Tag Archives: sin

From a Flood to a Fire

After reading Genesis 18  and recounting the wonderful picture of Jehovah and Abraham fellowshipping and conversing; which culminates in the exact promise of a son for he a Sarah; we get to what is one of the saddest chapters in the Bible.  The story of Sodom and Gomorrah destruction has been used and re-used to predict the destruction and condemnation of homosexuals.  While it is clear that there was great wickedness in the valley cities, there is another reason I find this to be one of the saddest chapters in the Bible. The Life of Lot, nephew to Father of Our Faith, Abraham is a stark reminder of what sin will do to a life.  Remember that Lot chose Sodom in Genesis 13. He chose it with his eyes and heart of greed. The choice is similar to the senses used by Eve to make her decision to eat. Now if you didn’t know anything about the rest of the story, you might think he chose wisely. Genesis 13:12 says that Lot moved his tents as far as Sodom. But it also says in verse 13 that the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked against the LORD. Later in Genesis 14, we find the Abram has to come to the rescue of his nephew, for he was taken prisoner. Genesis 14:12 now says that Lot was “living in Sodom.” Even after Abraham rescues Lot and family from the enemies, Lot returns to Sodom.  We move forward to Genesis 18, God hears the “outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah and that their sin is exceedingly grave.” Pretty much sin unto death stuff. The LORD does not hide the thing He has planned to do to Sodom [all valley cities]. Abraham, like Moses in the future will intercede on behalf of Sodom – starting with if there are 50 righteous will you destroy? God is holy and just, He says no, this intercession continues all the way down to 10 righteous people; again God says He won’t destroy the cities if 10 righteous are found – but there were more righteous before the Flood [8] than now. Genesis 19, two of the men [angels] go down to Lot and Sodom. verse 1 says that Lot was “sitting at the gate.” To sit at the gate is a reference to being a city official or person on prominence in the town.  Lot has moved closer and gotten more entrenched in the lifestyle of the Sodomites. He is now sitting at the gate, free as you please to be there. But when he sees the two men come, obviously recognizing them as from the LORD, he tries to get them to come stay with him, but the want to stay in the square – most likely filled with all “local activity.” Lot convinces them to stay with him, then all the town wants to come in and take them away and have relations with them – find now the solution for Lot – “Hey here is my virgin daughters, take them and do what you will, but leave these men alone.” WHAT how far has Lot fallen into this gross situation? He even calls the Sodomites “My brothers.” Genesis 19:12 – get your son-in-laws and family out of here, we are about to destroy this place. Lot’s prospective sons-in-laws shrug him off as if he were joking. When morning comes, the men [angels] literally have to pull Lot and family out of the city – even with impending destruction, Lot hesitated to leave. We know that Lot’s wife looked back at what was home and became a pillar of salt. Lot goes to Zoar for he fears the mountains, yet Zoar was just as fearful to live, so when we find Lot and his daughters clear of Sodom they are living in a cave in the mountains. Lot was saved because of the intercession of Abraham and the compassionate hand of the LORD.

Note the downward spiral of Lot; chose Sodom with his eyes and heart of greed. Went and camped by the city, then he moved his tents inside the city, then he becomes a city official, well sort [Genesis 19:9] they only let him think he was one of them. Finally, God has to literally extract Lot out of the grips of sin to save him from total destruction. What was Lot thinking! Oh, wait a minute, that’s what Jesus did to me too. The sad testimony of Lot is that through incestuous relations with his daughters, two nations Moabites and Ammonites become thorns in the side of Israel for hundreds of years.  Sin is powerful, it is engulfing and it is deadly. Mere man cannot escape its clutches – it takes divine intervention through the prayers of the saints and the omnipotent power and mercy of God – Let us take heed!

Least we miss this – Abraham interceded for Lot not Sodom and Gomorrah!

Leave a comment

Filed under 2017 Peneteuch

Blow the Trumpet!

This blog will focus on the book of Joel. The book is a clarion call to the nation of Judah, but also to the believers today, especially in America. From the onset of the book we find that Joel speaks of the devastating condition of Judah. “Has anything like this happened in your days, or in your fathers days?” Already there has been captives taken to Babylon, the city is falling apart, the enemy is camped outside the walls. Jerusalem has not fallen yet, but it is only a matter of time. I know that many have ready Joel and relate a future prophetic message only,but scripture cannot mean something today that it did not mean then. The church is in trouble today, just as Judah was on the brink of total disaster. The wonderful Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey is now a waste land. The vines are broken down, the fields lay barren and wind worn. No crops to feed the people, no hope for a better day tomorrow. Yet with all the devastation clearly in eyesight, the people are sleeping or worse drunken with a stupider and oblivious to what is going on around them. This continuation of the message from Jeremiah, still falls on deaf ears.

When we think of the Baal cultic worship, this agrarian god that promise fertility of crops and vats of wine flowing from the wine presses, and all Judah has to show for their idolatry is a waste land. For a people so dependent on the Land, the absurdity that they will not turn back to Jehovah, who gave them the Land  is ironic.

A repeated phrase “for the Day of the Lord is coming” declares that such a time is conducted at the hands of God. When I think of the apathy, apostasy and anarchy that pervades our country and world today I grieve for the Lord to heal us. But I also know that there must be a brokenness within us. We have to come to our senses, as the Prodigal son did before he returned to his loving father. What will it take for the people of Judah, even America to come to their senses? Is it too late for Judah in Joel? Is it too late for America today? The trumpet call that needs to be sounded in the assembly alarm, the calling together of the people. Like in the days as a child we had civil disaster sirens that caused us to assemble in a designated place, we must assemble at the clarion call of the Holy Spirit. We and Judah had to respond to the alarm, sadly Judah did not – will we go the same way in our stubbornness? In Joel 1:14-15 and Joel 2:15-17 declares the necessary actions for the people to avert disaster. But it cannot be just to avert punishment and calamity, there must be a humility and passion to return to the God who loves us, and to our blessed Savior.

Needed today is for the “trumpet to blow” for the people of God to come together for an out pouring of prayer and repentance – needed today is a “Holy Ghost revival!” Nothing short of a solemn assembly will do. A solemn assemble is a called meeting for a specific purpose. I recently called for a “solemn assembly for my church. It is time to drop what is in our hands and fall before the LORD. Call the elders, all the inhabitants to the House of the Lord your God and “Cry out to the LORD” – alas the day for the day of the Lord is near. God is drawing all things according to His plan. Judah is told to come and PRAY in the HOUSE of the LORD – come to the TEMPLE people!

Every great revival began with a small group of people who were broken for the Lord and over their sin – the Shantung revival in China occurred because the missionaries were broken before the Lord in prayer. Prayer is incense in the nostrils of God – let’s make is a sweet-smelling aroma.

With the call to come to the House of God, proclaim a fast and prayer; the end result “who knows whether He [God] will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him.” (2:14) Judah had the chance, but they refused – let us learn from their hard heart refusal and Call on the Lord.

Leave a comment

Filed under 16 Prophets in 2016

By His Stripes We are Healed

Isaiah 51-55 reading this past week describes emphatically how Jesus was tortured before and while on the Cross at Calvary. Specifically chapters 52-53 are grotesquely descriptive. But before we get to that section of scripture, a passage found in Isa. 52:7 speaks of the “Beautiful feet of those who preach/proclaim the Good News of the Gospel. This verse is found also in Romans 10:15; where it detail a number of questions about how will people hear, unless they are called, sent, went and obedient to the calling of proclaiming the Gospel. I found this especially noteworthy, in that I just returned from a IMB parents of Missionaries conference. These verses were preached about for those who have answered the call so that the nations will hear the good news. Beautiful feet, odd compliment for someone who proclaims the Gospel, unless you are on the receiving end of this good news. The points of the speakers were that someone had to send, someone had to go, and someone had to be obedient to the task. The task isn’t just for missionaries or pastors; but for all people of God to proclaim the Good News that Jesus loves them and Jesus saves!

Now looking specifically at Isaiah 52:13-15; a description of the Messiah. He will have public acclaim; the people will lift him up in popularity and notoriety. Yet quickly this is followed by how he looks, “his visage [body] was marred more than any man.” The beatings Jesus took along the way to the Cross would have killed any mere man; he was beaten by the Jews, Mocked and ridiculed. Then by a garrison of roman soldiers [100] men; beat him with rods and their fists, pulling his beard from his face. As if that wasn’t enough, Pilate had Jesus scourged to try to pacify the Jews into releasing Jesus. It didn’t work as a bloody mangled, mutilated piece of flesh, then Jesus was required to carry His cross to Calvary. I do not know how he endured such traumatic loss of blood and the severe shock to his body. It is said that the flesh was literally ripped off his bones, the nerves and tissue flayed from His bones.

In Isaiah 53, a more accurate account of Isaiah 52:14; we initially get the lineage of Jesus, a “shoot from the root of Jesse” depicting His tribal ancestry to Judah and King David. We find that it wasn’t Jesus’ looks that made Him attractive to people, but His works and works. I guess if I were living back then, I may have missed Jesus because he was just a common ordinary looking man, another face in the crowd so to speak.

John 1:11; says He came unto His own but His own received Him not – they rejected Him – but it was the religious rulers, not the common hurting people of the day. I wonder how much Jesus would endure from us if He was here today? He was despised and forsaken, this speaks of how they wanted to kill Him, also about the stone of stumbling and rock of offense He was. Yet He is the chief corner-stone, which God used to bring salvation to the nations. It is odd that Jesus was rejected by His own people, and in the grace of God, we [non-Jews] are given access to the free gift of salvation. Jesus is acquainted with grief, and sorrow, he took on our sorrows, sins. Jesus took our penalty for our disobedience and sin against the Father. We deserved every  strip of the whip, we deserved every blow to His body; yet He took it all for ME!! Listen to these words – pierced, crushed, scourging, chastening and iniquity. All descriptive of what Jesus took that was ours. Surely we must see the reality of – “BY HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED”! Yet Jesus said not a single word, like a sheep before His slaughters is silent. But then it says in verse 10 – “It pleased the Father to crush Him” – Why how can that be pleasing? It is pleasing to the Father for now there can be reconciliation and restoration with His creation. Jesus is the advocate and restitution for man’s sins that we may come boldly to the Father based on His sacrifice. Yet Jesus is still at work – having paid the penalty, defeated death and Satan; He now makes intercession for us before the Father. WHen Satan accuses us [and we are guilty] Jesus pleads our case, not because we are innocent, but because He has redeemed us from ALL sin – there is no debt, there is no charge – It is Finished! And the Father looks at His Son and says – Justified upon the basis of the Lamb of God’s sacrifice. And that’s how Jesus purchased my salvation – praise God, praise God Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under 16 Prophets in 2016

By This We Know

The Book of 1 John; The similarities of John’s Gospel and this Epistle are easily noted. John the Beloved Apostle, that rested on the bosom of Jesus, is no longer the brash young boy who was one of the “Sons of Thunder.” He is the last of the Apostles, all others including Paul have died [killed] for the faith. John has not been exempted from persecution, just survived it. John is not yet in exile on the Isle of Patmos; he is the Elder statesman at the church in Ephesus. While many of the Apostles, especially Paul had to combat the Judaizers and Imperial henchmen, John is confronting a philosophical sect called the Gnostics. The sect believes in a duality of man; one where the flesh and the spirit do not necessarily affect each other. The Gnostics, also found in the book of Colossians, boasted of a superior knowledge about spiritual matters. The Gnostic’s were using cunning and crafty speech to dissuade many from following the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There are several phrases that John uses to combat the Gnosticism philosophy: “By this we Know; If we Say; We Know.”

John uses his own John 13:34-35 as a basis for this epistle. By this all men will know that you are My disciples if you have love one for another. Two phrases again show up – By this and will know. John writes with the specific purpose – 1 John 5:13 “These things I have written to you that YOU MAY BELIEVE in the Son of God, so that YOU MAY KNOW that you have eternal life. In combating the Gnostics, John writes to the church about those things that have already been established. There is great emphasis on obeying the commands of God and believing that Jesus has come in the flesh. Part of the Gnostic thought was that Jesus was not flesh, but only appeared as flesh. This heresy will not go away until the 1st Lateran council of Nicaea in 325 AD.  It is at this council that Jesus will be affirmed as God, in the Spirit and flesh. The Incarnation is at stake if we hold that Jesus is only spirit. We then would have a High Priest that really has no idea about the things that we go through. [Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15]

John gives a number of easy tests to determine if someone is in the faith or only pretending. The “If we say. . . . ” and do not walk gives clear evidence that the truth is not in us. John has been an eye-witness to Jesus; his senses have affirmed that Jesus was/is real. He touched him, saw him, and heard him. If John were not around to contend against the Gnostic’s they might have gotten away with their heresy. But when there is a living witness to the things that have been reported, all else would be a lie that denies the events of the witness. For example no one living today can deny that 911 occurred, too many people saw with their own eyes what happened. However, did the Holocaust happen? Enough time has passed where many have died and some are trying to re-write history to eliminate the Nazi war crimes. We live in a forgetful culture who given the opportunity would like to write Christ out of History if they could.

Three things John brings to the minds of his readers:

1st – This is the message [1:5]; that Jesus has been born, sent by the Father, manifested as the Son of God and Savior of the world. His life, death, burial and resurrection are truths. Jesus came as Light into the world, because the deeds of men were evil [darkness]. We can have fellowship with God, but not if we Harbor sin in our lives. We cannot walk in the Light and have fellowship and retain a sinful habit of living. We know that we have come to know Jesus if we keep his commandments. Pretty easy test – John does not say that we keep all the church rules. Obedience is to God and His word. If someone says they know God and doesn’t keep His commands [Matt 22:37-38] then He is the liar, not God.

2nd – This is the Promise [2:25]; The Promise is eternal life. The quality and quantity  – it is a duration and a kind of life that we are promised. Actually all mankind will have an eternity – one of separation, the other is fellowship and presence of God in Heaven. The objective of salvation is not heaven, but freedom and deliverance from a sinful nature, which enables anyone to be reconciled back to God, as it was in the beginning before the Fall.  Eternal Life has been promised to all who believe, it is something we have now because Someone is living in someone and we have Eternal Life, Because Jesus is the Christian life – He who has the Son has Life! We have it now, for we who believe will not die [John 11:25-26].

3rd – This is the Commandment [3;23]; John is infatuated with the word love. 1 John 4;15-21 is filled verse after verse with the word love. John has really mellowed since his youth. I have already referenced John 13:34-35 and Matthew 22:37-38, in these verses we find that the sum of the Law and the Prophets – not a bunch of commands, not even the 10 Commandments, just two. Love God and Love your neighbor.  Gone are the days of fulfilling the ritualistic laws of Judaism, not by works of practice, but out of a heart of love and compassion for each other, that includes the brethren and the lost world. John uses three stages of maturity for the believer to show how the love of the Father is manifested. [1 John 2:12-14] He identifies the little children they have been forgiven and KNOW the Father; the young men  have overcome the enemy and the word strongly abides in them; then the fathers, who KNOW Him who was from the beginning. Progress in the faith must occur for every believer.

John makes a great distinction between Profession and Possession. Even to the point of “they went out from us, because they were not part of us.” Not everyone who calls on “Lord, Lord” will see the kingdom of God, but only those who do the will of My Father in Heaven.

Leave a comment

Filed under 15 in '15

Why the Gospel is Needed

We began this week reading from the book of Romans. This is the strongest letter by Paul. For it outlines the work of God through humanity and especially the need for salvation for all. Quickly the Apostle Paul moves from a strong greeting and salutation to the crux of his intention of writing. Since Paul had not started the church, he may have been largely unknown to the church that was in Rome. In Romans, we find a magnitude of theological and doctrinal issues addressed. Particularly, doctrines of depravity, justification, salvation, sanctification, and glorification. Sounds like a lot of $20 words, but Paul spends much of Epistle writings to correct and instruct beliefs and practices within the church. In writing to the Romans, Paul wanted some fruit from them, in order to be sent on his way to Spain. It makes logical reasoning that Paul would need to present himself and his message to the people first.

Chapter one has become of late a very volatile passage for it clearly speaks to the issue of homosexuality. It speaks first to the foundational existence of God. Although He [God] cannot be seen, He is Known through the things that exist and observed with our eyes. There are other passages that describe the created order of things through Jesus [Col. 1:15-18, Heb. 1:2-4]. Paul quickly describes the work of Jesus as the Savior of the world, and thereby affirming that He is the Son of God.  In verse 18, Paul exposes the condition of mankind and the depravity of our minds. From verse 18 to the end of the chapter, one finds that there is sufficient justification for the wrath of God in the lives of rebellious people. Many of the actions expressed by the Gentiles is being lived out in our day. There is significant accusation about the behavior of the Gentiles. At the foundation of their rebellion is their rejection of the God that has been revealed to them. Even though they KNEW God, they did not honor Him as God. I often hear in arguments against the “Jesus only” salvation, that everyone hasn’t heard of Jesus – then they try to come up with a people who live in some obscure place, where the Gospel can’t get; in hopes that there are people who will be excluded from Hell because they didn’t hear of Jesus and the Bible. This argument is shattered, for “They are without excuse,” for the invisible God is know by His visible creation.

The thrust of Paul in identifying the pagan behavior, is to show how low and how far from God people will go to pursue their rebellious behavior.  The condition of the mankind is the basis for the wrath of God. God is holy and righteous. He does not have to put up with gross immorality. Note the Flood conditions are the same as Paul writes and God destroyed all the people. Jesus speaks of the only sign we will be given, as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the end times. [Matt 24:37 -ff] Our culture has adopted am “amoral” position with regards to good and evil, specifically morality. All is acceptable, because there isn’t a standard. To adopt this position, one must eliminate God – this is exactly what Paul brings out is chapter one.

You can almost hear the Jewish believers shouting Amen to Paul’s conclusion about the Gentiles. Wait a minute, Paul isn’t done. In chapter 2, Paul takes on the Jews. The Jews had the oracles the Law; yet Paul brings out that the Law no man can’t be justified. The Old Testament salvation was one of faith [Abraham specifically, Hab 2:4], the just shall live by faith. Then Paul brings the argument that when Gentiles by nature do the Law, without the Law, they become a law unto themselves, and are pleasing to God. In other words, God has in fact created mankind with a desire to worship and governed by an innate law within them. His statement, that the Jew is not one born of Jewish stock, but one who lives by faith. So then, a Gentile who does the Law, without the Law becomes in all essence a Jew,

Chapter 3 is a huge chapter, for it quickly gets to the point that no one seeks after God, it is God who seeks after us. [Jeremiah 29:12-14] Paul, having leveled the ground by revealing the both Jew and Gentile are condemned and in subjection to the wrath of God. All have sinned, all fall short, all will be the object of God’s wrath, if faith and repentance are not accomplished. Romans becomes a great book to show how the Gospel moves from a Jewish audience to a Gentile, and hence a global Gospel. No one can claim advantage – the advantage is not in circumcision, nor,  is it in ignorance.

justification is always by faith, not works – Ephesians 2:8-10. It is God who justifies, in a forensic sort of way we are “declared” righteous, even though clearly we are not. Out justification and righteousness is in the Son Jesus – who God the Father sent. Hence salvation and acceptance is not of boasting in who we are, but praise and worship to the One and Only Way to be reconciled – Jesus!

Leave a comment

Filed under 15 in '15