uplifting

True Love

We study the Bible, usually in great detail.  We concentrate on verses, we dig for details, inspect words for insights, and string together references for a thorough analysis.  There is nothing wrong with this.  Yet, never forget to step back and realize the big, broad picture.

Today, as I pondered several verses, I again realized the Bible is the greatest love letter ever penned.  Have you  considered what a perfect, written, proclamation of love God has given us?   Take a few minutes and consider the following phrases:

I love you, forever

I wont leave you

I will always be with you

No matter what you have done, I forgive you

If you are troubled, tell me about it, let me help

If you want me, look, and I will be there

These may look a little more familiar in another format:

I have loved thee with an everlasting love

I will never leave nor forsake you

If you are faithful to confess your sin, He is faithful to forgive

Cast your cares upon Me

Seek and you shall find

These proclamations are not trivial.  These are but a few of the promises of love.  This love is available to everyone.  This is true and eternal love.  The only requirement is our acceptance of His love toward us in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is that promise and fulfillment of love toward us.

I just wanted to take a minute, step back, and give thanks for the opportunity to see the love letter that could be missed.  There is a quote that goes something like this:  “He couldn’t see the forest for all the trees”.   Take a moment, step back from the verses, word studies, and chain references.  Gaze upon the masterpiece that is God’s love for you, then go back to studying the brushstrokes with which He painted this work of art, and see the details anew.

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The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)

In the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus you will find the feasts which are celebrated, mostly by the Jewish people. You find wonderful celebrations, times for rest, time for introspection, and time for judgment. While these are often referred to as “Jewish feasts” the bible indicates otherwise:

Leviticus:23:1: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Leviticus:23:2: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.

These feasts should be recognized and at least acknowledged by the church. Just as we have been made heirs and joint-heirs through Christ, we also share in the promises. If we share in the promises, shouldn’t we also share in the knowledge and celebrations appointed by the Lord? These feasts are rich in symbolism and worthy of teaching and understanding! I have covered some of these in previous articles, such as “Passover” and “Unleavened bread”.

The Feast of Trumpets is celebrated as the beginning of the Jewish New Year. The term for this is “Rosh Hashana” which literally means the “head of the year”. The Jewish calendar is based on lunar cycles, and the new year does not begin until the observance of a “new moon”. There will be one hundred trumpet blasts for this feast.

Leviticus:23:24: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.

Prophetically, all the feasts were a fore-shadow. This feast is no different. The Feast of Trumpets is a prophetic picture of the rapture, the gathering together of the church. No man knows the day or the hour of the rapture, just as no man knows the day or the hour the new moon will be observed. Consider theses verses also:

1st Corinthians:15:52: In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1st Thessalonians:4:16: 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:

Revelation:4:1: After 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.
Revelation:4:2: And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

The Feast of Trumpets is also called Yom Teruah, which literally means the day of shouting and noise. What a day and what a shout of victory there will be at the prophetic fulfillment of this celebrated feast day! This feast is observed as a day of rest, the beginning of a new year or a new beginning, and a gathering together. The phrase “holy convocation” translates or literally means a holy gathering of a group of people in answer to a summons. What a joyous day that will be when we are gathered together with the Lord! As this day approaches, let us celebrate, and then let us anticipate and live prepared for the prophetic fulfillment!

A Lesson to Learn

Once you became a Christian, once you obtained salvation through Jesus Christ, did your effort end? If not, does your new life in Christ end in the faithfulness of going to church? Do you venture into spiritual warfare from the comfort of your house by praying? Are you heading up an outreach ministry by smiling and nodding to strangers in hopes they will understand that your actions are really Christ living in you?

I have asked these questions, mostly in jest, but to also stir a desire. We all must start somewhere, and we must also realize there is always more we can do. Salvation is only the beginning of our journey. We should also have a desire to gather among the brethren. An active prayer life is also a great beginning. All these things are a good start, but it is not all that we are called to do.

The work of Jesus is called the good news (gospel) for a reason. When you receive good news, what is it you do with it? You want to share it! Today we use the term “evangelist” as a person who travels and preaches. We are all called to evangelize, which in its simplest terms means to share the good news of salvation with those around you. You can reach others no one else can.

Nothing surprises God, for He is all knowing. He knows you. He knows your attitude, your strengths, your weaknesses, your victories and your failures, and chose you (and me) anyway. We all have different personalities, assets, traits, and abilities. He uses all these things for His glory and to accomplish His purpose. He made us to be different, put us in different places, and called us at different times. His calling on our lives is only the beginning.

This bring us to the main point I hope to make. We all have different callings, in scope, in scale, in ability, and style, and almost any other description or adjective you may wish to use. We, being unique in who we are, are able to accomplish, in such a way, as only we can. In being unique, our calling and ministry should also reflect that.

I am not called to be the same minister as you, as your preacher, or maybe anyone else you know. Neither should you be a copy of anyone you or I know. Similarities are bound to exist, but our pursuit should not lead us to be a copy of anyone else. The lesson we must learn is this: If you aren’t like a televangelist, the preacher with the largest congregation, an accomplished, motivating up-and-coming minister, singer, author, or whatever your ministry may be, be what God is leading you to be. Do not worry about “keeping up with the Jones'”. Don’t worry about your “style”, worry about pleasing God and being faithful to Him. Let Him be glorified in using you for who you are, in reaching those He has called you to reach.

Joh:21:21: Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
Joh:21:22: Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

We all have our own walk with the Lord. Though we may be treading the same straight and narrow path, we each have our own unique relationship with Jesus. Let each of us continue to pursue our callings, not someone else’s calling. Let us continue to learn from others, grow in ministry, and allow Jesus to cultivate and nurture each of us into what He has planned for us, not what He has planned for someone else. He chose you and me knowing exactly what He was getting. Look forward in expectation and anticipation because His plans for us are better than our own.

Handwriting on the Wall (part 2)

In my previous article I discussed a relevent issue from the fifth chapter of Daniel. If you read the previous article, and are familiar with the events in Daniel, then you should have seen the “handwriting on the wall” there would soon follow a part two. Usually, I am not fond of sequels. I will make an exception in this case, because I know there is some unfinished business to discuss.

In the previous article I had discussed the fact that Belshazzar had committed a heinous act and should have known nothing good could come from it. Then again, maybe he did and just did not care enough about the consequences. Once the temple instruments were used for vile purposes, a hand appeared and wrote a message upon the wall. The previous article dealt with misusing the instruments that belong to God and how it still applies today. Let us now move forward to another matter, just as relevant:

Daniel:5:7: The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Daniel:5:8: Then came in all the king’s wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.

The king was horrified by the handwriting. His response was to gather all he considered wise, take counsel with them and hope to learn what the writing meant. In his fear he sought the counsel of men, not God. He offered a chair among royalty, a position of power and authority. The men came to the king, and you can only imagine how anxious they might be to ascend to a higher position among men. Yet, none could decipher what the Lord had written.

Today, our kings seek the counsel of men. The leaders today are crafty, well educated, with much experience in affairs of diplomacy, war, spying, intelligence, and finance. When the unthinkable happens, the experts are called in for ideas, strategy, quick fixes and evaluations, predictions of actions and reactions. We, as people, have not really changed that much. I do understand this seems to be a smart solution, but I also understand it is a fleshly solution. Too often decisions are made without the counsel of God, without looking to Him, His Word, His Spirit in prayer. Rarely is a known or perceived man of God approached for insight, understanding or wisdom. The world loves its own.

The king was reminded by his queen there was a man in the kingdom who had served the kings father in similar circumstances and was made head of all astrologers and soothsayers. Daniel, a man of God, was brought in to do what those who were considered professionals or experts could not. You see, right here I am reminded of the verse that says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not unto your own understanding”. Daniel seemed to excel in exactly that.

And now we come to the conclusion of the matter:

Daniel:5:23: But hast lifted up thyself against the LORD of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:
Daniel:5:24: Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
Daniel:5:25: And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
Daniel:5:26: This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
Daniel:5:27: TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

Man had exalted himself and his gods, he had misused the instruments set apart for God, lived a life of excess, a life of drunkenness, and promiscuity. The king failed to recognize God, he had falied to glorify God in any way. It is because of all these atrocities judgment came, and it came swiftly.

It is no doubt an awesome thing to go before God in judgment, but that is what we see here at the finish. The king had been weighed in the balance, and came up short. We, as a people, as nations are following suit. Counsel of godly men and women fall by the wayside and upon spiritually deaf ears. Men are too eager to please mankind, to eager to seek after riches and power, and no longer care to glorify the soon coming King of kings, Jesus.

My fear for the world today is this: I fear many of todays rulers throughout the world have seen the handwriting on the wall. The counsel of men is being sought to find the reason for all the calamities in the world, maybe because they are afraid of the handwriting on the wall. Today, the rulers look to “global warming” scientists, they are looking to DNA researchers, to biochemists, to doctors, to environmentalists to ease their concerns. I have a piece of advice for them all, look up!! Look up! Seek the One who has set all things in motion, turn from the ways of this world, save yourself, save your people. Judgment is coming, for nations and for individuals. Seek Him while He can be found, seek Him before you too are weighed in the balance. Only Jesus Christ can balance those scales of justice. Let us glorify Jesus, let us look to Him and pray to be accounted worthy of Him and His kingdom.

Handwriting on the Wall

Have you noticed we live in a world where slogans are everywhere and used to remind us of something? For instance, slogans are one of the most used, most efficient, most reliable ways of advertising. Some examples would be “Just Do It” (Nike), “Made from the best stuff on Earth” (Snapple), “They’re Grrrrrreeaattt” (Frosted Flakes), and “Have it your way” (Burger King). Some of these are a bit old, and probably outdated by now, but you get the idea.

Phrases have a way expressing a big idea using few words. We often hear familiar phrases used in a variety of contexts. Lately, I have heard a phrase used several times, meaning that a person “should have seen it coming”, but the phrase used is: “They should have seen the handwriting on the wall”.

For me this always brings to my mind the fifth chapter of Daniel. This is quite possibly one of my favorite events to read, re-read, and study. It is also a realization, shouldn’t we “see it coming”, should we not be able to discern some of those things which are about to happen? Of course I’m not referring to fortune-telling, nor am I specifically referring to the gift of prophecy. When we are given numerous examples throughout the Bible, when we are given specific actions and reactions, shouldn’t we be able to know what is going to happen? Sure, the consequences of repeated actions may not be immediate, but they are imminent.

In the fifth chapter of Daniel we find that Belshazzar was giving a great feast, a party, and gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels, which had been used in the Jewish Temple. Once those vessels were brought out and used, something happened:

Daniel:5:5: In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
Daniel:5:6: Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.

The hand and writing caused the king such horror that his bowels were loosed and his knees buckled and began to shake. I suppose the phrase “caught red-handed” could apply here. There is a very important lesson to be learned, you should not mis-use nor tarnish the instruments set apart for the service of God!

1st Chronicles:16:21: He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes,
1st Chronicles:16:22: Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.

Those instruments were created, finely crafted, and sanctified for use in serving God. The equivalent today are those who are saved and serving Jesus. We have been cleansed by His blood, we are set apart from this world, and serving our Lord. We are those instruments, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, serving a risen, living Savior, seeking to accomplish His will in our lives, giving our testimony, letting our lives be a witness, moving in faith, praying always, loving in truth and in deed, all that the glory be His. We offer our bodies a living sacrifice.

Just as Belshazzar was living it up in the world (eating, drinking, and being merry), he misused the instruments dedicated to God. Today, this world is misusing and mistreating the instruments dedicated to God. Belshazzar did not see the writing on the wall and his reign ended that very night. There is coming a point in time where someone in this world will say “we should have seen the handwriting on the wall”, and just as it was then, it will be too late. Be of good cheer, we will suffer things in this world, we will be hated in this world, but I have good news, Jesus overcame this world and by Him, we shall too! To Jesus be the glory forever, amen.

More Than Enough

We can never praise God enough. He is worthy of all praise for everything, for the past, the present, and the future. In sickness, in health, in good times, in bad times, in every season, He is truly worthy of all praise. Be sure to take note, I did not say it was easy nor did I say it was the first thought I have. He is deserving in every situation, we often fall short of recognizing that.

Too often, in our times of trouble, we fail to realize our shortcomings. We can’t always see what our trials and tribulations are leading us toward. In short, we can’t see the victory for the battle, we can’t see the forest for the trees.

There is cause for praise regardless of the season. We do not serve a God of “just enough”, we serve God Almighty, God of more than enough! God gives in abundance. Jesus said it like this:

John:10:10: The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Have you really considered the meaning? It means to “present in great quantity, more than adequate, well supplied”. It does not mean “just enough, only the right amount, enough to get by”. You see, we serve our Lord Jesus Christ, who gives more than enough. Should you need further testimony, consider these verses:

Psalms:23:5: Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (The cup is not only filled, it runs over)

Ephesians:3:20: Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, (exceeding, abundant above all that we ask OR think, this speaks volumes!)

When Jesus went to the cross, He did not give just enough blood to cover sin, He gave His life for His friends and gave His blood to cover all sin for all eternity to those who would believe on Him. He gave all for all, I consider that an abundance. We should not stop with things present, consider those things yet to come:

Romans:8:18: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

There are times when things appear impossible, when no one else can help, and all things seem lost. Why do we seem to be placed in these times? So that we can know God is in control and only He is deserving of the praise. All things are possible with Christ, and He is True and Faithful. He is our Provider, our Friend who is closer than a brother, the One who has prepared a place for us, so that where He is, we can be with Him. This life is only the beginning, there are better things to come for those who know Jesus as their Savior.

Sing His praises, give your testimonies, and let Him be glorified. It isn’t always easy, and it isn’t usually our first thought, but we must praise Him for He is the God of more than enough!

Love without rejection

If you have spent any amount of time reading and understanding the Bible, is there any doubt the most important theme is love? Not our love, but His love. Too often we think carnally, we think worldly, we think about ourselves first. We consider our love.

Our love is secondary. His love is first, His love is greatest. It is His love that surpasses our understanding, exceeds our expectations, and gives more abundantly than we can reason. His love stretches the span of time, generation after generation, reaching from the beginning of time throughout eternity.

The love we have to offer is measured by our time, which is not infinite. Our love reaches, but within bounds. When we offer love, it is sometimes with measure or restriction. Often, we love with condition. Unfortunately, we also fail to offer love out of fear or rejection. It is here where the love of God shines brightest. His love knows no fear. His love was given, poured out from the cross at Calvary.

Today His love is still calling out to “whosoever will”, any who will accept it. His love still beckons to show its strength, breaking the strongholds of sin, mending the broken-hearted, cleansing away all unrighteousness. There is no love like God’s love. No other love can do, and no other love will do, what God’s love can.

Why do I love God? I love Him because He first loved me.

1st John:4:19: We love him, because he first loved us.

He loved me when I was not worthy of His love. He loved me when there was no reason to love me. He loved me despite who I was, and all that I had done. Here is a small nugget of truth: Because He loved me first, there was no fear of being rejected by Him, because He died for me there was no doubt of how much He loves me. He has shown His love for me through Jesus, because He loved me first, all that was needed on my part was to accept His love.

It is because of His love that I submit myself to Him, His Word, and His Spirit. All that I am or will be, all that I do or will accomplish is only because of His love.

He has not only done this for me, He has done this for all who came before me and after me. The best news is this: He has also done this for you! If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, His love is there and all it takes is your acceptance. The greater your sin, the greater His grace, and the greater His love is. It is my sincere hope and prayer, if you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior, that you will not let this day pass without considering and accepting His love for you. Today is the day of salvation, there is no promise of tomorrow. Let the love of God give you life, eternally. He is calling, will you answer?