Archive for November, 2021

He’ll Make a Way 9/10/00

Jeremiah 29:10-13

Jesus Christ, the God who knows your load limit will limit your load. Does it ever seem He doesn’t? That is a false perception not true reality. He is able to deliver us in every situation. For years the church has sung:

“He is able to deliver thee…”

There are moments in our lives when He gives us occasion to prove we really believe that “He is able to deliver…” on His promises. Trust Him and you will see He is a God of His Word.

Ask Moses on the banks of the sea with the mighty army of Pharaoh closing in on him, “Is He able to deliver?”

Ask little David hiding in the caves of Engedi with the army of Saul thrashing the bushes looking for him to kill, “Is our God able to deliver?”

Ask Daniel coming out of the lions den, “Is He able?”

Ask Joseph in the prison, “Is He able to deliver?”

Ask Jonah in the belly of the great fish, “Is God able to deliver?”

Ask Noah in the storm tossed ark, “Is God able to deliver?”

Hear their chorus, “He is able!”

Ask the children of Israel in Babylonian captivity. “Is He able? Let’s consider their plight and find an answer that is sure to broaden our understanding of His ways.

The people of Israel had been taken into Babylonian captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. Their plight seemed hopeless. They were removed from their home land, forced into slavery, deprived of their customs, stripped of their possessions, and separated from loved ones. How does your current plight compare to theirs? Their future looked bleak, rather hopeless. Heartbroken and hopeless. Observing them in that state lets inquire of them if our God is able to deliver.

In our text it is as though God says four times “I know…”


Our King James reads, “I know the thoughts I think of you.” A modern English translation makes this more clear: “I have not lost sight of my plan for you.”

God never takes His mind off you. We think too seldom of Him, but He is ever mindful of us.

He knows the number of the hairs on our heads and every inch of our path. He knows our sorrows and our joys. They are all calculated and catalogued by Him.

God has not forgotten you nor His plan for you. He is ever mindful of what He thinks of you. He even knows our thoughts.

“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise…” (I Cor. 3:20).

The Psalmist said: “You understand my thoughts…” (Ps.139:2).

Knowing your thoughts what does He know you think of Him?

God not only says He knows what He is going to do He knows how to do it. He never has to say: “Oops!”

In verse 11 two traits are noted. First, “thoughts of peace and not evil.” Contained in those two words are concepts made more clear in the New English Bible translation: “prosperity and not misfortune.”

While in Babylonian captivity as slaves they developed and have passed on to their descendants a commendable trait that is still associated with our Jewish friends. They went into slavery penniless and returned wealthy. They learned how to work, earn wealth, save it, and use it. That is still a virtue of the Jewish people. That attribute was developed under the harshest of circumstances. What are you learning from your adversities? Do they make you better or bitter?

A Scotchman was visiting the Holy Land. He was captivated by the beauty of the Sea of Galilee. He endeavored to hire a Jewish boat owner to take him on a ride on the sea. The Jew said that would be $100.00 for one hour. The Scotsman exclaimed he could engage a boat for a day for half that much in Scotland. The Jew explained, “Yes, but this is the Holy Land where Christ walked on the water.” The Scotsman responded, “Yes, and now I know why He walked!”

Our God is able to deliver on His promises. He schooled them in economics in slavery.

The expression “to give you a future and an end” is what is called a hen/dia/dys, that is a means whereby a complex idea is expressed in two words connected by a coordinating conjunction. Thus, the expression a “future and an end” means a “hopeful end.” In the end hope won’t be lost. Things will work out because in the things God is working.

As with His people in slavery at the moment He TODAY has us in training for a blessed and glorious future.

This hopeful ending enables us to live with a sense of optimistic expectancy.

Regardless of the appearance God had not forgotten them. Hope was not dead. Appearance may have made it look as though God wasn’t interested in their plight or even that He had forgotten them. Does that sound like a chapter out of your autobiography?

Seventy years is a long time to wait. God told them to go ahead living. He instructed them to marry and have children, to work and learn. All the time they were busy doing these thing He was busy shaping their emancipation.

A dejected teen mused, “I don’t know why God made me!” “He didn’t,” answered her pastor, “He is still at work on you.” Creatively He is still trying to construct us into the image He has in mind for us to become. His very nature is constantly being absorbed into different aspects of our lives. He is never finished with us. This is our hope.

When we begin to doubt God we lose hope. A willing acceptance of God’s discipline and patient submission to it is essential to peace of mind.

We can be like a wild bird in a cage fluttering and flying against the cage till we break our wings and fall in exhaustion. Or, we can be like the canary that accepts its plight and sits on its swing and sings knowing it is provided for.

If we begin to doubt God we become victims of despondency, impatience, and rebellion. Confidence in your doctor is part of the cure for your ailment. Confidence in our God brings peace.

Even in their bondage the Hebrews realized they were God’s people not Babylon’s slaves. They had their condition in perspective. That perspective grew, and hope flourished.

Augustine said, “Two verbs have built two empires —- to have and to be.” A personal empire built on the verb to have is an empire of things. The empire built on the verb to be is a kingdom of character, that is, Christlike qualities. These kingdoms constantly clash. This ageless conflict goes on as each seeks to subdue the other.

The reason it appears America is unraveling at the seams is our society has become a culture of to have at the expense of the virtue of to be. To which kingdom are you given.

Only when to be wins the warfare is there peace in the heart. God knows what He is doing in your life. He is trying to mold you into the likeness of His Son.

He revealed His perfect timing and it was different from mine. He is always on time every time.

A false prophet, one wanting to be popular with the people, told them they would be delivered immediately. God said, “After seventy years … I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return…”

God had a time table. He knew when He was going to act. Often our watch is not synchronized with His. Our patience runs out before the sand in His hour glass.

Peter wrote: “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly…” (II Peter 2:9).

Not only does He know how He knows when.

Against that backdrop we need to employ His instructions:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

We start out as children on vacation asking, “Are we there yet?” When a meaningful event is scheduled our childish inquiry is, “Is it time yet?” In dealing with God we never outgrow such impatient questioning.

For nine years I prayed regarding God’s timing related to retirement. I thought I had it figured out. Through the convergence of circumstances I found my timing was wrong. God’s is always right.

God said in effect, “When my people become dependent upon Me and call on Me I will then respond.”

Here is God’s phone number: Jeremiah 33:3. It is better than 911.

Observe this further fulfillment of God’s plan as noted in Jeremiah 33:10, 11.

Only when they became dependent upon God would He show Himself dependable. In our circumstances as
in theirs God was shaping their desires. The Psalmist wrote: “He will fulfill the desires of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them” (Psalm 145:19).

God is not only omniscient, all knowing, He is omnipotent, all powerful. The might of Babylon to those slaves may well have seemed impossible to overcome. How could they ever be delivered?

In 536 B.C. God put it in the heart of King Cyrus of Babylon and he issued a decree releasing them to return to their homeland. It was exactly 70 years after their exodus.

Each of us is held in a more consuming slavery. As lost sinners we are captive to one of the two universal super powers. He is the second most powerful extraterrestrial superpower. Satan holds us in the slave market of sin from which there is no way we can extricate our selves. God has a fourfold plan for our deliverance.

“Generation” means birth. The prefix “re” means again. Regeneration means to be born again. Follow His plan carefully. It involves —-
REGENERATION This gives us a new PARENT, nature.
JUSTIFICATION This gives us a new POSTURE, standing.
SANCTIFICATION. This gives us a new POSITION, set apart.
GLORIFICATION This gives us a new PLACEMENT, heaven.

It begins with new birth and ends with a new destination.

God has a wonderful plan for your life and He is able to deliver.

The bondage of God’s people in Babylon is in some ways like that every human being experiences spiritually. As He delivered His people from slavery He desires to free us from sin. As He had a plan for them He has a wonderful plan for you.

He is constantly at work in our lives to bring us to Himself. Sometimes He has to strip us of substance and deliver us from the tyranny of things in order for us to see our need of Him. He wants to free us from the kingdom of to have and enable us to enter and enjoy the kingdom of to be.

To do as the text states and “search after God” is to educate ourselves.

God said you shall “find me” when you search for me. You can find God right in the middle of you Babylon if you search for Him.

God knew what He was doing and why it was necessary.

Check Your Life Time Warranty 10/15/00

Philippians 2:12-16

JESUS CHRIST has you under warranty. Many items come with a warranty. It is a guarantee that the product will work and perform certain intended tasks.

The Bible states your warranty — Phil. 2:13. “…it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

In the passage before this Christ’s obedience unto death has just been spoken of. Against this background of such obedience is the appeal to “work out your salvation”. This is no reference to justification. It states “work out”, not work “for” or “at” your salvation.

An understanding of what is meant by “work out” comes from the writings of a Roman historian named Strabo who lived in the century before Christ. Writing in Greek he referred to the famous silver mines in Spain. He spoke of the “working out of the mines” and used the term employed in our text. It meant to get the full value out of that which was already in possession.

The term was also used in math and referred to working out a problem. It meant to start with the known and use the proper math formulas to reach the ultimate answer.

With this understanding that is what you are to do with regard to your salvation.

TODAY I plead with you because I know someday I will have to stand before Jesus and give an account.

Not only will I have to stand and account, you will also. I don’t want you to be able to point at me and legitimately say, “I would have been more faithful if he had been more faithful in charging and challenging me.”

I want to appeal to you to live up to your warranty.

I. WORK OUT (Vs. 12b)
Carry your salvation to its full and complete conclusion. This is an imperative command intended to be obeyed by you. Some people downplay human responsibility and refer to passages that depict Christians as inanimate objects such as clay and branches. These are good illustration of limited principles. Remember, however, that the Bible also refers to us as soldiers, ambassadors, servants, watchmen, and children of God.

Live to please the Lord and by your lifestyle appeal to others to follow Him. To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.

God “works in” you and you “work out.”

The elemental essential to complying with this charge is OBEDIENCE. Regardless of how sincerely or loudly one speaks of their faith it is non-existent unless proven by observable obedience. Search the Scripture to understand just what God expects of you. As you unfold an area of life requiring obedience pause and commit yourself to doing it. Then go out and JUST DO IT!

It has been my joyous good fortune to observe the faith and faithfulness of many. Living illustrations have been inspiring.

As a minister I am not oblivious to the fact my presence makes a difference. By walking into a room I can change the topic and tone of conversations. The spirit and facial expressions of some change. When I walk in some can be talking and laughing and upon seeing me change facial expressions and immediately say, “Pastor, I want you to pray about … uh… pray for … uh … I have a niece in Spokane who heard of a infant, no I believe it was a teenager, in Oregon, no it was Ontario, who was the niece or nephew of a man or woman or something like that, in Texas, who needs a heart transplant, no I believe it is a liver transplant. Please pray for them.”

On a more practical level thousands of us have spiritually bonded so that we are an encouragement to each other by our very presence. It is an uplift just to be around or know of the consistency of obedient children of the Father.

Paul had such a bond with the church in Philippi that he had just left when he wrote them. He appealed to them to be faithful and obedient in his absence as they were when he was present with them. He was focusing their attention on our real source of motivation. It is the unwavering, always present, Lord. It is summed up in this:

“Whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord and not unto man” (Colossians 3:23). Live as though you are in the perpetual presence of one, the Lord Himself. For persons with that mentality the absence of a motivating person does not diminish the devotion and obedience to Christ.

Do it “with fear and trembling,” that is, reverence and healthy respect. This does not refer to nervous apprehension like that to prevail in the Last Judgement. The expression does not refer to alarm but awe. Maintain a sense of wonder and awe over being constantly in the presence of the Lord. Rejoice, He never takes His mind off you. Keep yours fixed on Him.

In Og Mandino’s intriguing book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, he tells the story of a man named Hafid to whom were given some very special scrolls. Reputedly these scrolls contained principles which if incorporated into life would make him the greatest salesman in the world. Principle number one was, “I will form good habits and become their slaves.” He reached this conclusion, “In truth, the only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits.”

I want to appeal to you to break some old habits and establish some new ones to which you become a slave. Such habits as:

A vibrant habit of daily Bible reading and prayer.

Systematic attendance in Bible study on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am.

Consistency in sharing my faith with friends.

Loyal attendance at Sunday night Bible study.

II. CAST OUT (Vs. 14)
Obey our Lord “without murmuring and disputing.”

Get the negatives out of your life. MURMURING (GOGGISMON) = half-concealed, half-muttered complaints and excuses.

DISPUTES – Christ gets no glory out of heated arguments.

Rid yourself of the two most popular excuses. One is IF ONLY… It implies something is lacking that keeps you from doing. God isn’t going to ask you to do anything He isn’t going to enable you to do.

Once upon a time a man allegedly said, “If only I had some extra money I would give it to God, but I have just enough to support myself and my family.” Later he was heard to say, “If only I had some extra time I would give it to God but every minute is taken.” Thereafter, he said, “If only I had some talent I would give it to the Lord but I haven’t.”

So an attentive God gave him extra money, talent, and time. The man said, “If only I had just a bit more money, a little more talent, and just a bit more time I would give it to God.” And God said, “Oh, shut up!”

III. BEAM OUT (Vs. 15)
In the midst of a CROOKED = wicked, and PERVERSE = depraved world you are to be BLAMELESS, that means you are to avoid being, divisive, fractious, grumbling, or argumentative. Free from fault or defects. Check your warranty.

Ever so gradually we backslide. Our light grows dim slowly. Many of you formerly attended worship on Sunday night, Sunday School, and many of you visited our Christ’s church. Slowly you got out of the habit. Your warranty check will call your attention back to the fact that the one who issued it said, “You are my witnesses.”

IV. REACH OUT (Vs. 16)
“Holding forth…” Like a runner with a torch. Laboring to the point of exhaustion.

REJOICE carries the image of running a victory.

RUN with a sense of urgency.

I want to present a direct challenge to you right now. I want to ask as many of you as will to commit yourself to being used of the Lord to reproduce yourself in this membership. Are you willing to let the Lord use you to bring someone into this church membership? Who joined in the past year because of you? Are you willing to extend yourself in aggressively trying to enlist someone for Christ in this year?

V. POURED OUT (Vs. 17)
“…I BE POURED OUT…” (SPENDOMAI) Poured out like a libation used to seal a sacrifice. Numbers 28:7, 8 reveals that just before a burnt offering was to be put in the fire a drink offering was poured over it. So a believer’s life is to be offered and not become an end in itself.

Are you guilty of being unwilling to give over control of your life to Christ? Are you hesitant to abandon your life in faith to the Christ-like life. If you were to be boldly clear with yourself would you have to admit you think your life can’t be good unless you control it? Would you have to confess you truly believe only you can plan and control a good life?

When you give control of your life to Christ what some people call “good coincidences” begin to happen. A coincident is when God performs a miracle and prefers to remain anonymous.

Our trust of Christ must bring us to the point of self-abandonment, a willingness to “pour out our lives,” as a living sacrifice. Make such a commitment today. Make sure that when it comes time to die all you have to do is die.

When Christ entered the stable in Bethlehem it took on a different significant. Christ in you should do the same.

The Awesome Power of Love 2/13/00

Matthew 22:34-40

JESUS CHRIST was asked a question that could have impelled him on the horns of a dilemma: “What is the great commandment in the law?” There were 613 commandments, 248 positive and 365 negative. Everybody had a favorite. Large factions defended certain ones as the most important. Jesus reached back into Deut. 6:5 and quoted an obscure one which He knew to be worthy to – Dominate our emotions – Direct our attitudes – Determine our actions.

It was part of the “shema” = the creed of Judaism. Shema means “to hear.” It was the first O.T. Scripture memorized by Jewish children. Their worship services open with the recitation of this text.

Compliance controls our temper, corrects our thinking, keeps us from temptation. It influences all of life. It gives life meaning, direction and purpose.

Love is so strong it drives certain industries in America. The U.S. Census Bureau, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, shares these insights (1997).

There are 169 businesses in the U.S. that employ a total of over 10,200 people that make chocolate products.

There are 762 companies employing 53,700 people that make candy.

There are 26,400 florists who employ 123,5000 people.

Just one country, Columbia, sold more than $300 million in flowers to the U.S.

The greeting card industry has one of its best seasons at Valentines’s Day.

Christ spoke of love as a driving force for good in all of life. He marked it as a primary attribute of His people.

We have only one word for love in our vocabulary whereas the Greeks had several. Our limited language results in there being a cloudy understanding just what it is. These following explanations by children are no less confusing than some adult comprehension.


A. Mike age 10, “They just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go on a second date.”


A. Lynette age 9, “It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need somebody to clean up after them.”


A. Jan age 9, “No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell. That’s why perfume and deodorant are so popular.”

A. Harlen age 8, “I think you’re suppose to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be so painful.”

a. PHILEO = phileal love refers to “tender affection” like a brother for a brother or a parent for a child. We hear it as a root in many words in our language. Philosophy means the love of knowledge. Philadelphia means the city of brotherly love. Philanthropy means the love of man, hence, kindness. Phileo is a beautiful word which means to value and cherish.

b. EROS = erotic is not used in Scripture. It refers to physical love which in the right context is good. Properly expressed in the right context it is of the Lord.

c. AGAPAO = agape love does not refer to our natural impulses or immediate feelings. It is conscious and deliberate, an act of the will. It means to seek God for His own sake, to have pleasure in Him, to strive impulsively after Him.

1. Does it ever seem to you that you just don’t work up an emotional thrill over loving God and your brothers and sisters. The occasional absence of this religious emotion causes some to conclude they aren’t Christians. It helps to find your way out of this dark shadow into the cheerful sunlight when you realize there are two kinds of love. One of FEELING and one of WILL. God never intended you to be a plaything of your emotions.

2. It is hard to rejoice in the Lord when suffering from a case of remoteness.

God loves you. If He had a refrigerator your picture would be on it.

If God had a wallet your photo would be in it.

He sends you sunshine every morning and flowers every spring.

Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen.

Having the right to live anywhere in the universe He has chosen to live in your heart.

Don’t forget that Christmas present He gave you or that special outing on Easter morning.

Face it! God is crazy about you.

He has drawn near to you. Won’t you draw near to Him?

The Lord said of Israel: “Their heart is far from me.” The words don’t refer to physical distance but to likeness. It is not physical distance but dissimilarity that causes a sense of remoteness. Two creatures may be so close physically that they touch yet so unalike that they are far apart. Man and a gorilla are Exhibit A.

For this moral unlikeness the Bible uses the word, alienation. Look in your inner life for evidence of the dissimilarity. Things such as: WRONG ATTITUDE, EVIL THOUGHTS, DISPOSITIONAL FLAWS.

Sir Edmond Hillery spoke about climbing Everest. His insights regarding such a climb are applicable to the process of scaling our emotions and fixing our will to love others.

“You have to fix your mind before you leave the base camp because it has a tendency to wander in the rarified atmosphere of such heights.” Climb the Everest within you. Fix your will to love.

You can’t love God without loving people. We are exhorted to love our neighbor as we love our self. Don’t try loving your neighbor without loving God. Don’t profess you love God if you don’t love your neighbor. Don’t engage in an exercise of evasion by narrowly defining who your neighbor is. Don’t narrow the definition like the Pharisees tried to do. Pharisees considered only Pharisees as “neighbors.” Jesus explained away this approach:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43, 44).

When we love God we love like God. Who does He love? The “whosoever” of John 3:16 and so should we.

Petty little selfish children and adolescents play games and use their friends as pawns. They play the game of “You can’t be my friend if you are going to be with —–.” They even push it to the point of “you can’t be my friend if you speak to ——.” Unfortunately some adults never grow out of it either.

Youth and adults alike, if you encounter such a person speak to them boldly about changing their attitude and if they don’t they will have identified themselves as person who does not love the Lord properly.

People who play these games are revealing themselves to you. They are showing they feel inferior to the person they are trying to alienate and shut out in that they feel inferior to that person and can’t compete with them. Their solution is to exclude that person from their world and try to get those with whom they want to be friends to do the same. It is a sure sign of inferiority.

We must learn to break down the barrier of evasiveness and stop excusing ourselves. This involves moving beyond theory to practice. Sooner or later we have got to stop quoting Scripture and start practicing it. Don’t just parrot platitudes practice principles. Here is a practical test for this kind of love:

It believes the best about a person until PROVEN wrong.

It wishes the best for others though they might not deserve it.

It refuses to accept all rumors which the bearer will not confirm with —- “Yes, you can quote me.”

It silences all gossip until TRUTH can be seen to be true.

It takes the initiative in giving the fallen repentant person another chance.

Edward Markham, the renown poet, was asked which of his many poems was his favorite. He who wrote the poem “Lincoln,” and the famous “Man with a Hoe,” replied:

“He drew a circle and shut me out,
A heretic, rebel, thing of flout,
Love and I had a will to win,
We drew a circle and took him in.”


A. Heart = KARDIA = The hidden spring of our personal being. It is our entire inner nature. It is a figurative term for our personality. Whole-hearted love is the meaning. It is a reference to being enthusiastic in our love for the Lord.

The measure of loving God is love without measure. Electricity and love have a common characteristic. Electricity can’t get into a body unless it can get out. It must have a ground. Love, the love of God, can’t get in a body unless it can get out. It is to flow though us like sound through an amplifier, like water through a river.

B. Soul = PSYCHE = Seat of purpose and will. It is the vitality of the heart animating the body. It is an act of the WILL. “In all things give thanks.” It does not say “feel thankful.” Giving thanks is an act of will, feeling thankful is an act of the emotions. Willfully give thanks and the feelings will follow.

C. Mind = DIANOIA = our faculty for knowing. This love is a knowledgeable thing. Albert Sweitzer in response to the question, “What is wrong with mankind today?” “He simply does not think.”



Life with Christ offers endless hope. Without Him it has a hopeless end.

Lech Walesa, leader in the Polish labor movement was given offices without furniture. Upon entering the vacant room, he said, “These are empty rooms, but they are full of hope.”

On the night of November 14, 1940, nearly 500 German bombers attacked the English City of Coventry. Over 600 tons of explosives and thousands of incendiaries were dropped. 70,000 homes were ruined, 400 people killed. Their magnificent 14th century cathedral was destroyed.

I have stood amid those ruins. The people have now built beside the ruins a modern new cathedral. The ruins of the old gothic structure still stands. The old walls and the new are architecturally connected. Two crosses stand on soot, blacken stone where the altar stood. One is made of charred beams taken from the ruins. A much smaller one is made from heat twisted spikes used by medieval craftsmen in constructing the roof.

A. It offers forgiveness. There is a sign carved in the wall since the war — “Father forgive.” That’s love

B. It reflects love like that of Christ for us. There is another quotation in front of the altar from Isaiah 6: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory.” That reveals the basis of love.

C. It is the power enabling the ultimate victory in Christ.

The new cathedral at Coventry has much art. None more striking than the life sculpture hanging just outside the main entrance. It depicts Michael, the archangel, spear in hand, poised triumphantly over a prostrated, manacled dragon. It depicts the ultimate victory.

Ultimately God’s love triumphs. Let it do so in your daily life.

Satan Unbound 2/6/00

Revelation 20:1-3 & 7-10

Jesus Christ is coming again in the air for His church. This is known as the Rapture. All believers will be caught up to be with Him.

Thereafter follows a period of time known as the Tribulation. During this seven year period the Antichrist will deceptively rule the world in a reign of terror.

This global holocaust will end with Christ coming again to the earth for His saints to reign for 1000 years. This period is known as the Millennium. During this time Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit. This utopian environment will in effect be Eden restored.

As we relate to the passage under consideration it will become apparent why Satan hates the Book of the Revelation and does everything he can to divert ministers from preaching from it. The Book unveils the end times and Satan’s destiny.

In our pragmatic state of mind we tend not to believe in what we cannot comprehend with our basic senses. Therefore, the idea of world conditions being different from those we know seems far fetched.

Yet, scientists tell us there are spectrums of light the natural human eye can’t see. We can see the violet in the rainbow and believe in it. However, only slightly removed is the ultra-violet rays we cannot see. The fact we can’t see them does not mean they aren’t there. Likewise, there is a new and different era coming that though we find it difficult to comprehend it is coming. Consider yet another phase of the end times.

At the end of the 1000 year millennial reign Satan will be unbound and unleashed on earth again “for a little while.”

Question: Why?

His deceptive work will be resumed. A vast number of persons who have lived during the Millennial reign of Christ will defect. These are persons who though living in a perfect environment with Christ literally ruling on earth will have defected in their hearts. Outwardly they will conform to the rule of Christ, but inwardly they will not have willfully submitted to Him as Savior and Lord. Satan is released to reveal their covert rebellion. This is the final rebellion and proves you can’t change people by changing their environment. Depravity, not environment, is the issue. This is a lesson from which current sociologists should learn. It is noble to work to improve persons living conditions. However, it is not outward conformity, but inward conversion that changes people.

These defectors having lived in a perfect environment, never having been tempted by the devil, never having been tested will opt to desert Christ and follow Satan. Outwardly they will have conformed but will never have been saved. They will have given homage to the enthroned Christ but will never have trusted Him as Savior. Their outward appearance and compliance with His rule will be a sham. When Satan is unleashed their inward rebellion will erupt into outward insurrection. Why?

The answer is found in the heart of humanity. It began in the Garden of Eden and has afflicted every mortal since. The whole human race has “heart trouble,” known as depravity. It is the most ancient and all-pervasive disease. It is the most communicable disease the world means to corrupt or pervert. More literally it means “to fail the test.” It means man kind failed the test of pleasing God. It is a reference to the old sin nature with which every human being has been born since the time of Adam and Eve. In theological circles it is called the Adamic nature, meaning a nature like that of Adam. It is the most deadly form of heart disease.

One of the most broad-brush statements in Scripture relates to depravity: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

Three words jump out: “every,” “only,” “continually.”

Some things depravity does not mean are important to note:

Most folks don’t “look” depraved. It is masterfully masked by some. Others have an admirable temperament and warm personality that keeps it from showing prominently.

Depravity doesn’t mean necessarily that a person acts bad. A person may not be bad, but without Christ is as bad off as possible.

The Bible is old but not out of date. It reveals the root cause of sin to be the heart.

It is the quality in our lives that necessitated the coming to earth of Christ to die as Savior.

That all-time classic poem helps our understanding of this profound theological issue.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Like Humpty we need fixing. Many have tried but no one can. A revised version of Humpty Dumpty reveals our salvation.

Jesus Christ came to our wall;
Jesus Christ died for our fall.
He slew Queen Death.
He crushed King Sin.
Through grace He put us together again.

What Jesus does for the repentant person is the equivalent of unscrambling our omelet.

“The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7).

To be “in the flesh” means the same thing as to be “in Adam,” or unsaved.

In Romans 8:5 reference is made to those “who live according to the flesh…” This means to live as unsaved after being saved.

One reason for the Millennial reign of Christ is to disprove the complaint against God that a perfect environment will produce perfect people. It didn’t in Eden and it won’t during the Millennium.

Only Christians enter the Millennium with Christ. The survivors of the Tribulation will populate the earth. The perfect environment and absence of sickness will result in longevity. There will be children born to and reared by these Christian parents. This will result in a dramatic population explosion. These children will grow up in a perfect environment with Christ literally ruling on earth, and yet many will rebel. With Christ’s theocratic rule justice will have been absolute.

With the curse imposed in Eden removed nature will be harmonious and productive. Still there will be those who rebel. Outwardly they will conform because Christ will rule with a “rod of iron,” meaning He will be the only and absolute authority. Though there is outward conformity there will be those who inwardly resent and reject Him.

Throughout history God has tried various approaches to show His love and draw people to Himself. Under each administration there have been those who receive and those who reject. God’s purpose in using these varied approaches will be to exhaust every possible means and technique of showing and His. By the end of time persons will have lived under:

GOVERNMENT the era of the Old Testament Judges
LAW the Old Testament period of the Commandments
GRACE the church era in which we now live
GLORY the Millennial rule of Christ.

In every era person’s free will have resulted in various responses. In these varied eras of God manifesting His presence and purpose He has exhausted every potential approach to reaching people. Each effort will be met with alternate responses.

These individuals who at the end of the millennial reign of Christ rebel and follow Satan have lived in a perfect environment and never been tempted or tested. Now for the first time they are and they yield. It is the heart of persons that is deceitfully wicked.

“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19).

Jeremiah, the prophet warned: “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Personal accountability is stressed throughout the Bible.

In our current time there are often Christian parents who lovingly provide well for their children. They meet their physical, cultural, social, and spiritual needs only to have their hearts broken by their children rebelling. Some of these even move to new communities in order to try to provide a more perfect environment for their children. Some have lavish expensive “toys” and provide game rooms at home in order to create a utopian environment for their children. Some even search for a church with a good youth program. Even then there are parents whose loving efforts fail to keep their child or children from evil.

Many of these parents with broken hearts blame themselves. In doing so they overlook one element they can’t control. It is controlled only by the individual child. It is their heart. In finality the child has a free will that not even God will make to conform to His will. Personal responsibility must be taken by the individual.

Numerous are the stories of children reared by Godly parents in a wonderful spiritual environment who have rebelled against Christ. They had both heredity and environment as assets and still rebelled. There are many sons and daughters of Godly parents in prisons today who willfully made the wrong choices and rebelled not only against their parents but Christ.

Conversely, there are accounts of those who were reared by ungodly parents in a deplorable environment who responded positively to Christ and became spiritually productive.

A former member of this church comes to mind. He was reared as a member of Chicago’s largest crime family. There never was a day he didn’t know, see, and do evil. He rose in the syndicate to a place of prominence and power. He told me of one night he and his body guards got out of his limousine only to see a person walking toward him. The man was carrying something immediately recognized and feared —- a Bible. He told me he was so enraged at the very sight of the Bible he pulled his revolver and said to the man, “If you say one word to me out of that book I will kill you.”

In continuing his account of his carnal life he related the day he repentantly embraced Christ as Savior and renounced the gangster life. At the time he was living here he was in the witness protection program and living a vibrant life for Christ. His will overcame his heredity and environment.

There is a classical Biblical example of two reared in the same environment and by the same family who went different directions. Moses and Pharaoh were reared together. Moses’s path is well known. A passage posing a bit of a mystery to some says, “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” A superficial reading makes it appear God was unfair to Pharaoh. Not so! Moses was the only person of the era to whom God revealed as much as He did to Pharaoh. Pharaoh had more divine revelation than any person of his era other than Moses. Moses responded positively to God and Pharaoh hardened his own heart by rebelling.

Their number will be “as the sands of the sea” (Vs. 8). This indicates the deep, complex nature of evil. The source of rebellion does not rest in man’s environment or fundamentally with the devil, but within the heart of man. Satan’s return illustrates this dramatically in that people will rebel against Christ after His Millennial reign. Christ’s earthly rule does not end until He has dealt with this final challenge to His kingdom. At that time He demonstrates the victory of His cross and puts down this Satanic rebellion.

“For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet” (I Corinthians 15:25).

Satan and his forces are pictured as having “surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city” (Vs. 9). This may well be at Jerusalem, however, the reference is to all the people of Christ globally at that time.

At this point when it appears Satan will prevail physically fire comes down from God out of heaven and he is finally defeated. At this point there is a literal fulfillment of Hebrews 12:29, “Our God is a consuming fire.” The devil is at this time “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone,” hell (Vs. 10).

Stick a fork in him —- he’s done. Fine! He is no longer a player on earth.

Satan was judged at the cross. At this time his final sentence is carried out. It is said of him and his cohorts “…they will be tormented day and night forever” Vs. 10).

Jesus told us when on earth He had a place prepared for the devil. It is called by Him “the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

Any person who goes there to share Satan’s destiny does it in rebellion to God’s expressed will.

“It is not His will that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

The “whosoever” of John 3: 16 reveals our unlimited opportunity.

Our Lord has prepared for us a means of having a heavenly home. You can prepare now to avoid the Tribulation. The certainty of ones destiny gives great peace.

In the 1600’s there lived a faithful and bold band of believers who refused to capitulate to the tyrannical powers of the day. They covenanted together to be loyal to the Lord regardless of the cost. Hence, they became known as the Covenanters. One of their number, Hugh Mackail, the youngest and bravest of their ranks was condemned to be hanged in December 1666. They gave him four days to live before being hanged.

As the guards led him back to prison many in the crowd watched and wept. It seemed a pity one so young should suffer such a fate. In his own eyes there were no tears, on his face a bright subtle smile. The face of this young Galahad of the cross was radiant as he shouted “Trust in God. Trust in God.”

Suddenly he caught a glimpse of a friend in the crowd and shouted, “Good news, good news! I am within four days journey of enjoying the sight of Jesus Christ.”

You can begin your brief journey to see the face of Christ.

We can choose to live as a victim of our depravity in the energy of the flesh.

Or. We can choose to live as victors through the power of Jesus Christ.

Happy Hanukkah

The Jewish community has begun their eight day celebration of Hanukkah, Chanukiah in Hebrew. It is November 28 – December 6 in 2021.. It is based on the feats of the Maccabees’ revolt as recorded in “The First Book of Maccabees.” If you haven’t read it, do. It is the only Jewish holiday not in the Bible.

In summary, when Alexander the Great conquered Syria, Egypt, and Palestine, he allowed locals a certain degree of autonomy to continue the celebration of their religion. Under such benevolence locals took on certain Greek customs. Visitors to modern Israel will even find some red haired Jews who are descendants from intermarried couples of the time. Some of Jesus’ disciples had Greek names which were common in Galilee: John, Mark, Phillip, Matthew, and Luke. 

A Greek tyrant, Antiochus IV came into power a century later, oppressed the Jews and profaned their Temple. He had a superiority complex calling himself Antiochus Epiphanies, meaning the most high god. He replaced the Hebrew priests with Hellenistic priests. He blasphemously required pigs to be offered on the Jewish Temple altar. 

An elderly Jewish priest, Mattathias, a Hasmonean, was killed in his resistance to the degradation. His son Judah and his brothers took up the cause of the revolt against the Seleucid Greek government.

These resistance fighters used guerilla tactics to drive out their military superior suppressors. 

Hanukkah is a celebration of several factors. One is considered a fulfillment proclamation of the prophet Zachariah who wrote, “Not by might, not by power, but by My spirit.” The military victory is considered a spiritual occurrence. 

After the costly victory the people undertook the cleansing of their profaned Temple on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev in the year 165 BC. The Talmud, a sacred book of the Jews, records the miracle of there being only a one day supply of the scarce pure oil of the Temple, burned for eight days until more pure oil arrived.

Today in commemoration of the event one candle is lit each night until all eight are lit. They are placed where they can easily be seen in obedience to the command to “publicize the miracle.”

There are three versions of the menorah. The eight branch menorah is the modern symbol of the event and is often used as a symbol for Israel. It is associated with religious freedom. The ninth arm is above the others and is used to light the eight.  A seven branch preceded the nine branch one and is the symbol for the Jewish people and state.

I have always admired the Maccabees and the story of their heroism so much that once when my wife and I visited Israel by ourselves we set out to find their graves. Our seasoned guide didn’t know where to begin to find them and had difficulty finding directions from other guides. Ultimately we found them in a forest with little marking. Now their graves are better marked.

Portions of Psalm 113 to 118, known as the Hallel, are sung during the celebration. Persons of various faiths or no faith would find joining with the Jewish community in reading them inspirational. 

Jews are to be commended for keeping alive their heritage, through such celebrations. In a time when Americans tend to degrade their heritage we would do well to learn from them.

Happy Hanukkah.