Scripture Text: John 4:10-14 Title: Water or Eternal Water
Question of the Day: What are the main contrasts that Jesus was giving to the woman at the well about “water”?
We all know about the importance of water in our world, and that there is good water and water that isn’t fit to drink—like salt water—but one thing about water, you have to drink it daily to maintain good health. Since Jesus was at Jacob’s well, weary, and thirsty, it was only natural that He spoke to the Samaritan woman about water. Water sustains life; water purifies; water makes things in our world grow; and water is absolutely essential for physical life here on earth. So how did Jesus contrast that with what He called “living water”?
Here is today’s text: “About that time a woman from Samaria came to the well to draw water, and Jesus asked her a favor, ‘Please give Me some water to drink,’ By this time His disciples had gone away into the nearby town to buy some food. The woman said to Jesus, ‘How is it that you, being a Jew, asks me, a woman of Samaria, for a drink?’She said this because the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew about the gift of God, and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him to give you living water.’”
“The woman replied, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw water with and the well is very deep, so how could You give me that living water that You speak of? Are you a greater person than our ancestor Jacob who dug this well for himself, his children, and his herds of cattle?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Anyone who drinks the water from this well will get thirsty again, but anyone who drinks of the water that I give him will never thirst again, but the water that I give him will be in him a well of water springing up that will be to him life forever.’”
Jesus immediately brought up the subject of water when He asked the woman for a drink. This surprised her because the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans, and this request raised the curiosity of the woman. Jesus answered her question by bringing up the gift of God—salvation—and then introducing Himself as the One who could give her “living water”. The woman was hung up on the physical (and aren’t we all until we have been spiritually born again?) Then she asked Him a fantastic question: “Are you greater than our father Jacob…?” She had no idea who she was talking to.
Jesus informed the woman about the spiritual water that He gives, and that the spiritual water will make it so that the person would never thirst again. Then He went on to inform her that the water of life that He gives will become a fountain of life that constantly springs up to eternal life. What a great offer! Now the woman was ready, but Jesus gently had to tell her about her need, not just for physical water, but for spiritual cleansing from her sin—“You have had five husbands and you are now living with a man who is not your husband.” What an embarrassment to her, but at the same time, what a revelation!
At the end of their conversation Jesus gave the woman a brief lecture on worship of the Father, and then introduced Himself to her as the Messiah, and the woman immediately believed. How do we know? She immediately wanted to tell others about it, she left her waterpot there (remember now, Jesus was thirsty and needed a drink), and went into the city to bring the whole town out to meet Him. Mission accomplished! Many souls came to believe in Him and came to drink of the “living water”. This was the “spiritual water” that Jesus wants to give every person!
Prayer: Lord, thank You so much for the living spiritual water that You offer to all of us, and that we have had the privilege of drinking from. We now know that we will be drinking forever from that living water because You gave it and You have taught us to worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Living eternal water—what a gift for dry thirsty souls! Amen!
David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.
Question of the Day: How far can demonic powers go to touch believers on earth?
From one of the oldest books of the Bible, the book of Job, we find that the Adversary (Satan) seeks to destroy and disrupt the life of believers on earth, and is allowed into the presence of God to get permission before he can do anything to those believers. This fact has given a lot of comfort to believers down through the centuries. They have been aware that they were fighting the Adversary often through prayer, through living a godly life, and through spreading the Word of God around the globe—especially when they are involved in spreading the gospel that can set men free from his domination. As we look through various other passages of Scripture like Zechariah 3:1-2, I Kings 22:19-23, as well as in today’s text, we find out more and more information about the devil’s restricted power.
In today’s passage we read: “And when the fifth angel sounded off, I saw a star fall from heaven to earth: and to this shooting star was given the key to the bottomless pit. And when he opened the bottomless pit, smoke came out of the abyss like the smoke from a huge furnace, and the sun was further darkened because of the smoke. And out of the smoke came locusts on earth, and they were given power like the sting of a scorpion. And they were given orders not to hurt the grass, trees, or any other vegetation, but only those men who did not have the seal of God in their foreheads. They were not given authority to kill men, but only torment them for five months—like the sharp stinging pain of a scorpion. In those days men will wish for death, but they won’t be able to die; they will want to die, but death will escape them.”
When the fifth angel blew his trumpet, a star fell from heaven to earth, and to this star (the text says, “he”) was given a key to the shaft of the bottomless pit (or, the abyss). When he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, from that shaft rose smoke, like the smoke of a huge fire. The sun and the air were again darkened with the smoke from the pit. (This is the third time that it is mentioned in Revelation that the sun was darkened: chapter 6:12; 8:12; 9:2.) Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth; and to the locusts were given power like the vicious sting of a scorpion.
Their instructions were this: “do not harm the grass on earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” These creatures (probably some demonic creatures since there are demons that are now being confined to the abyss, but will be released during the tribulation) they were given specific instructions. They were told exactly what to do and go no further. Obviously from the text they could have hurt (destroyed) the trees, grass, and green plants (but that had already been done), but their specific task was to torture those who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Will there come a time when all believers on earth will have the seal of God on their foreheads? Obviously so according to chapter 7:2-3! So is the mark of the beast a retaliatory move against believers on earth who have been sealed by God?
Imagine this: many now pretend to be believers, but during this time of judgment there will be no doubt as to who is a believer and who is not! The scorpions like creatures were allowed to torture anyone who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads, but for only a period of five months. They must have had the power to kill them, but they were instructed not to kill them, but only sting and torture them. Now is that for a precision strike! These creatures had power to hurt the grass, green plants, and trees, and to kill men, but they were given specific instructions and they were to go no further. They were given instructions to sting and hurt, but not kill, and only those men who did not have the seal of God in their foreheads.
Isn’t it comforting to know that God will always protect His children from what the demonic spirits would like to do? And that is to wipe each one of us out! And, they could hurt only those who did not have the mark of God on their foreheads, that is, those who had heard the gospel from the 144,000 and rejected it and refused to have the mark of God on their foreheads. God is always looking out for His children, and here He had a purpose for them—and so they were spared the deadly sting. One wonders when we get to heaven and have the veil lifted from our eyes, will we see all the ways that God protected us when we traveled through this life? Won’t we be astounded and astonished and amazed at His protective power from satanic death strikes!
Prayer: O God, we turn to You for our total protection throughout this life—and not only from the visible foes that we now see, but from the invisible ones as the devil and his minions do everything the can to disrupt and destroy our lives. Isn’t this what King David was saying when he said, “The LORD is my shield, my protector, my shelter, and the One who holds my right hand throughout life”? Truly Your protection program is seen in the way that You restrict demonic forces! Amen !
David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.
Question of the Day: What are some of the things that God does on behalf of His children?
If one were to chronicle the answer to that question from Scripture, it would be a list of 1000’s of things that He can do and does regularly for His children. How often have we heard the testimony of a fellow believer who has been rescued from various distressing situations? These testimonies inspire us and help us to look to Him when we are ourselves “covered up” by life’s difficulties. After all, is that not what the book of Job is all about—along with the many testimonies in the Bible of men and women who have faced impossible situations and extreme difficulties and been rescued? In this psalm the writer doesn’t give us specific stories of those who have been rescued, but he does outline what God does in response to our “crying out” to Him, and in his words, we are greatly inspired and encouraged.
Here is a list of the things mentioned in this psalm that God does when we are in a distressful situation and cry out to Him for help:
Verse 2: He buys us back from the slavemarket of sin, that is, He redeems us. Only the LORD can redeem lost mankind!
Verse 3: He can regather His people from every nation of the world.
Verses 4, 13, 19, 28; Psalm 106:44: He delivers us out of our distressful situations.
Verse 7: He leads us in a straight path until we reach our desired destination.
Verses 8, 15, 21, 31: He pours out on undeserving sinners His steadfast and overwhelming love, and does a variety of miracles for them.
Verse 9: He can satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts, and fill our hungry soul with good things.
Verse 12: he can bow down a wayward heart with hard labor until they find themselves chained and in prison.
Verse 14: He can bring us out of darkness when a death sentence has been issued against them and break those chains that bind us.
Verse 15: He can shatter the doors of bronze and cut prison bars in two.
Verse 20: He sends out His Word and heals us and delivers us from destruction.
Verse 23-27: He shows us His power when we are in dangerous situations—like a sailor in a violent storm—and it is He who created those violent storms!
Verse 29: He calms the storms that He had raised up and hushed the violent waves of the ocean.
Verse 30: He calms our hearts and makes us glad when the storm is over—and brings us to our destination.
Verses 33-35: He has the ability to turn a desert into rivers of water and dry cracked ground into a place of springs of water.
Verses 36-38: He gives us the desires of our heart—a city to live in where fields can be planted as He pours out His blessings on our livestock.
Verses 39-40: When we are brought very low, He punishes those who oppress us and sends them packing.
Verse 41: He finds those who are upright, makes them glad, and shuts the mouth of the wicked.
Of course this is only a short list of the things that God can do, but when we are in distressful situation, we must turn to Him and be assured that His steadfast love and His wonderful works will be sent our way post-haste! He is attentive to the cry of His beloved children, and when we will but call, He will respond. The answer may surprise us in the way He answers, but the answer will come to bring honor and glory back to Himself when we, the redeemed of the LORD, just say so to the world around us.
Prayer: O God, what a list of some of the fantastic things that You do for Your children. When we hear the stories of fellow Christians we are in awe again and again and our hearts well up with joy as we recount the many things You do for us on a daily basis. Sometimes the answer is there before we even know to ask, and sometimes we wait for years for the answer; but when it comes, there is another outburst of joy and thanksgiving to You—our great God! Your power is truly amazing! Amen!
David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.
Question of the Day: What happens in heaven when the prayers of God’s saints are about to be answered here on earth?
One of the things that baffle the believer is the many times that God answers their prayers, and the many ways He seemingly chooses not to answer those prayers. Some of those prayers have been brought before the throne of God for years while we wait for Him to act on our behalf, and some of them are answered before we recognize that we have a need and ask for them. One of the prayers of many believers for centuries is that God will clean up the evil in this world, and allow us to “run the show” under the direction of His Son. We know how things need to be done because we have read God’s Handbook, the Holy Scriptures, and so we wait for the signal from Him that righteousness is about to reign here on earth as it is in heaven.
In a few places in Scripture there are a few clues as to what happens when our requests have come up to the throne of God and God has chosen to answer those prayers. But what takes place when we have sent up a request to God and then God, in His infinite wisdom, chooses to answer? Part of the answer is here in Revelation 8 where the judgments of God are being poured out on the earth as He unveils His Final Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ.
When the time comes for Him to act, here’s what happened in heaven: “And when the Lamb had opened the seventh clasp, there was silence in heaven for half an hour; and I saw the seven angels that stand continually before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel came and stood at heaven’s altar, and he had a golden censer. He was given a large quantity of incense, which he was to offer along with the prayers of the saints, on heaven’s golden altar, which is before God’s throne. The smoke from the incense, which again was offered with the prayers of God’s holy children, came up before God out of the hand of the angel. And the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from off heaven’s altar, and threw it down to earth. Instantly on earth there were voices heard, claps of thunder, strikes of lightning, and an earthquake. Then the seven angels prepared to sound off.”
Here’s what we find out: God had decided to act and to bring judgment on earth, and at the same time He was answering the prayers of the saints. These prayers had been pending “under the altar” for many centuries, and somehow and for some reason God has chosen this specific time to answer what could actually be the prayers of many saints down through many centuries. When the time had come for action, an angel went to the golden altar that is before the throne, and he was given much incense that he was to offer along with the prayers of the saints, and when he did that, they rose up before God. This tells us that when God determines that it is the proper time to answer our prayers, an angel went up to the altar, scooped up some incense, and offered it with our prayers to God.
When we are told to pray, we are told to bring our requests up to the “Father”, the One who tenderly cares for His children, and He, with the wisdom and ability that He has, answers those prayers in the time that He determines and in the way He know is best. What is intriguing here is action of the angel in the answer. Hebrews 1:14 informs us that the angels are ministering spirits who are sent out to serve those who are to inherit eternal salvation—that is, you and I as believers. Though we cannot see these spirit beings, they are here for our aid, and when we get to heaven and have the blinders taken off our eyes, we will be able see throughout life all the things that they did to come to our aid. Their action on our behalf is well chronicled in the Scriptures, and today’s text tells us just a little of how that action is taken and when. Are we really that helpless that we need the angelic host to aid us—even in answering our prayers? Evidently so!
Prayer: O God, we thank You for Your plan to help us through this life. Many times we need specific instructions from You, and Your messenger is sent; we need to be strengthened, and an angel is dispatched; we are facing formidable foes that are determined to wipe us out, and angels are dispatched to defend us; and when we leave this life, it is angels that escort us forever into Your presence. Thank You! We need a lot of help! Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 107
Question of the Day: Where do our difficulties come from, and how do we relief from them?
Any honest person will tell you that the difficulties that they found themselves in, were of their own making, because most of the problems that we face in life are self-inflicted wounds. And if it were left up to our own strength to get out of the difficulties, we would be bound by our mistakes for all through our lives. In this psalm the writer points out to us the role that God plays when we find ourselves in troubled circumstances. Yes, many of our problems and difficulties are of our own doing, but what is God’s role in helping us get out of those problems?
In this psalm the writer speaks of four types of difficulties that people find themselves in. He began each section with the word “some”; which indicates the various scenarios and difficulties we are in: some were hungry, thirsty, and faint; some lived in the dark and cramped confines of a prison; some suffered from the results of their own sinful foolish lifestyles which brought them near death; and some lived in dangerous situations like sailors out on the oceans facing the violent storms of the sea. What is interesting is that the same pattern emerged from each of those situations. Here is how it played out:
First, here is an outline of the sections of this psalm:
Verses 4-9, some of us were hungry and thirsty and faint.
Verses 10-16, some of us lived in darkness and were imprisoned.
Verses 17-22, some of us suffered because of our foolish sinful ways, and were near death.
Verses 23-32, and some traveled across dangerous seas and nearly drown; they found themselves in highly dangerous situations.
And here is information that we need when we get into those difficulties:
Each situation that people got themselves into was of their own making. Some had rebelled against the word of the LORD and turned away from His counsel, and because of that, they now found themselves in places where they faced death.
For those who rebelled, the LORD visited them with hard labor until they fell down with no one to help them up.
In that desperate situation they were hungry, faint, thirsty, bound in prison, suffering from their own mistakes and missteps in life, and because they defied death in dangerous circumstances.
And it was in that condition that they realized that there was no way out.
And it was also in those desperate circumstances that they finally in anguish “cried out to the LORD, and He delivered them from their distress.”
Then God intervened on their behalf and they witnessed first-hand His overwhelming and steadfast love and His many means of delivering them out of that situation where they faced death.
Then the LORD satisfied the longing soul, filled the hungry soul with good things, led them back into the straight and narrow way until they reached their desired destination, brought them out of darkness and chains, sent them His Word and healed them, delivered them from certain destruction, stilled the dangerous storms they were in, and brought them to their ultimate destination.
In each of these sections and in the opening verses of this psalm believers are urged to praise the LORD because they have been rescued out of their perilous situations. They are urged to thank God for two things: first His steadfast and overwhelming love in rescuing them, and then to exalt Him for the fantastic things that He did to rescue them. These rescuing tactics of the LORD are called the “wonderful works to the children of man!” Every person who has experienced salvation has a testimony of the fantastic miracle that God did in their lives in bringing them out of “darkness and into His marvelous light”. And, since we have been redeemed, we must “say so”. And what must we tell people about? Six times throughout the psalm the writer mentions the “steadfast and overwhelming love of the LORD”. There are many things about our great God and the miracles that He does in guiding us, protecting us, keeping us on the path of righteous living, strengthening us for each day, and so on as he pours out His love on His beloved children. There are enough things that the believer will experience throughout all of eternity to keep us telling forever about the steadfast love of our God! We may not face difficulties forever, but we will experience again and again His steadfast and overwhelming love.
Prayer: O God, Your steadfast love brought us into the body of Christ, and it is Your steadfast love that will keep us each day throughout all of eternity. We feel so undeserving of Your love, but we are so thankful for it—and will be thankful throughout life and right on into eternal life—the life that Your love has promised us. Difficulties may be short lived, but Your love will last forever. Amen!
Scripture Text: John 4:7 Title: Give Me a Drink!
Question of the Day: Why did Jesus ask the woman at the well to give Him a drink?
One of the things from which we can learn a good deal about from the life of Jesus is how to do personal evangelism simply and effectively. In this story there are many principles of personal evangelism pointed out by our Lord, and this is one of them. Jesus had travelled a long way that day and was fatigued, weary, and thirsty, so it would have been easy for Him to ask for a drink. Now don’t you think that it would have been wise of Jesus to have a vessel along with Him with which He could have drawn water? But Jesus travelled light and depended on others to be there in a time of need—and that is a lesson that needs to be learned by every believer who has been specially called by God to do a specific task—as Jesus was.
The woman was not about to speak to a foreigner, and especially a Jew, and Jesus knew that He had to initiate the conversation, so He gave a simple request, “Please give me a drink.” Jesus travelled He travelled light, and had demanded that those disciples who would be His followers for three years also travel very light. So, with nothing to draw water with, Jesus depended on the woman for a drink; but there is far more to His request than that. Jesus had in mind to turn the conversation to “living water” and thus fill the deep inner longing and spiritual desire of the woman at the same time.
Meanwhile, Jesus was still thirsty and He patiently waited to speak to the woman about the “living water” and her need for that living water. The conversation would eventually come down to the question, “Are you greater than our forefather Jacob who gave us this well?” Jesus then contrasted the physically satisfying water of the well with the living water that would satisfy the deep inner longings of the woman. When the woman recognized her need, she turned around and asked Him to give her living water! What a turnabout of events. He had asked her for physical water; then He offered her spiritual water—and that is just what she needed most. What is interesting is the fact that it is never recorded that the woman ever drew water and gave Him something to drink!
There were two more things the woman needed to know: first, she had to be confronted with her sin of having been married five times and now just giving up and living with the next man; and then she needed a theological question answered about God being a Spirit being and how to properly worship Him—and all of this came after a simple request of Jesus to her for water! What is further fascinating about this passage is that every person who has every lived has been confronted by Jesus Christ at some time in their lives, and they have a decision to make; here Jesus simply said, “I who speaks with you am the Messiah.” The woman then got all excited and brought others to see Him too. And all of this started when He asked her for a drink!
Prayer: Lord, give me a simple question to ask others or a simple request to make of someone that will turn the conversation to spiritual things and meet that person’s spiritual need. You have given us a good example here on how to do that, and may the conversation always turn to eternal things and speaking about our great God and Father in heaven—that others may know Him. Amen!
Scripture Text: John 4:4-9 Title: Son of God: or Man?
Question of the Day: Why did Jesus refer to Himself as “the Son of Man” over 86 times, but as the “Son of God”only about 30 times in the New Testament?
This devotional may be controversial, but it does have a point, so read carefully. Of course Jesus is the Son of God, He is God; but at one time in history He was Man, and identified Himself over 86 times as “the Son of Man”, and in doing so identified Himself at that time as a Man, or as we would say, a human being. He had laid aside some of His eternal attributes (for example: being omnipresent, that is, present everywhere simultaneously). One example of how limited He was as a Man was when He said in John 5:19, “The absolute truth is this: the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father doing in this world; whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” (The same truth is repeated in John 5:30; and 8:28.)
Here is the main point: when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, the Spirit of God descended on Him in the form of a dove, and from that moment on He was filled with the eternal Spirit of God, and performed miracles and showed fantastic signs that proved who He was and authenticated the fact that He was acting in accordance with the Father’s will for Him. I believe that He was showing us what could be done with the power of God when a person is directed by the Spirit of God to complete the plan and purpose of God. Each miracle and each sign that He did proved that He was the Son of God.
Today’s text is a good illustration of the contrast between the Son of God and the Son of Man: “About that time a woman from Samaria came to the well to draw water, and Jesus asked her a favor, ‘Please give Me some water to drink.” By this time His disciples had gone away into the nearby town to buy some food. The woman said to Jesus, ‘How is it that you, being a Jew, asks me, a woman of Samaria, for a drink?’ She said this because the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him to give you living water.’ The woman replied, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw water with and the well is very deep, so how could You give me that living water that You speak of? Are you a greater person than our ancestor Jacob who dug this well for himself, his children, and his herds of cattle?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Anyone who drinks the water from this well will just get thirsty again, but anyone who drinks of the water that I give him will never thirst again, but the water that I give him will be in him a well of water springing up that will be to him life forever.’”
Many simply dismiss Jesus’ knowledge of the woman’s past and the fact that He just happened to be at the well at that time of day when she showed up, but I believe this: The woman was shocked that Jesus spoke to her because He was Jew (she must have been able to tell by His clothing or His speech), so she joined in the conversation with a question to Him: “Why are you, a Jew, asking me, a woman of Samaria for a drink?” From Jesus’ words to her later, He must have been able to read the situation and figure out that she had been married five times and that she was now living with another man.
We often think that Jesus knew these things because He was God, but He was still a man, and had to figure things out just like we do, so He must have been able to figure things out just like we would have. Possibly He had been here before and had heard about a woman described like the woman He met, and that she came to the well around noon, and that’s why He hurried there, was weary from the journey, and sent the disciples away so that He could have no interruptions when talking with her.
One cannot take away from the fact that Jesus was “the Son of God”, but when He continually introduced Himself as “the Son of Man” I believe that He was admitting His humanness; He was fatigued from the journey and had sat by the well; He was very observant of the woman and somehow figured out her past history; and He was demonstrating to the disciples how they were to carry on their ministry after He was gone using the power of the Holy Spirit. He had to have told them later of the whole conversation because they had gone away into the city to buy food, and weren’t even their when the conversation took place! Here we have a great example of how the “Son of God” laid aside His deity temporarily to become the “Son of Man”.
Prayer: Lord, teach us to follow Your example and tap into the power of the Holy Spirit to complete the job, the mission, that You have given each of us to do. Help us to ever keep our eyes and our focus on You and what You want to do and are doing in our world; help us to complete the purpose in life You have outlined for us for Your glory. Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 107:1, 8, 15, 21, 31, 43
Question of the Day: What must be the response of the believer to the steadfast love of the LORD?
Throughout Scripture we are implored to thank God many times for His overwhelming and steadfast love. We were brought into the family of God bathed in His love, and it is His love that keeps us each day of our lives and on into eternity. Six times in this psalm the steadfast love of the LORD is mentioned, and instructions are given to believers to “say so”, that is, to tell others of the love of the LORD. Let’s go through this psalm and list the various things that God’s love does for us—as outlined by the psalmist.
Verse 1 says, “All believers of all time are urged to give thanks to the LORD because He is good and because His steadfast love will last forever!” Verses 8, 15, 21, and 31 say exactly the same thing: “We must thank the LORD for His overwhelming and steadfast love and for the wonderful works that He has performed for His children.” And verse 43 concludes with this thought: “So the person who is wise needs to attend to these things and consider carefully the steadfast and overwhelming love of the LORD God.”
Here is a list of the things about the steadfast love of the LORD that the psalmist outlined for us, and these things ignite our praise for Him:
He has redeemed us from trouble, verse 2.
He will yet regather all believers of all time into one body, verse 3.
He delivered us from our distressful circumstances, verse 6.
He led them in a straight path to a safe city where they could live, verse 7.
He satisfied their inner longings and their hungry soul, verse 9.
He brought them out of the dark damp prison cells, broke the chains that bound them, and set them free, verse 14 and 16.
He gave the command and they were healed and delivered from their destructive lifestyles, verse 20.
He stilled the storms of life for them and quieted the waves of the oceans, bringing them to their destination, verse 29-30.
He turned rivers into a desert and poured out springs of water on dry cracked ground, verses 33-35.
He gave them their heart’s desire to live in a city where they could be safe, plant fields around it, and watch their livestock herds grow and multiply, verses 36-38.
We all can say “amen” to those things since we too have experienced them; and all of them grow out of the steadfast love that the LORD our God has showered on us. When we are basking in the ocean of His love throughout eternity, which will win out—the wickedness and evil that surrounds us in this life, or the eternal and unfailing and overwhelming love of our great God?
Prayer: O God, what can we say about the great love that You have shown us throughout this life? The one, yes, the only thing we look forward to in eternity is being with You forever and basking in the ocean of Your love! Amen!
Question of the Day: What is that ignites praise and worship to the LORD constantly from believers?
We struggle constantly with people in this world whom we thought we could trust to accept us, love us, and be there for us—and many times they are. But it seems that when we need someone to be there for us, at times they are not. A good portion of our lives we are left alone, stand alone, and from time to time feel stranded by life’s challenges. So where can we go when we feel that way? Where can we find constant solace and help?
Here are the words from today’s text: “Give praise to the LORD! Yes, give thanks to the LORD because He is good and His steadfast love will last forever!” We rely so much every day on God to be there for us and to be the same as He was yesterday and as He was for people in the days of the Bible. Is there anyone in this world who is always there for us? Is there anyone who is always good? Is there anyone whose love is constant and steadfast? It is those facts that make our relationship with God so rich and dependable. Here are a few thoughts on those verses:
He is good! We can be good to each other, and many times are good to each other, but there are days and times when we can be grouchy to each other and we can’t always be constantly good—our wicked flesh will not allow us to be—even if we are born again. Can we really count on God to be good continually to us? Again and again in Scripture we are told that “the LORD is good and His mercy will always be there for us.”
Another constant about our great God is that His love for us is continuous and steadfast—even during the most difficult times in our life and even when He is chastening us. Can we really depend on that love to be there for us all the time, in every situation, no matter what we have done (or done wrong), or no matter who is attacking us today? YES! He has said that He will never leave us, that whenever we have sinned, there is always cleansing and forgiveness, and when we are in any difficult situation, all we have to do is to pause and commune with Him—and in an instant we are approaching the throne of grace to receive mercy in time of need!
OK! God is good and His love is always there for us, but will those character qualities remain the same forever? That is the assurance from His Word! Through the psalmist He said that He is good and that His overwhelming and steadfast love will endure forever! What if that guarantee was only good for 30 days, or for this lifetime only, or for the first 10,000 years of eternity?
Our heart yearns for His love and His goodness to be on us FOREVER! No pauses! No breaks! No end of them! Why? Because He is God and only He can love sinners, clean them up, and be there for them forever!
Prayer: O God, You have given us so many reasons to give thanks to You and to praise Your great name. Your goodness tells us how You will deal with us—Your children—each day, and Your arms of steadfast and overwhelming love are felt around us each day. Teach our heart to overflow with thanksgiving and praise—forever! Amen!
Scripture Text: John 4:1-2 Title: Baptism Stops?
Question of the Day: Why isn’t it mentioned, after this account at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry,that no one baptized any more until after Jesus went to heaven?
John the Baptist came out of nowhere like a storm trooper and shook up the nation of Israel and informed them that they need to repent because God’s kingdom was coming soon, and to prepare the way for the Messiah. Then one day it happened: the Messiah came to be baptized and John, though he knew Jesus, didn’t know until that moment that his close relative, Jesus, was the Messiah. After John saw the Spirit of God descending on Him and from that moment on he knew that Jesus was the Messiah.
It wasn’t long before there was competition between John’s ministry of baptism and Jesus’ disciples who were baptizing—and right down the street from each other. Then one day it happened: some of John’s disciples and some other Jews got into an argument about the Jewish ritual of purification (or how you were to be made ceremonially clean). At the same time word got out to the Pharisees, who were one of the religious leaders of the day, that now Jesus’ disciples were baptizing more people that John the Baptist. The question is this: how would this controversy be resolved peacefully. John and Jesus certainly weren’t in competition with each other; they were working for the same Boss.
Then came up the question of whose ministry would eclipse whose, and it is instructive in this text how Jesus handled the situation. Here is today’s text: “When Jesus heard how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples that John—even though Jesus didn’t baptize, His disciples did—He left Judea and went again up into Galilee.” What is interesting about this is that it isn’t recorded of either Jesus or John the Baptist baptizing after this event, and baptism wasn’t practiced until after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Why didn’t Jesus’ disciples baptize after this? Why did John’s ministry end right after this?
What we want to learn from Jesus in these verses is this: as soon as He heard that the Pharisees had heard of the controversy and that Jesus’ disciples were now baptizing more people than John, He left with His disciples and went up into Galilee. Jesus wasn’t in competition with John the Baptist, and besides, John told the crowds earlier that Jesus would come to baptize, not with water like he did, but with the Holy Spirit—and that is just what Jesus did. What grace Jesus showed; He knew what the Father had given Him to do, and so did John; Jesus avoided open controversy and just moved on to the next event in His ministry and kept His focus on what He was sent to do. Grace trumped baptism, and when people had experienced grace through faith as they received salvation, baptism took a back seat. Why? The Messiah was here…and still is!
Prayer: O Lord, help all who are Your followers to follow Your example and avoid controversy. Help us to remember that we are not in competition with each other, that we all work for You, and that oneness in Your body is absolutely essential to bringing glory to the Father by completing the job You gave us to do. Make us one; keep our focus on You always. Amen!
Question of the Day: How can Christians test God in such a way that He sends a “wasting spirit” to that person or group of believers?
One thing that the Christian wants to avoid at any cost is to test God’s patience. When we deal with one another, we can soon run out of patience with that person and get very testy with them—whether we are right our whether we are wrong. When that happens, sparks fly between people and invariably ugly words and hurt feelings follow. But when it comes to our relationship with God, we have to be very careful: even though He is a patient and loving and merciful God, when He deals with His children and they test His patience, serious results can follow.
Here the psalmist is recounting the premier example in the Scriptures when someone tested God and the serious results that resulted. When the nation of Israel had come out of Egypt and were going through the desert, they were hungry for meat. Now believers have been told many times in Scripture to ask God for whatever they need and look to Him to supply that need, but Israel used the occasion to blast Moses and Aaron. Here is the account from the psalmist’s perspective many years later: “But they soon forgot the great things that He had done and did not wait to consult Him, but when they had a wanton craving for food—specifically meat—in the desert, they tested God’s patience. Oh, yes, He gave them what they demanded, but then He sent a disease among them that sapped their strength.”
Here is what happened: they quickly forgot the mighty miracles that the LORD had done, and did not wait for His counsel, verse 13. How do we learn to wait for the counsel of the LORD? Do we gripe and complain when difficulties come, or do we turn to Him expectantly as we wait for His answer in His time and His way? Should Israel not have set aside a time of fasting and prayer as they waited on Him to provide their needs? They did have a need: mostly for food and water; but instead of waiting on God and trusting Him, they attacked their leaders—Moses and Aaron—and griped and complained against the leadership instead of trusting God.
Here we are told that instead of waiting for the counsel of the LORD, they allowed a wanton craving spirit to overtake them in the desert, and put God to the test. Oh yes, He did give them what they asked for, but He also sent a wasting spirit among them. What does that mean? When we demand of God that the desires of our flesh be satisfied—even the God-given desire for food—God will give us what we demand, but when the answer comes and we haven’t waited on God for the answer and for His timing for the answer and for the answer to come in His way, we are spiritually bankrupt for it. God’s answer to our prayers—even for basic life necessities like food and water—must come in His way. (See Exodus 17:2; I Corinthians 10:9; Psalm 78:29; and Isaiah 10:16)
He is the Sovereign God and knows how and when and where to supply our every need. But when we demand the answer now we fail to see Him as the great Provider, One who is to be worshipped and praised for His great provision. On Mount Moriah, Abraham by faith looked to God to “provide for Himself a lamb”, and his faith was greatly rewarded. Had Israel waited on God, the provision would have been there in the right way, at the right time, and glory and praise would have gone to God. You notice that after this experience Israel didn’t have a great praise service like they did after the crossing of the Red Sea—and the reason was that a wasting spirit had been sent by God on them. The choice is ours: either a praise and worship celebration, or a wasting wanton spirit that come from an unthankful spirit. You choose!
Prayer:O God, all of us wait for certain requests to be answered: maybe a loved one to be saved; or a need to be met; or for an event to take place that will get us out of danger; or for one of many other things for which we need. Keep us from demanding it from a wanton unthankful spirit like Israel did, and help us to by faith obey You and watch the way and the timing of how You answer that prayer. Amen!
David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping —a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.
Text: John 3:31-36 Eternal Perspective
Question of the Day: How did Jesus’ earthly ministry differ from the ministry of any other prophet or religious leader?
John the Baptist knew that Jesus’ ministry was quite different from any other person’s ministry since the beginning of time. Jesus later told of how powerful and dynamic a ministry John the Baptist had (and it was not surpassed by any other prophet), but in this passage John explains much of Jesus’ ministry that in the following three years was to unfold. John the disciple heard John explain Jesus’ unsurpassed ministry and gave us the following information.
Here is today’s text: “He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
John the Baptist explained Jesus’ ministry as having come from heaven. Even though John didn’t know immediately that Jesus was the Messiah, but discovered this fact at Jesus’ baptism’ yet he knew that Jesus’ ministry came from God in heaven. He speaks of Jesus’ ministry as “from above” and “from heaven” and “what He has seen and heard”and as “His testimony”. One wonders from this how much of His eternal past Jesus understood since He existed in eternity. How much of His eternal past was He aware of as He taught and completed His ministry?
How much of Jesus’ eternal attributes were laid aside when He came to earth? Or, when He studied the Scriptures—just like we have to do—did He understand much more because of His eternal existence? Or because He lived a sinless life? These questions have no definitive answers, but it is obvious from His teaching and the way He handled Himself, that His perspective on all matters was quite different.
Jesus’ perspective was based in eternity; it was based on the eternal Word of God; it was based on what He knew the Father had given Him to do; it was based on the love that the Father poured out on and through the Son; it was based on what He had seen and heard; it was His personal testimony; it was based on the unlimited power of God’s Spirit that controlled everything He did and said; He knew He was speaking the words of God!
The bottom line is this: John knew that when one came to believe on the Son, that person would have eternal life; and the person who did not believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, that person would not see life forever, but God’s wrath would be on the person forever! That was John’s summary of Jesus’ life and ministry. John saw clearly who Jesus was and how He was the line of demarcation between eternal life and eternal wrath. Now that is an eternal perspective!
Prayer: Lord, You have made it clear for all of time that the difference between eternal life and eternal wrath is one’s belief in Your Son and that person’s acceptance of the Son into their life. What a watershed issue Your Son has become. His testimony is so clear because He told us what He had seen and heard; You set Your seal on Him; and because of Your great love for Him, we too can enjoy life forever with Him! What a great thought! Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 106:44-47
Question of the Day: When does God come to the aid of His children when they are in distress?
One of the most revealing descriptions of believers in the Scripture is when the Lord calls us “His sheep”: sheep get lost; sheep need a lot of care; sheep are defenseless, always being attacked by coyotes and wolves; and sheep get themselves in desperate situations that require help and rescue. Is the same true for believers? In the stories in Luke 15 just before the Lord spoke of the “lost son”, He gave the illustration of the one lost sheep. Sheep have no homing instinct and they are defenseless against the wolf—the devil. When the prodigal son left home, he got lost and ended up with his life in a mess, and that is where the father stepped in: the father knew that his son was in trouble, the son made up a speech to give to his father—which he never got to give because when he cried out to his father, the father’s love smothered the speech of his lost son with love and tenderness.
In today’s text the psalmist tells us when and why the Lord hears our distressful call for help: “Yet the LORD looked on their distressful situation and heard their cry for help. For their sake He then remembered His covenant with them and He relented because of His overwhelming steadfast love for them. He demonstrated to them how they could be shown pity by their captors. “Save us, O LORD our God,” they cried, “and gather us from among all the nations so that we can give thanks to Your holy name and bring glory to You with praise.”
Here we come to one of those great Bible words, “nevertheless”: it says, “The LORD looked on their distress.” Does God always see our distressful situations? Does He see us when we are in trouble and even when we are in those situations where He has given the devil the permission to do us great damage? When the LORD saw them in their distress, then He heard their cry. When do God’s children cry out to the LORD for help? (See Judges 3:9; 4:3; 6:7; 10:10) In the book of Judges the Israelites got themselves into trouble time and again when the strayed away from God like a lost sheep strays away from the rest of the flock. And God again and again heard their desperate cry for help and came to their aid. He then came to them because of His steadfast and relentless love and pitied them and rescued them. The verse that says, “It was then that they cried out to the LORD in the middle of their difficulties and He delivered them out of their distressful situations” is repeated four more times in Psalm 107.
What was it that motivated God to change His direction of dealing with His children and come to their aid when they cried out? In today’s passage is the answer: “He changed the direction of His dealing with His children because of His overwhelming and steadfast love.” Was it not His love that motivated God to send His Son to bring redemption to mankind? And it is that same overwhelming love that continues to surround His children all through their earthly lives and right on into eternity! In fact the psalmist declared that God changed the hearts of their captors from relentlessly persecuting them to showing them pity. Now that is love in action!
When was the last time you cried out in a distressful situation to the LORD? God doesn’t come to our aid just because we in a tight spot; He waits for us to cry out to Him for help. There are over 20 different words in the Scriptures used to describe how believers “cry out” to God for help. This is not just a timid plea for help, but an intense loud crying out to God for help. When we are in a desperate situation, we need to learn to “cry out” to the LORD because we are told in today’s passage that “He looked on their distressful situation and He heard their cry”. Cry out! He will answer!
Prayer: O God, I cry out to You—right now—for the situation I find myself in. I am desperate and greatly need an answer from You. My heart aches for relief from those who are after me in this evil world who would want to wipe me out. I cry out to You because there is nowhere else to turn. Show Your great power to me as I am in deep need of an answer from You. Amen!
Scripture Text: Revelation 8:7-9,21
Question of the Day: What happens in heaven just before a major event on earth?
As Christians we are aware that God is in complete control of everything because He is the Sovereign God of the universe. When we are told of events that happen throughout the Old Testament where God specifically intervened in the affairs of man and directed history, we are filled with wonder and awe at His amazing power and His ability to do fantastic miracles on behalf of His children—and at that time specifically the nation of Israel. We hear stories in our day about how He intervened and did great things for His children, we are still in awe and wonder what is about to happen next.
In the book of Revelation we are given information as to how God the Father is going to unveil His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, to this world. Many of the scenes in the book are scenes that are rare glimpses into what is happening in heaven as events unfold here on earth. For example, in 31 verses in this book we have mention of the throne of God, and each give us more insight into what happens when a major event happens on earth.
In Revelation 8:1-7 we are given just one example: “And when the Lamb had opened the seventh clasp, there was silence in heaven for half an hour; and I saw seven angels that stand continually before God and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel came and stood at heaven’s altar, and he had a golden censer. He was given a large quantity of incense, which he was to offer along with the prayers of the saints, on heaven’s golden altar, which is before God’s throne. The smoke from the incense, which again was offered with the prayers of God’s holy children, came up before God out of the hand of the angel. And the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from off heaven’s altar, and threw it down to earth. Instantly on earth there were voices heard, claps of thunder, strikes of lightning, and an earthquake. Then the seven angels prepared to sound off. The first angel sounded off, and immediately there was hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was all cast to the earth. One third of the trees were burned up, and all the grass of earth was torched.”
Here is an amazing chain of events: first we are told that there are seven angels that stand before God’s throne just waiting for His command. In Luke 1:19 the angel Gabriel told Zachariah, John the Baptist’s father, that he was an angel “that stood before the presence of God…” It could be that he was one of the seven angels here, but their task was to stand before the throne, wait for a command from God, and then hasten to carry out the order. To each of the seven angels was given a trumpet, in other words, they were to be ready for a command, an order from the throne, so “get ready!” But before they were given an order to announce an event about to take place on earth, another angel appeared, came and stood by the altar with a golden censer in his hand. He then was given a large quantity of incense to offer along with all the prayers of the saints on the golden altar before the throne.
When the angel threw the incense in the censer to earth, hail and fire followed on earth mixed with blood by the time it got to the earth. Isn’t it fascinating how many things that happen on earth have their origin in heaven: first the command is given; an angel receives the command and takes action; then things happen in heaven and finally an even takes place here on earth? What is further fascinating is this: man tries to explain happenings on earth with the small amount of information that he has here on earth. But when God explains to man what happens on earth, we find that everything that happens here on earth begins in heaven. THIS IS AN EARTHSHAKING REVELATION! At this point in this judgment 1/3 of the earth was set on fire, 1/3 or the trees and all the green grass on earth was burned up. It is not revealed here how the earth, the trees, and the green grass were burned up, but it will happen. For example, when the plagues hit Egypt when God brought His children out of bondage and set them free, when those plagues hit, what was it that happened just before that outburst in heaven that precipitated the event, the plague on earth?
Another example is in chapter nine when the four angels were released who had been prepared for a specific period of time were released to kill one third of mankind, it immediately is mentioned that 200 million mounted troops carried out the slaughter. So did the angelic beings no longer restrain their power and so unleashed their power through the troops to kill one third of mankind? We can only speculate and imagine the interaction between angelic beings and man’s involvement here on earth when any event takes place here on earth.
For example, what happens when a war breaks out? Or when a plague breaks out? Or a pestilence? Or an epidemic? Or we are confronted with a major catastrophic event of any kind? Or even an earthquake, an outbreak of tornados, or a massive earthquake takes place? Can we not also see each event like this as coming from the command center of the universe and through God’s holy angels? When the time comes for the major judgment of God on this world during the tribulation, will not the command come at the precise time determined by God, the angelic beings will blow their trumpets or in some way trigger or announce the event, and then catastrophic and devastating events will take place here on earth? This is the pattern revealed in the Scriptures!
Prayer: O God, however You decide to bring the coming events to happen here on earth, we are sure we can only imagine the interaction between Your command, the angelic hosts springing into action, and the resulting catastrophic events here on earth. We are curious at this time as to the full role of the angels in heaven, but when You pull back the curtain and give us a little glimpse of what is really happening, there are Your holy angels springing into action at the precise time that judgment needs to be carried out. Amen!
The coming to earth as a baby fills us with wonder every day!
Scripture Text:Various Scripture PassagesTitle: Baby Messiah
Question of the Day: What must it have been like for Jesus to come as the Messiah Baby?
In eternity past Almighty God decided to create mankind on planet earth, and when those men rebelled, it was already decided that IAM would come to rescue them from certain eternal damnation. It was then decided that IAM would come to earth as a Baby Messiah. This is how the plan unfolded.
A certain young virgin would be given the privilege of becoming pregnant without her male counterpart, and this conception would be administered by the Holy Spirit of God. So IAM, the Baby Messiah became a man. We can only imagine Mary and her relative Elizabeth trying to piece together the fact that IAM, the Creator of the Universe was actually in the womb of His creation.
Imagine Mary patting her tummy and thinking, “Here is the Creator of the Universe, the IAM, the Baby Messiah living inside me!”She must have felt every move and the excitement grew as the Baby grew. However the day must come that she would face her espoused husband and try to explain to him the details of what was happening to her and in her. Yet the provision was already made for that event, so the angel came and informed Joseph in a dream that “all is OK”and to go ahead and marry Mary and help her bring this Child to birth.
Then came that awful decree from Caesar Augustus that everyone must return to their home town for a special tax and registration, so we packed up—even though Mary was nearly nine months pregnant—and made the journey to Bethlehem since both of their family connections came from Bethlehem. When they arrived in that small insignificant village, they discovered that there was no room for us to stay in the local inn, so we made do in a stable.
What a trip, and on top of that the place was crowded with other guests, and the Baby Messiah came in the middle of the night. The only place to sleep was in a stable, so IAM came and the Baby Jesus, and was born. Boy was that night ever a different night: first IAM came, and then the angelic hosts were heard heralding that announcement to some shepherds on a hillside; the shepherds then came to see the newborn King and when they left they told everyone around and the word spread fast; and what they found out later is that IAM was the only Child born ever who created Himself!
It seems that quite a stir was made when IAM came, and to everyone’s surprise, IAM came as a baby. To the rest of mankind it seemed strange that God could come as a Baby, but then IAM does things that mortal man cannot even imagine doing, but even at birth, IAM made quite a stir and remain to this day stirring the hearts of people as they celebrate IAM’s birth at Christmas.
A Christmas Prayer:Thanks goes up from every true believer of all time that one day the Baby Messiah came to save mankind from their sins and to conquer death and give them the unspeakable gift of eternal life! Amen!
David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping —a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.
Question of the Day:At what point does the LORD come to rescue His children?
One of the things that is very common in the Christian’s life are trials and tribulations. We squirm when they come, but we learn so much through them, so we wait for the LORD to come and rescue us. The trials are usually so far above our heads—so much so that we can’t see our way out of them when they come, but we try anyway and seek to figure out a way out. But the trial will continue on because, as in the case of Job, we have “friends”or family who lay on us a “talk-a-thon” as they try to help us wade through the difficulty. But we are hopelessly stuck in the mud until the LORD sees fit to rescue us.
In this psalm the writer deals with people who are in four hopeless situations: first they who wander about in desert places and are hungry and thirsty; then those who are in a dark prison cell because they have rebelled against God’s Word and spurned His counsel; next are those who are trapped because of their own sinful lifestyle and are hungry and were near death; and finally those who are sailors and are caught in a dreadful storm where they despaired of living through it. In each case the psalmist gave the one thing which was common to all: “It was then that they cried out to the LORD in the middle of their difficulties and He delivered them out of their distressful situations.”
In today’s world we say, “These people came to the end of themselves—like the prodigal son in the pig pen” when they decided to cry out to God for help. This is not just a timid cry of “help!”, but it is when a person cries out in anguish of soul to the LORD. In each situation the cry came when they were in distress. The first group of people addressed is those who have lost their way in the desert of life and are hungry with no food available and no water to drink. The second group is those who, because of their rebellion against God’s Words and because they despised His counsel and tried to do it their own way, have found that they ended up in hard labor in a prison. The third group is those who are fools who are trapped by of their own sinful desires, and they too were doing hard labor. The final group is those who found themselves trapped because of a violent storm, and they feared for their lives.
In each situation they cried out in desperation to the LORD. We can only imagine the cry of those people! One Bible scholar has chronicled over twenty different words in the Scriptures that are used to describe how people cry out to the LORD. Before there was a rescue, they cried out to the LORD. Job cried out time and again as he went through the fierce storms of life, turned to his friends, tried to defend himself, attempted to demand that God answer him, yet when he cried out to the LORD, the LORD answered him in a whirlwind and delivered him and restored him. All of us have been in a distressful situation, yet it is only when we “cry out”to the LORD that “He delivered them from their distress”. So cry out! He is always listening, and when we are in impossible situations, it is then that He answers and shows us His might power and His ability to answer. So give the loudest cry you can muster and “cry out to the LORD”!
Prayer:O God, it is instructive to us to learn from Scripture how Your people who were in bondage to their enemies in the book of Judges, finally got to the place where they literally “cried out” to You, and it was then that You came are rescued them. We know firsthand of Your ability to rescue Your children, so we cry out to You, and in crying out we proclaim to You the desperate situation that we know we are in. Teach us the fine art of “crying out to You” in the middle of our difficulties. Amen!
David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping —a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.
Scripture Text: Revelation 8:1-2; Luke 1:19 Title: Gabriel
Question of the Day: What happens when an order comes down from the throne of God for a major event to happen here on earth?
When we are given a piece of information about an upcoming event here on earth, we often wonder what happens from the time when the order is given from God’s throne and the event on earth has takes place. Here is Revelation 8:1-2 we have a clue. The only information that we have, from our vantage point here on earth, is that there are orders are given by God that touch events here on earth. We don’t know about the orders that speak of events that take place throughout the rest of the universe in God’s heaven, but let’s look at this passage and learn a little from it.
Here are today’s texts: “And when the Lamb had opened the seventh clasp, there was silence in heaven for half an hour; and I saw the seven angels that stand continually before God who were given seven trumpets.” Then Luke 1:19 says, “And the angel answered Zachariah and said, ‘I am Gabriel, the one who stands in the presence of God. I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you some good news.’”
Gabriel is mentioned four times in Scripture (Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21; Luke 1:19; Luke 1:26), and each time he is relaying a message directly from the throne of God concerning an event that is about to happen here on earth. So was Gabriel one of the seven angels spoken of here? Quite possibly! The seven angels spoken of here is one of the seven angels whose job it is to stand before the throne of God and wait for a message from God about an upcoming event, and when the order is given, then they spring into action. The angels here are given instruction to begin a series of events on earth that unfold the judgment of God during the tribulation. To each of the seven angels was given a trumpet. The angels knew that this was going to be a time for action, and time when a message from God was to be given, and they were ready to spring into action.
This is quite instructive because it tells us that there are angels who are always standing by at the throne of God to relay and carry out instructions when they are handed down from the throne. When we see a major event happen on earth, we know that at some time before that event occurs that there was an order that came down from the throne of God, and the angelic hosts are a major part of carrying out that order here on earth. Just look at the things that happened when the seven angels passed down the order:
An angel in heaven took a large dipping object, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth, and immediately there were rolls of thunder, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake,
The next angel gave the order and there was hail and fire (mixed with blood), and when it was thrown to the earth one third of the trees and all the grass on earth were burned up.
The next angels gave the order (by blowing the trumpet), and when a star was thrown to the earth, the water became bitter and many people died from the polluted water.
Another angel passed down the order, and the atmosphere was polluted (probably from a super volcano), and semi-darkness covered the world.
A pause told everyone in heaven that the final three blasts would be much much worse.
The next angel gave the order and people were stung by giant scorpion like creatures from hell and tormented severely—longing for death to escape the pain, but not able to die.
The next angel sounded off and mounted troops amassed—and the buildup is on to the great Battle of Armageddon.
These things are astounding, and the information that we have as to what happens in heaven as events on earth unfold is sketchy, but the importance and role of the angels is outlined. One wonders when we see a major event happen on earth, what has happened just before that in heaven. We will find out someday fully, but for today we have just a little bit of good informative information. Could it be that Gabriel will give us an order directly from the throne of God?
Prayer: O God, it will be a delight in eternity to watch events that take place throughout the universe as another order comes down from Your throne. It is all hidden from us right now, but one day we will watch in amazement as we see order after order come down, and the ensuing action from those who job it is to carry out those orders. Does that give us an idea of our involvement as to what will happen one day in heaven? Will we carry out orders like Gabriel did? Amen!
Scripture Text: Revelation 7:13-17 Title: Martyrs
Question of the Day: If we are called by God to be persecuted, reviled, scorned, or even killed for our faith in God, what will eventually happen to us?
From the days of the Abel who was killed for his faith in God, to the prophets who were stoned, to James and Stephen, the first martyrs of the church, we find the stories those who have been persecuted and killed for their faith in God and because they are followers of Jesus Christ. In America, we hear of a few stories here and there of those who have suffered for their faith and for following Christ’s example in various parts of the world, but the experts tell us that there have been more martyrs for their faith in the last 100 years than throughout all of church history. We have been spared in many Christianized areas of the world, but suffering and scorning, and persecution against Christians is quite common in many other countries of the world . So we come to the question of the day: what will eventually happen to those who have given their life because of their faith in Jesus Christ, their Savior and Lord?
In today’s passage we have one of the last mentions in Scripture of the martyrs, and it is quite instructive: here’s what it says, “At that time one of the elders answered, asking me, ‘Who are these clothed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ And I answered him, ‘Sir, for sure you know!’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who came out of the great tribulation, and have had their robes washed and bleached white with the blood of the Lamb. That’s why there are here before God’s throne, and they will serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will surround them with His presence forever. They won’t be hungry anymore; nor thirsty; nor will the sun overcome them; nor will they have heat stroke. The Lamb, who is enthroned in the middle of the throne, will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of water—and God will wipe away every tear from their eye!’”
Here is what we learn about the martyrs?
These are the many believers who are slaughtered during the tribulation.
They have washed their robes and made them white. How? In the blood of the LAMB. Blood that is slain is very precious in the sight of God: He decreed that His Son’s blood be shed for man’s sin, and these men and women have given their lives—shed their blood—because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
That is why martyrdom is the greatest tribute a believer can pay to God for saving his soul. We look on martyrdom as a tragedy—as something that didn’t need to happen, or as the worst possible thing that could happen to be a believer; but how does God see martyrdom? Martyrdom to God means that a Christian is on overcomer, one who has been faithful to Him to death, one who was willing to follow His example and complete His plan for their lives, and one whose love for Him was tested thoroughly and found to be genuine.
A martyr is one who has been given the privilege of being one of the “souls beneath the altar that cried out day and night for God to bring vengeance on those who hate Him and torture and kill His beloved saints.” This is all part of God’s great master plan. Martyrdom is not an accident that wasn’t supposed to happen; instead it is the perfect plan of God for His children, and “may they be faithful until death”, the ones to whom will be given a “crown of life” (See Revelation 2:10).
From this passage it is clear that many saints will be martyred during the great tribulation. It seems evident that these are Christians who are saved during the great tribulation, the time when the 144,000 fiery Jewish evangelists have gone throughout the world spreading the gospel and completing the Great Commission.
So what do we know about these martyrs, who they are, where they came from, and what is their final destination? They are given a special place—before the throne of God, and it is there that they serve Him day and night in His temple. He who sits on the throne, God the Father, the Almighty, will shelter them with His presence continually. (Is this not what King David said in the psalms when He referred to God as His shelter—especially in the time of trouble? His continual presence shelters His children.) They will never hunger or thirst again—which indicates that some of the martyrs were made to starve to death and/or die of thirst. Some died of heatstroke and scorching heat. But now the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will be their Shepherd—taking care of all of their needs: Guiding them to springs of living water. And the time will come when God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (See Revelation 21:4).
What a picture we have here during the most troubled time on earth for believers on earth as to how God will protect them with His presence, and He will answer their cries for vengeance. Since “vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the LORD, He will repay in such a way that these souls will be totally satisfied with the justice of God and that His righteous character has won over the wicked deeds of godless people. They can’t get their hands on God and “wring His neck” as they would like to, they instead turn on His children and take out their wrath on them—but God knows full well how to balance the books and satisfy the cries for vengeance of His children. We can rest fully in that!
Prayer: O God, our hearts cry out for vengeance against those who would oppress us, revile us, persecute us, scorn us, and, when they can, put us to death. But we must stand down and wait for You to bring about justice and righteous judgment. Our hearts burn for agony with those who have suffered for Your name’s sake, yet we know that this is only temporary, and that You will someday balance all the books and show us what true righteousness and justice truly looks like. Oh, yes, I just remembered that You are The Final Judge! Amen!
Scripture Text: Revelation 7:13-17 Title: Martyrdom/Presence?
Question of the Day: How does the presence of God comfort martyrs?
Martyrs are those Christians who, during this lifetime, have been faithful to the Lord “until death”; they are overcomers who have felt the brunt of the wickedness of man’s heart. Jesus promised us that we would suffer as He suffered with the words, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” This is a harsh reality that those of us in America can’t stomach. We have been so pampered and even greatly blessed by our God to live in a country where we can serve the Lord throughout life with little or no persecution, scoffing, reviling, or scorning, and we think that that lifestyle is “normal”. But it is not! We have been greatly blessed by God to the point where for years this country has been guided by Biblical principles and many laws are based on His eternal Word—but as our nation turns away from God, a hatred for Him will prevail. Many a Christian has known that someday the tables will be turned and we will suffer persecution, reviling, and even death for our Lord.
In today’s passage we visit a time yet in the future when the “Great Tribulation” will take place, and it is during this time that many tribulation believers will be martyred. In today’s text we find them in a throne room scene of praise and worship to God the Father (who is always referred to as sitting on His throne) and to the Lamb, when one of the 24 elders spoke up: it says, “Then one of the elders answered, asking me, ‘Who are these clothed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ And I answered him, ‘Sir, for sure you know!’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who came out of the great tribulation, and have had their robes washed and bleached white with the blood of the Lamb. That’s why there are here before God’s throne, and they will serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence forever. They won’t be hungry anymore; nor thirsty; nor will the sun overcome them; nor will they have heat stroke. The Lamb, who is enthroned in the middle of the throne, will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of water—and God will wipe away every tear from their eye!’”
These saints are those who were saved during the tribulation and were martyred for their faith. One interesting question is this: since we believe that the rapture will take believers out of this world just before the tribulation starts, why then does God allow many tribulation saints to be martyred for their faith during the tribulation? We don’t know the answer to that, but the fact is that “a great number that could not be numbered from every tribe, and people group, and language, and nation” will be martyred, and here they are seen standing before God’s throne in worship. Is this when they will receive the “crown of life”mentioned in Revelation 2:11?
Here is what we do know about these saints who were martyred during the great tribulation:
It says their numbers are “innumerable”.
They join others around the throne praising God and worshipping both the Father and the Lamb.
They are clothed in white—their garments have been made white by the blood of the Lamb.
They have palm branches in their hands.
They cry out in unison, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.”
It is their privilege to “serve God continually in His temple”! What a priceless privilege!
God will shelter them with His presence! Is this not what King David and others psalmists meant when they said, “The LORD is my Shield and my Protector”? Is it not His presence that continually protects His beloved children?
They won’t hunger anymore, nor thirst anymore; neither will the sun strike them or will they be scorched with heat. This indicates how many of them will die a horrible death!
The Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, guide them to springs of living water (by the way, does this indicate how many of them died of thirst?), and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
For many of us believers, we started out living the Christian life, and the presence of God was out there as a theory—something that we wondered if would ever come to us. But then God brought some tragedy or some difficulty into our lives that was tailor-made for us so that His presence would come out of the theoretical and into a day by day minute by minute reality. These saints before the throne were comforted by the presence of God—the same presence that got every believer down through history through the rough times of life—even it if meant martyrdom. Once we are saved, His presence is always with us—and will be with us forever! Our death here on earth will mean being in His presence forever!
Prayer: O God, You have taken Your presence from the theoretical to the intimate and personal. Your presence as manifested by Your Holy Spirit is the greatest gift a believer can have—whether here on earth or in heaven. Teach me to “draw near to You so that You can draw near to me”! I am confident from Your Word that I will live in Your presence forever! What a sheer delight! Amen!