Tag Archives: eternity

Revenge. Seriously?

Joel

I know someone who, because a member of the church his parents attended said something that offended him, quit going to church. He was a teenager at the time. He’s in his thirties today. And he will give that incident as the reason he still doesn’t go to church today.

I’ve heard of others who see injustice in the world and say, “If God causes such bad things to happen, I don’t want anything to do with Him.” or “There must not be a God at all.”

Do you wonder how God feels when people convince themselves of such?

What do you have against me, Tyre and Sidon and the cities of Philistia? Are you trying to take revenge on me? (3:4a)

Do people who judge God and find Him guilty think they have the upper hand? Seriously?

If you are (taking revenge on me) watch out! I will strike swiftly and pay you back for everything you have done. (4b)

Everything YOU have done.

Joel goes on to remind us we all enjoy the blessings of God. We all live in a world where the sun shines, the rain falls, wounds heal, crops produce fruit, hearts beat…

But we have taken those blessings and carted them off to pagan temples. (vs 5) Instead of using them to glorify God, instead of being grateful, we turn it around and use them against Him

But be warned. Especially when God repeats Himself:

… and I will pay you back for everything you have done. (verse 7b)

Here’s the good news:

But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (2:32)

If you have any excuse why you haven’t called on the name of the Lord, if you have put yourself above God, found Him guilty, or blame your present circumstances on that old church lady who hurt your feelings – get over yourself!

Are you trying to teach God a lesson? Get even? Punish Him? That, my friend, is foolishness. Do you have any idea who it is you are dealing with?

Here’s the deal: obey God according to His Word, the Bible. Or not. Just remember your decision will stay with you for eternity. And in the end you won’t judge God. He will judge you.

I pray that when He does, He will be able to judge you according to the righteousness of His Son Jesus. The flip side of that is unthinkable.

The Writing Is On The Wall

Ezekiel 5

We’ve probably all heard the phrase, “the writing’s on the wall” to indicate the inevitability of something happening, usually referring to something bad happening. That certainly was the case for Belshazzar who watched the hand of God write a proclamation on the wall of the dining room about the king’s impending death. That very night, the king was killed.

The writing was on the wall.

Does that speak to us today? Has God written a proclamation concerning the death of civilization? Are we looking at the end?

Yes. And no.

God has absolutely proclaimed the edict that this life as we know it will end. It’s been rushing to that end since Adam’s sin. The inevitable end of this world is getting closer every day. But nowhere in Scripture does it say that event will happen in 2022.

Oh, it could be today. Or it could be 1,000 years from now.

The sad thing is, some Christians see the writing on the wall and think, “Things are awful out there, but there’s nothing I can do about it.” So they sit back and wait for the end to happen.

That seems to be the case for Belshazzar. Instead of reading the writing on the wall and allowing it to convict him, to drive him to his knees in repentance, he threw a party for Daniel. That night his reign was brought to an end, just like God had written on the wall.

Friend, we can look for signs, complain about the state of the world while we sit comfortably in our homes, living life as usual, resting in the assurance of our salvation. But is that what God demands of us?

The signs we see all around us ought to drive us to our knees, light a fire in us to reach as many people as we can to introduce them to their only hope, Jesus the Savior.

Jesus is coming again. He’s promised us that in His Word. When He does, many, many people will go to hell for eternity. Many, many people you and I know will face eternity without Him.

Do you know what else is written on the wall, so to speak?

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Let’s take that message to our world that needs Him. Because, dear one, the writing is on the wall.

Stepping Between God and the People

Psalms 105-106

These psalms recount the Exodus of the Jewish nation out of Egypt in the days of Moses, and reminds us how God moved in dramatic fashion on behalf of His obedient children. I think one amazing thing about Scripture, however, is how often we are also reminded how God moves when His children aren’t so obedient, like in these two psalms. God doesn’t sugar-coat anything. I’m thankful for that.

What stood out to me today was in 106:23,30. The Jews were living in blatant disobedience, even after God had blessed them. So God declared He would destroy them. Their disobedience made Him that angry.

But Moses, his chosen one, stepped between the Lord and the people. He begged God to turn from his anger and not destroy them.

So God did not destroy them.

Later, as punishment for yet more disobedience, a plague broke out among the Jews.

But Phinehas had the courage to intervene, and the plague was stopped. So he has been regarded as a righteous man ever since that time.

This morning I am reminded that Jesus has done the same for me. My disobedience angers God as much as the disobedience of the Old Testament Jews angered Him. What makes me think He hasn’t considered taking me out, too?

But I have a Savior. When I sin and make God angry, Jesus steps between the Lord and me and pleads my case. One day when I stand before the Throne of Heaven, Jesus will intervene for the last time, and I will not be destroyed. He will usher me into Paradise unlike anything I have ever known in this lifetime.

Here is something else that occurs to me. While I am still on this earth, I have the privilege of being a Moses or a Phinehas, one who intervenes for my loved ones, our nation and the whole world, and for you. I can beg God like Moses did, that He would turn from His righteous anger, and give each of us another chance to obey Him.

So today I want you to know that I am praying for you. I am going to step between the Lord and you and beg Him to have mercy. Will you do the same for me?

Praising the Judge

Psalm 98

For the first 9 1/2 verses the psalmist tells us to sing to the Lord, shout to the Lord, break out in praise to the Lord. Our victorious God has revealed His righteousness to every nation! He remembered His promises to love and be faithful to His people. Praise Him!

Living after the cross, we know God revealed Himself to the world when He became a human, and lived on this earth as a physical man. Jesus won the ultimate victory over death, Satan, and sin when he died on the cross and three days later came alive again. He saved the world.

Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King! (Vs 6b)

But here is why the psalmist tells all creation that God is worthy of our praise:

For the Lord is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice and the nations with fairness. (Vs 9)

Wait! Praise God for the coming judgment? Aren’t there psalms that tell us to praise Him for His goodness, faithfulness, grace, presence…?

Of course! He is all that and more, and deserves our praise. But these verses tell us to praise Him for the coming judgment as well.

Does standing before a judge in a court of law seem like something to be glad about? I had to stop and consider this for a while.

When I finished my course work in the School Counseling graduate program, I was required to take a comprehensive examination. It was a four or five hour test that would be the deciding factor whether or not I’d receive my graduate degree, and be qualified to be a school counselor. My future depended on my passing that test.

A few of us grad students got together periodically to study, and quiz each other on the different parts of the upcoming exam. We took practice tests, and discussed our answers.

I myself, would spend hours and hours on the Saturdays leading up to the test, pulling out every memorization technique I could think of. I actually started looking forward to the test date.

For one, I knew that I would receive my degree if I passed. That is what I had been working toward for a couple of years. Passing the test would mean no more evening classes to take after teaching school all day, no more papers to write, no more costly graduate fees.

That test marked the end of hard work, and the beginning of enjoying the benefits of the work. I was so ready to have it over.

On the morning of the test I remember standing in the shower and praying that God would help me recall what I had learned. Such a peace came over me I can only explain as from God. In fact, I felt so prepared, I almost dared the test-makers to come up with a question I couldn’t answer. (They actually did come up with one or two. 🙂 )

So I took the test that would judge my preparedness to be a school counselor. After several hours, I turned in my test, and walked away somewhat elated. I was pretty sure I had passed, and I did pass!

So why would God bring that to mind today as I considered the psalmist’s direction to praise God because He will come to earth to judge the world? Here are my thoughts:

The first is that we can know with certainty that God will judge the earth with justice and fairness. The truth is, He has been very upfront with His requirements.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. (John 3:3)

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

So the requirements the Judge will consider are whether or not we have accepted His grace and forgiveness through the blood of His Son Jesus. We all will be judged by the exact same standard. It will have nothing to do with how good or how bad we’ve been. Only whether or not we’ve received what Jesus died to give us. That’s fair.

The second thing I thought is, Jesus did the work. When my classmates and I were studying for our test, some of us put in the work before our sessions, others not so much. So when we actually took the test, we were judged on what we had put into it. As we should have been.

But if God operated on the same scale, none of us would pass the test. The standard for passing His test is:

For it is written “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

Are you a good person? Not good enough. Do you go to church? Not good enough. Do you abstain from certain sins? Not good enough. It’s not good enough to simply read your Bible, or stay faithful to your spouse. Holy is holy, without sin. And the Bible tells us:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

You have sinned. And that renders you unholy, falling short of God’s standard. And falling short of God’s standard results in:

The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

Now I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me want to praise God for the upcoming judgment. Who can stand before a holy God and expect to hear, ”Not guilty,” if all of us are guilty? No one!

That’s why Jesus did the work. That’s why He took on our sin and paid the death sentence we earned by telling a lie, taking something that doesn’t belong to us, thinking bad thoughts, or disobeying our parents. You see, because He paid my debt, I have no fear of standing before a Holy Judge who will judge with justice and fairness.

I did what He told me to do. I asked Jesus to forgive me, I repented of the sin that sent Him to the cross. I have been born again, not of flesh but of spirit. I wear His righteousness, His holiness, because I have none of my own.

The rest of Romans 6:23 is:

but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So yes. I can look forward to judgment day. It marks the end of all the struggles and hardships living in this world affords. It marks the beginning of an eternity, reaping the benefits of having Jesus pass the test on my behalf.

So, dear one, continue to praise God for all His benefits, His blessings, your health, your comfort, your family and friends, and on and on and on. Praise the One who deserves your praise.

And praise Him for the fact that when He judges the world, when He judges you on that day, there will be no surprises. One person won’t be judged more easily or more harshly for the same sin you’ve committed. You won’t fall short because you only did 9,999 good deeds, and someone else will get a free pass because he did 10,000 good deeds. No one will barely make it into heaven while someone else almost makes it there.

God is fair. God is just. God will judge each of us by the standard He has laid out so clearly in His Word. I look forward to judgement day. I hope you can say the same. I hope that because we both have been born again, cleansed and made holy by Jesus, we can praise the Judge together now and for eternity!

It’s A Miracle Either Way

Psalm 91

My brother-n-law fell off the roof of his house and landed on the concrete driveway this week. The result? He didn’t hit his head, he has no broken bones. He bruised his shoulder and is in pain. It’s a miracle he didn’t die.

It’s a miracle.

I thought about that this morning as I read this psalm. Verses 9-12 say this:

If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.

When I first heard about what had happened to my borther-in-law, I said angels must have carried him off that roof. I think the psalmist would agree.

My cousin was trimming the limbs at the top of a tree when he lost his balance and fell. He died as a result of that fall. Where were the angels for him?

Both of these men had made the Lord their refuge, accepted Jesus as their Savior, and served him faithfully for decades. So why was Psalm 91 true for one and not the other?

I don’t know. I’m not God.

But I am reminded that God is Spirit, that His kingdom in spiritual. I know that, according to Scripture, my cousin fell from that tree and landed in heaven. The angels didn’t escort him safely to the ground, they escorted him right into the presence of God Himself!

My brother-in-law landed safely on the ground. And he will continue to live on this earth with all its blessings and curses, joys and hardships, health and sickness, laughter and tears. I’m very glad he’ll be around a while longer!

I am also reminded that God is much more invested in our spiritual health than our physical comfort. He has His eye on eternity, even if our eyes are on the 70, 80 short years we are alive on this planet. And what may not be true according to our physical bodies, God’s promises are 100% true for our eternal souls.

When we make God our refuge and take shelter in His spiritual arms, He will take care of us. Satan’s evil has no power over us when we are walking with the Lord. Verses 14-16 say:

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me, I will protect those who trust in my name. When thy call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

And one day, the angels will escort us into the glorious Presence of our Lord and Savior!

So whether we are saved from an accident, are cured from a disease, or leave this world to be with Jesus…

It’s a miracle either way!

Dear Jesus, Please Don’t Come Back Today

Amos 1-6

I know many well-meaning Christians wish Jesus would just come back today, end this evil world and get the party started. Yet I hear God through Amos say:

What sorrow awaits you who say, “If only the day of the Lord were here!” You have no idea what you are wishing for. That day will bring darkness, not light. In that day you will be like a man who runs from a lion – only to meet a bear. Escaping the bear, he leans his hand against a wall in his house – and he’s bitten by a snake. Yes, the day of the Lord will be dark and hopeless, without a ray of joy or hope.” (5:18-20)

Yes, I know we who know Jesus as our Savior will be caught up with Him in the air and will be ushered into a glorious eternity in heaven. I am looking forward to that day, for sure! But there is another reality to consider, a dreadful, horrifying reality we can only imagine.

Do you care? Or are you just satisfied with your own destination? Read on and hear what God has to say about that:

I hate all your show and pretense – the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. (vv 21-24)

If you continue reading this portion of Scripture you will hear what God has to say about people who sit back and get fat on their blessings while the rest of the world is in serious danger. He’s not too pleased.

If you call yourself a Christian, may I suggest you stop praying for the second coming of our Lord, and start being that endless river of righteous living, representing our coming King and drawing people to His saving grace before it’s too late?

If you call yourself a Christian, you ought to have the mind of Christ who is not wanting anyone to perish without Him. You ought to hear Jesus tell you to go, make disciples today, tomorrow, and the next day.

Do any of you remember timed tests in math class? The teacher would pass out the tests face down. When everyone had a test in front of them, she would say, “Begin,” with her eye on the second hand of the clock on the wall. You would frantically do the math, with the goal of getting an answer for every question before you heard her say, “Stop. Pencils down.”

How many times did you get to that last question, and run out of time? I remember the closer I got to the bottom of the page, the more intense I became, the more focused I was, so that I could complete the task. Ugh! I hated it when time ran out before I was done.

I hear God telling us time is running out. We may be at the bottom of the page, but our task is incomplete.

If you call yourself a Christian, maybe you should pray, “Dear Jesus, please don’t come back today. I’m not done. I have too much work to do for your kingdom right now.”

Signs of Repentance

Jonah

The King of Ninevah sent a decree out to the citizens of his city. He had heard Jonah’s warning and believed God was angry enough at their sin, to destroy the city. At that realization, the king repented and put on sack cloth and ashes, a visible sign of his repentance.

This is what the king said to the Ninevites:

No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.

So they did, and God didn’t destroy them.

Should the Church come together in repentance? Should Christians fast, put on visible signs of mourning? I wonder if we all wore black arm bands to signify our own turning from sin. Can you imagine the conversations we would have, the opportunities we’d have to share Jesus?

We might not be 40 days from God’s judgment on our nation and the world. But God’s judgment is coming. Are you satisfied knowing at least you’d go to heaven? Or do you share God’s burden for all those who will not, all those who still need to surrender to Him before it’s too late?

The only thing that will stay His hand is repentance, obedience, surrender. Are you wearing visible signs of your own repentance? How you look, what you say, where you go, how you treat people, how you stand for God’s truth are visible signs I hope you are wearing.

Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.

Everything We Need

Psalm 34

Sounds like another health and wealth gospel. But don’t let that fool you.

In reality, there are Christians who are sick and starving, homeless and without means to provide for their families. So how can we make sense of verses 9-10 which clearly say if we fear God, we’ll have all we need. If we trust God, we will lack no good thing.

Tell that to the Christian living on the streets with a cancer diagnosis.

But why is it people who truly fear, worship, stand in awe of God, and people who trust God and submit to Him are some of the most joyful, most contented people around? It’s because God is true to His Word.

God does give us everything we need. The Apostle Paul expressed that beautifully in Philippians 4:11-13, and again in 2 Corinthians 12:9. I hope you’ll take time to read those verses and hear what someone who had a tough life says about what God gives.

Matthew Henry, on page 610 of his Bible Commentary published by Marshall, Morgan & Scott in 1960, that if we look at this psalm as merely promising physical comfort we miss the most important thing. God not only works FOR us, He works THROUGH us. To me that means God is right there with the Christian, leading, directing, comforting, strengthening, and revealing Himself in marvelous ways.

The psalmist encourages us to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” and there is joy when we attach ourselves to Him in all circumstances. God is a personal God, intimate, present.

Romans 8:28 tells us that God works things out for our good if we love Him. 2 Corinthians 4:17 reminds us that our troubles today are leading toward an eternal glory that far outweighs any hardship we face in this lifetime.

So yes, God does give us all we need, and we lack no good thing when we taste and see that He is good!

It’s Worth About A Penny

Leviticus 9

When I read God’s instructions for the various sacrifices, I try to picture the scene. I am often struck by the gruesome death of one animal after another; blood splattered layer upon layer on the altar, then poured on the ground at the base; Aaron and his sons wearing blood on their ears, hands, and feet.

So much blood everywhere.

But God, in His Sovereignty determined before the creation of the world, that blood would be required for the forgiveness of sin. Without the blood no one could have a relationship with Him, no one could be saved from the consequences of their sin.

Friend – blood will be required when you face the Holy Judge, God Himself. And like it or not, believe it or not – you WILL face Him when this life is over.

We who have accepted in this lifetime what Jesus did on the cross will stand before the Judge wearing Jesus’ blood on our heads, hands, and feet because Jesus’ blood covers our sin. God will look at the blood of His precious Son and say, “Debt paid in full.” Our eternity will be in God’s sweet Presence, too amazing to be described by words.

But if you stand before God expecting to pay for your own sins with your own blood, you’d be putting about a penny toward your billion dollar debt. Far, far from paid in full. And owing the cost of sinning against God will be an eternity of horror you can’t even imagine right now, too painful to be described by words.

Our Holy God wants each of us to know Him, so He Himself came to earth, lived, died, and rose again to make a way for that to happen. You are a sinner. You are piling up a debt of sin against God that you cannot pay. So Jesus paid it for you.

Have you accepted it? He’s offering His blood to cover your sins. Personally, I think it’s a no-brainer. But God has given you the privilege of choosing for yourself. If you think your penny will cover the cost of your sin, then take the gamble and choose that.

I’m praying you’ll choose Jesus.

Do The Wicked Really Prosper?

Job 24

It’s tempting to believe that wicked people prosper and good people struggle. Only the good die young, right? In our minds, people should get what they deserve, and we, like Job, complain and question God when we think life is unfair.

A dear lady in my church got a cancer diagnosis this week. She is a godly, sweet, hard working member of our church family, involved in Bible Studies and serving on committees. She sings in the choir and is someone who radiates God’s love. We might think she doesn’t deserve the struggle ahead. I think she’d tell us we would be wrong to think that.

She deserves much worse. And so do I. So do you.

I for one am glad we don’t get what we deserve in this lifetime. Because we all have sinned. We all have offended and rejected our Holy God who is very plain to tell us His standard for us is holiness. What is man, dear God, that you would even give us a thought? We are broken and disobedient and self-centered. We deserve your anger.

But Psalm 145:8 tells us:

God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

One day we will get what we deserve, but don’t start keeping score in this lifetime. One day I, and my friend, will face God wearing the holiness of Jesus because we have accepted what Jesus did on the cross to save us. Our sins, though they are many, are forgiven by God and He won’t remember them ever again. On that day, we will get what Jesus deserves: our presence with Him forever in paradise.

But some of you will also get what you deserve as a result of rejecting what Jesus did. Try standing before a Holy Judge and rationalizing your sin. It can’t be done. And your “goodness” won’t come close to meeting His standard of holiness. The consequences you receive will be what you deserve, and it’ll be worse than you can imagine.

While you are living this life on planet Earth, be thankful we have a compassionate God who is not wanting you or anyone to face Him on their own. He wants you to accept the forgiveness that is yours through His Son, if you’ll just turn from your sin and live for Him.

Oh, you might get a cancer diagnosis. You might face loss and hardship. Some good people struggle, and some good people don’t. Some wicked people struggle, and some wicked people don’t. But it’s not a matter of fairness.

It’s a matter of grace. It’s a matter of a God who is slow to anger, and loves you with a steadfast love.

Do the wicked prosper? Some perhaps, according to the world’s standard. But this life isn’t the end. And the prosperity they enjoy here will not go with them when they die.

Don’t compare your bank account with someone else’s, or your health against another’s. Are you God’s child through the blood of Jesus? That’s the only question that really matters. And God is faithful to forgive anyone who comes to Him in repentance.

That’s what’s fair.