From the Pilgrims, to the leaders of the colonies each declared publicly and in writing their new commonwealth came into existence solely for the glory of God. This is our country’s history. No historian can rewrite it, no president can expunge it, if a 1,000 angels swore on a 1,000 Bibles that this was not true it would in no way alter the fact that the United States was conceived, established, dedicated, and founded on a biblical cornerstone.
Today God cannot be found in our country, for we have driven Him out of our land. We have exchanged our God for idols, our life for darkness, and our glory for that which cannot save us. Sadly, we are ready to risk what comes on the other side of that exchange when the blessings of God are removed from us.
We have come to a critical moment in our land. A moment similar to one when Elijah stood on the top of Mt. Carmel and cried out to Israel in her hour of decision. Standing between two altars and 2 Gods Elijah’s voice cried out to Israel to choose this day whom you will serve. If the Lord be your God then follow him, but if Baal be your god then follow him, and go to hell.
In response to Satan’s temptation to turn stones into bread Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus knows there is more to a person than physical needs; there is the spiritual too.
One of our responsibilities is to recognize the mysteries and yearnings of our life. The Greek philosopher agreed for he said, “Man, know thyself first.” Once a person knows the mysteries and yearnings of their life, what then? I would say it is their responsibility to yield to the ruler-ship of Him to whom life was conquered by – Jesus.
The 139th Psalm begins, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar,” (1-2). Now look how that Psalm ends, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” (23-24). The Psalmist asked God to search him. Make that the first, supreme, and essential business of your life to acquaint yourself with Jesus, and so be at His peace, and so find the meaning of life.
Have you heard anyone say, “What our nation needs is for revival to come,” or say in prayer, “Oh that revival would break out.” I say this, “Revival is here, if we will have it.” I pray we talk no more about the indifference of our nation, and instead talk of the indifference of Christ’s Church to its own evangel; its own living power.
Why do we call on Christ to awake and bring us revival when He has never been asleep? It’s His church that has been asleep. Did not Christ said, “I’m with you?” Yes, He did! Therefore, revival has not come because the church has not been with Him. If Jesus’ Church would come to the realization of His living presence, then it would know it does not have to ask for revival, for He is already waiting for His church to arise and build. It is not true to say we need more of the Holy Spirit, but it is true to say the Holy Spirit needs more of us. It is in the realization of the nearness of Jesus that His church finds strength for all He is calling it to do.
In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ genealogy, besides Mary, four women are mentioned: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah’s wife. This inclusion is unusual for the Mid-East is patriarchal, but also each of these women had questionable backgrounds: Tamar played a prostitute, Rahab was a prostitute, Ruth was a Moabitess, and Uriah’s wife was Bathsheba who David had an affair with.
Despite their backgrounds each woman represents a crucial turning point in Jewish history. When Israel reached that crucial point it was a Gentile woman who displayed extraordinary faith in contrast to a Jewish man who lacked courage: Tamar versus Juda’s disloyalty, Rahab versus the desert generation’s faithlessness, Ruth versus Naomi lack of faith, and Uriah versus David’s sinfulness with Bathsheba. Yes, Messiah was to come through Israel, but when Israel’s unfaithfulness hindered the promise God preserved the promise through these Gentile women, and through God’s grace these women were able to share in the promise.
Jesus fulfills God’s promise to all people from all nations with the evangel of salvation. In Jesus’ ancestry we find the all-embracing love of God emphasized. Nothing can stand in its path. There is nobody who does not need it. There is nobody who is not eligible to receive it. There is nobody who can stop it.
Today we begin our study of the Gospel of Matthew, and at the very outset of this study something impresses me. In Matthew’s Gospel there is not a single recorded word that he spoke or thought. There is no recorded word that Matthew spoke because he did not write to tell about himself, but to tells us about, “The words and works of Jesus Christ, ‘the son of David, the son of Abraham’” (1).
This is remarkable, especially for us today, for we live in an age of I think, I feel, I believe, I need, and I want. Matthew was able to give us an account of the Jesus story free from any of his concerns for self. It’s as though Mathew gave up himself and in so doing found himself in the beauty of the man he wrote about.
Matthew was not hypnotized, mesmerized, or fooled by some sleight of hand magician. He was captivated by the personal relationship of a loving, giving, living man who in the end turned out to be God in the flesh; God with us. Matthew found in giving up himself he found his real-self, and was satisfied forever,
Captivated By Jesus,
The heroes of the Old Testament looked forward to a time when God would counter the world’s growing darkness. Some looked for God to install a great king, like David, who would lead Israel to her destiny of world dominance. Others looked into the words of the prophets whose interpretations of life gave true understanding of morals and the law. Some looked to the rituals of the sacrifices carried out by the priest for their comfort.
A major shift in thinking happened in the first century. Instead of looking forward, people of faith began looking backward to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. In Jesus they found the words of the prophets fulfilled. They saw a king, even greater than David, for he conquered death. And in Jesus blood soaked robe they saw the priest who executed the sacrifices. The cross became the altar of sacrifice, Jesus became the lamb for slaughter. His blood soaked robes were the robes of the priest who carried out the sacrifice.
On this day we look back to Jesus resurrection. We look back to Jesus who is our king, our prophet, and our interceding priest. On this day two thousand years ago; bad news lost for all time.
He is risen,
We live in a confusing world, and many are lost. How does one find their way in such a world? The simple answer is read the Bible, for it will give you direction in life. Many do read the Bible, but instead of being found remain lost. This is because, instead of being led by what they read, they attempt to lead the Bible, and coincidently they try to lead it to where they already are!
Years ago I gave up arguing with God. I gave up telling Him what is right and what is wrong. Instead of arguing I began listening, and found myself praying, “Your will be done.” By shedding my arguments with God, I began to read the Bible with His eyes. By that I mean, I began to understand what the Bible meant when it was first written, glean the truths from the passage, and apply those truths to my life today. Amazingly I found myself no longer in disagreement with God, but found myself changing my mind, and being found by Him.
Today, I no longer expect God to change, but let Him change me. Through my surrender I no longer am lost.
The first six chapters of Daniel are about Daniel and his three friends, and their faith and courage before pagan kings. At chapter 7 the book shifts from narrated stories to mysterious visions of prophesy.
Daniel, “Was deeply troubled and his face turned pale,” (7:28) at the enigmatic images he received. And we will learn in future chapters that Daniel often became ill and was unable to work after receiving a vision from the Lord. This is quite a contrast to those who proclaim prophetic understanding today. When someone today discovers what they think is some new biblical understanding they put the word prophet before their name, and write a book to tell everyone what they think they have discovered.
It’s a dangerous thing to study prophecy to inflate one’s ego, or to give people the impression that we are a great Bible scholar. I think there is a lesson to be gleaned from Daniel’s response. When studying Daniel, or any part of the Bible, what we learn from our study should so touch our hearts that it troubles us and affects our conduct. Bible study should not be an intellectual exercise to inflate our ego, but a desire to change our relationship with God.
Can God change his law? A difficult question, for in one sense we want to say yes; because God is above everything, and is not bound by his own laws. However, God’s Law is the perfect expression of his character. Therefore, God knows the consequence of His Laws before He ever enacted them. The perfection of God’s Law is seen in Psalm 19:7-11:
The law of the Lord is perfect,
Reviving the soul.
The statues of the Lord are trustworthy,
Making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
Giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
Giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
And altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
Than much pure gold;
They are sweeter than honey,
Than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
Trust in his ways,
The city of Babylon from the beginning was a rebellious city, for it was founded by Nimrod; his name meant, “A rebel against God.” Despite the city’s rebellious history, God used the Babylonians to punish Israel for their disobedience. However, the Babylonians went too far and God brought the empire to an end (Cf. Daniel 5).
Babylon was destroyed, but if you read ahead to the Book of Revelation you find that, “Babylon” is still with us, (Cf. 17:5, 7; 18:2, 10). Babylon is the satanic system of the end times that will seduce the world’s people to live for pleasure and entice them to reject God. One doesn’t have to look too hard, at our various forms of media, to conclude that Babylon’s rebellion is still with us.
What lesson can we learn from Babylon of the past and Babylon of the future? We can say, “Straight ahead of us lies yesterday.” If we refuse to learn from the reasons God destroyed Babylon centuries ago, then we will welcome the Babylon of Revelation with open arms. What excuses will we have when God destroys the rebellious Babylon we live in, and for today?
“Its Déjà vu all over again,”