Tuesday, September 29, 2015

God Is Brighter

     Our Daily Bread reading for today included Isaiah 60:20, “Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end” (NIV). With the total lunar eclipse on Sunday, I started to think about this verse in more physical terms rather than spiritual. It the moon doesn’t wane, that that means it isn’t revolving around the earth. It is stationary, fixed in space relative to the earth so that it will always be full. In addition, if the sun does not set, there are all sorts of problems, not the least of which is that one side of the earth would be perpetually dark. Physically, these things are impossible. The only explanation for this is what God says in Isaiah 60:19, “The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory” (NIV). 

     The temporal things that we hold dear and think we can’t get along without are as pale as the sun in the presence of God. When we trust Him for everything, whether it is our daily bread (temporal things) or it is our eternal salvation, His light, never leaves us. That is great for today, but these verses are taken out of the middle of a passage that is describing the millennium reign of Jesus. Some of it is symbolic and some of it appears to be quite literal with promises for Israel that have not yet been fulfilled. This draws me back to the future and what it will be like after Jesus comes back. I’m sure that living and reigning with Jesus (Rev 20:6)[1] is going to be an experience that is out of this world, or more accurately, beyond what this world is like today. I certainly hope you will be there worshiping Jesus along with me and myriads of Christians and Old Testament saints. You will if you know Jesus.

[1] Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years (NIV).

Monday, September 28, 2015

One, Two or Three Resurrections?

     In my theology class, I’m reading a book entitled The Judgment Seat of Christ by Samuel L. Hoyt. He points out that there are several views of our future resurrection. An interesting verse is Daniel 12:2, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (ESV). He points out that there is agreement that the word many is precisely a word in Hebrew that means something less than all.[1] If the word all had been used, this verse would imply that there is only one resurrection. However, since many is used, the implication is that there will be more than one.

     Next, we jump to the end of the Bible and find Revelation 20:4-5, “Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection” (ESV). While Daniel only gave a hint of two resurrections, Revelation provides the detail of a significant separation in time from the first resurrection to the second. The timing of these verses in Revelation is immediately after Jesus’ return where he strikes down all the nations that have opposed Him and defeat Satan. The clear implication of these verses is that only those who have died while the Antichrist is active on earth will be resurrected after Jesus’ return.

     Now it gets sticky. How does 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 fit into this picture? “For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (ESV). If Revelation teaches that there will be a resurrection after Jesus’ return and 1 Thessalonians teaches that there will be a resurrection immediately before Jesus’ return for we will meet Him in the air, then it looks like there will be three resurrections.

     While this quick study is certainly not exhaustive, many books have been written on the topic, it certainly is food for thought. However you look at it, one thing is very clear. Sooner or later, everyone will be resurrected. Some to be with Jesus forever in heaven and other who have not trusted in Jesus will suffer forever. If you haven’t chosen Jesus today, then you should because you may not have another chance before you die or He comes back.
Hoyt, Samuel L. The Judgment Seat of Christ: a Biblical and Theological Study. Milwaukee, WI: Grace Gospel Press, 2015.

[1] Samuel L. Hoyt, The Judgment Seat of Christ: a Biblical and Theological Study (Milwaukee, WI: Grace Gospel Press, 2015), 1.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Our Suffering - His Glory

Our Daily Bread’s reading today was Romans 8:14-17 (http://odb.org/2015/09/25/first-steps/). Bill Crowder pointed out that these verses speak of the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us. He leads us, gives us the ability to call God “Abba,” Father, and confirms our salvation. Doesn’t that sound good? Then read the last half of verse 17 … “provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom 8:17 ESV). The first hint of suffering comes from verse 11, promising that the Spirit will raise us because Jesus was raised. We are warned that following Jesus could cost us our physical life. Paul also follows the passage with a reminder that the suffering of this world are not even worth thinking about because of the glory that awaits us when all creation will be restored (vs. 21) and our bodies will be redeemed (vs. 23). However, we must remember that this glory is not for us but for Jesus. When we are conformed to His image (vs. 29), it brings glory to Him. Yes, the suffering in this world is here to conform us to Jesus image and bring glory to Him.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What is Godliness?

Sunday’s sermon was on 1 Peter 1:5-9 (http://subsplash.com/chcc/v/35c3f75).  One of the Pastor’s Steve’s points talked about adding to our faith the different qualities of a Christian life. “Make every effort to supplement your faith  with virtue, and virtue  with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control  with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness” (2 Peter 1:5-6 ESV). When he got down to godliness, I was surprised. He said that several translations used the word reverence or piety instead of godliness. My mind stopped and later, I checked out a few other translations. Out of nine translations, none used reverence but Young’s Literal Translation used piety. So where did that reverence come from? Next I looked at Greek lexicons. Three out of four clearly stated reverence, respect piety toward God or similar wording. Wow, I discovered then, that my concept of godliness had been way off. I thought godliness was being good, living a life that reflected god-like character. It turns out I could have simply looked at a dictionary. The Encarta Dictionary defines it as 1. Devout - devoted to or worshiping God.

So the Sermon opened my understand that godliness is my attitude toward God. Do I worship him in the way I should? No, I often have struggles in this area with distractions during worship or just going with the flow and not really paying attention to what I really should be doing. I am not godly when I’m simply enjoying the song but not the Savior to whom I’m singing. That is in times of formal worship. What about the rest of the day? Does my life show that I respect and have a reference for God? If not, then I’m not godly.
I’ve always been impressed with Gideon before his famous battle. He was told to go and listen to what the enemy was saying about him. Just outside the enemy lines, “As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped” (Judg 7:15 ESV). It reminded me that I don’t have to be singing loudly or in church to worship God. It can be anywhere. I’m also reminded, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic 6:8 NIV).

One other thing about being godly, it means accepting Jesus Christ and all He said including that He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6), that He is God (John 10:30) because “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him” (John 5:23 NIV). If you don’t know Jesus, you can’t be godly.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Do Whatever You Want Whenever You Want

Today's reading from Our Daily Bread was from Ecclesiastes 9. While the devotion covered living each day well because we don’t know the time of our death (Ecc 9:12), as usual, a different verse attracted me. “Go, eat your bread in joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do” (Eccl 9:7 ESV). Wow, let’s take that one out of context and make it an excuse to do whatever we want whenever we want. A few verses later may be the answer to those who think that this was permission to do anything. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going” (Eccl 9:10 ESV). So put the two verses together without any regard to surrendering your life to Jesus and doing what He wants. Sheol will be the outcome. I pray you will consider Jesus instead. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Who Is on Your 2 AM Prayer List?

Today’s devotion in Our Daily Bread was entitled 2:00 AM Friends. When I saw the title, I was thinking about my 2:00 AM prayer list, which comprises people I know. I pray for them when I wake in the middle of the night (when you get older, you get to do this every night). Colossians 4:12 was part of the daily reading, “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (NIV). I pray for salvations, marriages, health, and whatever may be going on in their lives. Some of those needing salvation are hard-core atheists. I can’t say I wrestle, as I seldom stay awake after I’m finished. However, I know who I’m addressing my prayer to and God never sleeps or slumbers (Ps 121:4).[1] The length of my prayers is not an issue (Matt 6:7)[2] and even my faith is not an issue because my Jesus is faithful (2 Tim 2:13).[3] Who is on your prayer list?

[1] Ps 121:4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
[2] Matt 6:7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
[3] 2 Tim 2:13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Is ISIS the modern day equivalent of the Chaldeans?

Do you ever wonder why Russia is building up its military might and no one terribly alarmed? Does it bother you that North Korea has nuclear capabilities. What about Iran’s promise that Israel will not around 25 years from now spoken one day after Obama secures enough votes to approve the Iran nuclear deal.[1] “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own” (Hab 1:5-6 ESV). This was God’s answer to Habakkuk when he asked the same questions about the apparent evil within Judah. Is ISIS and the other evil nations the modern day equivalent of the Chaldeans? The state of the world is similar to the state of Judah as Isaiah described it in part, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isa 5:20 ESV)! Think about it and what answers do you come up with?

[1] Thomas Erdbrink, “Iran’s Supreme Leader Says Israel Won’t Exist in 25 Years,” The Seattle Times, September 6, 2015, accessed September 17, 2015, http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/irans-supreme-leader-says-israel-wont-exist-in-25-years/.