Will they succeed forever in their heartless conquests? ~ Habakkuk 1:17 NLT
Habakkuk now has God’s attention. He has just accused God of being unfair!
Really? God’s own prophet? Yes, and The LORD just confirmed His plan to send Babylonian “heathens” to invade “the more righteous” nation of Judah! After more complaining, Habakkuk retires to the nearest watch tower and simply waits for the LORD’S reply.
It isn’t long in coming. The LORD methodically reminds Habakkuk that the future invasion is not a random act, but His judgement plan for the unrepentant sinful nation of Judah. Continue reading →
Just as God promised, all two hundred seventy-six persons aboard the doomed ship are saved! The natives are friendly, and help the soggy sailors build a fire on the beach, as it is cold and rainy. They let Paul’s party know that the island is called Malta!
Luke records that the natives are UNUSUALLY friendly. I wonder why? Perhaps some of the foodstuffs and boat gear has been washing up on the beach during Euroclydon and they are in a happy mood. They may think their gods are favoring them with more surprises from the sea for their entertainment … or exploitation.
No sooner does Paul gather wood for the fire than he is bitten by a viper, which scares the locals. Paul just shakes the snake into the fire, and the Maltese immediately expect Paul to succumb to the venomous attack. They suspect the prisoner Paul of being a murderer or something. He must be deserving of such horrid judgement. But Paul is not harmed.
So now he must be a god!
This is so true of humans even today. Idol worship still makes no common sense.
Anyway, the mayor of the area, a man named Plubius, courteously invites the shipwrecked crew into his home for three days. Plubius’s father is sick with fever and dysentery, so Paul prays and lays hands on the man. The man is healed, and the good news spreads across Malta. If there are any lingering suspicions of the foreigners in their midst, all doubt is now erased. Is this further proof that Paul is indeed a visiting god? Here come the island’s sick and diseased. Their sicknesses are healed, too.
Of course, Paul does not allow the Maltese to worship him as a god. He ministers to the entire island about Jesus and many become believers.
Why do I believe that there were many saved at Malta because of the witness of Paul?
Because that is what Apostles are instructed to do by the Master, Jesus (Yeshua). And throughout the Book of Acts Prayer for the sick and Laying on of Hands leads to Healing and that leads to Belief in Jesus and Salvation in Him – it’s a heavenly formula!
12And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people … 13Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed. ~ (Peter) in Acts 5:12-15 NKJV
God even uses resurrection of the dead to reach people for salvation in Jesus. Take the instance of Jesus raising Lazarus; or the Apostle Peter at Joppa:
Tabitha (Dorcas), who was a Christian disciple, took sick and died. Other disciples knew that Peter was staying at Lydda, which was not far from Joppa. Two men went to Peter and asked him to help.
39Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. ~ Acts 9:39-42 NKJV
There are many other scriptural examples of what I think happened on Malta. Enjoy your Bible study and research! God makes sure that His Gospel is going out to every people, nation and tribe. Paul is an obedient servant of Our Lord. He knows that his destiny is Rome and time is short …
I want to talk about today. The Gospel message is still going out and it is as strongly received by lost people as it was in the day of the apostles. People all over the world are still lost in sin. They still worship idols, are sick and tormented by devils. They still need hope and salvation. The same formula still works: Pray for the sick, Lay on hands, let people experience the raw Power of the Holy Spirit Heal folks, Cast out demons, or Raise the dead. The darkness of Africa is being lifted in this same way and Belief in Christ is working over the whole continent. HALLELUHAH!!!
“Praise and thank you Jesus, for lighting that fire in Africa and across the world! Amen! Amen!!”
In the meantime, Julius finds another Alexandrian ship that has wintered over on Malta, whose figurehead is the twins, Castor and Pollux. In three months it will bear them to Rome. Until then they must suffer the honor and island entertainment of Malta. What a nice break after all they had just survived!
Stay tuned if you are feeling the spark of the Holy Spirit and where it is taking us on this Voyage to Rome. There are plenty of twists and turns to this story left to be told. God bless and thank you for following
“I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and He answered me. I called out to You from the land of the dead, and Lord, You heard me!” ~ Jonah 2:2 NLT
When people are at their lowest, God hears their cries to Him and saves them. This message of a benevolent God of love and mercy seems to resonate with most people. But His holiness also calls for judgement when necessary. So why do we linger in sinful misery before crying out to Him?
Let’s look at the prophet Jonah in the Bible. He refused to preach God’s message of salvation to the Assyrian people of Nineveh – a particularly evil, idolatrous, and violent capital of Mesopotamia (located in modern-day Turkey and Iraq).
“Nineveh was so large that it took three days to see it all”. ~Jonah 3:3 NLT
Imagine! It may have been the equivalent of Las Vegas – known today as Sin City; full of glittering neon lights and sinful attractions along with idolatry. Anyway, God had decided to judge the people of Nineveh for their sins. Our merciful Father in Heaven had, however, allowed them a way to escape judgement. They could repent within 40 days or be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah.
Jonah was having none of it. He evidently hated the Assyrians. As a consequence, it cost Jonah his life and almost cost the lives of his shipmates and an entire city of people. Oh, I shrink from the horrifying thought of what my actions cost others when I behave like Jonah!
And yet, the lesson continues …
Jonah eventually repented and God gave him a second chance.
“Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.” ~ Jonah 2:10 NLT
Jonah finally obeyed God. He went to Nineveh, and preached God’s Word.
“5The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. 10When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, He changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened.” ~ Jonah 3:5,10 NLT
Happy ending, right? Jonah is resurrected from a watery grave; the ship and all it’s crew are saved from the storm and worship the one true God; and a whole city is also saved.
Wrong! Well, no doubt it was a joyful event for the people and animals of Nineveh. But Jonah was so angry he complained to God about (of all things) God’s mercy and compassion to sinners. See, Jonah was certain all along that if he preached to them, the people of Nineveh would repent. God would forgive them because of His benevolent nature, and forego their destruction … RATS! His worst fears were realized.
“Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” ~ Jonah 4:3 NLT
Then God gently rebuked Jonah:
“4Is it right for you to be angry about this? 11But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” ~ Jonah 4:4,11 NLT
That is the last Word given to us in the Book of Jonah. I rest upon God’s wisdom.
“Father, although we are worthy of judgement and destruction, today I glorify You for showing Your power to mankind in love, mercy and salvation instead of what we deserve. Thank you for the hope we have in Your gift of a new year 2019; to recognize Your willingness to give each of us another chance to be obedient to Your Word … Especially that we would realize that all men are equal in Your sight and deserve our love and respect. In the name of JESUS; ALPHA AND OMEGA; THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD, Amen!”
Jesus claimed to be The Son of God to crowds of people who constantly weighed and tested His Word. Today humans still ask for credible proof that Jesus is The Son of God. Once again, His true followers can only point to Bible scripture for Truth and to one word – “Listen”.
This scripture is all about God’s Promises to three different groups of people. Picking up the story in John 10:22, the season is winter around the time of Hanukkah, or the Festival of Dedication. Jesus is walking through Solomon’s Colonnadein the Temple, surrounded by people. The throng is three camps combined:
One camp contains true believers
The second camp is sprinkled with noncommitted followers and some seekers. They are leaves blown by the Jesus-is-in-Town-Wind. They are not entirely innocent. They desire to be witnesses of Jesus’s demise (should He blunder). It is the “Where’s the popcorn?” movie crowd.
The third camp is made up of doubters, deceived Pharisees, and Satan’s own: those following primarily to challenge Jesus. I call these “THE ONCE-AGAINS”:
24bHow long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.
Here is a magnificent example of how perfectly Godlike Jesus is. He testifies to all three groups at the same time with the same words- and Jesus says what He means and means what He says:
26But you don’t believe Me because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to My Voice; I know them, and they follow Me.
So, Jesus answered the questions on the hearts of all three groups in two simple statements.
Watch now: Jesus goes on to powerfully state the most reassuring scripture in history for true believers and for seekers alike. It is the oft-quoted “eternal security” scripture straight from the mouth of Jesus. Notice that He ends His testimony with an even more powerful statement directed to THE ONCE-AGAINS in verse 30:
28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, 29for My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30The Father and I are One.
31ONCE AGAIN the people picked up stones to kill Him. 32Jesus said, “At My Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone Me?”(emphasis added)
33They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Well, isn’t that exactly the same silliness going on in the earth today? Instead of reverancing their Powerful and Majestic Creator, people are not listening to the true message of Jesus. THE ONCE-AGAINS (the lost)continue in their blind rejection of Jesus as the Promised Savior.
Jesus patiently responds to the crowd in verses 34 – 38, and
39ONCE AGAIN they tried to arrest Him, but He got away and left them. 40He went beyond the Jordan River near the place where John was first baptizing and stayed there awhile. (emphasis added)
Isn’t that just like Jesus? He leaves the city, leading a few chosen out into the country for some peace and quiet. For reflection at the river. The River of Life.
Yes! And the Bible states that many people follow Jesus there, and believe that He is their Messiah.
Why? Because John the Baptist did not perform signs and wonders. That was reserved for Jesus’s ministry. But some of them get to thinking about the testimony of John once they are away from that mind-numbing distraction of THE ONCE-AGAINS:
41beverything he (John the Baptist) said about this Man has come true. (Italics added)
THE ONCE-AGAINS (those who refuse to believe that Jesus is God) are like wolves in the sheepfold that scatter and devour the flock (John 10:12). They mimic their true father of lies (Satan). They mock, scorn, and deny all that is Truth. They still plot to persecute believers worldwide with murder, imprisonment, and unspeakable torture.
Our Almighty Father Above All, I thank You today that Jesus, Your Son, is sitting at Your right hand at Your throne in Heaven. And that while He walked this earth He gave testimony to all who would listen the Words that You told Him to speak. Thank You for Your promise to never lose a single sheep who sincerely follows Jesus. Thank You for defeating the agenda of Satan at the cross of Calvary. Holy Spirit, help me to be gentle in my dealings with the lost for Jesus’s sake, and for theirs. May everyone who hears Your Word listen and respond with repentance and take into their hearts the love of Jesus that abides within us for eternity. Help us to understand Your Holy Message as we study Your Word each day – In the Powerful Name of our Blessed Lord Jesus, Amen.
Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” ~ John 11:40
Another powerful “eternal security” Bible scripture is found in Romans 8:38-39.
My friend immigrated to the United States many years ago. He fled his country of origin, which is communistic and primarily atheistic. His faith is Russian Orthodox.
While wandering through Europe broke and starving, my friend enlisted in the U.S. military through a program that offered legal U.S. citizenship for military service – so he is a Russian Orthodox legal immigrant, a U.S. citizen, and a veteran.
Along the way of his life he moved to Alaska, married, and raised a family. He has children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He built a business with nothing more than motivation and hard work, as he had no investment capital. He is far beyond typical retirement age and is still actively running the business. Although he has some medical issues as do most seniors, he has not used his veteran’s medical benefits his entire life until just recently. So he is a Russian Orthodox legal immigrant, a U.S. citizen, a veteran, an employer, a senior taxpayer, and a family man.
My friend’s brother complained that things were better back in the Old Country of their origins.
My friend offered, “I will buy you a one-way ticket back there today so you can leave the USA and be happier in the Old Country”.
His brother did not accept the kind offer of my friend, the Russian Orthodox-legal immigrant-patriotic U.S. citizen-veteran-employer-senior taxpayer-generous family man.
So why am I telling this story about my friend, the immigrant?
Because it reminded me of Someone Else; I have another Great Friend, Who was also an Immigrant. He was a Foreigner who was the King of Heaven (Royalty) who came voluntarily to be born as a poor homeless naked baby in a strange town during tax time. Only a few shepherds noticed His arrival. Even though He was the Son of the Living God, His own countrymen rejected Him because He was not of their religion. So He was Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah, Son of the Living God (Founder and Head of the Christian Church), Legal Immigrant and World Citizen (Creator of All), who generously died for the sins of His followers (Veteran of All Wars) who He lovingly called His brothers (Family Man), and, oh yes! – Carpenter (Employed Taxpayer).
Jesus died so God’s children (the Church) would have a free one-way ticket to the Old Country (Heaven) where we truly will be happier than here in the good old USA or any other location on earth. I am thankful that He so generously offered to redeem me from my sin and reward me with eternity in Heaven – something undeserved nor earned. I accept the free gift Jesus offered to me by just believing in Him. I know I will see Him in Heaven when my time on earth is done. He will call me home and there will be no immigrants there – just holy citizens where Jesus will not be ashamed to be called their God.
Thank You Jesus, my Best Friend the Immigrant! Thank you for loving me enough to die for me so I can live in Heaven with You forever. I love you back.
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. ~ Hebrews 11:16 NASB
Many people experience sadness or actual depression during the Christmas season. When this happens to me, I search my memory bank for past Christmases that were joyful – hoping to lift my spirits. The Christmas Past that I chose this year is the Christmas of 1965. Nothing sets it apart from other Christmases except for the changing times. It has become remarkable to me only because 51 years of Christmases have come and gone since then; so I have a lot to compare it with.
Life was so simple in 1965. Our family lived close to the land in a very humble home that my parents built mostly by themselves. We lived far from the nearest town and the winters felt even more isolating as darkness spread over the northern landscape. We seldom had visitors but our parents made sure they took us to town for church and school activities. We would join up with carolers and walk around the community singing all of the classic Christmas songs. People would come to their front doors to hear us sing and then invite us in for hot cocoa to warm up. Christ was always the center of Christmas, thanks to my parents, and I wish it was more like that in our nation today.
My brother and I were in our early teens in 1965 and certainly did not appreciate how special that Christmas was. Looking back now, I could not appreciate it more.
Undaunted by our adolescent apathy, my parents did everything in their power to bring cheerfulness into our home at Christmas. We trimmed the tree with ornaments that we made at school in our elementary days and smothered the tree in lights and silver icicles popular for the times. It may have looked gaudy, but we loved to plug in those lights and sit for hours in the evenings eating popcorn while we played checkers or old maid. I don’t remember if we had a television then, but if so, it only had one military channel with very limited programming. Dad made sure it was off most of the time. He was against TV. He wanted reality and his focus was always on the people in his life.
I remember our parents gifted us with snow skis that Christmas; including all the gear we needed to begin learning how to ski. This must have been a big financial sacrifice for them at the time. Of course, we were excited to be able to join our peers on the local ski hill, and within days we abandoned Mom & Dad for the slopes.
I never became a good skier, but it was fun. We spent some of our Christmas school vacation ice skating on the frozen ponds near our house, too.
This trip down memory lane may not seem relevant to your Christmas, but I guess the Lord put it on my heart to show that even though over half a century has passed since this Christmas Past, the true Christmas story as recorded in the Gospels never changes. Nowadays it seems that Christmas is celebrated far differently than in 1965. Jesus is not the center of the season and even the word “Christmas” has disappeared from most greeting cards. No wonder some people feed sad at this time of year! Rejoice in the belief that Jesus is our divine Messiah who became flesh in order to redeem mankind from a sin debt we could never pay. That is the true joyful message of Christmas.
I hope that your Christmas 2016 is one to be remembered as a happy time spent with family and friends; that is spirit-filled, and full of peace and hope that only the Holy Spirit imparts. Regardless of your circumstances, may your hearts be lifted up this Christmas with the knowledge that our divine Savior came down to earth as a tiny baby who chose to be born in squalor in order to bring us hope, love, and peace.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ~ Luke 2:10-14 KJV
MERRY CHRISTMAS PRESENT and may God bless you all.
I recently read a post that stated simply, “The first 50 years are the hardest part of growing up.”
Can I get an amen?
After living over half a century my response is, “Still working on it!”
I used to think that growing up was so complicated. I took life’s challenges seriously and wore myself out trying to live up to public opinion instead of what God’s Word has to say about it. My moral compass was skewed by the changing times. I was more intent on meeting expectations of the world system than I was on finding out what God’s plan was for my life. Decades passed and after my nest emptied I began to realize that getting an education, raising a family, and making a living was just getting me older. I did not feel as grown up as my image reflected in the mirror each morning.
Thank God for not giving up on me!
He has not given up our nation, either. Nations also struggle with growing up. Our United States is groaning under the stress of moral decline. It’s time to grow up! We as believers are part of the problem, but we can be part of God’s solution, too. I want to be part of God’s plan for my own life and for that of my nation. I want my nation to turn away from foolishness, repent, and place our government once again under God. Our loving, faithful Father has delivered us and shown us the way:
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33
It starts with me. It’s time to grow up spiritually. It’s time for me to be His Voice and spread good cheer in a time of national tribulation. His promise is that in Me you may have peace. Praise and thank you, Lord!