“BUZZ IN or BUZZ OFF” – Are You Listening?

“BUZZ IN or BUZZ OFF”:

I’ve been reading of late in the Book of Isaiah where I came upon the verse recorded in  the above picture.  I get my inspirations from Holy Spirit when reading in God’s Word and this topic was not an exception.

Sometimes God speaks to us in truths both bitter and sweet at the same time.  He speaks to us in terms of both a warning and of comfort at the same time with an unequaled knack of doing this throughout the Bible.

We can hear Him speaking that exact way in Isaiah 7:18:

And in that day the Lord shall whistle for the fly 

[the numerous and troublesome foe]

that is the whole extent of the canal country of Egypt and

for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

Isaiah’s Time of World History:

This place in time was about 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah [Isaiah 7:14].  Egypt and Assyria [4-countries of Northern Iraq, Northwestern Iran, Southeast Turkey and Eastern Syria], were formidable military powers who were great threats to the children of God and the whole world.

God gives a clear warning to His rebellious, disobedient, wicked, idolatrous people who have abandoned the Lord :

Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who deal corruptly!  They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised and shown contempt and provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger, they have become utterly estranged (alienated)”  (Isaiah 1:4 AMP).

These nations will come and consume and devastate their land like armies of locusts.

This is not like human parent’s traditional “over-the-knee” spanking of naughty children.

The words of God through His prophet were a “all-consuming judgement”!  Not the “feel-good, smiley-faced preachers and prophets” of the modern world; the “no-spanking churches” who refuse to preach it or allow it to be preached.  But instead, recommend to God a far milder, much more gentle recommendations, like heart-to-heart talks in private.  “We don’t want to offend anyone” approach to the Gospel.

Now That Is The Bitter News–but the Sweet News in all…God has these nations totally under His control, like whistle-trained dogs. 

THE CHOICE–Both “FLIES” and “BEES”

“BUZZ IN” or “BUZZ OFF”

The word pictures presented by God through Isaiah, is describing entire nations.   Their formidable might is not a casual but Divinely intentional.  The greater significance here is that God likens entire nations military prowess to a single fly and a single bee.

Today’s “Super Powers!”

There is only one “Super Power” in the world and His name is “Almighty God”.  

Compared to God, all the so-called “Super Powers” in this world [including the U.S.A.] are nothing but ‘small fry’, ‘squirts’, “pipsqueaks”.  They’re insignificant!

America and their politicians gloated for years that “America is the greatest Super Power in the world.”  What a joke!  America is in fact, compared to God, not even a “Superfly” a “Superbee” but just a fly or a bee, take your pick!

That is the joke God laughs at when He says in Psalm 2:1, 4:

WHY DO the nations assemble with commotion,

and why do the people imagine (meditate upon and devise) an empty scheme?

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision

[and in supreme contempt He mocks them].

God is enabling us to see the activities of the nations of the world from the Divine perspective and not from television or newspaper’s commentaries we seemed to hold as the gospel truths.

God views entire nations of the world and each one of those nations, whether it be the United States of America, China, Russia, Iran or whatever nation, as but a fly and a bee whose demise is but one God-swat away!

GOD MENTIONS TWO NATIONS IN ISAIAH 7:18 WHO ARE TOTALLY PAGAN:

Egypt and Assyria are the nations mentioned; they don’t know God, nor do they want to know Him.  Here is Jehovah God, commanding at will to these aforementioned nations or any nation on earth, to simply “Buzz In” or “Buzz Off” to accomplish His purposes anywhere or anytime.  Can you even imagine this picture?  The modern day’s anarchist, swarming nations of the world, being reduced by God to nothing more than a common House Fly or a Honey Bee.

To mankind, the tumult going on, the fire power of nations in the world is like ‘sonic booms’ exploding in our thought process.  To God, it is no more than the “zzz” of a fly or bee.

By the Way, Insects Don’t Live Very Long!

Answers.com states that flies and bees average lifespan don’t live for more than 60-90 days, many insects much less than that.  However, the Queen Bee may live up to 3-5 years to reestablish the hive and colony, but then she too then dies.  However, the insects so often do make a big noise and nuisance about themselves while they are still alive.

So rulers and their nations who are blinded with pride, sickened by their revenge on the guiltless, are like many rulers throughout history like…Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin.  Mistaking themselves as predators; LIONS, when in fact they were and are ‘little bugs’ living out their lives on earth until ‘squashed’ by Almighty God.  A current example might be when Saddam Hussein was found and captured hiding  in a small hole in the ground, like an insect.  Or when Gaddafi was found hiding along side a desert road ditch, pleading with the rebels not to shoot; they shot him dead.

The rulers may sting others for awhile, only to be stung to death like the little buzzing bees they really are.  Then the “zzz” is silenced forever!  Am I saying that we can ignore the murder of the innocent going on in the world today?  NEVER!  Neither should our national leaders which in fact shamefully did and are doing.  That ought to cause us great concern and disgust.

THE WHISTLING GOD:

The truth is not only here for our calmness, but serves as a warning as well.

Isaiah 7:18 reveals something that’s not easily related to God, that God is a whistling God.  Specifically, God whistles for nations, Isaiah says “the Lord will whistle for the fly that is in the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bees, that is in the land of Assyria.”

Here are two nations, at the sound of the whistling God, come running!

I remember when I was growing up in the early 1950’s, being enticed by a forbidden wilderness in the back of our rental unit.  I would stare out the back window in the mornings with curtains drawn, almost hearing a distant call, “Mel, adventures are awaiting.  Come and be fulfilled with joy!”  But my parents set down rules were quite clear…”Absolutely Not!  We want to be able to see you and hear where you are.  It’s just too far away.”  That rule for a eight to ten year old is like a sign on a freshly painted front porch which reads, DON’T TOUCH–WET PAINT!  You’ve got to touch it, regardless of the consequences.

One day, in my rebellious spirit, I had to venture out on ‘a canyon expedition’ with some friends.  About a mile in, I stop short and said to the others, “I’ve got to get back home, NOW!”  One friend said, “Why NOW?”  To his surprise and disbelief, I said “Because I can hear my mom’s WHISTLE!”  He shook his head and said, “You can’t possibly hear a whistle from this distance.”  Never-the-less, I hastily headed back home…alone.  And with no surprise, there mom was at the edge of the canyon rim, holding a personally selected Eucalyptus ‘switch’ , the weapon of choice in her hand.  Disobedience has only temporary joy but the reward of punishment is inevitable!

Why do the two nations come running?

To do the bidding of God, fulfill His global purposes!  Amazing!!

What is more amazing, they don’t even know they are doing the will of Jehovah-El yon, God most high.  Even when we whistle for our dogs, they often won’t obey; they don’t come and many times run the other way.

God whistles for entire nations, who respond to the will of God marching in step and in formation.  Have you ever tried to whistle for a fly or bee to come to you?  Lots of luck.

Nations and armies of the world, the flies and the bees, don’t realize that ultimately, their Whistle-commanding General, the Lord of hosts, the WHISTLE TRAINER OF THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD will respond!

FOR WHAT REASON DOES GOD WHISTLE FOR THE HEATHEN NATIONS?

In the case presented in Isaiah 7, it’s to bring judgement upon the Jewish people and the holy land because they had turned away from God, forgotten about Him.  They had given themselves over to false gods.

The principle repeats itself throughout all of Scripture:

“God will employ any nation He chooses to give

any God-less and wicked Nation a Sound SPANKING,

Whenever and however He wills.”

If you miss that principle in history, you are disqualified from being a historian.  Former President George W. Bush said more than once:  “America doesn’t need a permission slip from the United Nations in order to defend itself.”  And America’s politicians…neither does the Nation of Israel need our permission to defend themselves.

Heaven’s High Court.

Certainly God doesn’t need the endorsement of earth to carry out judgement in heaven anywhere, at any time, by any means, against anyone!  It’s not the United Nations, but in Heaven’s High Court of Justice, where kings and kingdoms are arraigned, tried, and righteously judged.

History Repeats Itself:

This principle has been carried out by God over and over again throughout the history of the world we live in.  The ancient proud city of Tyre who was seen as a prosperous city.

According to historical testimony, Tyre was on the mainland.  Bit in course of time, for safety against besiegers, relocated to a neighboring island.   The people of Tyre became so proud and self-confident in their existence, they equated themselves with Divinity.

Then God goes on to say in Ezekiel 28:7-8″ :

“Because your heart is lifted up and you have said and thought, I am god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas…”

Today, nothing remains of the glory of Tyre; first captured by the Muslims and later reduced to a pile of stones.  He that has ears, let him hear what the Spirit of God is saying to America!

A “CAVEMAN’S” TESTIMONY!

Biblical Cavemen

THERE IS HOPE FOR CAVEMEN:

Our Bible tells us quite a bit about CAVEMEN; and  by simple definition, it is a person who lives in a CAVE.  The PURPOSE of this study is not an attack on the cavemen and dinosaur theories but to show from the Scripture… there’s always HOPE when in it comes to living and being like a CAVEMEN.

HOPE Needs to be Demonstrated.

Crystal Cave, Sequoia

I can remember my first cave experience when I was about 10 years old.  My folks often invited my grandparents (my mom’s parents) along with us when we would go on vacations every year.  If my granddad had his way, he would just putter around the old farmstead during the summer months, complaining that it was a waste of money to go on vacations; there was better uses.  But with a little coaxing, he would reluctantly go.  Honestly, I think he really enjoyed the family trips and…the coaxing, the ‘please come granddad’.  It just wouldn’t be a vacation without granddad and grandma!

One particular year, mom and dad wanted to go on a camping trip to Sequoia National Park located in California.  Before we arrived at the campsite, dad notice a well-marked sign that read:  CRYSTAL CAVES.  We had to stop, and of course grandad had to make is usual observation as we pulled into the visitor’s parking lot: “Here is another Chamber of Commerce trick to get your money.”  And dad’s response, “Are you coming dad (granddad) or not?”

Grandma stayed behind with my baby brother (7 years younger) while the rest of us, including granddad, headed one mile on foot…straight down into a canyon.  We all gathered together at the cave’s entrance and waited for the park ranger to guide us through the caves.  Stalactites (lime deposits formed at the caves ceilings–‘tight’ to the ceiling; and Stalagmites (lime deposits on the cave’s floor–they ‘might’ get to the ceiling).  It was damp and cold, yet beautiful as the man-located lighting positioned in the cave shone all about the cave.  Everyone in the family thoroughly enjoyed the time spent in this vast cavern including…granddad!

CAVES ARE A DARK PLACE!

Many caves that are explored for the first time are dark and full of shadows.  Inhabited by bats, roaches, lizards and other vermin.  In my daily Bible reading in The Book of Isaiah, I ran across this verse launching my new investigation on A “CAVEMAN’S” TESTIMONY! 

Then shall [the stricken, deprived of all in which they had trusted] go into the caves of the rocks, and into the holes of the earth…In that day men shall cast away to the moles and to the bats… To go into the caverns of the rocks and into the clefts of the ragged rocks before the terror and dread of the Lord…  (Isaiah 2:19-21 AMP).

No One Should Have to Live in a CAVE!

But for a CAVEMAN, this dreary existence represents his final refuge to a hostile world.  While CAVES make wonderful places to explore on an adventurous vacation, it becomes a sad depressing refuge from trouble for some—not a luxury resort but a ‘last resort’.

At some time or another, most of us want to crawl into a hole and pull it in after us.  Our troubles get so overwhelming we yearn to withdraw from  human society and go hide in a CAVE.

Of course, few of us actually do this but occasionally Scripture relates the real story of REAL CAVEMEN–a man who hides in caves, escaping some horrible circumstance to the outside world.

A BIBLE STORY OF DAVID:

SO DAVID departed and escaped to the CAVE of ADULLAM:”  (1 Samuel 22:1 a).

DAVID has now left the land of the Philistines and returned to his native area of Judah.  The location of this CAVE has been disputed by scholars.  It may very well have been one of the desert hideouts not far from Bethlehem which David was familiar with during his days as a lonely shepherd boy.

You can see in the picture above how rough and rocky that region is and it made for a good hideout.  But this is certainly the lowest moment of David’s life to date in the Bible.

He is hiding in a CAVE–all alone at the moment, without security, without food.  He is away from everything and everyone he loved–everyone except GOD!

If we really want to know and understand how David really felt, all we have to do is read the Psalms he composed during this period.

A Prayer In a CAVE:

I cry to the Lord with my voice; with my voice to the Lord do I make supplication.  I pour out my complaint before Him; I tell before Him my trouble.  When my spirit was over-whelmed and fainted [throwing all its weight] upon me, then You knew my path.  In the way where I walk they have hidden a snare for me.  Look on the right hand [the point of attack] and see; for there is no man who knows me [to appear for me].  Refuge has failed me and I have no way to flee; no man cares for my life or my welfare.  I cried to You, O Lord; I said, You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.  Attend to my loud cry, for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than I.  Bring my life out of prison, that I may confess, praise, and give thanks to Your name; the righteous will surround me and crown themselves because of me, for You will deal bountifully with me”  (Psalm 142 AMP).

That is how David felt as a CAVE DWELLER!

“I don’t know of a soul on earth who cares for my soul.  I am brought very low.  Deliver me, Lord.”  Can you feel the darkness and dampness of that CAVE?  Can you feel David’s hopelessness in his thoughts, his words?

Yet in the MIDST of the DARKNESS, David has not lost sight of his GOD.

He cries out to the Lord for deliverance, so that he might praise the Lord and be a leader of the righteous.  It’s this part of David that GOD knew; it caused GOD to choose him and call him a man after His own heart.

David has been brought to this place where GOD can truly begin to shape him and use him; use him to His glory.  When GOD brings us to the bottom of a CAVE, a place that seems hopeless, it’s not to destroy us but to rebuild us.  Sort of like ‘Stalagmites” on a cave’s floor; stretching and building, reaching for the heights.

DEPRESSING CIRCUMSTANCES:

TROUBLE brought frustration to David’s personal plans and ambitions.  We’ve all been there: unemployment, financial binds, broken relationships, our illnesses and the illnesses of those close to us in the family.

David was experiencing the same emotions:  Michal–the same wife who’d helped him escape–separated and re-married another man.  Where David was once, a young man climbing the social ladder of success in the king’s court.  Now…his prospects were nil!

No wonder his PSALM FROM A CAVE contained distressing words, “I cry to the Lord…I pour out my complaints…my supplications…Bring my life out of prison…”

Uncertain Thoughts Visit This Caveman.

David wonders, what did I do wrong?  Where did I miss God’s will?  I tried to be a good guy but look where it got me!  No man wants to know me.  I’m ABANDONED, BETRAYED, DESERTED, ALONE, and NO MAN CARES!

PSALM 142 reminds me of an old nursery rhyme my mother would recite to me (or a variation), when my lip would curl because of my feelings of rejection by my playmates:

Nobody loves me

Everybody hates me

I think I’ll go out in the garden

and eat worms!

The nursery rhyme was shortened over the years to…”Just go outside and eat worms!”

In Times of DEPRESSION:

We can all identify with David’s words from a CAVE.  AND, we too can honestly complain to our Heavenly Father; tell Him where it hurts, how we feel about the way things are going.

SULKING in our personal CAVES, we are tempted to self-pity and lethargy.  We stare at all the shadows on the wall.  We listen to our own glum thoughts, while the bats, spiders and lizards dart back and forth in our imaginations.  We feel worthless, alone, deserted and lost and we can certainly empathize with David’s circumstances.

David did feel overwhelmed in his CAVE.  Yet his Psalm, although it details the symptoms of DEPRESSION, reveals a ray of Son-shine, of HOPE while he was a CAVEMAN:

“When my spirit was overwhelmed and fainted [throwing all its weight] upon me, then You knew my path”!

When your spirit is overwhelmed in a CAVE of DEPRESSION, then the Lord Jesus knows where you are and how you feel.  He knows what its like to be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

JESUS knows what a CAVE looks like from the inside out; He was buried in one!  He was tortured to death for us; He was crucified dead and buried because of His LOVE for us.

When your spirit is overwhelmed, crushed within you, THEN Jesus knows where you are and how you feel   He also knows how you entered the CAVE.

Some Paths Leading Into CAVES:

JESUS knows the path that led you into this particular CAVE that you have found yourself in.  He came into our world in a human body and understands physical limitations.

NATURAL CIRCUMSTANCES can lead into a CAVE of DEPRESSION.

Shortly before Adoniram Judson (Baptist missionary to Burma) started meditating daily before his open grave, his dearly-loved wife had died.  JESUS understands circumstances that can make you weep–He did.

Sometimes we fall into this CAVE of DEPRESSION with no reason apparent to us.  Something triggers a response to an incident that happened so long ago, you’ve forgotten what it was; but your emotions still react with vague and unreasonable responses, leading your life into the dark cave of depression.  What a bummer!  You’re DEPRESSED and you don’t know why.  But even if you don’t know the PATH leading you into the CAVE…JESUS does, so trust Him.  “For if our heart condemns us, God is GREATER than our heart, and knows all things.”

Graham Cooke says, God strengthens us with His presence in our low places.  He does not give us strength.  He becomes our strength.”

What Happens Next In The CAVE?

GOD has a definite purpose for CAVEMEN!  All the circumstances of your life in the past has prepared you to be God’s person in this CAVE–and the CAVE EXPERIENCE prepares you to be His man/woman in the future.

“So David departed and escaped to the CAVE…and when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him”  (1 Sam. 22:1).

GOD used David’s cave-dwelling experience in affecting his reconciliation with his family.  The tensions between David and his brothers were HEALED in a CAVE!

You can let God use the depressing circumstances you are facing to heal the petty resentments and bad feelings that exist in your family.

“And everyone in distress or in debt or discontented gathered to him…”  (1 Sam. 22:2 a).

Because of David’s own experience, he had empathy with other depressed men–other CAVEMEN AND CAVEWOMEN.  They knew he understood their problems because for a time, he lived as a CAVEMAN too.

Many times in my work life over the years, I too found myself as a CAVE-DWELLER.  Over a 40-year career in the construction industry, I had been let go, laid off, and fired numerous times.  Sometimes the time was short, while other times I sunk into the deep cavern of depression.  And yes, I asked God…why me, why now?  And then one day, long after I had retired, He said,  ‘Mel, you need to use your experiences of unemployment, of struggling to fulfill your responsibilities as husband and father.  You can’t do it by yourself!’

Once before, a time of playing the harp, and now…

While playing the harp in king Saul’s Court, David had contacted successful, up-and-coming young men.  While he was in that DEPRESSING CAVE, he met another class of people–those in distress, in debt, and discontented…and it wasn’t just a few.  It was over 400 men!

GOD used these very people as the nucleus of the army that supported David, King of Israel.  All the time David was overwhelmed in the CAVE…God was working–drawing these distressed people to the man after His own heart.  God had promised David a crown and He used the DEPRESSING CAVE experience to bring His promise to pass.

“So, GOD Has Placed You In A CAVE…”

Your spirit right now is perhaps overwhelmed by your current circumstances.

Then JESUS KNOWS YOUR PATH!

…HE KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE!

…HE KNOWS HOW YOU GOT THERE!

AND HE KNOWS WHERE TO GO FROM HERE!

No matter how dark your CAVE seems to be:  How distressing your circumstances; how depressed you might feel; how bleak the outlook seems…JESUS KNOWS and UNDERSTANDS.

HE CARES,

HIS HAND IS UPON YOUR SHOULDER,

HE HAS NOT ABANDONED YOU,

HE OFFERS HOPE–even for a CAVEMAN!

“It’s Been Long Enough–Now Grow Up!”

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH–Chapter 28:10, 13:

“[10] For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:  [13] But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and spared, and taken.”  (King James)

I love the way THE MESSAGE Bible words these two verses:  “Da, da, da, da, blah, blah. That’s a good little girl. that’s a good little boy.”

The Amplified Bible reads,  “Precept upon precept, rule upon rule”–

Well that’s sounds much clearer…or, does it?  At first glance, it sounds like BABY TALK.

USUALLY INTERPRETED…

The words are usually interpreted to mean “life is like that–when constructing a house you put ‘brick upon brick’ [“precept upon precept”] until the building is up.  Or in writing a blog; you put ‘sentence upon sentence’ until the blog is ready to post; made public.

My wife was just explaining to me this morning how she paints on a canvas; putting down layer upon layer of paint in giving the picture depth.  I immediately responded to her saying, “That’s just like it says in the Bible, ‘precept upon precept.’

But is that what this bible expression means?  Let’s take a closer look:

[10] “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little”  (KJV).

[13]  “Therefore the word of the Lord will be to them [merely monotonous repeatings of] precept upon precept, precept upon precept; rule upon rule, rule upon rule; here a little, there a little; that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken”  (AMP Bible).

If we spell the Hebrew words in our alphabet, it would look like this, “tsav latsav tsav latsav – kav, lakav kav lakav”. The repetition of single syllables reminds me of BABY’S FIRST WORDS we delight to hear as parents,  “Ma Ma,” “Da Da.”

By the way, I found in my DETECTIVE investigation a word, made-up of repeated mono-syllables, “murmur” [Mur Mur] in 1 Corinthians 10:10 (ASV):

[10] “Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer.”

“Ma Ma”, “Da Da”, “Mur Mur”

Perhaps the message is, “grumbling” (the word used in the NIV) is a rather childish behavior.

What then, do the Hebrew words mean?

–The word “Tsav” signifies a little precept, such as “is suited to the capacity of a child” (Adam Clarke).

–The word “Kav” signifies the line that a mason would stretch out building a layer of stones or a brick wall.  After one layer or course is placed, the line is raised and another layer is added.  Thus “line upon line” is used until the building is complete.

ISAIAH’S MESSAGE:

His message has to do with TEACHING:

(verse 9)  “To whom will He teach knowledge?”

At first glance, this sounds like a POSITIVE thing.  After all, this is how young children learn (or suppose to learn).  BUT the point made here is that the prophet’s audience are no longer children that Isaiah is addressing.  However, due to their unwillingness to move on in their relationship with God, he must treat them as little babies; keep going back to the primitive methods, “tsav latsav tsav latsav – kav lakav kav lakav’ – “precept upon precept, rule (or “line”) upon rule.”

I remember my parents telling me in growing up, “Mel, if you would have listened and obeyed the first time we told you so, we wouldn’t have to keep saying the same thing over and over again.”

When the people heard Isaiah talk this way, like a teenager might do today, they started mocking the prophet as they staggered through the streets in town (Isaiah 28:7).

The Time is Now to Take Full Responsibility for our Own Relationship with God.

That’s making sure that our lives are fulfilling in the God-given purpose for our being here in this world.  That we are LIVING in a way that is pleasing to Him.  The plain (let’s say “crude”) way to say it is, “GROW UP ALREADY!”

ENCOURAGEMENT GIVEN TO US TO “GROW UP” SPIRITUALLY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT:

The apostle Peter recognizes as new Christians, we are likened to “babies” who need milk for nourishment–a tasty, warm, liquid that can be ingested using an instinctive muscle system–SUCKING.  Now there’s a striking picture on Sunday mornings: A bunch of “sucking” Christians in the church building.

#1.  This is what Peter writes:

“SO BE done with every trace of wickedness (depravity, malignity) and all deceit and insincerity (pretense, hypocrisy) and grudges (envy, jealousy) and slander and evil speaking of every kind.  [2] Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation,  [3] Since you have [already] tasted the goodness and kindness of the Lord”  (1 Peter 2:1-3 AMP).

Yes, we start with milk, but then GROWTH is expected:

[3] “For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).  [5] For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),  [6] And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),  [7] And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.  [8] For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  [9] For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [spiritually] short-sighted, seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins.”  (2 Peter 1:3, 5-9 AMP).

“MAKE EVERY EFFORT” (NIV) or “EXERCISE and DEVELOP” (AMP)–

We each bear the responsibility in our own spiritual growth in the development of our character.  Quit assigning the responsibility to your pastor/teacher.

#2.  Paul also understood this matter of moving from childhood to adulthood.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside”  (1 Corinthians 13:11).

Earlier, in the same church letter, Paul gave his teaching in the need to move from “milk” to “solid food”:

“HOWEVER, BRETHREN, I could not talk to you as to spiritual [men], but as to non-spiritual [men of the flesh, in whom the carnal nature predominates], as to mere infants [in the new life] in Christ [unable to talk yet!]  [2] I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you are not yet strong enough [to be ready for it]; but even yet you are not strong enough [to be ready for it],  [3] For you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh [under control of ordinary impulses].  For as long as [there are] envying and jealousy and wrangling and factions among you, are you not unspiritual and of the flesh, behaving yourselves after a human standard and like mere (unchanged) men?”  (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 AMP).

The parallel here in these verses is between “worldly” and the “infantile.”  The CONNECTION is that being immature, they were not standing up against the world’s point of view around them–they were demonstrating attitudes and behaviors like those seen in the world–jealousy and quarrels.

#3.  The Third Time on the subject of Moving from Milk to Meat.

The Book of Hebrews (Hebrews 5:12-14):

“For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word.  You have come to need milk, not solid food.  [13] For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]!  [14] But solid food is for full-grown men, for those senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.”

The point here is that we no longer need to be given the same old rules and regulations on how we are to live in righteousness.  We no longer need “precept upon precept, line upon line.” 

We’ve now come to the place where we have trained ourselves to be able to distinguish what is right and wrong.  As my folks would tell me, “You should know by now the difference between what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’.”

But again notice where the responsibility lies, “to full-grown men [the mature]…have trained themselves.”

THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR PERSONAL GROWTH DOESN’T START WITH THE CHURCH:

The responsibility doesn’t begin with your pastor/teacher either but with each individual. 

Coming to church, reading the Word, and praying is less like going to eat at a restaurant, and more like spending time at a grocery store.  The money is in our pockets, the food is in the store, but it is our responsibility to find, buy and prepare food providing nourishment necessary for our health, growth and strength.

No longer may we expect someone else to lay it all out for us, “precept upon precept, line upon line” or “rule upon rule.”  It is our responsibility and true maturity only happens when we are willing to accept that responsibility.  And only then will we avoid the judgement of God in the “last day.”

“Milk is Good but Filet Mignon is Better!”

A recently released study by a Christian research organization shows that churchgoers do not read or study the Bible on a daily basis.

Transformational Discipleship Assessment released by Life Way Research noted that 19% of respondents report reading or studying the Bible ‘outside’ of church “every day.”  By contrast, 36% said they either engage their Bible “once a week”, “once a month”, or a “few times a month.”  And to my surprise, 18% reported rarely or never reading or studying the Bible outside of worship.

Scott McConnell, director of Life Way Research told this to the Christian Post:

“Regular Bible engagement is both personal and requires discipline.  Neither are popular in Western culture today.  Too many churchgoers want the benefits of salvation without investing in personally knowing Christ and the abundant life He offers.”

“MILK” or “MEAT” — SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY or SPIRITUAL MATURITY?

“Gala” in the Greek language is the word used for MILK.  Figuratively speaking, MILK is the Word of God used to nourish newborn babes in Christ.  So if all you’re taking for nourishment is the “milk of God’s word, the basic elements, you must be a “baby.”

If I may so bold, I would like to ask 4- important questions before concluding my message:

1.  Are you still on a “milk only” diet spiritually?

2.  Are you still reading devotionals which include a few tidbits of Scripture?  Like a baby in the high chair, going from “sucking” on the milk bottle’s nipple to “solid” finger food.

3.  Are you reading “Christian books” instead of The Book?

4.  Are you primarily listening to tapes or CD’s rather than your primary Teacher, the Holy Spirit?

If your answers are yes to all of the questions or even one yes…you need to change your dietary habits.  It’s been long enough–it’s time to GROW UP!


Discipleship Is Character Development!

God’s Spirit was speaking so strong to my spirit over the last two days, regarding DISCIPLESHIP in the churches.  So I was prompted to begin my investigation with the Letter of Paul to the Philippian Church:  “Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]”  (Philippians 2:5 AMP).

As I prepared my WORD investigation on discipleship, I thought about things that I needed to hear.  So what I am about to uncover is just as much for me as it is for you.

I certainly agree with one preacher who said:  ‘God is more concerned with our CHARACTER than our comfort.  He is more concerned with our HOLINESS than our happiness.  And He is more interested in us as a PERSON than our possessions.’

Before I get started in the discussion regarding DISCIPLESHIP training in your particular church setting [my church setting], there has to be a test to take for each one of us individually:

* THERE IS AN I.Q. TEST TO TAKE:

Before getting your Driver’s License, you had to go first to the State Department of Motor Vehicles (the D.M.V.), taking a written test first and passing the questions on general road safety: road sign identification, local speed limits, auto safety, etc.  This State requirement is not only for first time drivers but new residents in that particular area of the country–each state has their own requirements.

I remember taken this written test back…let’s just say I was 16 years old.  I received a study brochure, read the sample questions, and thought I was ready.  Well, evidently I wasn’t ready because the D.M.V. employee, after checking my answers, informed me that I had NOT PASSED the written test.  She underlined my wrong answers and said, ‘you can come back in a week and try again.’  “ONE WEEK?” I asked.  “But I have to get my ‘learners permit’ to drive,” raising my voice in sheer panic!  What are my friends going to say?

Well, after really studying the DRIVING INSTRUCTION booklet, coming back exactly one week later, I PASSED the test;  I was much better prepared to begin my journey as a California State approved…a learner and authorized vehicle operator.

NO CHEATING ALLOWED!

Believe it or not, I found a CHEAT SHEET on taking a Department of Motor Vehicles written test before becoming a licensed driver on- line: dmvcheatsheets.com/   Sorry folks, CHEAT SHEETS won’t help you in becoming a DISCIPLE!

–“DISCIPLESHIP” INSTRUCTIONS – Passing the 4-I.Q. Questions of DISCIPLESHIP–(PHILIPPIANS 2:19-30 NAS).

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE:

verse 19:  “But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.”

verse 20:  “For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.”

verse 21:  “For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.”

verse 22:  “But you know of his proven worth that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.”

verses 23-24:  “Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me;  and I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall be coming shortly.”

verses 25-26:  “But I thought it necessary to send you Ephaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need;  because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard he was sick.”

verse 27:  “For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”

verse 28:  “Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly in order that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you.”

verses 29-30:  “Therefore receive him in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard;  because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.”

 

# 1.  The Test of COMMITMENT (INVOLVEMENT):

The Greek word for commitment, I found quite interesting:

(1) The verb; In the sense of “doing or practicing.”  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary continues the definition of COMMITMENT by using the Greek word, prasso (STRONG, 4238), “to do, work, practice,” is said of continuous action, or action not yet completed.

* Timothy and Epaphroditus have something in common.

Their willingness to go whenever their leader sends them to go:

“But I hope and trust in Lord Jesus soon to send Timothy to you” ~ Php. 2:19

“I thought it necessary to send Epaphroditus [back] to you” ~ Php. 2:25

We are living in a generation that hates responsibilities and ignores commitments  People do not want to be personally involved anymore.  They can attend church if…they have the ‘mood’; offer their help sometimes.  But if it involves personal commitment, they find it difficult to do.

* In the contrary, JESUS said the mark of DISCIPLESHIP is LOVE.

We cannot LOVE without INVOLVEMENT:  “By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves]” ~ John 13:35 AMP.

The Author of our salvation already commissioned us to go (Mark 16:15).

* COMMITMENT is a question of INVOLVEMENT.

Now I’m not just talking about stripping the wallpaper off the women’s Restroom at church–and that IS important.  You cannot be committed unless you become involved:

“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,  Whom shall I send?  And who will go for Us?  Then said I, Here am I; send me.  And He said, Go tell this people, Hear and hear continually, but understand not: and see and see continually, but do not apprehend with your mind”  (Isaiah 6:8-9).

I believe that God has a personal calling for each and every one of us and obedience to His call becomes the evidence of our maturity and discipleship.

Sometimes God may lead us to a place that we didn’t want to go.  As mature Christians, we defy all hardships; ignore personal risks; jump and say goodbye to our comfort to follow Jesus our Lord.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Why?

Because we are followers of One who left the comfort of heaven-sent by His Father to join us in battle to commit His life for ours.

Now there is a pattern to follow in our character development.

# 2.  THE TEST OF COMPASSION (INTEREST?):

–Timothy stands head and shoulders compared to others. 

Paul has a very exceptional comment about him here in Philippians.  It’s as if he examines all other believers, that he alreadyknows, then concludes that he has no student like him.

So, how did Timothy become different from the other followers?  It’s not because of his intellectual knowledge or his abilities.  Here is the answer:

“For I have no one like him who will be so genuinely interested in your welfare and devoted to your interests” (Php. 2:20).

–Paul then admonishes the believers in Philippi–Honor men like Epaphroditus.

What makes him so special, a man of honor?  It wasn’t because of his special ability but because he’s a man who has COMPASSION; a genuine interest for the people who are in need of his help.

Philippians 2:25 says, “…who you sent to take care of my needs.”

Epaphroditus had a great excuse to forget the welfare of others around him because he was ill, deathly sick.  Others would have probably thought about his situation because of how lousy they have felt.  BUT not Epaphroditus.  He was more concerned with the anxiety; that the news of his illness made to the brethren in the church at Philippi rather than his own condition.  That’s COMPASSION!

# 3.  TEST OF CONSISTENCY (INTEGRITY?)

I published a blog not too long ago entitled:  INTEGRITY in a World of Changes.  If you haven’t already read it after reading this particular topic of DISCIPLESHIP development, you might go there afterword.

* Paul’s Description of Timothy.

Paul describes Timothy as the one who has proven integrity:

“Timothy’s tested worth…he has toiled with me zealously in [serving and helping to advance] the good news (the Gospel)”  (Php. 2:22 AMP).

It means that he is CONSISTENT–“tested worth” in his faith and ministry in sharing the Gospel with others.  Timothy accompanied Paul almost his entire missionary journey.  He suffered the same persecution that Paul experienced.  Yet, he didn’t give up!

And when the time came to stand on his own two feet, far from his mentor, he continued his ministry without any hesitation.  Timothy is an example of consistency and integrity in the service for Christ Jesus.

#4.  THE TEST OF COOPERATION (IDENTIFICATION?):

Timothy’s sharing with Paul through thick and thin; through joys and sorrows; through riches and poverty; through sickness and health (Php. 2:22).

Next, Epaphroditus sharing with Paul in all kinds of situations:

–in the house.

–in the work.

–in the battle.

–even in fulfilling their responsibilities of bringing the GOOD NEWS of Christ to his gospel ministry:

“[He has been] my brother and companion in labor and my fellow soldier, as well as [having come as] your special messenger (apostle) and minister to my need”  (Php. 2:25 AMP).

–Epaphroditus:  MY BROTHER – (PARTNER in Care).  The words imply his personal care and compassion; as a member in the family picturing what a brother in Christ should be during times of persecution, trouble and need.

*  He risks his own life to defy his own health for the sake of his brother Paul and the Philippian brethren.

–Epaphroditus:  MY FELLOW-WORKER – (PARTNER in Work). The implication here is about his TEAMWORK.

*  With other believers by sharing in the same task; with humble submission.

*  SUBMITTING himself to the decision of the brethren who sent him to assist and help Paul in prison.  Then…sent him back again by Paul to Philippi.

*  He obeys without any complaint because he always did his part in the task assigned for the Lord.  Empowered by his own love for the Philippian Church.

–Epaphroditus:  FELLOW-SOLDIER – (PARTNER in Battle).  Implies his WILLINGNESS to fight for the cause of God’s kingdom.

*  A true soldier of Christ who is willing to die for the sake of God’s glory!

–Epaphroditus:YOUR MESSENGER – (PARTNER in Responsibility).  Implying his single-mindedness of fulfilling his task to carry God’s message; the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

“KOINONIA” – (A PARTNERSHIP, SHARING CHRIST IN THE FELLOWSHIP):

DISCIPLESHIP involves SHARING in a partnership with the Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  In turn, DISCIPLESHIP involves SHARING with people whether they are believers or non-believers.

We’ve learned our CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT requires our commitment to the task at hand.  We will need to “prasso” or to “practice” what we’ve learned from Timothy and Epaphroditus as DISCIPLES:

*  To be involved in community SHARING our LOVE.

*  To be committed to Christ !

*  To have compassion for others (coming from our LOVE for Jesus).

*  Being consistent in our character; our INTEGRITY.

*  Identifying with others in SHARING in their needs; their comfort; their joy and sorrows.

*  Being obedient to God’s Word in partnering with Him in the tasks at hand.

*  SHARING the message, the Gospel of Christ.

LOVE Is Like A “CURTAIN ROD”.

Everything that you practice in DISCIPLESHIP hangs on the ‘curtain rod’ of LOVE.  If one end of the curtain rod falls from its place, everything hanging on the rod slips off on the floor.

Your CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT hangs on that principle.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep the LOVE ROD in place.

The 4-Basic ELEMENTS Needed for Christian Survival!

“Praised (honored, blessed) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)!  By His boundless mercy we have been born again to an ever-living HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  [Born anew] in an INHERITANCE which is beyond the reach of change and decay [imperishable], unsullied and unfading, reserved in heaven for you,  Who are being guarded (garrisoned) by God’s power through [your] FAITH [till you fully inherit that final] salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time.  [You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a LITTLE WHILE you may be DISTRESSED by trials and suffer temptations,  So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire.  [This proving of your FAITH is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with INEXPRESSIBLE and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) JOY.  [At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your FAITH, the salvation of your soul.”

~ 1 PETER 1:3-9 AMPLIFIED BIBLE ~

The Supplies Necessary for SURVIVORS–

Okay, I am hooked on watching REALITY TELEVISION!  My favorite reality show is “The Amazing Race”, then this summers “Stars and Stripes” and of course “Survivor”.  If you have never been addicted to “Survivor” (I’m on a Survivor sabbatical as of this writing), it’s about dumping 16 people out in the middle of no-where; with no food and no water and to learn on their own how to survive.  Sounds like fun, WRONG!

But that’s not all entirely true.  The network show always gives them a supply of water to get started, a supply of canned goods and rice to eat.  Also a first-aid kit with bandages, ointments and personal items included.

Despite the appearances of the people left in a wilderness setting to fend for themselves, the TV Producers have given them a few provisions for their survival.

We Too Need Certain Provisions to SURVIVE! (1 Peter 1:3-9)

In order for us to survive in this world, we need FOOD, WATER and AIR as essentials.  I found out in my Detective search, that Homo Sapiens (Man), can live for about 40 days without food; 3 days without water and 8 minutes without air.

The apostle Peter’s warning of the impending persecution they are about to face as he encourages the Christians in the Roman Empire, is that God has made provisions to help them survive.

And God still provides the same provisions necessary in surviving life in today’s world.

GOD ALWAYS PROVIDES FOR OUR NEEDS:

We tend to get caught up in the material and monetary aspects of God’s provisions.

Missionary Hudson Taylor.

Hudson Taylor’s complete trust in God’s provisions were on display as he wrote the following in his journal:

Our heavenly Father is a very experienced One.  He knows very well that His children wake up with a good appetite every morning…He sustained 3 million Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years.  We do not expect He will send 3 million missionaries to China but if He did, He would have ample means to sustain them all…Depend on it, God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.                        ~Our Daily Bread, May 16, 1992~

It Sometimes Seems Hard To SURVIVE During Trying Times.

I know that there are some of you reading this blog of mine facing some very difficult things in life right now.  You even wonder how you are going to make it through all of it.

Peter’s message applies to you and he tells in detail how God has provided His provisions; for you to survive life with its trials and challenges.

So grab a pen and paper, and your Bible and start listing the 4-Basic Elements Needed for Christian Survival!

#1.  AN EVER- LIVING HOPE (vs. 3):

HOPE defined, NOT a hope that is in doubt:

Like, “The weatherman says there’s an 80% chance of rain tomorrow and I HOPE it doesn’t rain.”  The HOPE that Peter is talking about is more like a conviction of FAITH.

Peter describes that HOPE is an ever-living hope!

Our HOPE in salvation and eternal life rests in JESUS!  Jesus died and was buried but was then raised to life and now lives today.  Paul writes in Corinthians:

But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead,

and He became the firstfruits of those who have

fallen asleep [in death].”

~I Corinthians 15:20~

Peter is able to testify to this occurrence on a first hand basis.  He saw the empty tomb and he saw Jesus after His resurrection with his own eyes.  So OUR HOPE for eternal life rests in Christ Jesus; it’s an EVER-LIVING HOPE because Christ Himself is alive!

#2.  IMPERISHABLE INHERITANCE (vs.4):

Maybe you’ve heard stories about what people leave as INHERITANCES in their wills:

A Philadelphia woman instructed the executor to take one dollar from her estate and invest it and pay the interest on this investment to her husband ‘as evidence of my estimate of his worth.’

Patrick Henry, the great revolutionary war figure most famous for his words, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”  And yet, he wasn’t the most savvy business person.  After his death in 1799, they opened his will to read,

This is all the inheritance that I can give to my dear family:  The religion of Christ will give one which will make them rich indeed.

God has provided for each one of us an INVALUABLE INHERITANCE.

No matter what we lose in this life, may it be.

RICHES, HOMES, LOVED ONES or OUR VERY LIVES. These are NOT ELEMENTS you can survive on.

We will gain a great inheritance in heaven and Peter has painted us a picture identifying the Israelites of old and the Christians today:

Provisions in the Wilderness

The Israelites wandered in the desert wilderness for 40 years, sustained by the promise of their inheritance of the Promised Land that god had told them was theirs.

Edmund Clowney [I didn’t make that up] writes,

Like Israel in the wilderness, the New Testament ‘saints’ of God are aliens and pilgrims.  They make their way through a world that is becoming more hostile.  Yet they are NOT wandering beggars, cast off from their possessions.  They hold a sure title to the inheritance God has given them.  Their ‘patch of green’ in a vast wilderness.

This INHERITANCE Peter speaks about is “beyond the reach of change and decay [imperishable], unsullied and unfading.” (vs. 4)

No one or thing can take away your inheritance of eternal life with Christ.  As Christians, we are members of God’s family and an heirs to the inheritance God has kept for us.  It’s much better than bandages and ointments in a Survivor’s First Aid Kit.  A person can run out of those elements.

#3.  A PRECIOUS FAITH (vs. 7):

Our FAITH is compared to gold.

FIRE itself doesn’t destroy gold but removes the IMPURITIES from it.  Our FAITH is put to the fire during times of trials in which the impurities are removed and our faith is made stronger.

TRIALS and SUFFERING strengthen our faith by removing the pride, the dependence on our selves forcing us to trust in God even more when we draw closer to Him.

Peter goes on to say and describes to the Christians of his day, even though they don’t see JESUS, they believe in Him and love Him.  That my friends describes us too.  We have obtained A PRECIOUS FAITH from God and in God we’re made stronger through times of suffering in our lives.

#4.  AN INEXPRESSIBLE JOY (vs.8):

God has presented us with a EVER-LIVING HOPE, AN INVALUABLE INHERITANCE, and a PRECIOUS FAITH; producing in us an INEXPRESSIBLE JOY.

WHY?

Because we know that GOD LOVES US and we have nothing to fear because… we have a certain hope for life eternal after this life.  We can REJOICE because GOD has SAVED US!

QUESTION:  Have you ever been so happy that you don’t know what to do with yourself?

I felt that way when our first daughter was born.  Dianne and I used to spend our nights during the last three months of her pregnancy, working on jigsaw puzzles on our first apartment’s cold floor (I was unemployed and we were ‘dirt poor’).

We used to have conversations while working on the puzzles on what it would be like to be parents and would our first baby be a girl or a boy (no ultrasound pictures in those days).

We were so excited!

When the day finally arrived for the baby to be born, I was so excited and could hardly wait for the blessed birth.  Finally, the doctor strolled down the hospital’s long hallway with a big grin on his face, so I knew immediately…

The doctor said, “Did you want a boy or a girl?”  And of course my answer was,  “It doesn’t matter Doc.  Is my wife okay and the baby…?”

“Well…(after a long pause, but with a bigger grin), the baby is a healthy girl and Dianne is doing just fine.  You can go in the delivery room and see your lovely wife.” My response to the good news?  “Don’t stand in the doorway!”

I had so much JOY in my heart in hearing the good news, I couldn’t contain myself.  Now I’m not much of a ‘smiler’, but THAT day, it was a smile from ear to ear.

As Christians, there should be a SMILE ON OUR FACES.

That smile should be so wide that people will wonder what’s wrong with us.  We should have JOY in our hearts and in our lives, because the apostle Peter says in verse 9, the GOOD NEWS:

“…you receive the result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

THIS TYPE OF JOY IS CONTAGIOUS:

This type of JOY is infectious.  Others want to know why you possess that much JOY.  You can tell them when they ask,  It’s because God sent His Son to die on the cross for my sins.  I’m forgiven.  And not only that…after JESUS died, God raised Him back to life!  And He has promised to do the same for me.”

God Has Provided the Provisions Necessary.

God has given us the 4-Basic Elements needed for Christian survival in the wilderness; life in the real world.  And as professing Christians, we possess:

1.  AN EVER-LIVING HOPE!

2.  AN INVALUABLE INHERITANCE!

3.  A PRECIOUS FAITH!

4.  AN INEXPRESSIBLE JOY!

Survival Kit

Your Bible is your Christian first-aid SURVIVAL KIT:  The provisions contained in God’s Word which will carry us through life’s trials that we daily face.  You know that it there, so open up it up!

The ‘TSUNAMI’ EFFECT!!

Revelation 9:1-11

“THEN THE fifth angel blew [his] trumpet…and to the angel was given the key of the shaft of the Abyss (the bottomless pit).  HE OPENED the long shaft of the Abyss and smoke like the smoke of a huge furnace puffed out of the long shaft, so the sun and the atmosphere were darkened by the smoke from the long shaft.  Then out of the smoke LOCUST CAME FORTH on the earth, and such POWER was granted them as the power the earth’s scorpions have.” ~ Revelation 9:1-3 AMPLIFIED Bible.

Buckle Up Your Seat Belts–it’s going to be quite a ride!

Although the picture I inserted is from the movie THE ABYSS, it gives some clues into some images of eschatology in the Bible.  My intent and focus of this blog is to perk your interest, not to school you on end-times prophecy.  So here we go and buckle up your seat belts!

What is a TSUNAMI?

According to Dictionary.com: Waves that are created by ground disturbances, such as earthquakes.  They happen deep under water in the ocean…and they can devastate coastal areas.  How does this relate to the Abyss and to September 11th?  First of all, the above title states 9:11 (Revelation 9:11), not 9/11.  Although…the events that occurred just might have been a beginning of a great “disturbance”; a tremor in the “Day of the Lord” but not the event that occurred at the Twin Towers.

Revelation 1: 10–“The Lord’s Day”:

The apostle John was in exile on the island of Patmos where he was given in a vision, a glimpse of the end of the age; which is called the “Day of the Lord” in Old and New Testament Scripture.

Zephaniah 1:18 says, “Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s indignation and wrath…”

GOD will punish humanity in their proud, selfish and sinful ways and their refusal to acknowledge Him as the true and only God.  “But I thought God loved everyone?”  He does, that’s who He is!  But He is also a righteous God!! I love my children, but when they were small they WERE punished for the wrong doings.

The PUNISHMENTS and the ABYSS:

The release of the wicked demons and fallen angels locked in the Abyss.  The BIBLE teaches the Abyss is a ‘spirit prison’– (Luke 8:31; 1 Peter 3:19; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).

In the Abyss, fallen angels are bound in “everlasting chains under darkness” waiting “for the judgement of the great day.”  Oh by the way…it doesn’t matter whether you believe in the “Abyss” or a place for “fallen angels and “demons.”

It is kind of like the line in the movie “A Few Good Men”; with the dialogue between Tom Cruse and Jack Nicolson:

USMC Major Nathan Jessop (Nicolson): “You want answers?!!”

Cruse:  “I want the TRUTH!!”

Nicolson:  “You can’t handle the TRUTH!!”

THE “TRUTH IS”… GOD’S WORD; SCRIPTURE; YOUR BIBLE!”

But in the meantime….an intriguing character is introduced:

“Over them [locust and scorpion-like, demons and fallen angels] as king they have the angel of the Abyss (of the bottomless pit).  In Hebrew his name is Abaddon [destruction], but in Greek he is called Apollyon [destroyer]”  Revelation 9:11.

THE ‘FALLEN ANGEL’ THAT’S LOCKED UP IN THE ABYSS:

There is a ‘fallen angel‘ now residing and locked up in the bottomless pit who is himself –THE (Greek definite article of speech) KING of the demonic Locusts and his name is ABADDON in the Hebrew language; in the Greek tongue his name is APOLLYON.

However, what I noticed about this name was this is NOT this demonic spirit’s actual name, but rather his occupational/vocational name–DESTRUCTION!

What is Apollyon/Abaddon’s Destructive Mission?

To ruin and destroy by all manner and means possible ; the very fabric of LIFE itself and those commodities that are essential to support life as we know it–that’s what LOCUSTS do!

The Capabilities of the Abyss Locust (Revelation 9:4-10):

Before I give you the locust’s abilities presented in Scripture of Revelation 9, let me reveal what I found in the Old Testament; about the Locusts in the plagues of Egypt as a correlation:

“Then the Lord said to Moses,  Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up on the land of Egypt and eat all the vegetation of the land, all that the hail has left.  [13] And Moses stretched for his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night; when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.  [14] And the locust came up over all the land of Egypt and settled down on the whole country of Egypt, a very dreadful mass of them; never before were there such locusts as these, nor will there ever be again.  [15] For they covered the whole land, so that the ground was darkened, and they ate every bit of the vegetation of the land and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left; there remained not a green thing of the trees or the plants of the field in all the land of Egypt”  (Exodus 10:12-15 AMP).

Now look back at the difference in Revelation 9:

1.  The locusts were told NOT to injure the herbage of the earth nor any green thing nor any tree (verse 4).

2.  The locusts were told NOT to kill those who were attacked; just to torment the people under their torture (verse 5).

3.  The locusts had unique tails; they were as a scorpion, stinging them not once but for a period of 5 months (verses 5-6).

What John saw and what he tried to explain.

Many modern day scholars attempted to state with absolute certainty, that these locusts represented “helicopters” or some other weapon of war.  While this all may be true, and I tend to lean this way myself, it’s just possible, they may be some sort of living creatures.  Now I’m not positive that a helicopter or a weapon of war fits the descriptions given in Revelation 9, although chemical warfare could come into play as the “torment” for the last five months in verse 5.  Just saying.

THE “SEAL” (MARK) OF GOD AS PROTECTION AGAINST THE ENEMY’S STING!

Who were the SEALED?  In the Greek language, the word is esphragismenon, perfect passive participle; ones having been sealed.

Whatever your views are on the tribulation, Scripture informs us that some sort of SEAL will identify the protected.

The SEAL identifies those who are set apart with special protection in the middle of God’s judgements.  We don’t know WHEN the events will occur but we do know they WILL HAPPEN and since God’s timing is different from what we might think, it could start tomorrow; even while you are reading this blog.

This MARK “denotes ownership which carries with it protection of the owner” [A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Fredrick Dunker and Walter Bauer].

In this case…GOD!

This SEAL may not be visible to man but it’s evident to God, the angels and to demons disguised in the forms of LOCUSTS, or demon-pilots in helicopters, will carry forth His judgements.

There Is A Similarity to the Sealing of Believers Today.

That sealing comes when believers are baptized into the body of Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; Eph. 4:30).

The COMMAND ‘do not hurt or kill them‘ implies: after the ‘sealing’ is finished, the judgements that are next will come.

The Apostle Paul Asks An Important Question:

“I Ask then: Has God totally rejected and disowned His people?  Of course not! Why, I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin!    No, God has not rejected and disowned His people [whose destiny] He had marked out and appointed and foreknown from the beginning…”  (Romans 11:1-2 AMP).

Paul continues in verse 5-7“So too at the present time there is a remnant (a small believing minority), selected (chosen) by grace (by God’s unmerited favor and graciousness).  But if it is by grace, it is no longer conditioned on works or anything men have done.  Otherwise, grace would no longer be grace [it would be meaningless].  What then [shall we conclude]?  Israel failed to obtain what it sought [God’s favor by obedience to the Law].  Only the elect (those chosen few) obtained it, while the rest of them became callously indifferent (blinded, hardened, and made insensible to it).”

Paul doesn’t leave Israels fate here!

“And so all Israel will be saved…” ~ Romans 11:26.

KING OF THE BOTTOMLESS PIT:

In covering this passage (verse 11), I had to investigate numerous other Scriptures to be considered and to correct many misconceptions.

Abaddon/Apollyon, are they now on the world scene?

Some today have taught in the past that Abaddon was Saddam Hussein.  Today…well today it is the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But in the Bible, it says that until the 5th Trumpet sounds, this “angel of the Abyss (the bottomless pit)” is exactly where the Bible says he is: THE ABYSS.  The shocking reality of this angel is disturbing when my investigation compared other Scriptures:  [Revelation 11:7; Rev.13:4, 8; Rev.17:8, Rev.17:11, 17:13].  When the descriptions are compared to the BEAST, there should be no doubt that the BEAST are the one in the same; Abaddon/Apollyon.

This Was But A Glimpse Into the Future.

Did I get your attention of world affairs going on in the ‘right now’?  To be honest, that was only a small part of why the Lord led me in my Bible detective investigation.  The FUTURE can be the next year, the next month, the next day, the next hour, minute and second.  The question is where will you be when the 5th Trumpet Sounds?

GOD KEEPS GOOD RECORDS–

GOD knows His own family:

“And if ANYONE’S [name] was not found recorded in the Book of Life, he was hurled into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

My wife spent over four months before Christmas 2011, to compile a THOMPSON and PAGAN (her maiden name) in a family tree for each one of our three children.  It included old pictures, family photos of group gatherings, mementos (a saved strand of hair from our oldest daughter’s first hair cut), etc…  All three of our children exclaimed: “it was the best Christmas gift ever given from mom and dad.”

The Book of Life is a set of names.

Names of those in the family of God who will live with their heavenly Father forever in heaven.  It is a ‘roll call’ of those who our SAVED (Rev. 3:5; 20:12; Phil. 4:3).    This same Book is also called the Lamb’s Book of Life because it contains the names of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, Lord Jesus (Rev. 13:8; 21:27).

You’re maybe asking yourself, after reading this blog, “I don’t want to be caught by a ‘TSUNAMI’, where the SMOKE rises up like a wave from the Abyss and the sun and the atmosphere are darkened by the smoke from the long shaft”              (Revelation 9:2).

The ‘TSUNAMI’ Effect

If your name is written down in the Book of Life…you will be SAVED; not for awhile but for eternity.  So you better be sure of your salvation by repenting of sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as you own personal savior.

Once your name is written down in the Book, it will never be erased! (Rev. 3:5; Rom. 8:37-39).  No true believer should doubt their eternal security in Christ (John 10:28-30).

“…for the time when things are brought to a crisis and the period of their fulfillment is near” (Revelation 22:10).

“He Who gives this warning and affirms and testifies to theses things says, Yes (it is true).  [Surely] I (Jesus) am coming quickly (swiftly, speedily).  Amen (so let it be)!  Yes, come, Lord Jesus”  (Revelation 22:20).

“Shhh!” And Then There Was SILENCE

SILENCE IN THE HEAVENS

THIS IS NOT A BIBLE STUDY IN THE “ESCHATOLOGY” OF THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS!

ESCHATOLOGY, if you need a reminder or you just don’t know, is defined by Dictionary.com as,

“Any system of doctrines concerning last or final matters,

as death, then judgement, the future state.”

‘I was on the island of Patmos due to persecution’ writes John ‘but I was in the Spirit’ ~ Revelation 1:10.

In the Greek language, Egenomen en pneumatio’, literally translated– ‘I came in the Spirit’, not… “I was sitting in Church one morning, when I suddenly found myself in the Spirit–but ‘I came to be in the Spirit.  I actively pressed in.’  

How did John press in?  He prayed!

The Book Of Revelation is a Mixture of Vision and Prayer.

I have been reading in the mornings of late in the Book of revelation.  I came to Chapter 8 this morning and read intently on John’s vision of The Seven Trumpet Judgments.  Eschatology has always been interesting to me in the past, thus, I have several notations written in my Bible’s margins including Scripture references [I write a lot in my Bible as reminders later].

But this time reading through the chapter, I kept returning to Revelation 8:1-3.  That was my clue from Holy Spirit to concentrate my detective work, not on the corresponding judgements to be revealed but on the SILENCE before–for about a half an hour.

Why is there SILENCE, and for half of an hour?

The entire Book of Revelation is a mixture of vision and prayer.  John deals with this issue with power, picturesque and in a practical way.  He reminded his persecuted people to PRAY.

WHEN HE [the Lamb] broke open the seventh seal,

there was silence for about half an hour in heaven.” ~ Revelation 8:1 ~

In The Early Church…

When the early church prayed, they actually believed that God was listening.  And when Jesus had opened the Seventh Seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

Reading Commentator after Commentator…

In reading various commentaries regarding Revelation 8:1, many will tell you the “silence in Heaven” is a mystery!  BUT in my detective investigation of God’s Word, I find that the text indicates, as the prayers of the saints rise before Him–it’s like God saying ‘HUSH’ ; to the creatures who cry Holy, Holy, Holy He says ‘HUSH’; to the twenty-four elders who praise Him continually, He says ‘HUSH’; to the thousands of angels who serve Him perpetually, He says, ‘HUSH’–rendering heaven completely silent.

It’s as though God is saying, “At this moment in time, nothing else has My attention but the PRAYERS being offered to Me.  I don’t want to miss a single word.”  Does that thought sound a little too dramatic for your liking?

A Cacophony of Noise that Surrounds Us.

Because of the harsh sounds in our everyday world, we don’t hear each other very well.  We talk a lot but we don’t listen effectively; we converse, but we don’t understand.  There is one exception on which I can give a personal testimony when my wife and I were dating 48 years ago.

“UNCLE SUSIE’S”

Uncle Susie’s was a 24/7 restaurant in San Diego, California back in the 60’s.  When Dianne and I were dating, after a movie would drop by the family friendly restaurant for a late night treat.  Looking back on those times and events now, I wonder how two people can sit in a crowded, noisy restaurant and converse as though there’s no one else around.  I recognize today, it was because that the ‘two people’ were totally in love!

Like A ‘Laser Light’.

That’s the idea here in Revelation 8, verse one: ‘I’m passionately in love with the child speaking to Me,’ says God, ‘I don’t want to miss a word he’s/she’s saying.’  So like a laser light, fixing His full attention on the person’s offering, the simplest of prayers, God listens.

PRAYERS MIXED WITH INCENSE (Revelation 8:3):

“And another angel came and stood over the altar.  He had a golden censer, and he was given very much incense (fragrant spices and gums which exhale perfume when burned), that he might mingle (mix) it with the prayers of all the people of God (the saints) upon the golden altar before the throne.”  ~ Amplified Bible.

The PRAYER which causes silence throughout all of heaven… is mixed with much incense.

Throughout Scripture, INCENSE speaks of intercession.  Hebrews 7:25 says that Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, lives to make intercession on our behalf.  In other words, the incense of Jesus’ intercession for the saints sweetens our prayers.

My prayers can ‘stink’.

My prayers can stink because they’re tainted, contaminated by my flesh.  If I ask for something in prayer that I think is good, but Jesus knowing my heart knows my request would have disastrous results says,  ‘Father, this is how Mel is praying, but what he really means is …’   Knowing our heart, Jesus perfumes our sometimes clumsy prayers through His intercessory ministry.

“Interesting Study,” you might be thinking at this point.

You might be saying right now, “But I’ve been SAVED for a while now.  Oh, I’m not saying God doesn’t listen to prayer generally–just that He doesn’t hear MY prayers specifically.”

–‘My marriage was on the rocks,’ or…

–‘My wife had cancer,’ or…

–‘My business was going bankrupt, so I prayed and prayed and prayed–and nothing happened!’

–‘What you’ve said up to now might be fine theoretically, but it doesn’t play that way for me!’

If you feel that way, you’re not alone.  Turn to the Gospel of Luke:

“In the days when Herod was king of Judea there was certain priest whose name was Zachariah, of the daily service (the division) of Abia; and his wife was also a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.    And they both were righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all commandments and requirements of the Lord.    But they had no child, for Elizabeth was barren; and both were far advanced in age”  (Luke 1:5-7 AMP).

Because barrenness was considered a curse, Zachariah and Elizabeth were considered sinful in the eyes of the community.  Although God deemed them “righteous”, others believed there was a defect in their ‘religiosity’.  This being the case, perhaps the married couple lived out their lives brokenhearted, wondering what was wrong.

‘But there’s more!  LUKE 1:11-13:

“And there appeared to him (Zachariah) an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.    And when Zachariah saw him, he was troubled, and fear took possession of him.    But the angel said to him,  Do not be afraid, Zachariah, because your petition was heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you must call his name John [God is favorable].”  (AMP)

‘What a prayer?’

Zachariah must have asked at this point.  ‘Prayer for a son?  I stopped praying for a son thirty years ago!’

Do you understand the implication?

This verse tells us God remembers even the prayers we forget.  ‘Give us a son’ they both prayed.  They heard nothing day after week, after month after year.  All because God wanted to give them more than just a son.

God’s Plan?

His plan was to give them the Herald for His own Son (Matthew 11:11).

GOD’S ‘TO DO’ BOX!

As I was studying and meditating on God’s Word for this particular blog, I slowly began to understand that my prayers, my petitions remain in the Lord’s ‘To Do’ box.  Even though I may have given up hope on God’s answer years ago.

Mixed with Sweet Incense.

Along with prayers mingled with perfumed incensed of Jesus’ interceding on our behalf; they simmer on the altar until God answers them, in a way we would have dared to dream (Ephesians 3:20).

God doesn’t PROCRASTINATE.

Have you ever thought to yourself, ‘I’ve got to stop procrastinating and I will begin the next week in the effort.  I promise!’ 

God doesn’t procrastinate when we offer up our prayers to Him.  The delay in answered prayer isn’t forgetfulness on our Father’s part but to His desire to exceed even in our wildest imagination.  As David says in the Psalms,  “SELAH”  [pause, and calmly think of that]!~ Psalm 4:1.

‘Shhh,’ says God.

‘My child is praying!’  And at the right time–maybe today, maybe next week, maybe ten years down the road, maybe a half a century later–the answer will rock our world!