirit also resides within believers and is available for guidance. Too many Christians try to weigh the pros and cons themselves, and they miss out on the magnificent help from the all-knowing One.

Second, we should delve into the Bible, asking God to open our eyes to His truth and His way. The Lord promises that His Word never returns void (Isa. 55:11). And if we memorize and meditate on Scripture, He will bring the truth to our minds at the appropriate time.

Third, we are wise to be aware of our mental state as we approach decisions. The acronym “H.A.L.T.” stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired—four states in which we will likely make poor choices. It is well worth waiting until a better time when considering options.

Our choices determine our direction, so consider carefully how you make decisions. Scripture is clear that we see dimly (1 Cor. 13:12); God alone sees the “whole picture.” It is vital, therefore, to rely upon His wisdom, truth, and direction every time we select an option before us.

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