The NAYSAYERS and SCOFFERS ABOUND!

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Scripture Text For This BLOG:  2 PETER 3:3-5 

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“ALL MATTERS FOR CHRISTIAN FAITH AND PRACTICE ARE FOUND IN THE BIBLE.”

Any “scoffers”, disbelievers yet?

Peter’s Critical Warning to Christian Believers – VERSE 3

This warning is to the church, of the SCOFFERS & NAYSAYERS that are here already, and the ones who are on their way.

The great turning point that divides mankind in two different groups are those who accept this Book, the Bible, and those who reject it.

It’s critical to know that in the LAST DAYS, there will be mockers of God’s Truth.

12716866_1129933190373473_1572461181_nIn the LAST DAYS, not only will God’s word be rejected, people will mock it!  They will disrespect or mock the TRUTH OF CHRIST JESUS by using their own misinterpretation that they want to be as the truth.

They scoff at God’s Word, not knowing that this very scoffing fulfills Bible prophecy.

Even though these people have always existed to threaten the church from its earliest days, their ungodly activity will increase in “the last days,” that period of time preceding Christ’s second coming.

Peter, John, Jude and Paul all make reference to the increase of false teachers, warning the church with passion not to be alarmed (1 John 2:18; Jude 18-19; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).  

This contempt of the Scripture, God’s Word, and the terrible apostasy [from within the “church”] was also predicted by JESUS.  There was a question put by our LORD Jesus – Luke 18:8:

“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” 

This scoffing at God’s TRUTH is the expected from this world’s system with one heresy leading to another, drawing mankind further and further away from their Creator.

Self-Willed People Will Doubt the Coming Again of Jesus – VERSE 4:

[4]  “Where is the promise of His coming?  For since the forefathers fell asleep, all things have continued exactly as they did from the beginning of creation.”

THE IMPLICATION:

“THERE IS NO SECOND COMING, we can live any way we want.  A loving God will never judge us.”

A Few EXAMPLES of Today’s Mockers and Scoffers of God’s Word:

Since America is right in the middle of a political season, a lot of ‘out of the heart’ statements (Proverbs 4:23) are being voiced.  Let me give you two examples.  One from a POLITICIAN and one from a PASTOR:

Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader (D. Calif.) says,

“Hillary Clinton faces an uphill climb with white men because they are more influenced by hot-button social issues that they are by economic arguments because of guns, because of gays, and because of God, the three G’s.”  [Free Republic – PBS NewsHour interview.]

“Because of God”?  Really?  That’s a bad thing?

Erwin McManus, the lead pastor at Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, gives his views on what today’s Church should be:

“The church must acclimate to a changing world, or she will decline herself to irrelevance or even extinction…One of those dramatic changes in our environment is the shift from words to images.  To do church in a way that is entirely text driven is the kiss of death.”  [Erwin McManus “An Unstoppable Force, pg. 18]

Now that is interesting view, especially since the apostles taught just the opposite {Titus 1:9; Romans 16:17-18].  

Those who mock and reject God’s written word–that our existence is the way it always has been since the beginning of CREATION or, in the case of most, since we evolved.  The intent of their remarks is…there is no reason to be concerned about pursuing righteousness or about God’s punishment for unrighteousness.  

These people pursue their own lusts, scoffing at the idea that  a “loving God” wouldn’t judge them.  They foolishly claim that Christ was never going to return and that there is no such thing as a final accounting of God.

This was the attitude of some people surrounding the churches in the northern part of Asia Minor, the area of the world that Peter had sent his letters to.

Peter’s Validation –

People persistently IGNORE the OBVIOUS!!

VERSES 5 & 6 answers the previous arguments by reviewing ancient history:

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Scoffers, Naysayers reasoning is faulty.  If they don’t believe that EXISTENCE came into being by the Word of God, then all their reasoning is based on unsound evidence.  Here’s an example I found online (Google Image Search – Atheism):

THE SCOFFERS deliberately and “willingly” forget that God’s Word brought creation into existence and that He desires men to acknowledge it.  When the lives of these people MOCK God, willfully forget that God created EVERYTHING that exists.  God’s WORD created the Heavens and the Earth  (John 1:1-3 AMP):

[1]  IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.  [2] He was present originally with God.  [3] All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being.

And yet, NAYSAYERS deny that God CREATED the world in the beginning and deny that God would JUDGE the world at its conclusion.

CREATION though, was all due to the divine WORD of God:  “And God said…and God saw!” (Genesis 1).

There is no evolutionary concept of creation with the events taking place over millions or billions of years.

A DIRECT INTERVENTION BY GOD –

VERSE 6, is a direct intervention by God in the course of human history, “through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.”

The SCOFFERS’ claim is short-sighted and ignorant because they ignore the FACT that things haven’t continued as they were from the beginning.

In the previous verse, PETER stated that the UNIVERSE and all contained within it was created by the Word of God.

Now, PETER informs us that by the same WORD…JUDGMENT was rendered upon every living being in response to humanity’s WICKEDNESS.

He reminds us of the NAYSAYERS, the SCOFFERS, the MOCKERS of Noah’s day–decade after decade by his friends and neighbors as he was building the Ark.

Genesis 6-7 gives us clues that it took approximately 75 years to completion [Answers In Genesis – How Long Did It Take for Noah to Build the Ark?].  So imagine your neighbors laughing, jeering, thumbing their noses at you while working on a special project in your front yard after a few short years, much less 55-75 years!

Eventually, the collapse of the water canopy surrounding the earth caused RAIN to fall for the first time and the bursting forth of the underground water system resulted in a world-wide FLOOD.

2 Peter 3.6

In other words, people shouldn’t rely on false assumptions that God has little or nothing to do with the WORLD He created.  Instead, people must realize that by His WORD, He can create anything that He desires, and by His WORD, He can destroy anything that He has created!

GOD’S JUDGMENT (VERSE 7)

“But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been stored up (reserved) for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly people.”  [Amplified Bible]

“By the same WORD”, meaning the Word of God that brought existence into being (verse 5), and brought the watery destruction in Noah’s day (verse 6), by the same WORD, God also sustains His creation.

Moreover, there is a specific limitation to this world’s existence according to the sovereign will of Almighty God.  The POWER of the WORD which sustains ALL living things will one day release the FIRE of His JUDGMENT upon the world.

Over the years, I have heard people around me make jokes about God’s impending JUDGMENT.  I have seen cartoonist draw their caricatures of prophets of doom. But you can take this to the bank, on the fact that just as the world was flooded with water in days of old, it will one day be burned with FIRE  [Read Revelation 19:20; 20:10-15.  Isaiah 51:6; 66:15-16 and Malachi 4:10]. 

And at that time, the earth as we know it, will undergo a far greater impact of God than water.

The JUDGMENT OF FIRE refers to the day when God will come to judge the earth and destroy ALL evil!  (This is called the Day of the Lord in the Old Testament.)

The Lord Jesus will intervene in history by His second advent (coming) to institute His kingdom on earth.

In spite that the Lord hasn’t yet returned, the HOPE of His return is a present reality for those of us who are BELIEVERS–BORN AGAIN!!

The FLOOD and the future renovation of the earth by FIRE should remind us that God accomplishes what He purposes, and He has declared that Jesus Christ will come again (Acts 1:11). 

Since man lost his RIGHTEOUSNESS and renounced the image of God that created him, there is no way he can escape the horrors of the JUDGMENT DAY.

All will perish because of their own SIN and their defiance of their Creator and rejecting their only Savior.  Only those in Jesus Christ escape this punishment.

Remember, “The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord”  (Romans 6:23).

As surely as there is SALVATION for the believer, there is terrible JUDGMENT for the Naysayer, the Scoffer, scorner, and ungodly.

God has the end in mind and in sight!  God’s judgment is a call for the unbeliever to examine his sinful condition, and for the believer to be consistently obedient to His WORD.

 


CREDITS:

Photos:  Google Image Search, using Scripture verses.

Bible Translations:  Amplified (AMP), unless noted.

There’s Actually Something Else More Important Than Ketchup?

Carly Simon wrote the song, “Anticipation” in 1971.  I’m hearing the tune play in my head as I begin this blog.  

Carly said she wrote this song about Cat Stevens while she was waiting for him to pick her up for their first date.  

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In the late 70’s…this same song was made famous by a Heinz Ketchup commercial. Heinz Ketchup is thick and pours slowly.  In the commercial, a young boy would be shown waiting patiently for the ketchup to come out of the bottle as the chorus of “Anticipation” played in the background.

Our Bible TEXT:  JAMES 5:7-11

Well, I know something else that is more worth waiting for than KETCHUP.

It’s the day when:

  • In the twinkling of an eye…
  • That trumpet will sound…
  • We will see the One riding a white horse whose name is faithful and true…
  • The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords will return to take us home!

Until that day comes, we must WAIT–BE PATIENT in waiting for the Lord, because it will be worth the wait!

JAMES tells us in verses 7-8,

The Message bible:

A_Little_More_Patience[7] [8]  “Meanwhile friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work.  Be patient like that.  Stay steady and strong.  The Master could arrive at any time.”

 

In VERSE 7, James says, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the LORD’S coming!”  

“BE PATIENT” comes from a compound of “long” and “temper” – [Bible Knowledge Commentary.]  

The idea I received from James’ letter, is Setting the timer for a long run; Focus on the final lap in the race of life; Look ahead to the Lord’s coming.

Even though he doesn’t state it that way exactly, another side of this that I believe James is getting at:

DON’T BECOME IMPATIENT!

In other words, do not lose heart; don’t get discouraged; never give up!

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (AMP):

[7] I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race.  I have kept (firmly held) the faith.

[8] [As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day–and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return).

The world, and yes, even some churches, have tried to tell us Jesus’ return is fiction (the “preterist” view).  But we should know that when God makes a PROMISE…He keeps it!

We know and keep heart, that the RETURN of Christ Jesus is being delayed to give more people a chance to respond to the GOSPEL message.

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV):

[8] But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

[9] The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

JAMES tells us instead to be like the farmer who waits expectantly for the precious harvest from the land.  

(Verse 7) “[See how] he keeps up his patient [vigil] over it until it receives the early and late rains.”  

The early and late rains of Autumn and Spring.

The first germinates the SEED and the second MATURES it.  The farmer may wonder if he is ever going to see the FRUIT of his labor, but he waits patiently until he receives the HARVEST and the financial benefits that come with it.

The Coming of the Lord is at Hand!

JAMES tells us that we should be like a farmer (verse 8).

Believers are to allow the assurance of Christ’s return to help them be PATIENT and take courage.

Whatever the circumstances, JAMES is encouraging us to be rock solid in our FAITH; to have a faith-inspired JOY that interweaves every part of our lives.  Like the farmer, we invest in a long time future HOPE.

  • We need to stand firm; to strengthen; to take courage; to stand firm in one’s mind.
  • We must set our hearts upon the LORD’S RETURN, for His return is near!

The idea is that it is drawing ever so close and it can happen at any moment.  So we must focus, set our hearts upon His return–be looking for it every day just as the farmer looks for the great day of harvest.

Now I am not suggesting that we all just sit around, waiting for Jesus to return, but we should live with the realization, that time is short and we have important work to get done.

Keith Green, a songwriter, singer, during the mid to late 70’s, wrote a song entitled To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice with this beginning lyric:

“You say that I am coming back soon, but you act like I’ll never return”

We must not be like the “wicked servant” who hid his master’s talent in the ground, but until He comes, we must be about the Master’s business.

JESUS is coming soon, so we must be about the business of the kingdom; reaching lost souls for Christ’s sake and not our own!

We Also Must Be PATIENT with one another (verse 9):

LIVING BIBLE (TLB), says it this way:

[9] “Don’t grumble about each other, brothers.  Are you yourselves above criticism? For see, the great Judge is coming!  He is almost here.  Let Him do, whatever criticizing must be done.”

JAMES, in verse 9, says “Don’t grumble about each other”.  Most people, I think, knows what GRUMBLING means, but perhaps a reminder might be appropriate here.

Google’s online dictionary:  [1] “complain or protest about something in a bad-tempered but typically muted way.”

OUCH!

a37f21ba274e26480a1ee3c64c041f67How many times have I used the synonyms associated with “grumbling” about someone, or something within the body of Christ:  bellyaching, beef, bitching, griping…  

“Grumbling” against one another indicates a careless attitude of speech.

Jesus tells us, in Matthew 5:22,

“But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment.  If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court.  And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell”  (NLT)

And as a side-note of emphasis:  If your bible translation uses the word “Raca”– the Jews used it as a word of contempt; it is derived from a root meaning “to spit”.

Finding yourself grumbling after a Sunday morning service? 

“The pastor’s message left me flat”–you just “spit” on your pastor.

“OUCH”, again!!

The JUDGE Stands at the Door –

JAMES tells us that our major concern about this kind of behavior is “the Judge standeth before the door” (KJV).

If we believe that JESUS could come at any minute, in the twinkling of an eye, then we don’t want Him to find us doing what He commanded us not to do!

The JUDGE is not far away, but He’s standing at the front door.

The knowledge of Christ’s presence not only is comforting, it can also be convicting–especially when we begin behaving as if he were far away:

  • When the LORD comes, let Him catch us doing His will.
  • When the LORD comes, let Him catch us obeying His Word.
  • When the LORD comes, let Him catch us doing what is right.

We Must Be PATIENT Like the Prophets of Old (verses 10-11)

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VERSE 10 (AMP):

“[As] an example of suffering and ill-treatment together with patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord [as His messengers].”

Part of JAMES’ point here is that God doesn’t preserve FROM suffering those He has called, rather, He PRESERVES them IN suffering.  

They, the Prophets of old, are an example to all believers because of their obedience and faithfulness, despite the hardships they endured.

PATIENCE OF JOB –

Now Job may have complained, but he did not stop trusting and obeying God [SEE Job 23:10-14].

And the LORD did restore him!

I particularly noticed in study, how James, in verse 11, gives encouragement to his readers–

“…and you have seen the Lord’s end, inasmuch as the Lord

is full of pity and compassion and tenderness and mercy.”

The LORD’S “end” or goal, is for us to grow in FAITH & CHARACTER through it all!

Through, or “IN” our difficulties we encounter.

God doesn’t enjoy watching us going through ‘stuff’–SUFFERINGS.  He allows each one of us to FACE PAIN, physical or spiritual, because a greater good will be produced EVEN THOUGH we don’t always see it!

In the meantime, JAMES is encouraging us to…

TRUST IN GOD,

WAIT PATIENTLY and remember,

GOD’S TENDERNESS AND MERCY!

In what area do you need PATIENCE today?

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV):

[31] But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles;

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…they will run and not grow weary,

…they will walk and not be faint.


CREDITS:

Bible Knowledge Commentary.

Keith Green – To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice Lyrics @ http://www.metrolyrics.com

Google Online Dictionary.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations Used:  Amplified (AMP); The MESSAGE; New Living Translation (NLT); New International Version (NIV); King James Version (KJV).

Finding Answers to the 4 “W’s” of WORSHIP and More!

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IS WORSHIP BORING AT TIMES? 

I love stories that can bring out an emphasis in a bible study, and this blog is no exception:

A little boy asked his mother if she could remember the highest number she ever counted to.  The mother didn’t know so she asked him about his highest number.  Without hesitation, “5,372”.  The mother was puzzled and ask him why he stopped at that particular one.  The boy responded, “Well…church was over.”

The Aspects of Worshipping:

The idea of our WORSHIP being boring, to me, is an OXYMORON, or self-contradicting phrase.

The word itself comes from “oxus”, meaning sharp–and “moros” which means dull or stupidity.  [See Footnote [i].]

Some examples of my favorite OXYMORONS would be:

  • Jumbo shrimp.
  • Freezer burn.
  • White chocolate.
  • Plastic silverware.
  • Sanitary landfill.
  • Airline food.

Another self-contradicting phrase is BORING WORSHIP.

I found some interesting surveys in my research this past week, saying when people are asked why they don’t attend church, they often replied church is too boring.

While I recognize that sometimes a church service can seem dull, especially to a non-Christian attendee, my suggestion to all is, TRUE WORSHIP is anything but boring.

The Essence of True Worship –

The very essence of what WORSHIP is, doesn’t allow us to be bored.

When we come before the Majestic God of the Universe, who has created everything and done amazing things in our lives everyday, how can we not break out in adoration?

Most importantly, WORSHIP must lead us to a response.  If we don’t respond, when we don’t rejoice and the reverence of who we are worshipping, we risk becoming hardened before Him.

A PSALM OF WORSHIP – 

I love reading in the Psalms, and because of my long musical background in singing, one Psalm in particular stands out to me presenting the basic criteria of TRUE WORSHIPPING.

PSALM 96 (KJV):

[1] O SING unto the LORD a NEW SONG; sing unto the LORD, all the earth.

[2] Sing unto the LORD, bless His name, show forth His salvation from day to day.

[3] Declare His glory among the heathen [“the nations” – NIV bible], His wonders among all people.

[4] For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.  [See Rev. 14:7; Deut. 6:5]

[5] For all the gods of the nations are idols; but the LORD made the heavens.

[6] Honour and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

[7] Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.

[8] Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts.

[9] O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness; fear before Him, all the earth.

[10] Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth; the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved; He shall judge the people righteously.

[11] Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.

[12] Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.

[13] Before the LORD; for He cometh, for He cometh to judge the earth; He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth.

A Song of Worship –

PSALM 96 is based upon David’s anthem of ADORATION as found in 1 Chronicles 16; when the Ark of the Covenant is brought to its resting place.

If you take the time to compare the TWO SONGS, you’ll find as I did, there are a lot of repeated phrases.

The Call to SING SONGS and Break Out Into PRAISE (verses 1-3):

The verses can be read here in context of Christ’s Second Coming and glorious reign.

We SING not just because of the past and the present but because we know what is coming in the future.

When singing in choirs years ago, I always loved the words to the Praise Song, “Coming Again!”;  

Coming Again,  Coming Again!  Maybe morning, Maybe noon, Maybe evening and Maybe soon…”

It always made me reflect on the exactness of the lyrics’ motivation to praise–Jesus is coming again!

FIRST OF THE 4 W’s:  What is Worship?

TO WORSHIP means to “fall on your face or bow down,” and is found more than 170 times in the Bible.

All who are true worshippers, must WORSHIP God in “spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).

That is, TRUE WORSHIP must take place on the inside–the HEART & SPIRIT of the worshipper.  WORSHIP pleasing to God must be with sincere feelings and transparent to His “Worth-ship.”  

We then are to recognize our place before God Almighty and acknowledge His worthiness…His “worth-ship” before us.

So, how should we WORSHIP?

  • With MUSIC  (Verse 1).
  • With PROCLAMATION  (Verse 2); The MESSAGE Bible says, “to shout the news of victory”.
  • By GIVING GOD THE GLORY   (Verse 8).
  • By BRINGING AN OFFERING (Verse 8).
  • By COMING INTO HIS COURTS  (Verse 8).
  • By LIVING HOLY LIVES  (Verse 9).
  • And, by WITNESSING FOR HIM  (Verse 10).

THE SECOND OF THE 4 W’s:  The “Why’s” of WORSHIP:

  • BECAUSE God SAVED US  (Verse 2)
  • BECAUSE of His GREATNESS and His FEARSOMENESS  (Verse 4)
  • BECAUSE of His POWER  (Verse 5)
  • BECAUSE of His SPLENDOR, MAJESTY, STRENGTH, and BEAUTY  (Verse 6)
  • BECAUSE God is RIGHTEOUS and TRUE and He is coming to JUDGE.

THE THIRD OF THE 4 W’s:  The “Where’s” of WORSHIP:

  • We are to WORSHIP the LORD among the nations  (Verse 3)
  • We are to WORSHIP in His Sanctuary  (Verse 6)
  • We are to WORSHIP in His courts  (Verse 8)

THE FOURTH OF THE W’s:  The “When’s” of WORSHIP:

VERSE 2 calls us to SING & PROCLAIM (“shout out”) His SALVATION…”day after day.”

So there you have it, FOUR ANSWERS to some common questions that will arise in conversation about WORSHIP.

BUT, there’s more to understand.

FOUR ESSENTIALS OF WORSHIP:

#1. EXALT His Name –

Looking closely at Verses 1-2 above, we are called to SING to the LORD three different times.

When something is repeated in triplicate in Scripture, it is done to get our attention.  Much like “Holy, Holy, Holy” in Isaiah 6:3.

Why Singing & Shouting?

Singing to the Holy Trinity started way back at creation in Job 38:7, where we read

“When the morning stars SANG together and all the sons of God SHOUTED for joy”

There has been singing & shouting from the beginning of time with more singing at the end of the age in Revelation 15:3–The Song of the Lamb:

“And they SANG the song of Moses the servant of God and the SONG OF THE LAMB, saying,  Mighty and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God the Omnipotent! Righteous (just) and true are Your ways, O Sovereign of the ages (King of the nations)!  [Amplified Bible]

In the meantime, we are CALLED to SING to the Lord as we wait for JESUS’ return.

SINGING A NEW SONG –

I also noticed in my investigation, the importance of singing a “NEW SONG” to the Lord.

The word “NEW” can mean something that is brand new and also can mean, “delighted, precious and exquisite.”

When something is NEW, it is fresh.  If all we sing is “Kumbaya” type songs every time we’re in church, then the chances are good, we’re not growing and experiencing fresh insights from the LORD.  Remember, it is NOT our WORSHIP, it is HIS!

New Hymns and New Praise Songs Are ESSENTIAL to WORSHIP –

Nobody I think, enjoys singing the harmonies of the old hymns of the past, more than I. However, NEW SONGS are essential to meet the ever-varying manifestations of God’s character.

In the last part of Psalm 96:1. “all the earth”, we are to break out into song, EXALTING–lifting Him up–for who He is and what He has done.

The Call to Worship…

The call to worship to SING, was not limited to Israel but was intended for all the earth.

The Book of Revelation gives us further insight in Rev. 15:4:

“All the nations shall come and pay homage and adoration to You”

#2. Extend His Kingdom.

Take a close look at verses 2 & 3:

“…show forth His SALVATION from day to day.  Declare His glory among the nations”

Declaring His Glory
Declaring His Glory

We are told HOW to EXTEND His Kingdom and WHERE to PROCLAIM (“Declare”) His SALVATION.  The words in the two verses also tell us how often to do it–“day after day.” And, we’re told WHERE to do it…”among the nations.”

OUR MESSAGE is the GOOD NEWS!

We are given specific instruction during worship, to SHARE the message and our mandate is, to take it to ALL the people (Acts 1:8).

The only MESSAGE we have today is JESUS SAVES!!!

#3. EXPRESS His Greatness.

As we EXALT His name and look for ways to EXTEND HIS KINGDOM, we will be drawn into the THIRD ESSENTIAL of WORSHIP (verses 4-9).

King Over ALL the Nations…He is most WORTHY of PRAISE!

I can’t help but notice how much we praise people.  Even at our worship services; the recognition of our local sports teams in wearing articles of clothing celebrating current and former athletes.

But it isn’t just athletes, is it? We avidly support recording artists, politicians, and yes, even Megachurch leaders.  We love to applaud the attributes of others.

And yet, this Psalm brings us back to what’s most important: Only God Himself is GREAT and most WORTHY of our PRAISE.

He is FEARED above everyone and everything else.

VERSE 5 tells us that.

He has no rivals because He is the Creator.  And as such, we should WORSHIP Him with all that we have.

In VERSE 6, FOUR ATTRIBUTES Are Personified

Personified as if they were attendants surrounding the throne –

“Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary”

A year before I was married, a friend and I, took a trip to Mexico.  We saw the beautiful beaches of Acapulco, the rose gardens in Guadalajara.  But for the real history of the country, we found east of Mexico City. at Teotihuacan (“teh-oh-tee-wa-KHAN”), the place where the AZTECS said the gods were born.

Many IDOLS that had been preserved were gruesome and ugly to look upon.

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NOT SO with the One Who causes things to exist and where there was nothing before.

Our GOD is not gruesome, but instead, He is BEAUTIFUL, arrayed in SPLENDOR, clothed with MAJESTY and armed with POWER AND GLORY that is brighter than the sun.

A RENEWED URGENCY PRESENTED (Verses 7-9):

THREE TIMES in a row, the Psalmist challenges us to “ascribe,” or give, to the LORD what is due His name.

Recognizing His GREATNESS, His MAJESTY, and STRENGTH First…We then will want to Honor Him.

I found it interesting that even though “the nations” are found earlier in the psalm, here we are called to WORSHIP the Lord, as the “FAMILIES” of the nations; singled out to give (“ascribe”) GLORY AND STRENGTH to the Lord.

God has ordained the family unit to a special and unique creation of His and as parents today, we must do all we can to make sure our families are honoring God.

The last part of VERSE 8 gives us a practical way to do that.  When this PSALM was written, the people would take their OFFERINGS to the Temple.  The King James Version refers to “thank offerings,” or those things that people would give out of gratitude to the Lord for all that He has done.

I was amazed when I looked up the word “ascribe” (to give) in my Concordance Dictionary, finding it listed 689 times!

At least THREE WAYS we can bring and give an offering to the LORD:

  • A Living Sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2).
  • A Sacrifice of Praise (Hebrews 13:15).
  • A Financial Sacrifice (Malachi 3).

Remember, a SACRIFICE isn’t a SACRIFICE unless it costs you something!

Expect His Coming!

While we EXALT His name, we should be looking forward for the ways to EXTEND HIS KINGDOM.

This then motivates us to express HIS GREATNESS.

One last ESSENTIAL to ponder I found in verses 10-13.

The Reign of the Lord and His Coming Judgment…

In VERSE 10, the word “JUDGE” carries the idea that God sovereignly RULES over the nations and will judge everyone with fairness and equity.

In VERSES 11-12, we see that the whole creation, when reflecting on GOD’S RULE, breaks out into JOYFUL PRAISE:

The HEAVENS WILL REJOICE…the EARTH will be glad, the SEA will resound, the FIELDS: the corn and soybeans–will REJOICE, and ALL THE TREES of the forest will SING FOR JOY!

WHY?

Because, The King Is Coming!

In the meantime, we are called to WAIT & WORSHIP.

We are also told to “GO TELL OTHERS,” about the GOSPEL MESSAGE, before it is too late– JUDE 14-15:

“Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men:  See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him”  (New International Version).

ONE MORE “OXYMORON” –

Here it is:  A BORED BELIEVER.

If you truly understand what being a BELIEVER, AN OVERCOMER is all about, it is impossible to be “bored.”

If we are EXALTING, EXTENDING, EXPRESSING, and EXPECTING, we’ll be fired up and experience the JOY of what it means to partner with God in His kingdom work here on earth.

So, let’s stop singing the ‘same old song,’ and let’s start singing A NEW SONG OF REJOICING!

 


 

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Commentaries:   Treasury of David – Psalm 96 by Charles Spurgeon; “Why We Sing,” A Sermon on Psalm 96, Sign in the Window; Psalm 96 – Daily Devotional.

Photo Credits:    Google Images; Wikipedia photo of Aztec carvings.

Bible Translations Used:  King James Version, New International Version, Amplified Bible.

Footnote [i] – Dictionary.com -Word; Origin C17: view New Latin from Greek.

Everything In Life Has Terms Attached to it

STUDY IN AMOS 4:11-13 –

Terms-and-Conditions

 

HAVE LAWYERS TAKEN OVER THE WORLD?

It seems like everything I do these days has some type of TERMS I have to agree to.  I just opened today’s mail and with no surprise, plenty of JUNK MAIL.

Somebody will send a credit card application and all over the front page, in big 2-inch letters–tells me about all the money they’re going to give me.

But then at the bottom or on the back, it gives the TERMS & CONDITIONS.  Of course, you have to have a magnifying glass to read the print.  The only reason they put the terms therein the first place is because the LAWYERS make them.  That said, they still try to hide them as best as they can.

Whether you’re buying anything, getting a job, or entering a contract–TERMS have to be agreed to.

Did you know that God has “terms” as well?

Except, God isn’t a lawyer–He sets His terms up front.

The problem comes in when we try to meet God on our own TERMS instead of on His.

That’s what ISRAEL did in our study in AMOS.  God’s chosen people wanted a RELATIONSHIP with God, but wanted it on their TERMS.

God speaks through AMOS and reviews His case against ISRAEL.

AMOS reviews the ways ISRAEL tried to meet God on their own TERMS, in spite of His continual persuasion.

Even though times have changed, human nature hasn’t and neither has God’s CHARACTER.

There are still TWO WAYS to prepare to meet God–

Either try to do it on our terms or His.  We’ll meet Him either way.  Either we’ll meet Him in JUDGMENT or in ETERNAL RELATIONSHIP.

MEETING GOD ON OUR TERMS –

ISRAEL tried to meet God on their terms because they BEHAVED on their own terms.

AMOS 4:1:

“HEAR THIS word, you cows of Bashan who are in the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to their husbands,  Bring and let us drink!”

GOD’S description called them “COWS”, not “BULLS.”

BASHAN is a hilly area overlooking Samaria and was known for its cattle.  If McDonald’s had been around back then, they would have marketed “Bashan burgers” and not “Black Angus.”

BASHAN COWS were well fed, spoiled and fat!

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THE IMAGE GOD USED TO DESCRIBE THE ISRAELITE WOMEN –

In the original Hebrew language, the feminine structure of the verse makes it clear, God is talking about the WOMEN OF ISRAEL.

Throughout history, in every society, WOMEN are the main stabilizing forces.  The decline of any society can be seen in the way the women act.

WOMEN are typically more stable, more moral, more obedient to laws, more kind and merciful to the poor and needy.

That was what was happening in ISRAEL.  The women had turned away from their values; they had usurped their roles in the home by now demanding to be waited on.

CAUSE & EFFECT–

The words in AMOS 4, are not just a JUDGMENT on the women.  It’s a JUDGMENT on Israel as a whole because women acting that way is an EFFECT– it’s not a CAUSE.

The cause is from men and society as a whole, turning away from God.

The Genie Is Out of The Bottle…

RADICAL FEMINISM will not go away until Christ returns, ushering in proper balance between men and women.

When JESUS sets up His government–“until the times of restoration of all things” will begin (Acts 3:21), then He will declare the eternal end to the “battle of the sexes.”  Then it will not be a woman’s world–but a God’s world!

Look what’s happening in my country…

AMERICA began to turn away from God in the mid 1800s.  The educated elite began to BELIEVE IN DARWINISM and began to question the Bible and tear it down.

THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE DISEASE–

Now fast forward to today.  Women in America no longer value their KINDNESS and MERCY.  We lift up cutthroat, catty corporate executives and political figures as role models.  And, from an early age, girls are encouraged to be tough and aggressive instead of KIND AND MERCIFUL.

Just like ancient ISRAEL, that’s just one of the first symptoms of a disease that has been eating away at our society for a long time.  It is a DISEASE called… wanting to behave on our own terms.

But not only did ISRAEL BEHAVE on their own terms, they WORSHIPPED on their own terms.

AMOS 4:4-5 (NIV):

[4] “Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years.

[5] Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings–boast about them, you Israelites for this is what you love to do,” declares the Sovereign LORD.

BETHEL and GILGAL –

Both Bethel and Gilgal originally had been wonderful places of WORSHIP for God.

BETHEL was the place where Abraham set up and altar to God–Jacob saw the LORD there and also one of the places SAMUEL judged.

BUT over the years, the people corrupted the place of worship.  Jeroboam set up the golden calf and that marked the beginning of a long history of idolatry and false worship there.

Both BETHEL & GILGAL has historically been places of WORSHIP.  But over the years, the WORSHIP had become empty and even despicable to God.

The people were going through ALL the motions, even going over and above–bringing SACRIFICES much more than required.

They TITHED much more often than was required.

Their outward shows of RELIGION were over and above.

Most would say that would be a good thing.  Well, not if their heart was in the shape theirs was in.

Camouflage Heart/Google Images
Camouflage Heart/Google Images

Because they came to offer sacrifices just as a show, their SACRIFICE didn’t indicate a HEART CHANGE.

THE FREEWILL OFFERINGS were proclaimed and published as mandatory; they were no longer FREE!  They were under obligation.

They were worshipping, but on their own terms–they didn’t worship with a changed and contrite heart or out of a FREE LOVE of God.

They did it for show!

Doesn’t that sound like the church today?  We want to WORSHIP Him on our terms.  We want to come to church to make us FEEL GOOD, or get our batteries recharged.

Or, we come to church out of some sort of OBLIGATION.

We look for a church that will meet our needs or will suit our personal tastes.

If the ‘musk’ isn’t the way we like it, we leave.  We have become consumers rather than worshippers.

And when everything falls in line of our needs, we smile and sing,  “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

ISRAEL tried to meet God on their terms…

They BEHAVED on their terms and they worshipped on their terms and NOT what God wanted of them.

And it’s not what God wants of us either.

But God doesn’t force us to do anything.  Just like He didn’t force ISRAEL to change.  He didn’t force them–He persuaded them to meet Him on His terms.

GOD’S WARNINGS ON HIS TERMS (AMOS 4:2-3):

GOD’S TERMS and ISRAEL’S TERMS–

What our God’s Terms?

051807CARPFISHjc10 Sports photo by Jim Commentucci 5/18/07 A common carp weighing in the mid teens fights at the surface against French teammates Numa Marengo and Frederic Labrousse during the second day of fishing Friday in the American Carp Society's Northeast Regionals tournament on the Seneca River in Baldwinsville. The fish was caught on a flavored dough bait called "boilies." FISHING DERBY

He tells us in VERSE 2:  “The LORD GOD has sworn by His HOLINESS that behold, the days shall come upon you when they shall take you away with hooks and the last of you with fish-hooks.”

His terms are HOLINESS–it’s TERMS He swears by.

JESUS summed up GOD’S TERMS in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:48):

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father

which is in heaven is perfect.”  ~ King James Bible

The AMPLIFIED bible adds brackets to end of this verse.  I believe it clarifies the verse even more:

[that is, grow into complete maturity of godliness

in mind and character, having reached the proper

height of virtue and integrity].

THAT’S GOD’S TERMS–THAT’S WHAT HE DEMANDS

And ISRAEL didn’t even come close.

BUT GOD, in His GRACE, warned them every step of the way.  He WARNED them that their disobedience would bring JUDGMENT.

God changes the picture here…

It goes from picturing the WOMAN OF ISRAEL as fat and happy cows…to picturing them as FISH ON A HOOK.

I know what happens when I’ve gone fishing to a nearby lake and caught fish.  I hooked it and drag it out of the place where it was comfortable (You place the fish in an environment that is harsh and hostile to it).

GOD’S WARNING–

stock-photo-mess-of-catfish-on-a-stringer-lying-on-the-bank-of-a-river-180460181His warning to the people were literally fulfilled by the Assyrians, who led ISRAEL into CAPTIVITY just a few years later.

In a few short years, ISRAEL went from unprecedented economic and military prosperity to being drug into captivity like FISH on a stringer.

Has GOD given us warnings?

GOD’S TERMS OF PERFECTION –

His terms of perfection are the same as they have always been.  Along with His TERMS OF PERFECTION, He has given His PROVISION OF GRACE.

GRACE that our IMPERFECTIONS are covered by the BLOOD of His Son JESUS CHRIST.

He takes away our SIN and gives us HIS PERFECTION–HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  But He only does that when we TRUST Him as our LORD & SAVIOR!

The Bible is full of WARNINGS when we refuse His warnings and rebel.

  • WHEN WE BEHAVE ON OUR TERMS…GOD WARNS ON HIS TERMS.
  • WHEN WE WORSHIP ON OUR TERMS…GOD WARNS ON HIS TERMS.

GOD ALSO PERSUADES ON HIS TERMS –

AMOS 4:6-11 (NAS bible):

[6] “But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities  And lack of bread in all your places,  Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.

[7] “And furthermore, I withheld the rain from you  While there were still three months until harvest.  Then I would send rain on one city  And on another city I would not send rain;  One part would be rained on,  While the part not rained on would dry up.

[8] “So two or three cities would stagger to another city to drink water;  But would not be satisfied;  Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.

[9] “I smote you with scorching wind and mildew;  And the caterpillar was devouring  Your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees;  Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.

[10] “I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt;  I slew your young men by the sword along with your captured horses,  And I made the stench in your camp rise up in your nostrils;  Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.

[11] “I overthrew you as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,  And you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze;  Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.

GOD JUDGED the world in a flood and He will judge the world with fire.  Everything in between… is His PERSUASION.

In VERSE 6, He PERSUADED Israel with famine.

“CLEAN TEETH” wasn’t a compliment on their dental hygiene.  It meant they had no food to dirty their teeth with.

In VERSES 7-8, God gave them drought to try to PERSUADE them to turn to Him.

In VERSE 9, He gave them, as the Amplified Bible reads…”BLIGHT”.  

BLIGHT in Detroit, Michigan USA
BLIGHT in Detroit, Michigan USA

DEFINITION OF BLIGHT= [1] “Any of numerous plant diseases resulting in sudden conspicuous wilting and dying and the effects thereof…”  [2] “An agent or action that harms or ruins the VALUE or success of something”  (See footnote [i] ). 

In VERSE 10, He gave them PESTILENCE and WAR to persuade them…

AND in VERSE 11, A Supernatural DEFECT…

Many of the things we see as TRIALS as given to us persuades us, to return to Him.

Look at AMERICA as an example –  

  • After the Civil War there was a national REVIVAL.
  • After the Great Depression, there followed national REVIVAL.

After most great times of TROUBLE & TRIAL, there has been periods of a national return to the LORD.  Until recently.

Even after 9/11, Bible sales across America went through the roof!  But there was a shifting between 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

When Katrina happened, there was a tremendous outpouring from the churches at first. But the people weren’t looking to God–they were looking to government to supply their needs.

God PERSUADED AMERICA to turn to Him, and as a whole…we didn’t.

INSTEAD, we turned to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Assistance).

INSTEAD of REPENTANCE, we saw blame and cast it.

INSTEAD of falling on our knees and crying out for God to SAVE us as a country, the politicians cried out to the Casinos to save them.

God is persuading us today, just like He persuaded Israel in Amos.

GOD PERSUADES with clean teeth and tragedy.  

The question is, are we LISTENING? Or, are we like ISRAEL?

ISRAEL tried to meet God on their TERMS–and they BEHAVED on their TERMS.

But God didn’t just let them go.  He persuaded them on HIS TERMS…HE WARNED them on HIS TERMS.

FINALLY, We Can See the RESULTS of ISRAEL’S TERMS (AMOS 4:12-13):

[12] “Therefore thus will I do to you O Israel; and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!

[13] For behold, He Who forms the mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what is his thought,  Who makes the morning darkness and treads on the heights of the earth–the Lord, the God of hosts, is His name!”

After I first read those verses in study, I started skimming back through verses 6-11; looking at the last phrase of each verse; looking at each of the five attempts God made to get ISRAEL’S attention.

They were answered the same way,

“Yet you did not return to Me.”

The people were going to come to God on their own TERMS.

  • They wanted to be FAT & COMFORTABLE…
  • They wanted to BEHAVE as they saw fit…
  • They wanted to put an “I LOVE JESUS” T-shirt on and claim to be God’s children.
  • They wanted to WORSHIP God, but they wanted to worship Him in a way that pleased them.
  • They wanted to be ‘pumped up’; going to church, wearing the local professional team’s football jerseys and stocking caps, without any commitment to Christ.

Through ALL of that outward devotion, God leveled the same charge:  “you have not returned to Me.”

ISRAEL’S TERMS were selfish and insufficient to meet God in relationship.

So the question is presented to the Church today.

What are we doing with God’s Grace?

Are you in rejection of it, behaving on your TERMS?  Are you rejecting it by worshipping on your own terms?

Each one of us will meet God face to face one day.  Are you going to do it on YourTERMS or on His TERMS?

If you do it on YOUR TERMS, Hebrews 10:31 says,  “It is a fearful (formidable and terrible) thing to incur the divine penalties and be cast into the hands of the living God!”

BUT, if you meet Him on HIS TERMS, through the BLOOD of His Son Jesus Christ, this is the PROMISE found in Revelation 22:1-4:

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How do you intend to meet God this day, this week, this month, this year?

ON YOUR TERMS OR HIS?

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [i] :  The Free Dictionary by Farlex.

PHOTOS:  Google Images.

Bible Translations Used:  Amplified bible except where noted.

Excerpts From Commentaries Used:  Second Covenant Lawsuit – Amos 4:1-13; Cows of Bashan (Forerunner Commentary) – Bible Tools.

 

 

 

 

 

“Do You Hear What I hear?”

THE “FOUR VOICES” OF ISAIAH REVEALED IN STUDY

Scripture Study:  ISAIAH 40:1-11

VOICE #1,  “Comfort God’s People” – (40:1, 2).

“COMFORT, COMFORT my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”  [New International Version, NIV].

God Loves to Comfort His People!

Follow along with how the apostle Paul refers to God in 2 Corinthians 1:3:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…(and here is the description) “the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [who is the Source] of every COMFORT.”

And this isn’t the only place in the bible where we find God described as a COMFORTER…

PSALM 23, the psalmist says of God the Good Shepherd,  “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

“As one whom his mother comforts, so will I COMFORT you; you should be COMFORTED in Jerusalem.”  (Isaiah 66:13)

So God does love to COMFORT His people.

And…He is a great source of comfort…BUT…God recognizes we need someone with skin on them too!

"Sometimes we need someone with skin on them"
“Sometimes we need someone with skin on them”

A Mother’s Words of Comfort (See Footnote [i]):

Dr. George W. Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas for 50 years, told a story of a young, unbelieving couple in a sermon.

The young couple, who had lost their baby, came to Dr. Truett, asking him to conduct the funeral, so he did.  He said later, he had such joy of seeing them both trust the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many months later, he said the young mother who had lost her child stepped forward, went to a young girl’s side and said, “I passed through this and I know what you’re passing through.  God called me, and through the darkness I came to Him.  He’s comforted me, and He’ll comfort you.”

God recognizes that just like that young girl in the story, sometimes we need someone in the FLESH to come and sit with us, hold our hand and listen to our heartache.

In the first verse of the text, God says,  “Comfort, Comfort My People…”

This command [“comfort” spoken in succession] is of God to comfort His people is directed not only to Isaiah, but to ALL of God’s prophets.

BUT before COMFORT can come…SIN was dealt with–that God calls His prophet to comfort.

The first 39 Chapters of Isaiah…

God doesn’t call Isaiah to “comfort” His people.  It’s only after “their” sin has been absolved that He can send the prophet Isaiah with words of COMFORT.

So in reading Chapters 40-66 of Isaiah, the words will show TRUE COMFORT consists (not in telling people what their ‘itchy’ ears want to hear), BUT in presenting the whole truth concerning their tragic condition.  AND…in causing them to SEE GOD as their only HOPE.

It is only when reality and ugliness of SIN raises its head that the announcement of DELIVERANCE can be made.

There’s A Prerequisite for COMFORT…

Apart from the Declaration of Judgment found in Chapters 1-39 of Isaiah, the WORDS OF COMFORT in 40-66 are without much point.

The prerequisite for comfort seen here in Isaiah is much the same as JESUS taught on the Sermon On The Mount–(Matthew Chapter 5).

He too talked about people being “comforted”–But before they could be comforted, JESUS SAID, they must be “poor in spirit” and acknowledge their absolute dependence upon God–and then they mustmourn” over their sin and hopeless condition…

“Blessed are those who mourn for they will be

COMFORTED”

VOICE #2 – “PREPARE THE WAY FOR THE LORD” – Isaiah 40:3-5

[3] “A voice of one who cries: Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord [clear away the obstacles]; make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God!  [4] Every valley shall be lifted and filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked and uneven shall be made straight and level, and the rough places made plain.  [5] And the glory (majesty and splendor) of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”

Pope Francis was visiting the USA this past week, and as I watch all the proceedings on TV, I thought what preparations must have been made ahead of time for his arrival.

Isaiah here, pictures the scene played out by the Royal Road Builders–smoothing the way for their King, working diligently, removing barriers and obstacles in order to make the King’s journey somewhat easier.

The PROPHECY…

Though all the prophets had a part in preparing the way for JESUS’ entry into the world–this PROPHECY ultimately was fulfilled in the person of John the Baptist.

Three of the Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke quote this verse from Isaiah and apply it to the Baptizer.

JOHN the Baptist Prepared the Way…

john-the-baptist2

John prepared the way by shouting out in the wilderness that the only way to get right with God–was to REPENT and be IMMERSED in baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

John also helped prepare the way by grooming some of JESUS’ first disciples – Peter, John, Andrew, and James.

Once John prepared the way–removed the obstacles–showed the futility of religious ritual–preached repentance–

Once John did this, then…the GLORY of the LORD was revealed.  John the Baptist prepared the way “FOR” (“I AM the way, the Truth, and the Light”)…

We still got some “PREPARING” to do today!

Is there now no more PREPARING for the Lord–since John the Baptist, clothed in camel’s-hair, eating wild locust, shouted in the wilderness?

In a way, YES.  But, in the way, NO.

YES, there is no preparing in the sense of preparing for the Lord’s earthly arrival.  JESUS has already come in the flesh.  John the Baptist prepared the way.

But in another sense, this PRINCIPLE still applies today.

The LORD still wants to REVEAL Himself in Glory to His church.  

But, before He can do this, there are OBSTACLES that must be removed; BARRIERS that must be torn down and ROUGH PLACES that must be made smooth again…So that JESUS can arrive and be EXALTED–LIFTED UP!

TODAY’S BARRIERS, OBSTACLES, AND ROUGH PLACES REVEALED: What has to be removed before the LORD’S GLORY shows up!

Making The Way Smooth…

Women labourers throw dust on a road tarmac under construction at Bharadva village in the western Indian state of Gujarat April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Amit Dave
Women labourers throw dust on a road tarmac under construction at Bharadva village in the western Indian state of Gujarat April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Amit Dave

What are we in the CHURCH lifting up rather than Christ Jesus?

We are lifting up…

  • Personal Sin,
  • Pride,
  • Prejudice,
  • Indifference,
  • Opinions,
  • Comfort,
  • Convenience,
  • Worldly Pleasures.

In a word, we are lifting up SELF.  If we want to see the Lord’s Glory revealed in His Church, we too must LISTEN to the voice of God and prepare the way…there is way too much talking and not enough listening to God’s Spirit.

We must make a straight path/raise valleys/lower mountains/level the rough ground and make the rugged places a Plain.

VOICE # 3  Is Crying, “Invest in the Eternal” – Isaiah 40:6-8:

[6]  “A voice says, Cry [prophesy]!  And I said, What shall I cry?  [The voice answered,  PROCLAIM:]  All flesh is as frail as grass, and all that makes attractive [its kindness, its goodwill, its mercy from God, its glory and comeliness, however good] is transitory, like the flower of the field.  [7] The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely [all] the people are like grass.  [8] The grass (a) withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

(a.)  The apostle Peter quotes this verse (1 Pet. 1:24-25) and then adds, “and this Word is the good news which was preached to you” –which confirms as fact that Isaiah is here referring to the times of Christ the Messiah, the Anointed One *** (Amplified Bible footnote, Page 1029.).

PETER then goes on to say,

“SO BE done with every trace of wickedness (depravity, malignity) and all deceit and insincerity (pretense, hypocrisy) and grudges (envy and jealousy) and slander and evil speaking of every kind.  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”  (1 Peter 2:1, 2).

Since God’s Word is ETERNAL and everything in this world is NOT–we should rid ourselves the things of the world and crave God’s Word.

Unfortunately, we find that many people more often than not are CRAVING the temporary…craving the things of this world (money, looks, physic, career, pleasure) with passion.

While they pursue God’s Word with casual indifference…“I’ll get God’s Word from my pastor on Sunday.”  God says INVEST in something that will last!

Making Foolish Investments In The Temporary, Ignoring the Eternal…

JESUS addressed this issue in a parableLuke 12:16-21:  “What good is it to gain the world, yet lose your very soul?”

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?  

DO YOU HEAR THE VOICES?

The VOICES are calling God’s people and they’ve been calling for centuries…

  • “Comfort, Comfort My people”
  • “Prepare the way for the Lord”
  • “Invest in the eternal”

And there is one more voice, and the VOICE IS CRYING out to us,

“GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN” – Isaiah 40:9-11:

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[9] You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain, You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”  [10] See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and His arm rules for Him. See, His reward is with Him and His recompense accompanies Him.  [11] He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those who have young  (NIV Bible).

The Announcement of the Presence of God Must Be Proclaimed Far and Wide…

GOD’S PEOPLE are not to be silent; keeping the Good News of the Lord’s arrival to themselves.  We are to go up on a mountain, but not just any mountain.

We are to go on a HIGH MOUNTAIN.  And we are not to just softly speak about the Lord’s presence, we are to SHOUT!  Lift up our VOICE…

We are not to be intimidated but rather to shout…  

Here’s your God!!!  He is powerful and mighty!!!  He is a God who rewards greatly!!!”

The VOICE compels us to “Go Tell It On The Mountain” –

Matthew 5:14-16:

[14] You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  [15] Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  [16] Let you light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.

ISAIAH began the second half of his ministry by hearing the VOICES OF GOD calling him to:

#1.  Comfort My people…

#2.  Prepare the way for the Lord…

#3.  Invest in the eternal…

#4.  Go tell it on the mountain.

And ISAIAH WAS FAITHFUL and answered those VOICES…

And the voices, are they still calling today?

Do you hear the voices?

Will you respond to what you hear?

Or, will you ignore them?


Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i] – https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/comfort-someti…h-skin-on-them/

Photo Credits- Google Image Search & Photo Pin.

Bible Translation:  The AMPLIFIED BIBLE, except where noted in the text.