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4000 essays

Dear Reader,

As of yesterday I have published 4000 essays at the End Time. My goal has been to share thoughts on the three general topics of prophecy, discernment, and encouragement. Of late I added Poetry and Visual Exegesis. I’ve published daily (with only 3 exceptions) since January 2009. It’s a privilege to study God’s word and then write about it. It’s even more of a privilege to have a sister in the faith click on the links to credible ministries that I offer, and become edified as a result.

This is one of my goals – to point to solid ministries led by men so sisters can find good commentaries, sermons, and other material.

Another goal I’ve had is to provide explanations about prophecy that aren’t wacky. It’s discouraging when I google prophecy ministries and the search results yield such a plethora of date setting, conspiracy theorist, downright insane websites. Prophecy is important, edifying, and interpretable. I hoped to add to the internet archive of reasonable and thoughtful essays exploring this most delightful and thrilling topic, in a way that honors God and teaches the sisters.

Another goal has been to present discerning essays exploring troubling teachings and the teachers that bring them, without snark or mocking. I hope I’ve succeeded in this, but sometimes I know I haven’t. Please forgive me.

I also seek to encourage. Just speaking of Jesus and His wonderful attributes is a privilege and doing so lifts me up. I hope it does you as well.

4000 essays is quite an accomplishment, and I thank the Holy Spirit for giving me the mental capacity, the physical energy, and the spiritual insight to persevere in this ministry. I’ve enjoyed it, and I plan to continue, Lord willing. Thank you for reading The End Time. Tune in tomorrow for another essay, #4,002, as we persevere and do not become weary in doing good.

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Man in a Hurry, Sunday slowdown

There remains a sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).

My favorite Andy Griffith episode is called Man in a Hurry. It’s from Season 3, episode 16. A businessman from the city is traveling through and his car breaks down at the edge of Mayberry. It’s a Sunday, though, and nothing is stirring, even a mouse. Not until church lets out, and even then, the hard-working citizens of Mayberry are committed to and enjoy their Sabbath rest. The man’s frustration with the towns’ seeming unwillingness to help him fix his car grows until he eventually succumbs to the slow-down sweetness of friendship, rest, and communion.

When people reflect on the old TV show they usually mention their most enjoyable scenes are when one or more characters are sitting on the front porch, not doin’ anything much. In the scene below, it’s Sunday, it’s after church and Sunday dinner, Andy and Barney simply sit, listen to the crickets, or softly sing hymns.

Here is Sinclair Ferguson on “Sabbath Rest“. What IS Sabbath rest, anyway?

In creation, man was made as God’s image—intended “naturally” as God’s child to reflect his Father. Since his Father worked creatively for six days and rested on the seventh, Adam, like a son, was to copy Him. Together, on the seventh day, they were to walk in the garden. That day was a time to listen to all the Father had to show and tell about the wonders of His creating work.
Thus the Sabbath Day was meant to be “Father’s Day” every week. It was “made” for Adam. It also had a hint of the future in it. The Father had finished His work, but Adam had not.

Ferguson continues explaining the Sabbath rest and then turns to what the Sabbath should mean to us Christians now that Jesus has come. It’s a good read.

Saturdays are a pile-up day. I picture Saturdays for most people as a day when the litter along the side of the road has blown up against a fence. All the chores, tasks, things you’d planned to do have blown up against Saturday and it’s a busy day attending to them all. Children’s birthday parties, sports games, visiting Mom and Dad, grocery shopping, laundry, school projects….the list is endless. With all the hurry-hurry on Saturdays, it’s sometimes hard to stop that momentum on Sunday.

But we’re supposed to.

But one may ask: “How does this impact my Sundays as a Christian?” This view of the Sabbath should help us regulate our weeks. Sunday is “Father’s Day,” and we have an appointment to meet Him. The child who asks “How short can the meeting be?” has a dysfunctional relationship problem—not an intellectual, theological problem—something is amiss in his fellowship with God.
This view of the Sabbath helps us deal with the question “Is it ok to do … on Sunday?—because I don’t have any time to do it in the rest of the week?” If this is our question, the problem is not how we use Sunday, it is how we are misusing the rest of the week.

As you conclude your day today, if you are reading this on a Saturday (or any other day for that matter), are you in a hurry? Are you cramming in things to do in and around church services? Are you distracted, frazzled, hurried? Slow down. Reflect on how you’re using the week, and how your rest on the Sabbath is to be used as a refreshment to your soul and a reflection of all that God has done and is doing.

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Further reading

12 ways your phone is changing you, Tony Reinke article

What does it mean that Jesus is our Sabbath rest?, Robin Schumacher at Compelling Truth

What is Living Water?

In our small group discussion on Thursday nights, people come with Bibles in hand and the pastor opens the floor to anyone with a question. We search the scriptures and engage in a discussion regarding the person’s question. Last night someone asked about one of my favorite metaphors in the Bible. What is the Living Water?

It is from the scene from John 4, when in Samaria, a tired Jesus sat down in front of the well, and a woman from the village came out a noonday to draw water. An amazing conversation ensued. Here are verses 10-14:

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

From this verse, we understand the Living Water is eternal life in Jesus. Nowhere else but in Jesus does a person have eternal life. He is the fountain. (Jeremiah 2:13). He is the spring. (Isaiah 12:3, Revelation 22:14, John 7:38).

What about after the moment of regeneration, after the person has received eternal life? The waters do not stop flowing. The living water is eternal life in Jesus, as mediated by the Spirit. It is the flow of the Spirit’s guidance that transforms the newly forgiven creature into a person gradually conformed to Christ for all eternity.

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Further reading

Founders Ministries: The Model

GotQuestions: What did Jesus Mean when he said Living Water?

God needs nothing … but …

God, as God, needs nothing. He is above all things. He is Creator of all things. He is self-sustaining, self-sufficient. He needs nothing.

Nor is He served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. (Acts 17:26)

Think of this. As man, Jesus needed everything. As a babe He needed protection when his life was threatened. (Matthew 2:13). He needed shelter, the milk from His mother, the fostering of His father. He was weak, He grew strong. (Luke 2:40). As an adult, He needed sleep, food, rest. (John 4:6, Mark 11:12, Mark 4:38).

I’ve read and enjoyed the Prince and the Pauperand other switcheroo type stories, where the privileged character (usually royalty) accepts reduced circumstances either willingly or unwillingly and learns much from the experience, while the elevated one learns lessons too.

In life we are “upwardly mobile.” We’re standing on the provision and achievements of our parents, who give us opportunities and life-lessons. We then strive to exceed theirs. When we grow to adulthood we turn around and give a helping hand up to our children. We almost never willingly thrust it all aside and reduce our circumstances, just because.

Jesus did.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus knows hunger, weariness, grief, joy, stress. He knows our need because He needed too.

What a great Savior we have.

Christ In The Wilderness by Briton Riviere

Do you know how fast God can run?

I’m reading through Jeremiah. It’s been about ten years since I read through and so it’s time again. What a blessing God’s word is! I am overfilled and overwhelmed with just the first 11 verses in chapter 1.

And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” 12Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

I enjoy the natural history aspects of scripture. As I read verse 11, I stopped to learn more. The first chapter deals with Jeremiah’s call to his fifty-year-plus long prophetic office, almost all of which was difficult, depressing, and discouraging.

The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, opening with the famous line-

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

This is an example of foreordination, where God does not merely react to events on earth, but ordains them from before He created the world. He not only knows the end from the beginning, He authored it, ordained, it and performs it.

I was curious about the linkage of the almond tree with God’s word. What it is about an almond tree that I need to know so I can understand this verse better? How is an almond tree like God’s word? Why is an almond branch being used as a promise from the LORD that He will perform His word?

Spurgeon helped here, preaching an entire sermon on just verse 11. (sermon #2678, THE LESSON OF THE ALMOND TREE)  His sermon is ripe with meaning, insight, and background. It was extremely illuminating.

The almond tree is the first tree to awaken in the winter, hastening to put out leaves and then ripe fruit before any other tree. Spurgeon said that the Hebrew word for almond is wakeful.

Observe, first, that THE ALMOND IS A WAKEFUL TREE. The Hebrew word which is rendered “almond” comes from a root signifying to be wakeful, so this passage might be read thus, “I see the wakeful rod.”

Now, to my question about the linking of the almond tree with God’s word. In the section of his sermon explaining the almond tree with God being quick in performing His promises, Spurgeon said in part,

“Oh, but!” says one, “There are often long delays before peace is enjoyed.” Then it is because you make them, for God does not. “But sometimes we have to wait,” says one. Yes, yes; I know all about that waiting. Do you remember, in the parable of the prodigal son, where he waited? Why, with the harlots and others with whom he wasted his substance in riotous living, or with the swine, when he was feeding them with the husks with which he would gladly have filled his own empty belly. That is where he waited; but when did he end his waiting? When he said, “I will arise and go to my father.” He did not wait any longer, for we read, “And he arose, and came to his father;” and then it is written, “When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him,

and”—”and”—”and”—”and stood still, and waited for him to come”? No, no; I know that God waits to be gracious; but, according to the teaching of that parable, “when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran.” Do you know how fast God can run?

But again I ask, can you tell me how fast God can run? No, you do not know, you cannot tell; but you do know that He is all on fire with love to embrace a poor penitent sinner, and He speeds towards him at an amazing rate. … Swift as the lightning’s flash is the glance of divine compassion that brings life to a penitent soul.

I’ve always been slain and humbled by this fact. In my own conversion, I was in a dire spiritual circumstance, at very rock bottom. My next stop was the pit to be lost forever. At the end of myself, the only place I had to look was up. I was 42 years old, having pursued sin all my life. Yet when I cried out to Him for “help”, He helped me immediately. He didn’t say, ‘Wait, you decades-old sinner.” He did not say “Let me think about it.” I pled for my soul and He answered immediately. He ran!

He is a good God, a just God. I would have deserved my place alongside other sinners in hell. Yet he hastened to fulfill my appeal. Do I know how fast God can run? Yes, I do. I am eternally grateful.

There’s no such thing as tragedy in a Christian’s life

This will be among the shortest blog essays I’ve ever written, but it will be one of the most powerful. At least, it was for me. I pray it is for you as well.

John Gerstner was a Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Knox Theological Seminary and an authority on the life and theology of Jonathan Edwards. He produced many edifying works in his life, most famously, his “Handout” series. Handout Church History, Handout Theology, and Handout Apologetics are among some of the most wonderful series of lectures and handouts he ever produced. They are easily available online, foremost at Ligonier.org but also in books and videos elsewhere.

Anyway, in his Handout Theology series I’m watching at Ligonier, he did several lectures on the Doctrine of Providence, which is my favorite doctrine. He referenced Romans 8:28 which I’ll post. Then his comment below.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I was once asked, ‘what is tragedy?’ It is whatever happens to the unconverted. No matter how great a blessing, it is a curse to the unconverted because he does not receive it with gratitude to the Giver. On the other hand, no matter whether a snake bite, or whatever, it is a blessing to God’s children for whom all things work together for the good. ~John Gerstner, Handout Theology lecture on Providence, part 2

When we focus on Jesus in His heaven, it changes our perspective. When our worldview changes, we settle into the peace that Jesus gives us, the peace that passes all understanding.

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Further reading

John Gerstner, Handout Theology lecture on Providence, part 1

John Flavel: The Mystery of Providence

Spurgeon sermon: Providence

Our compassionate Lord

This world is so depraved it shocks me still, sometimes. The depravity of my own heart shocks me, especially as I recall the person I was before salvation. Ow! What weight of memory burdens my soul! What dark corners leap out to poison my psyche!

Yet the Light of Jesus’ salvation is the balm to a poor, aching soul. He ministers peace and joy to us in abundance. If I focus on Him, all is well. His endless and infinite qualities bear pondering. His love is something in which we delight, like birds at the fountain or children on the playground. As the song says, the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

More and more I feel the Spirit’s growth in me. I know this because I am more patient with the lost, and I feel a burden for them increasingly. This is not due to any natural capacity I possess for loving other people. I opened the essay reiterating my own depravity. Such patience and compassion are entirely due to the Spirit. Ultimately, the wellspring of such compassion comes from Jesus. See how many scriptures refer to his longing to save, His compassion for those who wander in the dark. Yes, we’re all aware of His wrath upon such poor souls. I speak of His wrath often. But His compassion is magnificent also. Let’s see what the Savior says.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Luke 13:34)

When He stepped ashore and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:14)

As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it. (Luke 19:41).

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36).

Barnes’ Notes says of the KJV of the verse (i.e. fainted v. harassed)

Because they fainted – The word used here refers to the weariness and fatigue which results from labor and being burdened. He saw the people burdened with the rites of religion and the doctrines of the Pharisees; sinking down under their ignorance and the weight of their traditions; neglected by those who ought to have been enlightened teachers; and scattered and driven out without care and attention. With great beauty he compares them to sheep wandering without a shepherd. Judea was a land of flocks and herds. The faithful shepherd, by day and night, was with his flock. He defended it, made it to lie down in green pastures, and led it beside the still waters, Psalm 23:2. Without his care the sheep would stray away. They were in danger of wild beasts. They panted in the summer sun, and they did not know where the cooling shade and stream was. So, said the Saviour, is it with this people. No wonder that the compassionate Redeemer was moved with pity.

We serve a great and compassionate King. He is not distant, nor is He uncaring. As much as we are longing to see Him, He is longing to see us, to bring His Bride Home safe as a hen gathers her chicks.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.