“Four Parables”

Parables are about real life and real decisions

Ezekiel  15 to 18 In the NT, Jesus told three parables about things or people. Ezekiel’s four parables, earthly stories with a heavenly purpose, mirrored these stories in many ways.

Parable: #1 In the branch parable, we see a branch full of life thrown into the fire. Life without God is like the fires of hell.  #2 In the unfaithful bride parable, we see a rags to riches story. God takes us from the gutter and bestows his blessings, yet the world’s lure is always at the doorstep of our heart.  Be on guard!  #3 In the parable about the eagle, we see that God raised up Nebuchadnezzar, who deported the people to Babylon, leaving a vassal king who swore to honor the king in charge. Yet the vassal grew impatient and soon rebelled against the king. Solomon wrote: when you make a vow, do not delay in paying it.  #4 In the parable of the two sons, we see a family whose lives mirrored the NT story. The younger was restless and disrespectful of his father. Seeking his inheritance, he left and walked the world.  The older son served his father but with an ungrateful heart. The younger returned and sought reconciliation, but the older remained unforgiving.

Israel had been blessed by God but was unfaithful and ungrateful. Yet, like the prodigal’s father, God was always waiting to restore the relationship. She would need to return to the father in confession and repentance. What would she do? What would you do?

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Three Kings Who Learned God is God

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Daniel 4 to 6  Daniel, the righteous, served under several kings. With each, he had developed a relationship by which he could give them wise counsel. Daniel told each of them to renounce the gods of silver and gold. But, as they say, hindsight is a better teacher.

 

 

William_Blake_-_Nebuchadnezzar_(Tate_Britain)

Nebuchadnezzar was given a dream of what would happen if he did not worship Jehovah but worshiped the idol gods. Daniel pleaded with him to renounce his ways, but he conveniently put it off to another day. True to form, God’s time table was right on schedule. Nebuchadnezzar had  a full 7 yrs of living like a mad man.

 

To BelDaniel Rembrandt-Belshazzars-Feast-story-600bshazzar God sent a dramatic visual lesson. He was fearful yet chose to ignore the warning. It happened just as Daniel said; that very night he was killed.

 

 

 

daniel-in-the-lions-den-briton-riviereDarius listened to the voices of fools and regretted that a righteous man, Daniel, would be thrown to the lions because of his decision. 

 

 

 

Only Nebuchadnezzar and Darius learned how gracious God is when they repented and gave glory to God.

Belshazzar? Well, like Esau who sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew or like the man who built barns to store up his wealth, he found out God meant what He said. God called them all fools.

If God came to you and told you your days were numbered what would you do? There is time to repent and give glory to God. Remember what Jesus said: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” [Luke 5:32]

 

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Bragging Rights?

Jeremiah 9:23 “What Do You Boast In”

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One of my favorite TV shows is Chopped where contestants are given sundry food items from which they are to craft a dish in a prescribed time frame. Then the taste test begins and with each round the judges “chop” one contestant until there is only one left. To that person goes the “bragging rights” along with a financial reward.

As believers we are not in a contest nor do we have to fear being “chopped” but do we have bragging rights? Jeremiah says unequivocally no!  We have no bragging rights to ‘our” wisdom, power or wealth. We may be wise, but it is only partial for God knows all. Power or strength is temporary or someone else will prove stronger than us. Wealth ebbs and flows with the market and it cannot buy love joy or peace and even wise people die and leave their wealth to others.

What then can we “brag” or boast about? It is this: “God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast in his presence” [1Cor 1] To have a personal relationship with the living God is something we can boast about. God says boast that we know and understand the attributes of God of faithfulness, fairness, and justice.

We haven’t been “chopped.” Go and brag about God each and every day giving Him the glory He deserves.

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Finishing Well

legacy-enterlinedesign-gen-48aGenesis 48 “Consider the Legacy You Leave Behind”

Jacob has not always been faithful to God throughout his life. He has schemed and lived a life that was less than honorable but in the end, he realizes this truth: even “If we are unfaithful, he (God) remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.” And so Jacob rehearses before Joseph, and perhaps his other sons, the faithfulness of God. In essence, he has taken the time to reveal his life to them and show them how the hand of God has been upon him. He now wants to share that with those he leaves behind. Jacob is a man who wants to finish well and that should be our goal as well.

What do you do when you realize you are about to die?  You get right with God, you spend time with loved ones and you share your faith with others. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16 reveals this in spades. Lazarus apparently lived a righteous life and dying he was found to be in paradise with Abraham. In contrast, the rich man did not and found himself in torments. He called to Abraham to send him help and barring that to send someone back to tell his brothers what he wished he had told them when he was alive. May we learn from him to not waste the moments we have today.

Keith Krell notes “Begin to pass on your faith to those you love most.”

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Are You Satisfied with Your Life?


absent-from-body-quote-b-grahamGenesis 25
“Are You Satisfied with Your Life?”

“Abraham breathed his last and he died at a good old age, an old man who had lived a full life.” How is it that Moses could say this about the patriarch? He could because Abraham “believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” He had obeyed God and “went out without understanding and by faith, he lived as he looked forward to the city with firm foundations whose architect and builder is God.” [Heb 11] By faith, when tested, he offered up Isaac as his one and only son. And so when the end came Abraham knew that he had done as God had said and God now would let him join his ancestors. And centuries later, Dietrich Bonhoeffer would say “This is the end—for me the beginning of life.” We who believe God know that our preference is to “be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” for this is just a step on our journey into life with our Lord forever.

When your end comes will you be satisfied that you have been faithful to God? Today you are one step closer to eternity. Are you ready?

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Forgive Me but Really????

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Do not be rash with your mouth or hasty in your heart… for God is in heaven and you are on earth! Therefore, let your words be few.”[Ecc 5:2] God often brings this verse to my mind as a gentle reminder of who I am and who God is. Who we are is often revealed by the voluminous words we speak versus the few words God speaks. Elihu, in Job 32-34 would have been wise to have taken this advice but he is really a pompous windbag in many ways.These chapters on Elihu are so like Meryl Streep’s rant at the Golden Globe awards to which I say “Forgive me but really??” And here’s why:

Elihu begins with his diatribe saying he is angry. When we are angry we often say things we later regret. He is not just angry with Job but the other three friends as well. He has, as we often say, “had enough.” He is controlled by his anger which is a danger signal. Secondly, he does not attribute wisdom to the fear of God but to age. Granted with age we do become wiser but the source of godly wisdom is from God, not from man. Thirdly, he admits he is full of words! Over and over through the book of Proverbs, it is the fool with the busy tongue. James reminds us that we cannot subdue the tongue and it is full of deadly poison. Fourthly, Elihu says Job is not listening to God for God reveals his plan and purpose and Job, you don’t a clue!

God exalts the humble, not the proud. Forgive me but I think Elihu is a proud “windbag.” Instead,  we should heed this verse:  “Like apples of gold in settings of silver, so is a word skillfully spoken.” [Pro 25:11]

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Mo Matter What, Who, When, Why, How or Where…God Can Be Trusted!

bible2a“No Matter What, Who, When, Why, Where, How…”

Are you are a believer in Christ? Then you need to read and reread the book of Job because you need to know the God you serve and His and your adversary. This is not just a well I will but it is a book that YOU MUST devour until you understand each and every character’s profile but mostly your own and God’s!

Beloved, when you are faced with afflictions and situations that seem ‘out of character’ you will be like Job asking the proverbial question: WHY?  As you wander the book of Job you will unearth this question more than once. Job’s friends have been saying he has sin in his life.  Yet Job has been saying to his friends God Knows All. Job 31: 4 “Does he not see my ways and count all my steps?” God cannot, nor will He ever lie. That is why he can trust God.  Although he has been through the fire and continues to feel the heat, one thing he knows is this: God knows all and therefore no matter how bad life has become and how despondent he is over this strange set of circumstances he will not walk away from his belief that God is God and He knows the reason; this is true EVEN IF WE OR JOB NEVER DOES!

Job knows this about God: He cannot, nor will He ever lie. That is why he can trust God.  Although he has been through the fire and continues to feel the heat, one thing he knows is this: God knows all and therefore no matter how bad life has become and how despondent he is over this strange set of circumstances he will not walk away from his belief that God is God and He knows the reason; this is true EVEN IF WE OR JOB NEVER DOES!

If we fail here, Satan wins.  

God has, as one author noted, “locked himself in” to consistently adhere to the laws He has established and that is why we can trust Him. He cannot lie, change, break a promise or allow his power to be stopped. His word cannot be broken, annulled, and he cannot sin. All of these are true about God and that is what Job is clinging to even as he wonders what all of this is about. We too face these same dilemmas.

James reminds us that when we are in a trial to ask for wisdom and that is what Job is doing. This is where the rubber meets the road and we must decide: will I trust God or not. Ask yourself: Has God been faithful in the past? Then you can trust that he be faithful now and as well in the future.  If we can say yea and amen to this we can know for certain that at some point in time God will end our suffering, our pain or our dilemma. And if perhaps we need to know, He will also reveal its purpose. May you be encouraged to know that as Job wondered you may as well. But, even in his wondering, he still trusted God. You can as well.

 

 

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Tick Tock….

clock-christmas-mug2Revelation 16 “Tick Tock….”

‘You are just—the one who is and who was, the Holy One—because you have passed these judgments, they got what they deserved.’ Does God take pleasure in this? NO! The answer is found from the pen of Ezekiel: “Do I actually delight in the death of the wicked, declares the sovereign Lord? Do I not prefer that he turn from his wicked conduct and live?” [Ezek 18] and from the pen of Peter: God ‘is being patient toward you because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.’ [2Peter 3]

The truth is this: what you sow you reap. Satan has sown his seeds of the “deadly d’s” and now God has set his sickle to him and his tares and with righteous judgment they will be reaped to destruction. Satan’s heart was defiant from the beginning and now God’s patience has run its course. God’s sacred history and His plan are unveiled that we might know and be challenged to repent and live righteously. He has immersed us into the lives of the 7 churches that we might know God’s standards of righteousness and be warned of the consequences if we do not. God has opened his book that we might see how much He hates unrighteousness as we should as well.

It is darkest before the dawn but Christmas is coming and the Holy One, the Ancient of Days’ clock will have sounded its last tock forever and we hear the bells resound: “It is finished!” and so it will be.

All Scripture is taken from the FREE online Bible Study tool of Bible.org ministries.

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The Singing Saints Pt 1

harp-rev-14-2aThe heavenly choir “were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.” [Revelation 14]

Julie Andrews’ song echoes in our heads: “The hills are alive with the sound of music.” One day it will not the hills but Mount Zion of God will be alive with the sound of music. The choir of the 144,000 sealed by God will be heard singing a new song before the throne. They will be accompanied by the harpists playing their harps reminiscent of the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah. That choir celebrated joyfully with songs of thanksgiving and songs accompanied by cymbals, harps, and lyres. [Neh 12] The difference being that this song is sung by those purchased and preserved. They are the professing choir of virgins redeemed from the earth and are now rewarded for their faithfulness and purity. They had heard the Lamb say “follow Me” and they did.
The Shepherds of old heard the choir of heavenly angels as they sang “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased” as they proclaimed the Messiah’s birth. What song will you sing for the Messiah king?

 

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