The Signs of the Times

Isaiah 2 1-4

This wonderful prophesy of Isaiah tells of a future when Israel will be restored and the church will return to its roots.  All wars will be done with and war will never come to pass again.  Until that time, we must be vigilant.  We must look to God and understand the signs of the times.

So much has happened in just three generations.  Our grandparents fought with swords and black powder muskets and cannons.  They rode horses and in wagons.  They plowed fields by use of mule or oxen.  They came to America on sailing ships and sailed our coasts hunting whales to provide oil for their lamps.

Our parents fought in World War II and saw the unleashing of the atomic bomb on Japan.  They witnessed the invention of the automobile and airplanes as a means of travel.  They plowed fields with tractors.  Steam ships brought new immigrants to our shores.  They saw the invention of electricity and the light bulb, radio and television.

Now, we fight with drones and computer guided missiles.  We have self driving cars and planes, even flying cars.  We have genetically engineered crops, harvested and processed by machines.  We have marveled at the invention of computers and watched them go from the size of a small house with limited capability to ones that fit in our hands and seem to have no limits.

Despite all these advances, wars still continue on large scale and small, with devastating results.  Terrorists bring these wars from the battle field to our homes.  The cost of travel has increased, as has the cost of living at all.  You would think all this technology would help to lower costs.  With all our advances in medicine, we still have people who cannot afford care and many who receive care still dying of diseases we cannot cure, despite all our efforts.  All this technology has dummied us down.  We can no longer do simple tasks – our computers do it for us, and instead of freeing us and empowering us, they have enslaved us and burdened us.

We have lost faith in God and placed it in technology and government.  The consequences are disastrous.  We now have an increase in manmade disasters, as well as natural disasters, beyond our ability to understand or to adjust to the new normal.  Pain, suffering, fear and hopelessness abound and yet we continue to reject God and His principles.  We continue on this same path to destruction.

In the history of the world, there have been only two nations founded by God:  the nation of Israel and the USA, a Christian nation!  When Israel followed God, they were blessed.  When they rejected Him, they were cursed.  It was that simple.  How foolish are we to follow in Israel’s disobedience.

There was no way that Israel could bring about the fulfilling of Isaiah’s prophesy.  They could never be good enough or follow God close enough, or be obedient enough.  In fact, it was, their failure that brought their salvation to them in the person of Jesus, the Christ, His first coming. Their rejection of the Messiah birthed the church.  Unfortunately, the church can no more bring about the fulfilling of Isaiah’s prophesy than Israel did.   In fact, it is the failure of the church that will facilitate the second coming, and it will be God who fulfills this prophesy, in His way and His time.  However, we, the true church and the remnant of His people need to watch for the signs of the times.  We cannot influence or change them, but we must be ready for His coming and be found working for His glory preaching and teaching the Gospel message to all the world.  We want to be showing Christ to all who will listen, growing the kingdom of God here and now, while waiting on that day!

 

This One I Esteem

Isaiah 66 1-2

Is Jesus not God? And did not His hand create all things?

God’s word is unique, in that it can, at times, be speaking of two individuals or events at the same time. Based on the scripture surrounding these two verses, we can conclude that Isaiah is speaking of the Messiah.   John 1:3 says, “All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”   Just as the world looked for salvation in God’s promised Messiah, God was also looking forward to that time that He may send His son to redeem mankind, and restore His relationship with us.

Jesus humbled Himself and came as a baby in the manger, made vulnerable in the flesh. He put aside His crown, His Godhead, and  His glory to take on flesh and live among us.  He did this that He might experience our life, in order to be our high priest, and that He might show us the way to the Father.  We cannot become gods, but if we humble ourselves as Jesus did and subject ourselves to God, and become vulnerable to Him, we can become His sons and daughters.

“Contrite” is defined as grieving or penitent for sin or shortcomings.  Jesus was contrite in His spirit, grieving not for His sin or shortcomings, (because He had none,) but for OURS.  Our sin breaks God’s heart.  He is grieved by the separation and pain it causes us.  This is why He sent His Son to be the sacrifice needed to end sin – once and for all.

“Trembles” could mean in fear, but I see it more as in reverence, having respect for God’s word. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus defers to His Father’s authority over Him and His work. A son has reverence for His father, remembering that He was to show us the way to the Father.

This passage also refers to true believers whom God looks to – to continue the work of His Son.  We need to be humble in the knowledge that it is Christ in us working in His strength, not our own.  We need to be contrite in spirit – grieving over our sin, as well as that of others, recognizing our own sin and yielding to the Spirit for guidance.  Lastly, always trembling at His word, not in fear, but in reverence for what His word has done in our lives and what we see of God’s word working in others through our yielding to the Spirit.

Mercy, Patience, Gentleness

Philippians 4 5.jpg

The dictionary definition of forbearance is refraining from something; abstinence; tolerance and restraint in the face of provocation; And as to the law, the act of a creditor who refrains from enforcing a debt when it falls due.  Synonyms: mercy and patience.

As Christians, we abstain from sin. As Christians, we need to be tolerant and forgiving.  As Christians, we need to not allow ourselves to be provoked and we need to demonstrate patience toward others. As Christians, we do not follow the crowd; we follow Christ.

Having a forbearing spirit is not just about what we need to do. It is about what Christ did!   Sin put us in debt to God and Jesus’ death on the cross was God’s way of refraining of enforcing that debt. He paid the debt with the blood of His own Son, so He could offer forgiveness to each and every one of us.  That’s mercy!

How do we get out of this rut?

Phillipians 4 4

God knows that you have to work. He knows that the lawn needs to be mowed and the dog walked.  We live in a physical world and so we have physical things that we just need to do in order to get by.

james 2 14-17 framed

 

But if we rejoice in the Lord always, that is to say, we remain at His feet listening to Him (spiritually, of course,) then we can still do all that we need to do and remain connected to Him.

colossians 3 23

Perhaps Mary could have just helped Martha, then they both could have listened. Or Martha could have just sat down with Mary and, remembering what is really valuable, spent time with Jesus.

ecc 3 12-13

Jesus came down out of Heaven to save us, to do the work of salvation on the cross.  We  need to be about the work of sanctification to His glory.

 

Overcoming Darkness

John 21 1-6

John 21:1-6

I’m going fishing!

We all at one time or other want to stop our work for the Lord and go back to what we were before we met Him.  Jesus told the disciples to go to Galilee and He would meet them there.  Why there?  Why there when everything was all happening in Jerusalem.  I suspect that after the three and a half years of intense ministry training and then the trial and then the crucifixion and of course, the resurrection, Jesus wanted them to have a break in familiar and comfortable surroundings. Or perhaps, He just wanted to test them, probably both.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record the calling of these men.  Jesus called them to be “fishers of men” rather than fishermen, and in answer to that call, they left their nets and followed Him.  Here they are – tired, scared, and questioning all that they had seen and heard.  They revert back to what they know and are comfortable with.  It is best never to get comfortable in our walk.  That leads to apathy, and apathy leads to all sorts of trouble in our lives and in the church!

They fished all night! And caught nothing! That is what happens when we leave Jesus out of our work – it becomes unfruitful.  Jesus knows we have to work and earn a living and He knows we need time to just relax and take a break.  We need to keep our eyes on Christ, at all times. Even in our secular job, we need to work as if we are working for Him.  When we play, we should do it to please Him.  When we turn from Him and try to work or play in our own strength, our own knowledge, our own abilities, what happens?  We fail!  We catch nothing!

We can and do wind up in a dark place without Jesus, unproductive and frustrated.  The good news is that no matter how dark our lives may get, the dawn will come and with it a new day, a chance to recommit to Jesus, to put the night away and start fresh.  Jesus will not leave us or forsake us no matter what!  Trust Him and He will manifest Himself to you and bless you.  He is always there.  You just need to turn around (repent) and He will be waiting.

 

“So heavenly minded; No earthly good”

Phillipians 4 1-3

Oliver Wendall Holmes, Sr. is credited with saying, “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.”  Sadly, we as Christians often fall into one of these two categories, or two extremes.  I wish I could find a balance, but it rarely works out that way.  Paul indicates that between Euodia and Syntyche, there is some disharmony.  He asks the Church to help these workers in the faith.

Euodia & Syntyche

As I read this, I thought of Mary and Martha.  The story is in Luke 10: 38-42.  Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him while Martha prepared the food.  Martha thought Mary was so heavenly minded she was no earthly good.  Mary thought Martha was so earthly minded that she was no heavenly good.

Mary & Martha

We tend to fall into one or the other category, or at least, I constantly find myself drifting one way or the other.

Citizenship

Phillipians 3 20

We don’t belong here! We were created by God to fellowship with Him, and so we all have in us a need for that fellowship. Usually, we try to fill that need with physical things that do not work and yet we keep trying to put a square peg into a round hole.

Our goal in this world is to become one in the Spirit of God, one with one another and one with God.

john 14 20