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If you have stumbled here by accident let me first insist that there really are no accidents in life. If however, you came on your own free will then please by all means open your hearts and your minds to the "New Wine" that God has prepared for you!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Clutter



Pastor David’s office has always looked like a hurricane had ransacked it or a bomb went off in it. The strong winds or person responsible left everything in unorganized piles around some sort of pedestal that could have been a desk. For some unknown and peculiar reason Pastor David once gave me a key to his office. Thinking back on his decision I can’t be sure if he was in his right mind when he handed over the key which I still have in my possession.
  
It was like handing a kid the key to a candy store and walking away in complete trust that the kid wouldn’t steal any of the candy piled up inside. I remember as a younger man unlocking the door, squeezing down the narrowing hallway which had piles of books and unopened mail stacked on either side. I was in heaven with a plethora of bible commentaries, text books and books written in both Greek and Hebrew which were fun to hold upside down while pretending to read them.

Only a handful of people had a key and even out of those only a few were brave enough to venture into his office without a guide. Even the pastor’s secretary would stand just inside the doorway and converse with him careful not to take too many steps into the jungle of book- vines that had grown up both walls of the office landscape.

 It was different for me because I loved being able to lock myself in his office in a secret hall of knowledge where I could read all about Jesus, His disciples and works by the early Church Fathers. On one occasion I discovered part of a couch peeking through a large pile of mail and several cases of diet coke cans. I was able to push some of the debris off unto the cluttered floor and lay down in sort of prone position with my feet on top of the cases of diet coke. I always locked the door behind me so that no one would disturb me as was the habit of the local parishioners. 

Of course, I’m looking back thirty years and haven’t actually been into David’s office for a long while. I remember it was a special place for me where the Spirit of God would guide me as I turned the pages of Matthew Henry, J. Vernon McGee or G. Campbell Morgan.  As a young man I wanted desperately to understand the deep mysteries of God that were concealed in all the books that were piled around me.

Today I find myself lost in another jungle of books. These books I know intimately because I have purchased all of them while only managing to read a few cover to cover. Many of my books I’ve wanted to finish but just couldn’t get into the story while others remained too lofty in their presentation to keep my attention for more than a few minutes. While staring at the many piles of books in my office something dawned on me. 

I don’t think Jesus would have read any copy on systematic theology. In my arrogance to learn more I had acquired volumes of books on how to study the New Testament, commentaries on the Old Testament and volumes of study helps which were in stacks lining the walls of my office. It’s strange but I have a guilty feeling while reading books that just don’t make any sense to me. 

The truth is book studies, guides and extra biblical resources take us away from the leading of the Holy Spirit through the books that make up the Old and New Testaments. Religious leaders of Jesus’ day were so caught up in their pursuit of knowledge that they missed the first appearance of the Messiah.

Pride is our downfall. I have seen it rear its ugly head in myself and I have seen it in many other Christians I know. Jesus taught that what we need to do is demonstrate love and not just simply talk about it. Even our high school English teachers would say that “love” is a verb and depicts action. Jesus demonstrated His love for us when He offered Himself up as a sacrifice; the Lamb of God. 

It’s difficult to understand how volumes of works have been written on what Jesus taught. Jesus Himself simply encouraged us to love God with all our hearts, minds and strength then to love our neighbors as ourselves. 

While I have made the decision to throw out most of my books on theology, which are piled up on the floor, I will still hold onto a few of my favorites. Beloved let us not only love in word but also in deed with every opportunity that God presents to us.  


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Thy kingdom come



The date the Messiah would return was set in stone, scribbled on a sacred scroll penned by the Prophet Daniel. Sent to man by God through the angel Gabriel; the day of salvation was clearly foretold to the exact day. The Scribes, Priests and Pharisees had memorized the words, calculated the date but were still blinded, unable to see the miracle God was performing.

From the very beginning of creation God only wanted to walk with man, to create in Adam the ability to choose to love Him but man turned away from his creator and followed a self-centered destructive path filled with lust, greed and power.

In time God raised up a remnant, a family clan, from Noah’s son Shem. It was His plan and hope that He could reveal Himself to the entire world through the good works of this one family line. As time passed and the family grew into a nation, they too turned away from God following a destructive path of self indulgence while worshipping gods made by their own hands.

Once again out of His great love and mercy, God sent the prophets to warn His people to return to fellowship with Him but instead the nation killed the prophets and walked further down the road of bondage. Instead of being a great light to the world they became a perverted darkness, sinking lower and lower into the pit of depravity.

Finally, after seventy years of captivity, God heard the cries of His people and freed them from their servitude in Babylon. It was during this period that God sent the angel Gabriel to Daniel. He explained what would transpire in the future and how He would bring peace back to the world.

God’s prophets had foreseen these two great appearances of the Messiah but from their perspective it looked like a single mountain peak on a distance horizon. They couldn’t see the valley that lay between the Messiah’s first and second appearances.

We are now living at a time on the furthest edge of that valley. The return of the King is imminent and when He does return He will set into motion the seventieth week that the angel Gabriel delivered to the prophet Daniel over twenty-five hundred years ago.

Who is this King of Glory? In the Greek His name is Jesus, in Hebrew Jeshua (Joshua) and He is the Alpha and the Omega or the beginning and the end. God promised that He would be the One to pay all back all debts and accomplish the work of salvation through His crucifixion in Jerusalem.

After dying, Jesus returned from death and promised new, eternal life to all who would only believe and put their faith in Him. Then He went away to prepare a place for His bride “the church” promising one day to return for us.

It is this event that we are expectantly waiting for and warned will take place in the twinkling of an eye right before the seventieth week or the seven year period know as the day of “Jacob’s trouble”.

God doesn’t want our religion. He made it clear that we have no part in salvation and that it is in Him and Him alone that we are saved from evil. Even the earth is in bondage and groans while it awaits its freedom and restoration. The seventieth week is about to begin and will usher in the second appearance of Jesus Christ who will at that time set up His kingdom here on earth.

The earth is about to enter its sabbatical rest of one thousand years which is referred to as the Millennial Kingdom. At that time, Jesus will rule and reign this kingdom with an iron scepter and there will be peace on the earth.

God doesn’t want man’s religion, filled with endless rules and regulations; all He wants from us is a relationship where we chose to walk closely with Him in love. The law can only bring us to the edge of the Promised Land, it cannot lead you in. The only way into the Promised Land is by following Joshua (Jeshua in Hebrew, Jesus in Greek).

When Martha and Mary’s brother died Jesus told them that he would live again. He went on to explain that He was the resurrection and the life and that anyone who believed in Him would never die. He also explained to the apostles that He was the only Way, the Truth and the Life and that anyone desiring to tabernacle with God could only approach through Him.

This present world is running on greed; money has become the god of our world system. When Jesus returns to set up His kingdom it will be love that prevails and motivates us to good works.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Peaks and valleys



 It’s been said that we must all go through the valley to get to the mountain of God. 

As we walk through this world we go through cycles of walking through valleys and climbing up onto high mountain peaks. It’s during this trek that our lives fall into an endless rhythm of ebb and flow as the currents of life pull us out into deep waters. Sometimes we get an occasional glimpse of the shore from the wave’s crest but most often we are weighted down in the valley’s trough as random waves constantly crash and roll over us.

Life for the nation of Israel went through similar cycles. At times the children of Israel would draw very near to God obeying and walking in close fellowship on the mountaintops. However, because the human heart is so wicked, beyond our comprehension, they spent most of their time wandering around dark valleys; backslidden, fallen away in disobedience, turning their attention to false gods and debased life styles.

It was in these times of separation and disobedience from God that He sent the prophets. God inspired the prophets to communicate events that would take place in the future if the nation didn’t turn away from the path that was leading them away from Him. These prophets wrote down predictions while under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

 Old Testament prophets of God were faith filled men who were given visions of apocalyptic events before they happened. They were sent to warn the nation of Israel to turn back to God before disaster befell them. Unfortunately, God’s people didn’t heed their warnings and often ridiculed, beat and killed the men God sent them.

The main event that God promised from the beginning of creation was that He would send a Messiah or Savior to right the wrongs and reverse the curse of human disobedience. Most prophecy God sent to the world described an event where a Prophet-Priest-King would come in great power and majesty putting all of Israel’s enemies under His footstool. This final event is still future and has not yet taken place. 

Jewish prophets wrote allot about this time of “Jacob’s trouble” where God would pour out His wrath upon the earth. They also recorded the “Immanuel” prophecy, where this Messiah would be born in Bethlehem through a “virgin” birth and that He would be mocked, beaten and killed in order to take away the original curse God imposed upon mankind. 

Unfortunately, for the nation of Israel, the prophets could only see these mountain peaks of prophecy and not the valley that lay in between. The valley was hidden from their view and separated these two events by a large amount of time. They focused on the end game and skipped over the valley which is the current “church age” that we are now living in.

This valley, which was referred to by the New Testament writers as a mystery, is the gentile church and has been growing for over two thousand years since the death of Jesus. This dispensation or period of time was hinted at in the prophecy given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel recorded in the ninth chapter of the book of Daniel.

In the prophecy seventy weeks of years are determined by God to take away the curse. These seventy weeks of years are mysteriously separated into seven weeks of years, sixty two weeks of years and the final seventieth week of years which is yet to take place. The missing valley in between of 2000 years or the “church age” was purposely veiled by God until the appointed time. The Messiah wasn’t coming once but twice to the earth.

Jesus Himself made a veiled reference to His first and second advents while reading from the Torah in a Nazarene synagogue when He stopped in mid sentence at a comma. He opened the scrolls and began reading “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,"  This event was recorded in the gospel of Luke 4:16-22.

What’s not clear is that He stopped in the middle of a sentence at a comma. The rest of that sentence in Isaiah reads “and the day of vengeance of our God;” This great and awesome day of vengeance, the day of Jacob’s trouble, is the seventieth week of Daniel and is yet to be fulfilled. 
We are living on the cusp of this event horizon precariously perched on the mountaintop of God.