What is your destiny?

Is heaven your destiny

Rev 13-15 The Contrast of Evil vs. Truth   

John offers the stark reality of evil and the glory of truth.    Both the evil and the Truth have followers who are obedient to their words, yet the outcome is vastly different.    As always, the beast is a master counterfeiter.    His follower’s loyalty is noted by the visible mark on their hand or forehead, mimicking the OT custom of the Jews and wearing of their phylacteries. Accepting the beast’s mark seals them for eternity because they have denied God; they obey for today but not for eternity. Contrast this to the Lamb’s followers marked with the Father’s name on their forehead. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes because they are redeemed and blameless. John shares these glorious truths; great and marvelous are His works. He is faithful to His Way, and His ways are not like man’s. Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; All nations shall come and worship before HIM!

True Believers need to pray for discernment when that time comes so they may be found with the followers of Truth and Righteousness and be able to sing about the wonders of our marvelous God.

Are we compelled to contend for the faith?

Are we compelled?

Jude, Contend earnestly!

Leaving 2021, Jude prepares us for 2022 as we walk through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. He was eager to write to his fellow believers but now he says I am “compelled instead to write to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” [Jude 1:3] That should be our challenge as we step away from 2021 and into 2022.

Graphically Jude describes the ones threatening the church that we may recognize them and step away from their influence. Notice they are led by dreams. They are just like the faulty magicians who could not discern and explain King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams; but, Daniel, anointed by God, was able. Jude reminds us that these false believers are dangerous, so we must be discerning.

Amazingly Jude writes as if it were today: “At the end of time there will come scoffers, propelled by their own ungodly desires.” We are seeing them even now! How relevant are his words today as even today, NASA has hired a priest just in case life is found beyond earth! Incredible fools!

Today are we compelled to contend for the faith? Are we ready for 2022?

Drawing 2021 to a close…

Blessings come to the obedient

As we leave this year, may we consider that the focus is always the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.  These words are given to “teach, reprove, correct and train us in righteousness.” [2 Tim 3:16] The reader is blessed if they “read the words of this prophecy aloud, and hear and obey the things written in it because the time is near!” [Rev 1:3]

John’s message is again “grace and peace” from the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth, from the one who loved and loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his blood.” [Rev 1:5]

We began at the beginning, and now we are here at the end.  God revealed His plan in Genesis, and now we see that the plan was always about His Son, Jesus Christ, and His work as Redeemer.  He stands in the midst of the golden lampstands dressed in his royal, kingly garments.  One day “we will be like him because we will see him just as he is.” [1 John 3:2] He is “the Alpha and Omega, the one who is, and who was and who is still to come.” [Rev 1:8] He came to take away our sins. 

Are you prepared to meet him and hear the voice of the archangel with the trump of God? Then, encourage one another with these words.

The Personal Letters

John writes to those he loved

2nd and 3rd John John is now well advanced in age, but he is still sharp in mind and spirit. John never married, never had children, yet he has had the blessings of spiritual children who love the Messiah just as he. Like Peter, John is saying you have not seen him or touched him, but you love Him! [1Peter 1:8]

As the pastor shepherd, John is overwhelmed by his love for the elect lady and Gaius. He writes: “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.” [2John 1:4] This should bring us great joy when we see those we have discipled walking in the truth and in contrast we should feel great grief when we hear of those like Diotrephes who know the truth but are not walking in it. 

There will always be the Diotrephes who seek to lord it over others. John is saying, be discerning and call them to account but before you do, be on your knees praying for wisdom; compassion, and a heart full of love.  Today follow John’s example and love one another.

The Evidence is Clear:

Love is a gift

1 John Beloved is one of John’s favorite words, and he uses that word as he pens this book to those he loves. The reason is that Jesus gave this commandment:  “I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.” [John 13:34, 35] As we step from darkness into God’s light, we will demonstrate these three qualities: love, abiding, anointing. Each of those qualities marks the believers/followers of Jesus. 

John assures his readers that because Jesus is our Advocate, we can trust that if we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us. [1John 1:9] In addition, He has given us the Holy Spirit to bring thoughts to our mind and direct our steps if we are yielding, He will give us understanding. [John 14:26]

This same Holy Spirit releases His Fruit into our lives so that we can walk in the same manner as Jesus did. Our fruit is to love one another so that “we may have confidence and not shrink away from him in shame when he comes back.” [1John 2:28]

Discipling 101…

Paul's charge to Timothy

2Timothy 1 to 4 Find ‘F-A-T’ people and Disciple them

There is an expression about wanting to be a fly on the wall, meaning you want to observe and listen in as the master teacher teaches his pupil. In this case, it is Paul teaching or mentoring Timothy. He writes to charge Timothy to follow the FAT rule. Find those who are faithful, available, and teachable. When you find them “entrust to [these faithful people] who will be competent to teach others as well.” [2Tim 2:2] That is pure and simple discipleship with a capital D which is the same as Ps 78:4, “tell the next generation about the Lord’s praiseworthy acts.” And as you are going, teach them from the inspired scripture which is “useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” [2Tim 3:16] Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately.” [2Tim 2:15]

Although this is a tall order, it can be accomplished with the anointing of the Holy Spirit’s help.

Often Lives Speak Louder than a Voice

The lives speak

Hebrews 11 to 13 Others Tell the Story of Faith

Long ago in a faraway land, isn’t that how fairy tales begin? Yes, they often do, but this is not a fairy tale! It actually did happen long ago in a land far away, and the voices of those in the story tell a story of faith, not by words but by their lives. They hope you will embrace their story for yourself. 

In Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, the author wants you to know the real Christmas story as told, not by words, but by the lives of Abel, Enoch, Noah, and others. Each one says, I never saw Christ or touched Him or heard his voice, but I believed by faith. Like Abraham, God took that as my confession and counted me, just as him, righteous. [Rom 4:3]

Christ was the light that came into the world and centuries later, the Apostle Paul added that this light “died for our sins according to the scriptures; he was buried, and he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” [1Cor 15:3-4] Peter too shared. “You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy…”[1Peter 1:8-9]

They all were telling about the Christ Child who was and is the Messiah. Their story is true and not a fairy tale. Our prayer is that you also join them and believe by faith this Christmas so God can call you righteous.

“The Christmas Story in Hebrews”

The Christmas Story

Hebrews 7 to 10 This week we are caught up in the Christmas story of the birth of the Christ child.  We ponder anew each Christmas season the story of the Nativity. We recall the gospel writers sharing with us how that came to be; Mary, “was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.” [Matt 1:18b]  The Hebrews author does not want us to miss that God, in eternity past revealed that truth: “But a body You have prepared for Me.” [Heb 10:5] And why did this Christ child come? He came to do God’s will by offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice. [Matt 26:42] And to further take to away the first that He may establish the second. It is by this that we have been sanctified through offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. On this, it was affirmed when He said “It is finished!” [Jn 19:30]

How to Endure Polishing

Just as atone endures polishing treatment so do you

1Peter 1 to 5 For some reason, we think that when we accept Christ as Savior, our world will be “sunny-side” up. We fail to realize that just as stone must endure the trial of polishing to shine, you too are polished through trials. Our lives come with both blessing and suffering.

Perhaps Peter was recalling his own experience before the religious leaders who unjustly imprisoned him and John. Upon their release, the early church responded: “And now, Lord, pay attention to their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your message with great courage.” [Acts 4:29]

 Just like Peter and John, we may be called to face mistreatment just because we have chosen to follow Christ. So, don’t be surprised when you face fiery trials but rejoice that you are called to suffer for His Name. Therefore, prepare your heart and mind ahead of time to face them. Remember to be holy, for you are called to be holy. Love fervently, abstain from fleshly lusts, submit to the ordinances of men and live humbly.

Remember, you are a testament to God’s work in you. Each trial will polish you to shine as a gem in Christ’s kingdom.

Mentoring 101

Be an encourger

1 Timothy 1 to 6 Paul had left Timothy to pastor the church at Ephesus. Somehow, he found out about the problems plaguing this baby church. Timothy needed, or wanted, face-to-face mentoring as a young Pastor, but Paul, as his spiritual godfather, was in Macedonia. In lew of that, Paul wrote this letter to him and challenged him to stand firm in the face of those causing dissension and other problems. 

First, Paul states the problem and then the steps to rectify it with very practical advice. How could Paul be so bold? Paul recalls that although the chief of sinners, he was saved by the grace and mercy of God. Therefore, he says, “I give Him praise!” Next, Paul writes: Timothy, be an example to the believers in love, spirit, truth, purity, and meditate on these things as these are your Fruit of the Spirit to those in that congregation. 

 As Paul closes this letter, he encourages his son in the faith to live, walk and work in a world where there are the temperamental ones that need consistent TLC’s. 

 As I read this and meditated on this letter, several challenges came to the forefront. Who am I mentoring? Am I, although miles apart, encouraging that one?