HEALING Is Just A Prayer, A Word and A Touch Away

A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF ACTS – Acts 9:32-43; 1 Kings 17:9-24

QUOTE: “Joy is a Journey Experience.  We have it, but every so often, we feel we suddenly need it.” By John Slythe

The Book of Acts is full of miraculous healings and the JOY that comes with them.

We read that Peter has been traveling around Israel for a time when we pick up the story. Perhaps he is on an evangelism tour spreading the GOOD NEWS from place to place.

We now join him in Chapter 9 in Lydda where he is visiting the saints of the city.  

In the name of Jesus Christ, a man is healed that had been bed-ridden for 8 years.  “GET UP AND GET YOUR MATT” (make your bed).  [9:34]

When reading about these accounts of healing it leaves me wondering at times when it seems like God doesn’t do them as much today like we read in Acts.  I know we’ve all heard about people like Bennie Han or Earnest Angley.  People go them to receive a BLESSING, they want HEALING, HOLINESS and I hope that some are really touched by God through people like these.  BUT if they are fakes…if they are in it for the money, then I can assure they have received their just reward in full.  And I wonder what case they may face at the day of judgment if they are misrepresenting God…if they are fake teachers…then God is going to deal with them.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe that God can and does HEAL people today.

I further believe that God can and will use anyone to move and encourage.  But it is always God who does the healing!

The “healers” we know and read about today, pretty much let people come to them. They set up shop in a church or auditorium and advertise that they are in town.

Notice that Peter is visiting groups of new believers where he picks a man that we can guess was a beggar lying by the street and HEALS him there.

Peter goes to him–Peter sees and goes to his need.

Verse 34:  And Peter said to him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [now] makes you whole. Get up and make your bed!  And immediately [Aeneas] stood up.  (Amplified Bible)

People see the change in Aeneas.

Perhaps it was a busy time of the day with lots of people in the streets.  I could almost imagine the reaction of this man as he reacts; like a person on a TV Game Show like “The Price is Right.”  The jumping and shouting because they have won the big prize.

So, the people who respond know what they have seen and BELIEVE!

Verse 35:  All those who lived in Lydda and the plain of Sharon saw him and turned to the LORD.  (NIV Bible)

A pretty simple transaction:  HEAL a known cripple and people join the church.

A Lot of Questions May Arise, Like…

Wouldn’t that fill-up churches?  Wouldn’t it make the whole FAITH thing so much easier?  Why is it that God doesn’t seem to work that way?  If He did pretty much everyone would BELIEVE, right?

If God worked like that what would be missing?  Would there be any need for FAITH?

If the church grew because of ‘miraculous healings’ all the time then would there be any MYSTERY left?

Our Story Continues with Tabitha or If You Prefer, Dorcas (v. 36-37):

Acts 9:36-37.

Our story continues with TABITHA or if you prefer, DORCAS (vs. 36).

TABITHA is Hebrew and DORCAS is Greek and it translates to us as “gazelle.”  This is not said to be some sort of nickname meaning her parents gave her, a name that was full of promise and description.  Maybe something to live up too.

She is a BELIEVER that has heard the GOOD NEWS from someone.  Maybe Philip came through town.

Tabitha’s Character –

Evidently, she loved to sew and probably very good at it.  She also seems to have had means to purchase the materials because the people she was making them for probably couldn’t afford it.

Tabitha becomes sick and dies! (v. 37)

THAT SOUNDS FAST!  As sickness and death so often are.

Her body is then washed (prepared for burial) and placed in an upstairs room.

Some followers of Jesus (disciples) heard about Peter traveling nearby, perhaps spreading stories of miraculous HEALING.

I am left with many questions at this point in my reading that I don’t have all the answers:

Do you send messengers to Lydda when Tabitha is very sick or when she dies?  Nine miles take a while to cross on foot so the men sent to get Peter would have to do 18 or more miles by the time they found Peter.

Now if she was DEAD when they left we’re talking about a pretty impressive MIRACLE and not a resuscitation.

PETER went with them (vs. 30).

The Amplified bible reads,  “So Peter [immediately] rose and accompanied them…”  He didn’t have to think about going or pray about the situation until he got an answer, he got up and went!

When he finally arrives he is taken upstairs to the room.  

All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.  I don’t think this was “show and tell” by the ladies. More than likely, they were wearing Dorcas’ workmanship, clothes she had painstakingly made.

Tabitha was being mourned and cried for by the widows, a strong indication that she too was a widow herself.

This lady was such a gift to the community.  She was busy and generous.  She made the lives around her better.

We don’t know what the circle of women said or asked Peter to do.  

But, I know the kind of things we say today in similar circumstances:

  • WHY her or him?
  • She was the best cook, ever!
  • She worked on all the committees.
  • There are plenty of bad people in the world…why would a loving God take her?

SCRIPTURE TELLS US WHAT PETER DOES NEXT (Vs. 40):

[40 a.] “Peter sent them all out of the room and got down on his knees and prayed”

I asked myself several questions at this point of the story, like why didn’t Peter ask the widows to all hold hands and pray for a miracle?  Or try to comfort the women by saying Tabitha is in a better place with Jesus with no more sickness.  Why did he send Tabitha’s close friends out of the room?

The bible account here in Acts reminded me of a similar story in the OT;  in a place called Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon:

And the word of the Lord came to Elijah to go to a widow who he found gathering sticks  (1 Kings 17:9-10).

The First Miracle:  The widow and her son were broke with an all but empty pantry except for a handful of meal and a little jar of oil.  (Vs. 13-15)

VERSE 13-15:   Elijah said to her, FEAR NOT…For thus says the Lord…She did as Elijah said.  And she and he and her household ate for many days.

VERSE 17:  After these things…

There always seems to be an “after these things” moments in one’s life.  The widow’s son became sick, and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.  HE DIED!

[18]  And she said to Elijah, What have you against me, O man of God?  Have you come to me to call my sin to remembrance and to slay my son?

Elijah sees the lack of faith in the mother as he says to her “Give me your son.  And he took him from her bosom and carried him up into the chamber where he stayed…”  

The Second Miracle…AND HE PRAYED!  (Vss. 20-24)

AND THE RESULTS OF ELIJAH’S PRAYER, WORD, AND TOUCH…

[24] And the woman said to Elijah,  “By this [“the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived”- vs. 22],  I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

A Seed Is Planted In The Upper Room (Acts 9:40-43):

Back to our story in Acts 9, we don’t know if the gathered believers had accepted Dorcas’ DEATH, or if they actually asked for a MIRACLE.  It also doesn’t look like Peter knows the woman lying there except through the witnessing of the ladies.

PETER sent them out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed.

I don’t believe Peter’s PRAYER was the kind of prayer we are most familiar with in a group setting or even in the privacy of our home.  Maybe that’s why he sent them out of the room.  I think it was the type of prayer that James refers to as “earnest”, “fervent” PRAYER (James 5:16,17).  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary describes fervently–“to be hot, to boil”; to “strive,” laboring fervently.”  James refers to “fervent” or “earnest” prayer as…

“The earnest (heartfelt, continued, fervent) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available  [dynamic in its working]”  James 5:16 (AMP).

After Peter’s ‘fervent’ prayer, turning to the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes and seeing Peter she sat up.

I don’t know about you, but if I am going through some stuff, whether spiritual or physical and in need of a MIRACLE, I want to choose people who I know are going pray for me fervently and has no hesitating, no doubting in their FAITH!  (James 1:5-7).

And the SEED Grows…

Peter then called the believers and the widows back into the room where he presents Tabitha to them ALIVE.  Not only did the Miracle get their attention and strengthen their faith, the SEED OF FAITH was spread throughout the area:

[42] And this became known throughout all Joppa, and many came to believe on the Lord [to adhere to and trust in and rely on Him as the Christ and as their Savior].

Tabitha’s resurrection BLESSED the people of the community because a gifted worker was given back to them that loved her and were benefited from her presence.  More people became born-again believers because of the event.

MIRACLES ARE A WONDERFUL THING, BUT…

But Miracles are secondary to the message; the message about the greatest miracle of all, that the ultimate healing is the ETERNAL LIFE that Jesus offers us through faith in Him.  The MESSAGE that Jesus died on the Cross and paid for our sins and that if we trust in what He did to save us we can be so free from both sin’s penalty and sin’s bondage.

The MIRACLE of the Cross sets us free!

At their best, MIRACLES draws a crowd to hear the MESSAGE or serves to demonstrate the AUTHORITY of the Message.

I truly believe that God didn’t stop doing Healing Miracles in the Book of Acts.  We are living out our lives of Acts 29.  The God of the Bible hasn’t changed, he still works Miracles–He works them for the same reasons he always has!

  • TO INCREASE OUR FAITH.
  • TO SHOW HIS COMPASSION and…
  • TO DRAW THE LOST TO FAITH IN CHRIST.

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CREDITS FOR THIS BLOG:

All Photos:  Google Image Search, Advanced Settings.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP) except where noted.

Commentary:  Getting Results In Prayer– [Fervent Prayer]:  https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/getting-results-in-prayer-iii/

“HELL YES,” OR “HELL NO”?

My son and I when together love to discuss and look at Scripture with an invisible magnifying glass. My wife has sometimes referred to both of us as the “Biblical Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson” with our sometimes heated discussions.  Here is but one example of discussion regarding spending an Eternity in HELL:

My son:  “How could a loving God send someone’s soul and spirit after death to a place like Hell?  I’m not confident that there is an actual place of eternal fire for the unsaved.  I think that HELL is just a metaphor, a manufactured location by the Church.”

Awhile back ago, there was a SURVEY taken of 7441 Clergy concerning their belief in HELL:  58% of Methodist, 60% of Episcopalians, 54% of Presbyterians and 35% of American Baptists.   They believe collectively that HELL is NOT a location after death for the lost, but the experience of self-estrangement, guilt, and meaninglessness in this life.

I don’t know about your belief in a place called Hell, but I know what the BIBLE really says!

Hell Is A Place Beneath Man

EZEKIEL 31:16

[16]  I will make the nations quake at the sound of its fall when I cast it down to Sheol with those who descend into the pit…God is speaking of Assyria. `

AMOS 9:2

[2]  Though they dig into Sheol (Hades, the dark abode of the gathered dead), from there shall My hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down  (Amplified Bible).

Psalm 55:15

[15] Let desolations and death come suddenly upon them; let them go down alive to Sheol (the place of the dead), for evils are in their habitations, in their hearts, and their inmost part  (AMP).

David calls this on his enemies knowing that GOD had once done this to Moses’ enemies (Num. 16:30-34).

Matthew 11:23 (NIV)

[23] “And you Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens?  No, you will go down to Hades [the realm of the dead]…

Speaking of the indifference to Christ and His work.

HELL is a place of Eternal Fire –

An Eternal Flame in the Karakorum Desert

God speaks of His JUDGMENT of Sin in Deuteronomy 32:22 (AMP):

[22] For a fire is kindled by My anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth with its increase. and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

Matthew 18:9 (NIV):

JESUS speaking on REPENTANCE instead of going to HELL–

[9]  And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the FIRE of hell.

Luke 16:24 (AMP) – JESUS speaking of the rich man…

RICH MAN speaking: [24] “And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have pity and mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in the FLAME.”

THE PEOPLE OF HELL, WHO ARE THEY?

ANSWER: ALL People and Nations Who Forgot God

PSALM 9:17 (AMP):

[17] The wicked shall be turned back [headlong into premature death] into Sheol (the place of the departed spirits of the wicked), even all the nations that forget or are forgetful of God.

[Bible Hub-Psalm 9:17, The Treasury of David]:

How solemn the seventeenth verse, especially in it warning to the Forgetters of God. The moral who are not devout, the honest who are not prayerful, the benevolent who are not believing, the amiable who are not converted, these must all have their portion with the openly wicked in hell, prepared for the devil and his angels.  There are whole nations; the forgetters of God are far more numerous than the profane…and according to the very forceful expression of the Hebrew, the nethermost hell will be the place into which all of them shall be hurled headlong.  FORGETFULNESS seems a small sin, but it brings eternal wrath upon the man who lives and dies in it.

“HELL …NO!”

Even the “religious” can make it into HELL!

Matthew 23:33:  “You snakes!  You brood of vipers!  How will you escape being condemned to Hell?”

The Proud and Haughty–

Proverbs 16:18:  Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

And in case you are wondering…there’s plenty of room in HELL.

Isaiah 5:14, 15:  [14] Therefore Death expands its jaws, opening wide its mouth; into it will descend their nobles and masses with all their brawlers and revelers.  [15] So people will be brought low and everyone humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.

HELL, a place for the devil and his angels–

2 Peter 2:4:  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;

[SEE Matthew 25:41]

The Permanence of Hell–It is Eternal Vengeance

JUDE 7:  In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.  They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

JUDE 11:  Woe to them!  They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.

The EARTH opened up and took Korah and his family to hell.  [Numbers 16:1-3. 31-33]

Those who do evil to us as true believers of Jesus Christ will pay a price of eternal magnitude.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

HELL IS A PLACE OF ETERNAL TORMENT –

Revelation 14:11 (AMP):  And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no respite (no pause, no intermission, no rest, no peace] day or night–…

Matthew 25:46 (NIV):  “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

This QUESTION has been asked and discussed by many over the years regarding eternal destination for all:

“Do babies, infants, go to Hell when they die?”

In order for me to answer that question, I must find a biblical example of when an infant died, and in which his or her ETERNAL DESTINATION is recorded.

In 2 Samuel 12, king David’s newborn son fell terminally ill and after 7 days the child died.  Let’s read and listen to a father’s words in verses 22-23:

It is clear that David’s dead infant son never returned to this earth, but David also said that ONE DAY, he would go to be with his son.  Through inspiration, David writes in the Psalms

Through inspiration, David writes in the Psalms where his own eternal destination was going to be with his son in the “house of the Lord” (Ps. 23:6).

“Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place” (AMP).

KING DAVID was looking forward to the day when he would be able to meet his son in heaven.  There is absolutely nothing in this context that gives any hint that dead infants’ SOULS go to Hell.

“HELL, NO!” is the answer: Do babies/infants souls go hell?

Wishing Away the Reality of Hell Won’t Fly Either –

The Bible is clear in the O.T. and the N.T.

So, is HELL a real place of pain and torment? YES! But, it is also a place where lost sinners will spend eternity.

It’s not God’s fault that humanity sins.  But it is God’s JOY & PLEASURE to offer humanity a way out, a way that is provided through the LOVE of His Son, Jesus Christ.

So the CHOICE has to be made by you where you are in life:  “HELL YES” or…”HELL NO.”

If you are not saved, today is your day!  But, if you are, then you are given the responsibility to SHARE this message with them.

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CREDITS:

Commentaries:  [1] Bible Hub – Psalm 9:17;  [2] Apologetics Press–Do Babies Go to Hell When They Die?

PHOTOS:  Google Advanced Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP).

UNDER UMBRELLAS OF PROTECTION

 

NAHUM 1:1-7 (NIV BIBLE):

[1] An oracle concerning Nineveh: The book of the vision of Nahum the El-ko shite.

[2] The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.  [3] The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; he will not leave the guilty unpunished.  His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.  [4] He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry.  Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade. [5] The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away.  The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.  [6] Who can withstand his indignation?  Who can endure his fierce anger?  His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.

LIVING ‘UNDER THE UMBRELLA’ – (verse 7)

[7]  The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him.

AN UNINTENTIONAL DECEPTION –

We live in an age when even the CHURCH has tried to become politically correct.

We have tried to candy coat God into a nice little good God who loves and never hurts anyone.  He never gets angry at sin, or judges or condemns anyone–let alone sends them to hell.

In our efforts to sell God to the world we have often sugar-coated the awesome reality of God, then question why people don’t take God in the Bible seriously.  In our efforts to bring in proselytes through the hallowed doors of our buildings on Sunday…telling only of God’s LOVE and avoiding His burning HOLINESS and His fearsome WRATH.   We have left it in the Old Testament as if God has changed (evolved) over time to a kinder, gentler God, who overlooks our sins and just wants to bless us all.

All of that’s fine and dandy, but CHURCH…we are in for a rude awakening.  We can’t keep avoiding the bible passages that speak of God’s WRATH, pretending they don’t exist.  If we do, we are spiritually and morally negligent.

THE FACT OF NATURAL DISASTERS (rarely can they be blamed on man directly) –

It is rare for a single generation in a given locale to be spared at least some kind of natural disaster.  Without warning, tornadoes sweep down from the afternoon sky and destroy in moments fury what it took decades or centuries to build.

HISTORIC FLOODING FAR FROM OVER…

I was reading the headlines in the paper while in a doctor’s waiting room this past week:  Nine deaths have been blamed on flooding in several states across Midwestern and Southern United States this past week.  More than 270 roads remain closed across the state of Missouri, with some 200 homes have been impacted by the floods and another 1,500 are in danger (Associated Press).

Do these types of natural disasters represent merely isolated, infrequent events? Hardly.

Throughout history, man has recorded many such tragedies:

  • In 526, an EARTHQUAKE hit the country now known as Turkey and left 250,000 dead.
  • A similar EARTHQUAKE in China in 1556 killed over 830,000 people.
  • In 1889 the famous “Johnstown Flood” occurred in Pennsylvania.  Over 2000 people were killed when the South Fork Reservoir dam burst during heavy rains.

Each time natural disasters happen across the world humanity suffers.  And each time there are those who ask “Why?”  Why them and why now?

The struggle to understand a Good God and the fact of natural disasters is common.

ORIGINAL SIN CURSED THE WORLD (Genesis 3).

MAN’S PERSISTENT UNCONFESSED SIN opens the way for disaster to strike giving Satan a place to establish a STRONGHOLD.

So…MAN’S SIN takes him out of God’s Protection.   

AN UMBRELLA can show us something of God’s Protection and to be covered and protected we must walk close.  If we walk out from under the UMBRELLA we are no longer protected.

  • God is not in every STORM – (He allows them–in that He doesn’t stop them from happening).
  • God is in some storms (He causes some).
  • Time and Chance happen to all (Ecclesiastes).

We blame a lot of DISASTERS on the devil, but the biblical record shows very few times when he was personally responsible (example Job).

However, very often God says I SENT THIS DISASTER AND HERE’S WHY:

GOD IS ON RECORD –

  • Joseph in Genesis 41 (God’s plan to enlarge His people in Egypt) – FAMINE in Egypt–Psalm 105:16 caused by God.
  • David’s 2 Samuel 21:1 – Saul’s sons the reason.
  • David’s Choice 2 Samuel 24:13 – Because of SIN.
  • 1 Kings 18:2 – Elijah-Ahab- Because of Ahab’s SIN.
  • Jeremiah 24:8-10:  (vs. 10)  “And I will send the sword, famine, and pestilence among them until they are consumed from off the land that I gave to them and to their fathers.”

EARTHQUAKES, PLAGUES, AND DISASTERS –

God has POWER & AUTHORITY over the earth, so why does He allow all the destructive storms, plagues, and disasters to occur?

THE ANSWER is found in the first chapters of Genesis.  God created everything perfect and beautiful.  When Adam and Eve SINNED, He placed a CURSE on the earth and everything became broken and degraded.

Although the CURSE brought about CONFLICT, DISEASE, AND DEATH, much of the original beauty can still be seen in God’s Creation.  It continues to show His Power, Wisdom, and Design ability.

But why do Christians suffer?  Couldn’t God protect us from the powers of evil?

The ANSWER is YES, He will.

He protected the nation of Israel in Egypt from most of the PLAGUES and could still do the same today.

Some Reasons Why God Allows Natural Disasters…

ONE reason is to make us realize we are totally dependent on Him:  Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread” (Mt. 6:11). With all that we have and need, we tend to forget this prayer and God’s ability to answer it.  This is a reason why God keeps many of us poor.  If we had all we wanted we would become independent and turn from a close relationship with our Father.

To Cause Us to Call Upon God in the Day of Trouble:

Our TROUBLES give God an opportunity to keep His PROMISES, otherwise, we forget we are dependent upon God for everything.

God says, “And call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you shall honor and glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15 AMP).

To Sort Out Our Priorities:

During times of DISASTER, we realize that RELATIONSHIPS are more important than things–especially our Relationship with our heavenly Father and belief in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul said, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

A Call to Repentance:

DISASTERS serve as a wake-up call to REPENTANCE for mankind.  Disasters can have a sobering effect upon the human mind.  When WAR breaks out, or an EARTHQUAKE destroys countless lives and property. or a DROUGHT burns the crops and dries up the water supply, or an EPIDEMIC DISEASE victimizes millions of people, many call out to God either in a curse or in prayer.

It was C.S. Lewis who penned “pain is God’s megaphone to a deaf world.”

 

The DROUGHT in California

 

  • It was an earthquake that caused a Philippians Jailer to cry out “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 17:30)
  • It was a famine that sent king Ahab searching everywhere for the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18:10).
  • It was a plague that brought Pharaoh to his knees confessing before Moses: “I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you.  Now, therefore, forgive my sin, I pray you, only this once, and entreat the Lord your God only to remove this death from me.”  (Exodus 10:16, 17)

The manifestation of divine judgment through calamities is intended to summon people to repent. 

AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE COMING FINAL JUDGMENT:

God’s final judgment is called the Day Of The Lord in the OT.  It reminds us that the Day of the Lord is nearing (Joel 1:15).  They are also to remind us that the Judge of all mankind is standing at the door! (James 5:9).

TO SHOW GOD’S POWER TO RESTORE:  (All Natural Disasters are Redemptive in Nature)

Our Father wants what is best for us.  We don’t know the future.  God does and will shape events to bring true the promise:

“All things work together for good to them who love God”

That’s our UMBRELLA folks.  Knowing that our heavenly Father will work out for us the best deal in town and we do not need to worry when bad times come.

“EACH TIME GOD SENDS HURRICANES, FLOODS OR OTHER CALAMITIES HE IS SPEAKING TO HIS PEOPLE”  by Henry Blackaby.

While not expecting unbelievers to connect anything with God because they don’t think He exists.  Blackaby goes on to say he “expects God’s people to be paying attention and for the most part they aren’t.”

GOD IS IN CONTROL OF WORLD EVENTS (ISAIAH 28:2):

NATURAL DISASTERS are a humbling reminder that there is a God:

Isaiah 13:13:  “Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; the earth shall be shaken out of its place at the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of His fierce anger.”  (AMP Bible)

Joel 2:31:  “The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and terrible day.” (AMP)

Amos 4:13:  “He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, whom turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth–the LORD God Almighty is his name.” (NIV)

Is God Judging the Nations Today? YES.

HIS JUDGMENT IS BASED UPON OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM!

WHAT’S YOUR CHOICE?

Feel free to add your comments and observations in the REPLY section at the bottom of this page on God’s control of world events whether NATURAL or manmade.

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CREDITS:

QUOTES BY Henry Blackaby, Founder of Blackaby Ministries and author of Experiencing God.

Photos:  Google Advance Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted in the text.

An Easter Postscript: DEATH HAS EXPIRED!

Where were you when President Kennedy died?  

I remember it clearly.  It was on November 22, 1962, around 12:30 PM.  I was 21 years of age, employed as a stocking clerk at a Grocery Store chain in Southern California.  I worked nights and slept days while living at my parents home and on this particular day I didn’t have to set my alarm to wake up.  My dad cracking the door to a darkened bedroom said, “You better wake up and come out to the front room and watch the news on TV.  President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas.”

Where were you when Martin Luther King was shot?  Where were you when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded?

We have a way of remembering events like that, don’t we?  When something startling happens, when someone famous dies, for some reason those things get burned into our memories.

On EASTER SUNDAY we hear about a DEATH, the most shocking announcement of all time.  DEATH EXPIRED!

That’s right, DEATH DIED!  Our greatest enemy–DEAD!  Our greatest fear–GONE!  Our greatest doubt–REMOVED!  This happened through JESUS CHRIST, who rose in victory and triumph on Resurrection Sunday morning.  There is no doubt that this is true.  Never any doubt that Christ would win.  There isn’t any chance that He can’t deliver you from DEATH and bring you safely into His eternal kingdom of Heaven.

There is no doubt that this is true.  Never any doubt that Christ would win.  There isn’t any chance that He can’t deliver you from DEATH and bring you safely into His eternal kingdom of Heaven.

For so certain a truth is EASTER, even centuries before it happened, centuries before Christ lived and died and rose again, JESUS said through the prophet Hosea:

Hosea 13:14 

“I will deliver this people from the power of the grave;

I will redeem them from death.

Where, O death, are your plagues?

Where, O grave, is your destruction.”

EASTER MEANS THAT JESUS LIVES!

It means that you LIVE too!  It means that DEATH HAS EXPIRED!  Praise God!!!

Our Savior Destroyed the Enemy.

“Resurrection Sunday” is the MOST INCREDIBLE MESSAGE the world can hear.  Yet people don’t, or won’t believe it, and even we in the weakness of our FAITH are slow to believe it.

DEATH HAS ENDED?  HOW CAN THAT BE?

Our experience screams at us “That isn’t true!”  A father taking his kids to a Seahawk game is caught in the middle of a drive-by shooting on the nearby streets and was accidentally killed.  Every day there’s an obituary column in the local newspaper.  Every day people pass from this life to the next.  How then can I write in a BLOG-study and proclaim “DEATH HAS EXPIRED”?

Yes, in one sense DEATH is still very much in the world, very much lurking behind every corner of our lives.

SO DEATH IS OUR GREATEST ENEMY –

Ultimately everything we do is geared toward prolonging life,  We put AIRBAGS in our cars, we WARN our kids not to run out into the street.  We try to eat HEALTHY.  We WALK, WE RIDE, WE JOG…we go to doctors.

The prophet Isaiah once wrote that DEATH hangs over us like a CLOUD:

No matter how much success we may experience in life, no matter how much fun we might have, no matter how much capital we’ve accumulated, IN THE END…there is the GRAVE, there is DEATH,

DEATH HAS PLAGUES –

  • It plagues us with DOUBT,
  • It plagues us with FEAR,
  • It plagues us with SORROW.

Is being in debt to creditors a problem? Sure.  Does arthritis cause pain? Yes.  Does having our hopes and dreams dashed hurt?  Of course.  But there is no enemy like DEATH, an enemy that stirs up FEAR just by the mention of his name.

DEATH’S ENTRY TO THE WORLD –

The Apostle Paul wrote in the Book of Romans:  AND IN THIS WAY DEATH PASSED UPON ALL, FOR ALL HAVE SINNED (Ro. 5:12).

No, DEATH isn’t merely a scientific, biological problem.  But will SCIENCE ever find a CURE FOR DEATH? No.

Mark Twain once called DEATH the “ultimate statistic; one of everyone dies.”  If the Lord Jesus doesn’t return first, we too will each march off to the grave.

HOSEA HAS IT RIGHT;  the GRAVE HAS POWER AND DEATH HAS DESTRUCTION; DUST WE ARE AND TO DUST WE WILL EACH RETURN, the ultimate proof of our sinfulness.  

We feel GUILT.  Deep down we know that we are sinners.  We are afraid to DIE and stand before our CREATOR.

THE ENEMY HAS BEEN DESTROYED ONCE AND FOR ALL!

THE TRUTH is not just to be recognized during the Easter season once a year, but a TRUTH to be recognized daily; looking to the empty grave of JESUS…“HE IS NOT HERE; HE HAS RISEN!”

I don’t really care what the popular views of JESUS are–that he was only a great teacher, that he was only a great role model, that he was merely a man with moral conviction who bravely died for his beliefs.  He’s indeed more than that; He is your SAVIOR, AND HAS DESTROYED YOUR ENEMY!

THE VICTORY IS WON!

“I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death…”  (Hosea 12:14)

Many bible translations use the word REDEEM or DELIVER.  In the Old Testament, that word “REDEEMER” has such a beautiful meaning:  The responsibility “to redeem” belonged to the nearest relative–brother, uncle, uncle’s son, or a blood relative from his family.  The person (kinsman) who “redeemed” the one who was facing dire circumstances was known a kinsman-redeemer [READ the Book of Ruth].

JESUS became our “relative”–our “blood brother”–our kinsman-redeemer when God became a man–Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

The Bible tells us HE SHARED OUR HUMANITY (Hebrews 2:14).

  • HE ATE, HE WALKED, HE SLEPT, HE ACHED.
  • HE HUNGERED, HE KNEW PAIN, HE KNEW SORROW, HE WEPT, HE BLED, HE DIED!

But then He rose again from the dead.

All this He did for you and for me.  To REDEEM us, to DELIVER us from SIN, from DEATH, and from HELL itself!

I KNOW MY REDEEMER LIVES –

It’s comforting to know this because JESUS, our brother, erased our sins.

It’s comforting because JESUS has PAID THE RANSOM for our release with His own BLOOD.

It’s comforting because Easter proves that God accepted Jesus’ SACRIFICE for payment for our sins.

His RESURRECTION declares to you that you are forgiven.  Your SIN is gone!  Your GUILT is dead!

Every wrong thing you’ve ever done has been washed away by the BLOOD of JESUS.

I have had a severe wound on my right middle toe exposing the bone now for several months.  In the next week, because of the infection, the toe must be amputated.  The other morning while in the shower, I noticed BLOOD being washed down the drain.  A reminder of Jesus’ shed blood on the cross for all of mankind; washing away sin.

And Jesus came out of the GRAVE to tell each one of us,

I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.  ANYONE WHO BELIEVES IN ME WILL LIVE, EVEN THOUGH HE DIES, AND WHOEVER LIVES AND BELIEVES IN ME WILL NEVER DIE (Jn. 11:25-26).

So then DEATH is not the end, but only the beginning.

YOUR REDEEMER GIVES YOU VICTORY!

VICTORY, not just for your SOUL.  It was not just the Son of God that came out of the tomb, but also the Son of Man.

It was not just the Son of God that came out of the tomb, but also the Son of Man.  It was a human being that arose on Resurrection Sunday morning.  By becoming a man, Jesus Christ also became our blood-brother.  And His RESURRECTION means that these tired old bones of yours also comes out of the grave to rise in glory!  My SOUL will be united to my glorified body and I will LIVE–yes, me, not a copy, not a clone, but me!  I will LIVE with my REDEEMER in heavenly bliss.

Compared to other cultures, we Americans are obsessed with our bodies and the way we look.  Yet these bodies do grow old (trust me, I know!) and they radically change and finally wear out.

But Easter gives HOPE to our bodies as well as our souls.

WE WILL BE CHANGED, Paul wrote the Corinthians,  “In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the [sound of the] last trumpet will sound, and the dead [in Christ] will be raised imperishable (free and immune from decay), and we shall be changed (transformed)” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:52 – Amplified Bible.

YOUR REDEEMER SHARES HIS VICTORY OVER DEATH WITH YOU –

God will raise us from DEATH and give to our souls and bodies ETERNAL LIFE.  That’s His PROMISE to all who believe in Him and God doesn’t and can’t LIE!

Are you reading this BLOG-study with skepticism about what EASTER proclaims?

Then proceed through life at your own risk.  Go ahead, continue to let UNCERTAINTY gnaw at you, FEAR chase you, and DEATH terrifies you.  In fact, that’s not living at all; that’s just slowly dying.

RESURRECTION SUNDAY OFFERS A BETTER SOLUTION TO LIFE AND A SURE HOPE –

It is more than bunnies and baskets of candy, more than nice flowers and long weekends, even more than that family Ham Dinner.

Today is where the rubber meets the road.  This strikes at the very heart of our human existence; will we live or is DEATH the end?

They say that there are only TWO certain things in life:  DEATH AND TAXES.  But, in view of Easter, really only one thing is certain. April 15th (April 18th this year) has passed.  I’m sorry about the TAXES.  That probably won’t ever go away, at least not in our lifetime.

But DEATH has!  The PROPHECY of Hosea is fulfilled!

That’s what Jesus’ RESURRECTION is all about:  DEATH HAS EXPIRED!

Your Savior has DESTROYED your greatest enemy!  Your REDEEMER LIVES to share with you His VICTORY.

And you who believe in Him WILL NOT DIE BUT LIVE – Psalm 118:17:

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CREDITS:

VINE’S COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF OLDTESTAMENT AND NEW TESTAMENT WORDS.

PHOTOS:  Google Advanced Image Search; Photo Pin.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), unless referenced in the text.

Let’s Start Listening to the WHOLE Story

POST’S SCRIPTURE:  HOSEA 5:1 – 6:3

I was feeling a bit nostalgic the other day while writing down thoughts towards my next blog.  I started THE WORD DETECTIVE blog-site over 5 years ago, relating many personal stories throughout my life.  But it struck me (that’s a funny choice of words) this morning that I hadn’t revealed the story about when I was once stabbed.

It was a regular work day in January 1999.  There were 7 of us in a room–myself, three other men, and three women.  One of the guys was talking about his upcoming vacation when one of the women handed him a knife and he stabbed me in the chest!  The last thing I remembered before I passed out was a woman working to control the bleeding.  I woke up in a 5th-floor hospital bed with an oxygen mask over my entire face at Tacoma General Hospital in Tacoma, Washington.

I GUESS I BETTER TELL YOU THE WHOLE STORY–

I wasn’t at work.  The room was a surgical room and the six other people in the room were my anesthesiologist, my surgeon, and his PA (Physician’s Assistant), and three nurses.  They were there to perform Heart Bypass Surgery, which is why the doctor stabbed me in the chest.

Fortunately, he had my best interest at heart (no pun intended) and nice enough to have his PA sew me up when he was finished.

You see if you don’t LISTEN to THE WHOLE STORY You May Get the Wrong Opinion. –

The ACT of a surgeon cutting into you with a knife sounds quite traumatic and who would opt for that?  But for someone who has cardiovascular disease and in need of relief in my breathing, a loss of energy, and everyday existence, it is a welcomed wound.

I’m telling this story as an introduction to God’s solution to the problem of UNFAITHFULNESS.

“HOW DOES GOD GET OUR ATTENTION?”

Those who don’t HEAR THE WHOLE STORY might only hear that the Lord will tear into us and go away, like a lion.

On that basis, people reject God, thinking of Him as a vengeful judge who wants to destroy all of us who don’t OBEY His commands.  But in my thinking, it is more appropriate to describe God as a divine Surgeon, who indeed cuts into us, but also binds up our wounds.

Job 5:18:  “For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.”

Lamentations 3:32:  “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.”

Deuteronomy 32:39:  “See now that I am he!  There is no god besides me.  I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.” 

HOSEA CHAPTER 5 ~

Hosea chapter 5 describes the surgical work of God in detail.  It describes how God gets our attention and removes the spiritual blockage left by our UNFAITHFULNESS.

The relief of the symptoms I acquired over time came through surgery, which was painful at the time, but critical for relieving my symptoms and ultimately my life.

Hosea 5:1-2 (Amplified bible):

[1]  HEAR THIS, O you priests!  And listen, O house of Israel!  And give ear, O house of the king!  For the judgment pronounced pertains to you and is meant for you, because you have been a snare at Mizpah and a net spread upon Tabor [military strongholds on either side of the Jordan River).  

[2] The revolters are deeply sunk in corruption and slaughter, but I [the Lord God] am a rebuke and a chastisement for them all.”

Hosea was called upon by God to get Israel’s attention so He could address the “rottenness”–the “decay” that came as a result of the nation’s sickness of SIN.

IN VERSE 3, God charges Ephraim [the northern ten tribes] with prostitution and corruption.

IN VERSE 4, the words reveal a HEART CONDITION of Unfaithfulness.

IN VERSE 5, the symptom is ARROGANCE–“pride and self-reliance”. 

VERSE 6 talks about going “with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord,” meaning these people were bringing their animals for Sacrifice, but it was empty worship.  Outwardly they were “worshipping,” but inwardly they had a heart condition and were far off from God.

These were a people, like us, who were sick with SIN of self-seeking and self-centeredness and assumed they were self-sufficient.

THEY SOLD OUT…their bodies as well as their moral and religious convictions like a prostitute.  They were UNFAITHFUL to God

They were UNFAITHFUL to God as Hosea’s wife Gomer was unfaithful to her husband.  Even their sad attempts at WORSHIP was empty and void of meaning.

So am I referring only to ISRAEL here, or am I pointing a finger at us–the CHURCH today?

Do you see your own sickness in ISRAEL half as clearly as I see my own?  I see signs of DECAY showing up in our BEHAVIOR.  At times I have to admit that even my own worship experience on Sunday morning is just an act–going through the motions which then leads to repentance.  Or should “lead to repentance.”

The DIAGNOSIS is clear, God goes to work as a SURGEON.

From verses 8-12, we find a series of pronouncements that cut at ISRAEL like the perspective wounds of a SURGEON’S knife:

  • “Sound the trumpet…”
  • “Raise the battle cry…”
  • “Ephraim will be laid waste on the day of reckoning.”
  • “I will pour out my wrath”
  • “I am like a moth…”
  • “I am like rot…”

These don’t sound like words from a loving-God, any more than a six-inch cut down the chest sounds like the wounds of a healer!  But that’s exactly what they are.

For even God can be like a LION; His presence is that of a RESTORER and HEALER.

Coming to an Understanding…

This interaction between God and Israel through His prophet HOSEA, we are given the ability to recognize how God is at work to RESTORE us as INDIVIDUALS, as the CHURCH, and even our NATION.

Recognizing the Ways God Comes To Us to Get Our Attention So He Can Heal Us ~

FIRST, He comes like A MOTH or We Rot!

IN VERSE 12 He says,  “I am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah.”  ISRAEL, represented by the divided kingdoms of EPHRAIM and JUDAH, already were in a state of decay.

It was a slow decay much like the slow, natural damage a MOTH does when forgotten sweaters folded in the closet are noticed after slipping them over my head.  And then my wife would notice the damage and say, “Looks like we have MOTHS in  the closet!”

GOD had allowed the natural consequences of Israel’s UNFAITHFULNESS to ROT their NATION.

Next, GOD Would Come Like A LION (verse 14).

Courtesy of Photo Pin

If the people couldn’t see the signs of DECAY…or just ignored them, God was warning through His prophet Hosea, He was next going to come and tear them to pieces–carry them off in exile with no one to rescue them.

But notice there would be a PURPOSE in this.  God would do this until…until they would admit their GUILT.

He would become like a LION so they would seek His face:  “in their MISERY,” He said, “they will earnestly seek me”  (verse 15).

 THE RAIN, It’s a Comin’!  – (Hosea 6:1-3)

 

Ultimately, God LOVES us and He wants us to experience Him in the SPRING RAIN.  He will let you ROT in your choices for a time if you insist and if you’re stubborn He will come to you like a Lion.  But His ultimate purpose will always be to RESTORE you.  It will always be to PROSPER you and not harm you.

His PURPOSE is to give you HOPE and a FUTURE.

Today in our nation, God is like a MOTH and like RUST.  He’s allowing us to DECAY because in general, we’ve forsaken Him.  And if we refuse to turn to the gentle rain of Jesus, we may soon know Him as a Great Lion.

Our nation, your nation, will crumble as with any dynasty that has gone before us.  Unless we change, the Western church will be torn apart.

So the question arises before each one of us:  How do you see God at work in restoring you personally?

This very week, have you lived in HIS PRESENCE and experienced His GRACE-like a SPRING RAIN?

If the answer is “NO”, then look carefully to see if God has been like a MOTH to you in your life.

Consider that your spiritual desert might show that you’re in a slowly developing state of DECAY.  Like the folded sweater lying unnoticed in the closet–not seeing the things changing before your eyes, but before you know it, you realize that the clothing of righteousness you once wore has been eaten away by the natural consequences of your choices.

If you are not spending the necessary time in the presence of God each day you have in essence locked your spirituality in a closet infested with MOTHS.

My fear is that you may try to pull it out later and only find it has been eaten away.

BEWARE OF APATHY!  Because APATHY will ROT your spiritual life–like RUST on a nail.

Maybe some who are reading this Blog-study have felt Him tearing at you like a lion ripping at his prey.  Perhaps the consequences of your choices have you confused–a struggling marriage, the loss of a job, an addiction. Maybe the pain of sickness or the mourning of death has reminded you of sin’s curse.  It could be the activity of the Holy Spirit has you weighted down concerning your own SIN, and the weight of GUILT is more than you can bear.

If God has been like a GREAT LION to you this week, do not despair!  He will BIND up your wounds!! –

JESUS came to Peter like a roaring lion with the crow of a rooster.  He came to Paul like a roaring lion in the midst of a blinding light.  Yet He came to them both like a refreshing RAIN restoring them to places of great significance in His divine plan.

SPRING RAINS ARE A COMIN’

Knowing the WHOLE STORY, will you let Him wash you like the RAIN?

There is only ONE WAY to God’s presence and that’ through to the CROSS of JESUS CHRIST.  Let Him tear apart your self-seeking–self-sufficient ways and RESTORE your spirit.

REJOICE, THE GREAT SURGEON COMES!

He brings HEALING on His wings.

He RESTORES us.

He is JESUS, our SAVIOR…AND He wants to operate on you.  Will you let Him?

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CREDITS –

Photo Credits:  Google Advanced Image Search and Photo Pin.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Out On A Limb Might Be Risky!

CHEERS is an American sitcom that ran on television from September 30, 1982, to May 20, 1993.  The show is set in a bar named Cheers in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meets to drink, relax, and socialize.  The show’s main theme song, written and performed by Gary Portnoy lent its famous refrain “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” is the show’s tagline.

CHEERS, (from left): Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer, Paul Wilson, John Ratzenberger, George Wendt, 1982-93. ©Paramount Television / courtesy Everett Collection

Everyone likes to be known by their name.

Everyone likes to know that someone knows their name and knows their name and knows them.  It shows intimacy; it shows that the person has put in some effort to actually get to know you.  Unfortunately today, we seldom are known by our names, but rather by a number.  You have to know your ID number by heart: When you complete forms you have to enter your ID number.  When you complete your Tax Return you have a number that was given to you, and you only.  We have become numbers to people and it’s impersonal reflecting an unwillingness to know you as a person.  And even if they know your name, they probably are not willing to spend the time to get to know you better.

There is no personal relationship!

I understand that it’s impractical to suggest that everyone we meet can’t have a personal relationship.  It’s just impossible.

But with JESUS, it’s a different story.  For JESUS we are not just another name.  JESUS knows my name and He knows your name and He knows us! He knows our innermost being!!

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 19:1-10:

WHO WAS ZACCHAEUS?

Zacchaeus is a Jewish name (it means he was a Jew) AND…it means “Pure One.”

Not only was this man a tax collector, he was the Director of the tax collectors…CHIEF among the publicans (KJV).  The Greek term indicates that it seems Zacchaeus was a tax commissioner over the district of Jericho.  He more than likely purchased this position from the Roman authorities.

The local JEWS hated those who worked for Rome because often if not always, overtaxed them.  That’s how they made their money.  They didn’t receive a salary but received either a percentage of the tax they collected or…Rome would give them amount to collect and anything more was theirs.

So we know and see Zacchaeus was a powerful man and he was a very rich man.

The GOSPEL also tells us something else about this man…

This I believe, is extremely important, but often taken as just another piece of information.

Zacchaeus was a short man.

WHAT DID ZACCHAEUS DO WHILE BEING IN A TREE?

He tried to see who Jesus was.  He couldn’t see Him because of the crowd and because of his height.  I think it was even probable that the crowd might have noticed him trying to see Jesus, standing on his tip-toes, but they blocked him on purpose because of who he was.

They hated him!

Because of this, Zacchaeus climbed a nearby TREE to see Jesus better.

He was a JEW and he knew about the prophecies.

  • He probably heard about Jesus and that he was the Prophesied Messiah.
  • He heard that THIS MAN was the savior of the Jewish people
  • He heard that THIS MAN was the savior of the Jewish people.
  • He heard that this man had performed miracles and healed the sick.

He wanted to see who this man was…but nobody wanted to give him the opportunity because of who he was.

So he climbed a tree and Jesus called him and told him that He wanted to go to his house and stay there.

AND HERE COMES THE THING…

Zacchaeus was glad to WELCOME Jesus into his home.

Luke 19:6 – The MESSAGE Bible:

“Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him.”

WHAT DID THE CROWD DO?

The people voiced their disapproval at Jesus eating at the house of a sinner.  Remember, a tax collector was seen as a SINNER; they were not allowed in the synagogue or the Temple.  “Sorry, but you are not welcome at church!”  So the Rabbis and the people rejected these people.

What it meant that Jesus knew Zacchaeus’ name.

JESUS SHOWS THAT HE KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE!

Even if you hide, He knows where you are.  He knew where Zacchaeus was.

Zacchaeus was probably HIDING IN THE TREE when Jesus and the parade of people came by; He knew exactly where Zacchaeus was!  I’m sure that he didn’t want anyone to see him in the TREE because it could have damaged his standing in the community.

So Zacchaeus was hiding in the tree, hoping to get a glimpse of Jesus as He passes by.  He was HAPPY with only a glimpse of Jesus.

But then Jesus does the unexpected!

Jesus stood still under that tree and He called him.  By doing this Jesus recognized that He knew where Zacchaeus was.

As hard as Zacchaeus tried, he wasn’t invisible to Him.  Maybe the CROWD missed him there out on a limb, but Jesus didn’t!

JESUS KNEW WHERE HE WAS.

But not just that, Jesus knew the situation he was in:

JESUS KNEW his past…

JESUS KNEW his childhood…

JESUS KNEW all his secrets…

JESUS KNEW all the pain he had to endure and still endures.

JESUS saw all the tears that flowed when Zacchaeus was growing up regarding the importance of mentioning his size.  It was important to mention it in order to explain why he was in the tree in the first place.

But I wanted to go deeper in thought about Zacchaeus’ character.

I believe that Zacchaeus was probably MOCKED as a child growing up because of his stature.  I’m sure the neighborhood kids during his time were much like children today.  They can be cruel by belittling other children.  In today’s culture, they call it “bullying”.  Because of the “bullying,” not all children grow up forgetting these experiences.  Some children grow up with these experiences and the hurt grows with them, in them.  They never heal from it.  Some of them will even go to the extreme

Some of them will even go to the extreme and dream of one day being in a position of POWER and then they will show them.

I believe that Zacchaeus was one of those children.  He was MOCKED because of being ‘altitude challenged’ and that’s why he eventually became a tax collector.

THE PROBLEM…NOTHING can really fill that void of HUMILIATION, EXCEPT JESUS!!

Zacchaeus tried but never succeeded…and then Jesus called him by name.

“Zacchaeus come down!  I must stay at your house today.”

AND THAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE.

Maybe you find yourself hiding out on a limb of a tree.

Maybe you are struggling with certain things in your life right now.

Maybe you are living a sinful life and cannot comprehend that JESUS would even look upon you, much less talk to you or call out your name. You can’t think that He can forgive you for what you have done.

HERE SOME GOOD NEWS for you!

JESUS is standing right next to you where you are and He is calling your name…

Low Self-Esteem –

Maybe there are things in your life that have broken down your self-worth, your self-esteem.  You might be in an abusive relationship with your husband or wife, physical or psychological.  You might not enjoy life as it is supposed to be enjoyed (John 10:10).  You are being abused and it has hardened your heart towards everyone, including God.

Maybe you blame God for what’s happening in your life…

MAYBE HE HAS ABANDONED YOU…

He hasn’t.

He sees you.  He sees what you are going through.

He sees your pain and He cries with you.  Tears are running down His cheeks.

AND YET, GOD IS CALLING YOUR NAME!

“Get out of that tree.  I want to stay at your house.”

Some people are happy with getting a glimpse of Jesus as He crosses their path.

BUT JESUS WANTS MORE THAN THAT FROM US!

Jesus is calling your name where you are.  So, you will have to come down out of that tree and meet Him on a personal level.

Understand this:  It is not us who called Jesus.  He called us first!

John 15:16 (NIV):

[16] You did not choose me, but I chose you…

Ephesians 1:4 (AMP):

[4] Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world…

He calls us first and on that CROSS He called out your name.

All you have to do is to give heed to His call and come!

ZACCHAEUS was carrying a heavy load.  All it took for him was to listen to Jesus’ call.

“Zacchaeus, come down…I want to stay at your house.”

ISAIAH 49:16 (NIV):

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”

When Jesus was nailed to the CROSS, your NAME was engraved on His palms.  ENGRAVING is a process that is permanent.  That’s how much He LOVES you.  That’s how much He CARES for you.

HE KNOWS YOUR NAME BECAUSE HE KNOWS WHO YOU ARE!

Jesus Recognizes and Sees the Potential in All of Us–

Zacchaeus means Pure, Righteous.  But the people didn’t see him as “pure” and “righteous”.  However, JESUS saw the REAL Zacchaeus–He knew who he was supposed to be.

WE HAVE PURPOSE!

Jesus doesn’t see who we are, He sees who we are supposed to be.

The world sees us as they want to see us.  They see us because of what we do, what we portray, who we are.  They see only our number or title.

BUT JESUS SEES WHO WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE.

He sees Zacchaeus as pure and righteous.  He sees POTENTIAL.

You see, you and I were created for a PURPOSE: Romans 8:28-20 (NAS):

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

YOU ARE ALREADY CALLED!  YOU WERE PREDESTINED!!

The question now becomes…Will you listen and take your calling with both hands?  ZACCHAEUS DID!

When Jesus came to his house that day he had a change of heart because for the FIRST TIME in his life somebody saw the REAL him.

For the FIRST TIME, someone ate with him.  Not because of what he had, nor because of his power or money or status.  But because of who he was. At that moment the void in him was filled–he knew that he was worth something more than money.

JESUS SHOWS THAT WE ARE PART OF THE FAMILY (v. 9):

[9] Today salvation has come to this house…

Zacchaeus lineage didn’t bring SALVATION, but his FAITH, evidenced by public confession, sure did!

JESUS sees him as part of the family.

But people will not always look at you that way.  When you repent of your sins and you accept JESUS as your savior, then you reveal your Family Relationship, your true identity.

When Jesus Called Zacchaeus’ Name He Showed That He Knew Where He Was.

He showed that he had PURPOSE and…He showed that he was part of the Family of God!

Somewhere on your journey, you may have lost that sense of family.  But JESUS is calling you right where you are.  HE’S CALLING YOU BY NAME!

JESUS wants you to come down from your tree and to accept Him into your home, into your life.  He wants to dine with you.  He wants to feed you and protect you.  But He can only do this if you LISTEN to His CALL.

AND HE IS CALLING YOUR NAME!

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CREDITS:

Harper’s Bible Dictionary: PUBLICANS, pg. 84.

Sermon Notes from Searching For Answers? A Candid Look At The Life Of A Seeker by Mike Dankson.

PHOTOS:  Google’s Advanced Image Search.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted in the text.

 

A “KODAK MOMENT” of Calvary

In photography, a snapshot concept was introduced to the public on a large-scale by Eastman Kodak, which introduced the Brownie box camera. Kodak encouraged families to use the Brownie to capture moments in time of perfect images seen through the viewfinder.

And I remember receiving the gift of a Kodak Box Camera, a Brownie Hawkeye, no less,  from my parents before going on a family vacation one summer.  It was easy to operate, even for a young boy–point, look through the lens at the object to be photographed, and “SNAP!” No fancy adjustments.  Just point and shoot!

So here I am in this blog-Post, taking a snapshot of a moment in time by viewing the biblical landscape in Genesis 22.

An ‘Abraham and His Son’ moment:  Genesis 22:2, 6 and 8.

“Take now your son”…”Abraham took the wood…laid it on Isaac his son”…and Abraham said, “My son”.

Just as Abraham had a son, so God the Father has a Son.

  • God the Father offered His Son, by the POWER of the Holy Spirit:

“How much more then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”  (Hebrews 9:14 ~ New International Version – NIV).

So you can see that the TRINITY (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is plainly in view and involved in our SALVATION–

The FATHER PLANNED it…

The SON PROVIDED it…

And the SPIRIT APPLIED it.

Furthermore, by sharpening our FOCUS, we can see He was the Father’s lone Son – “your only son”.

Of course, Abraham had other sons, but the only one like Isaac–he was his unique son.

Next, we see through our lens, the Father’s LOVE for His Son.

“Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love” (vs 2)

  • The LOVE Abraham had for Isaac was only a subdued love, compared to the LOVE God had for His Son.

This is the FIRST MENTION of LOVE in the Bible and a VIEW of God’s LOVE for His Son:

The first mention of LOVE in the Gospel of Matthew is “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased”  (Matthew 3:17).

The first mention of LOVE in Mark’s Gospel is again, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased” (Mark 2:11).

And Luke… “and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased”  (Luke 3:22).

And finally, the first mention of LOVE in John’s Gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

SPURGEON: “JESUS was God’s Son, his only-begotten Son, whom he loved more than any of you can ever love your sons or daughters, for the love of God towards him is ineffable, immeasurable.  It is not possible for me to tell you how much God loved his Son, but that Son who had always given him delight, in whom he was well pleased, that Son must endure shame, and agony, and death, if sinners were ever to be saved.  How could the Father give up his Son for such a purpose?  I have felt sometimes as if I could almost rush in, and say, “No; it must not be, the price is too great to be paid for the rescue of such worthless worms as we.”  Yet, to ransom every one of us, the Son of God must be sacrificed, and sacrificed, as it were, by his Father, for thus it is written, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.”  This, there is one point of resemblance between the offering of Isaac and the propitiatory sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ, it was the father who had to offer up his son who he loved so dearly.”

A SNAP-SHOT of the Landscape–The Land of Moriah (Gen 22:2;  2 Chron. 3:1).

Genesis 22, Verse 2:  “go to the region of Moriah”

The importance of Mount Moriah is established by a number of KEY historical events which have taken place there:

  • Abraham offers Isaac (Gen. 22:2)
  • The Site of Solomon’s Temple.  King David was instructed by God to erect an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite which occupied this site.  So David purchased the land which later became the site of Solomon’s Temple.
  • The Crucifixion of Jesus.  On the very mountain where Abraham was asked to sacrifice his “only son”, God sacrificed His only Son.

The LAW of the Burnt Offering (22:2).

This LAW was spelled out in Leviticus (Lev. 1:3-9), much later than what we see here in Genesis 22.  Actually, the term is first used of the sacrifices of Noah (Gen. 8:20), predating Abraham’s day.

The LAW spells out that the SACRIFICE is not to be a Second-rate offering:

#1.  It must be sacrificial–from the herd or flock that is domestic not of a wild animal.

#2.  There was to be a relationship between the OFFERING and the one offering it ~ “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

#3.  The SACRIFICE must be the Strongest of the flock–a male animal (John 1:29).

#4.  It must be Spotless–without blemish (1 Peter 1:18-19):

[18] You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold.  [19] But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.”  [Amplified Bible].

JESUS WAS SINLESS!

#5.  AND…It must not be Stiff-necked; used of an uncooperative animal–it must be a VOLUNTARY Offering (John 10:17-18)

A SACRIFICE was made to BALANCE our account (Romans 4:35 & 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Romans 4:25 (AMP): 

Who was betrayed and put to death because of our misdeeds and was raised to secure our justification (our acquittal),  [making our account balance and absolving us from all guilt before God].

The SACRIFICE was SLAIN by the one who brought it.

Ultimately, it was God the Father who brought Jesus to CALVARY who slew Him for our sins (Matthew 27:45-46). 

The BLOOD from the SACRIFICE had to be Sprinkled (Hebrews 12:24):

[24]  And to Jesus, the Mediator (Go-between, Agent) of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks [of mercy] a better and nobler and more gracious message that the blood of Abel [which cried out for vengeance]  (AMP).

The SACRIFICE was a Sweet Aroma to Father God (Ephesians 5:2):

[2] Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

A Lapse of Time occurred…(Genesis 22:3)

ABRAHAM rose early in the morning…on the THIRD DAY–he did not offer his son immediately but had to wait for 3 days.

Those had to be 3 difficult days and mindful of what he was about to do.

  • JESUS waited some 3 years before going to the CROSS and it was ever before Him!  (John 2:4; 7:30; 12:27).

LOOKING FOR A RESURRECTION (Hebrews 11:17-19):

Abraham came to the conclusion that he was going to see a MIRACLE because God can’t lie!  God had previously said this son of his, Isaac, would be the one whom He would fulfill all His promises (Gen, 12:2, 3 – “The Abrahamic Blessing”).  Therefore the son must live or God would be found as a liar.  And yet God commands that THIS SON (Isaac) be put to death.  Since there is no contradiction in God, He must be planning on raising Isaac from the dead.  All this…a SNAPSHOT of what JESUS would actually do–die and then be raised back to life!

All this…A VIEW of what JESUS would actually do–die and then be raised back to life!

The Laying Of Our Sins Upon Christ –

The WOOD that is laid upon Isaac (Gen. 22:6) becomes a PICTURE of Jesus carrying His own cross (John 19:16-18).

The FIRE (Genesis 22:6-7) that Abraham carried in the fire-pot for the “burnt sacrifice” becomes a snapshot once more of God’s Holy wrath upon Christ (Isaiah 53:4-6).

The KNIFE (22:10) depicts His being pierced with nails and the spear in His side…

And FINALLY, the LAMB (Genesis 22:8; 11-14).

GOD DID PROVIDE A LAMB FOR HIMSELF AT CALVARY (Romans 8:32):

[32]  “Certainly not God. who did not even keep back his own Son, but offered him for us all!  He gave us his Son–will he not also freely give us all things?”  (GNT- The Good News Translation)

Why did God tell Abraham to offer his son?

Abraham was an Old Testament PROPHET (GENESIS 20:7)–one who by the grace of God have us a glimpse into future events.

JESUS said ABRAHAM hoped for “My day [My incarnation]; and he did see it and was delighted”  (John 8:56).

This MOMENT, this event in history becomes a SNAPSHOT taken to illustrate God offering His only Son at CALVARY.

From 1935 to 1962, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt had a daily newspaper column writing her opinion on various world events.  One quote I especially took to heart is from an article she wrote in 1946:

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.”

God will never ask us to do something He is not willing to do Himself–and that includes SACRIFICE.

ISAAC is the beginning of the CROSS, and a shining example of how God will always do the same thing He expects of us.

Isaac was the RESULT of A PROMISE, through his birth that allowed God’s presence to reach a new nation of people–ISRAEL.

And JESUS was also the RESULT of a PROMISE, and through His DEATH, BURIAL and RESURRECTION allowed God’s presence to reach the entire world!

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CREDITS FOR THIS POST:

Genesis: A Devotional Exposition by Donald G. Barnhouse.

Commentary:  Pondering Scripture – An Uncommon Commentary, Genesis 22:5.

Kodak Brownie photo:  Snapshot (photography)–Wikipedia.

Other PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations used for this blog-POST:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted.