What Does “Upside Down” Look Like?

Revelation 18:11-13

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

It is a photo of a creepy statue! But maybe this is what Upside Downlooks like! Because one thing that an upside down view of life does, it distorts what is actually real! Let’s look at Revelation 18:11 through 13. But first we have to identify the cataclysmic event that brought forth the total fear and despair that those involved, in this case, “…the merchants of the earth….” It was, according to Revelation 18:2, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen….

  • Babylon the great is not just a magnificent Asian city that was the capital of the Babylonian kingdom, but now an archeological ruin in the desert. Here it represents the entire economic, political, legal, and social structure of all the nations of the earth!
  • And Babylon the great has totally collapsed under God’s judgment! So sure is this total and final collapse, that the angel who announces human society’s destruction, repeats Babylon’s ruined condition:Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen….
     ➔   “...is fallen...” – The entire economic, political, 
          legal, and social structure of all the nations of 
          the earth lies in ruins!

     ➔   “...is fallen...” – The entire economic, political, 
          legal, and social structure of all the nations of 
          the earth lies in ruins!

But let’s focus on just one segment of the destruction caused by God’s judgment – The entire economic structure of all the nations of the earth lies in ruins! Here is Revelation 18:11 through 13, our featured Scripture:

     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 [fragrant citrus], 
     every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most 
     precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and in-
     cense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, 
     horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.

I have highlighted this featured Scripture before, in a Gem entitled Convoluted Concern, published on June 24, 2013.

  • Bring it up in ‘Search’ and read it. You will learn some important Biblical information.
  • But I think Revelation 18:11 through 13 is so important, I am featuring this again in this Gem!

Twenty-eight commodities are listed, and there were many more items of merchandise that were sold and bought almost two thousand years ago, when the Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation. But this list is very telling! In Greek thinking, when a number of items comprised a list, it was usually presented in the order of the most important to the least, from the viewpoint of who was making the list!

  • …the merchants of the earth…are the ones who are weeping and wailing over the lost source of their riches!
What are the two most important and valuable com-
          modities on the merchant’s list? Gold is first, and 
          silver is second!What are the two commodities that are least impor-
          tant and valuable to them? ...bodies and souls of 

Now let’s consider the gods: well, two of them, god and God! You see, Satan is called a god in II Corinthians 4:4 – “…the god of this age…” or world (King James Version).

  • In Luke 4:5 and 6, the devil showed Jesus “…all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time….” And he said, “…all this…I will give You…for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” How did he come to own “…all the kingdoms of the world…?
     ✡   God gave Adam “...dominion over...the earth...” and 
         everything in it. (see Genesis 1:26-28).

     ✡   But Adam gave that dominion to Satan when he obeyed 
         the devil rather than God! (see Genesis 3:1-6).

     ✡   So it is no surprise that “...the merchants of the 
         earth...value gold and silver first, and bodies 
         and souls of people last! As far as the world is 

         ➔   “People are expendable!” 

         ➔   “It is the bottom line that counts!
  • But God puts the greatest premium on people, His highest creation, souls (salvation and growth in godliness) first; then bodies (physical needs) next!
     Jesus confirmed this order when He said, 

         ➔   “The Son of Man came to seek and to save 
              those who were lost.” (Luke 19:10).

         ➔   “...this is eternal life, that they may know 
              You [Father], the only true God, and Jesus 
              Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3).

     ✞   God is also interested in all our bodily needs in this 
         life! (see Matthew 6:24-34; I John 3:16-18).

     Gold and silver? He owns it all anyway! (see Psalm 
  • So if you want God’s viewpoint on the commodities in Revelation 18:12 and 13, just turn that list Upside Down! …or is it, turn it Rightside Up? – where it belongs in the first place! (see also Isaiah 24:1, 6 – and the explanation of that Scripture in the last Gem)!

If people, their soul needs and their bodily needs, are so important to God, should not they be important to you and me?

What are you doing about it?

Upside Down or Rightside Up?

Acts 17:1 through 6

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

This picture is ridiculous! Obviously, it must be a joke because any fool would know the sign is upside down!Yes, any fool would know!

But look what happened in Thessalonica when Paul and Silas came to town!

    ...Paul...for three Sabbaths...went into [the synagogue and]...
    reasoned with...the Jews...from the Scriptures, explaining and 
    demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from 
    the dead, and saying “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the 
    Christ.” And some of [the Jews]...were persuaded; and a great 
    multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading 
    women, joined Paul and Silas. And some of the Jews who were not 
    persuaded, became envious, [and] took...evil men...and gathering 
    a mob...set all the city in an uproar...they dragged Jason and 
    some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who 
    have turned the world upside down have come here too.” 
    (Acts 17:1 through 6).

That is quite an accusation! But Paul and Silas (or whomever Paul was traveling with on his missionary journeys) did preach Jesus Christ! And the gospel can stir things up!

  • What is the gospel? It is the good news of Jesus Christ!
     Paul spelled it out quite plainly in I Corinthians 
         15:3 and 4: “...Christ died for our sins according 
         to the Scriptures....He was buried, and...He rose 
         again according to the Scriptures....And the apostle wrote in I Timothy 3:16, “...great 
         is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in 
         the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, 
         preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, 
         received up in glory.Here is what the writer of Hebrews says in chapter 7 
         and verse 25: “...He is also able to save to the ut-
         termost those who come to God through Him, since He 
         always lives to make intercession for them.
  • The gospel can change people!
     In Galatians 5:19 through 23, Paul highlights the 
         change that should come about in a person after ac-
         cepting Christ as Savior! Compare...

         ➔   “...the works of the flesh...” in verses 
              19 through 21 with...

         ➔   “...the fruit of the Spirit...” in verses 
              22 and 23.

     This is the Apostle Paul’s own testimony of how the 
         Lord changed him, from I Timothy 1:15 and 16 (Inter-
         national Standard Version):

             To this world Messiah came, sinful people to 
             reclaim. I am the worst of them. But for that 
             very reason I received mercy, so that in me, 
             as the worst sinner, the Messiah Jesus might 
             demonstrate all of His patience as an example 
             for those who would believe in Him for eternal 
             life. (see also Galatians 1:13 through 16)

     ✞   And the change can be so radical that people, not 
         understanding it, vehemently oppose it!

And so the unbelieving Thessalonians were “…crying out, ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.’

But were Paul and Silas really turning the world upside down? For we are told in Isaiah 24:1 and 6 (Jubilee Bible): “Behold, the LORD makes the earth empty and makes it naked and turns it upside down and scatters abroad its inhabitants….Therefore the curse has consumed the earth, and those that dwell therein are found guilty….

  • So if God turned the earth upside down millennia before Paul and Silas (when the sin of mankind entered the world – see Genesis 3:1-6)…
  • And when God plainly announced that fact through Isaiah the prophet more than 700 years before Paul and Silas…

…what Paul and Silas were doing was
turning the world rightside up!

In sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who are lost, we contribute to reversing what the LORD said He did in Isaiah 24:1 and 6! We are…

  • …helping to fill the earth with righteous people! (see II Corinthians 5:21).
  • …clothing their spiritual nakedness before God with robes of righteousness! (see Isaiah 61:10).
  • …gathering people together into one Body! (see I Corinthians 12:12-27).
  • …assisting in reversing the curse! (see Galatians 3:13).
  • …standing in court, and hearing the Judge say, This one is not condemned!” (see John 5:24).

Now go…and help turn the world
Rightside Up!

“And The Books Were Opened…” – II

Revelation 20:11, 12, 15

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

The featured Scripture is Revelation 20:11 and 12:

    Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from 
    whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was 
    found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, 
    standing before God, and books were opened. And another book 
    was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were 
    judged according to their works, by the things which were 
    written in the books...And anyone not found written in the 
    Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

The Book of Life is the listing of every person who has believed the promises of God:

  • …those who have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior since His incarnation, suffering and crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension to glory!
  • …those who have believed the promises of God before Christ’s incarnation, such as…
...Adam and Eve (see the Gem from July 27, 2021 – “My 
          Name is Jehovah Tsidkenu!).

      ✡   ...Abraham of whom it is said in Genesis 15:5 and 6: 
          “Then He brought him outside and said, Look now toward 
          heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number 
          them....So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed 
          in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteous-

But let’s focus on what it says in our featured Scripture: …and books were opened….And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books…

…the books…” (plural): There are multiple books, perhaps a book that is a record of the life of every person who did not accept the Son of God as their Savior!

  • Their names are not written in the Book of Life! They are not genuine saved believers!
  • According to Revelation 20:12, the people here “…were judged according to their works…” (Revelation 20:12). Believers never gain their eternal kingdom destination by their works, but by personal faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ! We are told in Galatians 2:16, “…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ…for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
  • These ones so judged at the Great White Throne are then …cast into the lake of fire…and burning sulphur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 20:15; 21:8).

If God keeps books recording the works of every unsaved person through the ages, if there is one book per person, there would have to be multiple billions of books! How does God do it? Does He assign guardian angels (one per person) who furiously write down every action, word, and thought that is produced by that person? I believe there is a more logical way – and it relates to the last two Gems – Stones That Listen, and Stones That Speak!

A Disclaimer: I have an inquisitive mind which I enjoy applying to various difficult biblical matters, matters on which the Word of God does not offer plain teachings. What follows are my thoughts on the records that are produced of actions, thoughts, and words of all those who reject His gracious salvation. So if you do not agree with me on the following information, that’s okay. Sometimes I don’t agree with me either!

  • Every human being in every situation radiates energy, even as God radiates His glorious divinity! It is called His Shekinah glory– the brilliance of the presence of the LORD! As Paul wrote in I Timothy 6:15 and 16, God is…the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, [who dwells] in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power.
      ✡   In Stones That Listen,...Joshua...set up a large 
          stone...and told the people, ‘...this stone...has 
          heard everything that the LORD has said to us. Our 
          God can call this stone as a witness if we ever re-
          ject Him.’” (Joshua 24:26 and 27 – Contemporary 
          English Version). 

          ➔   When the presence of God was with the Israel-
               ites near that stone, some of that Shekinah 
               energy (unapproachable for mortal people) 
               could have been absorbed by that stone! 

         ➔   The Israelites themselves were radiating energy 
              (as all living things do), which was picked up 
              by whatever was near to them. ‘This stonewould 
              have absorbed some of that energy!

      ✡   In Stones That Speak, as Jesus rode into Jerusalem, He 
          was hailed in Messianic terms by the welcoming crowd.  
          We are told in Luke 20:39 and 40, “...some of the Phar-
          isees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke 
          Your disciples.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘I 
          tell you that if these [people] should keep silent, the 
          stones would immediately cry out.’”

          ➔   Apparently, the inanimate stones (and other 
               surroundings) were absorbing the excitement, 
               sounds, even the images of the excited people. 
               Jesus, being God incarnate, could have per-
               formed the miracle of tuning the stones to playback’, and with the volume turned up, 
               those rocks and stones, apparently lifeless 
               objects, would project back, perhaps in a ho-
               lographic way, what was happening around them!The stones would then appear to be shouting 
               praises to welcome Jesus:Blessed is the King 
               who comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in 
               heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38).

Now apply this idea to creation: Wherever human beings are, they are surrounded by part of the physical world. It might be a natural setting outside, or it might be the steel and concrete of cities. It might even be the floor, ceiling, and walls, even the furnishings of the dwelling someone lives in. As energy is radiated from a man, woman, or child, part of that energy is absorbed into the surroundings! There it remains forever! Even if the walls of a dwelling crumble into dust, the dust still retains the energy of all that went on in its presence!

All creation around us – rocks, trees, soil, grass, man-made buildings and infrastructure…

  • …these are the books that are inscribed with our thoughts, words, and actions; inscribed with the energy output of a living mortal being!
  • …in these are stored the record of our lives – to be accessed by the Lord at the judgment!

I don’t see the books described being written by guardian angel scribes furiously writing down every single word, deed, and thought! God is much more efficient than that! He has a built-in giant recorder – sound and video! And this recorder is so sensitive it can even pick up the thoughts of human beings! And at the Great White Throne judgment there will be full documentation of every thought, every word, and every deed of every unsaved individual! God will simply tune up the recorder and begin the play-back exactly as it happened, to be witnessed by the one being judged, as well as everyone else present! No one will be able to deny their personal recorded ‘book’!

And after the record of a person’s life is broadcast, judgment will be given! Jesus will look at that one and say, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil
and his angels…
” (Matthew 25:41).

And that person will have to go…….into the eternal fire of hell! For who can resist the command of almighty God? As I said before, this is the fate of the person who is not a Christian! For us who have opened our hearts and minds to the Lord…

  • There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).
  • Their sins and their lawless deeds [God says] I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17).

…that one will never have to face the Great White Throne judgment!

How does God tune up creation so it will play back the recording? I have no idea! However, if, as Jesus said, “I tell you that if these [people] should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out…,that record will be published!

I will leave the “How does He do it?
to our omnipotent God!
…Make that sure decision
that leads one from death to life!

“And The Books Were Opened…” – I

Revelation 20:11, 12, 15

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

The final judgment of the unsaved is called the Great White Throne judgment. This is the Scripture that defines it, Revelation 20:11 and 12:

    Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose 
    face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no 
    place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing be-
    fore God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, 
    which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to 
    their works, by the things which were written in the books...And 
    anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the 
    lake of fire.

What are the books that are mentioned in these three verses?

  • …the Book of Life.” – This is the record of all who have believed God’s plan of salvation, fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ, and actuated to our benefit through faith in Him! All whose names are written in this book have been redeemed from hell and have gained eternal life forever with God!
  • …the books were opened.” These books (plural) are the records of the unsaved – all their works (words and thoughts) are recorded! They will be judged and sent to eternal hell, where their suffering will be according to their works.

This last statement raises a question: Are there degrees of suffering in hell? The answer lies in Luke 12:42 through 48 – Jesus’ parable of the faithful steward. It is the last two verses of this parable that give us the answer:

    ...that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare 
    himself or do according to his [master’s] will, shall be beaten 
    with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things 
    worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few [stripes]. For every-
    one to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and 
    to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

Yes, there are degrees of suffering in hell according to this parable. And that deduction is reasonable:

  • If one…
    ➔   ...was considered a ‘good’ person by societal standards, 
         he or she can never be good enoughto earn eternal 
         life! For we are told in Isaiah 64:6, “...we are all 
         like an unclean thing, and [before God] all our right-
         eousnesses are like filthy rags....If our righteous-
         nesses (the very best we, by our own resources, can do), 
         how do our wicked works appear to God?

    ➔   ...had not heard the ‘specific revelation’ of the gos-
         pel proclaimed by faithful Christian witnessing, that 
         person will still be held accountable! For he or she 
         has rejected the ‘general revelation’ of God who gives 
         forth  the salvation message through all His creative 
         works! (see Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:18-20; 10:9-18 – 
         see also the Gem from June 1, 2021, “My Name Is Elohim” 
         which explains Saint Paul’s thinking in Romans 10:9-18). 
  • But thegood’ or ‘uninformedperson, mentioned above, will still occupy a place in hell! But those places will not be as eternally excruciating as what is reserved for those mentioned below.
  • The ones who will suffer the most in the darkness, the fire, the isolation, the utter hopelessness of hell, are…
...those who have consistently rejected the gospel 
         plainly presented to them!


    ➔   ...thevery wickedpeople who wreak havoc upon fellow 
         human beings!

Neither place in hell, the place of less suffering or the place of greater suffering, will spare the occupant eternal torment! But there is a way of escape…..the only way:

  • John 14:6 – “Jesus said…‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
  • Acts 4:12 – “…there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
  • I Corinthians 15:3 and 4 – “…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…He was buried, and…He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures….
  • II Corinthians 5:21 – “For He [the Father] made Him [the Son, Jesus], who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  • John 3:36 – “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
  • John 5:24 – Jesus said,Most assuredly, I say to you, He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has [already] passed from death to life.
  • Romans 8:1 – “There is…no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus….
  • I John 5:11 through 13:
        ...God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His 
        Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the 
        Son of God does not have life. These things I have written 
        to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you 
        may know that you have eternal life....

Hell is real, and Heaven is real!
Choose to escape the first
And claim the second!
Put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!

There is more to discuss concerning “And The Books Were Opened….” We will undertake that in the next Gem.

Stones That Speak!

Luke 19:37-40

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

Is it possible that stones can listen to what is going on around them? Is it possible that stones could then speak what they hear?

  • We saw in the last Gem that indeed stones can listen! For in Joshua 24:27 we read:
       And Joshua said to all the people [of Israel], Behold, this 
       stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the 
       words of the LORD which He spoke to us. It shall therefore 
       be a witness to you, lest you deny your God.
  • Today let’s look at stones that speak! And, by the way, there is more Biblical evidence for stones speaking than for stones listening!

Our featured Scripture is from Luke 19:37 through 40:

       ...as [Jesus]...was now drawing near the descent of the Mount 
       of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to re-
       joice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty 
       works that they had seen, saying; “Blessed is the King who 
       comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven and glory in 
       the highest!” And some of the Pharisees called to [Jesus]...
       from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But He 
       answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should 
       keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

This happened on Palm Sunday, the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt, offering Himself as King to the Jewish nation! He had proved His divine power and authority by cleansing lepers, feeding the thousands, opening blind eyes and deaf ears, healing every kind of sickness, and even raising the dead!

  • And the people went wild in their enthusiastic reception, throwing down their cloaks and palm fronds for Jesus to ride over, and they were shouting, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
       ✡   They were witnessing the fulfillment of the Messianic 
           prophecy of Zachariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter 
           of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your 
           King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, 
           lowly, and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a 

       ✡   But the people’s idea of the Messianic King was One who 
           would lead an army to forcefully drive out the Roman 
           overlords and establish a world-ruling Jewish kingdom!

       What they could not understand was that Jesus was pre-
           paring for the full manifestation of the Kingdom of God 
           by making people fit for that Kingdom, forgiven of their 
           sins and restored to fellowship with and obedience to 
           the Father!
  • Perhaps some in that welcoming crowd would be five days later in another crowd yelling, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:21).

But back to the Triumphal Entry: While the people were yelling praises, the opposing Pharisees, hating Jesus…

  • …and angry that the crowd of people welcoming Him was so duped that they called this Galilean upstart…
       ...King...” (Luke 18:38), and...

       ...the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9). Clearly this 
           was a Messianic term!
  • …the Pharisees “…called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.’” (Luke 22:39, 40)

Was Jesus really saying that the stones would speak? Can stones really speak? Are there other examples in the Bible where inanimate objects speak? Yes!

  • In Psalm 19:1 through 4 (Easy-to-Read Version), we are told…
       The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament 
       shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And 
       night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech 
       nor language…their voice is not heard. Their line has 
       gone out through all the earth, And their words to the 
       end of the world.

          Paul uses verse 4 of Psalm 19 to illustrate his 
           argument in Romans 10:9 through 18, “...that if 
           you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and 
           believe in your heart that God has raised Him 
           from the dead, you will be saved....For whoever 
           calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.” 
           (Romans 10:9 and 13). 

           ➔   He tells his Roman recipients, that people 
                need to hear about Jesus before they can 
                make a decision to accept Him as Savior! 
                (see Romans 10:14, 15). For ...faith comes 
                by hearing [the good news], and hearing by 
                the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17). 

           ➔   But then the apostle writes in the next verse, 
                Romans 10:18, “But I say, have...[unbelievers] 
                not heard? Yes indeed: 'Their sound has gone 
                out to all the earth, and their words to the 
                ends of the world.'It appears that Paul is saying that, stones included, 
           all creation is shouting out the good news that Jesus 
           Christ is the risen Savior who paid the debt of sin 
           for all mankind!

       So “...have they heard? Yes indeed...”! And, as Paul 
           wrote in Romans 1:20, “...they are without excuse.
  • There is another example of something voiceless crying out to God! It is in the story of Cain and Abel. Here is that story recorded in Genesis 4:2 through 5, and 8 through 10:
       Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the 
       ground. And...Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the 
       ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstlings of 
       his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and 
       his offering, but...not...Cain and his offering. And Cain 
       was very angry....Now...when they were in the field...Cain 
       rose against Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, 
       “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. 
       Am I my brother’s keeper?” And He [the LORD] said, “What have 
       you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me 
       from the ground.”

The first murder! But what stands out to me is in verse 10: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.”

       ✡   God said that Abel’s blood had voice! He stated 
           that it cried to Him from the ground!Was it the omniscience (all-knowing) of God? Or 
           was it the voice of an organic creation screaming 
           out to its Creator?
  • Now let’s go back to Romans, chapter 1 and verses 18 through 20:
       For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all un-
       godliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth 
       in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is man-
       ifest in them, for God has revealed it to them. For since the 
       creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly 
       seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His 
       eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.

In them (the human body – the super intelligent design, the complexity of that design, the inter-functionality of organs, the restorational [healing] capabilities of injured body parts) and all creation outside of them (yes, even the stones)…is exclaiming the glory of God, His wrath, and His redemption!

…if people would only hear and respond!

Stones That Listen!

Joshua 24:21-27 (Contemporary English Version)

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

Let’s listen in on a dialogue Joshua had with the Israelites toward the end of his ministry (Joshua 24:24 through 27 – Contemporary English Version):

    ...the people [of Israel declared], “We won't worship any other 
    gods. We will worship and obey only the LORD!” 

    Joshua said, “You have heard yourselves say that you will wor-
    ship and obey the LORD. Isn't that true?” 

    “Yes, it's true,” they answered. 

    Joshua said, “But you still have some idols, like those the 
    other nations worship. Get rid of your idols! You must decide 
    once and for all that you really want to obey the LORD God of 

    The people said, “The LORD is our God, and we will worship and 
    obey only Him.”

    ...Joshua...and wrote down [God’s] laws in The Book of the Law
    ....Then he set up a large stone under the oak tree at the place 
    of worship in Shechem and told the people, “Look at this stone. 
    It has heard everything that the LORD has said to us. Our God 
    can call this stone as a witness if we ever reject Him.”

Actually, it was not just a two-way conversation. There was a third party to what was said – a large stone – listening! Now you might ask, “How is a stone, large or small, listening? A stone is an inanimate object!Well, so we think! But would it surprise you if stones could hear, and also speak? Are there any other instances in the Bible where stones are given the attributes of hearing and speaking? Yes! But for this Gem we will concentrate on stones that listen!

  • Genesis 31:44 through 49 (Contemporary English Version) – Jacob and his father-in-law make a covenant:
       “Now therefore, come, let us make a covenant, you and I, 
       and let it be a witness between you and me.” So Jacob 
       took a stone and set it up as a pillar. Then Jacob said 
       to his brethren, “Gather stones.” And they took stones 
       and made a heap, and they ate there on the heap. Laban 
       called it Jegar-Sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. 
       And Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and 
       me this day.” Therefore its name was called Galeed, also 
       Mizpah, because he said, “May the Lord watch between you 
       and me when we are absent one from another.”

An aside: I have noticed as the pastor of several churches over the last fifty years, especially in women’s groups – when closing a meeting, they use verse 49, above, as a benediction: “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another.” Now it may work as a benediction, but originally, Mispah was a curse! Laban warned Jacob, Don’t go past these stones to do me harm, and I will not go past them to do you harm!

      ✡   Verse 47 – “Laban called it Jegar-Sahadutha...,” which 
          is a Chaldean phrase meaning, “heap of the testimony.” 
          (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary).

      ✡   Verse 47 – “...Jacob called it Galeed...,” which is 
          Hebrew for “heap of testimony.” (Ibid).

      ✡   Verse 48 – They both ...called it...also Mispah....” 
          meaning “watchtower” (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew 

It does not say exactly that the stones heard the words of their covenant, or that the stones could repeat it. But the idea is still there that the pile of stones heard their words and would hold them accountable!

  • The same can be said of an altar two-and-a-half tribes of Israel built on the western side of the Jordan River across from the territory of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh. While most of the Israelites inherited land on the western side of the river, the two-and-a-half tribes settled east of the Jordan because it was good grazing land for their livestock. The altar was a copy of the one God commanded the Israelites to construct and place in front of the sacred Tent of Meeting. It was upon this altar God commanded Israel to burn all their animal sacrifices and other non-blood offerings (see Exodus 38:1-7; Leviticus chapters 1-9).
The nine-and-a-half tribes settling on the western 
          side of the Jordan River were ready to go to war with 
          their brethren for building this altar, because of 
          what God had commanded!

      ✡   But the two-and-a-half tribes explained the reason 
          for the altar:It was not for sacrifice! (see Joshua 22:

          ➔   It was for a witness that the Jordan River 
               was not a separating boundary, but that the 
               two and a half tribes were fully part of 
               Israel! (see Joshua 22:26-29). 

          ➔   Once the reason for building the altar was 
               explained and accepted, we are told in Joshua 
               22:34, “And [the two-and-a-half tribes]...
               called the altar, Ed.” (which in Hebrew means 
               WitnessStrong’s Hebrew Dictionary.)

      ✡   The matter was settled peacefully, and the altar stood 
          as a witness to the unity of the tribes of Israel!

I believe that not only stones, but all creation around ushearsand records our words and actions! And in the next Gem we will look at “Stones That Speak!

Living the Abundant Life!

Psalm 36:5-9; John 10:10

That is a rabbit in this photo – a very rich rabbit! For he is surrounded by a million or more carrots! What more could a rabbit want?

Have you ever wanted to live in abundance like this rabbit? …only to be surrounded, not by carrots, but by what the world thinks is abundance – money, real estate, jewels, etc? Between the Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries, there have been five jackpot winners since January 2016 who have won over one billion dollars! (A sixth jackpot was worth over a billion, but it was split by three different winners). The top winner, who is from California (who remains annonymous), on November 7, 2022, won over two billion dollars! That’s over two thousand million dollars! But there are some caveats:

  • The cash payout was less than half – $929.1 million dollars.
  • The IRS (and applicable state taxes) took 37% of the cash payout, leaving $585.33 million dollars – which is still a very nice chunk of money – but only 29% of the original two billion!
  • While the positive stories of lottery winners far outweigh the negative, some are dealtThe Lottery Curse’ along with their winnings. A number of people have gone broke after overspending, living high-end lifestyles, and poor decisions concerning money management.

Why the emphasis on lottery winners, especially those who did not rightly manage their winnings? It is because the same tale could be told of others who have gained fortune and fame with negative results!

And what do some preachers and evangelists put forth as the gospel? Prosperity, fame, happiness, and health – with just a little more faith (and often with abundant giving to that preacher or evangelist)! Much is made of our first featured Scripture, John 10:10: Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

  • I believe that the first mention of life in this Scripture refers to eternal life. For we are told of the Apostle John’s vision in Revelation 21:1 through 4:
       And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven 
       and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more 
       sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming 
       down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for 
       her husband. 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 with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every 
       tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sor-
       row, nor crying, and there shall be no more pain, for the 
       former things have passed away.”

Concerning…life…more abundantly…” in John 10:10: that it is referring to eternal life is quite evident, even in this brief saying of Jesus. Obviously, life in heaven with our Lord Jesus will be abundant…even without applying the adverbial phrase, …more abundantly…!

  • As we are living in this phase of life, we need the abundance that only the Lord can supply! But then what abundance is Jesus referring to? I would say it is the abundance of that which we sorely lack in our sinful world:…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22 and 23 (Easy-to-Read Version). It is called “…the fruit of the Spirit…” in verse 22. And if you have these nine manifestations produced by the Holy Spirit in your life, what more do you need? You can face any obstacle without fear or failure if …love, joy, peace…and all the rest of God’s provision is filling your life abundantly from the inside out!

I wonder if Jesus spoke the words of the second half of John 10:10, calling to mind what David wrote a thousand years before in Psalm 36:7 through 9 (our second featured Scripture):

    Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall 
    bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as 
    the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, 
    and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who 
    prospers in the way, because of the man who brings wicked 
    schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not 
    fret — it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; 
    but those who wait on the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

Do you ever dream of prospering in the way of your life? That is, becoming rich, famous, and healthy…and being happy because of that prosperity? Be careful! These are the instructions that the Apostle Paul gave to his protégé Timothy in I Timothy 6:6 through 10:

    Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought 
    nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry noth-
    ing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be 
    content. But 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, for which some have strayed from the 
    faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with 
    many sorrows.  

Here is the truth:

  • True riches are hidden in Jesus Christ!
    Paul, in Ephesians 3:8, even called them “...unsearchable 
        riches...,they are so vast! 

    The Lord warned His followers in Matthew 6:19 through 21 
        to seek only for those unsearchable riches:

            Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, 
            where moth and rust destroy and where thieves 
            break in and steal.; but lay up for yourselves 
            treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust 
            destroys and where thieves do not break in and 
            steal. For where your treasure is, there your 
            heart will be also.
  • True happiness is hidden in Christ! The psalmist put it this way in Psalm 146:5, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God.
  • True fame is only in the eyes of Jesus Christ! I believe the best words we can ever hear come from the lips of our Lord, after He reviews with favor how we lived out our Christian lives: “Well done, good and faithful servant….Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:21).
  • True health is only Jesus Christ! Paul has this to say about our earthly existence now:
       Romans 8:23 – “...we...who have the firstfruits of the 
        Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eager-
        ly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.II Corinthians 5:4 (International Standard Version) – 
        “So while we are still in this tent [our mortal bodies], 
        we sigh under our burdens, because we do not want to put 
        it [our mortal bodies] off but to put it [our eternal 
        bodies] on, so that our dying bodies may be swallowed up 
        by life.

Do you desire to live the abundant life?
Then closely follow Jesus Christ!
He will lead you into life,
And life more abundantly!

What Am I Lacking?

II Peter 1:1-4

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

I have a full life in a lot of ways – family, relative health, friends, a good church, enough income to provide for our needs, and many more areas of fullness! But I have identified with that guy above who confesses, “I’m lacking something…

In what way did I feel I was lacking? …in my Christian faith! I felt that I was missing something that some other Christians seemed to have – the joy of victory in their Christian living! They seemed to be on top of things when it came to living out their faith. Now, not everybody, but I knew several fellow believers who did not seem to have the problems of overcoming their sins and rejoicing in their fellowship with the Lord Jesus! I would every so often express my defeat and my frustration with a prayer such as…

    God, what am I missing? It seems that others have something I 
    do not have. Is there something that I have not yet received? 
    Is there something You have not given me? If there is, Lord, 
    please don’t let me wait any longer! Please give me whatever 
    it is I am lacking! 

But notice, I have expressed mylack of something’ in the second paragraph in the past tense! For I found a Scripture passage that told me I lacked NOTHING! It is II Peter 1:1 through 4. Peter opens his second epistle with these words:

    Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those 
    who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteous-
    ness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be 
    multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ 
    our Lord, as 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, by which have been given to 
    us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these 
    you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the 
    corruption that is in the world through lust.

Did you get what Peter is saying here? Let’s focus in on verses 3 and 4:

II Peter 1:3 – “…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….

  • When it comes to life and godliness, there is nothing, according to this verse, that God has failed to give us! There is nothing, according to this verse, that I am lacking!
  • How are all things given to us that pertain to glory and virtue? It is given by the divine power of Jesus Christ our God and Savior!
  • Also, all this becomes available to us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ !

So, it all comes to us by the Lord Jesus. What does it mean that He gives it to us by His divine power? Exactly what divine power does Jesus have?

  • What divine power does God have? For Jesus in verse 2 is referred to as our God and Savior.
      ✞   Jesus is the Creator of all things!But I thought 
          that God the Father created all things!Listen to 
          the Word:

          ➔   John 1:3 – “All things were made through Him 
               [Jesus, the Word – see John 1:1 and 14], and 
               without Him nothing was made that was made.”

          ➔   Colossians 1:16 – “For by Him [Jesus] all 
               things were created that are in heaven and 
               that are on earth, visible and invisible, 
               whether thrones or dominions or principal-
               ities or powers. All things were created 
               through Him and for Him.”

          ➔   Hebrews 1:2 – God, speaking of His Son Jesus ...through whom also He made the worlds.✞   Jesus is also the Sustainer of all things!

          ➔   Colossians 1:17 – “And He is before all things, 
               and in Him all things consist.”

          ➔   Hebrews 1:3 – Jesus is ...upholding all things 
               by the word of His power....

If He created all things and sustains all things, Jesus is certainly divinely powerful enough to give us all things that pertain to life and godliness!

But we have a big part in this! And many Christians miss out concerning all things that pertain to life and godliness because it takes commitment and dedication!

  • These precious …things…that pertain to life and godliness…are attained …through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue…” (II Peter 1:3).
      In Colossians 1:9 and 10, Paul wrote to the Christians 
          in Colossae telling them, “...we...pray for you...that 
          you may be filled with the knowledge of His will...that 
          you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, 
          being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the 
          knowledge of God....Colossians 3:10 gives the apostle’s instructions con-
          cerning the building up of the new nature we receive 
          when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus:...the new 
          man...is renewed in knowledge according to the image 
          of Him [God in Jesus Christ] who created him.In Colossians 3:16, is another instruction to the Col-
          ossian Church: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you 
  • We are to apply ourselves to increasing our knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through the Word of God, the Bible! As Paul admonished his “…son in the faith…” [see I Timothy 1:2], “Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” (II Timothy 2:15 – Modern King James Version).

Would you like to experience Jesus’…divine power [that He] has given to us [concerning] all things that pertain to life and godliness…? It comes…through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue…! And it results in…exceedingly great and precious promises, that [result in us being]…partakers of the divine nature…[escaping] the corruption that is in the world through lust.

This should be the desire of every Christian!
Is it YOUR desire?
Will you READ and STUDY your Bible…
And let the Lord do His miraculous work?