“Smack ‘Em One, God!”

July 31, 2015

Psalm 137:7-9

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

I have a dear friend who is shy about praying out loud.  But one day on the phone we were talking about a certain individual who was a pain in the neck.  I was praying for this situation, and my friend – out of the blue – offered this:  “Smack ‘em one, God!”  I started laughing.  I told her, “That’s a fine way to begin praying publicly!  Do you realize this is your first ‘out loud’ prayer?!!”  We have teased each other about that prayer ever since!

But there are some “Smack ‘Em One, God!” incidents in the Bible, and with good reason!  Let’s look at a few:

•      In Acts 12 is the story of King Herod Agrippa who started to crack down on the new Jesus movement to please the Jews.  In verses 2 and 3 it is recorded:  “Then he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword.  And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also.”  According to verse 4, the same fate that James suffered awaited Peter.

The story of Peter’s miraculous release is in Acts 12:6 through 10. Here are verses 6 and 7:

      …when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping,
      bound with two chains between two soldiers, and the guards before the
      door were keeping the prison.  Now, behold, and angel of the Lord stood
      by him, and a light shone in the prison, and he struck Peter on the side
      and raised him up, saying “Arise quickly!”  And his chains fell off his

I am glad Peter had such peace facing this deadly situation that he was soundly asleep!  But God had to wake His apostle up!  I can just hear the Lord tell the messenger angel, “Smack ‘Em One!”

“Smack ‘Em One, God!” is a good prayer to implore the Lord to wake up His Church!  Paul wrote in Romans 13:11 (Easy-to-read version):  “…we live in an important time.  Yes, it is now time for you to wake up from your sleep.  Our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”  And in Revelation 3:2 (Contemporary English Version),Christ has this admonition for the apostate Sardis Church:  “Wake up!  You have only a little strength left, and it is almost gone.  So try to become stronger.  I have found that you are not completely obeying God.”  My prayer for the sleeping Church in the western world has lately been, “Wake up! Look up! Stand up! And kneel down! – God, whatever it takes, wake up Your people!

“Smack ‘Em One, God!”

•      But lets apply this in a different way – this time to the unsaved – as Paul does in Ephesians 5:14 (loosely quoting Isaiah 26:19 and 60:1):  “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”  Is it worth it to get smacked by God to wake up to the fact you are lost and going to hell, and you need to be saved?  Considering the fact that hell is a place of eternal and horrible suffering (see Matthew 24:51; Mark 9:48; Revelation 14:1; 21:8), it would be well worth it to experience the temporary pain of a God-smack if that would result in escaping hell!

“Smack ‘Em One, God!”

•      When the glorified Lord Jesus appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos, He dictated seven letters to churches in Asia Minor.  In Revelation 3:2 He tells the Sardis Christians, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.”  Be watchful reminds me of what Jesus told His disciples the night of His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He instructed them to be awake and pray as He left to pray a stone’s throw away.  It says in Matthew 26:40 and 41, “Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, ‘What, could you not watch with me one hour?  Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.’

We are to watch and pray!  “Pray without ceasing,” Paul admonishes us in I Thessalonians 5:17.  And watching is being aware of what is going on around you so you can pray intelligently!  Yes, we need to pray more.  But we need to be awake and watchful so we can pray effectively!  So…

“Smack ‘Em One, God!”

•      Finally, there is a legitimate reason to pray this prayer concerning the enemies of Christ and the Cross!  In Psalm 137:7 through 9, the Psalmist is reflecting on what happened when the Jews were taken into captivity to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar, and Jerusalem was sacked and burned:

      O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, happy shall he be who
      repays you as you have served us!  Happy shall he be who takes and dashes
      your little ones against the rock.

It sounds like a severe prayer!  Aren’t we supposed to love our enemies (see Matthew 5:43-45)?  Yes, but if they will not turn to God and away from sin, and if they keep on in their opposition to God and good, then I do not think it is wrong to pray…

“Smack ‘Em One, God!”

Getting High With Jesus! – III

July 29, 2015

I Thessalonians 4:16, 17

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

We are going to finish Getting High With Jesus!  We have looked at three of four scriptures – all four telling of an increasing degree of being elevated in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

•      Psalm 40:1 through 4 is the first.  God raised us up out of sin to stand on the Rock Christ Jesus (see Matthew 16:18, I Corinthians 10:4).

•      Isaiah 40:28 through 31 is the second.  He will give us eagle’s wings to fly above the troubles of this world.

•      Ephesians 2:4 through 7 is the third.  As it says in verse 6, “…God…raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus….”  As we saw in the last blog, heaven is a place of victory, provision, safety and joy – and a lot more!

So according to the first three, Jesus raised us up from being in the pit of sin, to flying above our troubles, to being positionally in heaven with Him!

Now, let’s go on to our fourth scripture…

•      I Thessalonians 4:16, 17:

      For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the
      voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in
      Christ shall rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be
      caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. 
      And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

This is the ultimate height we reach by Getting High With Jesus! – actually and bodily in heaven!

Many Bible scholars (I included) think I Thessalonians 4:13 through 18 have to do with the Rapturethat event by which the Lord calls His Church out of world seven years before His Second Coming.  The Rapture will then be followed by Daniel’s Seventieth Week (see Daniel 9:24-27), the last half being The Great Tribulation.

Whatever period this passage is assigned to, it speaks of a bodily resurrection of believers who will then…always be with the Lord…in heaven!  What will it mean to be bodily in heaven?

▸      I will be in the actual physical presence of God! I will see the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit!  I have often wondered what it would be like to look upon the face of my Savior.  Will I actually get the privilege John had in John 13:35 of laying my head upon His breast?  I will surely bow before Him in thanksgiving and praise for all He has done for me!

▸      I will be with my believing loved ones!  Notice in I Thessalonians 4:17 it says, “…we…shall be caught up together with them….And thus we [together] shall always be with the Lord.  I want to share the glories and joys of heaven with those I love!

▸      I will no longer have to struggle with sin!  In I John 3:2 it is written:  “…we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”  In Hebrews 7:26 Jesus is described as being “…holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners….”  That means if I am going to be like Him in heaven, then I also will be “…holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners….!  Praise God!

▸      All evil will be excluded from heaven!  It says of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:27, “…there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles , or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”  We will live a perfect life in a perfect environment!

▸      I will be home!  Jesus told us in John 15:19, “…you are not of the world…I chose you out of the world….”  In John 14:2 He said, “…I go to prepare a place for you.”  He – the Almighty Son of God – has been preparing that place for almost two thousand years!  It must be some place!  And in Hebrews 13:14 (Good New Bible) we are reminded, “…there is no permanent city for us here on earth; we are looking for the city which is to come.”  Although I am not in a rush to go there, I am looking forward to going home!

Yes, the bodily resurrection and being taken to heaven is the ultimate level of Getting High With Jesus!  What wonderful ‘highs’ Christians have both already achieved and have to look forward to!

Getting High With Jesus! – II

July 27, 2015

Ephesians 2:4-7

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

We looked at the first two scriptures in Friday’s blog concerning Getting High With Jesus!  There are four total, each telling of an increasing degree of being elevated in our relationship with Jesus Christ.  We will do a quick review of these first two, and then go into the next two in detail.

•      The first is Psalm 40:1 through 4 (here highlighting just verse 2):  “He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.

He lifted us out of the depths of sin and onto (unto and into) Himself, the Rock Christ Jesus (see Matthew 16:18, I Corinthians 10:4).

•      The second is Isaiah 40:28 through 31: (highlighting verse 31):  “…those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

As we walk with the Lord – living by faith – He will lift us up far above our troubles and trials on this earth.  We will soar above all that can weigh us down, and have a wider and greater perspective on life from that soaring height!

•      The third scripture relating to Getting High With Jesus! is Ephesians 2:4 through 7:

       …God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He
      loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together
      with Christ, (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together,
      and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the
      ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His
      kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Right now we are in Jesus Christ! And where is He?  It says in Mark 16:19, “…He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.” (See Hebrews 12:2).  If we are in Him, we are both raised from death and are positionally with Him in heaven!  What does this mean?

▸      Heaven is the place of victory.  Jesus once walked on earth in a human body (see I John 4:2, 3).  He suffered and died the horrible death of crucifixion.  He lay in the grave for three days while Satan and his demons celebrated their supposed victory (see I Corinthians 2:8).  But Jesus won the ultimate victory when He arose from the dead, conquering Satan, sin, death and hell (see I Corinthians 15:26-28; Hebrews 2:14, 15; I John 3:8).  As it says in I Corinthians 15:57, “…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

▸      Heaven is the place of provision.  Paul wrote in Philippians 4:19, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  And in II Peter 1:3 it says, “…His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.

▸      Heaven is the place of safety.  Satan sought to destroy Jesus by many means, and even before He was born (see Esther 3:13).  Soon after His birth he tried again (see Matthew 2:16).  Jesus’ death was the coup d’etat of the devil!  But it turned out to be Satan’s defeat!  Revelation 12:5 gives this summary:  “And she [Israel] bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.  And her Child was caught up to God and to His throne.” – out of the devil’s reach! We also are safe in Jesus in heaven! (See Luke 12:4).

▸      Heaven is a place of joy.  There is sorrow, tears, pain, and death upon this earth (see John 16:33).  But all that is gone in heaven! (See Revelation 22:4).  As it says in Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Oh, there is so much more about heaven that we do not have time to cover!  But if we are already seated…together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus…,then let us live our lives upon this earth as if it is true – Because it is!

We will examine the fourth scripture concerning Getting High With Jesus! in Wednesday’s blog.

Getting High With Jesus! – I

July 24, 2015

Psalm 40:1-4; Isaiah 40:28-31

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

I know, the title, Getting High With Jesus! sounds kinda controversial – especially with the increasing legalization of marijuana.  But it’s just the title – and I wanted to get your attention.  It has nothing to do with drugs or alcohol.  But stick with me in this blog.  I hope you find it more exciting than any high this world can offer!

In this blog and the next we are going to look at four scriptures, each one showing an increasing height we can achieve in Getting High With Jesus!

•      The first is Psalm 40:1 through 4:

      I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. 
      He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my
      feet upon a rock, and established my steps.  He has put a new song in my
      mouth — praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the
      LORD.  Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust….

We are in the depths of sin before we come to Jesus as our Savior!  David describes it as “…a horrible pit…the miry clay…” in verse 2.  I have worked on construction projects where I had to stomp around in miry clay.  The clay is like glue sticking to your boots.  In short order, the accumulation of clay seems to add at least five pounds to each boot!  But what is described here is worse – it is not only miry clay, but that clay is at the bottom of a horrible pit !

It reminds me of what Jeremiah experienced in Jeremiah 38:6.  The prophet’s enemies were upset with him because Jeremiah was prophesying that, because of the Jew’s sins, Babylon would conquer and destroy Jerusalem, taking the king into exile.

      So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah, the
      king’s son, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah
      down with ropes.  And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire.  So
      Jeremiah sank in the mire.

If it wasn’t for Ebed-Melech, the Ethiopian eunuch who rescued him, Jeremiah would have died in the miry clay of that horrible pit !

Continuing on in verse 2, it says “…He also brought me up…and set my feet upon a rock….”  A rock in scripture is often a symbolic picture of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 16:18, I Corinthians 10:4).  So when we are brought up out of the entrapment of sin, we are set upon the Rock, Jesus Christ! It is only through Christ that we can escape sin! (See Isaiah 53:6, 8, 10, 12; John 14:6; Colossians 1:14; I Peter 2:24; I John 1:9).

At the end of verse 2, it says, “He…established my steps.”  This refers to living your life after you have been delivered from the depths of sin and have been placed on the rock – in Jesus!  We are then to live our lives for Him, following Him as our Lord!  As Paul admonished us in Colossians 1:10:  “…that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God….”  That kind of living – in a close relationship with Jesus Christ, will certainly… put a new song in…[our] mouth — praise to our God…” (verse 3).  And such a testimony will result in…many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD.” (verse 3).  Is it any wonder David added this in verse 4:  “Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust….

•      The second height we can reach by Getting High With Jesus! is found in Isaiah 40:28 through 31:

      …the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth…gives
      power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. 
      Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly
      fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall
      mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall
      walk and not faint.

This is a description of living the life of faith (see II Corinthians 5:7) – keeping our eyes on Jesus (see Hebrews 11:1; 12:1, 2).  So many people are under the weight of life’s problems and challenges – seemingly just crawling along!  God wants us to run, walk upright, and even fly with wings like eagles!

How high can eagles fly?  More than one website says that eagles are known to reach altitudes of 15,000 feet or more (about three miles)!  They can cruise at about 75 miles per hour, and in a dive for prey can reach 200 mph!  That’s high and fast!  And God will give us that ability to rise above our problems and troubles,…mount[ing] up with wings like eagles….”  One more observation (from an eagle’s point of view!) – Down here the problems of life can seem overwhelming!  But from three miles up, the perspective is a lot different!  Big problems look rather small and insignificant – when you have an eagle’s perspective!

So, Get High With Jesus!  He will lift you out of sin, and above the trails of life!

Two Men In A Boat

July 22, 2015Jonah 1:3; Matthew 14:28-29

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

It wasn’t the same boat that these two men were in, and they lived in different eras – about 800 years apart!  But they each had quite the experience being in a boat in a storm!  And they show us a glimpse of how God will work in our lives.  The first of Two Men In A Boat is Jonah, and the scripture is Jonah 1:3.  But let’s look at some background:  Nineveh was a very wicked city in what is today Iraq.  The city of Mosul is built on the site of ancient Nineveh.  The people of this ancient kingdom were so wicked, if another city or region knew they would be invaded by the Ninevites, some even committed suicide instead of facing their cruelty!

The inhabitants of Nineveh were inveterate enemies of Israel – and Jonah was called by God to go and warn them of impending judgment! (see Jonah 1:1, 2).  Jonah ran the other way – verse 3:

      But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.  He went
      down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and
      went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

You have probably heard the story recorded in this short book of four chapters.  God sent a storm so severe that the ship in which Jonah was a passenger was in danger of sinking!  The sailors ended up throwing the rebellious prophet overboard, and Jonah was swallowed by a big fish – probably a whale!  After three days and nights inside the whale’s belly, Jonah – having repented – was vomited out on shore and given a second command:  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” (Jonah 3:2).  The prophet’s message is found in Jonah 3:4:  “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  The inhabitants, from the king on down, repented, and God spared that city, giving it another 120 years!  This gives me encouragement concerning America – judgment is not absolutely set if we sincerely repent!  But this is not the point I want to make in this blog.

The second of Two Men In A Boat is Peter.  And the incident we are considering is found in Matthew 14:22 through 33.  Jesus had told His disciples to get into a boat and go – without Him – to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  They obeyed, but a storm came up, and they were struggling against the wind and waves.  Jesus came walking on the water.  The disciples, it says in verse 26 (Good News Bible), “…were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost!’ …and…they…screamed with fear.”  But the Lord assured them, “Be of good cheer!  It is I; do not be afraid.” (verse 27).  Then comes our scripture – Matthew 14:28 and 29:

      And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me come to
      You on the water.”  So He said, “Come.”  And when Peter was come down
      out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

If you are familiar with the story, you know Peter actually walked on the water for a few steps!  But he took his eyes off Jesus…and, starting to sink he cried out…’Lord, save me!’  And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him…” (verses 30, 31).

We could comment about many things concerning these incidents of Two Men In A Boat.  But I want to compare the two this way:  Both men experienced a storm at sea when they were in a boat…

•      But the first – Jonah – was in the storm because he disobeyed God!  To solve the problem in which he found himself, he had to confess his sin, repent, and obey God!  And it took a death-accepting decision and three days in a whale’s belly – while his hair was being digested off his body – for Jonah to deal with the storm!  Now the storm that threatened the ship and the sailor’s lives was quelled the moment they threw the rebellious prophet into the water.  But the storm that raged within Jonah’s heart was quieted and then raged again even to the end of the book!  We don’t know if that storm was ever resolved!

•      On the other hand, Peter found himself in a life-threatening storm because he obeyed the Lord!  Jesus knew what was going to happen on that Galilean sea. Several of the disciples probably did too, since they were experienced fishermen on that same lake.  Conditions often were ripe for the winds to come howling down between the mountains and to churn up the waters into a deadly force.  But Jesus had told them to…get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.” (verse 22).  Peter and the others were in the perfect will of God when the storm hit and raged around them!

The point I want to make about Two Men In A Boat is this:  When the storm comes, discern what has caused the turmoil, and decide on the appropriate action – repent or trust!  If you are in the storm because of being disobedient – repent!  If you are obeying what Jesus has led you to do, but still a storm is raging around you – trust!

Whatever the cause, God is big enough, strong enough, wise enough, and resourceful enough to get you through the storm!

Recognizing Jesus

July 20, 2015

Luke 24:16, 28-31

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

This is another Emmaus Road incident involving the same three who were featured in Friday’s blog – Cleopas, an unnamed disciple (perhaps Mrs. Mary Cleopas – see John 19:25), and Jesus.  As we learned on Friday, the two disciples were discouraged, defeated and sad.  In their minds they had lost their beloved leader – Jesus the Nazarene.  Even the ‘rumors’ (proof – if they would accept it!) of His resurrection did not seem to make a difference to these two.

The problem was what I just stated – in their minds…!  They were trying to make sense out of all that had happened by their own minds!  Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.

•      Hebrews 11:1 and 6 tells us what faith is and how we come to God by it:

      Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not
      seen….But without faith it is impossible to please [God]…for He who comes
      to God must believe that He is [exists in all His revealed fullness], and that
      He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Walking by faith means we live our lives according to the revealed will of God, whom most of us have never seen this side of heaven.  Faith, we learn in Romans 10:17, is built up through intake of God’s Word, the Bible!  That Word tells us three times “…the just shall live by faith…” (Habakkuk 2:4; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).  Those who are just are made so by coming to God through Jesus Christ, accepting Him by faith as Savior of their lives personally.  Then they are to live out their Christian lives by faith – obeying Jesus as their Lord.

•      Walking by sight is what we all have done before coming to Christ.  We interpret life by our five senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch – and by our own minds as best we can.  Paul describes such living in Ephesians 2:1 and 2 as being “…dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to…the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience….

Obviously, walking (living) by sight is the opposite of walking by faith!

These two on the Emmaus Road were walking by sight before Jesus dined with them at suppertime.  That’s why they were discouraged, defeated and sad.  They were not ‘seeing’ by faith the One who – impossible to comprehend by sight – arose from the dead!  Even when He talked with them and “…expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself…” (Luke 24:27), “…their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.” (Luke 24:16).

What made the difference?  It is recorded in Luke 24:28 through 31:

      Then they drew near the village, where they were going, and He indicated
      that He would have gone farther.  But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide
      with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.”  And He went in to
      stay with them.  Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He
      took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were
      opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

It was only when they were in close fellowship with the Lord that their eyes of faith were opened!  Four things happened that moved them from walking by sight to walking by faith:

•      Luke 24:29 – “… they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us….” ”  It says in verse 28 that “…He indicated that He would have gone farther.”  But they constrained Him!  It means they compelled Him by entreaty (Strong’s).  Jesus will not hang around where He is not wanted!  As He said in Revelation 3:20:  “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”  He knocks, but we have to open the door!  If we don’t, He will go away and not bother us!

•      Luke 24:30 – “…He sat at the table with them….”  This is close fellowship – eating a meal with someone you have invited in!  Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples – close fellowship!  The early believers in Acts 2:46, were “…continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart…” – close fellowship with the Lord and with one another!

•      Luke 24:30 – “…He took bread, blessed and broke it….”  Jesus does things for us so that we may be reminded that it is Him from whom these blessings come!  He did the same thing at the Emmaus table that He had done in the upper room in Jerusalem just the Thursday before – “…He took bread, gave thanks and broke it…” (Luke 22:19).  And every time we take communion, He told us, “…do this in remembrance of Me…” (Luke 22:19), so that we may be reminded of our fellowship with Him!

•      Luke 24:30 – “…He gave it [the bread] to them.”  He is always giving!  Does not it say in Psalm 68:19, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation! ”?  And the greatest gift He has ever given is what is mentioned in that same verse – our salvation!  Jesus had told His disciples in John 6:51:

      I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this
      bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which
      I shall give for the life of the world.

So at the Last Supper, He said of the bread, “This is My body which is given for you…” (Luke 22:19).  This same giving of bread was the eye-opener to these two disciples at Emmaus!

All together, these four things indicate close fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ!  And it is through close fellowship with Him that your faith is strengthened, and you will be Recognizing Jesus!  You will know He is the living Lord who…will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).

Jesus In The Bible

July 17, 2015

Luke 24:25-27

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

It happened on the Emmaus road the afternoon of the day Jesus rose from the dead.  Two of his disciples “…were traveling…to a village called Emmaus which was about seven miles from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:13).  One of them was Cleopas, according to Luke 24:18.  The other may have been Mrs. Cleopas, called Mary, according to John 19:25.  They were down-hearted over the betrayal and crucifixion of their Leader.  There were reports of Him being alive again, but they really didn’t believe them (see Luke 24:21-24).

So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.” (Luke 24:15).  They didn’t recognize Him, and were telling Him why they were so sad.  They finished with Luke 24:31:  “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.”  Jesus’ response is our featured scripture – Luke 24:25 through 27:

      Then he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that
      the prophets have spoken!  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things
      and to enter into His glory?”  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets,
      He expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.

The phrase “Moses and all the Prophets” is a shortened Jewish reference to the whole of the Old Testament – their complete scriptures.  Moses refers to the first five books of the Bible, and all the Prophets refers to the rest – Joshua through Malachi.  What the Lord was saying is that throughout the scriptures – in every book of the Bible – Jesus is In The Bible!  Here are just a few examples:

•      Genesis 3:15 – “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  Notice Seed, He and His are capitalized in the NKJV.  That’s because it refers to Jesus Christ, the Seed of the woman!  In crushing the head of the seed of the serpent, Satan, Jesus Christ won the victory over the devil at the cross, dealing him a death blow!  By the way, crucifixion – whereby the victim’s feet were nailed to the cross – is the only known capital punishment in which a heel would be bruised!

•      Exodus 12:21-23 – This is about the first Passover, when God delivered the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

      …kill the Passover lamb.  And you shall take…the blood…and strike the lin-
      tel and the two doorposts with [it]…and none of you shall go out at the door
      of his house until the morning.  For the LORD will pass through to strike
      the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood…the LORD will pass over…your

Jesus Christ is…the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).  His blood is the only substance that will cleanse away sin!  And it does the job completely! (See Isaiah 1:18; I Peter 1:18, 19; I John 1:7).

•      Joshua 5:13, 14 – After the Israelites, under the leadership of Joshua, crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, Joshua saw…

      …a Man opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand.  And Joshua went to
      Him and said to Him, “Are You for us, or for our adversaries?”  So He said,
      “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”

This is none other than the pre-incarnate Christ!  Notice that Joshua wanted to know if this One with the drawn sword was “…for us, or for our adversaries?”  But the answer was neitherJesus Christ is for the whole world – because He loves the whole world! (See John 3:16; Romans 5:8; I John 2:2).

•      I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings – these three books record the lives of Kings David and Solomon.  David is recognized as the greatest king of Israel, and Solomon – the wisest and richest ever.  But Jesus has…

      …the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knew
      should bow, of those in heaven, and of those in earth, and of those under the
      earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the
      glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9, 10).

And – according to Revelation 19:16 – He isKING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS…”!

•      Nehemiah 1:2-4 – Word came from Jerusalem to Nehemiah in Babylon that…

      “The survivors who are left from the captivity…are there in great distress and
      reproach.  The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned
      with fire.”  So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and
      mourned for many days….

Nehemiah received permission and resources from the Persian king to go and rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem.  He also worked to restore for the Jews’ confidence and hope.  Jesus Christ said in Luke 4:18 at the beginning of His ministry:  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me…He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives… to set at liberty those who are oppressed….”  He came to restore that which was broken down – our relationship to God! (See Ephesians 2:11-22; Colossians 1:19-22).

•      Jonah 3:1, 4-9 – God told Jonah, “Arise, go to Nineveh…and preach to it the message that I tell you.”  This was the second time God had sent Jonah. He rebelled the first time (see Jonah 1:1-3).  Jonah’s message? – “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  But this wicked people received and believed God’s warning of judgment:  “…from the greatest to the least of them…[including] the king of Nineveh…,” they repented, and cried out “…mightily to God…saying…’Who can tell if God will…turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?’ ”  Jesus is the One who was sent to warn us of the destruction to which we are headed without Him! (See Luke 13:2-5).  He proclaimed God’s love and concern for us, and provided the way of escape – Himself, dying on the cross for our sins! (See Romans 5:8; I Peter 2:24).

These are just six examples of Jesus In The Bible.  He is throughout all 66 books!  Is it any wonder that in Luke 24:27 it says…beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.”  Read your Bible!  Get to know Jesus who is proclaimed therein!

“Don’t Offend Me!”

July 15, 2015

Matthew 23:13-15, 33

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

It is politically incorrect lately to offend anyone.  One of the latest issues – one that has received more attention since the racially-inspired shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina – is to ban the Confederate flag from being publicly displayed because (according to a CNN report) the flag is…a sign of the slave-holding South.”  It is also a significant part of our history!  Over 490 thousand Confederate men were killed, wounded, captured or missing as they passionately fought to defend that flag!  But are we to relegate it only to museums because some are offended by its display?

What’s next?  Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam leader in America, stated, “I don’t know what the hell the fight is about over the Confederate flag.  We need to put the American flag down.  Because we’ve caught as much hell under that as the Confederate flag….Who are we fighting today?  It’s the people that carry the American flag.”  Should the American flag not be flown because it offends some people?

“Don’t Offend Me!”  That’s also the mantra to which a lot of people subscribe when it comes to sharing Jesus Christ!  “Oh no!  Don’t tell people they are sinners!  Don’t tell them they are going to hell without faith in the Savior!  Don’t offend anyone!”  Well, Jesus sure did not adhere to this kind of thinking!  Look at what He said in Matthew 23.  I have reproduced verses 13 through 15 and 33 here:

      …woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you shut up the king-
      dom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you
      allow those who are entering to go in.  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees,
      hypocrites!  For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long
      prayers.  Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.  Woe to you,
      scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you travel land and sea to win one
      proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell
      as yourselves….Serpents, brood of vipers!  How can you escape the con-
      demnation of hell?

Jesus certainly offended the Jewish leaders – so much so that they plotted His death!  Why did He do it?  He loved them!  In Luke 19:41, when the Lord began His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, it says, “Now as He drew near, He saw the city, and wept over it….”  Why?  Because Jesus knew the leaders and the people would generally reject Him, and He knew the resultant judgment – and it broke His heart!

      If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things which
      make for your peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes.  For the
      days will come upon you when your enemies will built an embankment
      around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you,
      and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in
      you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your
      visitation. (Luke 19:42-44).

Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone is to tell them of the danger toward which they are heading!  But you also are to tell them there is an alternative!  As Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

I was in a neighbor’s house the other day talking to a young man who is dating the neighbor’s daughter.  As we sat at the kitchen table, I could not help but notice the program on TV.  I do not know the channel or the program name, but it was featuring extreme partying.  It showed in more than one scene two women making out.  Another scene was a woman, having fallen down drunk, but wearing a short skirt and no underwear.  Although her private parts were blurred out, it didn’t take much imagination to fill in all the details.  I have been hooked in the past on pornography, and God delivered me from that addiction as well as others – alcohol, drugs, tobacco, food, etc.  But I knew if I watched such programming, even for awhile, I would be drawn back into that sinful addiction.

So I warned the young man to whom I was talking – asking him, “Do you realize what a regular diet of that kind of stuff will do to you?  You say you are a Christian.  Why are you allowing that into your mind?”  Was I offensive?  Probably.  But I care for this young man – I have known him since his birth!  And – from personal experience – I knew the danger into which he is heading!  I told him, “Let me share with you one verse that, if you obey what it says, will change your life!”  And then I read Philippians 4:8:

      Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, what-
      ever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely,
      whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is any-
      thing praiseworthy –– meditate on these things.

Will he take my warning from God’s Word to heart?  I hope so.  But risking offense, I had to warn him!

1983 Corvette

July 13, 2015

Nope!  This is not a 1983 Corvette!  It is a 1968 model!  I could not find a photo I could copy of a 1983 Corvette!

I Timothy 2:3-6

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Have you ever seen a 1983 Corvette?  You can see one at the National Corvette Museum – and it is the only one in existence!  Here’s the story of the missing Corvette (from www.corvetteblog.com/2007/02/corvette-museum-the-missing-1983-corvette/):

      The planned 1983 Corvette brought forward some of the most far reaching design
      changes in Corvette’s history….There were 43 pre-production models built (but)…
      Before production lines began, California voted to make emission controls more
      stringent than ever, and the 1983 model wasn’t prepared to deal with it.

      All 43 prototypes were ordered to be destroyed but canny assembly plant person-
      nel hid one vehicle for years, changing the paint scheme, and moving it around
      until they received a commitment from GM that it wouldn’t be destroyed.

There is just one 1983 Corvette! It is unique!

There is just one Savior – The Lord Jesus Christ!  And He is unique!  And He provides the only way to obtain eternal life!  This is how the Apostle Paul presents Jesus’ uniqueness in I Timothy 2:3 through 6:

      God our Savior…desires all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge
      of the truth.  For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men,
      the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all….

What would a 1983 Corvette be worth?  Remember, it is a brand new 32 year-old car that is one of a kind!  I suppose if it was parked in your garage or driveway, you might never again have to worry about having enough money!

But Jesus plainly challenged us in Mark 8:36 and 37:  “…what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  What is a person’s soul worth?  When a person is facing eternity, that person’s soul seems in his or her mind to go way up in value!

•      Queen Elizabeth the First of England died in 1603 at the age of 69.  Her dying words were, “All my possessions for one moment of time.

•      François-Marie Arouet (pen name – Voltaire) died in Paris at age 83.  He once said of Jesus, “Curse the wretch!”  But on his deathbed he cried out to his doctor, “I am abandoned by God and man!  I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months’ life.  Then I shall go to hell; and you will go with me.  O Christ!  O Jesus Christ!

•      Thomas Hobbs (political philosopher) was 91 when he died in Derbyshire, England.  His last words?  “I say again, if I had the whole world at my disposal,  I would give it to live one day.  I am about to take a leap into the dark.

So instead of owning an automobile – or anything else – that is worth a lot of money, own Jesus Christ as your Savior!  When the time comes for you to pass into eternity, He is of incalculable worth!  Having Him means (in the negative) you will not be condemned in His final judgment (see John 5:24), and you will not face the eternal fires of hell (see Revelation 2:11; 20:6)In the positive, you will reign with Him during the Millennium (see Revelation 20:6), and be with Him forever (see John 3:15, 16; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 9:12; I John 5:11-13).

Also – as if the eternal benefits were not enough! – Jesus came…that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  It would be redundant if Jesus was applying this to life in eternity.  After all, life with the Lord in heaven certainly will be abundant – and then some!  It is written in Revelation 21:4:

      And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more
      death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the for-
      mer things have passed away.

No, I believe abundant life refers to living here and now.  And it is not necessarily the abundance of mammon (John 6:24) – money and the material things money can buy.  I believe it refers to the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22 and 23 (NIV):  “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.If you have these nine manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit in your life – in all situations – then you will truly have abundant life!

So what would you rather have – a 1983 Corvette in your garage?  …or Jesus Christ in your heart?  …the One who said,I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly…?

99% Correct

July 10, 2015

II Timothy 3:16, 17

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

I read through the Bible once every six months.  It is a discipline I have been practicing for years.  It keeps the Word of God fresh for me, as I read through various versions, translations and paraphrases.  About every four or five times I go back and read through the King James – the version I cut my spiritual eye-teeth on in Seminary.  I just finished my 96th reading of the Bible, and many Christians may be surprised at the version I read – The New World Translation by the Jehovah’s Witness organization!  Why would I select that one?  I didn’t – God did!  My wife and I reside in a small village, and about half a dozen Jehovah’s Witnesses also live here.  As an outreach to our neighborhood, we began a weekly Bible study in our home, inviting all our neighbors to participate.  Last December, as I was nearing completion of my 95th reading, I asked God, “What version do you want me to read next?”  His answer surprised me!  “The New World Translation,” was impressed upon my mind.  I said, “God, are you sure?”  But it made sense.  If I was going to minister to Jehovah’s Witnesses, I should become familiar with what they are reading!

The New World Translation of The Holy Scriptures, as it is officially titled, was not an easy read!  The translators have tried to put into literal English what was originally written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.  But they are so literal, at times the English translation is rather tortured!  But it is pretty much a correct translation – 99% Correct!  But the 1% where they are not correct puts those who read and believe this version in grave danger!

The most egregious errors have to do with the Trinity – One God in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

•      Jehovah’s Witnesses deny that Jesus Christ is God the Son!  One of the most evident errors in the New World Translation concerns John 1:1 and 14.  The New King James translates it this way (as well as the fifteen other translations I checked do also):

      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
      was God….And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us….

But here is the same passage from the New World Translation:

      In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word
      was a god….So the Word became flesh and resided among us….

The literal translation from the Greek in John 1:1 is:  “In beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and God was the Word.”  There is no indefinite article in the Greek.  So if it was missing in “God was the Word,” then God could be translated with a small g – god.  But there is a definite article here in the Greek.  And so, it must be translated as the God or the Word.  By the way, it is that Word which became a human being according to John 1:14 – Jesus Christ!

Why is it so dangerous not to recognize Jesus as God?  He Himself told the Pharisees in John 8:24 (International Standard Version):  “That is why I told you that you will die in your sins, for unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.”  This is the correct translation of this scripture.  I AM refers back to Exodus 3 when God commissioned Moses to lead the Jews out of slavery in Egypt.

      Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and
      say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me,
      ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”  And God said to Moses, “I
      AM WHO I AM….Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent
      me to you.’  …This is My name forever…” (Exodus 3:13-15).

Unless you believe that Jesus Christ is very God – Jehovah God of the Old Testament – you will die in your sins!

•      Jehovah’s Witnesses deny that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity.  They claim that He is just the active impersonal force of Jehovah.  For instance, it says in Luke 4:1:

      And Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from Jordan and was
      led by the Spirit into the wilderness….

The New World Translation gives this rendering:

      Now Jesus, full of holy spirit, turned away from the Jordan, and he was led
      by the spirit in the wilderness.

In Acts 5:1 through 11 is the account of Ananias and Sapphira, husband and wife members of the early Jerusalem church.  Hard times had come upon the believers, and “…all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them…[to be] distributed to each as anyone had need.” (Acts 4:34, 35).  This couple sold land and turned in only part of the proceeds, keeping part of the money for themselves and lying about the amount received.  The sin was not in keeping some money but in the lying!  Peter challenged them:  “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…?  You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:4).

It is the Holy Spirit that is active in the world to bring people to Jesus Christ.  And Jesus said in Mark 3:29, “…he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation….”  Denying the Holy Spirit’s person-hood and deity is surely blaspheming against Him!

These are just two examples – a very small portion of the the whole of scripture – that the New World Translation gets wrong!  They may be 99% Correct with their version of the Bible, but 1% off is way off – eternally off!  Remember what II Timothy 3:16 and 17 says:

      All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,
      for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, That the man
      of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for all good works.

God inspired all scripture, and we are not to change any of it – not even 1%!