Archive for September, 2021

Why don’t they believe? (Daniel 10-12)

September 16, 2021

10 Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.  Daniel 12:10

Recently, in our Community Group, one of our members asked, Why don’t people believe in Jesus. This person who has been a believer for many years, but only recently truly understanding the Christian life, spoke with sincerity and passion. As I looked at her face I could see the anguish on her face as she wanted to know why they did not believe, in hopes that she could share with them so they would believe.

In the days of the Prophet Daniel, he lived in a place where many people would not believe. We see his heart over and over in mourning for the people. God showed him things in the future leading up to the very end of the world, which he identified as “a time of trouble,” (12:1).

Daniel was given a vision of the day when the Lord would return to judge the earth (12:2). Revelation 19 and 20 offer us more details. According to Daniel 12, there will be two groups of people who will stand before the Lord:

  1. Those who became wise and follow God, (12:3).
  2. Those who became wicked and practiced ungodliness (12:10).

Question: How did the wicked become wise? The answer is “God.” God opened their hearts and minds to the truth. Ezekiel had promised that God would give people, who repented, a new heart (36:26-27). Daniel had been transformed by God and he awaited the day of the Lord’s return and reward (12:13).

Brothers and sisters, why don’t people believe? Truly, they have decided not to believe because they know not how or why they should believe.

What is our task? I believe it is two-fold:

  1. We are to pray that God would open their hearts and minds.
  2. We are to tell people everywhere that God is calling them to a different path.

I love how John puts these tasks before us in Revelation 22:

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:16-17

Two questions:

  1. Will you focus your heart and mind on the tasks before you?
  2. Will you give yourself to this task with all kinds of people?

The best news I have heard in a long time (Daniel 7-9)

September 15, 2021

“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. Daniel 7:9

Brothers and sisters, did the heading of this days blog peak your interest? I must tell you, it did mine. I must confess that I did not at first entitle the bog, the best news I have heard in a long time. I actually entitled the blog from Daniel 7-9, “What’s in your heart.”

I even went as far as to write out the blog under the heading. I focused on God’s Word to Daniel and His response. But then as I began to pray, The words of Daniel 7:9 were before my eyes. In particular the title for God stood out. Consider the glorious news of our Heavenly Father. He is the Ancient of Days.

As I considered the implications, I realized my Father has always existed and in His existence He has perfect knowledge and understanding. My Poppa has been defeating Satan since the fall. In every generation He has been victorious. In every generation it has been His wisdom and His power that has moved the universe.

As I prayed, I began to pray with greater confidence in knowing that I know the Ancient of Days. Fear of what might be left me. The pressure of trying to figure out the next steps was removed. All that I found myself doing was asking God to speak. I looked to John 10:25-30 where Jesus said, “my sheep hear my voice.”

The best news I have heard in a long time is the news that the Ancient of Days is speaking to His people.

Daniel received visions from the Ancient of Days. His prophecies given to Daniel were not predictions of what He hoped would be, but what He knew would be because He is in charge. This is why the song writer penned these words, “I have read the back of the book and we win.”

Brothers and sisters, it is true: There is sin and sorrow everywhere in the world. But the best news is this: The Ancient of Days has all-power to bring life to our world. The prayer of Daniel becomes so much clearer because of what we have discovered today:

Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord,[j] make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” Daniel 9:17-19

2 questions:

  1. How has Daniels description of God encouraged your life today?
  2. Will you take time to push away from all the noise in your heart and mind and listen to God’s voice?

The Testimony of an unlikely convert (Daniel 4-6)

September 14, 2021

 It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me. Daniel 4:2

Brothers and sisters, I so wish I could sit down with each of you one-one-one. I so want to hear each of your stories of how Christ came to be Lord of your life. This morning God has placed before us, in Daniel 4, the testimony of one man. A man who was an unlikely convert. If you have not read Daniel 4, put aside this blog and read Daniel four.

By now you know the converts name is Nebuchadnezzar. Here are thee things I noticed as he told his story:

I. His begins his testimony as a prosperous and wicked King, 4:4.

He has a dream and Daniel gives the revelation of the dream. Here was a man who was blessed by God (Vs:2) but he ignored God (Vs:25)

II. He tells his story with full disclosure:

  • I would not listen to God (Vs:17)
  • God extended His mercy by one year (Vs: 28)
  • I rejected the Word of the Lord (Vs: 27)
  • I lifted up myself in pride (Vs:30)
  • I was deeply humbled by God (Vs: 32-37)
  • I repented before God (Vs: 34-25)

III. He concludes his story by telling what the Lord had done in his life.

The king wanted others to know who God is. Brothers and sisters, do you remember how I wrote at the beginning of the blog that I wanted to hear each of your stories about coming to know the Lord. I still do want to hear them. As I think about my story, I realize I have the same story as the King. I was born in a blessed home. I grew up thinking I was king of my life. But there came the day when God humbled me and set me on the correct path. I praise His name today.

Once more I must say, I truly want to hear your story of coming to Christ. But even more, I know the world needs to hear your story. It’s time to start telling the story of Jesus once again! Its time to recapture the joy of your salvation. Please tell me and tell others the story of Jesus and write on our hearts every word.

Two questions:

  1. How long has it been since you told the story of Jesus coming into your life as Lord and Savior?
  2. How have you been encouraged by what you have read today?

Faithful to the End (Daniel 1-3)

September 13, 2021

20 Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
    to whom belong wisdom and might, Daniel 2:20

I was up very early this morning to prepare for a great day in the Lord. I was at the office by 5:15 AM. I sat down to read this text before I was to lead our Men’s Bible Study Time. Immediately I was drawn to the word FAITH. This word always comes up in these chapters of Daniel. Consider the following:

  • Daniel one reveals to us the faith of Daniel along with his companions to trust in God’s directions instead of mens.
  • Daniel two reveals to us the faith of Daniel in believing God is the one who knows all things.
  • Daniel three reveals to us the faith of Daniels three companions who were willing to stand in the fire for their faith in God.

Oh, what great faith these brothers possessed.

But, there is greater FAITH to see in these chapters. Look closely at the faithfulness of God. Consider the following:

  • God was faithful in positioning His servants in positions of favor and influence in a foreign land.
  • God was faithful in providing health and divine wisdom before a lost nation of people.
  • God was faithful to be the fourth man in the fire.

On this Monday, I tell you: God is faithful to the end of every matter in life. Knowing this, I can have peaceful faith in knowing that God will be faithful to the end of what I am in the middle of today. Knowing this, I can have wisdom to see how to get through what I am about to go into today. Knowing this, I will be thankful as I come out of whatever I am in.

Here is what Daniel knew about God:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
    to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what is in the darkness,
    and the light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my fathers,
    I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
    and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
    for you have made known to us the king’s matter.

2 questions:

  1. What have you learned about God today?
  2. How can these lessons build your faith in Him?

Who is at the Gate? (Ezekiel 44-45)

September 10, 2021

 And the Lord said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it. Therefore it shall remain shut.  Ezekiel 44:3

The year was 1995. I will never forget that year for two reasons. The first reason was the birth of my oldest son. The second reason was because I was able to take a study tour of Israel. Yes, I walked in the Holy Land in 1995. There are many moments that are edged in my memory. I remember receiving the Lord’s Supper at the Garden Tomb and I remember the worship service on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee.

I also remember the day our tour group gathered in front of the eastern gate (called the Golden Gate) in the city of Jerusalem. I have the picture hanging in my office to this day. I can remember our tour guide telling the story of how when the Muslims took charge of Jerusalem, under the leadership of Sulciman, that they closed up the gate and it remains closed until this very day.

Because of our studies in Ezekiel we know that Jesus glory came through the gate and we know that God said (44:1) close up the gate. We also know that someday Jesus will come through this very gate (37:24). Please drink deeply in God’s Word today:

This very day, King Jesus sits as our God at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 5:31). This could be the very day when Jesus will come to enter by the gate and sit on the throne in Israel and the world (Matt. 25:31). When this happens, all the world will come to be judged by Him (Matt. 25:32-33). Jesus told his disciples to be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matt. 24:44).

Oh what good news this is. But there is more good news. Before Jesus coming, He is calling to all people to follow Him. John pictures Jesus as standing before every person’s heart and knocking at their gates (door) (Rev. 3:20). Jesus did this in my life in February 1974. Praise be to His name, that He led me to open up the gate of my heart.

Dear reader, have you opened up the door of your heart? If not, do it today. If you have, consider this truth, some day He is coming to meet you in person. Oh what a day that will be.

Two questions:

  1. How did you respond when God came to the gate of your heart?
  2. How did todays study bring hope into your life?

Enjoy the lyrics to the worship song I sang this morning:

He’s coming on the cloudsHe’s coming on the clouds
Kings and kingdoms will bow down
And every chain will break
As broken hearts declare His praise
For who can stop the Lord AlmightyAnd our God is the lion
The Lion of Judah
He’s roaring with power
And fighting our battles
And every knee will bow before Him
Our God is the lamb
The lamb that was slain
For the sins of the world
His blood breaks the chains
And every knee will bow before the lion and the lamb
Every knee will bow before Him (yeah)So, open up the gatesSo, open up the gates
Make way before the King of Kings
The God who comes to save
Is here to set the captives free
For who can stop the Lord AlmightyOur God is the lion
The Lion of Judah
He’s roaring with power
And fighting our battles
And every knee will bow before Him
Our God is the lamb
The lamb that was slain
For the sin of the world
His blood breaks the chains
And every knee will bow before the lion and the lamb
Every knee will bow before Him”How many here believe
Every knee will bow
Every tongue will confess
And then”For who can stop the Lord Almighty
Who can stop the Lord Almighty
Who can stop the Lord Almighty
No one
Who can stop
Sing it over the battle”Yeah, that’s it”Who can stop the Lord Almighty
There is no one
Who can stop the Lord Almighty
Who can stop the Lord (yeah)And our God is the lion
The Lion of Judah
He’s roaring with power
And fighting our battles
And every knee will bow before Him
Our God is the lamb
The lamb that was slain
For the sins of the world
His blood breaks the chains
And every knee will bow before the lion and the lamb
Every knee will bow before Him (yeah)Every knee will bow
Tongue confess

Behold the Glory of God (Ezekiel 42-43)

September 9, 2021

Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory, Ezekiel 43:1

As Ezekiel continued to describe the dimensions of the temple, we are brought into the inner court of the temple. Suddenly, Ezekiel sees something beyond complete description coming from the east. Quickly, we are told it is the glory of God coming back to the temple. I remind you of how Ezekiel described the glory of God leaving the temple in 11:23.

In my journal I wrote: The presence of God would return to His people.

Brothers and sisters, the temple was only a building without God. Yes, its craftsmanship was wonderful and its wealth magnificent. However, without God’s presence it was just another building. However, when God came, things changed in the building. Now there was power in the building and there was direction in the building.

The building was not the object of worship. God was the object of worship.

In my journal I wrote: In a much greater way, the presence of God resides in His people today!

Let us remember I Corinthians 6:19-20:

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. I Corinthians 6:19-20

Someone once said, pastor I don’t have to attend church to worship God. Yes, this is true, but it is also true, anyone who worships God each day will long to gather with God’s people in His house to worship.

I want you to know that there is something special about being in the house of worship, on His day. Nothing else compares to it. Here is what the writer of Hebrews said about the special day of the week:

25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

I want you to know that last weekend, the Glory of the Lord was in this house called JFBC and I want you to know that the glory of the Lord will be in this house called JFBC this weekend.

2 questions:

  1. Why is corporate worship unique?
  2. Have you already made your plans for the weekend?

If I could only see it (Ezekiel 40-41)

September 8, 2021

 And the man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and set your heart upon all that I shall show you, for you were brought here in order that I might show it to you. Declare all that you see to the house of Israel.” Ezekiel 40:4

Several nights ago, Sherry and I were driving home late after having spent some time with church family. As I drove Sherry was glued to looking out the passenger window. Her focus was totally on her search for deer. At one point she saw a large buck and it excited here.

Personally, I found it hard to rejoice with her because I did not see the deer. Brothers and sisters, it’s hard to rejoice with God when you don’t see what He sees. In Ezekiel 40-48 the prophet is given a vision of the restored temple as well as the restored city of Jerusalem.

Admittedly, these chapters are hard to grasp until you realize what they are presenting to the reader. As the reader begins to see the Temple and its furnishings, there is suddenly a mindset change. One moves from the brokenness of now to the blessing of what is to come.

R.C. Sproul’s commentary helps us to see better: “The prophet describes through architecture, legislation, and geography a point in the future when the presence of God among His purified people will transcend anything Israel has experienced in history,” (Sproul, R.C. The Reformation Study Bible, {Reformation Trust Publishing, Sanford Florida, 2015} Pg.1444).

As Ezekiel saw these things, his heart and mind must have been encouraged. Just a few chapters earlier God had said, this day was coming. Look back at what God had said:

24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land[g] and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.

Take heart today and if you need to do so, ask the Lord to let you see what you need to see to walk closer with Him. I love how the writer of Hebrew’s encourages us in such times:

 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, 11:1.

2 questions:

  1. Are the things in your mind real or are they what you think might be real?
  2. How can today’s Scripture help you to see life from a better viewpoint?

No More (Ezekiel 38-39)

September 7, 2021

“And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel.  Ezekiel 38-39

Sometimes I look at our society and I wonder how much longer God will be patient with us. Sometimes I look at the apathy in many churches and I wonder how much longer will God endure with dead churches? Sometimes I listen to the open rebellion against God and I wonder, when will His mercy end and when will His wrath come.

According to the Apostle Paul, Acts 17:30-31, God has fixed a day when He will judge the earth. When that day comes there will be no more rebellion in the world.

We also are informed by Ezekiel that there is a day coming when there will be one last battle on the earth between rebellious humanity and God. Ezekiels identifies this as the Battle of Gog and Magog. We gain greater details from Revelation 20:7-10. This battle, referred to by Ezekiel takes place at the end of the thousand year reign of Christ. Satan is released from his holding place and raises an army (Ezekiel 38:12) to attempt to destroy the throne of Christ which will be in Jerusalem. He will convince multitudes of people (Ezekiel 38:10) to rebel against God.

This will be the last battle on planet earth. God said, “It is coming,” (39:8). When the battle is over, never again will there be war on the earth.

Brothers and sisters, now is the age of war on the earth. But there is coming a day when the war will end. Feast with me in God’s Word as we consider the day of the Lord:

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people and God himself will be with them as their God. ]4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4

2 questions:

  1. Which team are you on? God’s or Satan’s
  2. In what ways can the reality of what is coming encourage you as you face what is?

Only One Way (Ezekiel 35-37)

September 6, 2021

24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. Ezekiel 37:24

In a democratic society people usually recoil at the thought of anyone saying there is only one way of doing anything. Our society puts forth a smoke-screen that wants us to believe that Americans each celebrate many ways of doing things. However, behind the smoke screen is a heart and mind settled on the view that it is my way that is right.

Friends, there are somethings in life where there is actually only one way. For example, in Eastern Kentucky, there are remote places where there is only one way in and one way out.

Here is another example, Jesus said, there is only one way into Heaven. Jesus is that road (The Way, John 14:6).

Friends, if the world could only see the way and follow the way, life would be so much different.

We see this illustrated in Ezekiel’s day. We already know the people were living in rebellion and now in exile because of rebellion. In Ezekiel 36-37 the people are pointed to a different way:

God promised, through Jesus, Israel could be born-again. 36:24-27

24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

God promised, through Jesus, Israel would rise from the dead. 36:11-14

11 And I will multiply on you man and beast, and they shall multiply and be fruitful. And I will cause you to be inhabited as in your former times, and will do more good to you than ever before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. 12 I will let people walk on you, even my people Israel. And they shall possess you, and you shall be their inheritance, and you shall no longer bereave them of children. 13 Thus says the Lord God: Because they say to you, ‘You devour people, and you bereave your nation of children,’ 14 therefore you shall no longer devour people and no longer bereave your nation of children, declares the Lord God.

God promised, through Jesus, Israel would serve the Lord forever. 37:24-25

24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 

Dear friend, I am so thankful for this one way of Jesus. I am so glad Jesus caused me to be born-again. I am so excited to tell you that death has no hold on me. Even if I die I will rise from the dead. The news gets even better, in Jesus we will rule and reign forever.

I am happy to live this one way and I pray you are living this way. I also am praying that you and I will lead others to live this one way.

2 questions:

  1. What is your chosen way of living today?
  2. How can you help others to see the value of living for Jesus?

You Are Sunk (Ezekiel 24-27)

September 3, 2021

27 Your riches, your wares, your merchandise,
    your mariners and your pilots,
your caulkers, your dealers in merchandise,
    and all your men of war who are in you,
with all your crew
    that is in your midst,
sink into the heart of the seas
    on the day of your fall. Ezekiel 27:27

Sometimes I find myself getting drawn into a book, movie, or podcast because I have something in common with what is being presented. Often I find myself gaining much from being drawn in. However, there are times when I find myself being cut deeply when I see failure in others that I can identify with.

For example, recently a friend loaned me a leadership book. The book immediately drew me in because I have the honor of leading a growing church staff. As I read the book suddenly I was sunk because some of the failures of others is the same failures I have. So in that way I was sunk.

In a much more significant way, this happens each day as I read God’s Word. Let’s take, for example, part of todays readings. In chapters 26-27 God spoke to the people of Tyre who had been blessed by God with prosperity in every way. I wrote in my Bible, they had it all. However, the people did not consider God as the source of their blessings and they hated on God’s people.

Chapter 27 teaches us that in one day God sunk them. Examine closely 26:20-21:

 20 then I will make you go down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of old, and I will make you to dwell in the world below, among ruins from of old, with those who go down to the pit, so that you will not be inhabited; but I will set beauty in the land of the living. 21 I will bring you to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more. Though you be sought for, you will never be found again, declares the Lord God.”

3 questions came flooding into my mind:

  1. Is America any different than ancient Tyre?
  2. Is America on the road to sinking herself?
  3. Is America beyond hope?

I believe these are honest questions that beg for an answer in our day.

Here is how I believe Scripture answers these questions. First, we are different in that the church is in America. I believe God has positioned His church in this day to be a light and to be the bearers of the news of hope. Second, I do believe America is sinking herself and I believe certain judgment is coming, unless we repent. Lastly, I believe there is hope if the church leads the way back to Jesus.

Some people are saying, I don’t care what you say pastor, I have a sinking feeling. I truly get this, but I would respond, I have a clear truth that Jesus saves. What He has done for me, He can do for others. Here is what God does:

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, Colossians 1:13

2 quesions:

  1. Do you have a sinking feeling today?
  2. Do you need to turn your eyes back to God and away from the world?