Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How Much Can You Handle?

                                                         How Much Can You Handle?
     Jeremiah 12:5  If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?

     A luminous contrast has been stumbled upon by the ever faithful prophet Jeremiah.  Appearances have cast the perspective that the righteous are always troubled and the wicked do continually prosper. Thus the prophet has fallen prey to the timeless trap of questioning the Almighty of Creation.  God's response is as following in our text.  It is in a question Jehovah answers the slumping faith of the prophet.  It is always more meaningful when we self-indict by searching for inward answers.  When others indict us we seethe in anger at the accusation, yet when we mine this diamond from the coal ourselves, it becomes a impacting reality.

     "Jeremiah.", God asks.  "If you cannot outrun fellow men, why would you race the horses?"  Such sobering truth here is revealed.  If we cannot endure to victory through the lesser things of life, then how are we ready for the mightier things?  We endure only that in which we can handle. God is faithful to ensure to us more grace than trouble.  If we wish to increase our influence and scope, let us then ask Him for more strength.  Surely we must grow stronger than the footman if we are to race with the horse.  
     Again, a co-equal question looms in the ears of the weeping prophet.  "Jeremiah."  God asks.  "If you are troubled in your own land which is in peace, then when true danger comes as the swelling Jordan, (whose flooding banks destroyed cities) how can you hold up?"  Again God's all knowing wisdom brings us into an often disregarded reality.  If we faint at adversity our strength is small.  If we cower at terror, our faith is only faintly smoldering. 

      May we reverse this walk of weakness in God's grace.  As we came to Him freely for salvation, let us come freely to Him for grace in the time of need.  His word is meat in which our spiritual parts are nourished and do recover.  His Spirit is our inner coach that conforms us to His word.  His presence is the rewarding joy that strengthens our resolve.  May we run to Him that holds all things in His hands, and we shall soon find that we excel against the horses.  Though the river should rage and defy the boundaries set for it, we should not quiver, only hold onto our unwavering faith in Christ.  Let no man think he may acquire this strength from determination but only from the Lord.  Such determination serves us well only in this way, that we are determined to stay in fellowship with Him.  Abide in Him, so that His strength may abide in you!  Though it may take time for the Potter to fashion the clay, remain true, His finished work with you will be greatly rewarding.         

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Three Pillars of Repentance

                                              Three Pillars of Repentance 

     Jeremiah 4:1  If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove.

As Israel, often times many Christians find themselves in opposition to what God deems holy and just.  While in this rebellious state, the wandering sheep have not lost the love of the Shepard, but have placed themselves in proximity of chastisement.  What a wonderful mercy it is to be able to turn our hearts back to God before His loving hand corrects us through stern discipline.  If we would return to the Lord let us do these three things and it will be well pleasing to the Father, for Jesus' sake.

First we must return.  It must not be a half-hearted return, but one of full heart and weight.  Our desire is towards God and our plea is the blood of Jesus that will cleanse all our sin.  When we desire Him in this way, the Spirit is well pleased. With this plea He creates a renewed desire of holiness in the saint to yield to. Now he has a divine nature to obey, a nature which sends the reconciled heart into throngs of joy.  Christ's longings now become your longings, and a infinitely better choice is found within besides the law of sin. 

Second we must put away our abominations.  This is rightly described as vomiting of the soul.  We must reject the sin as the body rejects faulty and soured food.  This only can be done by yielding to the new desire of holiness found upon confessing the sin to Christ.  Though the flesh will never be finished with sin, the new nature is quick to be through with it.

Thirdly we must stand in the liberty of the Spirit.  Thou shalt not remove.  Do not faint to the ever-seducing pull of sin.  How often sin wrecks our soul with a vain promise and then paints its face of death with attraction and charm to deceive again those who pass by.  Do not fall for it, rather do not move from your place of repentance and liberty in Christ.  It is here in this liberty that we may find the freedom and joy that communion with Christ makes.  May we never let sin disrupt that communion.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How You Can be Certain God is Real

    Philippians 1:9 - 10  And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;  That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

          Today Christian, let us look at the commandment of God given by the apostle Paul and use it to His glory.  We are told to approve things that are excellent, (or test things and see if they are true) so that we will be without offence (not in error) till the day of Christ (until we see Jesus and be made like Him). We do this by abounding in knowledge and judgment.  Knowledge is what we learn; judgment is the decisions we make with what we learn.  Let us apply the evidence today and reveal Christ in creation.

         The Bible never explains the existence of God but rather reveals it as a certainty.  It goes beyond faith and into proof so overwhelming that to dismiss the Creator would be to do so against irrefutable proof.  Must we take it on faith?  Faith is the substance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1).  Substance is made of two English words sub and stance.  Sub means under you; stance is what you stand on.  The idea is as a subfloor, a place to put your feet. When God asks us to have faith it is not a blind shot in the dark of 'I had a feeling and I trust God will';  it is an evidence that we can stand on given by His Word.  It is a tangible evidence either in our hand or in our heart.  With this evidence, let us examine how God has left us proof of Him being Creator.

    Test # 1 - Test of Science
    Surely the God who made the earth understands it.  God revealed the workings of science long before man ever discovered it and recorded it in the Bible. 

    A. Hydrology - The process of water explained before we held the scientific tools to understand
    Job 36:27 For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof:     (The process of water from evaporation to rain)

    Psalms 135:7 He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.  (Water vapor gathered to be blown by the winds.  Also we see lightning for the rain.  Lightning strikes cause nitrogen to be loaded in the rain which is essential for vegetation growth.)
    Job 26:8 He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them.
    Job 36:28 Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly.(The water are stored in the clouds, and they do not burst.  Only rain is produced.)

    Psa 33:7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.  (The oceans are the source of gathering evaporation to store and produce moisture for the land.)

    Job 38:22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,
    (Again, nitrogen found in snow and hail allows us the wonderful miracle of growth in vegetation.  Nitrogen is a treasure in the snow and revealed to us by God before we had the means of knowing it.)

    What is remarkable is that Job was the first book of the Bible written and outside of Divine revelation the science of this could not be understood at this time.  Job was written at approximately 1400 to 1500 b.c. 

    B. Astronomy 
    According to studies among secular scientists, astronomers are the highest percentage of scientists that believe in God.
    Psalms 19 :1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
    Job 38:12-14 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.
    (Here Job shows the earth spins on its axis. At this time people believed the earth was flat.  The context or comparison is that the ends of the earth are turned as clay to the seal.  The seal was a type of stamp, a wheel with a stick run through it, and it would be run over soft clay on an envelope to stamp out the image or insignia of the king.  Holding the stick with a hand on each side of the wheel, the stamp rolled on its axis. Even so does the earth spin on its axis)

    Job 28:25 To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure.
    (Here we see God reveals air has weight.  This is a discovery that was found by science only in recent times, yet God revealed this thousands of years ago.)

    Job 26:7 He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing
    (Revelation that the earth hangs on nothing was not known by science in that day.  Many religions believed statues held up a flat earth)

    Isa 40:22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in (Revelation that the earth is round)

    Isa 40:12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
    (Science of isostasy revealed. This is the balance of the earth so that we do not have to walk around bent over sideways)

    There are many more passages that deal with science, but now we will move on to prophecy.

    Test #2- Test of prophecy

    Isa 42:8-9 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

    God tells us He will predict the future.

    Isa 43:9-13 Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth.  Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.  I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.  I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.  Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?

    God is saying Israel is my witness; I want them to test me.  I am going to prophesy, and it will come true that you may know that only I am God and that there is no other.  I will call it forth and it must come to pass.

    A. Gentile prophecy

    1.Destruction of Nineveh
    Nah 1:8-10 But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.  What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.  For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.  
    We know this city as the city Jonah preached to after being swallowed by the whale.  Nineveh repented, and God spared them.  However, this is the sequel.  They returned to their wicked way,s and God destroyed them.

    Historical evidence shows that the city was destroyed by a flood.  Archeologists also have discovered that the city had flood walls.  The inner wall was 100 feet tall and 50 feet thick.  There was a 150 foot wide mote to catch flood waters, and in addition there was an outer wall to serve as a levy.  Yet prophecy prevailed: the Lord was true.

    2. Destruction of Tyre

    Ezekiel chapters 26-28 Read these chapters
         Tyre will be destroyed by waves.  It will be made flat, desolate, and never be rebuilt.  It was also prophesied that Tyrus would be thrown into the sea.  It would be a place where fisherman dwell.
History tells us that the mighty Babylonian empire defeated the city in a 13 year campaign (according to Josephus antiquities) and brought it to economical rubble.  This is significant as Tyre was an economical power in the day (Ezek 27:32).  Yet at this point the prophecy is unfulfilled.    The city was predicted to be destroyed in waves.  It was Alexander the Great, the leader of the Greek army who brought much more to pass.  Alexander decided to use the city in rubble for naval purposes in his world wide war.  The city of Tyre refused, hoping to rebuild and in a rage Alexander the great changed the course of his army and pushed the remains of the city into the sea.  Thus the prophecy is closer to being fulfilled.  Tyre would try to have a revival in the Middle Ages only to finally be brought down in totality by the Saracens.  To this day it has never been rebuilt.  It is only a habitation for fishing commerce (Ezek 25:7, 29:19).  What is amazing is that Alexander's conquest was in 332 B.C. and the middle ages much later.  Ezekiel's final prophecy was around 571 B.C. over 200 years before Alexander was born.  To put this in perspective, it would be like George Washington predicting the events of 9/11 with accuracy down to the very details. 

Messianic Prophecies

Some scholars claim over 450 prophecies concerning Christ.  Others that are more conservative still give us around 350.  Regardless there are hundreds of prophecies that are directed to the Lord Jesus.  These prophecies were fulfilled according to history, and that is not up to debate.  There is more historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ than there is the existence of Julius Caesar.  Historians had to deal with Jesus in history, because He was a major factor in history.  Even time has been split according to His life B.C. - A.D. The Encyclopedia Britannica used to hold more historical evidence for Jesus Christ than for any other person in it.  My how satan is in a hurry to hide history; just read our American history books from the 1940's and of today. With this in mind, instead of going through the list of prophecies and Biblical location, allow me to take you through a mathematical formula of chance concerning these prophecies.

Remember that by prophecy God said we would know that He is God and there is no other.

Please keep in mind that these prophecies were written before the life of Jesus not after, so any attack on the authenticity of them are not valid.  The Jews held translations of the original Hebrew in Greek language in the days of Jesus.   This means to have a copy, the original had to be before the copy thus predating the life of Christ.  Jewish priests also read to Alexander to Great the book of Daniel telling him that the great leopard was his kingdom according to scripture. It is said for a moment in time Alexander bowed his head and worshipped the God of Heaven in the presence of the Jews.  This persuasion is for the most hardened skeptic.  There is no reason to ever doubt traditional dating and even most non-believers do. 

Proof of probability.  This is how insurance companies stay in business.  This is how lotteries make money not lose it.  Would you bet your life on a 1 in 1 million chance?  Of course not.  So consider these odds.

The odds of a man fulfilling just 8 prophecies is 10 to the 17 power.  To get the idea of the odds lets illustrate this.  If you filled the state of Texas up 3 feet deep with silver dollars then took one coin, marked it, stirred it up blindfolded a man and gave him one chance to pull out the coin, that is the chance that Jesus fulfilled 8 of these prophecies on accident.  Would you bet your life against those odds?  What about your eternity?

The odds of a man fulfilling just 48 prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 157 power.  What are those odds?  To illustrate this we need something smaller than the eye can see.  Lets take the electron.  If you were to draw a 1 inch line with your pencil, it would take you 19 million years to count the number of electrons in that line if you count at the speed of 4 electrons per second. 
     So take that idea of how many electrons are in a 1 inch line.  Now make a giant ball in the solar system that goes in every direction for 6 billion light years.  One light years is 6.4 trillion miles.  That's a big ball.  Now that you have done that, create trillions of more of these giant balls that are 6 billion light years in every direction.  Remember how many electrons are in a 1 inch line?  Now imagine how many you have with these trillions of gigantic spheres.  Mark one of these electrons.  Let a man take an inch of space any where he wants blindfolded.  Let him put in under the microscope and at random choose ONE.  That is the odds that a man accidently fulfilled 48 prophecies.  Never mind the fact that there are hundreds of other prophecies.  Never mind the fact that there are also non Jewish and Messianic prophecies.  Would you bet your life on those odds?  Would you bet your eternity on those odds?  At this point it is considered a mathematical impossibility that Jesus is any other that who He claims to be: the Son of God.

Test # 3 - The Witness of the Spirit

Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

It is true that man can never know God unless the Spirit reveals Christ unto that person.  Even with all this proof and so much more that I cannot write due to time, it takes the inner witness of the Spirit of God to testify of the truths of these things.   If you stand in doubt this day my friend, then call God out.  He is ever ready to reveal Himself to you this day, and show you this hope:

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

That precious name given among men is the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  It is through the Son we come to the Father.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

And again, He will cast no one out who comes to Him.

Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Reference Materials: Zondervan's Pictorial Bible, Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament, John Ankerberg, Nelson, LWF, Grace To You, Turning Point Ministries