by David Virts
Scripture Text: Luke 16:14-16 Title: Get into Heaven!
Question of the Day: When did this idea get started that “we have to try to get into heaven”?
Many things started in Jesus time because He became the beginning point of much of what this world faces today. But what about Judaism and the other religions of the world; did they teach what a person had to do to “get into heaven”? Listen to what Jesus said in these verses:
“Now those of the religious group called the Pharisees were there listening, and they loved money and its influence on others in a covetous way, and they began to deride Jesus by turning up their noses at Him. So Jesus turned to them and said, ‘You are the ones who try to make yourself look so good before others, but God knows your hearts. That which is highly esteemed and ends up being of great value in man’s sight, is despicable in God’s sight. The Mosaic Law and the words of the prophets were highly valued until John the Baptist came to preach. Since that time the approaching kingdom of God has been proclaimed and everyone wants to make sure that they are prepared for it. You see, it would be easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for one small part of God’s Law to fail.”
Jesus had an interesting way of saying that the age of the Law was now being transitioned into the age of grace and the church when He said, “The Mosaic Law and the words of the prophets were highly valued until John the Baptist came to preach.” It is not that the Law and prophets were now obsolete, it is that now the gospel is being preached, and from here on people’s number one desire is to make sure that they get into God’s kingdom. And from that day until now people are “pressed” with a desire to “get into the kingdom of God.” I wonder if any of the religions of the world before this time ever spoke of “how to get into heaven”; or was it from now on throughout history that men were eager to learn how to get into heaven?
The kingdom of God could not come here on earth until the King Himself was come, and now He is here and it is time to get on with it. Everyone wants to be part of “God’s kingdom”, but the ways to be part of it, and the varied ways people come up with to get into it, have sprung up and many false ideas have arisen? The devil has jumped on the bandwagon and given a lot of people false hope that they are OK or that they are on their way to heaven, but Jesus said when He meets many of them He will say to them, “Depart from Me, I never knew you—you who practice lawlessness.” We must make sure we are “born again” and ready to enter heaven!
Prayer: Lord I praise Your name that You have prepared the way for a born again believer to get into heaven, and that Your Father draws us, and You then make sure that all believers will be with You forever. The passion of our lives is to be in heaven with You—forever. Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 114 Title: Tremble!
Question of the Day: What is man’s response when the presence of God is manifested?
There are those who deny the existence of God because they have never “seen” Him; but every believer knows what it means to be visited by the presence of God. It usually happens in the most unexpected times and ways and during a crisis time when are under attack from the evil one. The presence of God is the theme of this psalm, and it is loaded with meaning for the Bible student of today as it was for the Israelites when it was written.
Here are the words of this text: “When the Israelites left Egypt, and the descendants of Jacob left that nation who had a strange language, it was then that Judah became the place of the sanctuary of the LORD, and the land of Israel became the place where He desired to rule the world. Before His mighty nation the Red Sea took one look and fled and the Jordan River turned back and piled high. The mountains skipped like the male sheep butting each other and the hills skipped like a little lamb. So what ails you, O Red Sea that you fled like that? And O Jordan, what ails you that you piled high? O mountains, why did you skip like a ram, and O hills, why did you skip like a little lamb? O earth, tremble at the presence of Elohim, when the God of Jacob shows up and turns the rock into an abundance of water, and the hard flint rock became a spring of water.”
The psalm outlines for us what happens when the presence of the LORD is manifested in any place on earth. Of all places on earth where the LORD shows his mighty power, it is in and around the land of Israel and among the Jewish people on earth—and in our day around places where the people of God gather, and among where His people live. It is a fact that the LORD demonstrates His presence wherever His people are—whether in bondage in Egypt, at the Red Sea, at the Jordan River, or—as recorded in this psalm—in the mountains and hills of the land of Israel.
When it is God’s timing to show His presence on earth, He chooses to do it in and through the events that surround His dealings with His people. For instance, when Israel went out from Egypt, and when the descendants of Jacob left the country where they spoke a strange language. Then the process began whereby eventually among the tribe of Judah He made His earthly sanctuary, and among the nation of Israel He, declared His dominion (which will eventually be over the whole earth). During the time of the Exodus and Israel’s departure from bondage, the Red Sea fled from the presence of the LORD, the God of Jacob. The Jordan River was turned back and the waters “heaped”—even though water doesn’t heap—except at the command of God! The mountains skipped around like rams. When one thinks of rams, they think of them butting heads with a thundering sound. This is referring to the time when the Israelites were at mount Sinai and the earth quaked and shook the surrounding area and it seemed that the mountain moved at the presence of the LORD (see Psalm 18:7; 29:6; Exodus 19:18), and the hills also skipped like a lamb. When little lambs are young, they run and jump and skip around in frolic as they play around—it is fun to watch!
At this point the psalmist directly addresses the Red Sea, the Jordan River, the mountains, and the hills with a question, “What ails you…?” One would wonder what the connection between these events is: Why would each of them respond in totally unnatural ways? Seas don’t flee; rivers don’t turn back; and mountains and hills don’t skip around like a lamb. It is at this point that the psalmist unveils the purpose of His writing this psalm: he had figured out that the connection was that the presence of the Lord, the God of Jacob, was manifested at each of these events.
And then the psalmist concludes with mentioning how God manifested His presence to the children of Israel: it was also when He turned the rock into a pool of water and the flint into a spring of water—enough to supply the needs of 3 million or so people! And in this way the LORD, the God of Jacob manifested His presence. So I ask myself: in what ways has the LORD manifested His presence during my lifetime? Here is a brief list: the night I was saved in Ringgold, NE in a revival at the Free Methodist Church; the day the Lord saved my life when the tree fell up in the LaSal Mountains of southeastern Utah and brushed me and knocked me down; when CF fired me for not running with a female truck driver on an overnight sleeper run, and I lost my job, filed a lawsuit that went nowhere, and lay awake many a sleepless nights grieving over what I had done to our family and wept in the middle of the night.
When I was a student at Prairie Bible College and we sang Handel’s “Worthy is the Lamb” and the “Hallelujah Chorus” with a 50+ piece orchestra and a 250 voice choir, my heart pounded with excitement as the LORD manifested His presence to us in that auditorium. I remember the speaker for the night getting up and saying, “We have already reached the pinnacle of the service, we just as well say the benediction and go home!”
I remember when the information for the book “Knowing, Seeking, Worshiping” first came to me while driving a truck between Murfreesboro and Manchester, TN. My heart pounded with excitement as I rejoiced in the way the various character qualities of God are revealed throughout the various parts of His creation, and that He had specially chosen man to mirror one of His character qualities forever—His steadfast love! I also remember when I joined the Heritage Men’s Choral for the first practice that I attended; my heart was pounding for hours after I left that music building on the campus of Trevecca University, and I lay awake that night until 4:00 in the morning and couldn’t sleep because of the excitement of that moment. In so many ways the LORD has manifested His presence as I study and meditate on His Word, and so I wait for many more times in my brief life when the Lord will manifest His presence again and again!
Prayer: O God, I praise You for manifesting Your presence so many times throughout history. Man looks for a visible representation of an invisible God, yet the brilliant light that surrounds Your presence is no place for man in a sinful body! Come show Your presence to me so many more times throughout my pilgrimage here on earth, and teach me to look for You to show up when needed and when You chose to. It will be wonderful throughout all of eternity to continue to dwell in Your presence, and as the psalmist said in Psalm 91:1, “The person who continually dwells in the sheltered place of the Most High God will find permanent rest in the shadow of the Almighty!” 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: James 1 Title: Anger–Major Setback!
Question of the Day: What is it that holds us back from knowing God and His Word—perhaps the main thing that holds man back?
Christians are painfully aware that much of the curse of God for man’s sin rests on our lives, we struggle with many effects of the fall of man, and then we are reminded again and again of the ways in which we are held back from knowing God and seeking Him through His Word. By contrast, as we study the life of Jesus of Nazareth, we are very impressed with His handling of the Scriptures, His knowledge of the condition of man and his sinfulness, His way of touching the lives and bodies of people He met, and the way that He discovered His purpose for being here on earth and perfectly fulfilled that purpose. We struggle with the trials and temptations of life, and through them we find a number of things that hold us back from responding fully to what we read in the Scriptures.
In James 1, he gives us a list of the things that set us back from getting the most out of our trials and emphasizes how we must respond to the Word by becoming “doers of the Word, and not hearers only”. Here he covers our attitude in facing trials (“Count it all joy”), the fact that our faith is being tested to give us steadfastness and endurance, our lack of wisdom in knowing what to ask for, the humility that is needed to take in the Word, the blessing that comes from standing firm under a trial, the ability to know when we are being tempted by sin and how to successfully stand, and the way that we, during our trials, must keep our eyes on the “Father of lights.”
It is then that James pauses and tells us in verses 19-21 what it is that keeps us back from “receiving with meekness the implanted Word—that which transforms our souls.” We must do three things: We must be quick to hear. Israel was rebuked by God for being “dull of hearing”, and in the book of the Law many times they were told to “listen carefully to the voice of God and obey Him.” We must be so sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit and to what He is trying to teach us through the times when we read, study, memorize, and meditate on Scriptures. They are absolute truth, and His is the great Communicator and Illuminator—but we must be listening.
We must be slow to speak. Our tongues have the potential of getting us into a lot of trouble and causing a lot of damage in the world around us. We must learn to use our tongue to bring healing and restoration and love and hope to the dying world around us. When we learn wisdom and maturity, we learn to talk must less and listen a lot more.
The final thing that holds back our response to the Word is anger. We must learn to be slow to get angry.
It is here that we want to pause. The first child born on earth, Cain, got angry and killed his brother, and since then anger has been one of the most destructive forces in homes, schools, churches, and in society in general. Moses became angry a number of times throughout his life and it ended up costing this great man of God, a prophet of God, his trip into the “Promised Land”. Anger hits all of us: for some it just smolders like the embers of a fire, and then one day it bursts into flames and brings great destruction. So we must ask ourselves, what does it take to make you mad? The people around us in traffic? Some family member or co-worker who sets us off? When we see injustice done to others? When someone in authority tells us what to do? When we get ripped off by aggressive sales people? You make your list and I will make mine!
The sad thing is that uncontrolled anger (wrath) puts an end to spiritual growth until we learn to deal with it. Take inventory of your life? What makes you mad? Does that anger put you in a rage? Then you must deal with it! In the true nature of the Scriptures we are given help and the answer to our anger. Here are some of the answers: (by the way, this author faced a time of anger that was close to wrath, it is scared him and drove him to find The Answer!)
We need to discover what makes us mad. Job’s accuser wanted to find a way to get to him so that he would curse God, and it is the same for us today. Many people down through the centuries have seen how Job learned perseverance and endurance instead of getting mad. Satan was looking for something, anything to get Job to get angry and curse God. The point: we must know what it is that makes us mad and deal with it. Job did! We must!
Psalm 37:8 says, “Stop getting angry, and stay clear away from wrath!” I decided to get angry about ______, and I must decide not to get angry and to steer clear away from uncontrolled anger—wrath! I must, or it will destroy my life!
Ephesians 4:26 tells us “to be angry, but not let that anger turn to sin.” Sin happens when we allow anger to control us; sin happens when we allow anger to stop up our free flowing relationship between us and our God; and sin happens when we allow anger and the resulting anxiety to diminish our faith. Jesus instructed us several time to “be anxious about nothing”, and it is that anxiety that turns to anger and stops up the Holy Spirit’s ability to do the surgery in our hearts that is needed and bring health and growth to us again.
Prayer: Lord, help me to deal with anxiety with much more prayer so that I will not become an angry person and inch toward letting that anger deteriorate to wrath. I bring the concerns and trials of my life to You in constant prayer with a thankful heart as You point out in Philippians 4:6-7. Dear Lord, keep me away from anger so that my heart will be in constant peace as You rule in my heart. 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: Luke 16:10-13 Title: God or Money?
Question of the Day: Why does Jesus tell His disciples that they will be serving either God or money?
Jesus’ clear teachings always ended up with a statement that forces us to evaluate our lives to see where we stand. Here He concludes this section of instructions to His disciples by making the statement, “You cannot serve God and money.” Why is it either/or and not both/and? Does money have such a great pull on us that when we to serve it, or if we spend our lives pursuing it, then we are not able to serve God too?
It is interesting to note here that during Jesus’ public ministry, the only recorded time that He touched money is when He asked them to bring a silver coin to Him and He asked them “whose image and inscription is etched into this coin”, and then he told them to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. Very little is said throughout His public ministry about Him or His disciples handling money. Peter caught a fish and used the gold coin in its mouth to pay their taxes; and it is also recorded that the one in the group who handled the little money that was needed was Judas—who ended up betraying the Lord for a little more money, and he also pilfered out of their stash of money.
So these twelve men had “left all, taken up their cross, and followed Him.” It is during this time of transition from their former occupations (fishing, tax collecting, etc.) and the rest of their lives that they would devote to following Him while He was here on earth, and spreading the gospel after He left which cost them their lives. It was during this time that Jesus spoke directly to them about how money can have such a stranglehold on them. We can easily understand this because our whole society is built on money and the things that money can buy and we even see having a certain pile of money saved as helping us now to be “secure”.
So, is Jesus telling them that money is bad or unnecessary? Not really. What He is speaking to them about is whether they were “serving God or serving money”. He clearly pointed out to them that you can’t spend your time and energy pursing money, making it, and using it to buy the temporal things of this world, and at the same time pretend to be serving God. While God may put it on the heart of a person to make money, invest it wisely, and then use it for His glory, the bottom line is this: does money have a stranglehold on me; or do I use it when needed to take care of the basic necessities of life? I must never “serve money” as I have determined to “serve God”?
Prayer: Lord deal with me thoroughly and clearly when I am tempted to “serve money” instead of giving my all to “serve You”. I desire to be 100% devoted to You and serving You with all my heart, and I know that I must always guard my heart so that nothing comes between You and I as we walk together down life’s road. I desire to leave the pursing of money to others, and to follow You with “all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 112 Title: Praise and Blessing!
Question of the Day: What are the blessings that are poured out on the life of a righteous man when he praises God?
Thirty four times in 31 different verses in Psalms the phrase “Praise the LORD” appears, and it appears 42 times in 39 verses throughout all of the Scriptures. When my heart is ignited to praise the LORD often, then what results come to my life in the form of blessings? How is a person’s life described who is richly blessed by God? Verse 1: he has learned to have a reverential fear of God. Verse 1: he delights in God’s commands. So here’s a question we can ask ourselves, what is my attitude when I hear of another command from God that I must obey? Verse 2: His children and grandchildren will be mighty in their country. Verse 2: because of their upright (righteous) lives, each generation will be richly blessed. Verse 3: he will have wealth and riches in his house. Verse 3: his righteous life and the effects of that life will last forever! Verse 4: light will come to all the dark places of life when he continues to live an upright life. Verse 4: he will be gracious, merciful, and righteous. Verse 5: he will become a man who deals generously with others and lends to them. Verse 5: he will conduct the affairs of his life with ultimate justice in the way he deals with others. Verse 6: He will be the epitome of a righteous man whose life will never be moved. Verse 6: his righteous life will always be remembered. Verse 7: he is not afraid of bad news—in fact, he wonders how God will make something good out of that! Verse 7: his heart always firmly trusts in the LORD. Verse 8: his heart is firm and steady in his trust in the LORD. Verse 8: he will never fear until he looks with triumph on his enemies and adversaries. Verse 9: he distributes what God has given him freely. Verse 9: when he sees a poor person, his heart is moved with compassion and he gives freely to them. Verse 9: the effects of his righteous life will last forever. Verse 9: he will be highly honored by his generation.
Wow! What a life this man lives! In this psalm the outline for a godly and righteous man is given and the resulting blessings of God that are poured out on his life. These results are breathtaking—especially in light of the wicked world that we live in and fact that as we look around us, the wicked person’s life is being destroyed through the results of their evil life, as mentioned in verse 10. Wicked people are dumbfounded when they watch the life of a righteous person who lives in the same world that they live in, yet they seem to rise above every trial and temptation and devastating circumstance that life throws their way. And that is all the more reason for a believer to learn to give praise to the LORD no matter what is happening in his life. To praise the LORD as we are instructed to do is to focus our existence, not on the temporal here and now, but on the eternal—and specifically on the eternal God. He is worthy of all of our praise!
Prayer: O God, we give praise to You and to You alone! Your blessings remind us many times a day that to praise You is the eternal occupation of the believer. In fact, as every knee will bow, everyone who has ever lived will, in one way or another, give praise to You. Right now in this life we see godly men and women who have great influence in our world, and we know that it is because of Your blessing—so we praise You. Praise the LORD! 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: Psalm 110 Title: “Sit,” Until When?
Question of the Day: When will Jesus Christ finally take over His creation and reign over it?
One of the hardest things in all of life to do is to “wait until”; we wait until we are old enough to go to school and tie our shoes and read; we wait until we get up there in school with the “bigger kids” and to play football and drive; we have to wait until it is the right time to get married and have a family of our own; and so on through life. What value is there in waiting? What happens when we get impatient and demand something long before we are ready to receive it, use it properly, and fully appreciate the gift?
In this world believers have known since the first couple inhabited the world that one day things would have to change; their world would have to be ruled by a Man who would rule it in perfect righteousness and overthrow both the failed efforts and the sin of mankind and also defeat and destroy the forces of evil that is the devil and his demonic spirits. It is this time period that the psalmist David speaks of in a prophetic way in this psalm. Here is a paraphrase of text: “The LORD says to my Lord, ‘Sit here at My right hand until I make all Your enemies bow in defeat at Your feet.’ The LORD sends forth from Zion the conquering power of Your scepter so that You can rule over Your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely to You in the day that You take power. They will come clothed in holy garments just as if they had been born recently out of the womb of the morning with the dew of the newborn on them. The LORD has stated this and will never change His mind: ‘You are a priest forever with the same authority and mystic that Melchizedek came.’
“The Lord is at Your right hand and He will shatter kings in the day when His wrath is poured out. He will execute absolute judgment and justice in all the nations of the world, and when He does; their nations will be filled with corpses. He will shatter their rulers and bureaucrats worldwide. He will drink from the brooks along the way and therefore He will be ultimately and overwhelmingly successful.”
Here the “Lord” (Jesus Christ) is told by the “LORD” (Almighty God) to sit at His right hand until the time comes when He will come forth to conquer the whole world and subdue all His enemies. Right in the middle of the psalm where we are told of this great Conqueror who is coming, we are told in verse 4 about the great high priestly ministry that belongs to Jesus. Why this interruption of thought? Actually the truth is this: for Jesus to come and conquer the whole world, He first had to come and conquer the biggest enemies of mankind—sin and death. He had to come as our Redeemer first and take care of the sin question and then die Himself and conquer death, and then He was rightly qualified to come as a reigning Conqueror over His creation.
So what is our reigning Conqueror waiting for? He has been instructed by the wise plan of God the Father to “sit here at My right hand until the time comes for You to be revealed as the coming conqueror.” This is unveiled fully in the book of Revelation (and other prophecies) where Jesus Christ will be unveiled to this world as “The Final Judge” when He takes care of all of the injustices that have plagued this world since the beginning of time, and then He will come forth to be unveiled to mankind and to all the angelic hosts as “The King of kings and Lord of lords”. When will that happen? It will happen as soon as the command from God the Father is issued for Him to be unveiled to a world that hates Him and us and would destroy both if they could—but they can’t! And won’t! But for now we must wait until…
Prayer: O God, we submit ourselves to Your sovereign control over the whole universe. The day will come when Your holy character will be fully manifested to all and when You give the order to Your Son to “go forth conquering and to conquer”. Until then we need to get hold of and fully understand Your great love, grace, and Your longsuffering attitude toward wayward man—not willing that any of them should perish, but that all should come to repentance. And so we wait until… 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: Luke 15:11-32 Title: Safe and Sound!
Question of the Day: Where is our heavenly Father’s heart concerning His children?
The story of the prodigal son and his prodigal brother reveal much about the heart of our heavenly Father. The story begins with the younger son’s escapade and hiatus in the “far country”, and how he wasted all of his inheritance, and how the older son, though he stayed home and worked hard for his father, his heart was not right as he demonstrated a selfish and sulky attitude. But what is so intriguing about this story and its implications is how it reveals so much about the heart of our heavenly Father toward us.
1. The father allowed the son to have a large sum of money to go out and blow before he ended up at the end of his rope and repented and returned home. Our heavenly Father allows us to go off and do things that a young person with no restraint and maturity would do before He draws us back to Himself in love and compassion.
2. The son remained a son, even though he was rebellious, left home, and blew a large part of an inheritance, yet he was allowed to return home with the full status of a “son”. Isn’t that just like our heavenly Father—restoring us to all that He had originally intended us to become when He created man in the beginning?
3. The father smothered the son with such love and compassion when he returned home with a penitent heart, and that love stopped the son’s coming home speech. Our heavenly Father smothers each believer with so much love and compassion here on earth and in eternity He will overwhelm us to the point we won’t even remember all the heartaches and trials we went through here on earth! (And that is what the Scriptures say!)
4. The father knew just how to handle the immature wayward son who went off in rebellion and lived a sinful life, and he knew how to handle the “stay at home son” that also had a selfish self-centered attitude and showed no compassion for his lost brother. Our heavenly Father knows how to handle each of us and bring us to maturity—and that is going to be a big task for many of us!
5. The father’s words exposed his own heart: it was full of mercy, love, compassion, and longsuffering toward the younger son because he had been lost and dead, and now he was “alive again…is found…and returned home safe and sound.”
This story is a classic example of our Father’s great love for us—His wayward children. Here is the main point: when we all get to heaven and get all cleaned up and clothed in His righteousness and stand before Him complete and whole, what will win out? Our sin and rebellion and wayward way of life, or our Father’s love, mercy, and forgiveness? This great and overwhelming love will be the theme of the song of our hearts throughout all of eternity!
Prayer: O God our Father, our hearts overflow with gratitude and praise to You for Your great love and mercy and forgiveness that You so lavishly pour out on us—Your children. Ignite our hearts now and prepare us for eternity where we will have the privilege of giving praise and glory to You forever! Amen!
Question of the Day: Why was the message given to John in this chapter both bitter and sweet?
John was allowed to see many things in this book that are a mystery to us, and will be so until they are unfolded before our eyes. Many events cannot and will not be explained to us until they happen, but the final result of those events (recorded in Chapters 21-22) will do two things for us: first, it will help us understand all of the prophecies of the Scriptures in full; second, it will end the wickedness of mankind and the satanic hosts in the “lake of fire and brimstone”, and the establishment of those who, thou they don’t deserve it, will reign in righteousness forever with Jesus Christ, their Lord.
Today we come to the tipping point when events will begin to unfold that will end satan’s rule through man here on earth. Here are the words of this chapter: “And I saw another very powerful angel come down from heaven. He was clothed with a cloud, a rainbow was around his head, his face was as bright as the sun, and his feet were like columns of fire. In his hand was a little scroll that was open. And He set his right foot on the oceans and his left foot on the dry ground, and cried out with a loud booming voice that was like the loud roar of a lion. And when he spoke, seven successive claps of thunder were heard. When the seven claps of thunder had sounded off, I got ready to write down what I saw, but a voice from heaven interrupted me, saying, ‘Seal up those words that the seven thunders just gave—do not write them down!’
“Then the angel that I saw standing on the ocean and the dry ground, lifted up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever (see Daniel 12:7)—the One who created the universe and all that is in it—including the oceans and all that are in them, that time shall no longer be. However, in the days that the seventh angel sounded, the mystery that shrouds God is now to be completed, and He has revealed this mystery to His servants—those who are prophets.
“The voice that I heard from heaven spoke to me again, and said, ‘Go and take the little scroll out of the hand of the angel who is standing on the ocean and the earth.’ So I went to the angel and said to him, ‘Please give me the scroll.’ And the angel said to me, ‘Take it and eat it, and it will turn your stomach over, but it will taste as sweet as honey to you.’ I took the book out of the angel’s hand and ate it—completely—and the angel was right; it was sweet as honey to my taste, but turned my stomach over it was so bitter. And the angel said to me, ‘You must prophesy again and again before many people, nations, language groups, and kings of the earth.’”
John had a fascinating experience here: Almighty God had just declared that “time would be no longer” and that “the mystery that shrouds God is now to be completed”. These words indicate the opening salvo of the wresting of the power of this world from Satan and his hosts and from the age of man’s dominance, and the turning over of this world to Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Now wouldn’t that make any believer rejoice? Yes, and no! and that is the bitter and the sweet.
The bitter would be for believers—either in heaven or on earth—watch the world destroyed, and with that destruction all of those who had defied God and taken the mark of the beast, that is, all unbelievers. In that crowd would be many who we have known who thought they were Christians, had tried to convince themselves and even the Lord that they were, but were told “Depart from Me; I never knew you.” That for a believer would be very bitter. But for the believer there is one more thing that would be bitter: we know that “but for the grace of God go I!” They are getting what I deserve! That is bitter!
But what about that which is sweeter than honey? We have all longed for the day when all evil is finally put down and righteousness is allowed to reign, and we know that we will be part of that event. To a believer, that would be the sweetest thing that could ever happen here on earth—especially since it involves the exaltation by God of our Lord Jesus Christ to rule this world in righteousness. What a different place this world could be if righteousness reined instead of the awful wickedness that permeates everything here on earth and destines it for destruction. Now that is sweet!
Prayer: O God, we look forward to this event when Your patience and longsuffering attitude toward man is over and You set up righteousness and holiness to reign here on earth. It will be an earthshaking event, and not wonder it was revealed to John that this event was pivotal. We long for the sweet—the establishment of Your reign here on earth in the Person of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord! 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.
Psalm 109: 1-20 Epitome of Evil!
Question of the Day: What was King David’s description of an evil person who hounded him?
Those who have read the Scriptures are aware of the “imprecatory psalms” of King David. This psalm sounds like one of them, but to us in the church era those words sound harsh because Jesus taught us to love our enemies and to pray for them. David’s enemies were constantly hounding him from the day that he slew the giant, Goliath, to the day he died as king of Israel. The question we must ask ourselves is this: who are out enemies? Do we know who they are? Will God not eventually wipe them out? And when should we pray that God will take care of our enemies and keep them at bay in our lives.
Here are the words that David used to describe his feelings about his enemies: he said, “Set against them a wicked person, and let someone accuse him constantly. When he goes to trial, let him come out with a guilty verdict, and let his prayers be counted by You as sin! May his days be few and may someone else replace him. May his children end up fatherless and may his wife be a widow! May his children end up wandering down the streets and begging and scrounging around for food in the dump where they live!
“May the bank come and seize everything he has, and may people he doesn’t know plunder whatever he has managed to save! May no one extend kindness to him, and may no one show pity to his orphans. May his children and grandchildren be shunned by everyone, and may people in the next generation not even know that he existed! May he bear the results of gross injustice of his forefathers which are not forgotten by the LORD, and don’t let his mother’s sin be forgiven! Let those sins come up continually before the LORD, and may his life be quickly forgotten.
“And why should my enemies be treated like this? Because they did not remember to show kindness to others, but took advantage of the poor and needy, and those who were brokenhearted, they put to death! He loved to curse people, so let curses be on him! He refused to bless others, and may no blessings come on him! He cursed others casually like he was putting on a coat, but may it be like having one’s coat soaked with water or like being bathed with oil that sticks to everything! May the curses be like a coat wrapped around him and like a belt that he puts on every day!”
One wonders what scathing words are spoken every day against believers. We are “like sheep going to slaughter” and are the offscouring of the world. Since they cannot get their hands, so to speak, on the neck of God and wring it, they come after, first of all, Christians, God’s holy children, and for centuries earlier they came after the righteous and after God’s chosen people, the Jews and His nation, Israel. So is it right for believers to see their enemies for what they are and pray against the foes of darkness that would swallow us up?
And how can a believer praise God in the midst of this scornful scathing put down of believers? Yes! We know that He will one day completely wipe out the wicked and that they wicked who have rejected Jesus Christ as their Savior will spend forever in “the lake of fire”. One day, when we are on the other side of the judgment of God on mankind, we will be able to look back and say, “Justice was done! All evil has been eliminated! We have been totally exonerated! We can praise Him unhindered for all of eternity! We thank Him!”
Prayer: O God, give us patience, like the patience that You have displayed for centuries toward the wicked in this world. You are longsuffering; we see things short-term and want them destroyed now! Help us to see things from Your perspective and love and pray for our enemies. Maybe they too will come to know the truth and have their lives transformed by Your power—just like ours were!
Scripture Text: Psalm 109:21-26
Question of the Day: How does a believer, in this case David, feel when beaten down by enemies?
Many Christians down through the centuries have suffered at the hands of those who outnumbered them—the wicked people around them. In the Old Testament it was not only the righteous who suffered, but also the prophets who spoke in the name of the LORD, and they were not treated very well. Here David explained to us how he felt when his enemies hounded him, and the words are very graphic. And as he pours out his heart to the LORD, there is hope because he clung to what he knew was true about the God he served.
Here are the words of the text: “But You, O GOD my Lord, deal with those evil people to protect your precious name and because of Your overwhelming steadfast love toward me, and come to my rescue! I am poor and need Your help so much, and my heart is crushed in me. I disappear like a fast moving shadow in the evening, and am shaken off like one shakes off a bug from his clothes. My knees are weak from going without food in a fast, and my body is very thin with no fat. I am the object of scorn to those who accuse me; when they see me they just shake their heads. Come to my rescue, O LORD my God! Show me once again Your overwhelming and steadfast love by delivering me.”
It is obvious from David’s words that he knew that it was only God who could rescue him. Why would God come to his rescue? David was concerned about God’s reputation when he asked God to rescue him, “for Your name’s sake”. What would motivate God to come to his rescue? David addressed God as the “Sovereign God” indicating his strong belief that God controls all things through His awesome power. Then he asked God to come to his rescue because of His overwhelming and steadfast love, saying that “it is good”. Would the same God that we worship come to our aid with both the love that we need and the power to help us out of our difficulty?
Now we come to the heart of today’s passage: David described the depths of his trial like this: He tells us that he is poor and needy. His heart is stricken in him. This indicates how depressed and down David felt. His life was slipping away from him like an evening shadow as the sun goes down. He feels like he is easily shaken off like a bug shaken off of one’s clothes. Does a Christian ever have such a hopeless feeling of rejection by those around him/her? His knees are weak because of the fact that he has been fasting. When fasting, our strength has been weakened by lack of food. Do trials and difficulties make us feel like we have been fasting for some time and are quite weak? His body had become gaunt, with no fat! The NLT says, “I am skin and bones!” Many who have gone through extreme trials have testified that they don’t feel like eating, and it would seem that they get weaker and weaker. He was aware that he was the object of scorn to those who accused him, and that when they saw him they just shook their heads. Is the physical pain that we feel amplified by the misunderstanding of this around us and the scorn and reviling that they give?
David began this section and concluded it with a plea for “the LORD my God” to help him in line with His steadfast and overwhelming love. Where would any of us be any day of our lives were it not for the steadfast love of the LORD and His faithfulness in being there for us continually. So when we are at the lowest of low places in our lives, we can have great hope—just because even though the rest of the world may be against us and scorning and reviling us, yet our God is always there with His love to help us out once again. We may be beaten down, but His love lifts us up!
Prayer: O God, You know what it is like for us down here because You have made this world and allowed it to go the direction it is now going, and besides that, in the Person of Your Son, You were here and saw firsthand the plight of man. And that is why, even though we are feeling very very low, yet we can always count on Your steadfast love to lift us up. Amen!
Scripture Text: Luke 15:20-24 Title: Love Smothers Rebellion
Question of the Day: How does the love of a father change a rebellious heart?
We can never underestimate the value of good parents when a son or daughter has been restless, gone away from home, and wasted their lives in “riotous living”. Here’s the portion of the story of the prodigal son when he came home:
The text says: “Then he got up and went home to meet his dad. But to his amazement his dad saw him coming a long way down the road, had great compassion on his son, and ran to meet him, wrapping his arms around him and welcomed him home with an embrace. Then the son began his prepared speech, ‘Dad, I have sinned greatly against God and done wrong before you and am no more worthy to be called your son.’ But the dad interrupted the son’s prepared speech and turned to his nearby servants and said, ‘Run and get the best outfit available for this boy and get him properly dressed, and put the family ring on his finger, and shoes on his feet; then get that fat calf that we have been preparing for this occasion and butcher it and prepare a feast—let’s celebrate! Here’s my son who was as good as dead, but now I find out that he is still alive! He was long gone from home, but now he is found. And they all rejoiced and enjoyed a big feast.’”
By now the son had done all of the damage he could do to himself and his life, and he knew that to return home would be a very humiliating experience; but he was hungry, tired of his life, and lonely. The son then did what he needed to do; he began to talk to himself about how good it was “back home”. The door had not been shut forever on the son, so his heart was humbled and broken, and he got up and made the long trek home.
But to his surprise, as he rounded the corner and came over the hill, he could see his dad standing in the front yard looking down the road. Why would he do that? As soon as his dad saw him, he took off running in the direction of his son and eagerly welcomed him. It says he “…had great compassion on his son, and ran to meet him, wrapping his arms around him and welcomed him home with an embrace.” How is that for a welcome home from a wayward rebellious son?
So the son started his speech about how he had sinned against heaven and in his father’s sight, an am no longer worthy to be called “your son”; Note that he had good religious upbringing and even mentioned God in his speech. The rest of the speech never got out of the son’s mouth because his dad cut him off with some orders to a nearby servant to bring clothes, the family ring, and shoes, and to bring the “fat calf” that the father had obviously been raising for this celebration, and then the dad called for a giant celebration. In short, the father cut off his son’s repentance speech and smothered him with his love—and it was that factor that melted further the heart of the son and he knew that he had been restored to being his father’s son again!
Isn’t that just like the love of our heavenly Father? When we have gone far from home and far away from God, when we humble our hearts and return to our heavenly Father, He then smothers us with His love and even calls us “His son”! It doesn’t get any better than that!
Prayer: Father, I thank You for Your great love that melts a hard rebellious heart and restores that hardened heart and makes us Your child. Truly You are a Master at this because You have taken every heart of your children and melted them with Your great love. I need that love! We all need that kind of love to know what real love is. Again, thank You for Your great love! Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 108:5-6, 9-13 Title: Enemies Conquered?
Question of the Day: When and how will we ever see our enemies defeated—the ones that constantly hound us?
One thing that troubles believers since the beginning of time is the opposition that we face—just because we belong to God as His holy children. Cain got angry and slew his righteous brother Abel, and from then on Christians have been under attack from those around us who hate God, and who would, if they could, get their hands on the neck of God and strangle Him. But since they can’t, they take it out on His children. In today’s Psalm David looked around at the land of Israel and the nations around them that had given them so much trouble throughout the years. Would God wipe them out? How would it happen?
Here is today’s text: “So be exalted, O God, in Your place high above the heavens, and may Your glory be seen all over the earth. 6 That way Your beloved children will be rescued. Show us Your salvation by Your right hand and answer the cry of my heart! 9 Moab is the basin with which I wash; I will throw out My shoe on Edom; and Philistia is a land over which I will triumph.’
10 “So who will bring Me to any fortified city? Who will help Me triumph over Edom? 11 Haven’t You rejected all of us, O God? Don’t You go out with our armies anymore? 12 Oh come to our aid against our foes because we cannot trust in the help of any other nation around us. 13 It is only through You that we will be valiant against our enemies, and only You can walk all over them.”
Let’s go down through the passage and highlight David’s thoughts:
David started out by desiring to exalt God and see His glory shine forth throughout the whole earth. That is a good place to start!
Then David expressed his heart’s desire to see God’s “beloved ones” to be delivered from their enemies, and the only way that was going to happen was for “Your right hand to come to our rescue in answer to our prayers”. How many times throughout history have the believer’s enemies been defeated soundly by the mighty right hand of God wiping them out?
Does God really own Moab and Edom? Yes! The whole earth and all that is in it belongs to Him, so Edom and Moab are no match for the powerful right hand of God.
David then asked in verse 10, “who will bring me into that fortified city”, the capital of Edom? This is, of course, a rhetorical question; but it showed that David wondered if anyone could penetrate that fortified city. David then asked God in verse 11 if He had rejected His people, and that was the reason that Edom had never been crushed and soundly defeated. David also explained clearly that if “God does not go out with us to battle, then we will never see victory.”
Finally David asked God for help against their enemy—specifically Edom, and expressed with confidence that when God goes out with them, they will “tread down their foes.”
So what happened? In I Kings 11:15-16 we read, “For when David was in Edom, and Joab the commander of the army went up to bury the slain, he struck down every male in Edom 16 (for Joab and all Israel remained there six months, until he had cut off every male in Edom).” The final quote is from I Chronicles 18:12-13: “And Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, killed 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. 13 Then he put garrisons in Edom, and all the Edomites became David’s servants. And the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.” Was this defeat not catastrophic to Edom? Did God give His people victory because they were His “beloved children” and because David, their King, asked God to intervene with His mighty hand? That is what God can and will do for us to His enemies—if we but ask!
Prayer: O God, it breaks our hearts to see how this world is given the power to wipe out believers, stir up persecution, abuse, reviling, and scorning from our enemies—the ones around us constantly. Would You be pleased to answer us and show is Your power and defeat and destroy our enemies? We know You can? We know You eventually will? Will You come and wipe out my enemies? How do I balance that with Your words to “love your enemies”? 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.
If we all didn’t have a wayward streak and have to be brought back by the Father, this story wouldn’t have much meaning!
Scripture Text: Luke 15:20-24 Title: The Father’s Plan
Question of the Day: Does our heavenly Father have a plan when a wayward child returns?
The story of the prodigal son and the loving compassionate father has many very good points to make in it. The son had been gone a long time, and it is obvious in this story that the father already had a plan in mind for when the son returned home. Isn’t this just like our heavenly Father. When we have gone astray, done our own thing, spent all of our money and energy on pursuit of temporal things that cannot satisfy, and in this story it says, “…he spent it all in riotous living.”, and when we have come to the end of ourselves—tired, hungry, and lonely—then our heavenly Father has a plan to quickly restore us! Look at what the father in this story had planned:
1. “But” the father interrupted his son’s speech with orders of his own. Isn’t that just like a father? He has a plan in his mind of how he would treat the wayward son:
2. He didn’t ask him first how much money was left. This would have been obvious by the shabby dress and the smelly clothes his son was wearing, and by the hungry look on his face.
3. He would first be cleaned up and dressed in the finest robe available.
4. Then restore the family ring—which in those days would empower the son to buy the necessary things he needed. This today would be the equivalent of giving him a credit card to use, or cash to spend as was needed!
5. Then the son would have proper shoes on his feet. “Those shoes are worn out and cannot properly take my son where he needs to go,” the father would muse to himself.
6. Then bring on the best meal available, that is, the “fatted calf” is in this story.
7. And let us all “eat and have a festive time.” The father didn’t wait for the son to “prove himself” again—this was his son, and he would be treated just like before—far better than the formerly wayward son deserved.
8. To the father, the son was gone and had been dead and lost as far as he knew, and he was so glad to have the son return because now he is alive and found.
9. And isn’t this just like what our heavenly Father does for us? The Father accepts us back home “just as we are”. He knows what kind of a life we have lived, and there is no use rehashing it and explaining it again and again—just come home!
10. Our Father first clothes us in the “finest robe”, the clean and pure righteousness of His own Son. We are not properly clothed in this life unless the Father can see the righteousness of His Son clothing us!
11. God the Father then begins to give us far more than we could ever want—and for sure more than any of us deserve. This is His marvelous grace kicking in and providing for all that we could ever need.
12. Then our feet will need new shoes, and those shoes will take us places we never could have gone before.
13. Then we will be fed with the “fatted calf”, which for us is our Father giving to us things to eat that satisfy, and not like the hunger we experienced before when we were in that far away land. This is real satisfaction that only the Father can give us.
14. Now it is time to “eat and have the greatest fellowship on earth available”. God only knows how much good Christian fellowship means to us and how it will strengthen us.
15. All of this came because of the excitement of our heavenly Father that once we were dead in our sins and lost sheep wandering aimlessly, but now we are alive and found.
16. So let the celebration begin—and the celebration that we are experiencing here on earth is just a small foretaste of that great celebration the Father has planned for us in eternity!
We can easily put ourselves in this story because all of us at one time were lost and dead in our sins. But the Father’s plan has changed all of that. What else has He planned? Listen to the words of Romans 8:17-18: “And if now we are God’s children, then we are also heirs of what our Father has planned, and more than that, joint-heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ. So if we suffer now in this life, it is so that we can one day be glorified with Him. Here is the bottom line: I am convinced that the sufferings in this present life are not worthy to be compared with all that the Father has planned, and for the splendor and glory that is ours in eternity.”
Prayer: Father, thank You for all that you have planned for us. When we were “lost and dead in our sins” we couldn’t even imagine all that You had prepared for us—and we can’t even grasp it yet! We are not worthy, but we are eternally grateful for all that You planned and have prepared for us. Your plan is extra-ordinary! Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 108:7-13 Title: Victorious Conqueror!
Question of the Day: What is it about God’s steadfast love, His faithfulness, and His mighty power in answering our prayers that ignites praise in His beloved children?
Believers live in a world right now where they are taking it on the chin: the people in this world who do not know God hate us and everything that we stand for, yet we know that we have been made righteous before God and that the day will come when He will vindicate us. Will we ever see our foes in this life totally crushed? Will the LORD ever display His great power on our behalf and totally wipe out those who are against us? In this psalm King David speaks for all of us when he tackles this important subject.
Here is today’s text: “You have made promises to us in Your holiness. You have said, ‘It is My pleasure to divide Shechem, and to give out a portion of the Valley of Succoth. I own Gilead; Manasseh belongs to Me; Ephraim is like a helmet that protects Me, Judah is the scepter in My hand; Moab is the basin with which I wash; I will throw out My shoe on Edom; and Philistia is a land over which I will triumph.’ So who will bring Me to any fortified city? Who will help Me triumph over Edom? Haven’t You rejected all of us, O God? Don’t You go out with our armies anymore? Oh come to our aid against our foes because we cannot trust in the help of any other nation around us. It is only with You that we will be valiant against our enemies, and only You can walk all over them.”
King David was a conquering king, yet he saw the nations around him as a constant threat to righteous people. At the same time he opened the psalm with these thoughts: And that is why “my heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with everything that I have using musical instruments every day early in the morning. And that is why Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness means so much to every believer as You deliver us with Your mighty right hand!” In this psalm David speaks of believers as “the beloved ones” through whom God will deliver us with His power.
David had seen God subdue his enemies before him, yet they weren’t totally wiped out and he knew that they would again strengthen and do damage to the next generation of believers (which they did). Yet in this psalm David reminded himself of God’s promise of His holy character that comes out of His holy temple (see verse 7). God had said to him that He would divide up Shechem; portion out the Valley of Succoth; He had mastery over Gilead, and Manasseh and Ephraim and Judah; His dominion included wiping out Moab, Edom, and Philistia. Who could possibly defeat Edom’s fortified city? David was convinced that God could and would eventually do it, and he also reminded us that it was God going out with His beloved children who would do the unthinkable: destroy the nations around Israel and bring those nations into totally subjugation.
In conclusion we must go back to the beginning of this psalm. David expressed to us that his heart was determined to focus on the steadfast love of our God, His faithfulness to us that stuns us, and, when He comes with His mighty right hand of power, the nations of the world around us are no match for us. His right hand will wipe out all of our foes, and that is enough to make my heart to be “steadfast before You, O my God!”
Prayer: O God, my heart is fixed on You. Whenever I see Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness demonstrated toward Your children and Your right hand restraining and wiping out those who oppose You and us—Your “beloved ones”—it is then that my heart will be forever “fixed on You, O my God”! 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: Psalm 108:5-6 Title: Prayers + Awesome Power
Question of the Day: At what point does the believer see the most impressive power of God in action?
One of the great joys of the Christian life is to see God answer our prayers. No matter the need, the time of the need, the amount of help we need, or the place we are at the time, He is always there for His “beloved children”. Recently this author was in a foreign nation of one of the predominant religions of the world, and was surprised to learn that the people there were pleased when a Christian prayed for them. In fact, it has been chronicled many times where they have specifically asked a Christian to pray for them. And why is that so? Because they knew that our God answers our prayers! I find that incredible!
Since the believer is the only one who has direct access to the throne of God, the Master of the universe, it follows that when we draw near to God with full assurance to the throne of grace, it is then that we can receive mercy and find the grace that we need in a time when we need help,” and that from Hebrews 4:16. In today’s text David made this statement: “So be exalted, O God, in Your place high above the heavens, and may Your glory be seen all over the earth. That way Your beloved children will be rescued. Show us Your salvation by Your right hand and answer the cry of my heart!” David pointed out to us that God has His eye on “His beloved children”, and He will answer with great power. Isn’t that why we come to Him for help? We have a great need, we cry out to God, and He comes to our aid.
Let’s chronicle a few of the examples of Scripture where God answered the prayers of His saints and demonstrated His great power:
When the Egyptian army had Israel cornered by the Red Sea with nothing in between them but a cloud, it looked hopeless. But in that cloud was a host of angelic beings and chariots of fire as the LORD was there to protect His children from being wiped out. And after the Red Sea was parted and they had safely passed over and the waters of the Red Sea had closed in on the Egyptian army, there was a great chorus of praise to God for His protection. When the future King David was running from the present King Saul, he cried out to God and was protected many times—at times when he and his men were in the same cave as King Saul, and when the LORD sent a deep sleep on Saul’s army and David stole into their camp, again God protected him. When he was able to give a great sigh of relief that Saul was finally dead, David gave a great song and shout of praise to the LORD—as recorded in Psalm 18 and II Samuel 22.
In the book of Daniel, his three friends were thrown into a fiery furnace, and yet “one like the Son of God” was there with them to protect them. And when Daniel himself was thrown into the lion’s den and angel of the LORD was there all night to protect him.
We could chronicle a great many more stories, but the point is this: God knows all about His beloved children, where they are, what need they are confronting, and what it will take to rescue them—and He has the ample power for every need. In today’s text David referred to believers as God’s “beloved ones”, and when he prayed and asked God to answer, He came through and demonstrated His power. The resulting message is always this: the believer must then exalt God “above the heavens, and then see His glory over all the earth.” That’s how this world is constantly aware of God’s presence in our world. That is how His glory is seen in a dark sinful satanic controlled world. It is when the light meets the darkness, and the light always wins. And when He answers my prayer, then I see His mighty power on behalf of me!
Prayer: O God, we are so thankful that You always come through for us when we cry out to You. We are absolutely convinced that Your power will be there to bring the answer to our prayers so that we can in turn make You known once again in our world—our sphere of influence. Answer us with Your mighty power so that we can exalt You. Amen!
Scripture Text: Revelation 9:13-16 Title: Numbers in Revelation
Question of the Day: What do we make of all the numbers given in the book of Revelation?
When we try to get a grasp on the death, destruction, devastation, catastrophes and cataclysmic events mentioned in this book, it takes our breath away. Many have tried to count the numbers of people killed compared to the population of the world today and have come up with a varieties of numbers. Let’s look at some of the references to numbers and some of the other comments given about people on earth during the tribulation and see what conclusions we can come up with.
In today’s text one of the various numbers in Revelation is given. Here is the text: “When the sixth angel sounded, I heard a voice coming from the four horns of the gold altar, which stands before God, which said to the sixth angel that was ready to blow its trumpet, “Cut loose the four angels that are in chains in the great river, the Euphrates.” The four angels that were unchained were loosed for one hour, one day, one month, and one year to destroy one-third of the people on earth. The number of the army that assembled was 200 million: and I heard their number given.” The following are some other numbers given throughout the book of Revelation:
Around the throne in heaven, mentioned in chapter 4, are four “living creatures”, twenty-four elders, One “sitting on the throne, one Lamb, myriads of myriads and thousands of thousand of angels, and in chapter 7 under the altar are the souls of those who had been slain for the Word of God and for their witness, “a great multitude that could not be numbered” is mentioned, 144,000 fiery Jewish evangelists were commissioned to complete the Great Commission in chapter 7, and in chapter 14 after many events had transpired and many saints had been martyred, the 144,000 are listed—and evidentially not one of them is missing!
In chapter 6:8 we are told that the rider on the pale horse were given authority to kill one fourth of the people on earth with the sword, with famine, with pestilence, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
In chapter 8 the mention is made of seven trumpets, after the first trumpet burned up a third of the trees and all the green grass, after the second, one third of the fish in the ocean died and a third of the ships were destroyed, after the third trumpet one third of the waters of the world became bitter and many died, and after the fourth trumpet a third of the sun, moon, and stars had their light blocked from reaching the earth.
In chapter 9 the creatures that looked like horses with a scorpion-like sting tormented people for five months, and then in today’s text the number of the mounted troops totaled 200 million.
The number seven appears again in chapter 10 with the seven trumpet judgments, but no details are given (it must be very devastating and too horrible to describe).
In chapter 11 the two witnesses come to do their work, and when they are killed, their bodies laid on the streets of the city for three and a half days, and when they were resurrected and taken to heaven, a great earthquake destroyed one tenth of Jerusalem and 7,000 people were killed in the quake.
In chapter 12 Satan is thrown down from heaven and the people of Israel who were godly were protected for 1,260 days while Satan tried to destroy them.
In chapter 14 three angels gave their judgments and “one like the Son of Man” came to harvest the earth and destroy those who gathered for that great battle. In chapter 15 there were seven angels who, in chapter 16, went forth to pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on those who had taken the mark of the beast.
In the next chapters the wrath of God is poured out on Babylon and that “great city” is wiped out in one hour.
When we get to chapter 19, the Rider on the White Horse comes and wipes out the rest of the nations and the peoples of the world who have taken the mark of the beast—and all who had taken the mark of the beast were killed (chapter 14:11; 16:2; and 19:20).
The bottom line is this: from the numbers given it seems obvious that all of the people who had received the mark of the beast during the tribulation period were eventually wiped out—and that includes every non-believer. And that is how God concludes the judgment on this world as we know it today. There are more judgments later just after the nations of the world gather together for one last battle after the millennium and then there is the Great White Throne judgment in which all unbelievers are cast into the Lake of Fire. And it is then we will fully understand the judgment of God men who have rejected the gift of salvation and on all the demonic angels. We will understand fully what it means to have the wrath of God poured out and to see His holiness shine and dominate the universe—both the new heaven and the new earth. The numbers are staggering; the devastation overwhelming and complete; and then the judgment of God will be complete.
Prayer: O God, when we look at the advanced copy of the prophecy of what will happen in destroying the sin and wickedness of this world, we are in awe and stunned at the wiping out of all evil and the eternal punishment of those who have rejected You. We are sobered by this staggering information! Amen!
Scripture Text: Revelation Title: Judgment Using God’s Tools
Question of the Day: What tools does God have at His disposal to bring judgment on mankind?
Of course the short answer is everything! But here we are looking at Scriptures at the tools that God has used in the past to bring man into judgment. Since the time of the Great Flood of Noah man has been told over and over and in many different ways that God can and will judge man for his sin and rebellion and rejection of His Son, Jesus Christ. We can look at many of the prophecies of events that are yet coming up in the rapture, the tribulation, and on through to the end of the millennium when in various judgments and in various ways every man must give an account of himself to God.
As we center our attention on the book of Revelation, we find that the book outlines to us God’s plan to unveil His Son in two major ways: first as The Final Judge, and then as The King of kings and the Lord of lords. The book starts out giving us a glimpse of how Jesus will be unveiled in chapter one, and in chapters two and three His treasured position to the church. As He is unveiled He also gives scathing rebukes to the churches and shows us that believers are not immune to the severe discipline, corrections, and even judgment of His own children. They too must be judged from the perspective that they too must finally have sanctification completed in each life if they are going to live up to their billing as “God’s holy children” and to fulfill God’s expectations to them to be so saturated with the righteous character of God that they are forever finally holy, completely in body and soul and spirit, as He is holy.
In chapters four and five we have a scene that was shown to John in his vision of the command center of the universe, and what is happening in the throne room of God in His holy temple. John was allowed to see God the Father sitting on His throne and Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, standing at His right hand. Jesus Christ has always been the One commissioned to be the final Ruler of all and the Head of His body, the church, and here He is revealed in all His glory and the bottom line is this: all will fall at His feet and be subjugated under His direct rule as the rule of the devil and man’s failed rule of this world comes to a screeching halt. To do that the first thing that must be accomplished is this: those who are wicked must be fully unveiled for who they are, given a last chance to repent, and then wiped out completely. To accomplish that death and destruction come in wave after wave of famine, pestilence, wild beasts, and man killing man.
Here are some of the “tools” in the hand of God available to Him to use to bring about the destruction and dismantling of man’s failed rule here on earth under the tutelage of the devil: massive earthquakes, famines, pestilence, men killing each other, stings from horse like creatures let loose from the Abyss which give scorpion-like stings to unbelievers, that is, people who don’t have the mark of God on their foreheads, thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, seven different references to earthquakes (seven times they are mentioned in Revelation alone), destruction of all trees and grass, death and destruction on the seas and oceans of the world, pollution of all the water on earth, sun moon and stars darkened (probably with the eruption of super volcanoes or something like that from the hand of God), drying up of the mighty Euphrates River, fire breathing horses that kill 1/3 of mankind, the judgment that came after each of the seven peals of thunder the destruction of which was so bad John was forbidden to write it down, the destruction that came from the plagues that the two witnesses brought as they wreaked havoc on the whole earth—like shutting up heaven so that there will be no rain, heavy hail (weighing up to 100 pounds!), the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood that the dragon spewed out of his mouth to try to completely wipe out Israel, painful bore-like sores, fire that scorched people, darkness that made men gnaw their tongues for pain and anguish, violent great earthquakes that made ever island flee away and brought down every mountain, Babylon destroyed in one hour with a great fire, and finally, when Jesus steps out to take His rightful place as King of kings and Lord of lords, fire comes out of His mouth and destroys all that remain of His enemies! And that is just what is mentioned in Revelation!
While judgment is coming on this earth, believers who have been saved down through the centuries, both in earth and in heaven, are mentioned. It is interesting and instructive to note that several times this world will be judged for how they have treated believers—especially when they persecute and/or martyr them. In fact, God lets man have one last opportunity to repent by sending out 144,000 fiery Jewish Evangelists to give men a chance to repent, and many do, but sadly many do not and defy God and curse Him for the judgments. The bottom line is this: when The Final Judge is finished judging mankind and wiping out all unbelievers who have taken the mark of the beast, He then will take His rightful place, coming down on the Mount of Olives and reigning for 1000 years. Judgment complete! Reigning begins!
However, there is one more tool that God has in His arsenal to judge mankind: The Judgment Seat of Him who sit on the Great White Throne and, with His penetrating eyes and keen judgment coupled with His awesome power, He will judge all those who have ever lived and rejected His Son. They will be judged according to their deeds—the worst being rejecting the gift of eternal life that was offered by His grace, and then they will be banished forever to join all the demonic spirits—including the devil—in the Lake of Fire to be judged forever and be a trophy of the wrath and anger of God against all sin and sinners. For them that is the end, and that is where judgment for all unbelievers will end—forever, and God has the tools in His hand to make that happen!
Prayer: O God, it is fearful to even think of all the tools that You have in Your hand to judge all of mankind: You know every word spoken, every thought thought, every deed done, and every motive that will be yet exposed. My trust is fully in You and what You have done for me on Calvary to usher me into Your presence forever to begin the “eternal life” phase of my eternal existence! 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.
Since God owns it all, how can I take care of what He gives me?
Scripture Text: Luke 16:10-12 Title: The Boss’ Money?
Question of the Day: Would God trust me with wealth if I don’t use my boss’ money wisely?
Jesus used many illustrations from everyday life that cause us to stop and think, and then to instruct us on how to properly relate to others. In this section about the proper use of money, Jesus mentions how we treat our boss’ money and the things that he provides that are not ours. Here He talks about being faithful in small things, and then answers the question many of us would like to know the answer to: Why doesn’t God trust me with far more riches?
Today’s text says: “A person who faithfully handles a small matter will also be faithful in more responsibility; and the person who is dishonest in a small matter will be dishonest in a bigger matter too. If you can’t be faithful with financial matters, who would trust you with true and eternal riches? If you weren’t faithful with another man’s money or things, who will give you what will be your own vast riches?”
First Jesus acknowledges that money (here referred to as mammon) is “unrighteous”. Many refer to money as “filthy lucre”. Money can corrupt a person quicker than you can blink, and in this section Jesus cautions us to be very careful with its use. We are urged here to be faithful or trustworthy and just in our use of material things that belong to others. When we use the resources entrusted to us by our boss with care and for the purpose that he allowed us to use them, then we have learned step one in taking care of what belongs to others.
I remember in my first job on a construction site when I got to use a company pickup or tool or piece of machinery I thought, “what if this thing breaks?” or “what if the boss sees me doing this or that with his pickup?” With those thoughts coming to me, I was being urged to do what is right, learn to treat other’s property as if it was my own, and thus I was learning to be “faithful and just” as Jesus instructed us to do.
Jesus’ point is further amplified in His statement: “If you can’t be trusted to properly handle temporal things like money, then can you be trusted to handle the true eternal riches of God?” Do you know someone who seems to break things all the time—especially things that are not their own? Not only is that carelessness, but it is a test from God to see if we are ready to be trusted with handling more “things” and “money”.
The bottom line is this: Am I faithful and just and careful with what others have entrusted me with to make their business prosper? Then God is ready to give me more and more responsibility with eternal riches because I have taken the temporal things of this world and used them properly to serve Him. If I serve money or wealth, I will end up poor; but if I serve God and use the things entrusted to me with care, accuracy, and being faithful, then I am doing what God expects from me. So the boss’ money can be used to teach me how to handle money God entrusts to me!
Prayer: Lord, help me to use the temporal things of this world carefully as a test from You to see if and when I am ready to handle the eternal things and its riches. Help me to focus on being faithful, just, and accurate in handling everything—from my boss’ resources to the things that You have entrusted me with. Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 108:3-5 Title: Introducing God!
Question of the Day: What does it mean to exalt God in worship and praise?
We live in a strange world: God is everywhere around us because He is a Spirit being, and His Holy Spirit is omnipresent—just as God the Father is; yet this world acts as though God does not exist, and the way that they describe the events of their lives and the world around them, one would think that God really doesn’t exist. Then we come to the task of believers: to introduce God to the world around us. So how do we do that?
King David wrote today’s text: “I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among all people, yes, I will sing praise to You among all of the nations because Your steadfast love is so great toward me—it is higher than the heavens and Your faithfulness reaches all the way up to the clouds. So be exalted, O God, in Your place high above the heavens, and may Your glory be seen all over the earth. That way Your beloved children will be rescued. Show us Your salvation by Your right hand and answer the cry of my heart!”
When a believer walks into a room, who walks in with him? Of course, God walks in with him because He indwells every believer. So what happens when a believer walks into a room or into a situation wherever he his? It is as though the presence of God has an immediate impact on the surroundings of every believer whenever they encounter people. This author is acquainted with a man who took a rather low-level job in a restaurant. He never came in a proclaimed with a loud voice that everyone needed to listen to the gospel and repent, but all he did was to speak highly of God often in conversation. Like this: “Isn’t this a great day that God has made? The weather is good today.” Nothing more was said, and when at work he rarely witnessed to people, yet when they were about to tell a dirty joke or swear, they would turn to him and apologize. Now why would they do that? I believe that it is because they were aware of the presence of God in that person’s life, and they were affected by it.
It is fascinating to hear how many people in our world today try to shut God out of everything: those who report on severe storms never say anything about God who created the storm; those in psychology and psychiatry try to explain man’s problems without dealing with man’s number one problem: sin; those who are scientists rarely give God credit for the massive amount of things that we have learned about our world and our universe; many schools and universities have shut God out a long time ago, and refuse to believe He the truth of His Word; and newscasters rarely mention God and the vast store of absolute truth that is available to explain world events.
So, if they have shut God out, how do we bring Him back into the conversation and into the world that we live in so that people will again be aware of His awesome presence? David informed us in this psalm to “exalt the LORD above the heavens and let Your glory, O God be over all the earth.” Yes, God must be exalted in our world “high above the heavens”. Does man naturally exalt God high above the heavens? We exalt Him by giving Him the praise and honor and thanksgiving and adoration that He deserves. Then David went on and said to “let His glory be over all the earth!” And how is the glory of God over all the earth? Does man attribute what is happening in our world to the God of creation and the God who sustains this world? It is up to believers to keep in front of our world the facts about God’s existence and His involvement in our everyday lives. When we do, and when we are the salt and light of the world by bringing Him into everything we do and say, will we ever be able to convince our world as Isaiah said in Isaiah 6:3, “The whole earth is full of the glory of the LORD”? Could it be that one reason this world is so dark is because we don’t speak up and let the world know of our great God? The believer lifts high the name and reputation of God and exalts Him above all else—especially all the gods of this world. That is our number one job! That is our mission!
Prayer: O God, You have given each of us an awesome task of making You known to this world. We see evidence of Your power and glory every day, but does the world around us know because we speak up? We are reminded of the words of Psalm 107:2 where we are urged to, as the redeemed of the LORD, just to “say so”. Help us to let this lost and dying world know of the living and true God! Amen!
Scripture Text: Luke 15:11-24 Title: Father’s Day
Question of the Day: Fathers: would you give your rebellious teen son a large sum of money to blow?
We are all familiar with the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, so let’s recount some good lessons from it. The thing that impresses me most about the story is the father, and, of course, this becomes the great picture of our heavenly Father. First, the father gave the son, when the son insisted, a large sum of money, knowing that the son was young and restless and rebellious, and hung around with the wrong friends. Would you do that? Note that the father didn’t just give the kid a credit card and send him away and keep paying the bills all along; he gave the son a large sum of money—the total of the son’s inheritance, knowing what the son would do with that money.
Then the father didn’t run after the son or threaten him or demean him when he went away from home to “a far country”. In fact there is nothing mentioned in this story about a huge barrier to the son’s returning home—no conditions or threats that had been made, in fact nothing that would keep the son from returning home with a repentant spirit. Here are some more things we can learn from the father in this story:
1. He was willing to give his son his share of the inheritance—even though he knew that the son was young, immature, selfish, and arrogant, and would soon blow it on “riotous living”.
2. He released his son to his own sinful and willful and arrogant lifestyle, and it is never says here that he tried to hold back his son.
3. His father had plenty of hired servants, and took good care of them, so the son knew that if he went back home, he would be well fed. It is interesting to note that it was hunger that brought the son to his knees and back to his father.
4. His father was ready and eager to hear the repentant speech of his son; yet the son never got the whole speech that he had prepared out before his father stopped him.
5. He was so eager to see his son he gave him a royal welcome—even watching to see when his son was to return, and ran and embraced him.
6. The father smothered the son with love and affection—so much so that the son never got all the way through his repentant speech. His love and affection so overwhelmed the son that he forgot his full speech and his heart, which was already humbled, was now overcome with acceptance and joy because of his father’s reaction.
7. The father could tell without one word being spoken that the son, who he was eagerly watching for, had a broken spirit, and so he poured out so much love and affection that the son began to be restored and healed quickly.
8. The father waited to hear just one word from his son: the word “father”! And when he heard that word, then love and compassion just flowed. Actually, the father showed a lot of eagerness and compassion before the son had a chance to say a word, and isn’t that just like our Heavenly Father?
9. Since the son knew his father, he knew that if he ever returned home, he would have to have a repentant heart since he had blown all of his inheritance on “riotous living”.
10. The son also knew of no barriers that could keep him from going home: no “I told you not to blow that money on careless friends”; no “get out of here and don’t ever come back”; no “don’t come back until you have changed dramatically (because the father—like our Heavenly Father—knew that when the son came home he would have to humble himself greatly and be at the end of himself)”; and no other unwelcome thoughts that would make the son never to return.
11. The father cut his son’s speech short. By now he knew his son’s changed attitude, so he turned to a servant and gave instructions to have a huge “welcome home” party for him—you know, the fatted calf and all the trimmings.
12. The father gave the command to “eat and make merry”—just the two things the son needed right then to feel the most loved and welcomed home.
13. To the father, the son had been lost and dead; but now he was still alive and was now “found” in that he had returned home, and that was a cause for a great celebration. No wonder it says earlier in the story of the lost sheep and the lost coin that there is great celebration in heaven when one sinner repents!
So this story is packed with good information for us fathers as we can only imagine what it was like for this father to welcome his son home, and to have set such a good example for us to follow.
Prayer: Thank you, O Father in heaven, for Your great love when I was lost, dead, and rebellious. It was Your great love that drew me back home to your loving embrace and gave me incentive to return home for a great celebration and feast—and what a feast it has been for these 50+ years since I came running home. It overwhelmed me at first, and it still overwhelms me to think of all that You have yet prepared for me throughout eternity. I love calling You, “My Father!” Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 108:1-6 Title: Love and Faithful Question of the Day: When my heart is fixed on God, what am I specifically to be fixed on?
When we enter the presence of our great God, we think many times of a few things that dazzle our thoughts about all the things He is and has done for mankind—from giving us life to giving us eternal life forever in eternity. But as we travel this earth, what can we, as King David did, focus on that we keep coming back to as the most important things in our earthly existence? We could marvel at His creation, His knowledge, His vast understanding and wisdom, the fact that we cannot comprehend Him, and so on, but while here on earth and living in the grip of a world that is bound by sin and sinful people, that is not the most important thing for us to “fix our heart on” (as King David said it).
Here is today’s text: “My heart is fixed on You, O my God! I will sing and make a melodious song to You with all I have. So wake up, stringed instruments, and together we will wake up the dawn. I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among all people, yes, I will sing praise to You among all of the nations because Your steadfast love is so great toward me—it is higher than the heavens and Your faithfulness reaches all the way up to the clouds. So be exalted, O God, in Your place high above the heavens, and may Your glory be seen all over the earth. That way Your beloved children will be rescued. Show us Your salvation by Your right hand and answer the cry of my heart!”
Once again in this psalm King David was overwhelmed with praise and thanksgiving to the LORD. And why was David insistent on having his heart fixed on the LORD in song? He was overwhelmed with the steadfast love of the LORD for him: in fact he proclaimed what it was “great above the clouds”. Men for centuries have tried to describe the height of God’s love for example in songs like “The Love of God”. Many reasons come to our minds when we ponder this great love: one is that He has redeemed us from the jaws of destruction; we all know and feel so undeserving of that love; His love stays with us; His love tells us so much about Himself, His mercy, His grace, His kindness, His forgiveness; it is His love that rescues and restores us when we have gone astray; and, because the LORD describes us as His sheep who need so much care, He is constantly demonstrating to us that care.
So how high is God’s steadfast love? How high are the heavens? David proclaimed that the steadfast love of God is higher than the heavens. We could try to measure how high the heavens (the universe) are scientifically and never get an answer. But Scripturally the point is this: His love is high enough to cover the sinfulness of fallen man for all of eternity! Now that is great, high, steadfast, and overwhelming love!
Coupled with our feeling of being overwhelmed by His love, we are taken back with His faithfulness. He is faithful to forgive us (I John 1:9), to be kind and good to us, so show us His great love, to rescue us when we are in trouble, to allow His love to quiet our hearts, and to always be there for us. When we think of all the character qualities of God that mean so much to us, it must be these two thoughts: The LORD shows us His love and mercy, and in His grace He saves us, and to poor lost sinners, this is the greatest news of a lifetime. And then coupled with that, the fact that He is always there for us! David specifically said that God’s faithful character “reaches to the clouds”, which means that it is quite adequate to cover all that we will ever need for all of eternity.
Our assurance that our God is faithful is worthy of our contemplation often: what if His love and mercy only lasted for a few hundred years, or for 10,000 years? We would live in fear and dread every day of our lives of what He would yet do to us someday, but when we are told by His authority that He will be there for us forever, now that is a double dose of good news! And so it is His overwhelming and steadfast love coupled with His faithfulness that made the music in King David’s heart really zing! In fact, he was determined to tell everyone everywhere about those two character qualities. I wonder how I will see His steadfast love and His faithfulness today!
Prayer: O God, my heart too is fixed on Your love and faithfulness. These two character qualities are two that I must develop toward others as You have demonstrated them to me. Keep me mindful of them today, and ready to pass them along—even in song—to others. 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: Psalm 107:33-43
Question of the Day: What will it be like to have the wickedness in our world silenced forever?
We live in an evil wicked world: the world around us is full of corruption and decay; the governmental systems that run our countries are corrupt; it seems that everything from the music industry to the movie industry to the news networks to the school system is corrupt, and to make matter worse, inside each of us—even us believers—is enough evil to destroy our own lives. Yet we have been spiritually born again and have begun a process that will thoroughly clean us up—this is what the Scripture calls “sanctification”, yet we wait for God to step into our world and clean it up and straighten up all that is crooked and judge all that is evil and to land us safely all cleaned up and righteous before God in His presence forever as His holy children.
But for now we must live in this evil corrupt world, and in today’s text the psalmist give us a clue as to some of the things that will happen when the LORD straightens out this world: “It is He (the LORD) who turns rivers into deserts, springs of water into dry parched ground, and productive farmland into a salty wasteland—and all because of the evil of those who live there. He can also turn a desert into pools of water and dry parched land into a place where there are springs of water. It is in these places that He lets those who are hungry live, a place where they build a city, plant fields and vineyards and reap a bountiful harvest. By His rich blessings they are productive and He does not let their cattle herds diminish.”
“But all of that productivity will be diminished and decimated when He allows oppression, evil, and sorrow to come your way. He will take the rulers and bureaucrats and scold them and make them wander in desert wastelands, but He will bring up those who are needy out of affliction and their families will be as numerous as a well taken care of flock of sheep. Those who are upright will see when this happens, and wickedness will have its mouth closed. So the person who is wise needs to attend to these things and consider carefully the steadfast and overwhelming love of the LORD.”
Note the restorative things that the LORD does: He turns desert wastelands into productive land; He brings water to dry places; He causes His children to flourish; when He blesses His children, they become very fruitful; and yet when He destroys the wicked who have been in authority in governments, He brings them very low and at the same time raises up the needy and downtrodden. The attentive believer will see these things and know that it is the steadfast love of our God that has set the books straight and, without that love covering our lives, we have no hope at all. Wickedness will be put down: righteousness will prevail!
Prayer: O God, when evil things happen to us believers here on earth, it hurts us greatly. We can’t see how You will ever set straight that which is crooked and make righteous and holy all that is evil and corrupt as You, the Final Judge and the One who brings righteous living to this world is established as King of kings and Lord of lords—and for that we wait! Amen!
Scripture Text: Hebrews 11:8-10 Title: Eternal City
Question of the Day: Since believers are to live in an eternal city, the New Jerusalem, why do we begin our existence confined to a world full of sin?
Imagine this: beginning your existence in the New Jerusalem with all of its glory and splendor, living with the second person of the trinity, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior providing the light for that city, and living with people who are righteous and holy, having never known sin and rebellion! WOW! What a treat that would have been, and what would we have missed here on earth? We would have no sinful past to put behind us, no understanding of the holiness and righteous character of God, and no knowledge of redemption. Then what if God had put us down here on earth with the free will to sin if we wanted and follow Lucifer in rebellion, and we had the opportunity to turn away from all the glory of heaven and the New Jerusalem that we had been used to. What a contrast between the two, and so we come to the question of the day: why did God chose to have us be born into a world of sin and rebellion and then offer us the gift of salvation?
In a previous devotional we considered how believers long to live in that new city, the heavenly Jerusalem, to be in heaven with God and have access to the temple of God and the worship ceremonies there, and to be free from sin and rebellion once and for all. Here are a few thoughts from Hebrews about that:
Hebrews 11:8-10: “By faith Abraham obeyed when God told him that He would be living in a place, and it would be his to leave to his descendants, and so he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived in the land of promise, in a foreign land in tents with his son Isaac and his grandson, Jacob, who were also heirs of that same promise. How did he do that? He was actually looking forward to a city with massive permanent foundations whose designer, architect, and the One who built it was God Himself.”
Hebrews 12:22-23: “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the Jerusalem in heaven, to the place where an innumerable company of angels reside, to the huge gathering of those who have been born again who now live in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all of His creation, and to the spirits of all believers who now live in heaven and have been made perfect and complete.”
Hebrews 13:14: “You see, this world in not our permanent place to live, but we are looking forward to that city which we will yet live in forever.”
So what would we have missed if God had chosen to let us live in the New Jerusalem first and then sent us to earth? First, we would have no clear picture of the holiness of God. The main reason for God’s creating the angelic hosts and mankind is to demonstrate to all of His creation that He is a holy God (and thus the consistent contrast throughout Scripture between light and darkness), and then to make it possible for mankind to experience His grace and love in buying them back from the slave-market of sin. Second, we would have missed the thrill of gathering in eternity with millions whose lives have been touched by God’s grace, and who have made the choice to accept the gift of eternal live, offered by God’s overwhelming love—with full knowledge that not one of us deserved such an existence.
Then we would not have been able to see the ultimate outcome of those who chose to reject that love and grace, those who chose to rebel against God even though they were created in heaven and have access to all that we hope and long for, and to see them all cast forever into the lake of fire! When we see that, we will understand the wrath and anger of God against all sin and rebellion, and the impression will be indelibly there for all of eternity.
And finally, we would not have lived a life here on earth full of faith, hope, and love: by faith we accept all that God has promised us—both here and in eternity—and receive the gift of eternal life even though we live in sinful bodies and await their transformation, and by faith we believe all the things that have been promised us for all of eternity; we live in hope because what we see in this world is nothing compared to the glories of heaven, the privilege of being with our Lord Jesus Christ forever, living in a new body, the righteous life we can live; and we would know nothing of the love that come from a heart of gratitude having been transformed by the power of God, and the One who gives us the ability to love others—including ourselves—who are very unlovely. It is by looking at these facts that lets us know that God’s plan to have us born into a world of sinners, being a sinner ourselves, but giving us the opportunity to be transformed by His amazing power into creatures of righteous living and people who know what it is to have an overwhelming love for our great God! All of this prepares us for that Eternal City.
Prayer: O God, the more we know of Your perfect plan of redemption and of Your eternal plan for us, the more we marvel and anticipate eternity with Jesus Christ. We can now worship and praise Your wonderful name, but we look forward to having redemption complete and worshipping You unhindered by the sinful body in which we now live. What a great time it will be to worship You with all of our body, soul, and spirit and joined by the entire heavenly host for all of eternity! This city, the New Jerusalem, will be a city that explodes with praise and worship to You, and to You alone! Amen!
Front-line physicians treating patients with SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 are seeing an alarming, escalating, orchestrated attack on chloroquine (CQ) and its safer derivative, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). Both medicines have been safely used in millions of patients worldwide for malaria prevention and treatment since FDA-approved for safety and effectiveness in 1934 and 1955, respectively. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists CQ and HCQ as “essential medicines” because of safety, effectiveness, low cost, and wide availability.
About side effects, CDC says: “Hydroxychloroquine is a relatively well tolerated medicine. The most common adverse reactions reported are stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and headache. These side effects can often be lessened by taking hydroxychloroquine with food. Hydroxychloroquine may also cause itching in some people. All medicines may have some side effects. Minor side effects such as nausea, occasional vomiting, or diarrhea usually do not require stopping the antimalarial drug.”
On duration of use: “CDC has no limits on the use of hydroxychloroquine for the prevention of malaria. When hydroxychloroquine is used at higher doses for many years, a rare eye condition called retinopathy has occurred. People who take hydroxychloroquine for more than five years should get regular eye exams.”
NOTE: CDC guidelines for use in malaria do not even mention the “fatal heart arrhythmia” hyped in the fear-mongering articles in the media. Rheumatology guidelines for HCQ in lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) do not require a baseline EKG to check heart rhythm, although doctors might order one before prescribing HCQ if needed for a patient with heart disease. SARS-CoV-2 itself, which can damage to the heart, may be responsible for some heart problems now blamed on HCQ.
So, CDC has said CQ and HCQ are safe and well tolerated for years to prevent and treat malaria. FDA later approved HCQ for treating lupus and RA, with millions taking much higher doses over decades, not days.
When used for COVID-19, successful worldwide treatment protocols recommend low dose, short duration (5-7 days) hydroxychloroquine early in the illness to help reduce severity and rate of spread, and reduce hospitalizations. Why the firestorm against HCQ to be used for 5-7 days in COVID-19, when it is used for decades at higher doses in Lupus and RA? It simply makes no medical sense.
Critics claim we have “no evidence” for use in coronavirus. They willfully ignore that we DO have data from 2002-2005 showing HCQ has potent antiviral action early in the illness of SARS-CoV. Why don’t FDA, CDC, WHO, Dr. Fauci, the American Medical Association, and most media tell you about this?
Dr. Fauci, FDA and CDC have up to the minute, country by country data on number of cases, number of deaths, and number of deaths per million population. Their failure to allow, and even encourage, physicians to offer HCQ as an option to COVID-19 patients early in the disease is causing more deaths in America compared to countries using HCQ at the earliest onset of infection. Draw your own conclusions from:
The differences are stark. Patients in Third-World countries, where these inexpensive, long-established remedies are used early, when HCQ is most likely to be effective, are dying in far lower numbers than patients in the U.S., where politicians and entrenched bureaucrats interfere with physicians’ medical decisions.
India, Brazil, Israel, Costa Rica, South Korea and other countries are also using HCQ as prophylactic therapy to help keep doctors and nurses from becoming ill caring for COVID19 patients. Governors in 46 of 50 states prevent US doctors and nurses from access to this option for their protection, ignoring success in multiple other countries.
US physicians are restricted by FDA and many Governors to late use of HCQ in seriously ill hospitalized patients, which has led the US to higher complication rates, longer hospitalizations, more deaths, and devastating economic damage from the prolonged shutdown.
Our FDA, CDC, governors and state medical and pharmacy boards imply that “off-label” prescribing for HCQ in COVID-19 is illegal or fraudulent. Off-label simply means a new disease use different from the one originally approved. Politicians and FDA bureaucrats are causing serious damage over-ruling long-standing FDA regulations that allow doctors to legally prescribe any approved medicine for a new use.
, who has been directing the US pandemic response, has failed to report any of the many positive basic science and successful clinical outcomes results from the U.S. and more than a dozen other countries. Why?
Dr. Fauci’s focus has been that we need to wait for a vaccine to safely re-open the country. Why? He knows vaccines take months to years to develop. Surely he is also aware of the safety issues of vaccines rushed to market without adequate testing.
Political brinkmanship and hidden agendas –political or financial or both–are a dangerous and deadly game. HCQ is not a panacea, but it IS saving lives around the world.
The right to preserve our life is our most fundamental civil liberty enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution. Doctors, nurses, patients, and civil rights attorneys must fight back with every tool at our disposal. We need to take legal action against agencies and Governors working against the public interest.
We do not have time to waste. People are dying. Our economy is dying.
Scripture Text: Luke 17:20-21 Title: Finding God’s Kingdom
Question of the Day: When do we need to start getting ready for God’s Kingdom?
Many people today have the idea that when Jesus Christ, the Messiah, comes and sets up His kingdom, then I’ll jump on the bandwagon and follow and support Him and make it happen. But this cuts across everything taught in the Scripture. Jesus taught much about God’s coming kingdom, and here He points out the most significant thing about it.
The religious leaders of His day were always hounding Jesus, and it seems that as He neared Calvary, they were getting more and testier and more demanding. Here’s what today’s text says: “About this time the Pharisees demanded of Jesus to know when the kingdom of God would be coming; so He answered them, ‘God’s kingdom doesn’t come by our just looking forward to it, or watching events unfold as it nears. Nor can you say, ‘Look, here it comes!’ or ‘Look, there it is!’ because the kingdom of God starts within you.’”
Many today want to wait till the Messiah shows up, and then decide whether He is true or not and follow Him and thus bring in the kingdom. But Jesus told them several things about God’s coming kingdom:
• First, it is God’s kingdom, and He decides when and where and how it will come.
• Second, God’s kingdom doesn’t come any faster by knowing a lot about it and observing it come. We spend a lot of time thinking about whether Jesus Christ is returning soon to set up His kingdom, and we are told to watch and be ready; but if we wait to get ready until Jesus shows up, then we are too late.
• One can’t point to a sign and say, “Here is an indication that it is here!” Or “That is another sign that it is very near!”
• Then Jesus makes a startling statement: “God’s kingdom starts within you!” From the rest of Scripture we know that when a person responds to God’s voice and His calling and bows their heart and life before God, they are born again, and Walla, the kingdom of God is right there inside you! Man is always looking for a coming monarch to set up a kingdom, and then they want to chose to get on His side; but God’s kingdom is made up of people who a long time ago accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, were born again, and now live and walk by the Spirit of God, and when God’s kingdom comes, we will already be part of it!
This puts Christ’s coming kingdom in proper perspective. When we are born again, God’s kingdom has already begun in you, and whether you die and go to heaven and then return with Him, or are here on earth when He comes, you are already part of His coming kingdom. But if you wait to decide until He actually comes, you may not make it through the holocaust that precedes His coming as all of His enemies are wiped out! It will be too late then to decide!
Prayer: Lord our desire is that everyone around us prepares their heart and is ready when You come with Your kingdom—and to be ready we must already be born again and waiting for Your return. Prepare my heart so that I am ready and “looking up” and watching and keeping my life pure so that when Your kingdom comes, I’ll be there and fully ready to be part of Your great coming kingdom. Amen!