Tag Archives: eternity

September 5; The Other

Ezra 2:21-70; Nehemiah 7:26-73a

Monday I shared that we had been evacuated from our island due to the threat of Hurricane Dorian. I’m thankful today to tell you we are able to go home. The storm has passed, and it’s safe to be on the island again.

The Jews we read about today in Ezra and Nehemiah are going home, too. Finally after seventy years of captivity, they were free. They didn’t know what to expect when they got there, but they were on their way home and, if they were anything like us returning islanders, they were excited. There is just something about going home, isn’t there?

The passages we read today are full of genealogies. Ezra reports name after name of people whose families were going home. And if reading the phone book isn’t boring enough for you, Nehemiah does us the favor of repeating the same list. So we get to read the list of name after name after name, twice! Woo Hoo!

What can we learn from these lists? Well, my friend, never blow off what God has breathed into print. He has something to say on every page of the Bible.

Here’s a blast from the past: “Newhart.” Bob and wife running an inn. A scraggly hillbilly comes through the door, followed by two more scraggly hillbillies. He introduces himself, “My name is Larry. This is my brother Darryl, this is my other brother Darryl.” (You are going to have to be a certain age to remember this one! Sorry, kids.)

I thought of them this morning as I read this genealogy record, then read it again. Because in Ezra 2:31, then again in Nehemiah 7:34 we meet “the other Elam.” Makes me wonder about the other Elam, or the first Elam, or the more important Elam. What would cause a person to be known as “the other?”

Most of us would admit that we like to be the one recognized as important, significant, talented, irreplaceable, whatever. We at least like to be recognized for what we have contributed to the work of God. But here we have a man who the only thing we know about him is, he isn’t THE Elam. He’s the other one.

This is what God whispered in my ear as I read this today. This Elam is going home. This Elam is listed with those who were freed from slavery, and he and his family were going home. He won’t be remembered for anything other than his freedom, and his destination. That’s all we need to know.

And that’s what needs to be known about each of us. Are you a Christian? Have you repented of sin and asked God to give you what Jesus’ death bought you? Do you know the Savior?

Then, friend, you are free! You are free from the chains and the penalty of sin. You are God’s child in every sense of the word, and you are headed home. Home! Eternity with God in glory.

And I know, without a doubt that when you look into Jesus’ eyes He won’t see you as just another Christian, or “the other” sinner He died for. You will look into His eyes and know He sees no-one but you, loves no-one more than He loves you, considers no-one else more important than you.

You won’t be “the other.” You will be “the one!”

 

 

 

 

September 3; Don’t Assume

Daniel 8:1-27, 5:1-31, 9:1-27; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23

I’m very thankful for the truth God laid on my heart yesterday. He is such a patient God. He’s always working in hearts, always revealing Himself in so many ways every day. And He lovingly breathed His Words into what we call the Bible to encourage us, convict us, give us hope, and warn us about the price of disobedience. He laid it all out there so there would be no question.

Yesterday we saw God warn Nebuchadnezzar, then gave the king a whole year to come around. When the king still refused to repent, the events God had warned him about came true, and Nebuchadnezzar paid the price for rejecting God.

Today God is reminding me another aspect of His Holy judgment. Nebuchadnezzar’s son was king now. Belshazzar, like his father, defied God, worshiped idols, and “set (himself) up against the Lord in heaven.” (Daniel 5:23)

So God warned him in a very direct, very dramatic way. God wrote the writing on the wall. “You are going to lose, Belshazzar.” And that very night, Belshazzar died. The end. The beginning of a devastating eternity without God.

Here is where God has directed my thoughts this morning; He has revealed Himself to every one of us whether or not you want to acknowledge that, so that no one has an excuse. No one can say they didn’t know He is God. He has even put in writing His demands and His plan of rescue. God is very clear: it’s His way or we pay severe consequences. Let there be no misunderstanding. He will be worshiped.

And as patient as God is, there comes a time when He gives people what we want. You want an eternity with Him? Accept His Son and you’ve got it. But if you want life without Him, He’ll give you that. And you’ll be without Him for eternity, too.

Here is a stark reality: God did give Nebuchadnezzar a year to humble himself after the warning. Belshazzar wasn’t given a year to obey. He died that same night God wrote the warning on the wall.

Friend, you aren’t guaranteed a year, a month, a day, not even a next breath. The fact is God has been tugging at your heart, maybe shaking your shoulders trying to get you to look at Him, to hear and accept Him on His terms. You have been warned about what is ahead.

Don’t assume you have time to listen to Him later. You have this minute. Right now.

I certainly don’t know your heart. But if you have been putting off obeying God, hear Him today tell you how much He loves you, that He died to save you. Hear Him tell you you are lost without Him, that there is no other way. No other way. Humble yourself. Ask Him to forgive you. Repent of your sin and invite Him to be Lord of your life.

Don’t assume you have tomorrow.

September 2; True To His Word

Daniel 4:1-37, 7:1-28; 2 Kings 25:27-30; Jeremiah 52:31-34

It wasn’t like he hadn’t been warned. God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream, and the interpretation to Daniel. In essence, God told the king to repent. And if he refused to repent, he would lose everything.

Nebuchadnezzar didn’t repent. He was prideful and self-satisfied, and he liked it that way.

Now here’s what spoke to me this morning. God gave the king a whole year to repent. I’m thinking the man must have thought about what Daniel had told him during those twelve months. He’d already seen proof of God’s power before, so it wasn’t like he could just blow it off.

But a year after his dream, Nebuchadnezzar lost everything because he didn’t heed God’s warning. He lost his kingdom, his wealth, and his sanity. God was true to His Word.

The truth is, God is always throwing out warnings to people. We hear the urgency in His voice as we read His Word. We see His fury in a storm. We witness his tenderness and mercy in the face of a new born baby, and in the face of a new born Christian.

And God is patient. He will continue to work to get our attention, to demonstrate that He alone is worthy of worship. Do not take Him lightly.

Daniel had told Nebuchadnezzar that eventually the king would bow down to God. And after seven years of living like a wild animal, Nebuchadnezzar did just that.

God will be worshiped by you, too. Philippians 2:10-11 tells us ,”that one day, at the name of Jesus, EVERY knee will bow, in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

One day you will know God is True, that Jesus is the Christ, and that He was trying to get you to love Him all your life. I pray you will come to that belief during this lifetime, before you look into His eyes for the first time. I pray that when you do bend your knee on that day in acknowledgment of the truth and glory of God, you will do it out of a heart that has been redeemed by Jesus’ blood, and not out of a heart that refused to accept him while you had a chance.

Please heed God’s warnings. He is true to His Word.

______________________________________________________________

Another hurricane, another evacuation from this island. Please continue to pray for all who are in the path of Dorian. We thank you.

August 21; The Reality

Psalms 102, 120, 137; Lamentation 1-2

Jeremiah looked at the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple in ruins, his neighbors and friends either dragged away into captivity, or starving in the streets. And he was sad.

Yes, he’d warned them that God was going to punish them if they didn’t repent. And when they refused to stop sinning, I’m sure it came at no surprise to the prophet that God did exactly what He’d said He’d do. But I don’t think even Jeremiah knew how bad God’s judgment would be.

I don’t think we do, either.

Most of us know there is a heaven and a hell. John, in his vision, tries to describe a reality more wonderful than we can imagine, an unspeakably amazing eternity with God. But Scripture also tells us there is another reality for those who reject God.

As unspeakably wonderful as heaven is, hell is unspeakably horrible. That reality without God is worse than anything we can imagine.  I just don’t believe any of us know how bad God’s judgment will be for those who die in their sin.

Read these chapters in Lamentations. Feel the despair, the loneliness, the utter hopelessness. See the filth and the horror. And know hell is an eternity much worse.

I think if we really allowed ourselves to get a glimpse of the reality of hell, we wouldn’t go to bed tonight until we shared Jesus with our loved ones, with passion and urgency. Jeremiah’s heart was broken by the suffering he saw in the people who had refused to obey God.

Dear God, break my heart over the same reality.

August 5; On Fire

Jeremiah 22:24-23:8, 49:1-33; 2 Kings 24:10-17; Obadiah 1:1-21

I will confess I was a bit down yesterday after my time in God’s Word, thinking about the persecution of believers in our world, and what that means for the future of the sweet children in my life. I pray that they will be grounded in the Truth of Scripture, believers in Jesus, and His through His precious blood and the repentance of sin. I pray they will be strong to face whatever the future holds.

I read the passages for today and, honestly, my mind kept wandering. I got to the end of it and realized I hadn’t gotten a thing out of it. So I prayed and asked God to speak to me as I read it a second time.

Sigh. There is a lot of destruction and judgment in these verses. Is that what God wants to say to me again today? I wasn’t sure I could handle another day of gloom and doom.

And, because I’ve made a 10 day commitment to keep my commentaries on the shelf, I started to read these passages a third time. This time I prayed, “God, if you are wanting me to address your fierce judgment again I will. But if there is something else you want me to see, I want to see it.

“Jesus,” He seemed to say.

There it was. Jeremiah 23:5-6. Jesus, the righteous Branch, wise, and just. The One who will protect His children. The Lord our Redeemer! Thank you, Lord, for reminding me there is hope. His name is Jesus.

Then, in Obadiah 1:15-18 I heard God speak of that hope. The day of the Lord is near. There will be deliverance – AND IT WILL BE HOLY.

God’s children will receive our inheritance: eternity with Jesus. And not one of those who reject Him will survive. Not one.

So, yes. Things are heating up in the world. Satan is on a roll. But we who know the Savior have hope. Nothing that snake can do needs to cause us fear, because God is on our side. Jesus will destroy His enemies.

It occurs to me there are two ways God eliminates His enemies. One is death – physical and eternal. But that’s not His first choice to destroy His enemies.

The other way God eliminates His enemies is by making them His children. When they repent of sin and accept His grace, they are enemies no more! That’s His plan. That’s why Jesus died. That’s what He did for me and you who were once His enemies. He saved us and made us His beloved.

So, dear Christian, let’s be that fire Obadiah spoke of. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to set us ablaze with passion and love and boldness. Let’s defeat Satan by leading people to Jesus. Let’s do our part to turn God’s enemies into His children.

Because if we don’t, none of them will survive.

July 14; Gladness and Joy

Isaiah 33:1-37:13

I read what Matthew Henry had to say about these chapters today, and he reminded me that God inspired the prophet to write words that applied to his time, to the time of Jesus, and to time after Jesus’ life on earth. All in one.

I love reading about the streams in the desert, parched land glad, a wilderness blooming, feeble hands strengthened, fearful hearts made strong, blind eyes seeing, deaf ears hearing, the lame leaping, the mute shouting for joy. I love it because that’s exactly what happens in a glorious spiritual sense when a lost soul finds Jesus.

Isaiah says there is a highway, the Way of Holiness. Sinners can’t journey on it, only those who walk in the Way. And it’s a highway that leads to a joyful eternity.

It’s the same road Jesus described in Matthew 7:13-14;

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

I hope you’ve found that narrow road, that bridge that spans between us and God – the Person of Jesus Christ! Read what Isaiah has to say about this Savior of ours. Then, “gladness and joy will overtake (you), and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

This amazing book of Isaiah is God’s message to you today. Read it. See if you can see yourself and your Savior in there. I believe you’ll find reason to rejoice, if you know Him.

July 11: Right Where I Want To Be

Psalms 87, 125; Isaiah 1:1-4:6

Reading what God has to say to His people through Isaiah, I can get a bit fearful. God is no one to mess with. It’s His way, or the highway. He refuses to even listen to the prayers of we who are sinful.

But then God throws in verses like Isaiah 1:18-19:

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land…”

Yes, God is to be feared. His judgments are harsh and devastating. Those who do not know Him will suffer greatly, and eternally. But He’s not just warning those who blatantly disobey.

God warns against religion, against simply going through the motions of obedience. Of that He says:

Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong! (Isaiah 1:16)

He calls lip-service, or hypocrisy evil deeds. That means church attendance, or volunteering at a soup kitchen, or whatever kindness and good works you do without first repenting of sin in your life. Evil deeds.

But as fearsome and Holy as God is, He delights in forgiving a repentant heart. He longs to turn sinful lives white as snow. And he does, whenever anyone accepts what Jesus did on the cross when He paid the harsh judgment for my sin and yours.

The psalmist says this in Psalm 125:2:

As the mountain surrounds Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”

I do not need to fear God’s judgment. That mountain around Jerusalem protected His people from the enemy. They were hemmed in on all sides.

And that’s right where I want to be. Right there in the middle of God’s protection, under His wings, safe, secure, loved both now and forevermore. So I repent of sin. I ask God to forgive me for impure thoughts and actions, for harboring anger and jealousy, for gossip and hypocrisy. I lay it all out there and ask Him to forgive me.

And He does.

Then, and only then, am I His child, surrounded by His love and protection. Yes, my friend. That’s right where I want to be.