Monday, December 2, 2013

Any Room for Jesus?

Joseph and Mary traveled from Galilee to Bethlehem to register for the census which Quirinius, the governor of Syria, ordered. This was the first census during Quirinius’ rule as governor of Syria. Everyone had to go to his/her own city to register. At that time Mary was “engaged” (Luke 2:5) to Joseph.

The most important thing about this journey was that Mary “was with child” (Luke 2:5). While they were there to register, she gave birth “to her first-born” (v. 7). They had tried to get a room for the three of them but “there was no room for them in the inn” (v. 7). The only place they could find shelter was in a barn-like structure. Mary laid the “Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (v. 12), in a feeding trough for animals called a manger.

Imagine it! God came as a baby to the earth, which He created, to become our Savior. Jesus was the sinner’s Substitute on Calvary’s cross. There He bore our sins. He became sin for us so that we might receive the righteousness of God, be given eternal life by simply acknowledging that we have sinned and by faith accept His sacrifice for our sins.

A lot of us complain about all the commercialism at Christmas time. “We need to put Christ back into Christmas,” is a common cry of many. Days before we celebrate the birth of Christ we rush to do this and that and forget why we are really doing it all. Let’s not forget that the celebration of the birth of Jesus should not bring us stress and anxiety. Instead, if we would only take time to think about the miracle of Christmas, it would help us keep Christ in Christmas.

Monday, November 4, 2013

What About Israel’s Future

A literal interpretation of God’s promises to His people, the nation of Israel, assures us He will not allow the Islamic nations surrounding the tiny nation of Israel to annihilate her.

Scripture certainly teaches that Israel will indeed face enormous problems with the Islamic nations that surround her. These will doubtless include Egypt, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Turkey, and Russia. These, with the exception of Russia, already embrace an Islamic worldview. Russia is becoming more and more Islamic and it appears will, in fact, be Islamic soon. Central Scripture such as Daniel 11:40-45 and Ezekiel 38–39 clearly predict how the Islamic nations will continue their goal to annihilate Israel. But God will not allow this to happen because He promised “to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:9).

Surely God loves Islamic people just as He loves every member of the human race. That does not mean, however, that He will allow those who hate Israel to destroy her. When Israel will be surrounded by her national enemies in the future, the Lord God has said, “My fury will mount up in My anger and in My zeal and My blazing wrath” (Ezek. 38:18-19) will bring devastating judgment upon Israel’s enemies. The Israelites are His people in His land and God will preserve them and bring them to Himself in His time and way. In fact, His destruction of Israel’s enemies will be so sweeping that it will take the people of Israel seven months to bury their enemies’ bodies and seven years to destroy their weapons left on the battlefield (Ezek. 39:3-5, 9-20).

Monday, October 7, 2013

What About the Coming Antichrist?

The word antichrist speaks of one who is against Christ. The prefix “anti” means “against” or “instead of.” The context provides how the word is used in each case. Four times the specific word “antichrist” is used in Scripture (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7). However, the spirit of antichrist is present in both the Old and the New Testaments.

John the apostle made it very plain in his First Epistle that antichrists were already present among them. But there was one who was to come, a specific Antichrist: “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18). That “one” predicted by the apostle John had still not come, but he indeed will come and will be a wicked world ruler during the coming Great Tribulation. And, he could very well be alive now and active in His blasphemous activity.

The future Antichrist is not always named in Scripture. Other names and descriptions are given when the end times are described. For he is “the ruler who will come: (Dan. 9:26), “the king who will do as he pleases” (11:36), the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION (Matt. 24:15), “the man of lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:3), “the beast that comes up out of the abyss” (Rev. 11:7).

The number of the Antichrist is 666 (Rev. 13:18) which likely indicates he is indeed far, far less than he pretends to be. When Christ returns, the Antichrist will be “thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (19:20) and Christ will institute His kingdom rule on earth from David’s throne in Jerusalem.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Judgment Seat of Christ

The apostle Paul described this Judgment in his second letter to the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 5:10-13). This future Judgment involves only believers. It is described in Scripture very differently than the Great White Throne Judgment that John wrote about in Revelation 10:11-15. In another “Thought for the Day” we will have more to say about that Judgment.

It appears that all who will be raptured and meet the Lord in the air will stand before Christ that day. They will be there to give an account of how they lived their life as believers. This will be a time of either receiving or losing rewards for all who appear at this Judgment. This will not involve those who never trusted Christ as their Savior. Rather, only those who have accepted Him as the One who paid for their sin will be there. This will be in striking contrast to those who appear at the Great White Throne Judgment. There, all who have rejected Christ will comprise the total number present.

Not all evangelicals believe these two future Judgments are distinctly different in who appears before each and when each Judgment occurs. The contrasts between these two future Judgments argue very strongly that the two Judgments are very different from each other.

One thing is certain, God is not only a God of love, mercy, and grace, all of which He certainly is. But He is also absolutely holy and just. He hates sin but does love the sinner. In His Word, God has set forth how to get to heaven and avoid hell, the place of eternal torment and separation from God. Which will it be for you?

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Rapture

Surely the God of the Bible has what we might call His calendar of events for the future. He has outlined for us in the Bible many things which have not yet come to pass. So we reverently ask, What is the next great event that will affect all mankind in varied ways? Students of Scripture have called this event the Rapture of church saints. Christ will descend from heaven and all–dead and living–who have accepted His payment for their sins since the church was born on the Day of Pentecost will be caught up to meet Christ in the air.

The two major passages of Scripture dealing with the Rapture of the church are John 14:1-6 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

In the John 14:1-6 passage Christ told His disciples He would leave them and go to prepare a place for them and return later to take them to be with Him forever. That promise must have been very good news, especially when they were so shocked to learn that He would leave them. It is important to note that in this passage He comes from heaven for them and takes them with Him to heaven.

In the 1 Thessalonian passage 4:13-18 the people addressed were concerned about their believing friends and family members who had died. Had they missed the rapture? No, they too would be resurrected and caught up to meet the Lord along with the living saints. When? you ask. It could be at any moment. Be ready!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Is There Really a Hell?

Yes, I believe there is a hell, a place of eternal separation from God. The New Testament says more about an eternal place of torment than the Old Testament does.

The word Sheol in the Old Testament is used many times. It does not always stand for the place of eternal punishment for the unbeliever though it certainly does some times. Often the grave is a description of Sheol. The context in which the word appears makes it clear whether it refers to the grave or to the eternal punishment of those not rightly related to God.

Two Scriptural examples will illustrate these two meanings. Abraham’s son Jacob mourned for Joseph who had died. Jacob said he would go to Sheol mourning for Joseph (Gen. 37:35). Surely Jacob did not mean he was going to a place of eternal torment to mourn. The psalmist wrote that the wicked go to Sheol as do “all the nations who forget God” (Ps. 9:17). This is an example, in harmony with the context, where Sheol means a place of punishment.

In the New Testament, Jesus had a lot to say about the eternal abode of unbelievers. When He returns, He will say to those on His left side, “Depart from me . . . into eternal fire” (Matt. 25:41). To those on His right side He will say, “. . . Come inherit the kingdom prepared for you” (Matt. 25:34). Jesus also spoke of His rejecters as those who will go into “the furnace of fire” where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:41-42).

Yes indeed, there is a hell just as certainly as there is a heaven.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Heaven for Real?

Yes, it is. We can know this because the Bible tells us so. Jesus said He would go after His death to prepare a place for those who had accepted His substitution for their sins. The stress in Scripture, however, is not on the place called heaven. Rather, Scripture talks more about believers being with Him forever after death. Heaven is life in the very presence of God. Ezekiel the prophet and John the apostle each were given a vision of heaven and they experienced the very presence of God (Ezek. 1; Rev. 1). In addition, John the apostle was used by the Spirit of God to see and write extensively about heaven in Revelation, chapters 21 and 22.

A number of specifics in Scripture reveal great truths about heaven. The glory of God is described with brightness displaying the full manifestation of all God is. There is complete safety, security, and rest in heaven because God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are there. Imagine it! Heaven is not a temporary dwelling place. There is permanence and there is safety there. This heavenly abode of the redeemed is spacious with plenty of room for all who will be there. Indescribable beauty covers all of heaven. There is no darkness at all in heaven.

All of the above and much more characterize heaven as seen by John (Rev. 21). None of the occupants of heaven will ever again experience sin, sorrow, handicaps, or heartaches. Throughout eternity God’s people will experience perfect love, learning, fellowship and service with God Himself. I’m ready! Are you?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Thought of the Day: Meditation

Our thoughts have a lot to do with how we act. Before ever we do anything, we give some attention to what we say or do. The Bible has a lot to say about our minds and how we should use them for God’s honor and glory.

Many are incurably religious, searching for truth. A large number of things have vied to satisfy man’s hunger and thirst for reality. In the 1970s and still today, Transcendental Meditation (TM) has sought, and still does seek, to satisfy that longing for reality. TM is a very dangerous religion without the God of the Bible and therefore the Christ of the Bible as well.

I would like to suggest a Biblical alternative to TM. The dictionary definition of meditation is “to think about, to contemplate.” We meditate whenever we think deeply and continuously about something.

Let us think first about the Lord Jesus Christ’s practice of meditation. All through His time here on earth, Jesus was about His Father’s business. He was devoted to the Old Testament Scriptures. The Father’s will was always on Christ’s mind. His prayer life illustrates this clearly.

Listen to the words of the Psalmist, “Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97). Peter encouraged the dispersed Hebrew Christians to “gird up the loins of your mind” (1 Pet. 1:13). Paul the apostle called for “the renewing of the mind” (Rom. 12:2). Again he said, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).

It does take time to be holy. You cannot be holy in a hurry. Do not forget, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).

Monday, April 1, 2013


This truth of Scripture must not be confused with justification, though this is often the case. As we learned in an earlier “thought for the day,” justification is totally a work of God by which He declares the believing sinner righteous before Him. It describes the person who trusts Christ alone as the One who died in his place and paid his debt. The believing sinner is justified at the same instant he/she is born again, becomes a child of God and is robed in the righteousness of Christ.

 Sanctification means the child of God is set apart as God’s peculiar possession at the time of salvation. It describes the believer’s position before God (1 Cor. 1:30; 6:11). The term sanctification in Scripture also describes how the child of God lives his/her Christian life, In other words, sanctification is intended by God to be progressive (John 17:16; 2 Cor. 7:1). That is, believers are called upon to continually set themselves apart from sin. God expects this of us as His children, and we are enabled to live a life pleasing to God by the enablement of the Holy Spirit. We will never reach perfection in this life, but we can and should be growing in our faith, setting ourselves apart from sin as God’s children.

There is also a third way in which Scripture uses the word sanctify or sanctification. It has been described as perfect sanctification (1 Thess. 3:12-13). We will never reach this goal until we see the Lord. However, we can and should mature in God’s marvelous grace while we await the day when we will be completely and finally set apart eternally for His glory.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Early on in my Christian life, and even before I was a believer, I heard this term used often in church. The impression I got was that when one accepted Christ as Substitute for his/her sin, they were viewed by God as though they had never sinned. After further study, I came to understand this was not the full meaning of a sinner’s justification.

To be justified means much more than to be viewed by God as though we had never sinned. A more exact meaning is that at the time of faith in Christ alone the sinner is declared or announced to be righteous. So the believing sinner is not simply viewed as though he had never sinned, but he is declared to be righteous before a holy God even though all have sinned and come short of God’s glory. Imagine it, in the courts of heaven as a child of God you are proclaimed another sinner saved by God’s marvelous grace.

True enough, Christ’s substitution was made for every sinner but only those who accept His payment are declared righteous. Here are some Biblical announcements of this grand truth: Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16; 3:24; Romans 3:24 and Titus 3:7. The doctrine of justification is closely related to several other doctrines, such as redemption, propitiation, reconciliation, and forgiveness of sins.

Because of the believer’s standing before a holy God in His righteousness, each one of us has the awesome responsibility of reflecting God’s holiness before those who do not know Him as Savior. We all need to keep our lamps burning for Him!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Security /Safety

These days it seems we all try to make our possessions secure. None of us want others to steal from us. Not only that, but we also like to do all we an to be sure we ourselves are secure wherever we are and over all we have. Not all of us take the necessary precautions we should to be safe and secure. We do often get careless when it comes to this matter of security. Sometimes some of us tend to go overboard when it comes to the issue.

God’s Word addresses the matter of security often, even when the word itself does not always appear in Scripture. To begin, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are secure. If we cannot count on that, we cannot count on anything. Without God’s own security we are absolutely hopeless! But believers are not without hope from God. How absolutely wonderful it is to be assured of God’s marvelous security, His watch care over us.

Scripture speaks freely about how secure the child of God really is in the arms of Jesus. The psalmist put it this way, “. . . You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Ps. 4:8). And again, he cried out to God, “Uphold me that I may be safe” (Ps. 119:117).

Every child of God, everyone who has accepted the finished work of Christ as the Substitution for his/her sin, is assured of eternal life (John 3:16-17; Rom. 6:23; Heb. 5:9). Eternal life never ends.

The eternal God gives eternal life, security to all who accept Christ’s payment for his/her sin. Does that mean it does not matter how the believer lives? Absolutely not, it matters mighty much. He disciplines His children, but eternal life is eternal.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Lopsided Tolerance

We hear a lot these days about political correctness and tolerance. It seems that we must never criticize anything in any way and for any reason, but instead be tolerant toward everything.

However, there is one exception to this unstated viewpoint. That exception is the historic Christian faith–belief in the God of the Bible and salvation by His grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

The word tolerance in religious things has in the past meant to be respectful toward those who hold variant views. It did not mean all viewpoints were equally true. When did this understanding of tolerance change? It is difficult to say exactly when. But there is no doubt that in many circles today the historic Christian faith is an exception to the popular view of tolerance. Especially since the September 11 attacks, almost any religious belief is to be viewed as true and must never be criticized, except Christianity.

In his excellent book The Name, Franklin Graham references the EP News Service, January 17, 2002 the following about a California school district (p. 84). A school required of its seventh-grade students the following: Students to learn the tenets of Islam, know important persons in Islam’s history, learn verses from the Koran, pray "in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful" and chant "Praise to Allah, Lord of creation."

You decide how requiring such activities in the name of tolerance squares with restrictions on Christians regarding such things as prayer in public forms and nativity scenes on public property. It all sounds very lopsided to me.