There’s A Time And A Place For Everything!

SCRIPTURE ECCLESIASTES 3:1-15

I have always been musically inclined, from a small boy pretending to direct the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in front of my parent’s radio that rested 4-ft. high on the floor in the 1940’s to singing in choirs in elementary school and then in church choirs as an adult.

So in preparing for this study in Ecclesiastes, a tune began playing on my memory’s turntable of a 1961 classic Marty Robbins song:  A Time And A Place For Everything [See Footnote [i] ].

There’s a time and a place for everything

So let’s pretend we’re not blue.

There’s a time and a place for everything

Someday our dreams will come true.

A TIME FOR EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN –

We Christians tend to sing happy songs about God, and His blessings, and His goodness, and our relationship with Him.

I like happy songs; I’m in favor of happy songs.  The world’s songs, on the other hand, are often not so happy.  Even the ones that sound HAPPY and peppy are often not so happy when you listen carefully to the lyrics.

ECCLESIASTES sounds more like popular music today than the happy Christian songs we tend to sing.

We need to be careful.  Sometimes it is really easy for us to enter into a Christian cocoon.  Christian music, Christian friends, Christian decorations for our homes, and we even speak “Christianise”, as a pastor once mentioned in a Sunday message.

Now I’m very much in favor of all these things…but there’s a DANGER if we become so isolated that our message, even our lives, become irrelevant to the world around us in which we are to be salt and light.  We have to be careful we don’t become so isolated, so deaf to the regular questions of living and struggles of life without God, that we become MUTE to our neighbors and coworkers and families.

IN THESE TIMES…

More and more people are struggling to keep their heads above a rising tide of PESSIMISM about future prospects.  Of course, there are exceptions from a handful of optimists, predicting a better and brighter tomorrow.  Still, the larger portion of humanity is less convinced.

A hundred years ago [in the “modern era”], FAITH in human reason and progress was probably at an all-time high.  TODAY, it [seems] as low as ever with growing doubts whether the world can ever solve its problems on its own.

ECCLESIASTES speaks to this condition.

It expresses the intense disappointment that people feel when they realize, “Life should be better, but it isn’t.”

There is a classic rock tune that was released a year after I was married.  The group, The Byrds, in 1965, came out with “Turn, Turn, Turn” – YouTube has the original recording if you want to listen.  Apart from the title, all the other words in these lyrics were pulled directly from Ecclesiastes 3.  52 years ago, the Byrds understood that these words in ECCLESIASTES would resonate with the regular people.

[1] There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven;  [2] A time to be born…and a time to die.

Of these fourteen couplets…the FIRST THREE are along the same lines:

  • Born – Die
  • Plant – Uproot
  • Kill – Heal

We ALL have a time to DIE.

I know this isn’t a popular subject but try as we might to deny it, ignore it, avoid it, put it off…these lives as we know them, in these bodies, will come to an end.  We ALL have a time to die,  We just don’t know when that is.

Well, actually, we can know if we’d just visit http://www.deathclock.com.  Out of curiosity, I visited and answered a few simple questions and found out “Your time has expired.”  

The good news in all of this is the actual timing of my life here on earth is known only by God!

ECCLESIASTES 3:1-4 – New English Translation ( NET Bible)

A Time for All Events in Life

3  For everything, there is an appointed time, and an appropriate time for every activity on earth;

  • A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted.
  • A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and time to build up.
  • A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

The TEXT says that there IS a time and a season for everything!

EVERYTHING, a full rich life with all kinds of experiences, a robust life, lived fully.

It seems to me the trick is to get the TIMING right.  We sometimes seem to get things backward and we’re doing the opposite of what we should be doing.

When you say “time” to a musician, I think in terms of RHYTHM.  There is something wonderful about locking into a groove.

LIFE ought to be like that…A RHYTHM to die…  But get that RHYTHM OUT OF SYNC, it becomes like clapping on the wrong beat.  We get out of sync.  When we should be PLANTING Encouragement and UPROOTING Discouragement, we get out of SYNC and do it the other way around.

When we ought to be putting to DEATH our old, rotten, selfish ways and nursing RIGHTEOUSNESS and HEALTH in our lives, we get out of SYNC and do it the other way around, killing righteousness and nursing back to health our rotten sinful ways.

We LAUGH at what’s disgusting and evil when we should WEEP.

So, when should we DANCE?

Here’s an idea:  Believe we can get ‘circumstantially’ out of rhythm in life.  For an example, this very CIRCUMSTANCE:  CHURCH.

When we are together reflecting on and our singing about God’s goodness and greatness, we probably ought to DANCE, but some of us seem habitually out of SYNC and rather MOURN in church instead (at least the look on our faces seem mournful).

FOURTEEN COUPLETS OF POLAR OPPOSITES…and each has a time.

Some Bible commentators say that the numbers here of 14 couplets (7x2x2) is a significant indication of COMPLETENESS.  From BIRTH to DEATH and everything in between.  ALL of it intentional…ALL of it work!

AND NO, IT’S NOT YET TIME FOR ME TO BE SILENT (v. 7).

Our country is torn today in regard to whether this is a time for PEACE.  The TEXT brings back to this rhetorical question seen before in Ecclesiastes.  “In the grand scheme of things, what good is all the toil?”

HERE, THERE IS AN ANSWER:  “GOD HAS GIVEN US A BURDEN (TASK, CALLING, WORK) AND HE HAS MADE IT BEAUTIFUL (OR GOOD) IN ITS TIME”  [VERSE 11].

The verse continues and explains that it’s God who put ETERNITY in our hearts, our soul and spirit, a longing to know something beyond time in this life, in this world, and in these bodies.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (b):  “…yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

When, all is said, we only have a spark of eternity in our hearts; we cannot fully comprehend ETERNITY.

So, when you get right down to it, IT IS A GIFT OF GOD–

  • WE HONOR GOD BY ENJOYING THE GIFT HE GIVES US
  • WE HONOR GOD BY LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST AND BEING SATISFIED WITH HIS GIFT!

This becomes a reminder that God’s SOVEREIGNTY is powerful:

Ecclesiastes 3:14 (AMP)

[14] I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor taken from it,  And God does it so that men will [reverently] fear Him [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is].

It reminds us that any part we have in ETERNITY comes from our being in step with God; our soul’s attitude is in alignment towards Him with the help of the Holy Spirit in our life.  We are reminded that we are neither puppet nor parasite.   We are not merely running in program mode that’s set in place by a grand puppet master.

And…we’re not without resource to add or subtract from our lives and enjoyment.

We are invited to join God in His work, not adding nor taking from His work, but joining Him.

So, what exactly can we take from this PASSAGE of SCRIPTURE?

I know what I came away with, you, maybe something else.  It seems clear that the passage, like all of Ecclesiastes, meant to make think to ourselves.  It’s meant to call us to a REALITY CHECK.

We are called to wrestle with out humanity, this fallen world around us, and what God has to say about it.

NO ESCAPE!

It’s all about LIFE in a  fallen world.  ECCLESIASTES says we can deny it, fight it, hide from it, even try to make sense of it.  BUT…we can’t escape it!  The only response is to LIVE IN IT one day at a time, fearing God and cherishing as best as we can the STUFF of which life is made–food, family, work and not in that order.  These are GIFTS of God’s hand.

So we are to ENJOY THE GIFTS God gives us.

We WORSHIP Him by living abundant, robust, even happy lives.

We examine ourselves and the rhythm of our lives.

We should ask ourselves, honestly, are we honoring God by living full lives well?  Are we treating this GIFT OF TIME as a PRECIOUS GIFT?  Are we living in Relationship with God, or are we working for ourselves…which ends in VANITY, meaninglessness?

More importantly than asking ourselves…let’s ask our Heavenly Father.  Let’s be open to God, through His Holy Spirit, to speak to us, revealing where we can LIVE more fully and thus honor God.  And let us RELY on Holy Spirit to GUIDE, and STRENGTHEN and give us COURAGE,

Now it’s normal, I believe, when we stop and think along these lines, to have REGRETS…to wish we had done some things differently, to have different priorities over time.  BUT the GIFT we have right now, THE GIFT OF TIME, we are enjoying today and will enjoy tomorrow.  YESTERDAY is gone!

So where different priorities are often called for, we’ll need to make a FRESH START today!  I’m going to, will you?

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CREDITS:

Footnote [i] :  There’s A Time And A Place For Everything – songwriters Benny Joy Edidson –  Published By – Unichappell Music, Inc., Elvis Presley Music.

Photos:  Google Image, Advance Search Setting.

Bible Translations:  New International Version NIV), unless otherwise stated.

 

 

 

 

 

The KEY to An Anchor In Any Storm is The Rope

During World War II, Ruth Caye Jones wrote the words and music to a hymn that was a simple, yet powerful song.  A housewife related that in the middle of her busy day she received spiritual inspiration–she wrote what God told her to write down.  The song was written in response to the daily stresses and strains of a woman and her family while living in uncertainty of worldwide upheaval and war.  [See Footnote [i] ]

Here is but one verse from The Solid Rock, Lyrics and music by Ruth C. Jones:

In times like these, you need a Savior

In times like these, you need an anchor,

Be very sure, be very sure

Your anchor holds and grasps the Solid Rock.

 

Sound like a familiar theme?

When it comes to our life…”In times like these” we need to have an adequate ANCHOR for our ship (life).  We don’t need to throw out the anchor all the time…only in storms. God is our ANCHOR, but He is NOT just a crutch or a help in time of trouble.

For many people He is…they only call on God when they need help.  God is so much more…

  • He’s our CAPTAIN to show us the way.
  • He’s our COMPASS to guide our way.

God is there with us when things are going well, to bring us closer to Him.

But in those STORMS, in HARD TIMES…He is there to be our ANCHOR; to protect us and keep us safe.

This all brings us to our Bible study in ACTS 27:18-44 –

For Mrs. Jones, it meant the horrors of war…the poverty of rationing which my mother tried to explain to me when I was a child…tears of those who lost loved ones in battle.

For us today, IMAGES like these, can mean many different things.  Maybe seeking public assistance for the first time…memories of standing in line at the unemployment office week after week.  Oh, how I remember those days.

It may be the pain of watching your child’s life spiral out of control because of drugs or bad friends.

It may be the pain of watching your child’s life spiral out of control because of drugs or bad friends.

It may be watching your marriage slowly fall apart…because of infidelity or external stress.

It may be dealing with the mounting challenges of getting older…diminished health and abilities…a sense of uselessness or at least being devalued.

The Apostle Paul and his fellow prisoners in the midst of facing the STORM–

All prisoners aboard are being transferred to another prison when a terrible storm accosted their ship.  These sailors were probably not rookies, but seasoned salts.  This wasn’t their first storm, so the fact that they were so scared gives account to the storm’s severity.

IT WAS BAD, they didn’t think they could survive, they were going down, and they were making preparations.  So they took ROPES and passed them under the hull and cinched them up to strengthen the ship against the waves.  They even threw the cargo overboard to lighten the load to allow the boat to float higher and take on less water.

VERSE 18 says they did the unthinkable:  “they began to throw the cargo overboard”

They threw the ship’s tackle overboard because they weren’t leaving anything to chance.  They were taking DESPERATE MEASURES!

The next day a few sailors were so frightened they attempted an escape in a life raft but the attempt was discovered by Paul and stopped by the ship’s captain.

At one point they took sounding…checked the depth of the water and discovered it was getting shallow.  At about 90 feet deep. they decided that was close enough to shore because to get any closer, it might cause them to be smashed on the rocky coast.

SO THEY THREW OUT FOUR ANCHORS AND PRAYED–(27:29)

I underlined in my Bible Acts 27:29:  “Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight.”

The LAST thing they did was PRAY.

PRAYERS to God was the last-ditch anchors for them.  People who do that…never have Hoped in a storm.

The average depth of the Mediterranean Sea is 4900 feet.  Ships don’t anchor in water that deep, especially the ships of Paul’s time.  They only anchored in the bays and harbors along the coastline where the water is shallow.  I think the only reason they were anchoring at this depth was their FEAR of the storm and being run aground.

THEY THREW OUT FOUR ANCHORS…Why so many?

Was it because the STORM was so bad?  That’s what I thought at first reading.  But I don’t believe that was the reason.  The think the REASON they threw out FOUR ANCHORS is… each one did little good, so they thought there was safety in numbers.

Most of you know from pictures the design of an ANCHOR.

It is made with arms, some two, some more, and these arms are curved with points.

The points are to help the anchor bite into the bottom of the sea.  The deeper the bite or grab…the stronger their hold.  But because the arms are curved, it’s necessary for the ANCHOR to tip over to bite into the bottom of the sea.  If it doesn’t tip over it just slides along the bottom.  Have you ever felt in life’s raging circumstances you were just sliding along the bottom?

There’s more…

So as I see it, the PROBLEM for the sailors was not the STORM, and it wasn’t the ANCHORS, it was the ROPE!  The ROPE was too short!!

BECAUSE of the lack of rope, it wouldn’t allow the ANCHOR to tip and bite–to take hold–that’s why they used so many.

WE ALL HAVE A BOAT IN OUR LIFE…

We ALL get into storms…problems.

We ALL have an ANCHOR…God.

These are the same for ALL of us.

BUT…NOT ALL HAVE EQUAL ROPE!!!

Some have more ROPE than others.  What I’m getting at is, THE ROPE is your FAITH!!!

FAITH is the thing that connects the BOAT (US) with our ANCHOR (GOD)–

WE CAN ALL HAVE IDENTICAL BOATS WITH THE SAME ANCHOR and one holds on better than another.  That occurs because of the ROPE.  One has more rope and his anchor can tip more, bite deeper and hold stronger!

In MARK 9:24 I love the man who said to Jesus,  “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”  Using this passage of Scripture, he was saying, “Lord, I have enough rope (faith) for the shallow water (little troubles) so give me more rope so I can handle the deeper water.” [paraphrased]

I don’t know about you, but I certainly need more ROPE in my life at times.

That brings us to the other things God reveals in the Bible.  

I believe the sailors HAD MORE ROPE–enough rope to easily anchor at the depth of 90 feet…BUT wasted it!

Look at verse 17 in the Amplified Bible:

[17]  After hoisting it on board, they used supports with ropes to undergird and brace the ship; then afraid that they would be driven into Syrtis  [quicksands off the north coast of Africa], they lowered the gear (sails and ropes) and so were driven along. 

They wasted some of their rope, ROPE that would have allowed their ANCHOR to tip and grab and hold…they wasted it trying to SAVE something that was bound to perish anyway.  Paul had warned (Acts 27:10) that the ship they were on would be lost, destroyed.  But they took ROPE from the anchors and used it to try to save the ship.

RESULT:  Rope was too short for anchors.  The ship was lost anyway.

WE ALL HAVE OPPORTUNITIES TO LENGTHEN OUR ROPE…(FAITH)

When the sailing is smooth…more time to PRAISE, PRAY, GIVE THANKS, READ, MEDITATE, ETC.  That’s when we seem to have more time to devote to our FAITH.

HOWEVER–like the SAILORS, we waste time and the opportunity by using the TIME to try to tie up and protect the STUFF that is going to perish anyway.

We spend time…cutting grass that will grow back; watching TV shows that don’t matter and playing video games because there’s nothing else to do.

Am I saying we shouldn’t take care of OUR STUFF, or have any fun?  No, that is STEWARDSHIP.  What I’m trying to say is, we should use more of that time to get closer to God and let Him give you more ROPE so you can handle deeper water.

Look at the SAILORS…ROPE TOO SHORT–ANCHOR NOT HOLDING.

Look at Paul.  Paul’s ANCHOR was holding in the ROCK of God’s presence.

ACTS 27:23-25

For Paul, just having a WORD from God was enough to anchor him and give him blessed assurance.  He knew God was a PROMISE-KEEPING GOD!

Romans 4:21 (AMP):  Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised.

The ANGEL OF THE LORD that ministered to Paul told him of GOD’S PLAN (V. 24):

Acts 27:24:  ‘Do not be afraid, Paul.  You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’

PAUL’S ANCHOR WAS HOLDING IN THE FIRM FOUNDATION OF GOD’S POWER!

(v. 44)  …And so it was that all [276] escaped safely to land.

GOD HAS THE POWER TO DO ALL THINGS!

“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you,” says the Lord, “thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome”  (Jeremiah 29:11 – AMP).

  • If God has the POWER to cause an ax head to float…2 Kings 6:6
  • If God can cause a donkey to speak…Numbers 22:28
  • If God can raise the dead…
  • If God can tell the thunder and lightning to stop…

HE CERTAINLY HAS THE POWER TO KEEP YOU AND ME SAFE THROUGH ANY STORM!!!

Why then did Paul’s ANCHOR hold and the Sailors don’t?

MORE ROPE (FAITH) –

In times like these, we need an ANCHOR.  Be very sure your anchor holds and grips the SOLID ROCK.

Is your ANCHOR holding?  Do you need more ROPE right now?

[Leave your answers or your comments in LEAVE A  REPLY box at the bottom of this page]

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FOOTNOTES & CREDITS –

Footnote [i] :  Hymnspiration: In Times Like These by Sharon Hall/May 17, 2015.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, Advance Setting.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I CAN ALMOST SMELL THE BREAD BAKING!”

RECIPE (Scripture Study):  Acts 13, Acts 16, and 1 Timothy 4:11-16.

The simplest bread recipe I’m told only has THREE INGREDIENTS–Flour, water, and yeast.  When combined together you get warm, fluffy, delicious bread.  END OF STORY?  No.  Unless ALL three of these ingredients are modified in some way,  the end results will never be useful.

AFTER HARVEST, the wheat must be threshed, winnowed, and ground into flour.  If one or more of these steps are not completed correctly, the BREAD will fail.

Water must be purified–if too many impurities are found in the water, the bread will have a bad taste and not rise correctly.

Yeast is an odd animal–and yes, it is an animal.  It is a microscopic little critter that changes something chemically.  We don’t know where the first YEAST came from, but historians think the first batch of yeast may have come from natural impurities in the flour and was left in the sun too long.  Bakers would then take small pieces of dough–called LEAVEN–that had already risen and mix it into the new dough that rises well.

IN THE BIBLE, the Israelites are called to make unleavened bread; not adding the leaven to their dough, preventing the dough from rising.

Just like bread making can only be made if ALL ingredients are mixed together properly, Christians must also work together with other believers in order to become something better.

Just like the THREE aforementioned ingredients are needed to make BREAD, also THREE types of people must work together in order to become more mature as true believers.

Let’s take a look at the life of the Apostle Paul and find out what these types of people look like:

PAUL started out as SAUL, a Pharisee, dedicated to wiping out Christianity off the face of the earth.

While traveling to Damascus, he has an amazing encounter with God, changing his life forever.  After this meeting, though, the real fun begins!

Saul is now a CHRISTIAN and began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues of Damascus.  The CHANGE was so amazing and the transformation so complete, the people around him began wondering what was going on.

Eventually, the Jews of Damascus got so suspicious of Saul they began to plot to kill him!  So when Saul heard about this, he gets while the gettin’ was good and escaped to Jerusalem.

Well, things didn’t start much better for him there–the disciples were afraid of him thinking he was trying to trick them.

Finally, A Man Named Barnabas…

Barnabas took Saul to the other apostles telling them his story.

Saul was able to stay with them for a short time, until, more threats sent him away.

Eventually, Saul meets back with Barnabas at Antioch, and they are sent together on a missionary journey covering eastern Greece and most of Turkey.

ACTS 13:4 –  “So then, being sent out by the Holy Spirit. they went down to Seleucia, and from [that port] they sailed away to Cyprus”  (AMP).

Now skipping ahead to VERSE 44:  [44]  The next Sabbath almost the entire city gathered together to hear the Word of God [concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God].  [45] But when the Jews saw the crowds, filled with envy and jealousy they contradicted what was said by Paul and talked abusively [reviling and slandering him].  [46] And Paul and Barnabas spoke out plainly and boldly, saying, “It was necessary that God’s message [concerning salvation through Christ] should be spoken to you first.  But since you thrust it from you, you pass this judgment on yourselves that you are unworthy of eternal life and out of your own mouth you will be judged.  [Now] behold, we turn to the Gentiles” (the heathen).  [47] For so the Lord has charged us, saying,  “I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles (the heathen), that you may bring [eternal] salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

Without the INFLUENCE of Barnabas, Paul would have likely died in Jerusalem, and certainly not have gone on to be a MISSIONARY to the Gentiles.

Barnabas didn’t have to vouch for Paul, but he did anyway.  In fact, Barnabas was always looking for someone to ENCOURAGE.

Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas part ways because Barnabas wanted to give someone else–John Mark–a SECOND CHANCE.

This is fitting I think because the name “BARNABAS” wasn’t his given birth name. Actually, he was named Joseph, but because of his repeated actions of encouragement, the other apostles renamed him, Barnabas, meaning “Son of Encouragement.”

We also need a BARNABAS in our lives.

True, Paul had the POWER of the Holy Spirit behind him, but that doesn’t mean that he never made any mistakes.  He was still very immature as a believer and needed a mentor, someone like Barnabas to encourage and help him grow in his faith.

We also need a BARNABAS in our lives–for that’s the FIRST of the 3 Types of people we need to work with.

We ALL need someone who is spiritually more mature than we are to encourage us when our life gets tough and act as a mentor.  This person may be older, younger, or the same age we are but will be further along in their walk with the Lord to help us as we follow the Lord in our own walk.

That brings us to the SECOND type of person needed.

Moving to Acts chapter 16, we see Paul is traveling with SILAS and Luke.

While in Philippi, something amazing happens.  A female slave who had a spirit that was predicting the future, constantly following Paul and his comrades, shouting that they were servants of the Most High God.  She kept this up for so long, eventually, Paul became annoyed, turned around, and told the spirit to leave the woman.  Let’s pick up the story in VERSE 19:

[19] When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.  [20] They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar  [21] by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”  [23] The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.  [23] After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.

I thought this passage of Scripture was interesting.  This chapter of Acts does something few chapters in the Bible do.

Acts 16:1-10 are all written in the third person–that is, using phrases like “he did this” and “they did that.”

Starting in verse 11, it now switches to the first person–using phrases like “we did this” and “we did that.”  Since the author of the book is usually thought to be Luke–who was actually present here and dutifully recorded everything that happened.  This means that Luke was with them during their encounter with the fortune teller.  In fact, Acts 16:17 says, “She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, these men are servants of the Most High God…”  That tells us that there were more than just Paul and Silas and Luke–but a small group of fellow disciples and followers were there as well.

So why then, would the local authorities only arrest Paul and Silas instead of the entire group?  Because Paul & Silas were their leaders.

Paul and Silas worked together to bring the Good News to the people of Philippi because they were both at the same point in their Christian WALK by constantly encouraging each other and standing up for each other.

A Perfect Example–

Paul is the one who commanded the spirit to leave the slave woman, NOT Silas.  But Silas stood next to Paul in front of the magistrate; Silas went to prison with Paul; and, as we can read in Verse 25…Silas prayed and sang hymns in prison with Paul.

THE SECOND type of person we need in our lives is a SILAS.

We need someone who can walk alongside us as we follow Jesus.  Typically, this person ends up being an ACCOUNTABILITY partner–the person you feel so comfortable being with that you SHARE everything–your deepest doubts, and hardest troubles.  Oh yes, your DESIRES too!

So we need a Barnaba as well, to WALK AHEAD of us and a Silas to WALK ALONGSIDE us.

So, it becomes pretty obvious that the THIRD person needed in our lives–is someone to WALK BEHIND us.

In Paul’s life, that person was Timothy.  Timothy was a native of Lystra, where Paul and Barnabas had healed a crippled man in ACTS 14.  By the time Paul returned to Lystra in ACTS 16, Timothy was already respected–if young– a member of the Christian community.

Timothy joined Paul on his missionary journeys and is even credited as a co-author with Paul to the books of 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon.

Paul wrote TWO letters to Timothy giving him advice and encouragement in his ministry–just like Barnabas did to Paul years earlier.

1 Timothy 4:11-16 is some of the most well-known advice given from Paul to a young man in the ministry:

[11]  Command and teach these things.  [12] Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.  [13] Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.  [14[ Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  [15] Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  [16] Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Paul’s advice to Timothy was good, and Timothy grew to become a LEADER in the church.

When Paul was in prison in Rome, he saw his life approaching an end and called Timothy to him in 2 Timothy 4 for a final visit.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE–

Just because Timothy was younger than Paul doesn’t mean that those we mentor must be younger than us.  It’s entirely possible for a young person to be further along in their Christian WALK than an older person.

THE THREE TYPE OF PEOPLE WE NEED IN OUR LIVES–

A BARNABAS, who walks before us; a SILAS, who walks beside us, and a TIMOTHY, who follows behind us.

If we don’t have all THREE INGREDIENTS–types of people in our life– then we’ll be unfinished, like unleavened bread.

What’s more, though, is that we are not only expected to HAVE all three types of people in our life, but we’re also expected to BE all three types of people for others in our life.  

We are not only expected to be MENTORED to but to be a MENTOR.  We are not only expected to have someone to walk alongside us and encourage us but to walk alongside them and encourage them to encourage them.  In this way, ALL BELIEVERS work together for learning, encouraging, and teaching, to proclaim the Good News, the Gospel, and spread the kingdom of God to the ends of the earth.

So now you have the know-how to put three specific ingredients (three types of people) together in your life.  

So are you ready to smell the FRESHNESS of New Baked Bread?  If you haven’t already, it’s time to start assembling the ingredients first!

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CREDITS –

Photos:  Google Image Search, Advanced Settings.

Bread Making Source for this Blog:  Basic bread making; re-learning traditional skills, Part 1 – the components of a good loaf – Bondant Welsh Food.

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

 

Crippled In His Feet, Able In His Mind

.Many of us say we are living by FAITH.  But we are not getting Faith results.  

We say to ourselves and to other Christians around us that we are living by FAITH and when we PRAY the reason for our prayers, things remain unchanged.  Could it be, just maybe,  we’ve been taught a Faith is nothing more than simply believing God to take care of things while we sit back and wait?  Could it be that we’ve been taught a Faith that means we take our needs, both physical and mental to God and because He’s in control let Him decide whether or not He will help us?

We’re going to look at Scripture and see whose FAITH really matters.  And I hope you’ll see and understand as I have in the study, that when we PRAY, we are not waiting for God to answer us.  He is waiting for our FAITH.

ACTS 14:8-11

Many of us read and hear the words in the Bible BUT…WE NEVER TRULY LIVE the Bible.

When we don’t LIVE what we read and hear God’s Word daily we can find ourselves in a space of UNBELIEF that separates us from FAITH that receives the “rewards of faith.” But so many of us do!  That’s right, “REWARDS”.

As we HEAR and OBEY the Word of God, we slowly close the space of unbelief that separates us from FAITH that will bring the rewards!

GOD REWARDS FAITH WITH HIS PROMISES

“And without FAITH it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he REWARDS those who earnestly seek him”  (Hebrews 11:6 – NIV).

Okay, so, the WORD says FAITH pleases God and that He rewards those who have A LIFESTYLE OF FAITH.

So I want to closely look at the testimony of a man in ACTS 14

SETTING:  The Region of Lystra.  A region bursting with Greek Mythology/Roman “2 gods” beliefs.

In this region,  “there sat a man who was lame [crippled[ from birth and had never walked”  (Acts 14:8)

And sometimes, do we think about physical ailments way too much?  Think again!

God’s finest creation/MAN–created to be agile and mobile.

So here we have before us the Creation of God who SAT–going nowhere because he was crippled in the feet:

  • The AREA that should have undergirded him.
  • The AREA that should have supported him.
  • The AREA that should have served as his foundation–FAILED HIM.

Not because he didn’t want to or believed he couldn’t move, but rather because he was in this state from birth.

In other words at no fault of his–because of his predicament, he was STUCK IN A RUT, do to no fault of his own.

BEING STUCK IN A RUT–

  • Because touched inappropriately;
  • Spoken disparaging–discouraging words.
  • Experience–never experienced.

Such A Debilitating Beginning –

Never had he walked, but he BELIEVED he could one day, walk by FAITH.  This man, while crippled in his feet, was a man not crippled in his mind.

I might add here that a deficiency in one area does not constitute an excuse in another area.  CRIPPLED IN HIS FEET, ABLE IN HIS MIND! 

VERSE 9:  “He listened to Paul as he was speaking.”

“So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself)” ~ Romans 10:17 (AMP).

If we are going to WALK BY FAITH:  Learn to use what you do have, to receive what you have never had.

I don’t have to have mobilization of my feet, U-TIL-IZATION of my ears.

FAITH HEARING:  We must see what we have–to usher in our HEALING:

  • Our EARS – Be Positive/filter out all the negatives.
  • Our EARS – MOTIVATE NOT DENIGRATE.

ACTION:  RESUME/SKILLS; NAME/TALENT; CAR/DRIVE…

All I need to do is HEAR one word from the Lord and everything will be alright!

THE TEXT:  “He was listening to Paul as he talked and [Paul] gazing intently at him and observing that he had FAITH TO BE HEALED…”

Paul didn’t FOCUS on the man’s crippleness; he immediately FOCUSED on the man’s FAITH.

If we are going to WALK BY FAITH:  Sometimes when you have nothing to stand on, you have to stand on YOUR FAITH.

  • FEET/FAITH 
  • SURROUNDINGS/FAITH
  • I KNOW WHAT I’VE HEARD ABOUT/AROUND ME
  • I KNOW WHAT I BELIEVE INSIDE ME.

Some people around me say,  “I’m never going to walk, I’ve never walked…”

BUT BY FAITH…

THE TEXT:  Paul observing that he had faith…shouted at him (challenged him–the area of his strength…) “STAND ERECT ON YOUR FEET!”  AND HE LEAPED UP AND WALKED.

If you are going to WALK BY FAITH, KNOW AND UNDERSTAND that whatever previously bound you, you can presently GET UP from it!

Sharing A PROPHECY from a church service on Sunday, January 22, 2017.  The title is “Climb Higher and Believe Me” – [See Footnote [i]. ]

“O, I simply want My body to believe Me.  I want those who are Mine to take My Word as if they know nothing else, to place it at the forefront of their thinking and to believe Me.  This is the life in the spirit.  My words are spirit and they are life.”  I desire My Word to be primary in your thinking.  Kingdom thinking includes refusing to receive thoughts and imaginations that do not agree with My Word and My ways.  If something does not agree with My Word and My ways, I do not agree with it,  Be challenged by these things and come up higher in Me.” 

FAITH’S RESPONSIBILITY –

Who is responsible for having the FAITH to receive answered prayer?

When my prayers seem to go unanswered, it isn’t because my Heavenly Father didn’t want to answer them.  I simply didn’t give Him the FAITH He needed to move on my behalf.

So I encourage you to feed your mind with God’s Word.  Let it become that which dominates your thoughts day and night.  As you do that, your FAITH will be like a SEED planted in the ground.  Over time it will grow and grow and grow!

PHOTO PIN

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTE (S) –

Footnote [i] :  Who’s Faith Matters? by Barry O. Johnson, Associate Pastor at Grace Christian Center on May 1, 2017.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, Advance Settings, and PHOTO PIN.

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

 

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.