Alliterated Promises Of God — XII His Paradise!

I Corinthians 2:9;

Revelation 21:3-5

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

I had a difficult time finding what I thought was an appropriate picture of God’s Paradise! Too many depicted some of the qualities of heaven, but certainly not all! So I settled on one that was more symbolic – a brilliant light shining above dark clouds, and the light displacing the darkness!

Heaven is beyond our understanding, because we have never experienced anything similar to what it will be like! I believe that is why Saint Paul chose to quote Isaiah 64:4 when he wrote in I Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

  • For the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, concerning what is coming in the next phase of life…
     ✞   ...we have never seen anything like it!

     ✞   ...we have never heard about anything as wonderful as what 
         heaven will be!

     ✞   ...we have never even imagined anything so glorious as that 
         which Jesus has prepared for us in heaven!
  • Heaven is beyond our comprehension!
        Paul “...was caught up into Paradise...,” according to II 
         Corinthians 12:4. So amazing was the experience, he uses 
         the third person as he tries to describe it, as if it wasn’t 

            I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago — 
            whether in the body I do not know, or whether out 
            of the body I do not know, God knows — such a one 
            was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such 
            a man — whether in the body or out of the body I 
            do not know, God knows — how he was caught up into 
            Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it 
            is not lawful for a man to utter.

We don’t get much understandable information about Paradise from Paul, do we? It is so ‘other’ that he can’t even find words to describe it!

  • This makes me think of the apostle’s attempt in Ephesians 3:17 through 19 to describe the love of Christ:
         ...that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be 
         able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width 
         and length and depth and height – to know the love of 
         Christ which passes knowledge....

It reminds me of when years ago my three-year-old daughter tried to describe a commercial passenger jet she saw for the first time at the airport: “It’s big! It’s long! It’s wide! It’s high! It’s…it’s…it’s…! There was nothing in her limited vocabulary to adequately describe such a huge object! And there is nothing in ours that can adequately describe heaven!

Paradise passes human knowledge and understanding! Why is that? In I Timothy 6:15 and 16, Paul gives us a hint: “…He…is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see….

  • In Exodus 33, after the idolatrous golden calf incident; and after Moses interceded before God that the children of Israel should not be destroyed, Moses needed to be strengthened by the LORD!
     ✡   “And he said, ‘Please, show me Your glory.” (Exodus 33:18). 

     ✡   But God said:

             “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and 
             I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. 
             I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and 
             I will have compassion on whom I will have compas-
             sion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no 
             man shall see Me and live.” (Exodus 33:19 and 20).
  • We, who as mortals are enwrapped in sinful human flesh, cannot look upon the glory of God! So mighty, so intense is that glory, it would immediately consume our mortal being!
  • But someday, we will see Jesus in all His glory! And, as it says in I John 3:2, “…when He is revealed [at His return], we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
     Philippians 3:20 and 21 – “...the Lord Jesus Christ...
         will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed 
         to His glorious body, according to the working by which 
         He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.✞   This will be the culmination of the Father’s plan for 
         us:For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be 
         conformed the image of His Son....” (Romans 8:29).

         ➔   It is an ongoing process now! (see II Corin-
              thians 3:18).

         ➔   It will be completed then, when we see Him as 
              He is!

When Paul was caught up into Paradise…

  • …he was given a special glimpse of heaven – an unspeakable glimpse!
  • …he was, it seems, also given a special dispensation because he was not destroyed by this heavenly glimpse!

John the apostle was also given a glimpse of heaven, recorded in the book of Revelation! And while there is some description about heaven in Revelation (most of the book deals with God’s judgments on sinful mankind upon the earth), there is, in chapters 21 and 22 some tantalizing bits of information about Paradise! One of the ‘bits’ that encourages me the most is Revelation 21:3, 4 and 5:

     And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the 
     tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, 
     and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be their 
     God. 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 former things have passed 
     away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make 
     all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words 
     are true and faithful.”

In this world of what seems like ‘increasing woe’…

  • …national and international: pandemics, war, famine, terrorism, corruption.
  • …personal challenges of life:
     ➔   aches and pains of aging. 

     ➔   trying to balance fixed income with inflation. 

     ➔   struggles of relationships within the families of 
          those dear to us.

     ➔   the toll of sickness and disease on self or loved 

…verse four of Revelation 21 sounds very inviting:…there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain….

It puts me in a conundrum:

I can’t wait to get there!
I am not in a hurry to go there!

But because of what is planned for us as followers of Jesus Christ…

We will fully enjoy our eternal stay in God’s Paradise!

Alliterated Promises Of God — XI “All things are possible!”

Ezekiel 37:1-10; Mark 10:27

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

One of the most incredible visions in the Old Testament is recorded in Ezekiel 37:1 through 10 (I shortened this passage to save space without losing its meaning):

     The hand of the Lord...brought me out in the Spirit of the 
     Lord, and set me down in...the valley; and it was full of
     ...very dry...bones. And He said to me, “Son of man, can 
     these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” 
     Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones...‘O dry 
     bones, hear the word of the Lord!...Surely I will cause 
     breath to enter into you, and you shall live....Then you 
     shall know that I am the Lord.’” I prophesied...
     the bones came together, bone to bone....sinews and the 
     flesh came upon covered them...but there was 
     no breath in them....He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath
     ...and say...‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come...O breath, and 
     breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” So I prophe-
     sied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and 
     they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great 

The valley full of dry bones and their resurrection did not happen as an actual event. It was a vision. But the vision put forth a great lesson that the people of Israel needed to learn!

  • By this time, the Israelites had been carried away in three deportations to Babylon.
     ✡   God had warned them many times to turn from their 
         sins or He would punish them by reducing their na-
         tion of Israel to nothing! (see Leviticus 26:14-39).

     ✡   Many Jews had been killed and many had been taken 
         prisoner by the Babylonian king Nebachudnezzar.
  • Many of the cities and towns of Israel and Judah had been destroyed, including their capital city of Jerusalem!
  • The temple, where God was worshiped, was burned and torn down!

The LORD told Ezekiel, “…these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off.” (Ezekiel 37:11). They had no hope of God’s blessing, of being a nation again! But God had other plans!

  • As the dry bones were impossibly renewed and revived, so the Israelites would again be the LORD’s people in their own land! After seventy years God ended the Babylonian captivity, and the many of the Jews returned to their homeland! But this was just a preview…!
  • We might call it ‘the main event’ for about six hundred years after they returned from Babylon, …Israel was devastated by the Romans in 70 AD, and the Jews were dispersed world-wide!
     ✡   For almost nineteen centuries, many experienced a 
         precarious existence, suffering persecution, includ-
         ing six million Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust!

     ✡   But on May 14th, 1948, Israel once more became a 
         nation! So impossible was this event, that only God 
         could do it! Isaiah 66:8 and 9 records the prophesy:

            Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such 
            things? Shall the earth be made to give birth 
            in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? 
            For as soon as Zion was in labor,   She gave 
            birth to her children. Shall I bring to the time 
            of birth, and not cause delivery?" says the Lord. 
            "Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?" 
            says your God.
  • Actually, ‘the main eventis yet to come!
     ✡   Zechariah 14:2 and 3 gives a brief description of this 
         final (yet future) devastation of Israel: 

            For I will gather all the nations to battle 
            against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, 
            The houses rifled, And the women ravished. 
            Half of the city shall go into captivity, But 
            the remnant of the people shall not be cut 
            off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth 
            And fight against those nations, As He fights 
            in the day of battle.

     ✡   Many pre-millennialists (those who believe Jesus re-
         turns to initiate the Millennial Kingdom) hold that 
         this main event will take place in the Tribulation 
         (the last seven years before Christ returns).

What has all this to do with our second featured Scripture, Mark 10:27?…with God all things are possible….Only God can do the impossible…

  • …of making a nation out of one century-old man, Abraham; and his ninety-year-old wife, Sarah! But they are the progenitors of Israel.
  • …of flourishing a Bedouin family into a multi-million number of people!
  • …of rescuing an enslaved multitude from the most powerful nation at that time in the earth!
  • …of providing for two to three million people in the desert for forty years!
  • …of bringing them into the Promised Land already occupied by powerful kingdoms!
  • …of preserving that people through more than 3,000 years of challenges that would have wiped out forever other nations, kingdoms, and empires!
  • …of making Israel (and Jerusalem) the center of His eternal kingdom!

God is the LORD of the Possible!

But let’s look further at Mark 10:27: “Jesus said, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.

  • The context starts in Mark 10:17 when the rich young ruler (rich see Mark 10:22; young see Matthew 19:20; ruler see Luke 18:18) who sincerely asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
     Because this young man was already outwardly ob-
         servant of the Jewish rabbinical law, it seems he 
         was looking for the Good Teacher’s confirmation 
         and blessing that he was on the right path!

     But Jesus began to answer him by a question and a 

         ➔   Mark 10:18 – “Why do you call Me good? 
              No one is good but One, that is, God.” 
              He was saying, “If you call Me good, 
              acknowledge that I am God!”

         ➔   Mark 10:19 – “You know the commandments: 
              ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ 
              Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not de-
              fraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’” 

         ➔   Notice: The Lord left out some very impor-
              tant commandments – exactly half of the 
              Ten Commandments: 

             ❏   Exodus 20:3 – “You shall have no 
                  other gods before Me.” 

             ❏   Exodus 20:4 – “You shall not make 
                  for yourself any carved image....”

             ❏   Exodus 20:7 – “You shall not take 
                  the name of the LORD your God in 

             ❏   Exodus 20:8 – “Remember the Sabbath 
                  day, to keep it holy.”

             ❏   Exodus 20:17 – “You shall not covet....The young man answered, “Teacher, all these things 
         I have observed from my youth.” (Mark 10:20).

         ➔   He had kept the commandments that Jesus 
              mentioned – at least outwardly!But the first and the last of the Ten 
              Commandments (in those listed that Jesus 
              left out), have to do with idolatry and 

             ❏   ...Paul says in Colossians 3:5, 
                  “ idolatry

             ❏   Apparently, the young man was 
                  covetous because he was very 
                  wrapped up in his wealth, put-
                  ting material riches ahead of 
                  God! How do we know?...

        Jesus told him in Mark 10:21, “One thing you lack: 
         Go...sell whatever you have and give to the poor, 
         and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, 
         take up your cross, and follow Me.”

     ✞   And the rich young ruler couldn’t do it! It says in 
         Mark 10:22, ...he was sad at this word, and went 
         away grieved, for he had great possessions.
  • Jesus then turned to His disciples: hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter 
      the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through 
      the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the king-
      dom of God. (Mark 10:24 and 25).

     In Mark 10:26 it says, “...they were astonished 
         beyond measure, saying..., “Who then can be saved?” 
         The general teaching among the Jews was that if a 
         person was prosperous and rich, it meant he had God’s 
         blessing! (see for instance Psalm 112:1-3; Proverbs 
         13:21; 24:4).

     And this is when “...Jesus said, ‘With men it is im-
         possible, but not with God; for with God all things 
         are possible.’

Now, what are the impossibilities and possibilities in your life?

If you are in His Word…
If you are seeking His will…
If you are obeying His leading…
If you are waiting on Him in prayer…


…with God all things are possible…!

Alliterated Promises Of God — X He Hears Our Prayers!

Jeremiah 33:3; I Peter 3:12

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

I did an internet search on “How many Scripture verses in the Bible are about prayer?

  • One site reported there are 367 verses about prayer in the Bible!
  • Another site claimed 508 verses!
  • A third site gave the answer at 650 verses!

One thing is sure: There are a lot of Scriptures concerning prayer in the Bible!

So it was not an easy task to pick out two featured Scriptures concerning prayer for this Gem! But here they are. The first is Jeremiah 33:3. If you remember telephone numbers before the advent of area codes and the standardization of the number of digits, then you are as ancient as I am!

  • The first telephone number I remember was when I was growing up on a Connecticut dairy farm in the Berkshire Mountains. There were no buttons to push, not even a rotary dial on the phone. And our phone number was 90J3!
  • Then came some standardization. We moved off the farm, and as a teenager I remember our first rotary dial phone, a wall model. Our number was ENdicott 4-5298 (or 364-5298).
  • Finally, when area codes began to be commonplace, our assigned Connecticut code was (203). This is still applied to southeastern Connecticut, along with 475. Covering the rest of the state, two more have been added, 860 and 959.

But back to ancient telephone numbers: JEremiah 333 (Jeremiah 33:3) could be one of them! And so it is called, God’s telephone number! For in that verse He says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

But this telephone numberis not available to just anyone! There are qualifications:

  • Consider the context ofGod’s telephone number” – From chapter 29 through chapter 33, the LORD is giving encouraging words to the Israelites who were exiled in Babylon!
     ✡   Jeremiah 29:1 through 23 describes a letter God had 
         Jeremiah write to the captive Jews.  

         ➔   They will be in Babylon 70 years (see Jeremiah 
              25:11) – the number of years that the Israelites 
              failed to let their homeland rest every seventh 
              year! (see Leviticus 25:4; II Chronicles 36:21). 
              We must be reconciled to God, follow His ways, 
              or we will find ourselves cast out from Him!God will rescue the Jews and bring them back to 
              the Promised Land! (see Jeremiah 29:10). The 
              Promised Land for us today is located in Jesus 
              Christ Himself! When we open our hearts and lives 
              to Him, “...we are in Him, and He in us....” 
              (I John 4:13). So the Jesus can say, “ will 
              be where I am.” (John 14:3 – Good News Bible).

         ➔   In the meantime, the Jews were to “ 
              houses...plant gardens....Take wives...beget 
              sons and daughters....And seek the peace of 
              [Babylon] ....” (Jeremiah 29:5-7). Turn to 
              Him where you find yourself right now! He 
              will receive you!

         ➔   Jeremiah 29:11 through 14 is perhaps the best 
              known Scripture in this prophetic book:

                For I know the thoughts that I think toward 
                you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and 
                not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 
                Then you will call upon Me and go and pray 
                to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will 
                seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me 
                with all your heart. I will be found by you, 
                says the Lord, and I will bring you back from 
                your captivity....God has a wonderful future for His 
                   obedient children!Call upon Him, and pray to Him, and 
                   He will listen!To find the LORD, search for Him with 
                   all your heart.If anything has you enslaved, He can 
                   free you! (see John 8:34, 36).

     ✡   In Jeremiah chapter 30 and 31, God promises to bless the 
         Jews and to return them to their homeland in Israel! (see 
         Jeremiah 30:3). In John 10:10 the Lord Jesus says this: 
         “I have come that they may have life, and that they may 
         have it more abundantly.”

         ➔   I believe life refers to the next phase of life 
              in heaven with Him! If life more abundantly re-
              fers to our future life in heaven, that would 
              be rather redundant because, of course, life 
              in heaven will be abundant! 

         ➔   I think abundant life refers to the abundance 
              that God has for us here and now. 

              ❏   He is not necessarily referring to ma-
                  terial riches, although He does promise 
                  to meet our physical and material needs 
                  (see Alliterated Promises of God – XIII; 
                  His Provision). 

              ❏   The abundance that we need in this life 
                  is the LORD Himself, and what He gives us 
                  through His Holy Spirit! The best gifts 
                  to those who are His saved children are 
                  listed in Galatians 5:22 and 23, called 
                  the fruit of the, joy, 
                  peace, patience, kindness, goodness, 
                  faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” 
                  (Lexham English Bible). In any situation 
                  we encounter, possessing these spiritual 
                  qualities, what more could we want?

     ✡   Jerusalem had been demolished and burned by the Babylonian 
         army (see Jeremiah 39:8). But in chapter 32, God promised 
         to see that Jerusalem, and all of Israel, would be rebuilt! 
         (see Jeremiah 32:36-44). No matter the extent of the wreck 
         so many have made of their lives, the LORD can rebuild and 
         restore what has been broken and ruined!

     ✡   The Jews had broken God’s covenant by their many sins, es-
         pecially their blatant practice of idolatry! But in Jeremiah 
         chapter 33, He tells His people He will reconfirm His cove-
         nant with them:

              Thus says the LORD, “If My covenant is not with 
              day and night, and if I have not appointed the 
              ordinances of heaven and earth, then I will cast 
              away the descendants of Jacob and David My ser-
              vant, so that I will not take any of his descen-
              dants to be rulers over the [Israelites]....for 
              I will cause their captives [Jews in Babylon and 
              elsewhere] to return, and will have mercy upon 

         Starting at Pentecost, God, through Jesus Christ, has made 
         a new covenant with His children!I will put my laws into 
         their hearts, and in their minds will I will write them....
         Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 
         (Hebrews 10:16 and 17).

Consider again JEremiah 333 (Jeremiah 33:3) – God’s telephone number:Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” As you can see in the examples concerning the Israelites, the LORD demands certain things, certain conditions of us before He will answer our call!

  • The second featured Scripture is I Peter 3:12 (quoting Psalm 34:15, 16). It is the condensed answer to the questions concerning God responding to our prayers – “…the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.
     The righteous are those who have been made righteous by 
         Jesus, “...who knew no sin [and became] sin for us, that 
         we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” When 
         we put our trust in Him, He applies His forgiveness of 
         our sins, forgiveness that by dying on the cross He has 
         already purchased for everyone, and then He clothes us 
         with His own perfect righteousness!

     He “ against those who do evil...” 

         ➔   “...those who are evil...”are people who have 
              rejected God’s offer of salvation – which is 
              the worst sin there is!...are also Christians who have not come under 
              the lordship of Christ, and live as if obedience 
              to God does not matter!
  • I Peter 3:7 – “…husbands, dwell with [your wives]…giving her honor…as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
Ephesians 5:25 through 29 gives more complete instructions 
         for how a married couple should treat each other.

     Extending the application of this Scripture: God answering 
         our prayers can be hindered by our treatment of one another! 
  • James 4:2 and 3 – “…you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
     ✞   Christians are told to ask! They “...ought always to pray 
         and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1). 

     ✞   And they are to keep on asking!...ask, and it will be 
         given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will 
         be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he 
         who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” 
         (Lule 11:9 and 10).

There are other specifics that the Bible mentions concerning God answering our prayers. But it comes down to this – Psalm 37:3 through 5:

     Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in [Him]...and feed on His 
     faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and he shall 
     give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, 
     trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

Trust also in Him,
and He shall bring it to pass!

Alliterated Promises Of God – IX His Peace!

Isaiah 26:3, 4; John 14:27

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

I once preached a sermon called “Pray For Whirled Peas!” I was not being sacrilegious, I was making a point: for Jesus said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.In this old world we will have tribulation, trouble, persecution, heart ache, sorrow, and tears – not all the time, but we will have our share, especially as Christians! Why is that?

  • I John 5:19 (International Standard Version) – “We know that we are from God and that the whole world lies under the control of the evil one.
Satan has had control over...all the kingdoms of the 
         world and their glory...” (Matthew 4:8), ever since Adam 
         obeyed the devil rather than God (see Genesis 3:1-7; 
         Romans 5:12), and he passed that disobedience on to all 
         of us! (see Romans 5:12).

     ✡   As Jesus told the Pharisees, so it applies to all mankind: You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your 
         father you want to do.
  • That’s why we all need to be saved from sin, death, and hell! And the only way of salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ, and what He did for us on the cross!
     For it is written in I John 5:11 and 12, “And this is the 
         testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this 
         life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life, and he 
         who does not have the Son of God does not have life.Acts 4:12 makes it very exclusive: “Nor is there salvation 
         in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given 
         among men by which we must be saved.

So we cannot expect peace, in the world, or from the world! And if we pray for world peace (peace between nations, people groups, as well as individuals), we might just as well pray forwhirled peas!

But what of God’s peace in personal situations?

Consider Isaiah 26:3 and 4 – “You [LORD] will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in the LORD Jehovah is everlasting strength.” (I quoted the King James Version in the second half of verse 4). I have used the truth of this Scripture many times, and it has always brought me peace! (Read the Gem, “Perfect Peace in a Dentist Chair!March 25, 2013).

But there are some conditions that must be met to experience God’s peace!

  • Verse 3 – “…whose mind is stayed on You….” The word ‘stayed‘ is the Hebrew word סמך (pronounced saw-mak’) meaning, according to Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions, “…to lean…lean upon…lean against…lay…lay upon…rest…rest upon…put, uphold…sustain…to support or brace oneself…refresh, revive….
     ✡   It reminds me of Psalm 55:22, “Cast your burden on the 
         LORD, and He shall sustain you.... The burden you are 
         casting upon Him turns out to be YOU, whom He sustains!You are to cast yourself upon God, fixing your mind on 
         Him, and staying there, resting in Him!
  • Verse 3 – “…because he trusts in You.” When you are resting upon the LORD, you are trusting that He will uphold you!Trust‘ in Hebrew is בּטח (pronounced baw-takh’) meaning “…to trust, trust in, to have confidence…to be secure…to feel safe….” (Ibid.)
     ✡   Proverbs 3:5 and 6 addresses this issue of trust: “Trust 
         in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own 
         understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, And He 
         shall direct your paths.”  

     ✡   Such trust is learned by practice! Apparently, Isaiah 
         could write “...because he trusts in You...because he 
         had done it many times before, and found that it worked!
  • Verse 4 – “Trust in the LORD forever…Be consistent in your trust in the LORD!
  • Verse 4 – “…for in the LORD Jehovah is everlasting strength.” This is the reason for trusting God – His everlasting strength!
He is the LORD Jehovah! The two words of His name in 
         Hebrew are יְהֹוָה יָהּ (pronounced yah yeh-ho-vah’reading 
         right to left in Hebrew) meaning the same for each word: 
         “The self-existent One....the proper name of God.” (Ibid.)

     ✡   He is always strong, and His ultimate and trustworthy 
         strength never varies!

He is trustworthy to give you peace!
So trust Him!

John 14:27 is perhaps the best New Testament Scripture concerning peace, and it is spoken by Jesus Himself:Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” This verse is part of four chapters (John 13, 14, 15, and 16) where Jesus has last interactions with His disciples just hours before His arrest, condemnation, and crucifixion!

Peace…not as the world gives do I give to you.” I briefly discussed above why no one can find peace in the world! According to Jesus, the devil, who pulls the strings of the world system, only comes “…to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (John 10:10). You can’t expect someone with that agenda to give anyone peace!

Remember, Jesus was leaving His disciples, and they were sad! (see John 16:6). They had been with Him for most of His three-plus years of ministry, and now they were losing their beloved Leader! But He comforts them with several promises:

  • In My Father’s house…I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).
  • …I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3).
  • …he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12)
  • …the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you…and will keep on living in you….The Spirit will show you what is true.” (John 14:16, 17 – Contemporary English Version).
  • These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11).
  • …I chose…and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain….” (John 15:16).
  • …I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” (John 16:22).
  • Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” (John 16:23).

And among His promises of ultimate victory, the Lord also promised to give His followers peace – His peace!Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you….This amazes me! Just hours before His suffering, death, and having to bear the sin of all humanity, Jesus is talking about His peace! Yes, it is written that…

  • …He confessed,Now is My soul troubled…[because] for this purpose I came to this hour [of suffering and death]” (John 12:27).
  • …He sweat blood in the garden as He prayed,Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me, nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42).
  • …He knew Judas would betray Him! (see John 6:70, 71).
  • …He knew all the disciples would be offended and run away! (see Matthew 26:31).

But Jesus also knew His sacrifice would reconcile all mankind, yea, all creation unto God! According to Hebrews 12:2, this was …the joy that was set before Him, [that reconciliation that made]…Him endure the cross, despising the shame…and complete what was needed for such an amazing salvation outcome!

And so the Lord Jesus had peace concerning that which, by His passion and crucifixion, needed to be done! And …My peace I give to you.

  • If Jesus could have peace and even joy through His suffering and death…
  • If His peace carried Him to and through the resurrection…
  • If the peace of God eternally surrounds Him on His heavenly throne…
  • If He offers us that same peace

Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid.

Alliterated Promises Of God – VIII His Provision!

Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:19

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

The first featured Scripture is quite long, but it is perhaps the best one that deals with where our priorities ought to be! Here is what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:24 through 34 in the Sermon on the Mount:

     You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do 
     not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will 
     drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life 
     more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the 
     birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather 
     into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not 
     of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one 
     cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Con-
     sider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither 
     toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all 
     his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so 
     clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow 
     is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O 
     you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What 
     shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we 
     wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your 
     heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek 
     first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these 
     things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about 
     tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Suf-
     ficient for the day is its own trouble. 

At the end of verse 24 (the beginning of our featured Scripture), the Lord said, “You cannot serve God and mammon.What is mammon? Basically, it means money and the things money can buy! A lot of people serve mammon! And if they serve mammon, they cannot be serving God! Why?

  • Because Jesus said so! I quoted just the last words of Matthew 6:24, above. The whole verse says this: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
  • In Exodus 20:5 we are told by God Himself, “For I, the LORD your God am a jealous God….” In other words, He brooks no rivals!
     ✞   He created us to love, worship, and serve Him!

     And anything that rivals Him in our hearts and lives 
         is putting that thing first, and displaces the LORD 
         from His rightful position as Ruler in our lives! 
         That ‘anything’ that takes God’s first place is 
         called idolatry! 

     The very first of the Ten Commandments highlights this 
         issue: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” 
         (Exodus 20:3).
  • Paul deals with ‘mammon’ in I Timothy 6:9 and 10: “…those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil.
  • In Revelation 18:11 through 13, John is shown a vision of Babylon totally destroyed! Babylon represents the world commerce system! And now it lays in ruins:
       And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, 
       for no one buys their merchandise anymore: merchandise of 
       gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and 
       purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every 
       kind of object of ivory, every kind of object made of pre-
       cious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and in-
       cense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine 
       flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and 
       bodies and souls of men.

In writing lists in Greek language, the lists are given in the order of most important to least important from the perspective of the one (ones) making the list.

  • Consider the merchants of the earth – notice of the 28 commodities listed what is most important and what is least:
     ✞   The two most important items – gold and silver!

     ✞   The two least important items – The bodies and souls 
         of men!Bodies of men represent the needs of people in 
              this world – mainly physical needs which are of 
              temporal importance! The world may seem to care 
              about physical needs of people – hunger, health, 
              homelessness, etc. 

              ❏   But what about thousands upon thousands 
                  that die or are injured in war?

              ❏   What about political suppression of people 
                  in certain countries?

              ❏   What about the drug epidemic?

              ❏   What about human trafficking?

              ❏   What about the rise in gun violence and 
                  crime in general?

              ❏   What about abortion?

         ➔   Souls of men represent the spiritual needs of 
              people, which are of eternal importance! Does 
              the world care...

              ❏   ...that God offers eternal salvation 
                  for all?

              ❏   ...that eternal suffering in hell is 
                  the only alternative?
  • In the buying and selling of earth-bound merchandise… and silver take precedence! It is the bottom 
         line that counts!

        ...bodies and souls of men (and women) are expendable!  

Now turn that list in Revelation 18:11 through 13 completely upside down and you will have God’s perspective of what is most precious to Him, and what is least precious!

  • He already owns all the gold and silver! (see below).
  • He is concerned…
     ✞   ...for the bodily needs – physical, mental, emotional, 
         relational needs, yes, but...

     ✞   ...especially for the spiritual condition......of His people, that they would grow and 
              mature in their Christian faith! (see 
              Ephesians 4:15).

         ➔   ...of all mankind, that the lost would be 
              saved! (see Luke 19:10).

So what are YOU pursuing? In Matthew 6:33 of our featured Scripture, Jesus gives us the proper pursuit: …seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

God’s got all the rest!

In our second featured Scripture, Philippians 4:19, Paul succinctly sums it up: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” How rich is God?

  • Psalm 50:9 through 12 gives a hint how rich God is:
       I will not take a bull from your house, nor goats out of 
       your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the 
       cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the 
       mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I 
       were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, 
       and all its fulness.
  • John W. Peterson wrote a song about this Psalm 50 passage:

He owns the cattle on a thousand hills
The wealth in every mine,
He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,
The sun and stars that shine,
Wonderful riches more than tongue can tell
He is my Father so they’re mine as well
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,
I know that He will care for me.

Someone has said, “‘He owns the cattle on a thousand hills…’ with the price of beef today, God is certainly rich!” And, as Peterson wrote, “He is my Father so they’re mine as well…!

But remember…

  • He only gives good gifts! (see Matthew 7:11). He gives nothing that will destroy us!
  • He has already given us the best – His Son Jesus Christ! Anything else He could gice us is a lesser gift! (see Romans 8:31, 32).

One more thing:

Our Heavenly Father knows what is best for us!
He will give us what we need,
not always what we want!

Alliterated Promises of God–VII-b His Protection!

Psalm 91:9-13; Mark 16:17, 18

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

Above is a photo of the Codex Sinaiticus, one of the two oldest and most complete manuscripts of the complete Bible! The word Codex means that the manuscript is in book form instead of written on a scroll. We will see more of the significance of this ancient copy of the Bible in a moment.

The second featured Scripture of God’s Protection is Mark 16:17 and 18:

     And these signs will follow those who believe: In My [Jesus’] 
     name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new 
     tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any-
     thing deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay 
     hands on the sick, and they will recover.  

This Scripture is controversial because some scholars say the whole section of Mark 16:9 through 20 was not in the original Biblical autographs (manuscripts), while others say those twelve verses belong there. Here is the note in the New Scofield Reference Bible concerning this section:

     Verses 9–20 [of Mark 16] are not found in the two most ancient 
     mss. [manuscripts], the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus; others have 
     them with partial omissions and variations. But the passage is 
     quoted by Irenaeus and Hippolytus in the second or third cen-

Here is more information on the two manuscripts mentioned:

  • The Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in 1844 by Constantine von Tischendorf in Saint Catherine’s Monastery located on Mount Sinai. Written in Koine (common) Greek, it is generally dated to about the middle of the fourth century (350 AD). Tischendorf postulated it to be one of the fifty Bibles commissioned by Roman Emperor Constantine in 331 AD. While the entire New Testament is present, there are several parts that are missing or read differently than our modern Bible. One of the main omissions is Mark 16:9 through 20, which includes Mark’s brief version of the resurrection and Jesus’ post-resurrection ministry!
  • The Codex Vaticanus is named for its housing in the Vatican since the fifteenth century. It is another Greek codex manuscript containing most of the New Testament (missing is text from Hebrews 9:14 through Revelation, including Philemon). Some scholars consider it slightly older than the Sinaiticus, and some think they are both from Emperor Constantine’s 331 AD order to produce fifty copies of the Bible.

Scofield also mentions Irenaeus and Hippolytus.

  • Irenaeus was the disciple of Polycarp who was the disciple of the Apostle John. In 184 AD Irenaeus wrote in Book 3, chapter 10 of Against Heresies, “Toward the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says, ‘So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God.’” (compare with Mark 16:19).
  • Hippolytus, in the year 220 AD, wrote Apostolic Tradition. In Book 8, he quoted Mark 16:17 and 18, also alluding to verse 15:
       With good reason did He [Jesus] say to all of us together, 
       when we were perfected concerning those gifts which were 
       given from Him by the Spirit, ‘Now these signs shall fol-
       low those who have believed: in My name they shall cast 
       out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall 
       take up serpents; and if they happen to drink any deadly 
       thing, it shall by no means hurt them; they shall lay 
       hands on the sick, and they shall recover.’ These gifts 
       were first bestowed on us the apostles when we were about 
       to preach the gospel to every creature, and afterwards 
       were of necessity afforded to those who had by our means 
       believed, not for the advantage of those who perform them, 
       but for the conviction of unbelievers.
  • Several other early church fathers alluded to Mark 16:9 through 20.

The point is, the last twelve verses of Mark 16 were recognized as part of the original gospel of Mark at least 150 years before the codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus were written!

Why were these dozen verses eliminated from the gospel of Mark? I have a theory why Mark 16:9 through 20 is missing from these two manuscripts! Read again Mark 16:17 and 18 above, noting especially the signs that are to follow those who believe:

  • The signs: “…cast out demons…speak with new tongues…take up serpents…drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them…lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.How many of these signs are regularly evident in today’s churches?
  • They were evidenced in the New Testament church!

But it takes faith in and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ for these signs to be manifested in a Christian’s life!

A history-making declaration was proclaimed by the Roman emperor Constantine when he issued The Edict of Milan in February, 313 AD. Four months before he had faced Maxentius, who desired to become emperor. Maxentius had superiority of a larger and better equipped army. But as Constantine marched to engage his enemy, he looked up at the sun and saw a cross above it with the Greek words meaning, “In this [sign] conquer.” That night in a dream, Christ appeared to the emperor and explained that he was to use this sign against his enemies.

At Milvian Bridge the next day, under the sign of Chi-Rho (the first two Greek letters of the Jesus’ title ‘Christ‘), Constantine won the victory and marched into Rome! Four months later, Christianity became a legal religion of the Roman Empire (other religions were also legalized), and the persecution of Christians was halted!

Many in the empire became Christians! But for many, it was the expedient thing to do! They were ‘Christian’ in name but not in heart commitment!

And so, Christianity was ‘watered down’!

Mark 16:16 describes the beginning of a true Christian life: He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

  • I do not adhere to the teaching that a person must be baptized to become a Christian. There are historical incidences where true believers were not baptized!

In 320 AD forty soldiers of the Roman Army refused to offer sacrifice to the emperor. As punishment, they were whipped and then sentenced to die on an ice-covered pond in Sevaste (in the modern country of Turkey). If they relented and offered the sacrifice, they would live. Instead they raised a prayer: “Lord, there are forty of us engaged in this battle; grant that forty may be crowned and not one be wanting from this sacred number.

But one soldier eventually crawled off the ice, only to die of shock when placed in a warm bath. One of the Roman guards surrounding the pond saw a vision of angels ready to crown the martyrs and clothe them with rich robes! When he then saw the one crawling off the ice, he stripped off his clothes and joined the thirty-nine faithful – once again, forty martyrs!

That one was not baptized! But surely he is in heaven with his Lord!

  • Baptism should be one of the first things a new believer should do, showing his identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism by full immersion is a beautiful picture of that identification, and water is the perfect medium to show that.

I suppose you could dig a hole in the ground, place the new Christian in the ‘grave,’ cover that one over with dirt, and then dig him or her up again! That would also picture our association with the Savior. But….that buried one just might not be dug up in time!

  • He who believes…will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16). The Greek word for believes is πιστεύω (pronounced pist-yoo’-o), and meaning, “…to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well-being to Christ)….” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).

Such belief involves giving oneself to the Savior…heart…soul…mind, and…strength…” (Mark 12:30).

  • It means crucifying daily the old sinful nature (self), so the new godly nature can be controlled by the Holy Spirit! (see Mark 8:34-38; Galatians 2:20).
  • It means in every decision praying the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane:Father…nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42).

It is that kind of commitment, that kind of faith, that will result in…

       ...these signs [following]...those who believe: In [Jesus’] they will cast out demons; they will speak with new 
       tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any-
       thing deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay 
       hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17, 18).

In order to ‘make Christianity easier’ for nominal believers, it was easier to take Mark 16:8 through 20 out of the Bible (the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus testifying to this), than to train immature Christians…up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4).

All this to say…

God’s protection,
cited in Mark 16:17 and 18,
is valid for believers today!

Alliterated Promises Of God–VII-a His Protection!

Psalm 91:9-13; Mark 16:17, 18

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

I was coming home from Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania. As pastor of United Baptist Church of Taylor, I was often calling on parishioners who had been admitted to one of the three Scranton hospitals. This was a late night emergency visit! One of the men of my church had experienced a heart attack! I spent a brief moment of prayer and encouragement with the patient in the emergency room, and some extended time with the family. I left about 2AM to drive home to Taylor, about four miles away. The January night was cold. As I left the hospital I turned right on Pine Street and headed down the Scranton Hill section, driving my 1972 Plymouth Fury, a gem of a car with very few miles on it for a twelve year old automobile. I was a half-block away from North Washington Avenue when the traffic light turned green, so I was just driving straight through to Wyoming Avenue.

All of a sudden a voice shouted, “Slow down!” It surprised me so much I screeched to a stop before I drove through the intersection. At that moment a car ran the red light on Washington Avenue at about a hundred miles an hour! I would have been right in the path of that car with perhaps deadly results! I looked around to see who had warned me. No one was on the sidewalks at two in the morning! Besides, the windows of the car were closed, and I had the heater going full blast! I even looked in the back seat of my car – the voice was that loud and distinct! I came to the realization that the Lord had most likely sent His angel to warn me of the collision!

This was not the only time God has rescued me from serious injury or death – that I know of! But I will save other incidents for another time.

The point is, the truth of Psalm 91:9 through 13 can become very real in a Christian’s life:

     Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the 
     Most High, your habitation, no evil shall befall you, nor 
     shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give 
     His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. 
     They shall bear you up in their hands lest you dash your 
     foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the 
     cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample un-
     derfoot. Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I 
     will deliver him....

Obviously, this Scripture applies to Jesus! During His temptations on the mountain in the wilderness, Satan tempted Him three times. The second temptation is recorded in Matthew 4:5 and 6:

     Then the devil took Him up into the holy city [Jerusalem], 
     set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If 
     You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is writ-
     ten: “He shall give His angels charge concerning You,” and, 
     “In their hands they shall bear You up, lest You dash Your 
     foot against a stone.” 

Notice, although the devil quoted verse 11 of Psalm 91, he left out seven important words:…to keep You in all Your ways.All of Jesus’ ways (what He said and did) were directly received from the Father! For He told the Pharisees in John 8:28, “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak [and do] these things….And since obeying Satan’s command to…throw Yourself down…was not part of the Father’s plan for His Son, He didn’t do it! He responded to the devil’s temptation by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.” (Matthew 4:7).

The interpretation of our featured Scripture is directly associated with the Lord Jesus, but it also applies to us! How is that connection made?

  • Jesus is called…the Son of God….” (Mark 1:1 – see also Luke 1:35; John 1:34; 20:31; Hebrews 4:4; I John 5:20; Revelation 2:18).
  • We are also sons and daughters of God through faith in Jesus! (see John 1:12). That means, Jesus is our elder brother, and we are His younger siblings! (see Hebrews 2:11).

So, Christians have the protection of the LORD, and of His mighty angels, just as Jesus did! According to Hebrews 1:13 we are told concerning God’s angels, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” That does not mean we can act foolishly and expect to get away with it. Some wag has said, “Remember that if you have a lead foot on the accelerator of your car, guardian angels retire at 65!” We must always live to please the LORD by obedience to His Word! Note that the opening two verses of Psalm 91 (the Psalm of our first featured Scripture) read as follows:

     He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall 
     abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the 
     LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will 
     I trust.”

What is “…the secret place of the Most High…” in which we are to dwell?

  • I Chronicles 16 includes a psalm of thanksgiving written by David (see also Psalm 105). In verse 11 we read, “Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore!” (see also II Chronicles 7:14). Seeking God’s face is a biblical injunction that we are to get to know intimately the whole Person of the LORD
     ✞ He thinks!

     ✞ He loves! 

     ✞   ...His compassion for His children!

     ✞   ...His hatred of sin!

     ✞   ...His planned salvation for all mankind!

     ✞   ...the cost of that salvation!

     ✞   ...His judgment of all the wicked! 

…and so much more.

  • I believe the best description of living in “…the secret place of the Most High…” is Paul’s declaration in Philippians 3:10 through 14 of the goals of his Christian life:
         ...that I may know Him [Jesus Christ] and the 
         power of His resurrection, and the fellowship 
         of His suffering, being conformed to His death, 
         if by any means, I may attain to the resurrec-
         tion from the dead. Not that I have already at-
         tained, or am already perfected; but I press on, 
         that I may lay hold of that for which Christ 
         Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do 
         not count myself to have apprehended; but one 
         thing I do, forgetting those things which are 
         behind and reaching forward to those things 
         which are ahead, I press toward the goal for 
         the prize of the upward call of God in Christ 

Is that your goal? Is that my goal? To know Him, to follow Him, to trust Him, to the end of our days? – “…even the death of the cross…? (Philippians 2:8).

We will tackle Mark 16:17 and 18, the second featured Scripture concerning God’s Protection in the next Gem.

Alliterated Promises Of God – VI His Path!

Psalm 25:4, 5; Isaiah 30:21

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

Have you ever been lost on the way to an important appointment? Some years ago I was on my way to a dentist appointment to get a cap reglued to the root of one of my front teeth. How did it come about that I broke that cap off? I’m glad you asked!

It was my candidating sermon for my second church. I would preach the Sunday morning service where the congregation could see how well I did in the pulpit, after which they would vote me in or out as their next pastor. That’s how it is done in most Baptist churches. During the break between Sunday school and the worship service, I and several men were standing in the parking lot talking. One of the men offered me a Sen-Sen breath freshener – one of those licorice-tasting black had little candies. As I nervously bit down on the Sen-Sen, the cap from my front tooth popped out of my mouth! I whissstled and ssspit all over my sermon notes that morning! It was a sssserious sssermon, and there were quite a few giggles and chuckles during my delivery! But I was called to be the pastor of West Lenox Baptist Church!

Back to the dentist appointment: It was my first visit to this particular dentist, and I was taking a shortcut on a country dirt road to get there in plenty of time. But I came to an unmarked fork in the road, and I didn’t know which way to go! After trying to figure out which road to take, I decided to pray about it. There in the car I bowed my head:

     God, I know You know which road to take, and I don’t. And I 
     don’t think you want me to be late for my dentist appointment. 
     It also says in Proverbs 3:5 and 6, “Show me Your ways, O LORD, 
     teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for 
     You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.

I didn’t hear a voice saying “Take the right hand road,” or “Take the left.” But I chose one way over the other and it was the correct choice! Now you can say I had a 50% chance of making the right decision. But I believe God showed me His way, and taught me which path to take! Why? Because He is the God of my salvation; and I try to wait on Him all the day!

There are much bigger decisions in life than choosing which of two roads to take! But the Scripture stands, and so does the principle behind it!

  • What profession do you want me to follow, Lord?” This is a good question to ask God in high school or later, or even before.
  • Where should I go to college? Or should I train for a more blue-collar profession?” This can be asked before your first career, or even before a second or third career choice.
  • Whom should I date, God?” And when a relationship becomes serious, “Whom should I marry?” This is important even when we start dating, because emotional attachment can become serious. To follow your heart without thinking and praying it through can be dangerous! (see Jeremiah 17:9).
  • How many children should we have? What kind of parenting skills do I and my mate need to learn?

There are hundreds of other decisions we make which would benefit from divine guidance! And one of the best Scriptures with which to make such requests is Proverbs 3:5 and 6: “Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.

But did you notice there are some requirements to this request?

  • Hebrew poetry (of which the book of Proverbs is a thirty-one chapter example) is most often in the form of two ideas that either compliment or contrast one another.
     ✡   “Show me...” and “...teach me...” are complimentary 
         couplets, as are “...Your ways...” and “...Your paths
         ....Are you teachable? Are you showable? I have 
         a grandson who is not. It is hard to teach him some-
         thing when he says, “I already know all about it!”

     ✡   “Lead me...” and “...teach me...” are also comple-
         mentary couplets. What are we asking God to lead and 
         teach us? His truth! And you find His truth in Him 
         and in His word, the Bible!

         ➔   Jesus is called...the Word...” in John 1:1 
              and 14 (see also I John 1:1; 5:7; Revelation 
              19:13). And He plainly said in John 14:6, “I 
              am the way, the truth, and the life. No one 
              comes to the Father except through Me.”

         ➔   In John 17:17 Jesus, in His prayer to the Fat-
              her said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your 
              word is truth.” (see also II Corinthians 6:7; 
              Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:15; I Thessalo-
              nians 2:13; II Timothy 2:15; James 1:18).
  • …for You are the God of my salvation….In order to have the capacity to be led and taught by God, you must have Jesus Christ as your Savior! As Peter told the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:12, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
  • …on You I wait all the day. This is making Jesus the Lord of our lives (the One who controls our lives).
     ✡   As we read in Psalm 123:2, “ the eyes of servants 
         look to the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a 
         maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to 
         the LORD our God, until He has mercy on us.”

     ✡   We must be patient as Christians to wait for God’s lead-
         ing, timing, and instructions! (see also Psalm 27:14; 
         37:9; Isaiah 40:28-31).

The second featured Scripture is Isaiah 30:21: “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’

  • Although the ultimate fulfillment of this verse is in the millennial kingdom, by God’s Holy Spirit who indwells every true Christian (see Romans 8:9), I believe that this also applies to us today! (see Acts 16:6-10).
  • But we have to be living in tune with the Holy Spirit! Read the fourth chapter of Ephesians to get an idea of the lifestyle that will “…not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30).

God has a path for us to follow! It is not an easy way (see Matthew 7:13, 14), but it is the only way that at the end we will hear Jesus’ words:

Well done,
good and faithful servant….
Enter into the joy of your Lord.

(Matthew 25:21, 23)

Alliterated Promises Of God – V-b His Plan!

Romans 8:28-32

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

This is the second Gem about God’s Plan. The first Gem highlighted Jeremiah 29:11 through 14, part of a letter the LORD sent to His people, the Jews, who were experiencing seventy years of captivity in Babylon because of their sins! But it’s application is also apply to us today.

The featured Scripture for this second Gem comes from the book of Romans, a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians in Rome. Through the ages this sixteen-chapter letter has grounded believers in the basics of Christian beliefs, and encouraged them to live out those beliefs! Romans 8:28 through 32 gives us special insight into God’s Plan for believers!

     And we know that all things work together for good to those 
     who love God, to those who are the called according to His 
     purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be 
     conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the 
     firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, 
     these He also called; whom He called, these He also justi-
     fied; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What 
     then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who 
     can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but 
     delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also 
     freely give us all things?
  • Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
     ✞   This is one of the most quoted verses when we are 
         facing hardships or challenges! And it is usually 
         quoted by other well-meaning Christians. The prob-
         lem is, this verse is not often received  by those 
         to whom it is directed in that same spirit!

        I was trying to encourage my Sunday school teacher 
         by this verse. Diane was going through the trial of 
         seeing her mother’s health seriously decline due to 
         bone cancer. I was her pastor, and I had asked her 
         to teach the adult class to give me a break and to 
         occupy her mind on God’s Word instead of constantly 
         worrying about her mother’s health. 

         ➔   I did not just blithely quote Romans 8:28 
              to her, but was tenderly trying to explain 
              how the Lord was working in hers and several 
              other lives because of her mother’s terminal 

         ➔   Diane listened as I talked, but later told 
              me she was ready to throw her book at me...
              ....which happened to be her Bible!

     The problem is that Romans 8:28 is too often quoted 
         as a stand-alone verse! You have to go on to...
  • Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
     Here we see the purpose to which God has called us! 
         He wants us, His children, to be conformed to the 
         image of His Son, Jesus Christ! There are other 
         Scriptures that support this idea concerning the 
         purpose of the Lord:

         ➔   I Corinthians 15:49 – “ we have born 
              the image of the man of dust [sinful Adam], 
              we shall also bear the image of the heavenly 
              Man [Jesus Christ].”

         ➔   II Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all, with un-
              veiled face, beholding as in a mirror the 
              glory of the Lord , are being transformed 
              into that same image from glory to glory, 
              just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

         ➔   James 1:2 through 4 – “...count it all joy 
              when you fall into various trials, knowing 
              that the testing of your faith produces pa-
              tience. But let patience have it’s perfect 
              work, that you may be perfect and complete 
              [like Jesus], lacking nothing....”

         ➔   II Peter 1:3 and 4 – “...through the know-
              ledge of [Jesus Christ] may be par-
              takers of the divine nature....The problem is that we are far from the completion of 
         being the image of Jesus! We are sinners, and we need 
         a lot of refining to become like Him!

     If we are going to be conformed to the image of Christ, 
         we have to keep in mind what it says in Hebrews 2:10: 
         “ was fitting for [Jesus] bringing many sons 
         to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect 
         through sufferings.”

         ➔   If He suffered, and we are to become like 
              Him, then we can expect hard knocks and 
              suffering from life also!

         ➔   Didn’t Jesus say to His followers in Luke 
              9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, 
              let him deny himself, and take up his cross 
              daily, and follow Me.The cross is an in-
              strument of suffering and death! According 
              to Romans 6:6, we are to crucify our old 
              sinful nature so we can reflect Jesus in 
              His resurrection power! And we are to do 
              this daily, that is, moment by moment! (see 
              also I Corinthians 15:31).

     One great thing that Jesus’ suffering has accomplished 
         for us is highlighted in Hebrews 4:14 through 16:

             Seeing then that we have a great High Priest 
             who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the 
             Son of God, let us hold fast our profession 
             [of faith]. For we do not have a High Priest 
             who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, 
             but was in all points tempted as we are, yet 
             without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to 
             the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy 
             and find grace to help in time of need. 
  • Romans 8:30 – “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
     There are four steps in God’s plan for us. Three have 
         been accomplished in every Christian, but the fourth 
         is only completed after we are in heaven.

         ➔   Predestined – Alot of Christians have problems 
              with this idea of predestination. 

             ❏   But God knows everything, past, pre-
                 sent, and future! And He not only knows 
                 what was, is, and will be, but He also 
                 knows what every possibility could be! 
                 This does not mean He causes us to do 
                 all things according to what He knows, 
                 but there is nothing we can do, say, or 
                 think that the Lord does not already 

             ❏   In the previous verse above, we are 
                  predestined to become like His Son 
                  Jesus! According to I John 3:3, this 
                  will be ultimately fulfilled at His 

                     Beloved, now we are the children 
                     of God; and it has not yet been 
                     revealed what we shall be, but we 
                     know that when He is revealed 
                     [Jesus, at the Rapture], we shall 
                     be like Him, for we shall see Him 
                     as He is.Called God has called ALL humanity to come 
              and put their faith in Jesus! But it is only 
              those who respond that ...are predestined 
              to be conformed to the image of His Son...” 
              (Romans 8:29).” That He calls all human beings 
              to salvation is clear:

             ❏   For it says in I Timothy 4:10, “...the 
                  living the Savior of all men, 
                  especially of those who believe.” 

             ❏   And in I John 2:2 it is written, Jesus 
                  “...Himself is the propitiation for our 
                  sins, and not for ours only but also for 
                  the whole world.But only a relatively small portion of humanity accepts 
         His call! 
  • Romans 3:31 and 32:
     What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who 
     can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but 
     delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him 
     also freely give us all things?

     ✞   The omnipotent Creator and Sustainer of all things 
         is for us! He is the ultimate power of the universe 
         and way beyond! In Isaiah 45:5 through 7 (Interna-
         tional Standard Version), this is what God says 
         about Himself: 

              I am the LORD, and there is no other be-
              sides Me: and there are no 
              that from the sun's rising [in the east] 
              to the west [where the sun sets], people 
              may know that there is none besides Me. 
              “I am the LORD, and there is no other. I 
              form light and create darkness, I make 
              goodness and create disaster. I am the 
              LORD, who does all these things.

     ✞   No one and nothing can compare with the LORD! So, 
         “...if [He] for us, who can be against us?No 
         one and nothing! And He has already proven He is for 
         us by giving us His only Son to save us!

As you can see, the Lord’s overriding plan for followers of His Son is to conform them more and more into Jesus’ image! But as He works out that plan, God will also give us whatever we need to make it happen! The best and most costly gift, the Lord Jesus Christ, has already been given! Anything and everything else we need is a lesser gift! As Paul said in Philippians 4:19, “…my God shall supply all your need accordirng to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

This is God’s Plan
for you and me!