Posted in encouragement, glory, joy, praise

A Sinner’s Joy Unspeakable

Sunday, and every day, is a good time to think about our salvation. And I do. I’m forever grateful, fully knowing my sinfulness, reprobate mind, and hate toward God prior to salvation.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)

How humbling it is to know that though I hated Him, He loved me, and in His due time, He brought me to salvation.

I’m often struck by Jonathan Edwards’ sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. the image of the gossamer thread holding us aloft while we dangle unknowingly over the open flame of hell is a potent one. I wrote this poem, and then below my poem are the excerpts from which I took inspiration from Edwards sermon and his book religious Affections.

With all Due Gratitude Toward the One Who is Able to Save
By Elizabeth Prata

Sinking in sorrow and shame
A slender thread
was enough
to keep me from the flame

The slender thread
The blood of Christ
My sin my shame
His blood sufficed

He lifted me from the muck and mire
Forever free from damning hellfire
Turning to Him who loves and saves
Fearing never the darkest graves

The slender thread pierced my cold dead soul
To worship life’s eternal flame
In one fell stroke
Sin’s power no longer my yoke

What sweet refrain can I freely sing
What joy in Jesus forevermore,
His blood it banished
My sins from east to west, O King!

~EPrata

“There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” — By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, ~Jonathan Edwards,Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

After the Bad News, comes the Good News

1 Peter 1:8: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Their joy was full of glory. Although the joy was unspeakable, and no words were sufficient to describe it, yet something might be said of it, and no words more fit to represent its excellency than these, that it was full of glory; or, as it is in the original, glorified joy. In rejoicing with this joy, their minds were filled, as it were, with a glorious brightness, and their natures exalted and perfected. It was a most worthy, noble rejoicing, that did not corrupt and debase the mind, as many carnal joys do; but did greatly beautify and dignify it; it was a prelibation of the joy of heaven, that raised their minds to a degree of heavenly blessedness; it filled their minds with the light of God’s glory, and made themselves to shine with some communication of that glory. ~Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections

Posted in encouragement, glory, joy, suffering, the masters seminary

Reblog from The Master’s Seminary: "Teach Your People to Suffer"

I work with people who have lost children to accident, or miscarriage. I work with people who lost spouses, who have been through trauma or war. Below is a wonderful essay in which the author recounts the agony and the blessing of his and his wife’s trial, and the suffering they endured to the glory of God. The author’s point is:

Friend, if you’re a Bible-study leader, Sunday school teacher, and especially if you’re a pastor, I beg you: prepare your people for suffering!

Originally published at The Master’s Seminary

Teach Your People to Suffer
Eric Dodson February 29, 2016

My lovely wife and I were sitting in a parenting class at church, when the chairman of the elder board came and asked for us. Actually he asked for “the parents of Calvin Dodson.” Slightly embarrassed, thinking our little one must have thrown a fit, or done something else to show we really needed the parenting class, we got up and went with him. 

As we left the room and headed down the stairs, he let us know that our 8-month-old son had experienced a seizure and that the nursery staff had called 911. Stunned, we came in his nursery room to find our son—our youngest at the time—being tended to by a nurse. He had blue lips and barely moved. It was terrifying. 

That scene began what has turned into a nearly three-year trial that’s included many trips to Children’s Hospital LA, two of our sons experiencing multiple seizures, sleepless nights, many tears, and the dreaded news that their condition could end their life before adulthood.
It’s been a terrible trial, and it’s been an incredible blessing. 

That may seem impossible to say, and three years ago, I might not have believed it myself. But the truth is that this trial—the most suffering we’ve ever faced—has been an immeasurable blessing. It has been such a blessing because of the amazing church we attend, a church with leaders who prepare their people to suffer. 

Friend, if you’re a Bible-study leader, Sunday school teacher, and especially if you’re a pastor, I beg you: prepare your people for suffering! 

Suffering is a present reality. 

Just turn on the news, and it’s obvious that today’s culture is a living testimony to the truths of Romans 1. As society continues to rebel against God, reject his teaching, and increase in unrighteousness, suffering is the inevitable result. We live in a fallen world filled with disease, political strife, wars, racial tension—evil! As those who shepherd God’s flock, we must prepare them to live in such a world. We must prepare them for suffering. 

Christians should expect suffering. 

Not only should we prepare our people for the suffering that results from living in a fallen world; we must also prepare them for the unique suffering that is guaranteed for those who follow Christ. Suffering is part of the Christian life. Scripture speaks repeatedly of the suffering Christians are bound to face (Romans 8; 2 Corinthians 1; Philippians 1:29, 3:8-10; Colossians 1:24; 2 Thessalonians 1:5; James 1). Nearly the entire books of 2 Timothy and 1 Peter are devoted to helping Christians deal with suffering. Christ warned the church of Smyrna that they would face great suffering (Revelation 2:9–11). Scripture makes it abundantly clear; Christians will suffer. If we are to teach the whole counsel of God, we must teach our people about suffering.
Suffering produces sanctification. 

Scripture not only promises that Christians will suffer; it also tells us that suffering is not without cause. In fact, we are to rejoice in our trials knowing that they are one of the tools God uses to make us “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2–4). What an incredible encouragement that is! We must not help our people avoid suffering or be chiefly concerned with helping them escape trials as soon as possible. We must encourage them to learn from their trials, to rejoice in the sanctifying work God is doing through their suffering. 

Suffering increases fellowship. 

One of the oft-overlooked benefits of the church as the body of Christ paradigm is found in 1 Corinthians 12:26: 

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it… 

It’s difficult to overstate the impact suffering can have on the depth of fellowship within the body of Christ. Suffering provides the church a unique opportunity to grow in compassion, understanding, and love for one another. Trials provide a chance for the church to truly, practically bear one another’s burdens, and to model the love of Christ for the world. 

Suffering produces hope.

One of the greatest gifts of suffering is the contrast it provides with the glory that is to come. Paul celebrates this truth beautifully in Romans 8:18: 

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 

Friend, that is far more than a religious platitude. That is glorious truth! The great hope for Christians—suffering any type of trial—is the unfathomable glory that awaits. Our suffering ought to point us to that. Our trials ought to increase our anticipation, increase our longing for future glory. 

There is coming a day, when the curse that weighs heavy on this world will be lifted, when the redeemed of the nations will worship together free from persecution, when there will be no more conflict, political strife, or war. There’s a glorious day yet future when no one is scraping pennies just to get by, no wife loses her husband to cancer, no more little boys with seizures. The trials of this day point us forward with ever-growing expectation of that glorious day.

* * * *

Eric is a graduate of The Master’s Seminary, and shepherds a Bible study through the Cornerstone Fellowship Group at Grace Community Church. He works as a Broadcast Copywriter at Grace To You. He and his wife, Tara, have three sons.


Posted in encouragement, glory, jesus, new jerusalem

Heaven: The New Jerusalem – our future home

I’ve been writing about heaven. Included under the generic umbrella of “heaven” are the terms, Paradise, Abraham’s Bosom, Millennium Kingdom, and New Jerusalem. Today I’d like to examine New Jerusalem. The following are quotes from the GotQuestions article “What is the New Jerusalem?” Here at the beginning of their article, we find many terms for the New Jerusalem, which is a city, it’s in heaven, and is also heaven itself. See? The topic of heaven is not as simple as one would expect, but is always glorious to study.

The New Jerusalem, which is also called the Tabernacle of God, the Holy City, the City of God, the Celestial City, the City Foursquare, and Heavenly Jerusalem, is literally heaven on earth. It is referred to in the Bible in several places (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:10; 12:22–24; and 13:14), but it is most fully described in Revelation 21.

Please read Revelation 21, it is a short chapter, but too long to post entirely. Every Christian knows that upon our death or at the rapture if we’re living, we go meet Jesus instantly and are given glorified bodies. Our abode will be New Jerusalem, which is presently in heaven. John MacArthur calls it the “Capital City of Heaven.” It is a city, with specific dimensions and specific adornments and specific inhabitants. It is not ethereal. It is real, physical, and it is our destination! Here is a chronology of when and where this magnificent city appears.

In Revelation 21, the recorded history of man is at its end. All of the ages have come and gone. Christ has gathered His church in the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17). The Tribulation has passed (Revelation 6—18). The battle of Armageddon has been fought and won by our Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:17–21). Satan has been chained for the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:1–3). A new, glorious temple has been established in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40—48). The final rebellion against God has been quashed, and Satan has received his just punishment, an eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7–10.) The Great White Throne Judgment has taken place, and mankind has been judged (Revelation 20:11–15).

In Revelation 21:1 God does a complete make-over of heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:12–13). The new heaven and new earth are what some call the “eternal state” and will be “where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). After the re-creation, God reveals the New Jerusalem. John sees a glimpse of it in his vision: “The Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). This is the city that Abraham looked for in faith (Hebrews 11:10). It is the place where God will dwell with His people forever (Revelation 21:3). Inhabitants of this celestial city will have all tears wiped away (Revelation 21:4).

The New Jerusalem will be fantastically huge. John records that the city is nearly 1,400 miles long, and it is as wide and as high as it is long—a perfect cube (Revelation 21:15–17). The city will also be dazzling in every way. It is lighted by the glory of God (verse 23). Its twelve foundations, bearing the names of the twelve apostles, are “decorated with every kind of precious stone” (verse 19). It has twelve gates, each a single pearl, bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (verses 12 and 21). The street will be made of pure gold (verse 21).

I can’t imagine this! The street of gold (street singular, not streets plural), the Tree of Life, the magnificent River of Life (Revelation 22:1-2), the light of His glory… Wow!

The Holy City in heaven is hinted at in John 14:3,

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

New Jerusalem is the place He has been preparing. Imagine living in a place specially designed just for us, He who knows the heart. Our individual abodes will be perfectly suited to each one of us, and it will be bright with sinless glory of the Lamb.

Here is a verse which describes the beauty-

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Revelation 21:10-11).

New Jerusalem, by Gustave Dore

Being able not only to view God’s glory but live in it is a mind-altering and an exceedingly shattering concept. His gifts to us are truly boundless.

Let’s imagine it on a more personal level for a moment. Imagine a beggar like Lazarus in Luke 16, begging outside your gate. The man is filthy, and his hair is crawling with bugs. He has open sores, pus filled dripping sores. His skin is grimy with human oils and ground-in dirt from the streets. He drools, and his face is covered with snot on which the flies land and cannot escape. “Gross” doesn’t even begin to describe this filthy person.

That is how we look to Jesus, mired in our sin. Worse even. (Genesis 6:5)

Now imagine that you bring this person inside your home and wrap your baby’s innocent and clean blanket on him and hug him and invite him to stay in your home.

This is a pale shadow of how it is that Jesus could look down from heaven and see us, sin covered filthy rags, bones full of poison and mouths full of pollution, and clean us and wrap us and invite us to stay with Him inside His clean and innocent home- The New Jerusalem.

It is encouraging to think of the glories that await in New Jerusalem, AKA heaven, AKA the Holy City, AKA the Bride Adorned. It is also sweet to read Revelation and receive the promised blessing. Reading it gives us a blessing the verse says (Revelation 1:3) and I personally believe the blessing to the one who reads the book is …. the deeper knowledge of Jesus, and the lengths to which He has gone to provide for us a home in glory.

Again, read Revelation. Ponder His promises about the future home He has prepared for us. He has prepared another home, you know. Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41). Its mouth was enlarged to receive sinners. (Isaiah 5:14). Yet He chose to redeem some from their sins, and that is us, His bride. We will live in beauty, perfection, glory. And all due to Jesus, because HE descended to live among polluted and depraved people. He lived perfectly, was innocent of all charges but was executed in humiliation anyway. He absorbed all God’s wrath for sinners, taking on to Himself OUR punishment, and then was laid in a grave not even his own but was someone else’s. He rose to heaven and has ever since, been interceding for us at the altar of God, he has prayed for us, sent angels to us, given us His Spirit, and has prepared a place for us to dwell in comfort and love.

Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, who says they “want more” is insane. Anyone who says they “don’t have the time nor time inclination” to contend for the faith He delivered is profoundly malevolent. Jesus gave us all this and more, He gave us Himself.

O brethren, read Revelation. It ends well. It really ends very well. It is well with our souls.

——————————-

Further Reading

Heaven series by John MacArthur 1: What Heaven Is
Heaven series by John MacArthur 2: What Heaven is, and What it is Like
Heaven series by John MacArthur 3: The New Jerusalem

Posted in death, glory, jesus, judgment, shoreham

Shoreham Air Crash, pics and video

News today is of a terrible crash of a plane participating in an air show…that crashed on the highway adjacent to the field, killing commuters.

Dramatic video has emerged showing a plane as it crashed during an airshow in southern England. The footage shows the aircraft hitting a road, striking a number of vehicles, as it explodes into flames. The number of casualties is still unclear.


Published on Aug 22, 2015. A Hawker Hunter plane has crashed at Shoreham Airshow in West Sussex.

It is now known that at least 7 people were killed in the crash.

Ian Fowler ‏@ian_wfc posted this on Twitter–

My heart goes to the families of the pilot and 7 unaware passersby who were killed. I cannot imagine worse news than the family at home receiving a call that a loved one has died tragically.

Wait, yes I can.

If they didn’t know Jesus. That is worse.

Our days are numbered, there are only so many of them that the Lord has ordained, (Psalm 39:4), and then we go to our eternal destination, heaven or hell.

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:14)

That sudden tragedy tells us is that it can happen any time, in any manner, to anyone.

In the immediate aftermath of America’s most recent tragedy, 9/11, John MacArthur preached this:

I’m going to give you one last reason and this is the real reason we need to understand. Theological reason…why did it happen? Why did all those people die? I’ll tell you why, because the wages of sin is death. That’s why, because it’s appointed unto men once to…what?…die. I don’t know how else to say it. Nothing happened to those people on Tuesday that wasn’t going to happen anyway. They were all going to die, just not then, they thought. Nothing extraordinary about people dying. Are you ready for this? Since Tuesday 50 thousand Americans have died…since Tuesday. Have you been concerned? Fifty thousand. This year, 2.5 million will die. And eventually everybody will die, that’s reality. We feel much more comfortable when they die one by one.

We all have an eternal destination, please consider what it takes to not go to your default place forever: hell. Because we are sinners from birth and we sin against a holy God, He will not allow us into His heaven. We need to be declared righteous and that can only happen if we enter through the only Righteous One, Jesus Christ. If you repent of your sins and  submit to Jesus, you will please God and He will declare your sins forgotten and forgiven. Otherwise…

and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

Posted in discernment, glory, perilous times, prophecy, self-worship

Ultimate selfie: man edits himself into one-man orchestra playing every instrument (and conducting)

A man played each part in a 70-piece orchestra and cut it into a one-man show

A man from Hull in the UK has taken the concept of the one-man band and run with it. Ben Morfitt, 24, spent a month creating a video of himself playing the parts of a 70-piece orchestra in his bedroom and posted the bizarre result to YouTube. He filmed an empty concert hall in the city’s Abermarle Music Centre as the basis for the clip, before then taping himself playing each instrument in front of a green screen and slowly building the orchestra, the Hull Daily Mail reports. It took a full month to film,” Morfitt said. “I used about three-and-a-half hours’ [worth of] footage for the final piece, and there’s about ten times that in outtakes.” He had to edit out his cat every time it wandered into the shot. The whole thing ends with 70 versions of himself turning to the camera to give it the finger.

Because…why? Why waste that much time? Energy? Talent? After reading 6 articles about Mr Morfitt, the only clue I could glean regarding his employment is that he makes a living from composing work. He actually did play each of the nine instruments depicted. He is talented and creative…but to spend that much time on one’s self, seems to me to be just ridiculously inward. And flipping the bird at the end, that’s over the top crass.

The Bible says,

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,(2 Timothy 3:2)

The Strong’s Lexicon explains the word ‘lover of self’ in the Greek. it is only used once, here in 2 Timothy 3:2,

phílautos (an adjective, derived from 5384 /phílos, “lover” and 846 /autós, “of self”) – properly, a lover of self, describing someone preoccupied with their own selfish desires (self-interests).

Preoccupied with self and one’s own desires. The young man who took such an inordinate amount of time to film himself in every orchestra position, then gave the finger to the audience at the end of the piece, seems to fill this scripture perfectly.

It takes a selfish desire and a heavy preoccupation with one’s self to do this. It is a gross idolatry. Matthew Henry says of the 2 Timothy verse:

Even in gospel times there would be perilous times; on account of persecution from without, still more on account of corruptions within. Men love to gratify their own lusts, more than to please God and do their duty. When every man is eager for what he can get, and anxious to keep what he has, this makes men dangerous to one another. When men do not fear God, they will not regard man.

Man’s Chief End is to Glorify God, preached Puritan Thomas Watson. He wrote,

Here are two ends of life specified. 1. The glorifying of God. 2. The enjoying of God.

First. The glorifying of God, 1 Pet. 4:11. “That God in all things may be glorified.” The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions. l Cor. 10:31. “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be, that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. The great truth asserted is that the end of every man’s living should be to glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity; it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost his life for us; and God the Holy Ghost, who produces a new life in us; we must bring glory to the whole Trinity.

When we speak of God’s glory, the question will be moved, What are to understand by God’s glory?

Answer. There is a twofold glory: 1. The glory that God has in himself, his intrinsic glory. Glory is essential to the Godhead, as light is to the sun: he is called the “God of glory.” Acts 7:2. Glory is the sparkling of the Deity; it is so co-natural to the Godhead, that God cannot be God without it. The creature’s honour is not essential to his being. A king is a man without his regal ornaments, when his crown and royal robes are taken away; but God’s glory is such an essential part of his being, that he cannot be God without it. God’s very life lies in his glory. This glory can receive no addition, because it is infinite; it is that which God is most tender of, and which he will not part with. Isa. 48:11, “My glory I will not give to another.” God will give temporal blessings to his children, such as wisdom, riches, honour; he will give them spiritual blessings, he will give them grace, he will give them his love, he will give them heaven; but his essential glory he will not give to another. King Pharaoh parted with a ring off his finger to Joseph, and a gold chain, but he would not part with his throne. Gen. 41:40. “Only in the throne will I be greater than thou.” So God will do much for his people; he will give them the inheritance; he will put some of Christ’s glory, as mediator upon them; but his essential glory he will not part with; “in the throne he will be greater.”

2. The glory which is ascribed to God, or which his creatures labour to bring to him. 1 Chron. 16:29, “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name.” And, 1 Cor. 6:20, “Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit.” The glory we give God is nothing else but our lifting up his name in the world, and magnifying him in the eyes of others. Phil. 1:20, “Christ shall be magnified in my body.”

Please click on the link to learn more of what it means to glorify God.

There are only two occupations for man, to glorify God, or to glorify self. This viral video which the social media proclaims is so clever is an object warning for myself. As I approach the end of school and begin to look forward to 8 weeks of staying at home, I can easily slip into the same kind of mind-set as Mr Morfitt- navel gazing, indulging selfish desires, and being preoccupied with my  own glory and not the Great God whom I serve.

I must remember to submit to the Holy Spirit in yielding up my old man, and focus on the new man. I want to use my time well and glorify God in what I do. I can use the time to study, minister, pray, read the Bible more, disciple, and grow. Lord, help me this summer remain diligent in seeking YOUR glory, and avoid resting in any false laurels I build up in myself. I desire to redeem the time. Summer is glorious for me because of the time off, yet the lure of the leisure life can easily descend into too much personal work, introspection, and just plain silliness (like Mr Morfitt)… and leave no room for the purpose of my life: the glorification of God

EPrata photo

Prayer

At times I feel I could bear any suffering, but how can I dishonour this glorious God? What shall I do to glorify and worship this best of beings? O that I could consecrate my soul and body to His service, without restraint, for ever! O that I could give myself up to Him, so as never more to attempt to be my own! or have any will or affections that are not perfectly conformed to His will and His love! But, alas, I cannot live and not sin. ~Valley of Vision

Posted in glory, idols, jesus, nepal, repent, wrath

Everest/Nepal quake: "I don’t know where somewhere else is"

On Saturday, April 25, a powerful “7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal,” reports the UK Guardian. The latest update states that the-

“death toll has risen to more than 2,500. More than 5,000 people have been injured. Powerful aftershocks today between Kathmandu and Everest unleashed more avalanches in the Himalayas and caused panic in the capital, where hospital workers stretchered patients out into the street as it was too dangerous treat them indoors.”

O Nepal, your Buddha cannot help you.
Repent and turn to the Living God: Jesus the Christ. Source.

Videos of the quake occurring at Base Camp Mt. Everest are starting to surface. This video appears to show the quake and avalanche as it is occurring. Warning: The video contains strong language. The videographer says the “F-word” numerous times. At the beginning he emerges from his tent, saying, “The ground is shaking!” Then he sees the white wall of ice and snow coming and the chaos (and profanity) begins.

The UK Guardian reports: At least 17 people believed to have been killed on Everest, and 61 injured, by an avalanche which left mountaineers calling for helicopter assistance to evacuate the most badly wounded.

In this report, the computerized news reader quotes a witness, who said,

Everybody [the climbers] are pretty much in rescue mode. But this is different from an independent climbing accident where people can be rescued and taken somewhere else. I don’t know where somewhere else is.”

And that is what broke my heart. The widespread devastation in Nepal due to the quake is terrible and it will take the country some time to recover. I watched another video of the immediate aftermath in Katmandu and the people were screaming and terrified, rubble all around and nowhere to go for safety. Worse is the man’s surprised and terrified reaction on Base Camp Everest, the world’s tallest and mightiest mountain, when he perceived the ground under him was shaking. A strong and massive mountain like Everest, just shaking like a bowl of jello.

This video below really is shocking. It shows an aftershock, in neighboring Tibet. It is not the original quake and it is not in Nepal, so you can imagine the shaking that went on there. It is footage from CCTV-

But worst of all is…The Tribulation. Plagues, war, famine, chaos, meteors, and earthquakes and more will be common. Common. By the grace of God, the humanitarian organization World Vision is already on scene in Nepal. In the Tribulation, no one will know where “somewhere else” is. No one will be flying in with medical kits and compassion, for sin will be running rampant, and even if they could fly in, resources will be too scarce…and then another disaster will hit and that will be that.

There will be nowhere else to seek healing, refuge, comfort. The disasters that will plunge the world into darkness, chaos and sin will be occurring one after another. If you can horrifyingly imagine the Nepal Quake on Saturday and the Banda Aceh tsunami the next day and meteors fly in on Monday and a plague ramping up on Tuesday…that is what it will be like for the people left behind to face God’s wrath during that period. Where will they go? To whom will they turn?

Jesus.

He certainly offers salvation  now, in the Age of Grace. In the Tribulation, God’s wrath will be poured out but He will have mercy on those who repent and give Him glory. (Revelation 11:13). He will offer salvation then in His Day of Wrath just as He does now. His compassion will be still evident in the Tribulation when He sends an angel to fly at mid-heaven during the Tribulation to proclaim to the people,
And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
Revelation 14:7.

It is good advice we can take now. You do not want your worst enemy to go through it.

Share the Gospel with someone today, so they will hear and perhaps believe. The time coming, soon many think, will be horrific beyond belief, a thousand Nepal quakes all at once… and no one will know where “somewhere else is.”

But those who turn to the Living God will always have refuge in Him and a home in heaven.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

Nepal earthquake: Traumatized nation copes with a panorama of devastation

Posted in distraction, glory, martha, technology, whale

Man fixated on his cell phone doesn’t realize a whale is beneath him

Man too busy texting to notice rare whale surface RIGHT NEXT TO HIM

For those attuned to certain values, it’s an image that defies belief and defines how far modern culture has sunk. There is a man on the deck of a sailboat. Just feet below is a humpback whale. Perhaps the whale is saying hello. Perhaps the whale can smell some nice fish the man has grilling. It’s less likely that the whale wants to phone home. The glory of the story, you see, is that the man can’t see the whale, because he’s too busy texting on his phone. The image was taken by photographer Eric Smith and posted to his Instagram feed…

It is a shame when we are too distracted to experience the important things happening around us. I am reminded of the incident with Martha from Luke 10:38-42

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

She was then cumbered about much serving when she should have been with her sister, sitting at Christ’s feet to hear his word. Note, Worldly business is then a snare to us when it hinders us from serving God and getting good to our souls.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1859). Peabody: Hendrickson.

Technological Distraction and Christian values, by Ken Funk, Oregon State University

But the individual can really only engage in one activity requiring conscious, effortful thought at a time. This is especially true of activities directed toward the highest good. To seek God’s kingdom and to know Him requires substantial time for reflection and sustained attention. So, like time, attention is a scarce resource that should be allocated wisely.

But modern technology complicates that attention allocation process in several ways. … The problem, though, is that technology creates the opportunities for far more good activities than we can ever hope to accomplish. As our lives become increasingly busy with activities directed toward the good, we can lose sight of the highest good. Overwhelmed and overloaded by demands for our time and attention, we can be diverted from our search for the kingdom of God. … Many of us have become so fascinated by technology that we dedicate substantial amounts of time and energy to acquiring more and more technological objects. Not all of this can be explained by their instrumental value: for many of us, technology has taken on intrinsic value. (Source)

What he is saying here is that it used to be that technology could enable us to use it as a tool to seek the highest good for God’s kingdom, but now it has become the good in and of itself. It is now a tool that is using us to seek the bad, or at least, distract us from seeking the highest good. Think Martha.

The typical individual is thus confronted with an overwhelming multitude of technology-induced activities. I refer to this as technological busyness. One effect of technological busyness is mental distress. … But by far the most serious negative consequence of technological busyness is technological distraction: by drawing our attention mostly to activities related to the lower good, technology distracts us from our efforts to realize the highest good and therefore may cause us to fail to fulfill the very purpose for our existence.

What is the purpose for our existence? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Photographer Eric Smith “told CBS News that a whale and her calf were “flapping, breaching, jumping, mouths eating fish,” but the man never budged. He said he has five photos of the man busy with his phone as the whales surface around the boat. “We’re all guilty being buried in our phones, even me,” Smith was quoted as saying. “You think life is better on your phone, but we’re missing what’s happening around us.”

Can you make the declaration that is in the verse below? That you are not enslaved by anything? Not your cell phone…not your debt because you bought the latest technology, not to your child’s demands for an X-box upgrade?

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Our attention should always be fixed on Jesus. Don’t let anything distract. Stay focused on the one thing.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

As for the man and what he was really doing while the whale played next to him, we will never know. We do know the following:

Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it. (Psalm 104:25-26)

Posted in angels, christmas, glory, night, shepherds

The shepherds were watching their flocks by night

I mentioned yesterday that one of my favorite Christmas passages is Simeon’s Song. Another favorite of mine is the moment when the myriad of angels appear to the shepherds who were watching their flocks by night. First, here is the passage:

The Shepherds and the Angels

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Luke 2:8-14)

I’m focusing on “night.”

NIGHT: The period of darkness between evening and morning. It is generally a time for the cessation of daily activity and for sleep, but, because darkness also gives an opportunity for evil, there is need to be watchful. The term may also be used figuratively to refer to evil or to a period of distress. Night-time also provides opportunity for contemplation and for prayer.

(Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.)

The ancient Jerusalemites did not have the advantage of electric lights, street-lamps, flashlights, or any sort of man-made illumination, save candles or fire. Normally, work began at dawn and ended at sunset, for the obvious reason is that it was too hard to perform tasks when the natural illumination of the bright sun was absent. When the sun went down, it got dark.

Without light, people turned in for the day, eating a last meal, resting, and then going to sleep. Except the shepherds. Their work was not finished when the sun went down. As a matter of fact, night-time required extra attention. Nocturnal predators came out to hunt. Robbers stole in the dark. Mischief was done. Night is a time for evil, so the shepherds had to stay awake, or take turns in shifts for the night watch in order to protect the sheep. But it was dark.

Lamps of clay, bronze, or other metal were indispensable in every home. With oil, wax, or pitch as fuel and flax, papyrus, or other fiber as wick, they often burned all night. To show how desolate the land would be after Nebuchadnezzar laid Judea waste, God said through Jeremiah that no one would see lamp light in the land.

Even though their eyes adjusted to the dark and they could perceive this or that, dimly, it was dark. The darkness would have been near-total, save for any starlight or moonlight.

So on this momentous evening, the shepherds had settled into their night watch routine. Suddenly the night gloom was split by LIGHT. The instant change would have been overwhelming, searing their eyes blinding them momentarily. Imagine their terror! It was not as if a bonfire had been lit or a prankster shepherd has snuck up with a torch. This light was BRIGHT. It was from heaven, no ordinary light.

It was HOLY light. It was GLORY light. Not only was it bright, but it was Light from God, the heavenly realm touching the earthly realm.

You know that each time an angel appears to a person, the first thing the angel says is “Fear not!” Why? Angels are terrifying. They are not chubby, flying babies. They are holy messengers of God, with power and strength beyond our comprehension.

Matthew 28:3-4
Luke 1:11-12
Luke 1:30
Luke 2:11
Daniel 8:17
Daniel 10:7-8

Angels appearing in glory light, in an innumerable company, praising God so loudly the ground must have shook, must have been absolutely terrifying. It must have been bright.

How fitting, that in darkest night, the Light had come. Practically, the night was dark. At night, people were blind. Spiritually, Jerusalem was apostate, with barely any faith in the nation at all. But suddenly the shepherds could see! The Light would lead the way.

I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. (John 12:46)

The Light illuminates our sins, so that they are exposed, and then we can be cleansed. Do not hide in the darkness, but seek the Light.

LIGHT: The brightness that enables sight in the darkness. Scripture often uses light as a symbol of the saving presence of God in a fallen world, with darkness being used as a symbol of sin or the absence of God.
Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.

Light has come into the world, born of a virgin, proclaimed by angels, seen by shepherds, witnessed to by God’s people: us. Hallelujah, the Light has come, darkness is no more.

Posted in bible, encouragement, glory

"Recognizing the Glory of God’s Word" by John MacArthur

I read the latest blog essay at John MacArthur’s site, the title is above. What a gift to the faith Dr MacArthur is! The Lord raises up good men to encourage us.

Denmark Castle

He posted about how wonderful the Word is, and how despite the plethora of bibles available and translations abounding, we set it aside. Spurgeon said, “There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write ‘damnation’ with your fingers.”

I am guilty of this myself. I love the word and I benefit from it each and every time I open it. I am blessed, convicted, educated, encouraged, trained, awed, or a million other things. And yet there are some days I simply don’t. Paul said,

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:15-20).

My only consolation is that Apostle Paul, who was personally taught by Jesus and personally saw heaven, still had a hard time sometimes doing what is right, then I feel slightly less worse. But it’s still no excuse.

Here is a wonderful picture of the bible as envisioned in three dimensions. The excerpt is from the MacArthur essay, in which MacArthur quotes Roy Zuck’s picture of the bible as a magnificent edifice. Here it is for your encouragement.

I once read an illustration that described the Bible as a magnificent palace constructed of precious stone, comprising sixty-six stately chambers. Each one of these rooms is different from the others and perfect in its individual beauty. Yet, when viewed as a whole, they form an incomparable edifice that is majestic, glorious, and sublime.

In the book of Genesis, we enter the vestibule and are immediately introduced to the records of God’s mighty works in creation. This foyer gives access to the law courts, the passage way to the picture gallery of the historical books. Here we find hung on the walls scenes of battles, heroic deeds, and portraits of valiant men of God.

Beyond the picture gallery we find the philosopher’s chamber (the book of Job), which leads us into the music room (the book of Psalms). Here we linger, thrilled by the grandest harmonies that ever fell on human ears. And then we come to the business office, in the very center of which stands the motto: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). From the business office, we pass into the research department (Ecclesiastes) before continuing into the conservatory (Song of Solomon), where the fragrant aroma of love greets us. Then, we reach the observatory where the prophets with their powerful telescopes are looking for the appearing of the Bright and Morning Star.

Crossing the courtyard at the dawning of the Son of righteousness, we come to the audience chamber of the King (the gospels), where we find four lifelike portraits of the King Himself revealing the perfections of His infinite beauty. Next, we enter the workroom of the Holy Spirit (the book of Acts) and, beyond, the correspondence room where we see Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude busy at their tables under the personal direction of the Spirit of Truth.

And finally, we enter the throne room (Revelation) where we are enraptured by the mighty volume of adoration and praise addressed to the enthroned King. In the adjacent judgment hall, there are portrayed solemn scenes of doom and wondrous scenes of glory associated with the coming manifestation of the King of kings and Lord of lords. [1]

[1] While various versions of this description exist, it can be found in The Speaker’s Quote Book, by Roy Zuck.

I think that when we get to heaven, and the verse in Revelation 21:4 as we enter the eternal state, that says,

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

I believe are not tears of joy because Jesus would not wipe those away. I believe they are not tears mourning the loss of earthly things, either, because those will have paled in comparison. I think they are tears of shame.

Metropolitan Museum NYC Great Hall

I think as we leave behind the millennial kingdom and the last bits of sin are wiped from heaven and earth, and the devil and his beast and all unrepentant sinners have been cast to the Lake of Fire, that we will mourn our own Romans 7 acts. All the times we didn’t read the bible, or all the times we didn’t pray, or all the times we could have encouraged a brother in Jesus’ name, or all the times we didn’t go to church, we will cry over. We will be ashamed, seeing what we traded for bible reading. (Dancing with the Stars?) Or swapped for church (football?). Or substituted for prayer. (An extra half hour of sleep?)

I believe we will be ashamed of ourselves. Jesus will reassure us and wipe those tears from our face. What a good and gracious God He is.

Someday we will no longer mourn the missed opportunities we had on earth to further our relationship with Jesus, because He will be present and we will be away from the pleasure of sin, the power of sin, the presence of sin, the penalty of sin. What a day that will be.

Until then, we go on, not understanding our own actions. I could write more … but I am going to enter those majestic rooms of the bible, and read it now. Right now.

——————————–

Further Reading
A Fourfold Salvation: From the pleasure of sin, the presence of sin, the power of sin, the penalty of sin by AW Pink

Charles Spurgeon: “The Bible” A Sermon

Posted in christianity, encouragement, glory, great apostasy

Being cheerful and confident amid the collapse of cultural Christianity

I read two things today that encouraged me. Though they are on separate topics, they are kind of the same topic.

First up is a great essay at 9Marks. It is titled:

Cheerful Confidence after Christendom

It is apparent to even the most casual observer that cultural Christianity is dying. I’ve used the term “cultural collapse of Christianity” and others speak of ‘post-Christian era’ and 9Marks essay author Timothy Larsen says “dissolution of Christendom” but it all means the same thing, the end of an era. Mr Larsen explains it well and encourages us to relish the time such as this in which the Lord in His plan and wisdom put us. Being joyful and confident and triumphant in a time of evil and darkness and uncertainty will be an anomaly to one and all. Here is a short excerpt from Mr Larsen’s essay:

THANK GOD FOR GRANTING US NOW

God has granted me the privilege to live now—in my own times. To wish otherwise is not only pointless, it is ungrateful. It is also self-defeating. Every season of life has its own joys. Foolishness is to want to have the joys of adulthood when still a teenager or the joys of adolescence when middle aged and so on.

Likewise, there are unique joys, privileges, and opportunities for serving God in each generation. We are called not to hanker after a different age, but rather to jump in with relish to following Christ at this moment. There is an old Puritan saying: “If you would make the greatest success of your life, try to discover what God is doing in your time, and fling yourself into the accomplishment of his purpose and will.”

YES, THERE ARE UNIQUE CHALLENGES

Our times, of course, have unique challenges. We are witnessing the dissolution of Christendom. Christendom was a long period of time in the West when Christian commitments and beliefs were buoyed up by political and cultural supports. In Christendom, there were worldly incentives to at least pretend to believe Christian doctrine and to observe Christian practices. To do so was good for one’s professional and social success.

The other item that was encouraging was another of Phil Johnson’s sermons on the Psalms. It is an exposition of Psalm 122. The sermon is titled “A Foretaste of Glory Divine

So many Christians moan and groan about life, because they either do not study the prophetic scriptures to know what’s coming, or they don’t have an eternal perspective, or both. Mr Johnson expertly and beautifully opens the Psalm to us and eloquently describes the manifold and unspeakable glories to come. Here is but a taste: (and it is much better heard than read, but if you have connection problems a transcription is available.)

What Jerusalem was to David, the church is to you and me. It is the dwelling-place of God. It is a living, breathing, holy convocation of God’s people, who gather to worship Him in unison. It is the very same fellowship of saints that will one day culminate in a heavenly convocation. It is a place of safety from the evils of a decadent world. It is a place where God’s authority is acknowledged and submitted to with gladness. It is an oasis of divine grace in a desert of corruption. It is quite literally a foretaste of glory divine.

The greatest joy in heaven the centerpiece of it all will be the unspeakable glory of God. God’s full glory will be on permanent display, and you will be able to see it with an unhindered view: examine it, and bask in it, and reflect it in all its perfection. You will be able to stand in the resplendence of that glory without any sense of guilt or shame. You will have a pure love for God that exceeds any love you have ever known. And the natural, inevitable, joyous response of your heart will be pure worship.

Please do take these two items as a matched pair. Be encouraged that you were placed here by the wisdom of God for just such a time as this, and that we have unspeakable joys to look forward to…SOON!

Public Domain