Sound an Alarm

Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 7:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Joel 2 (Select vv. ESV).

Warning of Judgment (vv. 1-3, 11)

Blow a trumpet in Zion;
sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful people;
their like has never been before,
nor will be again after them
through the years of all generations.

Fire devours before them,
and behind them a flame burns.
The land is like the garden of Eden before them,
but behind them a desolate wilderness,
and nothing escapes them…

The Lord utters his voice
before his army,
for his camp is exceedingly great;
he who executes his word is powerful.
For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome;
who can endure it?

So many times, in Christian circles, when they talk of judgment, they are speaking of the final judgment when we humans will all be called to account for what we did with our lives on this earth – whether or not we believed in Jesus Christ and followed him in obedience and surrender, or whether we chose to not trust in him as Lord and Savior of our lives, and thus did not surrender to and obey him (See: 2 Co. 5:10; Ro. 8:1-14). Yet, that is not the only judgment referred to in scripture, and God’s judgments are not just directed at the unsaved who have not followed our Lord in obedience.

All throughout the Old Testament, most of the judgments appear to be directed against God’s people, not against the ungodly, though he judged them, too. And, the purpose of them was not merely to punish, but to bring God’s people to repentance and to renewed faith in Him as their ONLY God. As well, many of these prophecies of scripture (Old and New Testament), concerning the judgments of God against his people, were either intended to apply to these last days, or had dual fulfillments intended for both that period of time as well as for these final days. At least half of Isaiah, for instance, is about Jesus Christ and the Messianic age, from best as I can tell.

Even in the NT we are warned of judgment against those who call themselves followers of Christ and against Christ’s church (See: 1 Pet. 1:17-19; 1 Pet. 4:17; 1 Co. 11:29-32; Heb. 10:30-31; Heb. 12:1-12; Jas. 3:1; Jas. 5:9; Rev. 2:1-29; Rev. 3:1-22). God also judges nations, and Christians live in these nations, and thus we will incur at least some of what the nations themselves endure when our nations are judged by God. And, God will also judge the “Great Prostitute” of Revelation. Generally speaking, she represents the world’s system, but more specifically the worldly church living in adultery against God. Even more specifically I believe her location is mainly in the USA, and directed primarily at our government and military, in union with the institutional church, which shares culpability for their crimes.

Bottom line, I believe God has declared judgment on the adulterous church, which, in many cases, is living in adultery against God with their respective governments, but more specifically with the US government, and that this was prophesied in the Old and New Testaments. And, this judgment entails physical and financial disasters, the takeover (conquering) of nations and peoples and Christians, utter chaos, ruin, and much hardship, trouble and persecution for followers of Christ (See: Rev. 13, 17-19). And, we, who are servants of the Lord, are to sound the alarm and blow the trumpet and let the people know this is coming, and to call for all people to repent of sin.

A Call for Repentance (vv. 12-14)

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the Lord your God?

When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20). Yet, that does not mean we will never sin again (1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it does mean sin is no longer our master, we are set free from enslavement to sin, and we are now free to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). Yet, it also does not mean that we can never wander from our pure devotion to Christ and not need to repent and to be brought back into fellowship with our Lord (See: Rev. 2-3). It is possible for anyone who has genuinely put their trust in Jesus Christ to drift away and to need to be brought back.

So, this is a call to those who have strayed from their pure devotion to God to repent of your sins, and to return to God with all your heart. We can compare this to a husband or a wife who has committed adultery against his or her spouse repeatedly, over a period of time, being called upon to return to his or her spouse and to be faithful to him or to her from this point forward, not reluctantly, but sincerely and in truth, truly desiring his or her spouse above all else. This is the call! It is to forsake your “other lovers” and to make God your only LOVE, GOD and LORD. And, it truly is to desire him above all else and to make him truly master and owner of your lives.

Many people who profess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives live not much differently from the people of this world who make no profession of Christ as Savior, and this should not be! God called us to come out from the world and to be holy, set apart (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into the image of Christ. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace to us is NOT carte blanche (free rein) to continue living in sin. His grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (See: Jn. 15:19; 2 Co. 6:17; Rev. 18:4; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14).

A Promise of Restoration and Revival (vv. 28-32)

“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

God’s purpose in judging (discipling, chastising, scourging, reproving and/or testing) his children, i.e. those who have trusted in Jesus Christ to save them from their sins, is not just to punish (correct) wrong doing, but to mature us and to revive us. His purpose in disciplining us is for our good, that we may share his holiness, and that, for those of us who have been trained by it, it may yield a fruitful harvest of righteousness in our lives. It is also to produce in us perseverance, proven character and faith, patience, endurance, and hope. We also go through such difficulties in order that we may learn compassion, that we may comfort others in their sorrows, and that we may learn to rely on God and not on ourselves (See: Ro. 5:3-5; 2 Co. 1:3-11; Heb. 12:1-12; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 1 Pet. 4:12-17; Jas. 1:2-4).

So, even though it is painful when God judges us or when he disciplines us, it is for our good, either to return us to pure devotion to Christ or to mature us in Christ. If repentance is what is needed, then when we repent, God restores us, renews us and revives us, and he pours out his Spirit on us, too. I personally believe that God is going to bring difficulties into our lives which will lead his wandering saints back to him, and which will mature his faithful ones in him even to a greater degree. I also believe this is happening or will happen on a large scale, and that when this takes place, his Spirit will be poured out on us in a mighty way, and the gospel will go forth like it has not done in a really long time, and that many people will be saved before Jesus Christ returns for his bride. So, I am believing God for this, even when all looks hopeless, for faith is believing in what we yet cannot see.

Trust Him / An Original Work
August 15, 2012 / Based off Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord; be of courage;
Be strong and take heart today.
Do not fear when foes attack you.
Trust in God always.
He will rescue you in times
Of trouble and distress,
He’ll comfort you in all ways
As you trust Him with your life today.
Trust in Him always.

God is with you; He’ll not leave you.
You can always count on Him.
He will fulfill all He promised
Before you began.
His word teaches you
All that you need for this life.
Let Him lead you. Open your heart;
Let his truth envelope you today.
Listen and obey.

Love your Lord God; follow Jesus.
Repent of your sins today.
Make Him your Lord and your master;
Trust Him and obey.
Follow Him where’er He leads you
In His service; be His witness,
Telling others about Jesus’
Price that He did pay
For your sins always.

 

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Our Spiritual Journey

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 5:16 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Amazing Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 15:11-32 (NASB).

Two Sons (vv. 11-16)

And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.

Life is a journey, is it not? Every day, hopefully, we wake up, we get out of bed, if we have a bed to sleep on, that is, and we start a new day. Either we do so with purpose and direction, or else we wander aimlessly, going here and there trying to find satisfaction for life, but always coming up empty. Either we are on a straight (righteous, holy) path, because we are trusting God/Jesus Christ with our lives, or else we are on a winding path or life course with no particular destination in mind other than self-pleasure. Yet, it is possible to be somewhere in the middle between these two paths, I believe, for someone could be on the straight path, but they have gotten off course, at least in some respects, and so they need to get back on course.

I believe there are four types of people in this world (four types of soil). The first type is the one who has not ever made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The second is the one who makes a profession of faith, but it is surface level only (no root), probably because he was taught a false grace gospel which told him that God does not require repentance or obedience, so when things get rough, he yields to pressure, and he abandons the faith altogether. Neither of these have truly believed in Jesus as Savior. And, then there is the one who has believed in Jesus, who was crucified with Christ in death to sin, and risen with Christ to newness of life, but over time the temptations of this world entrapped him again, and so he got off course. And, he needs to return to God and forsake his idols. And, the fourth type is the individual who is walking by faith, is following his Lord in obedience, and who is bearing fruit for God’s kingdom, in keeping with repentance.

God is our creator, which means he gave life to all people, so God is the true father here. So, the two sons could represent the saved and the unsaved. As well, for believers in Jesus Christ, God is our Father and we are his children, so the two sons could also represent the faithful believer in Jesus, though certainly not perfect, and the believer who has gotten off course and has been entrapped by the sinful pleasures of the world once more. The bottom line, though, is that they represent one in fellowship with the Father, who is serving God with his life, who is walking in obedience to the Lord’s commands, and one who has abandoned God, is going his own way, and is living in sensual pleasure and self-indulgence. Yet, even the one in fellowship with the Father has some maturing to do in some areas.

He Came to His Senses (vv. 17-24)

But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Oftentimes, sadly enough, it takes some type of a tragedy or difficult situation in life to get people to come to their senses, and to escape the trap of the devil. When sin gets a grip on people, they can do senseless things, even dangerous things, and stuff which might even get them in trouble with the law, or which might ruin their marriages, etc. And, yet, they go headlong right into what they know is wrong, and what they know is destroying their lives and relationships, even their relationship with God, because their desire is greater for the sin than it is for anything else. They don’t want to let go of the sin, because the sin gives them a false sense of security, or because they are angry with God, and so they feel justified in continuing in the sin, or because they have a sense of entitlement, and so they believe God’s grace gives allowance for their sin, and that God requires nothing of them at all.

When things are going well for us, and we are healthy, and all our physical needs are being met, there may be a temptation to rely on ourselves more than we rely on God. We may become complacent regarding fellowship with our Lord and walking in his Spirit, and the trappings of the world may begin to consume us, our time, thoughts, energies, passion and desires. We may give God a back seat in our lives, and even our devotional lives may begin to ebb away. We don’t necessarily have to even get to the point of gross sin and rebellion to be a prodigal son, but we may just neglect our relationship with Jesus Christ, and what we want and desire may, thus, take first place.

So, God may bring into our lives, or may allow in our lives, some difficult trial, tragedy, sorrow, pain or sickness in order to get our attention, and for the purpose to bring us to our senses. This is not to say that those who are living righteously will not also face such troubled times. They will, and it will be for the purpose to mature them, and so they share in God’s holiness, and so they bear the fruit of God’s righteousness. But, he also disciplines his wandering saints in order to bring them back to himself in humility, repentance and obedience. Sometimes we can be so stupid, so strong-headed, and so bent on our own ways, even though we know better, and so it will take being hit over the head by a two-by-four (not literally) to bring us to our senses. And, even this is God’s grace to us, in order to free us, because he has compassion for us. And, when we do return, he revives and restores us to fellowship with him, and he welcomes us back home.

The Curse of Jealousy (vv. 25-32)

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

Like I said, even those who are walking righteously are not yet perfect (without fault). We are maturing in our walks of faith day-by-day. Daily we are putting to death sinful deeds, by the Spirit, and we are responding to the Spirit’s still small voice in convicting us when we falter, or we should be. And, sometimes our Lord will put a finger on an area of our lives where we need to yield control to our Lord and not do it ourselves. And, we need to respond to his voice by submitting to his will, and by walking in his way.

The one who stayed in communion with the Father ended up being jealous of the one who repented of his evil ways, and who returned, because the Father received him with open arms and he celebrated the son’s return. He felt that the father treated the wandering son, who then later repented, greater than he treated him who had remained with the father. And, that can happen to us, too, if we allow self-righteousness to settle in, and if we forget that our righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight, and it is only his righteousness granted to us, to be lived out through us in his power, that amounts to anything. We were once lost, too, and God found us and saved us by his grace, so we have nothing to boast about or to feel self-righteous about, because it is only by God’s grace that we are not still in the gutter.

Yet, I find another jealousy existing among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, which is equally as bad. Sometimes, when a wandering saint does return to the Lord, and is restored to fellowship with God, and is now walking in the Spirit, and is not gratifying the sinful flesh any longer, those who are still giving way to the flesh, who have not yet repented of their sins, will be jealous and resentful of the relationship the faithful believer has with the Lord. And, that may drive the unrepentant even further into sin and rebellion because of their anger with God and with the repentant. Yet, all of us need to have the perspective that it is only by God’s grace that any of us can be restored to God and have communion with him, and that all of us have the opportunity to walk in faithfulness, if we so choose to do so.

Amazing Grace / John Newton

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.