Are you in debt and looking for a way to pay it off?

Have you ever wondered where credit cards came from? I did a little research and discovered that they were first introduced in the United States in the 1920’s by oil companies and hotel chains for customers to use at company outlets. To all intents and purposes, they were created to be used for travel. It wasn’t until the 1950’s however, that a universal credit card was created for people to use at a variety of establishments. 

Today of course, credit cards are widely used, especially in the United States and many people have sadly racked up a great deal of debt which they find difficult to pay back. Why? Because the whole nature of the credit system is to charge interest, or usury, so that the only one really benefiting from the credit card is the bank that hands them out. Very few people ever get out of credit card debt! 

Keeping that last thought in mind, I want to show you something in the Bible that very much looks like a credit card to me. Now before you think I’ve lost my mind, hear me out and let me walk you through the entire process. I believe it will all make sense in the end.

In the book of Genesis we are told the history of creation. God created the heavens and the earth and everything that lives and breathes, including man. After He created man, he also created a woman from Adam’s rib, thus creating a counterpart for him. The two became one, or as Adam put it, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh;

She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23)  Sadly, after God had created them they disobeyed Him. God had planted a garden East of Eden, where He put the two of them, and told Adam that He could eat from any tree in the garden, except from a tree planted in the middle, which God called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The details are given in the book of Genesis, chapters 1-3. 

For our purposes today, I will focus on what happened that fateful day when Adam and Eve were walking through the garden, looking at the trees and deciding which one to eat from:

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5)

What the serpent said to the woman sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it? Here’s my modern vernacular: “Hey Eve, God’s lying to you. He just doesn’t want you to be like him. You won’t die. Trust me.”  Long story short, she believed him and they both ate it’s fruit and the results were immediate: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” (Genesis 3:7) 

What happened was immediate shame and condemnation. The shame was so great that not only did they try to make themselves clothes to cover their nakedness, but when they heard the Lord walking in the garden, as was his custom before the fall, they hid from him. This whole story is called “the fall of man”, when sin entered the world.  So where does this credit card I talked about earlier come in?

Let’s look at what Eve said to the Lord, when He questioned them about what happened. She said to Him, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13 NASB) 

What she says here seems pretty straight forward, and so simple, in many ways. But I want to show you something. That little word “deceived” has some interesting origins in the original Hebrew. In both the New King James Bible and the English Standard Bible, the word used is nasa, which means to deceive or to lead astray. But, in the New American Standard Bible, we are given more information. In this translation, even though the original word is the same, nasa, we are given further revelation. In this case, it also means, “to lend on interest or usury, be a creditor”. I found this to be fascinating because it gives us so much more insight about what really happened that day. The serpent gave her a credit card: “Here Eve, if you believe me and eat that fruit, you will have wisdom and understanding, and in exchange you will forever be in my debt. But, you will never be able to pay back that loan, let alone the interest I’m going to charge you.” The serpent was right. There is nothing that we can do in our own strength or power that will ever pay back the debt of sin that we owe. We are born sinners, in need of a Savior. 

No, they didn’t physically die that day. As a matter of fact, they lived for hundreds of years. What died was their spirit. They now had a sin nature which they would pass on to their children and even down to us. That sin nature has separated us from the living God, from a Holy God. 

This is exactly why Jesus Christ, when He was dying on the cross, thousands of years later, cried out “It is finished”. (John 19:30) That word finished is teleo in the Greek and it means to “to end, i.e. complete, execute, conclude, discharge (a debt): — accomplish, make an end, expire, fill up, finish, go over, pay, perform.” Jesus paid our credit card off. He paid it in full! There’s only one catch. In order for His sacrifice on the cross to count towards that debt, we must be born again.

In the gospel of John, chapter 3, Jesus is talking to a ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus. Jesus tells him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He goes on to tell Nicodemus in verse 5,  I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”. Your spirit must be born again. You must repent of your sins, acknowledge that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, died on the cross for your sins and then rose again on the third day. He is alive, sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven. He is Lord of lords and King of kings. If you believe that and repent of your sins, you will have eternal life. 

That credit card debt that all of us are born with can never be repaid in our own power. He is a holy God and we are separated from Him because of our sin. The good news, or what is commonly called the Gospel, is that He provided a way to get out of that debt: His name is Jesus.

Who is this King of kings and Lord of lords?

Have you ever looked up the names of God in the Bible? I thought I knew most of them until I did a search on the internet and ran across a website that left me speechless. Here’s the link:

The author had posted a list of 270 names, yes, 270 names of God in the Bible. As I read through them I was in awe. With names such as Everlasting Father, Counselor, Anointed One, King of Glory and Comforter, how could I not be? That is just a small fraction of the names I read from the Bible. Truthfully, I have always wondered why Moses was told by the Lord in Exodus 3:14  “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.” What does that even mean? But as I looked through all those different names, I began to have a tiny bit of understanding. Like Job however, I started to realize, “By His Spirit He adorned the heavens; His hand pierced the fleeing serpent. Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, And how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?” Job 26:13-14. 

Indeed. Even with all those names to describe Himself, I feel as though I understand only the edges of who He really is. I think He is too wonderful for any of us to truly grasp. And that brought me to another question. If He is that big, that powerful, and that wonderful, then why do I fear the wicked? Why do I watch them boast about their plans for humanity, their cruel schemes to destroy the righteous, and feel afraid? Yes, I am being very careful with my words here. These days one has to be. If you don’t know what I am talking about, search for a certain conference that took place in Switzerland this January, 2023 and read all about their meetings and speeches. They have amazing plans for humanity. If I didn’t know any better I would be afraid, very afraid of their plans. 

As I opened my Bible this morning, as is my custom, I began to read Psalm 52 and I realized as I pondered on the words of King David, that I have no reason to fear the wicked, for I know their end. God has already told me the end from the beginning! Let me share some of David’s words:

“Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually.

Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. You love evil more than good, lying rather than speaking righteousness. You love all devouring words, you deceitful tongue. God shall likewise destroy you forever; He shall take you away, and pluck you out of your dwelling place, and uproot you from the land of the living.

The righteous also shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him, saying, “Here is the man who did not make God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.”

If you think I’m being dramatic with these words of David, you haven’t heard these leaders devise their destructive plans with their tongues. They have no shame. These rich and powerful people boast about becoming gods and living forever. 

I think one of the reasons why so many people are afraid these days is because the church has portrayed God as only a God of love and grace. But, like two sides of a coin, church leaders have for the most part forgotten to mention that He is also the Judge!  “He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.” Psalm 96:13 

We are told in Revelation that there is a judgment coming called “The Great White Throne Judgement”. John describes it in Revelation 20:11-15

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

The sad thing is that it will not only be the rich and famous who devise these evil plans for us, who will stand before that throne one day, (unless they repent), it will also be all those who reject God’s plan of salvation for them now, while they are still alive. You see, God is not keeping score of different sins. He doesn’t have a balance and if you did more good deeds and committed less bad deeds, you get into heaven. He has told us in Scripture that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Romans 3:23 None of us is righteous, not even one. We might not be murderers, or thieves, or adulterers, but it doesn’t matter. We are all sinners and we are all in need of a savior. And that Savior is Jesus Christ, who died on a cross 2000 years ago. Here are the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isa 53:3-6) describing the coming Messiah who would die for the sins of the world:

“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

King David (Psalm 22:16-18) gives us another graphic description of the crucifixion, a death sentence that would not even be invented until many years later, by the Romans:

“For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”

So what are we to make of all this? Jesus the Christ fulfilled hundreds of prophecies when He came to earth as the suffering servant the first time. He has given us hundreds of prophecies that describe His second coming as well.  If you are born again, and trusting in Jesus Christ for your salvation, then I will encourage you to not be afraid. God is in control; He has a plan and it is His plan that will prevail. If you want to know what His plans for the wicked are, just read the book of Revelation. 

If you are reading this and you don’t know Jesus, but my words have put the fear of the Lord on you, then take heart. He loves you and has provided the way of salvation for you through Jesus Christ His Son. Repent of your sins, ask Him to forgive you and tell Him that you want to know Him. He will reveal Himself to you. He is a good Father to those who seek the truth.

Why is waiting on the Lord so hard?

I am writing this post during the season of waiting. I am of course referring to the holidays, the Christmas season for Christians. We wait in line, we wait at red lights, we wait for packages to arrive, we wait for family to come home, we wait for Christmas Day. Waiting is hard, no doubt about it. It doesn’t help that God tells us to wait on Him as well. Why God? Why do I have to wait so much? Why can’t I have my prayers answered now? Why can’t I know your will now? 

Probably the most well known verse, at least in my opinion, about waiting on God is Isaiah 40:31. “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Whenever I have heard this verse quoted, it is usually in conjunction with waiting for answers to prayers. We are told that we must trust God and wait for His timing. I have no doubt or argument with this premise. I have waited many years for my prayers to be answered, some of them I am still waiting on. But I would like to propose that there is something else we must also wait for when it comes to the Lord. His voice!

Many years ago, I was taking a class at my church and our teacher gave us some homework I considered so difficult that it felt like punishment. She told us to spend 2 hours a week sitting and waiting quietly before the Lord. We were to be silent, not reading, not praying, and it had to be in one period of time. The first few weeks that we were to do this, I fell asleep within minutes. Have you ever tried sitting quietly for two hours? But it taught me something. Most of us came back to class with the same report: we had fallen asleep. Her response was precious. “That’s ok”, she said, “you were sleeping in the arms of your Father”.

Because waiting on His voice is so hard, we have been taught by many that we cannot initiate hearing God. Or even better, God only speaks occasionally, and certainly not now, because we have His word, His Bible that speaks to us. We are told that silence from heaven is normal and that God only spoke to people in the past because they didn’t have the Scriptures. Perhaps we have not been taught this directly, but if you think about it, how many pastors teach about hearing the voice of the Lord? At best, we are taught that God is a man of few words, and He only says one word. He never speaks in full sentences or a paragraph. 

But there is this thing that has always bothered me about hearing God’s voice. Jesus tells us in John 10:4-5 “And when he (Jesus) brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” What bothers me is that Jesus tells us here that the reason we are not led astray, or deceived by false prophets, false shepherds, false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing if you will, is because we don’t know their voices, we only know the voice of our shepherd. As a matter of fact, He says that we should know His voice so well, that when a stranger tries to get us to follow him, we flee!

If you’ve ever owned an animal, one that is loved and loves you, you will realize that they know your voice. Most animals will not follow a stranger. They only follow the voice of their master. It is the homeless animal, the lonely, abandoned animal roaming the streets, or left in a shelter, that follows a strangers voice, because it is looking for a home. Think on that. Are you looking for a home or do you know the voice of your Master, your Shepherd? 

If Jesus wants us to know His voice, then why is it so hard for us to know it? Let me go back to that scripture in Isaiah 40. Isaiah tells us that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. That word wait is an interesting word in the Hebrew. It is translated in different ways, depending on the context it is used in. The first time it is used is by God Himself in Genesis 1:9 when He tells us that the waters would be “gathered together” at creation.  Sometimes it is translated as looked for, expected, or even hope, and of course, wait. All these words make me think of one thing, relationship. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat in my prayer room, waiting on Him, looking for Him, seeking Him, expecting Him to speak to me and heard nothing. But I did not give up. I waited and eventually, I heard His voice. The result: He renewed my strength. Did He ever test me to see if I was serious about hearing Him? Yes, all the time! Those early years, when I was still learning what His voice sounded like, the waiting seemed to take longer. He wanted to know just how serious I really was. Was He important enough for me to wait on Him? I learned that if I persevered, if I overcame the distractions, the impatience, the urge to give up, the desire to fall asleep, He would reward me by speaking to me. And yes, it has gotten easier to hear Him now. 

So what are some of the things that I have learned over the years about hearing the voice of the Lord? 

Perhaps the most important thing is that if I hear His voice today and He tells me something I need to listen and obey. Hebrews 3:15 tells us, “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” The writer of Hebrews warns us that the Israelites did not enter the promised land because of their disobedience to God and their unbelief. I must be careful that I do not walk in these same sins, disobedience and unbelief. 

Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 that we are not to quench the Spirit. If I am a born again believer, and I have the Holy Spirit living in me, then it would seem only reasonable that the Spirit would speak to me. If I don’t want to hear what He is saying, by not listening for whatever reason, then am I not in fact “quenching the Spirit”?

God does not limit His Spirit. John the Baptist tells us in John 3:34 “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.” There are no measuring cups in heaven. He doesn’t give a 1/4 cup to some, and 2 cups to another. He speaks to all who will listen.

And that brings me to to my final point. Jesus Himself tells us in Mark 4:24-25, “Then He said to them,Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

Think about this last statement. The more you take the time to fellowship with the Lord, and listen for His voice, and believe that He wants to talk to you, the more He will speak to you. What a glorious promise that is. But, it comes with a warning. To those who don’t listen, who choose to close their ears, quench the spirit, disobey and walk away in unbelief, He will take away the ability to hear Him. It reminds me of what Jesus tells us in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Jesus sends 7 letters to 7 churches, and He ends every single letter with this admonition: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

The Lord desires relationship. He tells us we are His friends, if we obey Him. But in order to be friends with someone, we have to be willing to spend time with them, listen to them and have a conversation with them. Good conversations have two ingredients: talking and listening! We must learn to wait on Him, to wait for His voice. If you have been running from His voice, afraid of what He might tell you, repent. If you lack the faith to believe He would speak to you, repent. He loves you and desires for you to know Him. How else will you know how to flee from strangers?

Are you searching for the unknown god?

When I was just a child, maybe 8 or 9 years old, I used to go to bed at night and speak to god. I didn’t know his name, so I gave him a name that I liked very much, Charlie. Every night I would talk to Charlie and tell him about my life. Little did I know that the God of the universe was in fact listening to me. You see, He likes little children and He especially likes it when they talk to Him. 

This went on for months, maybe longer, I don’t really remember how long. But I do remember that one day, this unknown god that I had been talking to, introduced Himself to me. He told me His name is Jesus. Sadly, the adults in my life told me there is no god, so immediately my faith was stolen from me. But, that’s not where the story ends. No, this God, this Jesus, knew that in my heart I was still searching for Him, even though I now doubted that He was real. 

He pursued me and even protected me as I grew into a troubled teen, depressed and angry at the world. He would periodically send people into my life who would try to reintroduce me to Him, but I was not interested. Instead I found solace in other things, like alcohol, drugs, and sex. But those things do not really satisfy, as I was soon to realize and even though several years passed, I was still searching, looking for something that would give my life meaning and purpose. 

How about you? Are you searching? Perhaps looking for that unknown god? Or perhaps the gods that you’ve been introduced to by people have proven themselves lacking. Lacking in power, strength, substance, love, forgiveness? Perhaps you’ve grown up with religion, but you realized as you grew older, that religion doesn’t satisfy either. It’s just dry and dusty bones, white washed tombs, filled with dead things. 

You see, when this unknown god introduced Himself to me a second time, I was now an older teen, and He didn’t simply tell me his real name. No, this time He changed my life! I was literally born again! How you might ask? What did I do? And more importantly, what did He do? 

The day that I was born again, I realized that I was a sinner in need of a savior. I came face to face with the magnitude of my own sin and even though I was still young, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, I needed someone to forgive me for all that sin. I needed Someone who could wash me clean and give me a new life, someone who could make me a new creation. 

The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23-25 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.”

Perhaps you’ve never read the Bible, or maybe you’ve read small passages, but it never made any sense to you. Maybe you were told by the “adults” in your life, that you can’t understand God, you can’t understand the Bible. Could it be that those adults are wrong? Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:3-4 “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” He is telling us here that the only thing that is required from us, is to have faith like a little child. 

Children have an uncanny and amazing ability to trust. We have a Heavenly Father, who loves us. The Bible tells us in John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” 

If you think about it, this plan of salvation really sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Why would God, any god, send His only Son and have Him die on a cross, have Him crucified, for my sin, for your sin? Indeed, only a little child could trust that they have a Father, a Heavenly Father, that loves them so much, that He would make a way, when there was no way. That my friend, requires childlike faith! 

Maybe as you have been reading this, you wonder if this God, this Jesus, could save you? Perhaps you have been serving a god who says that you should die for him? You have been told that if you want to go to heaven, you must sacrifice yourself and die for this god to accept you. But my God, my Jesus, says that He died for you and me. He says that if I will believe that He died for my sins, and trust Him like a little child would, that He will give me eternal life in heaven with Him. What a mighty God! What a faithful, loving Father! 

If your heart is burning within you and you too want to be forgiven, if you want to know what it is like to be loved this much, then come to Jesus. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you, to forgive you for your sins. Ask Him to have mercy on you and save your soul. He is faithful and He will hear your cries, just as He heard mine when I was just a child. 

Are you tired, anxious and depressed?

Are you tired? I know I am. The last two or three years have been difficult to say the least. I was recently reading a report that said that the number one mental health problem in the world today is anxiety. Somehow I’m not surprised. There is a lot going on that would create anxiety in people. Wars, rumors of wars, pestilence, famine, inflation, and earthquakes, are just a few of the things happening worldwide. The headlines just seem to get worse with each passing month. If you read the Bible however, Jesus warned us that these things would happen in the last days (Matthew 24). The whole chapter reads like one news headline after another. You see, God is not surprised by anything that is happening on the earth. He knows the end from the beginning and He told us what was coming, so that we don’t have to be afraid. 

I know that sounds great in theory, but how do we actually practice not being filled with fears and anxiety? How do we live our lives with peaceful hearts, instead of fearful ones? Proverbs 12:25 tells us that “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad”. How can we get a “good word”, so that our hearts will once again be glad? How do we learn to overcome anxiety so that we are not depressed? Let me share some thoughts with you  that have helped me during these difficult times.

As I was reading my Bible this morning, I noticed something I’d never seen before. In the book of Revelation, Jesus writes a letter through the Apostle John to seven churches. These seven letters were written to actual churches that existed at the time that John was alive. They also represent the seven church ages. It is the last two churches that I want to focus on, the church of Philadelphia and the church of Laodicea. Many people, myself included believe that these two churches represent the end time churches right before the tribulation starts. 

To the church of Philadelphia, Jesus says this: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” (Revelation 3:8) What popped off the page at me this morning was something that Jesus said to this church: “you have a little strength”. In the English, that word strength doesn’t mean much, but in the Greek, it means a lot. It is actually the word “dynamis”, which means power, wonders, works or miracles,  That word is first used in the Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:13, “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” In other words, that little word that we translate as “strength” in Revelation 3:8, actually means the miracle working power of God that shows signs and wonders. 

So why does this church only have a little power or strength? Perhaps past generations would not have understood why, but living in our world today, looking at today’s headlines, it is not difficult to understand. The things going on in this world, are energy sapping, to say the least. It is easy to lose our strength and become hopeless, afraid and even depressed. It is only the Holy Spirit who can give us the supernatural strength or power to get us through each day. Only He can encourage us, strengthen us, comfort us and help us.

It reminds me of the Israelites when they were wandering in the wilderness and they had to get up each morning and collect Manna, but only enough for that day. They were not allowed to collect more than one days worth. Why? Because God was teaching them to trust Him for provision, each and every morning. I think during these difficult, last days, the Lord is teaching us to get up and collect “spiritual manna” each and every morning as well. 

But what does the church of Laodicea have to do with any of this? This is the church that Jesus wants to vomit out of His mouth. Remember? They make Him so sick, that He wants to throw up. Why? He tells us in Revelation 3:17. “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”. They don’t need a thing, these people. They have accumulated all kinds of wealth, and consequently, feel very secure in their lives. Do they have any strength? From the sounds of it, they have lots. But it’s not the kind of strength that will do them any good, because their strength lies in themselves and what they have accomplished in their lives. They have no need to get up each morning and collect Manna. They have plenty of leeks, onions and garlic, that they have managed to bring with them from Egypt. (“We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” Numbers 11:4-6)

I know it would be easy to look back at the way things were, not that long ago, and long for those days. But the world has changed and God is telling us not to be like the lukewarm church of Laodicea. He wants us to get up each morning and collect Manna, not the kind that Israel collected, but spiritual Manna. He doesn’t want us to find our comfort in those things that we have accomplished or attained ourselves. He is asking us to sit and read His word, listen for His voice, feel His presence, and regain our strength from Him, for the day.

I have learned that I have to search for that Manna each and every day. What I read or heard or even understood yesterday, doesn’t really help me to face today’s issues. Paul tells us the secret in 2 Corinthians 12:9 when he tells us what the Lord told him “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” The word used for strength is that same word used in Revelation, dynamis. His power, his strength, is actually made perfect or complete, in my weakness. When I come to Him and allow Him to strengthen me, I am no longer relying on myself, but on Him.

If you don’t know Jesus, but you’ve made it this far, then let me tell you something that He said to those people in Laodicea that He wanted to vomit out. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20) Jesus is standing at the door of your heart right now, and He is asking you to let Him in. Will you repent of your sins, accept Him as God’s sacrifice for your sins, and allow Him to come into your life? He is waiting, because He loves you. If you decide to let Him in, get a Holy Bible and start spending time with Him each day. He will strengthen you to overcome.

What is the Whole Counsel of God?

If you’ve ever watched murder mysteries, (I confess that I used to be addicted to them) you might have noticed something. Sometimes it’s not what people say, it’s what they don’t say. What I mean by that is that you have to look at the context. People say certain things during certain events. It’s just human nature.  If you are lying to someone, there are things you won’t say, that someone who is telling the truth, would. Have I confused you yet? It took me a while to understand this as well.

I’ll give you an example from my own life. Many years ago, we had a neighbor who had purchased a beautiful black lab puppy. Sadly, this puppy was left outside, chained to the deck with no place to sleep or hide from the elements. His kennel was covered with an inch of ice rain because it was winter. Once a day the owner would come out and give him a bowl of food. Other than that, he was ignored. After watching this unfold for months, my daughters and I couldn’t handle the abuse anymore. We stole the dog. We took that puppy and brought him to a dog shelter in another county, ensuring he would not be found by this man. The next day, when the owner discovered the dog was gone, he came to my house and demanded to know if I had his dog. We had been babysitting another black lab puppy from a different neighbor and he thought it was his dog. I told him no. Long story short, it occurred to me after the confrontation, that I never told him I was sorry for his loss and that I hoped he would find his dog. It wasn’t what I said, it was what I didn’t say to him that mattered.

So what does my story have to do with the whole counsel of God? Paul tells us in Acts 20:26-27 “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” What Paul was in effect saying is that he had not shrunk back from telling people everything, not just some things. He was not picking and choosing which parts of the gospel he taught, he was not leaving some things out because they are difficult to understand, controversial or perhaps didn’t fit with his own understanding of things. Or, perhaps worse, he didn’t teach only those things that built up his own ministry. His goal, his only goal was to teach God’s people everything that he knew to be true, from the beginning to the end. The New Living Translation puts it this way: “for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know”.

When I read that sentence, I have to ask, what is this “all” that God wants me to know? 

The answer to that question is probably trickier than you think. Most churches, at least the ones that still believe in salvation through Christ alone, teach only about our salvation. They have turned the good news into something about you and me. Although there is no doubt that Christ died for our sins so that we could be saved from eternal damnation, is that really “all” that God wants me to know?

How about creation? Did God create the world in 7 days as Genesis tells us, or did we evolve over millions of years? 

How about the fall of Adam and Eve? Are they a real couple that sinned and were banished from the garden of Eden or were they just a myth, a legend of old? 

And then there is the nation of Israel. Did God make a covenant with Abraham, for eternity or was it just for a season until Jesus could come through the Jews? Did God actually “replace” Israel with the church because they rejected His Son?

What do we know and understand about Jesus? Is He the Son of God, the promised Messiah who came to take away the sins of the world? Or is he just another prophet, a good teacher, a kind man who helped people? 

Is Jesus alive today? Did He rise from the dead, or is He still in the grave?

Is there such a thing as the rapture? Will the church, the real church of believers, not just church goers, be taken to meet Jesus in the air, in the clouds, and be taken to heaven?

How about the book of Revelation? Is it just an allegory or is it a prophecy of end time events?

If Revelation is true then what does that mean for our world? Is God going to judge the nations for their wickedness and rejection of Him?

Will Jesus physically return to the Mount of Olives, to Zion, and set up His kingdom for a thousand years, ruling and reigning on this earth from Jerusalem, Israel.

I could go on with more details but I want you to notice something about all my questions. They start with the book of Genesis, the beginning, and they end with Revelation, the last book in the Bible, or the end. 

Paul talked about every one of these questions in the New Testament. As a matter of fact, every single book in the Old Testament also speaks of these questions. The Bible, from beginning to end, speaks of creation, sin, redemption, salvation and the first coming of Jesus to earth and finally, the rapture of the church, the restoration of Israel and the second coming of Christ. 

The Bible tells us about the Kingdom of Jesus. Salvation is a part of that “all”, but the whole story, the whole counsel, all the things that God wants us to know, encompass the entire book. It is a story from beginning to end about God. Not about us. Not about the Gentiles. Not just about salvation. The Bible is about the Creator God, the King of kings and Lord of lords and His plans for this world and for eternity. 

Why are these questions that I asked so important? I will give you a brief answer, although there are no doubt books that have been written. Let’s start at the beginning.

If God did not create the world, none of it matters. If He didn’t do it in 7 literal days, then there would not be an Adam and Eve. Without Adam and Eve, there is no fall of man, whereby sin and death entered the world. Without the fall, there is no need for redemption. Therefore, Jesus did not need to come and die for our sins. Even if He did come and die, if He didn’t rise from the dead, then there is no resurrection from the dead and no hope for eternity. If He has rejected Israel as the chosen people and replaced them with the church, then God does not keep His promises. If He doesn’t keep His promises to them, He won’t keep them to you and I either and He is therefore a liar. If God is a liar, then He can’t be trusted for the future. If He doesn’t rapture the church before the tribulation, then He lied when He told us that we are not destined for wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:10, 5:9) If He is a liar then He won’t come back to earth physically and set up His kingdom. If there is no kingdom of God, then we of all people on earth are without hope. We are living a lie, a delusion. A very sad delusion.

Do you see where I am going here? It all hangs together. It is the “whole counsel of God”. All of it matters. And if we do not understand all of it, then apostasy can creep into our thinking and our beliefs and pretty soon, all kinds of false teaching begins to twist our understanding. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 24:4 “Take heed that no one deceives you”, when they asked Him about the end times. There is all kinds of deception in the church, all kinds of false teaching being taught by false teachers. Paul called them “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1) I will go back to my story of the dog. Sometimes, it is not what they are teaching you that is a lie. It is what they are not teaching you that matters. Protect yourself from deception. Read the Bible. All of it. 

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