“It’s OK”

As he entered the hall for the funeral,
the pastor was having a bad day himself.
He saw the widow up ahead,
how she looked overcome with grief,
and humanly he wanted to avoid her and
just go get the memorial service over with and go home. 

But he knew it was his calling and duty so he searched his brain trying to come up with something comforting to say.  He looked at her tears and his mind was a blank.  Finally to break the silence, all he could say was … “It’s OK.”

What a  pathetic thing to say, he thought as he sat down and waited to speak for the ceremony.  That made him feel even worse.

While speaking from upfront during the service, he noticed that the widow was energized  and smiling.  His curiosity made him eager to go to her after the ceremony and ask her what happened.

Exulting and beaming, she told him, “I thought I had done something so horribly wrong that caused my husband to die.  I thought God must be punishing me.  For weeks I’ve been beseeching God in prayer, ‘Am I OK with you?'”

♥ ♥   ♥    ♥     ♥      ♥       ♥        ♥         ♥          ♥           ♥            ♥             ♥              ♥                ♥

This pastor thought he had been so inept and utterly failed the widow.  Humanly it looked like he said something utterly inadequate for the monumental occasion!  Instead God inspired him to say exactly what the widow needed to hear.

When I heard the pastor tell this story, I remember thinking, great, you must be a man of God because

I have never once said just the right words

But then I had to ask myself:  How do I know?

The times when somebody said just the right words that motivated me or turned  me around, they didn’t know how much they had helped me.

In 1979 an article in our international church  newspaper had one sentence buried in the middle, probably expressing utter frustration over a current issue, “I wish everybody who didn’t want to be here would leave and those who do would come.”  In my mind that sentence was God speaking directly to me to move there.  It  was as clear as if I heard His actual voice.  Subsequent events in the next few weeks  showed God was with me in  making the move.  The writer never knew how profoundly his sentence changed the course of my life!

This should give us hope for the time coming when God tells us He wants us to witness on His behalf, but “do not worry about how or what you should answer,  or what you should say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12).

God named Cyrus about 150 years before he was born and then at the right time “stirred up the spirit of Cyrus” so that he made the decree God wanted for that very time (Ezra 1:1).  It is thought that perhaps God used the elderly Daniel to show Cyrus what prophecy said it was time for him to do.  Proverbs says God turns kings like a river (Prov. 25:1).

apples of  gold.jpgThis should give us hope for loved ones that God knows exactly what words of gold in a setting of silver (Prov. 25:11) they need to hear, and can inspire somebody to say them at just the right time they will be receptive.

If we are asking God to guide us and our words

it just might be us whom God uses to give them just the encouraging words they need.  After all, He can speak through jackasses! (Num. 22:28).  The donkey was not too stubborn to insist on his way instead of letting God use him as an instrument!

And what about us for

The times we need  encouraging words

We  see prophecy marching on toward its initial horribleness.  God has it all under control.  He declared the end from the beginning and will do all His pleasure (Isa. 46:10, 41:22).

We should be studying His Bible daily while asking Him prayerfully to guide what we study to provide what we need to hear.  God has encouraging words daily for us if we are humble  to receive them.

“It’s OK.”

world-37-gold

Advertisements

Designer Pumps & Wedding Dresses for Men & Women

red pumpsIsabelle Marant and Chloe win acclaim for their stilettos, wedges and boots.
Men are pained to ponder
how women walk in them!

When it comes to designer pumps,
nobody beats your human heart.

Men and women,
God fashions our hearts (Psa. 33:15).

♥  Your first heart cell beat as early as four weeks.
♥   Your heart beats about 100,000 times per day, 35 million times per year, 2.5 billion times a lifetime.
♥   Men average about 70 heartbeats per minute, women about 78.
♥   About the size of two hands clasped together, your heart weighs about 10 oz., slightly less than a can of soda.
♥   Through heart valves about the size of a half dollar, your heart circulates about six quarts of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels that if laid end to end, would wrap around the world more than twice.
♥   Each minute your heart circulates 1-1/2 gallons of blood, which in your lifetime would fill 1,000,000 barrels—enough for three supertankers.

God circulates this absolute miracle to all His children. But the real miracle is that

God fashions our hearts “individually” (Psa. 33:15)

“Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever” (Deut. 5:29)Is our Great Designer talking about a hard-working muscle in our chest?  Of Kors not!  He wants us to “gird up the loins of your mind” (1 Pet. 1:13).

Parents learn that each of their children have different temperament, aptitudes and talents and must be worked with individually.   God our Father and Jesus Christ our Brother know us intimately and have amazing designs for our future.  All men and women, including Yves Laurent, will have opportunity to become Saints.

God has given us talents—-maybe five, two or one (Matt. 25:15).  God distributes gifts of their Spirit to each individually, as They will, for the profit of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:7, 11).  The sewing we do is of Kingdom seed so many will have opportunity to reap.

God is pumped when we

♥   Passionately desire to build our relationship with Him.
♥   Model “Thy Kingdom Come” not Heidi Klum.
♥   “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Php. 2:12).
♥   “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man” (Prov. 3:3-4).
♥   Seek the Christian Door and open every time Jesus knocks.  Instead of sashaying down a runway, we “walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6).
♥   Adorn ourselves—even in summer—in “modest apparel,” not with gawdy get-up (1 Tim. 2:9) so at the wedding to the King of Kings we will be “arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:8).

Sound Farfetched?  Not if we men and women are helping God fashion our hearts individually.

world-37-red

Wanted: Prove Readers Not Proofreaders

When I read I can’t help proofreading,
and it makes me cringe at some scriptures.

Why didn’t God write them plain?

So there wouldn’t possibly be any contradictions.  The day when I write a book, if some guy named John W. Haley writes a classic about its “alleged contradictions,” I’d be mortified and go fix each one of the issues.  I’d want my words of life to be understood by every reader.

I’d want people talking about the amazing way I caravanned  Joseph from slave to the #2 man in charge in Egypt so I could then have Jacob’s family positioned in Egypt ready to be delivered from slavery via the Red Sea.

Jacob into EgyptInstead they get sidetracked into worrying about just how many of Jacob’s family trekked to Egypt—70 or 75?  Too bad we don’t have a selfie providing an indisputable count!

Since the Old Testament scriptures all agree on 70 (Gen. 46:27, Ex. 1:1-5 and Deut. 10:20), a believing proofreader would be tempted to change Stephen’s 75 (Acts 7:14-15) and wonder if that might have kept him from being stoned!

Alas, such a well-meaning proofreader would change an inspired reasoned defense as a stellar example of apologetics into never-ending apologies.

What?!  And take away the need for all the interesting intricate explanations about how 70 and 75 were both right.  It’s all great fun for those who love studying genealogies.   Paul did his part to promote that, probably quite unintentionally, by mentioning “baptism for the dead” (1 Cor. 15:29).

Does  it really matter:  70 or 75?  Whoever went, went.   The big deal is that then Jacob multiplied like crazy.  Until it was time for God to deliver them from Pharaoh (representing satan) and Egypt (sin) and open up the Red Sea for their passage (baptism) to the Promised Land.   Seventy or 75, Cecil B. DeMille makes his blockbuster.

But baptism is another matter.  It does matter (John 3:5, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38).  Paul everywhere in his many writings taught that baptism is an outward expression of a person changed inside.  What good could it possibly do for a person to be baptized on behalf of another who by now could have no insides left!

So this proofreader would like to help out Paul and make it “baptism for the hope of the dead,” which of course is the resurrection, which is what Paul was expounding in 1 Cor. 15.

But  beware!  The author of  the Bible ends His book by warning that He doesn’t want my help!!  He promises plagues for adding to His book and blotting out of His Book of Life for taking away words (Rev. 22:18-19).  OK, I put away my red pen!

Here’s why

God says He deliberately wrote His book so people would be puzzled by it “that they might go and fall backward, and be broken and  snared and caught” (Isa. 28:13).

When His disciples asked Jesus why He spoke in parables, He didn’t agree with the common belief that He did it so people could easily understand his everyday stories.  Rather, Jesus said “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matt. 13:11).

Bottom line, God the Father controls when He decides it’s the best time to open our minds to understand His plan of salvation that’s revealed in His book (John 6:44).

Those who died unbaptized will have their chance to be resurrected and become a saint in the really latter days—called  the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-12).

“All  scripture is inspired by God” (2  Tim. 3:16).  It is truth (John 17:17).

God is looking for those who

♥   tremble at His word (Isa. 66:2).  Who don’t twist Paul’s writings and “the rest of the Scriptures” “to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16).

♥   receive “the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).  Not “not so.”

♥   prove all things and hold fast what is good (1 Thes. 5:21).

God wants prove readers not proofreaders.

world-37-red

 

 

 

 

The Rapture of Driverless Cars

You’ve seen the bumper sticker:
When the rapture occurs, this car will be driverless.

You probably chuckle, not sweat.  The way the guy drives, you figure he won’t be counted among the righteous!  And so many cars on the road are driverless now, thanks to texters.

driverless carDaily you hear new ecstatic predictions of driverless cars:  Audi plans to introduce one by 2020.  The Chinese talk of mass production by 2021.  Intel forecasts a $7 trillion driverless car industry by 2050.

So maybe you snicker at the sticker:  “Big deal, if the secret rapture ever comes, all cars will be driverless!”  And if the same goes for the airliners, you can rejoice that there will probably be lots of empty seats to spread out in!  More left for behind!

scofferPew Research in 2010 found that only 41% of Americans believed Christ would return by 2050.  Ironically, as we careen loser to His return, scoffers will abound (2 Pet. 3:3-4).

If you know your Bible, here’s

The real secret: 

lightningThe Bible teaches no secret rapture.  When Jesus Christ returns to collect His saints, He’s coming like lightning from the east  flashing to the west (Matt. 24:27) so that “every eye will see Him” (Rev. 1:7)  The seventh trumpet blasts in every ear (1 Thes. 4:16-17)—enough to wake the dead!

OK, it’s obviously no secret.  But don’t Christians change from physical to spirit “in the twinkling of an eye” and rise up in the air to meet Jesus in the clouds (1 Cor. 15:51-53)?  If that sounds like a rapture, the Bible calls it the first resurrection–the better one  (Heb. 11:35) with double portion for the firstborn (Deut. 21:17).   OK, but could there still be crashing cars and plummeting airliners?

A Different Place, Different Time

The rapture theory calls for Christians being whisked off  to heaven to escape the Great Tribulation.  Actually the Bible promises God’s people will be transported by “two wings of a great eagle … into the wilderness” to the Place of Safety for this same 3-1/2 years preceding Christ’s return (Rev. 12:14).

So escaping the Great Tribulation, but in the Place of Safety, not heaven.   God’s people would be resurrected from there–at the end of the 3-1/2 years, not the beginning.  A much different time!

If it’s from Petra, the mode of transportation is camels,  and those sure-footed beasts would probably easily come to a safe halt.

There are exceptions, such as the Two Witnesses, but Revelation says they rise from lying dead in a street of Jerusalem for three days (Rev. 11:8).   Nothing about any transportation carnage.

When you read about all the chaos in the book of Revelation at the time of the end, where one-fourth of the earth has been killed by the end of the fourth seal (Rev. 6:8), and the Great Tribulation will be the worst time ever experienced so that no flesh would be saved alive if Christ didn’t intervene (Matt. 24:21-22), you have to wonder how many cars and airliners will be in operation anyway.

So let’s not worry about the rapture of driverless cars ahead.  And when the seventh trump blows, here’s hoping we rise to the occasion!

world-37-blue

 

 

Entertaining Angels Unawares

It looks like a stranger, but it might be
an “angel unawares” (Heb. 13:1, King James Bible).

puttoThat makes no sense if you think angels resemble the putto of early Renaissance Italian art.  If you saw a Cupid flying around, you’d be aware of it!  Unless you’re from Texas or Florida and used to the size of their flying critters.

angel with haloYou’d especially notice one sporting a halo like the ancient Egyptian sun god.  Ra Ra, people would cheer and hound such  an extraterrestrial so it would hurry home rather than try to phone.  How could such an oddity visit among us incognito?

Nowhere in the Bible are there winged babies referred to as cherubs, so that idea needs to be kaputto!

When God sends angels down to earth, they blend in by appearing as adult males (Gen. 18:2, Acts 1:10).  They are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14).  They usually help with physical needs, not spiritual ones—such as making sure Elijah had enough to eat before his arduous journey (1 Kings 19:5-7) and mothering Peter to slow down long enough to dress and put his sandals on when the angel sprang him out of prison (Acts 12:7-8).

Angels deliver their message in a straightforward businesslike manner and then disappear.  You won’t encounter one in a chat room.

Angels we don’t want to be unaware of

Angels want us to worship God and build a relationship with the Father and Son, not with them.  That’s true of the two-thirds good angels.

But not true of satan the devil and his one-third demons.   He swooped up to heaven wanting to be God (Isa. 14:14), and he pulls out all stops to thwart God’s would-be family.  Amazing that he gets anybody at all to openly worship him or want to become familiar with him and his demons.

His better plan is to con people into believing he doesn’t exist.   In spy thrillers, the best trick is to fake your death so the other guys aren’t watching for you anymore as you come to take them out.

devil red pitchforkClear back in April 2009 in a Barna survey, nearly six out of ten Christians either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.”  Did you catch that?  Christians!  Who read that Jesus faced the devil in the wilderness.  How  much higher is the percentage at the very end-time when satan is about to bring the greatest deception and tribulation ever suffered (Matt. 24:21).

Satan a myth?  Naturally it follows that people would be ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2:11).  He broadcasts powerful satanic atttitudes through his power of the air using pervasive media, culture and peer pressure (Eph. 2:2).   For the spiritually unaware, it’s just entertainment, art and life.

Such sad confusion because so many who sincerely want to be true Christians have no idea that satan has “his ministers” who “transform themselves into ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:15).    Read that shocking scripture again.

Ezekiel warns about false shepherds (chapter 34) and prophets (13:3).  Matt. 24:24 sounds the alarm that satan’s “false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

So yes, let’s entertain strangers who might be good angels unawares.  But let’s be aware of the Enemy, acutely aware of his devices, resist and flee (James 4:7).

world-37-red

 

 

 

 

Does the Book of Life Include More Than Just Your Name?

Our names must get written into the Book of Life (Rev. 20:15).
And our names must not get blotted out of it (Rev. 3:5).
But is the Book of Life more than just a list of names?

Why would our omnipotent all-knowing God need or  want a Book of Life anyway?  Our Ancient of Days does not share our senior moments!

Well, yes, but the Bible shows

Records and lists are very important to God

So it’s no wonder they’re important to us.  Many of us have a cherished family book.  My oldest and youngest sisters have put one together and shared it with me.

genealogyOur Creator who fashioned us in His image knows we love genealogical research.  The Book of Genesis contains nine genealogies (chapters 4, 5 and 11).  Chapter 10’s Table of Nations is technically an ethnography.

Nations keep census records.  In Num. 1:2 the Lord directed Moses to take a census of all men age 20 and older who could go to war in Israel.  In Nehemiah’s time, God put it in his heart to register the nobles, rulers and people (7:5).  During the reign of  Darius the Persian, a record was kept of Levites and priests  who had been heads of their fathers’ houses (12:22).

censusIn Acts 1:15 instead of saying there were about 120 disciples gathered  for Pentecost, the wording is “the number of names.”  A church directory?  Granted, they didn’t need phone numbers!  Thanks to Saul, maybe cell numbers.  But don’t we always want to keep track of and contact each other.

God’s Church of the firstborn is registered in heaven” (Heb. 12:23) because they become citizens of God’s Kingdom and Family (Php. 3:20) when they are written into the Book of Life upon receiving the Holy Spirit.

More than our names

Estimates of how many people have ever lived range from 50 billion to 150 billion.  How many names would legibly fit on an 8-1/2″ x 11″ yellow ruled sheet?  If 50, that would require one billion pages.  It’s a good thing the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 21:27) is a spiritual book!  After Jesus adds a name, I’m not sure a human could tote it back to the shelf!  Oh, pardon me, back to the cloud?

The Bible indicates that the Book  of Life holds more than just names.

tears in bottleDavid wrote “You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected  all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book” (Psa. 56:8), New Living Translation).   God wants an intimate relationship with His children and watches us every day (Psa. 139:1-3).  Is the Lamb’s Book of Life like a diary?

Apparently this is the same “book of remembrance” written before God when “those who feared the Lord spoke to one another” (Mal. 3:16).   God treasures good fellowship that builds the Family of God!—that builds life!

A third scripture to consider regarding what’s recorded in the Book of Life, Rev. 20:12 says, “And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were  written in the books.”  This verse mentions the books of the Bible and the separate Book of Life.  Our works will be judged by the standards of the Bible but will our works be written in the Book of Life?  Does the Lamb use a good court reporter for those of us under judgment now (1 Pet. 4:17)?

Is Jesus recording in His Book of Life not only our names but our

Life stories?

Who doesn’t love a good biography!  And what better author than the Lamb to give us all a true and fair write-up!

As we’ve seen, the Bible gives some short but very interesting clues about the Book of Life that we can ponder and speculate about.

What we know for sure:  Let’s each pray we respond to God’s calling.  The goodness of God leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).  Let’s repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit when a minister of God lays hands on us (Acts 2:38).  Our names will  then be written into the Book of Life.

Let’s end this three-part series on the Book of Life by continuing with the Father and Son living in us (John 10:10) through their Holy Spirit until They resurrect us to eternal life in their Family and Kingdom!

world-37-blue

Staying Alive in the Book of Life

golden calfIn  the first mention of the Book of Life in the Bible,
Moses asked God, if you won’t forgive Israel
for making the golden calf,
then “blot me out of Your book
which you have written” (Ex. 31:32).

Is he daft?!  Why did Moses make such a consequential offer—to give up his eternal life?

Yes, he loved his people that much!  Paul expressed the same incredible love in Rom. 9:3:  “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren.”

But Moses said what he said in response to what God said to him.  “Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven” (Deut. 9:14).  Did God only mean physical destruction and they would have their opportunity for salvation in the Great White Judge Judgment?  Moses saw how furious God was and must have thought the worst!

Moses knew about the Book of Life. And he saw that God was “provoked” (verse 7) and “angry enough with you to have destroyed you” (verse 8).   No wonder Moses graciously intervened with a second fast of 40 days and nights.  A simple “They’re sorry and won’t do it again” wouldn’t cut it!

Good thing for Israel that their leader was Moses!  Good thing for Moses that God (the One who became Jesus Christ) rejected Moses’ replacement offer:  “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot him out of my book” (Ex. 32:33).  Yes, it’s

the “Lamb’s Book of Life” (Rev. 21:27)

We mankind should be eternally thankful that our Judge is the Son of Man (John 5:22) who came down and lived 3-1/2 years on the earth and was tempted in all points as we are (Heb. 4:15).

Well-meaning but false teachers wrongly claim “once saved, always saved.”  They try to explain away the warning about sinning willfully in Heb. 10:26-29.  They ignore  Paul’s statement about making sure he wouldn’t be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27).  They pardon Jesus for talking about unpardonable sin (Matt. 12:31-32).  They add  or take away words  from the Bible, or simply reject and disobey the ones there,  which means “God shall take away his part from the Book of Life” (Rev. 22:19).

David also knew about the Book of Life.  After his terrible sins regarding Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite, and the courageous life-saving rebuke by God’s prophet Nathan, David humbly pleaded, “Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psa. 51:11).

In Psa. 69:28 regarding people who “add iniquity to their iniquity,” David asked God, “And let them not come into Your righteousness.  Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and  not be written with the righteous.”

Jesus is the One who writes our names into the Book of Life when we receive the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9) and He will be the One who erases or blots out somebody.  It is so encouraging that Jesus said nobody can pluck us out of His hand” (John 10:28).

When satan asked for Peter, to sift him as wheat, Jesus prayed for him that his strength would not fail! (Luke 22:31).  Satan was only allowed to trouble Job as  much as God (Jesus back then) permitted.  Jesus has our back—and the rest of us!

If Jesus is forced to remove our name from His Book of Life, it will be because we neglected so great a salvation (Heb. 2:3), let another take our crown because we  don’t hold fast what we have (Rev. 3:11), or buried our talent as an unprofitable servant through laziness and fear (Matt. 25:14-31).  It will be our fault!

Acts 2This

Sunday, June 4, we celebrate God’s Holy Day called Pentecost

  God and the Word’s plan before the foundation of the world was to start the New Testament Church of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost is also called the Feast of Firstfruits because it pictures calling and harvesting firstfruits who will help Jesus Christ reap the big harvest during the Millennium and  Great White Throne Judgment on earth.  The firstfruits will become kings, judges, teachers and priests.

It’s interesting in Nehemiah that priests who returned from Babylon wanting to serve in Jerusalem, unless “registered by genealogy … were excluded from the priesthood as defiled” (Neh. 7:64).  What a striking parallel!  We would-be priests coming out of modern Babylon better be found in the Book of Life!

powerPaul says to each of us:  “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:6-7, New Living Translation).

We must “be even more diligent to make your call and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10).  We must “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Rev. 1:14).

VW accordWe must be like the disciples gathered at Pentecost in Acts 2:1.  Topping modern attempts to see how many bodies they could stuff into a VW, the 120 were “all in one Accord!”  Hope that wasn’t the unpardonable sin in your book!  Today Church of God leaders are ramping up brethren to live in harmony with what the Father and Son are doing, in unity through the Holy Spirit.

bride of ChristWe must “overcome” so we can “be clothed in white garments.”  Engage to become the Bride of Jesus Christ and be registered in the wedding book as the Bride, not a guest!  With God’s help we must overcome now because there is no greater power  than the Holy Spirit so we have everything we need now.  Then the Lamb and husband will say “I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life” (Rev. 3:5).

world-37-gold