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Joshua 23
Part 1 of 6

There are humorous words spoken by people trying to make a career in business. Mistakenly, they were not prophets and guessed wrong on the future of their field. Those in the world of science, technology and music all let words fly. Later, they would likely have preferred not to be remembered by those attempts at prophecy.

The chairman of a major technology company estimated, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
The President of a major digital equipment company in 1977 declared, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
A memo in a major communications company in 1876 concluded, “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
An Ivy League professor in management responded to a paper by Fred Smith, eventual founder of FedEx, on a reliable overnight delivery service, “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.”
A major recording studio rejected a contract with the Beatles in 1962 concluding, “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”

More remarkable are the words of important leaders who speak memorable words. Joshua’s words are memorable and are captured in the last two chapters of the book bearing his name. Chapter 23 records the words Joshua speaks to Israel’s leaders. Chapter 24 records the similar words Joshua speaks to the people in general.
More later…

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Joshua 11

From a military perspective, the Northern kings had a formidable force to throw into battle. It was a collection of the best that armies in its day could hope to muster. They put their confidence in numbers and weapons of might.

Joshua had courageous fighting men. They were now experienced in war. Their history in battle had been only recent but they knew what it was to win in a fight.

However, down to a man they believed that their success was not in iron, spear or sword. Instead, it was the moral and spiritual component that knitted their confidence together. As a people, they believed in the God that they followed and the God who had appointed their leader, Joshua, to command them.

God gave Joshua two words of great encouragement. First, God told Joshua not to be afraid of his enemies. This is certainly worth noting because God only tells us not to be afraid of our enemy when they are frightening.

Second, God gives a prophetic promise. He tells Joshua that He will hand the enemy over to him, dead. They will be defeated and defeated soundly.

God never leads us to do something for Him without giving us all that is necessary to make us succeed. One of the most fundamental spiritual dynamics is that Christians living in obedience fight from victory not for victory.

More later…

 

Israel 2014 IFL 045There is a captivating view from the top of Mt. Carmel.  It is the transition from that amazing Biblical site to one of the most startling prophetic sites.  When our minds, bodies and spirit clash with the tranquil present and the inevitable future, we feel the weight on our soul.

Once the all of the past Old Testament history of Elijah was climaxed and the oohs and ahs were completed, it was time to re-frame the  beautiful view from on top of the mountain.  The Jezreel valley is a testimony to the diligence, entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of the Jewish people.  It is a lush valley of highly prized agricultural productivity, state of the art fish farming and multi-crop annual harvesting.

IMG_3448This peaceful world-class horn-of-plenty land will play a featured role in the divine plan of God.  One day a man identified as the Anti-Christ will rise up and win a level of popularity on the world stage that defies the imagination of all of human history.  He will politically and economically exercise dominion over the whole earth.

Loyalty to him will eclipse normal explanation and spill into the realm of unabashed worship.  That political religious furor will erupt into open defiance to Jesus Christ.  A battle will ensue in this valley, the Battle of Armageddon.

Just to the Southeast of this location is the ancient town of Meggido.  It stands as the sentinel over this valley.  Hence, the name Armageddon.

In all of my trips to the Holy Land, this is one of those locations that I must pause in a moment of reflection over this eventual battle.  Man will attempt to fight the Savior, the Son of God with armor, man-made weapons and a defiance that reveals their spiritual bankruptcy.

IMG_3449Jesus will merely speak a word and the battle will be over.  Those who defied Him and embraced their sin and their human leaders will die.  Divine judgment will end the march of sin in  a horrific moment of tragic loss.

Light will rule.  Darkness will fall.  The world will be awakened to the blindness that corrupted the lives of many.

Yet, God grace and mercy through the Savior will win the lives of many.  Through the faithful witness of faithful believers, those who choose to believe will be granted mercy and forgiveness forever.  This is the end of the time of Tribulation.  The new beginning will usher in 1,000 years of joy in which the world will relish.

photo credit: brucefong photography & cellphone photography

 

 

2 Thessalonians 2.13-15

During my early leadership days, I was a mere teenager elected by my Boy Scout Troop 255 to serve as the Sr. Patrol Leader.  One of my forays in the role of leading our troop was on a weekend backpack trip to a favorite campsite along one of the many unnamed sloughs in the Sacramento Valley.  Many in our troop were Tenderfeet, not only in rank but also in life.

This was a first camping trip for a few.  They had overloaded their packs.  If we had a scale it would have screamed for relief with these boulder-weighted loads.

On the trail the inexperienced and burdened scouts were falling behind.  I dropped back to encourage the few and to keep them company.  They wanted to quit and go home.

It was time to urge them on because the destination was going to be worthwhile.  We would swim, dive and feast on great food.  The campfire would bring on Smores, stories and great laughter.  “Keep on, pace yourself,” I assured them.

We all did make it to camp.  The rope on the huge oak tree still swung scouts through the sky and sent them splashing and laughing into the cool waters.  We fished, cooked, ate, laughed and counted the stars at night.  It was well worth the hard hike to get there.  I marveled at how great it felt to lead lives to a destination and see them thoroughly enjoying themselves.

The Apostle and his companions think highly of the Thessalonian believers.  This affection is real and spiritual. It is a thoughtful relationship of gratitude.  Paul acknowledges that this is sensible since the believers are loved by the Lord.

Validating God’s love for His own is clearly seen in the ministry of God’s election process, a salvation experience.  We belong to Him, He saved us, He has a vested interest in us. Our salvation had an eternal price, it was the price of His one and only Son’s life.  He paid that on our behalf.  It was a great expression of love.

God not only arranged for the ransom that was required for the salvation of the Thessalonian believers, He took care of logistics to implement it as well.  The Holy Spirit accomplished the miracle of implementing this amazing gift.

In simultaneous sequence, the Father made certain that we would have the faith in order to believe in the truth.  Sin had affected us to such a degree that we could not even choose to exercise faith in the work of Christ.  God made sure that this key ingredient was also possible.  Everything to make sure that the transaction of salvation occurred; the Father orchestrated a plan to make it a reality.

The mechanism that God chose to make salvation a reality for His people is the gospel.  That it, the gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.  People hear the gospel, then by faith respond to its truth and live a new life that is made possible by the regeneration that follows this choice of faith.

There are amazing benefits to taking this step of faith.  Embracing the gospel by faith is more than resolving our past problems with sin.  It is important and it is the beginning.

We must repent of our sins when we come to Jesus Christ through the Good News of the gospel.  Then, we express our faith, we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.  God does a miracle in our lives.  We are regenerated, He is satisfied and then we grow steadily by way of maturity and service.

In addition to resolving our past and giving to us purpose for the present, God also makes provisions in our salvation for our future.  He gives us hope in what is to come.  One of the promises is that we who are born again will share in the glory of Christ when we arrive in eternity.

Since God has made so much possible and available to those who belong to Him, they should naturally respond.  God has invested eternity into the lives of those who follow His Son.  Therefore, they should be determined to be settled with deep conviction.

Choosing to believe and follow in the God who rescued a person is sensible.  There is a determination that is reflected in this exhortation.  In a resolve there is no room for hesitation or a change of mind.  The very nature of this serious decision and the kind of faith necessary to launch mitigate against a fickle spirit.

After a person chooses faith they must also choose their new faith with certainty.  God has made His part clear.  Now, people who benefit from His grace must resolve to hold on to the apostles’ teaching as well.

There are many dangers facing Christians in this lifetime.  False teachers are trying to win their ear.  Satan is actively attempting to thwart their life of faith.  Even their own sin nature is a major distraction and danger.  Holding on to the apostles’ teachings through conversation, teaching or in written form.  These will give them success in their spiritual pursuits.

Any and all Christians should discover in one another the intrinsic value that we all share.  God loves us.  He saved us, made it possible to do so and given us promises to keep us motivated until we are in eternity with Him forever.  If we dwell on all that God did in order to make our salvation possible, then we should be stunned.

He may have given us a task in this lifetime that will at first blush appear to be daunting.  However, He has given us a hope in eternity to motivate us to eagerly live our lives for Him.  We will even be able to share in Jesus’ glory once we get to heaven.

LAPP: Every Christian must operate on the basis of convictions.  Know what is true, what we believe, seal it in our spirit that we will never compromise those value choices.  Instead we will strive to live with determination for Christ.

Thanks for joining on this journey to live the Scriptures.

2 Thessalonians 2.5-12

In 1997 the world watched the predictions of astronomers as the Halle-Bopp Comet was approaching the earth.  It was a beautiful and fascinating natural phenomenon.  Two American scientists discovered this traveling space body in 1995.

It would become the comet of the 20th century.  For over a year this comet was visible to the naked eye.  History records it as the Great Comet by many.

Unfortunately, a photograph, later found to be doctored, showed a dot following the comet.  Marshall Applewhite, leader of the Heaven’s Gate cult, told his followers that this was the alien space craft that was preparing to whisk them away from the earth and escape the soon coming demise of this planet.  They believed him.

False teaching led 39 people to commit suicide believing that they were about to be beamed up into an alien space craft for a journey that would be their salvation.  It was the worst mass suicide ever committed on US soil. Humans are vulnerable to believing the wrong teaching.

When bad things happen, it is not infrequent that the blame goes to God.  Why does God let suffering happen?  If He is really God, then why does He not stop the tragedies?

The Bible teaches us that another player is involved.  He is Satan, the Devil.  This Adversary is working his evil in the lives of people.

He is powerful and exercises a stunning influence over the lives of people.  His plan is to unleash one selected man of lawlessness to wreak havoc on the earth.  The timing of his appearance is told in prophetic Scripture.  Christians must be aware so that they will know the truth.

These wicked plans of the Evil One will began to transpire in the prophetic calendar.  Before the villain is revealed the lawlessness will have been setting up his grand entrance.  Nothing but God alone will be able to stop him.

The build-up for this world hero will capture global attention.  His entrance on to the world stage will be well orchestrated and spectacular.  No one will doubt his authority and position.

Nevertheless, the best that Satan and man can do will simply be overthrown by the breath of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This contrast will be catastrophic.  Just the presence, the splendor of the real King of Kings will nullify the stunning display of evil.

Do not underestimate Satan’s effort.  It will be spectacular.  Miracles, signs and wonders will be on massive display.  Unbelieving people have clamored to have as an alternative to one and true God.  Satan will give it all to them in quantity.

Nevertheless, it will be as if it were a feeble side show when Jesus Christ nullifies it all simply with His breath.  The contrast will be awesome.  Nothing in human history will compare to the defeat of the Evil One.

This prophetic event, the revealing of the Lawless One, will seal the choices that people have made.  Those who have chosen not to believe in God will have what they select, the object of their disbelief.  It will be a commitment that each individual will have clearly made.  That choice will be wrong but it will have been made.

Sadly, they had the opportunity to believe in the one true God and His Son, but they will have rejected Him.  Their salvation was close but they made the wrong choice.  Unfortunately, once their decision is made, it is sealed for eternity.  They will continue to believe the delusion and the lie.

No one will be able to cry “foul”.  God gave them ample opportunity to believe in Christ, but they deliberately chose to cast their faith in Satan.  With great sorrow, the Scriptures make it clear that it was their decision.  The verdict is irrevocable.  Since in their unbelief these people delighted in the wickedness that was their choice.  Anyone who chooses to embrace Satan and his man of lawlessness instead of Jesus Christ will face eternal consequences.

Are you undecided about the invitation given to all in the world by Jesus Christ?  He died on the cross for the whole world.  That was an expression of love.

He knew that we were in trouble with our sin.  Instead of letting us pay our own penalty of death for sin, He stepped in as our substitute.  He applied His death as a payment for our sins.  Then the Father raised Him from the dead with the Resurrected life that will be given to us if we put our faith in Jesus as our Savior.  Will you do that?

Choose the way of the Savior.  Reject the option of the Devil.  Satan’s way may appear impressive, but it does not even hold candle in comparison to Jesus Christ’s love and power.

LAPP (Life Application): The choice is yours.  Make the choice to believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection for you.  Repent of your sins and put your faith in the Lord.  When you do, tell Him “Thank you!” for saving you.  It is your decision.  Make it before your get fooled into believing something that is eternally wrong.

Thanks for joining me on this journey through Scripture.

 

My deep slumber was abruptly ended with the sound of breaking glass. Our alarm system sounded.  It was nerve-wracking to be startled from my sleep by horrific sounds and all the evidence that we were experiencing an intruder alert.

No doubt our security company would be acting immediately.  They are a top notch firm with an impressive track record. It would only be a matter of a six digit time span before authorities would be at our home.  That was an assurance for us but it would be only in time to mop up.  Whatever was about to happen would be finished by the time they arrived.

The intruder was trying to quietly make his way through the broken glass on the floor. Every step crunched the shards strewn over the tile. It announced his progress and gave me a precise location of their proximity in my home.  I was ready for him.

It did not matter.  I woke up from my dream.  The adrenalin rush was still coursing through my veins.  While I was ready and calm in my REM state, would I have been ready in real life?

Jesus Christ is coming again.  Some may feel that they can believe or not believe that this event is a future fact but it is an event that is far bigger than human opinion.  When God makes a promise, He keeps it.  His historical track record is 100% accurate on prophecy and promise.  We have every reason objectively to anticipate this coming reality.

Paul has already spoken about the return of Christ as it relates to Christians.  Theologians call this the Rapture of the Church.  It will be miraculous.  There is no doubt about that spectacular nature of this event.  However, there is more to it than blessing.  Judgment is also a picture of prophecy.

The “day of the Lord” describes a period of time after the Rapture. On the earth God will finally after much patience punish those who have acted in disbelief, lived selfishly, rejected God and hurt God’s servants.

While this time of terrible events is coming, the mystery of when it will in fact occur is uncertain.  That uncertainty is part of the prophetic purpose of these writings.  It serves both as a warning and a direction for correction that people would be well-advised to heed.

The apostle will not repeat what he has already made clear.  Christians know about hope.  It is a key point of their faith.  They are looking forward to a promise that the Lord has made to them.  This is a reunion between the Savior and those that belong to Him because they have been saved and placed into His family.

There is a very tender tone in the apostles writing.  He refers to the Thessalonian believers as “brothers”.  This family reference is real to him.  It is a deep connection that he senses with these Christians.  Together they have an eternal connection with their Savior.  All are looking forward to a reunion with Jesus.  However, this also means something horrific for non-Christians who will remain on the earth after the Church is raptured.

Paul had taught previously on the Day of the Lord.  Lessons from the Lord Himself and from other apostles may in fact be a part of their validated hope.  Since that has been done he did not need to expound on this prophetic material again.  The phrase “times and dates” points to the events that come before the Day of the Lord is initiated.  Christians are already locked into looking forward to this hope.

This dramatic time on the earth is future.  At no other time in modern human history will God be as overtly active as He will during this episode.  Old Testament prophets like Isaiah, Joel and Zephaniah have concentrated on describing this coming cataclysm.

The Day of the Lord begins immediately after the Rapture of the Church.  It continues through the beginning of the Millennial reign of Christ on the earth and until that thousand year period concludes.  The Apostle John describes these days in detail in the heart of his inspired writing of the Revelation.

When this event occurs, it will be a surprise to the people of the earth.  It will be unexpected.  Even with all of the warnings in the Scripture, people will be unprepared.  The image of a sleeping homeowner surprised by a thief in the night will be the comparable event.  This does not mean that Jesus will return at night.  Rather, it means that people will be preoccupied with other matters.  Their unbelief in God distracts them from looking forward to His coming.

Matters in the world lull the citizens of the world to assume that international government will give them world peace.  With peace they put their faith in themselves to assume that they are now safe.  However, the opposite will occur.  Destruction will be their future days.  What they had hoped for in human strength will decay immediately into domination by a world leader.  No one will escape the endless hunger for power and control.  This horrible day is coming. Are you ready?

LAPP: When God speaks, what He says is true.  This applies to prophecy as well.  If He says that something is going to happen, then it will happen.  He has a 100% perfect track record.  Justice of a divine nature will be poured out on the earth.  Those who love Him will heed His warning and live with prepared lives.  Are you right with God?

 

 

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