Followers

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Unto Us

Driving to church a few Sundays ago, I contemplated what God would have me write this month. As each beautiful Scripture of our Savior’s incarnation and birth filed through my memory, I reached Isaiah 9:6, and it exploded in full Halleluiah Chorus style.

 

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 

When my personal concert concluded, I thought, Lord, hasn’t this verse been written about by more intelligent and creative people? What could I possibly write that hasn’t already been said?

 

Like frames of a silent movie film, the Son’s names rolled by one by one, “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Then, in a flash, they rewound to Wonderful.

 

I love this name. Early in my conversion, God opened my eyes to it in the announcement of Sampson’s conception and birth. Chapter 13 is my all-time favorite of Judges since so much of the book makes me want to cry. But because this portion contains the pre-incarnate Jesus, I find myself in awe—praising His Holy Name.

 

Sampson’s mother was infertile. One day, the Angel of the Lord visited her and announced she would bear a son. At the time, Manoah, her husband, was not with her, so he prayed to God and asked for this Angel to reappear. God heeded Manoah’s prayer.

 

As the Angel of the Lord stood before them, Manoah asked about raising this prophesied child and received the Nazarite instructions connecting their child, in a small way, with Jesus, the Nazarene. Then Manoah, wanting to be sure they praised the correct One who performed the miracle, asked the Angel’s name. “And the Angel of the Lord said to him, ‘Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?’”[1]

 

Most Bible translations use the word wonderful in Judges 13, but some say secret, beyond understanding, or a name that works miracles. This got me thinking. Was the name of Jesus translated in Isaiah 9:6 as Wonderful, the same word?

 

Judges 13:18 utilizes the Hebrew word (#6383) pil’îy, or pâlîy pronounced pil-ee’ and paw-lee’ respectively, meaning remarkable. Isaiah 9:6 employs (#6382) pele’ pronounced peh’-leh, a miracle. However, both words come from the SAME primitive root (#6381) pâlâ pronounced paw-law’ meaning [they think] to separate, i.e., distinguish and by implication to be great, difficult, or wonderful.[2]

 

God spoke nearly the identical name to both Manoah and Isaiah. Still, some translations of Isaiah 9:6, like mine, insert a comma after the word Wonderful making it a separate name, and others do not. In those Bibles, Wonderful becomes a describing word for the type of Counselor this Son will be.

 

Jesus, the Wonderful Word of God, is the only true Counselor.

 

So, you decide whether or not Wonderful is an actual name of God (which I believe it is) or an adjective. But considering how the pre-incarnate Jesus who visited Manoah and his wife was then caught up in the fire of their sacrifice and ascended to heaven, I feel like singing…Wonderful… Counselor…The Mighty God…The Everlasting Father…The Prince of Peace…

 

By God’s great names, we understand who He is, and none of this would be true if He were not the Child…bornunto us” AND the Songiven. Everything else pales in comparison.

 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”[3]

 

Our God, whose name is Wonderful, gave Manoah and his wife a son of their loins. But before time began, He gave UNTO US Himself that we should not perish but have everlasting life. The most Wonderful Gift ever offered arrived in the fullness of time.[4] This Baby, born of a young virgin in Bethlehem, grew up, died on a cross for my sin and yours, was buried, arose the third day, and ascended to heaven. He is Wonderful!

 

If you haven’t yet, will YOU, at this time, accept Him?

 

Have a Blessed Christmas and a

Happy, Healthy New Year!



[1] Judges 13:18

[2] Strong’s Concordance

[3] John 3:16

[4] Galatians 4:4

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

In Everything Give Thanks


Thanksgiving—an expression of gratitude given in many different ways—an action gushing forth from heartfelt emotion. Daily we extend or receive kindnesses, and thanksgiving seems to flow naturally. Effortlessly we thank our fellow man, but when it comes to God, sometimes it’s not so easy. And even on the day our nation has set aside to thank God for His bountiful blessings, thanksgiving becomes a strained endeavor.

 

Why?

 

Perhaps the reality of our crummy situation slaps us in the face. Maybe the ups and downs of family relationships or gyrating current events have us on a merry-go-round, and we’re not feeling very thankful. I’m right there with you. In fact, I found myself shouting, “Lord Jesus, stop the world I want to get off!”

 

But at that moment, God’s still small voice penetrated my soul. “Rejoice always,” He said. “Pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”[1]

 

Quickly my pity party turned into a temper tantrum. “No,” I said to myself, stomping my foot, crossing my arms, and pursing my lips. “I don’t want to.”

 

“Why?” I felt His Spirit ask.

 

“I don’t feel like it,” I said timidly. Just then, I felt a swat to my bottom, and the correction of God pained my heart.[2]

 

“Look again at the scripture. Does it say anywhere in the text do this if you feel like it?”

 

“No, Lord,” I replied.

 

“So, what does it say?”

 

I blew out a sigh and answered. “It says I’m to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything, not about everything, whether things seem good to me or not, whether I feel like it or not, I am to give thanks.”

 

“Why did I order it this way?”

 

“I guess because when we obey, our thoughts move from ourselves and our situation to You.”

 

“That’s correct,” my heart heard. “I love you. You are My precious child.[3] I hold you in the bad times; surround you with My arms.[4] I comfort and shield you.[5] I alone calm your storm and lift you with My righteous right hand.[6] I never leave you, and I am with you wherever you go.[7]

 

“Believe Me and trust Me, for I never change. I will work all these things out for your good. My Spirit is your guarantee, and though trouble comes, this world is not your home.[8]

 

“Finite minds cannot fully imagine the splendors of My heavenly kingdom or the glories that await you. Still, it’s not just the place. It’s Me, My presence—My holiness.[9]

 

“So know this, as I was with Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness, I am with you. My Spirit dwells in you. During this storm, My Presence will guide you, envelop you with peace, and give rest to your soul.[10]

 

“Remember, My purposes shall be accomplished according to all I have written, for I am God, and there is no other.”[11]

 

Humbled, I said, “Thank you, Lord. Please cleanse me from all unrighteousness.[12] I may not feel like rejoicing amidst my circumstances, but I do rejoice in You—my God, my Savior, my Lord, and my Hope. Help me to pray without ceasing, and even if I’m grumbling, help me to run to You, submit, draw near, and resist the devil because he wants me to wallow in my misery and grief.[13]

 

“Safe in Your arms, will I give thanks in everything and trust you to bring good. With wide eyes and expectancy, I’ll watch You wipe away my tears, put off my sackcloth, clothe me with gladness, and turn my mourning into dancing.[14]

 

Have a thankful and blessed Thanksgiving Day!

 



[1] I Thessalonians 5:16-18

[2] Hebrews 12:6

[3] John 1:12

[4] Psalm 32:7

[5] Isaiah 66:13; II Corinthians 1:3-4; Psalm 3:3

[6] Isaiah 41:10

[7] Hebrews 13:5; Joshua 1:9

[8] Malachi 3:6; Romans 8:28; II Cor. 1:21-22; Hebrews 11:9-10

[9] I Corinthians 2:9-10; II Corinthians 12:2-4

[10] Exodus 33:14; Matthew 11:28-29

[11] Isaiah 55:11; Isaiah 45:5

[12] I John 1:9

[13] James 4:7-8

[14] Psalm 30:11

Saturday, October 31, 2020

As In The Days Of Lot

 

If you remember, a few months ago, I was feeling like Jonah. (See Saturday, June 27, 2020, "Occupy Till I Come" blog.)


But lately, I’ve been feeling more like Lot.


In the books of Matthew and Luke, Jesus equated end times with the days of Noah. However, in Luke, He makes another comparison. “Likewise, as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:28-29) Wow! They were just going about their daily lives oblivious to the pending judgment when sudden destruction came upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman and as a thief in the night.[1]

 

But why did angels lead Lot and family out beforehand? Was it because he was Abraham’s nephew? Maybe, yet I think there’s more to it, so let’s dig.

 

Genesis 11:26-31 tells us Terah had three sons, Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran must have been the oldest because he bore three children, Milcah, Iscah, and Lot, before either Nahor or Abram married. Sadly, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, also known as Mesopotamia.

 

Right around this time, “…the God of glory appeared to… Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran…” saying, ‘…Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’”[2]

 

If you know anything about Abraham, you realize when the Almighty spoke, he immediately obeyed. Abram chose Sarai as his wife. Nahor took Milcah. After sad goodbyes, Terah, Abram, Sarai, and Lot departed Ur. They traveled northeast along the main road and came to the city of Haran, and there Terah died.

 

Abram knew it was now time to continue his journey. So, at seventy-five years of age, he packed up Sarai, Lot, all the possessions and people he had acquired in Haran, and departed for the land of Canaan.

 

The Canaanites made it difficult to settle, but after several moves and a stay in Egypt, Abram and family returned to Canaan to the mountain between Bethel and Ai. Lot was now grown with many flocks and possessions, and soon strife arose between the herdsmen. Abram suggested they separate, and as Lot’s surrogate dad, he gave him first choice. “…Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan…it was well watered…like the garden of the Lord… Lot chose for himself…and…dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.”[3]

 

As a nomadic farmer with herds and tents, what made Lot move into the city of Sodom? Was it fear of the surrounding kings who once captured him, his family, and his goods? And although Abraham rescued him, did he not feel safe outside the city? Possibly.

 

Still, it’s clear from Scripture the men of Sodom hated that Lot dwelt there and sat in the city gate acting as a judge. So why did he stay? Was it for his wife? Nothing is known about her except that the city and its sin seduced her.[4]

 

Lot was raised by Abraham, whom the Lord knew, “…that he may command his children and…household…that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice…”[5] Peter tells us Lot “…was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)[6]

 

Ah, this is why I feel like Lot. We are dwelling amongst the same blatant disregard for God’s righteousness, morality, and ethics. We see the same perverted sin flaunted in our faces and touted as lovely and good. I’m grieved as I watch the news, and the lawless deeds torment my soul. I’m concerned for America, but not for the believer’s future. Although that day comes upon the world as a thief in the night, we are NOT in darkness.[7] God’s great love removed Lot before destruction hit Sodom. But I’m not looking for angels to take me by the hand and lead me out. I’m looking for Jesus Christ Himself to meet me in the air![8] Glory to God!!



[1] I Thessalonians 5:2-3

[2] Acts 7:2-3

[3] Genesis 13:10-12

[4] Genesis 19:26; Luke 17:32

[5] Genesis 18:17-19

[6] II Peter 2:7-8

[7] I Thessalonians 5:4

[8] I Thessalonians 4:17

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Perilous Times


Do you feel as though you’ve entered an alternate universe?  A world where things appear to be normal, but something’s not quite right? People look the same, yet their thoughts are backward from what you remember. And the longer you investigate your surroundings, the more you find what you knew as good has now been deemed evil. Is it a nightmare? The Twilight Zone? Or could it be what God’s Word prophesied, “…that in the last days perilous times will come:”[1]

 

As I was thinking about what to write, and whether or not to write, I remembered the Back to the Future movies. One of the films, Part III, I think, took Marty McFly to a different reality. Something happened in Part II that had altered his universe. Marty’s mother was now married to the villain, Biff. And if that weren’t shocking enough, she had had cosmetic surgery and appeared very voluptuous.

 

Marty found where once respect, decency, and morality were the norm in their town, now licentiousness and depravity reigned free. He had to right the past of this new reality to rectify the future. Of course, Marty McFly is the savior. The changes he secured made his true and current world better than before.

 

This makes me wish there was a way we could return to 1947 and change the outcome of the Everson v. Board of Education case. The Supreme Court took Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” metaphor out of the context of his private letter to Danbury, Connecticut Baptist Association. The court used this small portion to reinterpret our Constitution’s First Amendment, which was meant to PROTECT rather than REMOVE Christian values and practices from public policy.[2]

 

But, if 1947 is too far back, how about 1962. Then we could stop the Supreme Court from again throwing precedent out the window and redefining “church” to mean a religious activity instead of the actual meaning of the Constitution—a federally-established national denomination such as Baptist or Catholic. Prayer and Bible reading were religious activities.[3]

 

Still too far back? Maybe return to 1980. This Supreme Court Decision removed the Ten Commandments from the classroom. In justifying their ruling, these intelligent judges said, “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey the commandments…[this] is not a permissible state objective.”[4]

 

Almost 200 years earlier, President John Adams stated, “If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.”[5]

 

Perilous times indeed have come because sinful people have allowed evil to reign, and unlike Marty McFly, we cannot go back in time to right the wrongs. However, we can vote for the candidate who more closely aligns with God’s Word—one who is pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-religious freedom. Maybe, just maybe, God will have mercy and continue our reprieve from evil. For, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD…”[6]

 

Vote wisely, dear friend. The timing of these perilous times, “…the Father has put in His own authority.”[7]  And, take heart, God sees all. “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous…His ears are open to their cry…The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good…For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.” And, praise God, “…the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”[8]



[1] II Timothy 3:1

[2] “America’s Godly Heritage” video by David Barton,

distributed by www.wallbuilders.com

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Psalm 33:12

[7] Acts 1:7

[8] Psalm 34:15; Proverbs 15:3; Proverbs 5:21; 2 Chronicles 16:9

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