Thursday, December 31, 2015


“Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!  (Revelation 22:20)

Tonight, around a million people will crowd into Time’s Square in New York City.  The ball will begin its descent on the final sixty-second countdown to the New Year.  10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 and the lights on the ball turn off at the stroke of midnight and the numerals of the New Year “2016” will be emblazoned high above Times Square. Horns will blare, people will yell, “Happy New Year,” and confetti will be released from the rooftops of buildings, creating a colorful blizzard.  But, did you know there is another countdown on?  It is the final countdown, when God the Father looks over to the Son and says, “Go get my children!”  I’m looking up, watching for Jesus to drop from the clouds, and what a happy eternity that will be!  I believe with all my heart that Jesus is coming soon!  Three times Jesus says in these verses, “I am coming quickly” (v.7,12,20).  Seven times, the word, “come” or “coming” is used.  How then am I supposed to live in light of this?

I need to become a servant (v.6-9).  In verse six, God’s people are called, “servants.”  When Jesus comes, He is to find us busy, occupied with Kingdom work.  

My service is directed by the Word of God.  The words of the Revelation are declared to be, “faithful and true.”  That is the case with all the Word of God.  It is a solemn warning, because the last days are marked by a great departure from the faith.  In our day, entire denominations and churches are rejecting the authority of Scripture.  But, there is a  blessing for those who will be faithful and true to hold and heed it (v.7).  

My service is offered in the worship of God.  Not even this holy angel was worthy of worship.  A perverse spiritualism that has invaded America—even among Christians who are obsessed with angels rather than God.  Thank God for angels and their ministry to us, but Satan masks himself as an angel of light (2 Cor.11:13-14).  Muslims and Mormons have been deceived by angels (Gal.1:8).  Let us not fall prey to deception, but worship God alone!

I need to behave as a saint (v.10-17), set apart to live a holy life for God.  We ought to confess that we follow Christ.  Don’t shut up the Book, but share the Gospel!  It is time to tell people about Jesus.  John had seen the horror of hell and the happiness of heaven—and wanted us to tell about it.  We are born in sin, but we can be born again as saints.  Yet, this opportunity is for our lifetime.  There is no second chance beyond the grave—no purgatory.  You can’t straddle the fence.  When God weighs you in the scales will you be solid and summoned inside (v.14) or seen to be a sham and be shut outside (v.15)?

I need to embrace that I am a son (v.18-21).  Those born into God’s family are children of the King!  Every child needs the wisdom of a loving parent to guide them to get ready.  God has written down that wisdom in a Book to guide us. Then there is grace to lead us home!

In the first book of the Bible, God said to Noah, “Come into the ark.”  God spoke and Isaiah wrote it down, “Come now, let us reason together…”  Jesus invited, “Come you who are weary…” and now the last invitation is given in Revelation, “Come.”  Have you?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Praise the LORD!

Sing to the LORD a new song,

And His praise in the assembly of saints.  (Psalms 149:1)

People are passionate about their music preference.  That is primarily a generational matter—our age often dictates the style of music desired.  The form of our worship whether expressive or reserved is primarily an emotional matter—it has to do with the way we are wired up personally.  But, in all this discussion of styles and sounds, the most important thing isn’t the way we worship but who we worship; not our method but our motive.  Worship isn’t primarily about you or any other human being—it is about God!  

In God’s hymnal—the Psalms—we find them building to a crescendo of worship (149:1-3).  The hymn book of Israel closes with a great summation of the nature of worship and a summons to utilize sacred melodies in that most holy activity.  The repeated call is to praise the LORD.  We can shout His praises, speak His praises, but the emphasis here is on singing them.  We use the medium of our voice!  There is nothing wrong with the old songs and traditional music.  How much sound doctrine I have learned from those old hymns written by men and women with hearts hot for God and heads filled with biblical theology. Tried and true, we should never abandon them.  But, there was a time when they were contemporary music!  The church in ages gone by often resisted them and rejected them as worldly.  What do you do with phrases like this, “Sing to the LORD a new song”?  That’s contemporary music!  

Blessing God is the focus, but receiving a blessing is a fruit.  Though what we receive is secondary, it is real nonetheless (Ps.149:4-5).  “He will beautify the humble with salvation.”  That’s personal blessing.  Music has a power to touch us at the very core of our being—that’s why we are so passionate about it.  Music can cultivate the soil of the sinner to receive the message.  It can encourage a weary saint and bring them joy. 

The text is primary and the tune is secondary (149:6-9).  The melody of a song is subordinate to the message.  If a song isn’t Scriptural, it isn’t sacred!  Now, let me see if I can upset almost everyone!  I have heard songs set to shaped notes, sung with great enthusiasm in four-part harmony that did not have a thimbleful of Gospel about them.  I have heard choruses set to pulsing rhythms, sung with great emotion that could just as well have been sung to your boyfriend or girlfriend as to God!  What honors God is His Word!  He says that He has magnified His Word above His name (Ps.138:2).  If the words are Scriptural, whether they are accompanied by an organ or an orchestra, whether sounding like Bill Gaither or Bach—you can even rap it like Lecrae—it’s OK!  We all have our preference and God prefers spirit and truth—His Word is truth! 

You can worship God anywhere and you should (150:1).  The psalmist mentions the firmament—the vast expanse of heaven.  There is just something that moves us in the majesty of creation—a sacred tabernacle.  But, usually that is private and personal worship.  For corporate worship there is a sacred gathering place!  You should worship God with every means and by all means (150:2-6)!  Music has such a power to move us!

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD!  (150:6)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.  Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.  (Revelation 20:1-10)
That first silent night was suddenly shattered by spectacular sights and sounds, as angels said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”  The heavenly messengers announced the fulfillment of the messianic promises of the Old Testament.  For example, Isaiah called Jesus, “the Prince of Peace,” and said that in His reign the nations would beat their swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, with war and violence banished from the earth.  Yet, as we end this Christmas season and stand on the threshold of a new year, we see a world filled with bloodshed and fear the threat of terrorism.  Still, the child of God can submit such fear to the promises of a sovereign God and supplant them with faith in His supreme purposes.  There may be horror today, but there is hope for tomorrow.  Jesus is coming again and He will put things right in this world.  That is what the twentieth chapter of Revelation proclaims.
This chapter commences with the seven-year tribulation period concluded.  All the terrible judgments described in the bulk of the book reached their climax with the Lord Jesus coming with heaven’s armies to wipe out the Antichrist and his military.  The global economic system of the Beast and the worldwide ecclesiastical system of the False Prophet have been destroyed and the demonically driven duo cast into the Lake of Fire.  Next in Revelation 20:1-3, we read that the third member of that terrible trinity of terror—Satan himself—will be bound with chains and imprisoned in the bottomless pit.  The world will be liberated by the Lord!
This will inaugurate 1000 years of heaven on earth (v.4-6).  The church will reign with Christ—in all probability from the New Jerusalem which is suspended above the earth.  We will have freedom of movement throughout the universe in our glorified bodies.  John writes of the first resurrection.  It is the first of its class—a resurrection to life.  Blessed are all those of the first resurrection order for they are all those who have died in faith.  The second kind of resurrection is that of the wicked who will be raised to stand before the Great White throne and sentenced to everlasting damnation (v.11-15).  We say that these are two classes of resurrection in that several resurrections of the first order have already occurred at this point—Jesus, a handful of Old Testament saints with Him, the dead in Christ at the rapture of the church, and the two witnesses in Revelation 11.  As the millennial reign of Christ begins the tribulation martyrs are raised, and I believe the rest of the Old Testament saints as well.  The latter group will reign, I think, from the old Jerusalem—possibly with David sitting on his former throne as Christ’s regent on earth.
We will need to reign, for as strange as it seems, even in this environment, the evil hearts of humans will need to be governed.  Those who survive the tribulation and are converted will repopulate the earth and their offspring will need to be saved.  Many will reject Christ and at last, when Satan in released, will follow him to their doom (v.7-10).  Such is the depraved heart of man!  I am glad I am part of the first resurrection class!

Monday, December 28, 2015



“A son honors his father,
And a servant his master.
If then I am the Father,
Where is My honor?
And if I am a Master,
Where is My reverence?
Says the LORD of hosts….”  (Malachi 1:6a) 

Christianity is a lifestyle.  It is not reserved for special occasions.  Maybe you heard of the Pastor who ended the Easter service with, “Merry Christmas!” because he knew that would be the next time he would see some of them.  Our faith isn’t just to be practiced on Sunday and ignored the other six days.  The late evangelist, Vance Havner, used to say that a lot of church folk are like Sunday morning glories—they bloom at 11 AM and snap shut the rest of the week!  That kind of superficial spirituality is what Malachi confronted.  There are several signs you may be a Sunday morning glory. 

The first one is A PROFESSION THAT IS EMPTY (v.6).  These people professed to be God’s sons and His servants, yet their performance was lacking. 

I was far from a perfect son, but I knew better than to be disrespectful to my father.  Yet, this is how the Jews of Malachi’s time were treating God.  We like the rewards of being God’s children, but don’t want the responsibilities that come with it.  They took God, “lightly.”  This is being like a grown child who never comes to visit Dad and Mom unless he needs something.  Do we treat God that way?

A servant exists that he or she might obey the master’s wishes.  Otherwise, what good are they? These Jews had lost the fear of God.  We have also, I believe.  God’s will is not optional; it is mandatory!  Jesus asked, “Why do you call me, Lord, lord, and do not do the things I say?”  Peter Lord said, “We practice daily what we truly believe and all the rest is just religious talk.”

Another sign is A PERCEPTION THAT IS DULL (v.6-7).  It is bad to be sick, but it is worse to be sick and not know it.  That was the spiritual dullness of the Jews in Malachi’s ministry.  When the prophet told them their condition, they were shocked.   They expected a clean bill of health—after all, didn’t they believe in God, pray, and give an offering?  That was good, but not good enough.  Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, they were blind to the evil in their hearts.  That’s what a veneer of religion will do—it looks like the real thing, but it isn’t solid.

There may be A POLLUTION THAT IS PRESENT (v.7-12). Hypocrisy eventually leads to impurity.  They gave God the leftovers.  They would have had more respect for a government official than for God.  We act like we are doing God a favor by occasionally giving Him a hour on Sunday.  The attitude is, “What am I going to get out of this?”  So many want to know what the church can do for them, rather than what they can do for the church.  God finds no pleasure in our service if what we do is grudgingly given.  God intended for the Jews to be a light to the Gentiles, but instead of being stepping stones, they were stumbling blocks.

Then, there can be A PERFORMANCE THAT IS LACKING (v.13-14).   Carrying the cross was hard for Christ.  Why do we have to beg people to serve when Jesus sacrificed so much?  There is a curse on such hypocrisy.  Such a spirit will kill a church!  Don’t be a Sunday morning glory!

Sunday, December 27, 2015


And the LORD shall be King over all the earth.  (Zechariah 14:9a)

The next event on God’s prophetic calendar is the rapture of the church.  At any moment, God could remove all born-again believers from the earth, before He pours out His wrath on a Christ-rejecting world.  No prophecy remains to be fulfilled before the rapture.  It is imminent.   Sometimes the rapture is confused with the second coming of Christ to earth.  In the rapture, the dead in Christ are raised and the living saints are translated.  Then, seven years of tribulation—a time of horrific judgments—begins.  At the climax of this cataclysm, Christ comes back with His church to commence His kingdom reign on earth.   The second coming is what Zechariah describes in chapter fourteen.  

He calls this time “the day of the LORD” (v.1).  This is not a 24-hour day, but a period of prophetic significance, signifying the end of human history.  Man has had his day—now God has His.  This is the day the Jews anticipate will usher in the Messianic kingdom.  This time is portrayed in Scripture as a time of awesome judgments.  Here, it mentions the “spoil” of battle, for Jesus said it would be a time of wars and rumors of war.  The culmination of this bloodshed will be at the battle of Armageddon (v.2-3).  From the West, the Beast—the Antichrist—will bring the combined might of the United States of Europe; Russia and her allies will descend as vultures from the North; armies numbering in the millions will march from the Orient; and the Arab and African nations sweep up from the South. They all converge in the Middle East for War. Jerusalem will fall and the Jews will be on the verge of extinction, when Christ will appear with heaven’s armies to conquer.

Jesus will set foot precisely where He departed—from the Mount of Olives (v.4-5).  The angels told the disciples who watched Jesus ascend that when He returned He would come to the same spot!  That mountain overlooks the Eastern Gate—the sealed Golden Gate of Jerusalem. It overlooks the valley of Jehoshaphat—scene of the judgment of the Gentile nations.  Here, Jesus wept over the city that rejected Him and said, “You shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’” (Matt.23:39)

The first time He came it was in weakness, as a babe in a manger, but He will come the second time in power, as a King on a stallion.  Christ returns with the angelic host and the raptured church.  We are coming to reign with Him as His Bride.  The earth will quake at His arrival.  A valley created will provide an avenue for those still in Jerusalem to escape.  God will keep His covenant with Israel.  

The Lamb of God will be the light (v.6-7).  This marks the dawn of a new day and dispels the darkness of sin.  As Malachi puts it, “The Sun of Righteousness is risen with healing in His wings.” 

The earthquake that splits Olivet will also open the stores of water beneath Jerusalem (v.8).  These life-giving waters flow out of the rebuilt Temple according to Ezekiel.  The desert will bloom.  The paradise Adam lost, will flower again under Christ’s rule (v.9).  Today the name  of Jesus is profaned, His cause is scorned, and His rule is rejected—but not in that day!  Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters….”  (Revelation 17:1)
You have seen it—the coexist bumper stickers—that feature symbols of a number of major world religions spelling out the message: “coexist.”  I sympathize somewhat with the intent—if we mean that we should not hate others and grant them freedom of religion—that is not bad.  God gives us freedom to choose—to even choose to be wrong.  True faith cannot be coerced.  I would warn my readers, however, that although you are free to choose your faith, you are not free to choose the consequences.  Belief in Jesus Christ is the exclusive way to heaven—all other roads lead to hell.
The message of the coexist movement is actually more sinister.  Most who brandish it on their bumper sticker mean that all religions are equally valid—that all roads lead to deity—however you perceive that deity to be.  Come together in one world religion and global governance will be the increasing demand.  Revelation 17 tells us that day is coming—and far from being the utopia many imagine—it will be a coexist catastrophe.
The reason is that in the depraved heart of man, in a world under the curse, everything becomes twisted and bent toward evil.  The one world government becomes tyranny and not freedom.  The one world religion promotes intolerance in the name of tolerance.  As observed in this text, when an unholy marriage of church and state takes place, government will give religion a ride as long as it serves its purpose, and then will turn on the religious system and devour it.  That is the catastrophe of the coexist movement—it is a fantasy that ends in the worst fanaticism.
Following the rapture of the church—which I am looking for any day now—the Bride of Christ will be caught up to be with her Bridegroom.  The remarkable thing is that the next Sunday there will still be churches open for business.  Those left behind follow the doctrine of the apostates and not the Apostles.  Quickly, as the Beast—the Antichrist—consolidates his power, the world religious system of the Harlot—Mystery Babylon—converts the world to the worship of the Beast (v.1-5).
There will be those who resist, however—and their lot will be that of those dissenters through the ages—who have sought to worship the true God and gave allegiance to Christ exclusively—and that is persecution and martyrdom (v.6).  
Babylon is the wicked womb that has birthed all false religion—and she has spawned many perverse children.  You recall the tower built in Babel—a great idol temple that sought to elevate man to the heavens in order to supplant God.  In the last days, a final attempt is made to restore it.  Rome—the city of seven hills (v.7-9)—will be the headquarters.  Did you know that pagan Rome with her persecution of Christians was nothing compared to the torment and death unleashed by the church of Rome that supplanted the heathen empire?  A marriage of an apostate church and pagan religion promoted by a decaying empire looking to preserve its power was the result—a counterfeit church.  Its final manifestation will be the counterfeit church of the coexist religion.  Once religion serves its purpose, the world’s leaders will chew her up and spit her out (v.10-18).  I don’t want to belong to that church!

Friday, December 25, 2015


“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”  (Zechariah 12:10)
When the shepherds looked into the manger on that first Christmas, they saw the salvation of God.  Salvation is in a Person and that One is Jesus Christ.  He had come for the express purpose of sacrificing His life to atone for sins.  The cradle and the cross are ever connected.  The means by which the Lamb of God would redeem us at Calvary was foreordained, but the sin of rejecting the Messiah was the free choice of sinful Israel.  
We witness both Divine sovereignty and human responsibility in Acts 2:22-23, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death….”  The Roman government ordered Christ’s execution and their legionnaires nailed Him to the tree, but it was the hatred of the Jews that demanded it.  That is why the prophet Zechariah speaks of Jesus as the One whom “the inhabitants of Jerusalem…pierced.”  Theologically, the reality is that since Christ suffered for the sins of us all, each of us may as well have been on Skull Hill with hammer and nails in our hands.
Throughout the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi, we have the sad saga of man rejecting his Maker.   Israel would be the chosen people—in a covenant relationship with God—yet, would repeatedly spurn Him.  Over and again, we find them experiencing the consequences of their unfaithfulness.  The prophets—and Zechariah was one of the last—would find their message rejected and the men themselves would often suffer at the hands of their countrymen.  So, God at last sent His Son.  That is the record of the New Testament.  What did the Jews do?  John puts it this way, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”  (1:11) From the time of His birth, where He found the inn closed to His arrival, until the condemnation by the Sanhedrin, Israel had no room for Jesus.  Following His resurrection, the Apostles went to the Jews first—and some heeded the call to repentance—but, most did not.  They still don’t, and the chastisement they have gone through has been severe.  The worst is yet to come.  Zechariah 12 predicts the unparalleled suffering of Israel that is yet to be.
Today we find Jerusalem encircled by enemies.  The noose is tightening.  Satan’s minions in the Gentile kingdoms are bent on the genocide of the Jews.  One day the Antichrist will come to the seat of world power and unleash horror on Israel.  Yet, when all hope seems gone, the Blessed Hope will appear in the clouds!  This same Jesus will come and Israel will mourn for the One they pierced.  They will recognize Him by the nail-prints in His hands.  So, all Israel will be saved (Rom.11:26).  His look will be a look of forgiveness for the repentant and a look of fury to the rebellious.  What determines His look hereafter is whether or not we look in faith to Him here.  Bow to Him today!

Thursday, December 24, 2015


The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.  (Revelation 15:8)
Have you ever needed to make a bank deposit, but when you pulled up to the bank you found they had just closed?  Maybe you needed to mail some important papers and the post office had just shut its doors.  It is a sinking feeling to be running low on gas, finally spot a service station, only to see a sign posted in the door, “CLOSED.”  I recall a few times of locking the door to the place where I worked, and as I was gathering up my stuff to go home, have someone knocking on the door, only to have to tell them, “I’m sorry, but we’re closed.”  Something much worse will happen someday—heaven will close; the pearly gates will lock.  In Revelation, there are several occurrences where John mentions doors that are open.  In chapter 15, heaven’s door closes!
There are a series of sevens in Revelation.  It is the number of completion.  Seven seals are opened on the scroll, and under each seal a judgment is unleashed.  When the seventh seal is peeled away, there are seven trumpets that sound a particular doom.  The sounding of the seventh trumpet signals the outpouring of seven bowls of wrath—the final plagues (v.1), said to complete the wrath of God.  The term used for wrath is the strongest Greek word that John might have used to describe this judgment.  It is the horror that awaits those left behind after the rapture of the church who enter the seven-year tribulation.
In contrast to what these who rejected Christ experience, we find that those who received Him are safely home (v.2).  It is amazing grace to know that some will be saved out of great tribulation—who wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb (Rev.7:14).  They were slain by the Beast, but were not overcome.  Death brought release from a sinful world and entrance into heaven.  They will sing the songs of the redeemed in glory (v.3-4).
Then the entrance to the holy of holies in the temple in heaven opens so seven angels may exit bearing seven plagues (v.5-7).  There is a finality about their appearance—these powerful, celestial warriors march out in a column, their assignment clear, inexorably bringing the conclusion of cosmic cataclysm.  Smoke fills the temple—the manifest glory of God.  We are reminded of how Mount Sinai was covered with smoke when God appeared to give Moses the ten commandments.  Recall also how Isaiah saw the King of Glory sitting on His throne in the temple and Scripture says the place was filled with smoke.
With the exit of these angels, the door closes.  It says that, “none can enter,” as these final plagues are outpoured.  Heaven is closed.  Those who would be saved have been.  The souls that would come to Christ have been gathered in and only judgment remains.  Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man.”  Noah warned people of the flood and begged them to get on the ark.  When the door closed, it was too late for those outside.  Someday the final opportunity comes to every soul.  This could be yours.  Have you given your life to Christ?  Don’t wait until too late!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.  (Revelation 14:1)
I remember flying out of Charlotte’s airport in the rain.  Black clouds enveloped the plane.  Powerful engines strained to lift the massive metal jet into the sky.  You couldn’t see anything outside the cabin window—all was dark and ominous.  Then the plane burst through the clouds into brilliant sunshine.  What had been dark clouds overhead became a bed of cotton balls below—bright blue sky all around.  That is what happens when you come to the fourteenth chapter of Revelation.  The previous chapter has featured flashes of lighting and peals of thunder—the storm of God’s wrath having broken on a Christ-rejecting world.  It is a scene dark with demons.  Suddenly, we gain a new perspective as we are taken into heavenly sunlight.  Never forget that as a child of God—no matter the storms of the present—there is a brighter day coming!
Above the clouds we see the glory of heaven (v.1).  Here are the 144,000 Jews who have been preserved through the tribulation and are now safe in heaven.  Though they are the specific ones named, we would not be amiss to see them prefiguring all the elect of God, secure in glory.  They, however, are the supporting cast, for the star of the heavenly scene is the Lamb standing on Mount Zion.  The spotlight is on Him.  That heaven will be an incomparably beautiful place is evident from the Biblical depictions, but what makes heaven to be glorious is that the Lamb is there!  It is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world who paves the way for us to join Him.  It is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world that purges the wickedness that would bar us.  One day we will bow before those nail-scarred feet and join the heavenly hosts singing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!”
God has given a birthmark to His children—the seal of the Holy Spirit—that brands us as belonging to Him and guarantees our safe passage into the City of God.  In the previous chapter, we have seen Satan has a “Beast-mark” for those who follow the Antichrist.  This is a seal which secures their doom—666.  The reality is that all of us identify with one group or the other.  If I am sealed by God my eternal destiny is settled.  There were 144,000 sealed on earth and there are not 143,999 seen in heaven—all are there and not one was lost!  When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there!
No wonder heaven will be a place of mirth and music (v.2-3).  A sacred symphony of praise will permeate the atmosphere.  Note that there will be the singing of new songs.  Some of us don’t like new songs.  Will we enjoy heaven then?  Maybe we better start singing some down here.  This is the song of the redeemed and salvation is something to sing about!
Heaven will be more than a happy place—it will be a holy place (v.4-5).  The celibacy of the 144,000 may be a literal, physical reality, but it portrays a real, spiritual condition also.  These have been morally pure and fully devoted to Christ.  They persevered because God purchased them.  Their testimony was true.  Cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, we will stand faultless and flawless before God—O glorious day!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made….  (Psalm 139:14a)

We are created in the image of God to reflect His glory.  There are attributes of God we can share.  These include: love, righteousness, and veracity.  Other attributes are excusive to God alone.  Some of these are His omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.  In all that God is, humans are created in His image to glorify Him.  That is what the psalmist leads us to do in Psalm 139.

We glorify God in His omniscience (v.1-6).  God is all-knowing. He is never surprised, caught off guard, or startled in the least.  Every eventuality is planned out.  All His purposes are mapped out.  None can thwart Him.  God knows our deeds before we do them (v.1-2a).  God is acquainted with our every activity.  He knows our thoughts before we think them (v.2b).  He knows more than our activity; He knows our attitude—not just what we do, but why we do it.  God knows our steps before we take them and knows our days before we live them (v.3).  God knows our words before we speak them (v.4). He hears every word—even if whispered.  God puts a hedge of protection about us—to keep His sheep from straying and to keep predators away (v.5)!  His strong, but gentle hand rests upon us.  How can we grasp a God so great? He is beyond our imagination and vocabulary (v.6)!  It is remarkable how He who knows us best, loves us most!

We glorify God in His omnipresence (v.7-12).  God is ever-present.  If we go to the highest point—heaven—God is there (v.7-8). If we go to the lowest point—sheol—God is there.  In heaven, the face of God is our happiness, but in hell, the face of God is our horror!  An inescapable date with judgment is fixed.  If I go to the east (the wings of the morning where the sun rises) or to the west (the Mediterranean Sea as located in reference to Israel where the sun sets), God is there (v.9-10).  God has promised to never leave us, nor forsake us.  Nothing obscures his vision (v.11-12).  God sees the tears on the saint’s pillow and transgressions sinners seek to conceal.  Secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven.

We glorify God in His omnipotence (v.13-18).  He is all-powerful.  Our organs are designed by Him—the incredible functions of the body’s systems (v.13-14).  Every life is a special creation of God.  Only God can do this. God is like a weaver pulling the threads together.  Even when we were but a few cells forming, God saw us and mapped out our DNA (v.15-16).  Ultrasound may not have detected us, but God knew all about us. The lowest parts of the earth is symbolic language to describe how God formed us in secret—as a precious gem formed and then “mined.”  Even the number of our days is predetermined.  Isn’t it astonishing that the great God would condescend to give such individual attention to the least among us (v.17-18)?  God’s grace is boundless!  It is as constant as His moment by moment care.  Every day, when we awake it is a gift from God.

Because God knows all, is always there, and has total power, He is the only One qualified to judge people (v.19-24).  He is holy.  What is expressed here by the psalmist is righteous indignation, calling upon God to magnify His holiness.  Let us pray for God to remove our sins and stresses.

Monday, December 21, 2015


And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.  (Revelation 12:11)

In the twelfth chapter of Revelation, we find war in heaven.  This passage has a prophetic interpretation.  The swirl of events seen here involve the consummation of the age.  However, there is also a perpetual implication.  Throughout the history of the planet, there has been a conflict between light and darkness, between God and the Devil.  Yet, our focus is upon the practical illustration.  Daily we do battle with the enemy of our souls.  Contained in this text are spiritual truths that will enable us to defeat the Devil. 

We can overcome Satan by THE CRUCIFIXION OF THE LAMB. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb….”  In Eden, God pronounced the curse upon sin.  Still, I remind you, that where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.  So on the heels of the curse, God decreed the cure for sin.  Genesis 3:15 presents the first prophecy of Messiah.  It reads, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  At Calvary the old Serpent plunged his venomous fangs into the heel of the Seed of woman, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus was bruised for our transgressions, but in so doing, crushed the Serpent’s head.  Christ’s victory is our victory.  We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.   Plead the blood.  The blood of Christ has purchased us and preserves us. 

We defeat the devil by THE CONFESSION OF THE LIPS.  It says, “they overcame him . . . by the word of their testimony….”  This Word referred to is the Word of God. Paul calls it, “The Sword of the Spirit” in Ephesians 6.  Jesus put the Devil to flight in the wilderness by the word of His testimony, as He uttered this response to each temptation, “It is written….”  We store the Word in our life and then speak the Word with our lips.  Words can be weapons of destruction when tongues are controlled by Satan. But words can also unleash the power and blessing of God when the mouth is mastered by Christ.  Remember how Jericho fell with a shout!  So will the strongholds of Satan crumble before the power of a positive confession rooted in the Word of God. 

We can defeat the Devil by THE COMMITMENT OF THE LIFE, for “they did not love their lives to the death.”  That’s total commitment.  What power there is in a life yielded unto God!  The stoutest demon trembles at the sight of a saint whose gaze is fixed on heaven, with the world behind his back, whose mind is consumed with Christ, whose ears are sensitive to the Spirit’s still, small voice, and whose feet are set on the highway of holiness.  How can the Devil threaten such a person?  He can say, “I’ll take your possessions!” But having surrendered it all to God, we have nothing to lose.  Satan can rave, “I’ll destroy your family!”  If like Hannah with Samuel, we’ve given them to God, we’re persuaded that He is able to keep that which we’ve committed unto Him against that day.  Satan can say, “I’ll take your health!” However, we realize our body is a lump of clay in the hand of the Divine Potter to shape as He sees fit. Therefore, we do not fear.  This is victory!

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Then all the leaders and all the people rejoiced, brought their contributions, and put them into the chest until all had given.  (2 Chronicles 24:10)

Some wonderful things happen at our house.  But there is a price—time, effort, and money are required. There are wonderful things that happen in the house of God at the house of God, but there is a house payment to make. We see this illustrated in 2 Chronicles 24.

We note THE PERSON JEHOVAH USED (v.1-3).  Joash was a young man thrust into a tremendous responsibility. The youth had a godly mentor in Jehoiada the priest.  He gave direction and support to the king. Joash owed his very life to the priest.  Joash had a grandmother named Athaliah.  When Her son, King Ahaziah died, this wicked woman greedily grabbed for power.  She had all the royal heirs put to death.  Imagine a woman so maniacal that she would kill her own grandchildren, so she could be queen!  But, the priest, Jehoiada, and his wife, rescued baby Joash and hid him six years. Chapter 23 tells how Athaliah was overthrown and Joash brought to the throne.  God had a plan for Joash.  God has a plan for you.  You’re not here by accident, but appointment.  God uses people. If your church moves forward in faith, it will be because you respond in obedience.  One person can make a great difference.

Next, we see THE PROBLEM JOASH UNCOVERED (v.4).  Athaliah was the daughter of Jezebel. During the reigns of Athaliah and her son Ahaziah, the pagan pollution of Jezebel permeated the land. As a result, the worship of God declined and the house of God deteriorated. Now Joash is moved to repair the house of God.  Our support of the ministries of our church indicates a lot about our heart. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.”  Many want to enjoy the blessings of the house of God without contributing to its support.  You are experiencing all the wonderful ministries that at the church.  Now the house payment has to be made!

Here was THE PLAN JUDAH UTILIZED (v.5-14).  The people of God were challenged by their spiritual leaders (v.5a).  Some people don’t want the preacher mentioning money.  They say they are tired of hearing about money.  I’m sorry, but it’s my responsibility to tell you. They were to challenge all the people to contribute something—from the poorest to the richest, the youngest to the oldest—everyone was to come together and have a part (v.5b).  Every member can and should do something.  There was an urgency (v.5c,6).  It is instructive that the temple was called “the tabernacle of witness” (v.6).  We can witness to the depth of our commitment to the Lord to our children, grandchildren, and generations to come.  We can testify to a dying world that we have a living church.  Sadly, many take that which belongs to God and give to Baal (v.7).  We choose to worship God or mammon—we cannot do both.  The chest of Joash was put in place (v.8-9).  The people gave cheerfully and abundantly (v.10-11).  The workmen were paid and God was glorified (v.12-14).  This is the Bible plan God gives us.

Sometimes we need a challenge.  As we come to the end of the year at Pole Creek, one of members has committed to give $15,000 for the ongoing mission and ministries of our church.  They are challenging the rest of us to match that—dollar for dollar above our other gifts.  May we respond joyfully!

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter.  (Revelation 10:10)
One of the metaphors the Bible offers for itself is that of food.  Proverbs 9:1-5 pictures God’s wisdom as a meal set before us.  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3 of the milk of the Word.  Hebrews 5:14 describes the meat of the Word.  Just as the Jews were fed manna from heaven each day in the wilderness, so God has daily sustenance for us as we walk in the spiritual wilderness of this world.  “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”  (Matt.4:4)  The Psalmist declared God’s Word to be, “Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”  (Ps.19:10)  John, in Revelation 10, tasted the sweetness of that truth, but then it turned bitter on his stomach.  We will explore this further.
We are first arrested by the appearance of an awesome angel (v.1-3).  He is not named, and his characteristics have led some to conclude this is Jesus Christ.  There are Old Testament manifestations of Jesus as the Angel of the LORD.  This was Christ’s way of revealing Himself to men before His incarnation in Bethlehem.  While we cannot say with certainty, this seems to be more than an angel, even an archangel, but instead the Angel of the LORD—Jesus Christ.
While we may speculate on the angel’s identity, we have no idea about the message that He carried (v.4).  John was forbidden to write it, and so we do not know it.  Paul was given revelations when he was caught up into the third heaven that he, also, was barred from sharing.  There are some things we are not meant to know this side of eternity.  We walk by faith and not by sight.  Now, we see through a glass darkly.  In some of the inexplicable heartaches of life, I can be comforted in knowing this: 

           Trials dark on every hand and we cannot understand
All the ways that God would lead us to that blessed Promised Land;
But He’ll guide us with His eye and we’ll follow till we die;
We will understand it better by and by.” 

Whatever the nature of the message, the nearness of it is highlighted (v.5-7).  Revelation is a book that describes the return of Jesus Christ and the consummation of the age.  When this message is proclaimed there have always been those who mocked, “Where is the promise of His coming?”  (2 Pet.3:4a)  My answer is: “A lot closer than ever!”  When the judgments of the last days begin, they will rapidly cascade and be completed in only seven years.  Indeed, the sounding of the seventh trumpet (v.7) will bring the final three and one-half years of the Great Tribulation—a time of trial so intense, that Jesus said that if it were not short in duration, all life would become extinct (Matt.24:22).
John ingests the truth and it is sweet to him (v.8-10a).  Honey is such a wondrous food.  It promotes health and imparts energy.  Don’t we find that to be true of the Word of God!  But, when John digests the truth it becomes sour to his stomach (v.10b-11).  The Apostle of Love was preaching a message of judgment.  While He was thankful for the salvation of those who received it, he was tearful for those who rejected it—such a bitter end for them!