“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?

A Little Help Here, Please! Philippians 2:12, 13

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

I have struggled trying to live out the Christian life of holiness as it is commanded in the Bible! Here are a few of the many directives I have grappled with:

  • Leviticus 19:2 – “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.
  • I Peter 1:13 through 16:
       ...as obedient children...rest your hope fully upon the 
       grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of 
       Jesus Christ...as He who called you is holy, you also 
       be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be 
       holy, for I am holy.”
  • Hebrews 12:14 – “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.
  • I John 3:6 through 9:
       Whoever abides in [Jesus]...does not sin. Whoever sins 
       has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let 
       no man deceive you. He who practices righteousness is 
       righteous just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the 
       devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For 
       this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might 
       destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of 
       God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he 
       cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 

It seems that too often I agree with Paul’s struggles in Romans 7 where he writes in verses 14 through 24 (New International Version):

       We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, 
       sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do.  
       For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  
       I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sin-
       ful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but 
       I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I 
       want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep 
       on doing....For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 
       but I see another law at work in the members of my body, 
       waging war against the law of my mind and making me a 
       prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 
       What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this 
       body of death? 

Who will rescue me from this body of death?” You see, I struggled with being obedient to God. It seemed like I just could not do what He wanted me to do. I know we all struggle at times. But I mean I really struggled! I have an addictive/compulsive personality that has battled against what the Word plainly tells me to do and not to do! I have struggled against addictions to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, pornography, over-eating, and a few more things I can’t think of at the moment – just as Paul described his own struggles! I have come to think Paul had a compulsive/addictive personality also!

Several years ago, I had an extended rough period in ministry as I pastored my third full-time church. My denomination sent my wife and me to The Center For Career Development And Ministry near Boston. There I had intense psychological assessments and personality tests over two and a half days. During the exit interview, as the director of the Center looked over the results of all the collected information, he said to me, “You are the most addictive person to have ever gone through our facility!Gee, thanks! Now I know the reason for my compulsive/ addictive sinful actions, but I still didn’t have the answer concerning how to overcome my sinful struggles and live a holy life!

I thought I was missing something important, an important truth in the Bible! So I read, I searched, I studied, and I found a special key concerning living a holy life for the Lord in Philippians 2:12 and 13! I want to share it with you:

       Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as 
       in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, 
       work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For 
       it is God who works in you both to will and to do for 
       His good pleasure.

Philippians was written by Paul, the same author who wrote Romans chapter 7! If Paul had stopped with Philippians 2:12, I would still be in the same predicament of compulsively living a sinful life! In effect he said, “I have told you what you are supposed to do in your Christian life. Now go, and work it out – work it out with fear and trembling!I had the fear and trembling part down pretty well! But how was I supposed to work out my salvation so God would be pleased with my practical everyday living? After all, the one thing I want to hear when I stand before my Lord Jesus in heaven is, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23).

But we are not to stop at the fear and trembling part in the last section of verse 12! We are to go on and embrace verse 13:For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.This is the key, the gem I discovered, to assist me in working out my salvation the way the Lord wants me to! Paul says that…

  • …God works in me, not just to do it, but also to will it!
  • …He gives me the want to! And I have learned that when I really want to do something, I have no trouble at all in doing it!
  • And when I want to do it, the Lord gives me all the energy, all the means, all that I need to do it!

I grew up on a dairy farm in the Berkshire Mountains of Connecticut. I had a pet Holstein calf I named Curly (she had curls on top of her head between her horn buds). When my father reminded me to feed or water my calf, I ran to do it! I loved that calf and I wanted to take good care of her! Caring for my Curly was never a burden! And when my mother called her three boys to come in for dinner, I sprinted to the house and the dining room table! I loved to eat (see the list of my addictions above) so it was not a chore at all to come in for dinner!

And when I struggle with obeying the Lord, all I have to do is have the courage to come before my God and confess:

       Lord, I’m not sure I even want to do what You are telling 
       me to do. Would You work within me to give me the want to 
       as well as the do it?  Thank you, God. Amen.  

And guess what? He does just that, because He has promised to “…work within [me]…both to will and to do for His good pleasure…! It has made a lot of difference in living out my Christian life before Him! It has taken a good amount of the struggle out of obeying God! I seem to relax more and rest in Him, letting Him do it in me and through me!

Now this is not the only Bible truth I have learned to help me live a life pleasing to my Heavenly Father. But Philippians 2:12 and 13 have made a difference! I will share more of my discoveries in the next Gems. In the meantime…

Start living out the truth of Philippians 2:12 and 13!
Ask God to give you the will to do His will,
And the power to do it!

What’s God’s Purpose for Me? Romans 8:28, 29

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

What’s God’s Purpose for Me?

Most Christians who have been in the faith any length of time have heard quoted Romans 8:28 concerning any number of happenings in their lives:

      And we know that all things work together for good to them that love                     God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

I one time almost got a book thrown at me by a woman whose mother was going through a horrific battle with cancer! The daughter was a strong Christian, but her trust in the daily faithfulness of God was being severely tested as she saw her mom increasingly suffer. By the way, the truth of Romans 8:28 still stands, even in that case, and the daughter later admitted to me that I was right in reminding her of this verse, but that she just was in no frame of mind at that time to receive it!

Has anyone quoted this verse to you when you were going through some trial or testing? Have you wondered how something that seems so not good can work together for good? The problem is that we often fail to go on to the next verse, Romans 8:29:

      For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed                      to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many                        brethren.

Verse 28 tells us that all things work together for good to those who are called according to God’s purpose. Verse 29 then spells out God’s overriding purpose for all of His children, that He predestinated His sons and daughters to be conformed to the image of His Son. All things that touch our lives as Christians – God is using all things to make us more and more like Jesus!

That this is the overriding purpose of the Father is shown by other Scripture truths.  II Corinthians 3:18 says,

      But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass [in a mirror] the glory                    of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even                    as by the Spirit of the Lord.

How do we behold the glory of the Lord?  II Corinthians 4:6 has the answer:

      For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined                in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the                face of Jesus Christ.  

God’s glory, (His fulness) is embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ!  Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus…is the image of the invisible God….”  The Lord Himself said in John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father….”  We see Jesus by beholding Him in the Scriptures! It is not a cleareye to eyebeholding, because it is “…by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7).  But the more we behold Him (the more we get to know Him through the Word of God) the more we “…are transformed into that same image from glory to glory just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (II Corinthians 3:18). Saint Paul says it is “…from glory to glory…” (and he could have added a few more glories…) because it is a process – degree by degree, little by little, glory to glory, we are changed into the image of Jesus Christ!

Why is it such a drawn-out process to become like Jesus? Two reasons:

  • We have such a long way to go to become like our Savior! We often don’t realize how much we lost when sin entered into creation. Adam was created “…in the image of God…” (Genesis 1:27). But when Adam disobeyed the prohibition of the LORD: “…of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17). Adam ate, and Adam died! Oh, he didn’t die physically right away. That was many years down the road. But Adam died spiritually, and that was immediate! Before Adam disobeyed God, he and his wife Eve had continuing fellowship with their Creator. But after they ate, when the LORD came to fellowship with them “…in the cool of the day…” (Genesis 3:8), they ran and…hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8). No longer did Adam and Eve carry the image of God within them; now they bore the image of the devil whom they had just obeyed! (see John 8:44). And they have passed that sinful nature to all humanity, as it is written in Romans 5:12: “…through one man sin entered into the world, and death [separation from God] through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…
  • If that sinful and deadly condition of estrangement from God is not corrected, people will be forever separated from Him in hell –…the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).

But for the Christian, the culmination of the process of becoming like the Lord Jesus Christ is seen in I John 3:2:

      Beloved, now are we the sons [children] of God, and it does not yet appear              what we shall be:  but we know that, when He [Jesus] shall appear, we                      shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.

Then, it will not be by hazy faith.  Then, it will be by sight!  We will see Him clearly when He comes back for His own, and we will be immediately transformed into completely sinless and eternal beings like as He is. We will never be God! But we will be like Him, who is the Son of God, God the Son, the One in whom…dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.(Colossians 2:9). 

In the meantime, God is making us more and more to be like Jesus!  Now, I suspect you are a lot like me.  I have a long way to go to be like Jesus!  I have stuff in my life that does not resemble Jesus Christ, and God has to get rid of it!  So He orders all things in my life to work together for good, the good of His purpose to make me more and more like His Son!  And that can hurt!

It is a lot like what I experienced while working in an electrical contact manufacturing plant many years ago.  We made large commercial contact components out of metal – copper, bronze, aluminum.  The process involved stamping them out by a drop-board forge and then finishing them to specs by further processes such as grinding off the rough edges.  I would stand before the grinding wheel for hours smoothing off the roughness of these contacts.  If those pieces of metal had voice, I would imagine them screaming out as I ground away,Ow!  That hurts!  Stop!  Don’t!  That’s painful!”  But if the rough edges were not ground away, the contacts would not fit the order specifications, and they would be virtually useless for their intended purpose!  I guess those contacts did have some worth in their rough state:  they could always be sold for scrap metal!!!

It may hurt to have our un-Christ-like edges ground down so we can be made to conform to the specs God has for us – to look like Jesus!  But if God does not carry out the process, and/or if I fight tooth and nail against the pain of His working in my life, I will not become like Jesus, and I will not be of full use to God!  I would rather bear the pain for His manufacturing process and come out looking like Jesus – useful to my Lord – than to be sold for scrap!

The Weight of Wait

Lamentations 3:19-25

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

Atlas was the Greek Titan who was punished by Zeus because he led the Titans into battle against the Olympian Gods for control of the heavens. The punishment? Atlas was to perpetually hold up the heavens! Often he is mistakenly shown holding the weight of the world upon his shoulders! Either way, the weight he was forced to carry was a heavy burden indeed!

Do you ever feel like Atlas with a heaviness weighing you down? At those times of suffering, what might be our continual prayer? “How long, oh Lord, must I wait to have this weight removed from off me?” I found a passage in the prophet Jeremiah’s writings that expresses this Weight of Wait, and also the answer the prophet found – Lamentations 3:19 through 25:

    Remember my affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall. 
    My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to 
    my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we 
    are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are 
    new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my 
    portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The LORD is 
    good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It 
    is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation 
    of the LORD.

I ought to give an explanation of the phrase in the first line, “…the wormwood and the gall….” It is not a common expression today. Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary explains it this way:

  • wormwood – “…regarded as poisonous and therefore accursed….
  • gall – “…a poisonous plant, probably the poppy (from its conspicuous head); generally poison (even of serpents)….”

One more word in the first line does not seem to fit most of our troubled times of the Weight of Wait:…roaming….” What does “…roaming…” mean here? Jeremiah wrote this just after the Babylonian army came the third time and destroyed Jerusalem, especially the temple complex, the palace, and the great houses of the rich!

Here is a quick look at the three deportations of the Jews from their homeland:

  • 605 BC – The first deportation involved relatively few Jews, only those of noble birth. This was when Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah were taken to Babylon.
  • 597 BC – The second deportation was the result of King Jehoiakim’s rebellion against the rule of Babylon’s king, Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian king besieged Jerusalem, and King Jehoiachin surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiachin and ten thousand captives from the highest levels of Judean society were taken captive to Babylon!
  • 586 BC – The last Judean king, Zedekiah, rebelled against Babylon’s rule! Before he was deposed, he authorized Jeremiah’s arrest for saying that he, the king, should arrange and lead a surrender to the enemy! The prophet was put in a dry water cistern and left to die in the mud at the bottom!

The Babylonian army besieged Jerusalem for two and a half years before the gates were breached and the city fell. King Zedekiah was blinded, and he and thousands of Jews were taken to Babylon in chains!

Jeremiah was also taken away in fetters! But the Babylonian Captain of the Guard released him at Ramah (about five miles north of Jerusalem), and sent the prophet back to advise Gedaliah, the governor the Babylonians had appointed to oversee the conquered area of Jerusalem. But Gedaliah was murdered, and a band of the remaining Jews fled to Egypt, taking Jeremiah against his will! It was probably in Egypt that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations.

So Jeremiah certainly did quite a bit of roaming after Jerusalem’s destruction! And he certainly faced some great trials! We don’t know how long the prophet had to wait for God’s answers in all these trials, but wait he did! Jeremiah continued to rebuke his fellow Jews in Egypt, and, according to tradition, the prophet was stoned to death by those Jews who became exasperated by his opposition to their godless ways! I’m sure the Weight he felt as he Waited for answers to his prayers was heavy and long-lasting!

Jeremiah’s experience isn’t too encouraging if you are under the Weight of Wait! But there is hope even in the prophet’s experience…..if we remember what our featured Scripture says!

  • This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” (Lamentations 3:21). But you have to have hopeful things already stored in your mind if you are going to recall them in Weighty times! Where do you find such hopeful things? In the Bible! This is one very good reason to memorize Scripture! That way you can “…recall to…mind…hopeful promises of God at any time!
  • Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22, 23). God’s mercies and compassions are good, kind, and faithful, as well as ongoing, according to Brown – Driver – Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions. Yes, Weighty experiences that are given to you to bear can happen all around us, and at any time, in this old sinful world! But because of God’s mercies, they don’t have to Weigh us down! Consider Jesus’ promise in Matthew 11:28:
        Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and 
        I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn 
        from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you 
        will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and 
        My burden is light.

	(Also read The Light Yoke published April 24, 2013)
  • …we are not consumed….” To be consumed means to be destroyed completely! (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary). But in verse 22 of Lamentations 3, the idea is presented in the negative, not consumed. We are freed from being completely Weighed down and destroyed…..because of …the LORD’s mercies…!
  • …new every morning….” – Every day God’s compassions are renewed asa fresh new thing…” (Ibid). This brings to my mind the description of God’s provision of manna in Exodus 16:4: “…the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people will go out and gather a certain quota every day….
        ✡   In Numbers 1:46, we are told that God rescued 
             603,550 men of military age out of Egypt in the 

        ✡   When we consider the women, children, and teens, 
             the people who came out of Egypt numbered about 
             two to three million!

        ✡   Six days every week (except the Sabbath) God 
             would send manna with the morning dew! When the 
             dew lifted, there was the manna on the ground! 
             The manna could be pounded into flour and/or 
             prepared in several ways. Those who went out to 
             collect the manna gathered about a pint of manna 
             for each person in their family! It is estimated 
             that a pint of dry manna might weigh half a pound. 
             If there were three million people to be fed, the 
             LORD would have to send 750 tons of manna every 
             day! And He did this for forty years! That’s al-
             most ten million tons of manna!

        ✡   If God can supply 750 tons of manna every day, 
             surely He can manifest His compassions new every 
             morning in the midst of our Weighty problems!


  • LORD God, ‘… great is Your faithfulness…’!
  • The LORD is my portion…!
  • …I hope in Him…!

But do all these blessings from God come about in our timing? Hardly! That’s why Jeremiah, when he was sorrowing over the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity, wrote in Lamentations 3:25 and 26, “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

Jeremiah experienced the Weight of Wait! His life was not easy by any means. And he was martyred by being stoned to death. But what has the prophet experienced for the last two thousand six hundred years?

  • He is greatly comforted! (see Luke 16:25).
  • He is given great rest! (see Daniel 12:13).
  • He shall receive great rewards! (see I Corinthians 2:9).
  • He is numbered with the faithful witnesses in heaven! (see Hebrews 12:1).

If you are bearing the Weight of Wait now, remember…

  • Psalm 27:13 and 14:
        I would have lost heart unless I had believed that 
        I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of 
        the living. Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, 
        and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on 
        the LORD.
  • Luke 18:7 (Good News Bible) – “…will God not judge in favor of His own people who cry to Him day and night for help? Will He be slow to help them?NO!

But if we have to bear the Weight of Wait even throughout this life, remember what Paul wrote in Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not [even] worthy to compare with the glories that shall be revealed in us.

Bear up under the Weight of Wait
As we Wait for God’s answer!


John 15:4, 5, 8

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

In John 15, Jesus and the disciples have left the Upper Room where they partook of the Passover meal – the last meal Jesus ate before He suffered at the hands of men, and died on the cross of Calvary! Where did they go next? As they walked toward the Garden of Gethsemane on the western side of Mount Olivet, they most likely walked through a grape vineyard near the Kidron Brook. It was April 17th, 29 AD (a likely conjectured date when Jesus was crucified). The grape vines, having been pruned in the late fall, were beginning to show growth.

Let’s stop here for a moment. My wife, Hope and I lived near Erie, Pennsylvania the first few months after we were married. Her dad was the pastor of Greenfield Baptist Church, a fairly large church in Northeast, PA, about ten miles from Erie. It was grape country! Welch Foods has their largest manufacturing plant in the area, producing 280 different juices, jams and jellies. I remember driving through the country where there were vast grape vineyards, the grapes mainly going to the Welsh Foods plant. After harvesting in the fall, the workers would prune the vines back in the winter. I was amazed at the pruning! When done, the vines looked as if they were stripped bare! The vines around Northeast were upheld by two wires running the length of the rows. The branches of the vines were trained to grow along the wires on either side of the trunk of the vine. When the workers were done, there were just four bare branches clinging to the wires on each vine! But in order for the vines to produce abundant grapes that year, extra branches and leaves had to go!

Here is the featured Scripture, John 15:4, 5, and 8. Jesus said to His disciples:

    Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of it-
    self, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you 
    abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides 
    in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do 
    nothing....By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much 
    fruit; so you will be My disciples.

I chose these three verses to show the progression of bearing fruit:

Verse 4 – “…bear fruit….” This must be understood by the first phrase of verse 1: “I am the true vine, you are the branches….” (John 15:1).

  • What does Jesus mean when He calls Himself the true vine? It goes back to Isaiah chapter 5, the Parable of the Vineyard. There are not many parables in the Old Testament, but this is truly a parable! Here are verses 1 and 2 of Isaiah 5:
       Now let me sing to you my Well-beloved a song of my Be-
       loved regarding His vineyard. My Well-beloved has a vine-
       yard on a very fruitful hill. He dug it up and cleared 
       out the stones, and planted it with the choicest vines. 
       He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress 
       in it; so He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but 
       it brought forth wild [sour] grapes.

Israel was God’s vineyard, and He desired His chosen people to bring forth Godly ‘fruit’ for the world to see, to bring unbelievers to Himself. But they continually disobeyed (bringing forth wild and bitter fruit). So GoddestroyedHis vineyard! The northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians, and ceased to exist. The southern kingdom of Judah was conquered first by the Babylonians, and spent seventy years of captivity in the ancient Babylonian Empire. Allowed back into their own land, the future generations hadn’t effectively learned the lessons the LORD was teaching them. After rejecting the Messiah, they were finally conquered and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD!

  • Jesus is…the true vine…! He demonstrated the fruit the Father had always desired! And not only did He do this, but His followers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, have been bringing forth fruit that honors God for two millenia! What kind of fruit are we talking about?
     ✞   The fruit of people saved and reunited with the Father 
         through faith in Jesus Christ – Yes, But this is really 
         just the result that the fruit produced!

     ✞   But what draws people? It is the Holy Spirit in us pro-
         ducing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23 – Eng-
         lish Standard Version) – “...love, joy, peace, patience, 
         kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
  • To what degree are we to expect the fruit of the Spirit in our lives? John 7:37-39 has the answer: That answer was given by Jesus “…on the last day, that great day of the feast….
  • But first, what was this feast? Because it says in John 7:2 – “Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.”(Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible):

The Jews’ feast of tabernacles – Or the feast of tents. This feast was celebrated on the 15th day of the month Tisri, answering to the last half of our month September and the first half of October. It was so called from the tents or tabernacles which on that occasion were erected in and about Jerusalem, and was designed to commemorate their dwelling in tents in the wilderness. During the continuance of this feast, they dwelt in booths or tents, as their fathers did in the wilderness. The feast was continued for eight days, and the eighth or last day was the most distinguished, and was called the great day of the feast. The Jews on this occasion not only dwelt in booths, but they carried about the branches of palms; willows, and other trees which bore a thick foliage, and also branches of the olive tree, myrtle, etc.. Many sacrifices were offered on this occasion, and it was a time of general joy. It is called by Josephus and Philo the greatest feast, and was one of the three feasts which every male among the Jews was obliged to attend.

  • I said the answer was in John 7:37-39. Here it is:
     On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood 
     and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to 
     Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has 
     said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 
     But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believ-
     ing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet 
     given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
     We tend to think that we look way down inside the 
         Christian and see the Spirit bubbling down there....

     ✞   But the Holy Spirit is to be up and out like rivers 
         of living water! Rivers of living water overflowing up and 
              out in every direction!

         ➔   And with those rivers of Holy Spirit living 
              water come the fruit of the Spirit – “...
              love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, good-
              ness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
              ...flowing up and out in every direction!Wouldn’t that be drawing people to Jesus 

Now let’s get back to John 15:4, 5, 8 – our featured Scripture.

    Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of 
    itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless 
    you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who 
    abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me 
    you can do nothing....By this is My Father glorified, that you 
    bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

How would you describe the branches and the vine? John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches.

  • Is it ‘We are the branches’ and ‘Jesus is the vine? But what describes the vine?
  • The vine includes the branches! As it says in I Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular….
     ✞   Jesus Christ is the whole body!vinethe root, the trunk, the branches!

     ✞   We, as

         ➔   members of the body are simply part of the 
              whole Body, which is Jesus Christ! branches, are simply part of the whole vine, 
              which is Jesus Christ!

What about the fruit of the vine? How much fruit are we supposed to produce?

  • John 15:2 – “…fruit….Just fruit?
  • John 15:2 – “…more fruit….How?
     ...every branch that bears fruit He [the Father, 
         who is the vinedresser (v. 1)] prunes, that it may 
         bring forth more fruit.”

         ➔   Remember the description of the grapevines 
              around Erie?

         ➔   What is hampering your life so that it is 
              limiting fruit?

     ✞   What needs to be pruned in your life?Does sin need to be rooted out of your 
              life? (alcohol, drugs, pornography, nic-
              otine...and a bunch more that can take 
              over a person).

         ➔   Hobbies? I own two antique automobiles. 
              But I refuse to let them dominate my life! 
              I know some people who live and die for 
              their antique automobile collection. (One 
              man I knew had over 100 of them!).

              I have been a treasure hunter with a metal 
              detector for 47 years. But my life is not 
              defined by this hobby. I know some hard-
              core detectorists whose lives are!Work? I have met people who work 80 hours 
              a week and neglect their God-given respon-
              sibility toward their family!

     Hebrews 12:5-11 tells us that God disciplines His 
         children! “...if you never receive the discipline 
         that every child must have, you are not true child-
         ren and don't really belong to God.” (Easy-to-Read 
         Version). That is pruning!
  • John 15:8 – “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” How can we bear much fruit?
     John 15:5 – “For without Me you can do nothing...”

         ➔   ...nothing that counts for God!

         ➔   But with Him,I can do all things through 
              Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 

     John 15:8 – Be a disciple!A disciple is one who closely follows the 
              Master...A disciple imitates the Master, to be like 
              Him! For the Master is fruitful!

There is a warning in verses 2 and 6:

    Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [the Father] 
    takes away....If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out 
    as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw 
    them into the fire, and they are burned.
  • Sometimes you can’t tell a fruitless Christian from a person who is on their way to hell!
     ✞   The one is a branch in Jesus, but fruitless!

     ✞   The other is one who does not abide in Him at all!
  • Both are fruitless! But…
     ✞   ...one gets into heaven by the skin of his teeth! 
         I Corinthians 3:15 – “...his work is burned up, he 
         will suffer loss. However, he himself will be saved, 
         but it will be like going through fire.✞   ...the other goes to hell!

Which of these people do you want to be?

  • One of the two fruitless people?
     ✞   The one who goes to hell?

     ✞   The one who gets into heaven with no fruit, no 
  • Do you want to be one who bears minimal fruit?
  • Do you want to be one who bears more fruit, but not as much as he or she could produce for the Lord?


  • Do you want to be one who glorifies God by bearing much fruit?

You decide!