Sunday, December 31, 2017

Last day of 2017: Thoughts on time's passage


The year 2107 flew by. I turned 57. Since my birthday is at the very end of the year in mid-December, I usually count myself as that age all year. So all of 2017 I thought of myself as 57. When my birthday approached, I mistakenly thought I was turning 58. When I realized my true age, I was relieved and happy I'd 'gained' a year. It was like Daylight Savings Birthday, as a witty friend said.

During the mistaken period when I thought I was a year older than what I was, I was kind of sad. 58 is pushing 60 and that is a major milestone. It's the old age retirement age decade. The seriously shortening lifespan decade. The years pile up. Our church is filled with young folks, even our pastor just turned from 29 to 30. A lot of the members are in college or graduate school. It is startling when you look at them all assembled and realize you could be their mother. It's even more startling when you realize you could be their grandmother. Wut? Not me! Yes me.

On Twitter the other day, one of the guys asked 'what is your first life memory of a major news story?' Most of them said the Challenger explosion. That was 1986. I was already teaching, married, and owned a house. My first memory of a news story was the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, February 1964, I'd just turned 3. The first major news story that impressed itself on my heart and psyche was the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots. I was 7 1/2.

When there are that many decade layers you swim down through in your brain to get to the memory, it sets a person back. Whoa, you think. I was a kid just yesterday. Memories I recall as recent are actually 20 and 30 years old. I graduated high school forty years ago. People you know start dying. If they die outside of Christ, it's very sad. My ex-husband has died. A friend I'd worked with on town political issues has died. My father has died. Reading the obituaries becomes a regular habit.

I like demarcations. I enjoyed standing on the equator. I like the 45th parallel, the point halfway between the equator and the north pole. I liked being at the easternmost point in the US and the southernmost point in the US. Crossing the Rio Grande from the US to Mexico. Borders are good, they contain things, attempt to make the chaos orderly. Or at least manageable. Year end borders are good. So it's New Year's Eve now, and we're looking at another year ahead.

EPrata photo
New Year's Eve is an artificial demarcation of years in a progression of invisible days, which are artificial demarcations themselves. The Egyptians divided the day into two 12-hour periods, and used large obelisks to track the movement of the sun, says Wikipedia. Graduated candles, hourglasses, sundials, water clocks...all used to mark off time for different reasons in different ways. The first mechanical clocks were invented in Europe at around the start of the 14th century, and became the standard timekeeping device until the pendulum clock was invented in 1656, says Wikipedia again. Now we have an atomic clock that keeps time to the billionth second. And we have our calendars that tell us when one year ends and another begins.

To what end? Man in his whirring activity here on this blue ball, must seem very much like children to our Great God. And so believers are children, that is how God sees us. (Romans 8:17, John 1:12-13). To what end are we so active and energetic on this blue ball?  Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

It is the last day of 2017. Perhaps the Lord will come for us in 2018. I hope so, fervently.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

I don't have any profound words of wisdom as the calendar page turns over from this year to the next.  No hopeful statements to uplift. Just this: there will be a last day. One. Last. Day. (John 6:39, John 6:40, John 6:54 )
The New Testament makes it clear that the coming of Jesus Christ was the critical event. His atoning death was God's final answer to the problem of human sin and once that had been accomplished nothing could be the same again. For our present purpose the important thing is that Jesus ushered in a new state of affairs. He wrought the atonement that made it possible for sinners to be forgiven and to enter God's kingdom and to be fitted to take their part in God's final kingdom. That gives a different quality to all time after the coming of Jesus, and the scriptural writers bring this out by referring to all that is subsequent to the coming of Jesus as "the last times" or the like.
Very important is the fact that the final, great day will see the triumph of God. This is foreshadowed in the Old Testament, for example, in the great passage in which Job says, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God" (Job 19:25-26). But the important thing from the Christian point of view is that the saving work of Christ has altered everything. Sin has been decisively defeated and believers have already entered into salvation. However long or short a time it will be before the end of this world as we measure time, we are living in the last times as the New Testament writers understand it. Bakers Evangelical Dictionary

And on that last day when time shall be no more,

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:12).

For the Christian, this is good news. We are judged by what Jesus has done, and we know that God is pleased with His Son. (Matthew 3:17). For the non-believing dead-resurrected, being judged according to what they have done is very bad news, for their lives of evil and rebellion will be reflected in the books, and in the end, their punishment.

Scoffers look at the calendar's pages turning over the years and the decades and-

They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." (2 Peter 3:4).

He is coming. This blog is called The End Time because we must constantly be looking forward, up, to the future. We are in the last days and we look forward to His appearing. There will be a last day. Man marks time and confidently says, 'Today is the last day- of 2017'. However, God has his own timing schedule,

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:8-10).

Where will you be on the last day? Where will your friend, your ex-husband, your father be? Will you and they be in the line to the right, with the sheep? Or to the left, with the goats? Today is the last day of 2017. Let this melancholy and sober recounting of time's passage be a reminder of the true and glorious last day of all: the day of His appearing when He comes to judge the living and the dead. May it be in 2018.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

A year end thank you for all that Grace To You has done for me

A letter I wrote to GTY regarding thanks for the radio ministry. The ministry means SO MUCH to me.


Dear Grace To You,

I want to take a moment to share how God used John's radio broadcast in my spiritual life.

I was saved at age 44. Before salvation, I spent my life as all sinners do, for myself, rebelling against God. New England is a dark place, and an adult can go a lifetime and not run into anything Christian, or a Bible, or a preacher. I was ignorant of anything related to Jesus. I was certainly ignorant of my own sin, except for the conscience that pricked me.


Camping in FL. 20 years ago, I didn't know Jesus.
My husband and I liked to travel and we decided to take a long cross-country camping trip in our pop-up camper. We listened to the radio all along the way. We enjoyed talk radio and searched for programs that would help us pass the time as we drove. As we entered the southern part of the United States, we inevitably came across the radio dial of typical southern preachers with their funny accent and pulpit pounding exposition, yelling "JAY-sus! We'd laugh and tee hee about those silly Jesus people. And then we'd hurriedly change the dial.

Whenever we came across John's Grace To You broadcast, and the introduction music soon became familiar as his program was on many stations, his voice was different. It was logical, soothing. The content of what he was saying intrigued me, as much as it repulsed me. My conscience was pricked even more. I always lingered a bit, listening. But then my husband would change the dial away from the "Jesus stuff" as we called it, I'd feel both relieved that the spiritual pressure was gone but curious for more, too. I didn't understand this push-pull.

Five years later, the Lord saved me. The internet offered a wealth of sermons, devotionals, and biblical instruction. But which one to pick? Then one day I heard that music. "I know that music!" I said. I heard John's voice. "I know that guy!" I said. And now that I was saved, the content of what John was saying made sense. More than that, the content of what he was saying inspired me, illuminated my mind, and soothed me. I quickly devoured sermon after sermon. Having no church baggage to unlearn, John's sermons went straight into my soul. He taught the Doctrine of Justification, and moved to the Doctrine of Election.

Camping in Texas. One day in the future,
I'd hear the GTY music
and my mind and soul would light up.
Six years after that, I listened live as John finished preaching through the New Testament. It was a historic moment. Even more personally for me, it was a poignant moment. Before I was even saved, God had used John to spark my conscience as a sinner curiously repulsed by the 'Jesus stuff' he was preaching, through to salvation, to growth by the Spirit, to burgeoning maturity and becoming a Titus 3 church woman to the younger ladies. God used John through it all. He is still using John in my spiritual life as I read many of his books and still listen to the wonderful sermons.

God used John to preload me in readiness for the moment I would in His timing, come into the kingdom and begin learning the glories of God. John's familiar voice, the familiar music, led me by His grace to this solid ministry upon which God laid the foundation of my growth.

Thank you John MacArthur and all of you at Grace To You. I praise God for the men He has raised up.

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But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." (John 5:17)

God is always working in the lives of those who He will eventually call into His kingdom, and continues working in our lives after that, forever and ever.



Friday, December 29, 2017

Doing my best to puncture the balloon that Ladies Ministries try to inflate


I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. ~Job

To possess dignity is to be worthy of respect. Worthy of high esteem. Absorb this: you are worthy of respect. ~Beth Moore

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” ~Isaiah

Be kind to yourself. Be compassionate to yourself. Be loving to yourself. Be patient with yourself. Have the courage to be yourself. ~Christine Caine

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” ~ Simon Peter

Who you are is more important than what you are called to do. ~Priscilla Shirer

Man was created to glorify God. (Isaiah 43:7). Our inherited sin nature makes it impossible to do that without His redemptive work in our heart. It's important to see ourselves as we are (were). Ladies, yes, it's good to have "self-esteem" to the extent that we know who we are. We're sinners, saved by grace alone. Women's Ministries these days over-emphasize that we are women of valor, courage, of worth, esteem, and bravery. We're princesses, running around sunlit meadows in wedding dresses dripping pearls.

Or we are as Isaiah, Job, and Peter saw themselves when they saw God: as worms in the dust, sinning with the pigs and needing to rely totally on the Father for any scrap of righteousness we might possess.

Praise the Lord He came, died for sin, was buried and resurrected. He glorified the Father and His reward will be...us. The Father will give Him a Bride, redeemed and washed. It is all about the Trinity and His work. it is not about us, our worth, our esteem, dignity, or "who we are."

O Lord, depart from me, I am a sinful woman. Yet He lifted me from the muck and mire and gave me His righteousness, robes, Spirit, and future. From that moment, when I search inside myself to see my worth, esteem, or dignity, what I see is His.



Thursday, December 28, 2017

Thirty Days of Jesus: Postlude 2, Like the Sun

Christmas means baby Jesus. Everybody loves the baby. The swaddling clothes (so cute!) the manger (awww, really?), the Wise Man (distinguished solemnity). It is a tremendous story. It is THE story of all of history. God Himself came in flesh, incarnated solely to grow, live a perfect life, and die.

The baby grew up. He ascended to the Father, sat down, and reigns from heaven. He is coming again, as I wrote yesterday. When He comes again it will not be as a baby all swaddled and cooing. His incarnation continues, as it will forever, but today we look at Jesus as He is now. He is kingly, powerful. He is GOD.

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. (Revelation 1:12-15).

The verse continues into v. 16, today's focus. It's the last verse in the series. We have gone from prophecies announcing the fact of His coming, to the Babe, to His life, work and ministry, His death and resurrection, and now as He is in heaven and His soon return. He will come again to deal with sin- and sinners.

True believers will be gathered with Him prior to the bloodbath that the Second Coming will be. During that horrific time, it will be a blessed time also, because many will come to faith. It will be a time of blood, evangelism, faith, sin, horror, and martyrdom.

Praise God, Jesus will come again. He is great and mighty.

On to today's verse:




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Background and Introduction, Thirty Days of Jesus Series

Prophecy and birth

Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive

Day 2: A shoot from Jesse

Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time

Day 4: Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!

Day 6: The Glory of Jesus

Jesus' Boyhood

Day 7: Magi seek the Child

Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship

Day 9: And the Child Grew

Day 10- the Boy Jesus at the Temple

Day 11: He was Obedient

Jesus as the SON

Day 12: The Son!

Day 13: God is pleased with His Son

Day 14: Propitiation

Day 15: The gift of eternal life

Day 16: Two Kingdoms

Preeminence of the Son, His works & ministry

Day 17: Jesus' Preeminence

Day 18: The Highest King

Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself

Day 20: Jesus as Teacher

Day 21: The Shepherd

Day 22: Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus is Compassionate Healer

Day 24: Jesus is Omniscient

Day 25: The authority of Jesus

Day 26: Jesus' sinlessness

Day 27: He rose again!

Day 28: Resurrection is of central importance

Day 29: Ascension

Day 30: He sat down

Postlude 1: He is coming again

I hope you have enjoyed these verses and pictorial representations of the thirty-plus verses I'd selected to illustrate the Life of Christ. Feel free to use the photos as you will. All of them except two are my own creation, and the two that aren't mine are issued freely under creative commons license at Unsplash.com. Be sure to visit the Further Readings links I'd posted under most of the Scripture pictures, too. I always want to connect readers with good, credible sources.

Happy New Year! May 2018 be the year Christ returns.

And now He has revealed this grace through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the gospel, (2 Timothy 1:10)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Thirty days of Jesus: Day 30, He sat down

We are coming toward the end of our look at the life of Jesus through scripture. The first section of His life was seen through verses focused on prophecy, arrival, and early life.

The next section of verses looked at Him as the Son, second person of the Trinity.

We proceeded into looking at Jesus as the Son's preeminence, His works, and His ministry. Under ministry & works, I chose verses showing His attributes and aspects of being servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and compassionate healer; and His attributes of omniscience, having all authority and power, and sinlessness.

Now it's the last section. We'll look at His resurrection, ascension, and prophesied return. It's the day after Christmas, but I have a few more verses waiting, which I believe fits. When we finish, we will be looking at the New Year with all that entails, the feeling of freshness, hope, optimism for a new start. And when we finish the last verse, we will be looking through the lens of scripture at the hope and optimism of His return and that all will be made new.

On to today's picture verse.



Further Reading:


Ligonier Devotional: Seated at God's right hand

Grace to You: The Forever Exalted Christ

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Background and Introduction, Thirty Days of Jesus Series

Prophecy and birth

Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive

Day 2: A shoot from Jesse

Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time

Day 4: Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!

Day 6: The Glory of Jesus

Jesus' Boyhood

Day 7: Magi seek the Child

Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship

Day 9: And the Child Grew

Day 10- the Boy Jesus at the Temple

Day 11: He was Obedient

Jesus as the SON

Day 12: The Son!

Day 13: God is pleased with His Son

Day 14: Propitiation

Day 15: The gift of eternal life

Day 16: Two Kingdoms

Preeminence of the Son, His works & ministry

Day 17: Jesus' Preeminence

Day 18: The Highest King

Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself

Day 20: Jesus as Teacher

Day 21: The Shepherd

Day 22: Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus is Compassionate Healer

Day 24: Jesus is Omniscient

Day 25: The authority of Jesus

Day 26: Jesus' sinlessness

Day 27: He rose again!

Day 28: Resurrection is of central importance

Day 29: Ascension


Monday, December 25, 2017

Thirty Days of Jesus: Day 29, Ascension

We are coming toward the end of our look at the life of Jesus through scripture. The first section of His life was seen through verses focused on prophecy, arrival, and early life.

The next section of verses looked at Him as the Son, second person of the Trinity.

We proceeded into looking at Jesus as the Son's preeminence, His works, and His ministry. Under ministry & works, I chose verses showing His attributes and aspects of being servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and compassionate healer; and His attributes of omniscience, having all authority and power, and sinlessness.

Now it's the last section. We'll look at His resurrection, ascension, and prophesied return. There is one day until Christmas, but I have more verses waiting. We are going to go over by a week, into the New Year, which I believe fits. When we finish, we will be looking at the New Year with all that entails, the feeling of freshness, hope, optimism for a new start. And when we finish the last verse, we will be looking through the lens of scripture at the hope and optimism of His return and that all will be made new.

On to today's picture verse.


Further Reading

Devotional: The Ascension of Christ

Essay: What is the meaning and importance of the ascension of Jesus Christ?




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Background and Introduction, Thirty Days of Jesus Series

Prophecy and birth

Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive

Day 2: A shoot from Jesse

Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time

Day 4: Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!

Day 6: The Glory of Jesus

Jesus' Boyhood

Day 7: Magi seek the Child

Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship

Day 9: And the Child Grew

Day 10- the Boy Jesus at the Temple

Day 11: He was Obedient

Jesus as the SON

Day 12: The Son!

Day 13: God is pleased with His Son

Day 14: Propitiation

Day 15: The gift of eternal life

Day 16: Two Kingdoms

Preeminence of the Son, His works & ministry

Day 17: Jesus' Preeminence

Day 18: The Highest King

Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself

Day 20: Jesus as Teacher

Day 21: The Shepherd

Day 22: Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus is Compassionate Healer

Day 24: Jesus is Omniscient

Day 25: The authority of Jesus

Day 26: Jesus' sinlessness

Day 27: He rose again!

Day 28: Resurrection is of central importance

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas verses from Old Testament and New



For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14).

The Righteous Reign of the Branch
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
(Isaiah 11:1).

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. (Micah 5:2).

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9).

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. (Hosea 11:1)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14).

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5).

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:39-45)

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about : His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25).


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:1-20)

Thirty Days of Jesus: Day 28, Resurrection of central importance

Christmas advent. We are coming toward the end of our look at the life of Jesus through scripture. The first section of His life was seen through verses focused on prophecy, arrival, and early life.

The next section of verses looked at Him as the Son, second person of the Trinity.

We proceeded into looking at Jesus as the Son's preeminence, His works, and His ministry. Under ministry & works, I chose verses showing His attributes and aspects of being servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and compassionate healer; and His attributes of omniscience, having all authority and power, and sinlessness.

Now it's the last section. We'll look at His resurrection, ascension, and prophesied return. There is one day until Christmas, but I have more verses waiting. We are going to go over by a week, into the New Year, which I believe fits. When we finish, we will be looking at the New Year with all that entails, the feeling of freshness, hope, optimism for a new start. And when we finish the last verse, we will be looking through the lens of scripture at the hope and optimism of His return and that all will be made new.

On to today's picture verse. Note Paul's statement "of first importance".




Further Reading:

CARM: Jesus' resurrection was physical

Al Mohler: Of First Importance: The Cross and Resurrection at the Center
And what is of first importance? "That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures," and "that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures." The cross and the empty tomb stand at the center of the Christian faith. Without these, there is no good news — no salvation.
Paul gets right to the heart of the matter in setting out those truths that are "of first importance." Following his example, we can do no less.

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Background and Introduction, Thirty Days of Jesus Series

Prophecy and birth

Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive

Day 2: A shoot from Jesse

Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time

Day 4: Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!

Day 6: The Glory of Jesus

Jesus' Boyhood

Day 7: Magi seek the Child

Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship

Day 9: And the Child Grew

Day 10- the Boy Jesus at the Temple

Day 11: He was Obedient

Jesus as the SON

Day 12: The Son!

Day 13: God is pleased with His Son

Day 14: Propitiation

Day 15: The gift of eternal life

Day 16: Two Kingdoms

Preeminence of the Son, His works & ministry

Day 17: Jesus' Preeminence

Day 18: The Highest King

Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself

Day 20: Jesus as Teacher

Day 21: The Shepherd

Day 22: Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus is Compassionate Healer

Day 24: Jesus is Omniscient

Day 25: The authority of Jesus

Day 26: Jesus' sinlessness

Day 27: He rose again!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Carpenter

Yesterday I wrote a short bit about Joseph, foster-father of Jesus, and posted Gari Melchers' painting of The Nativity.

Today I will mention just this. In biblical times (now, too), the son took on the father's profession. The tailor's son became a tailor. The butcher's son became a butcher. The blacksmith's son became a blacksmith. The fisherman's son became a fisherman. My own father, and his father before him, became a funeral director.

Many professions are mentioned in the New Testament. Tentmaker, tanner, lawyer, merchant, silversmith, coppersmith, governor, soldier, shepherd, scribe, tax-collector, seller of purple, potter, all those professions and more populate the pages.

Of all the professions God could have chosen for the foster-father of Jesus to be, and then Jesus himself, God chose carpenter.

Why not Shepherd? After all, Psalm 23:1 explicitly identifies the Lord as a metaphorical shepherd. Why not an actual one? It was a frequently mentioned profession. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Amos, and even Rachel were shepherds. The motif was huge. But no. He is the Good Shepherd, but not a shepherd.

Many of the disciples were fishermen...but God did not choose for Jesus to be a fisherman, even though He became a fisher of men.

Tax collectors were hated, and Jesus was destined to be rejected and hated, but God did not choose for Jesus to be a tax collector.

On a brief side note, we know that Jesus knew of His mission. He was there to follow God's will. He said as much in the first NT recorded words of His incarnation: Did you not know I must be about my Father's business? (Luke 2:49). He knew who His Father was and He knew what he was there to do. And He said later at the Wedding at Cana, before He began His public ministry, "My time has not come." (John 2:2). We know He knew of his life, and his death. It would be on that most painful grotesque, cursed methods of execution, nailed to a tree. Even death on a cross.

So, as Jesus grew and learned His foster-father's trade, as the carpenter pounded nails every day, did He wonder about the nails that were to pierce Him? Did he see the holes in the wood even as he took over Joseph's shop upon Joseph's death? Did He think about the holes in His hands and feet as He worked in the wood shop? He said in the Garden of Gethsemane upon the night of His arrest, that His spirit was willing, but His flesh was weak. Always the nails were before Him.

Jesus had an entire lifetime to see wood and nails, and to keep the method of his painful death always before His eyes.

Praise Him to the highest for His love.






Thirty Days of Jesus: Day 27, He rises again

Christmas advent. We are coming toward the end of our look at the life of Jesus through scripture. The first section of His life was seen through verses focused on prophecy, arrival, and early life.

The next section of verses looked at Him as the Son, second person of the Trinity.

We proceeded into looking at Jesus as the Son's preeminence, His works, and His ministry. Under ministry & works, I chose verses showing His attributes and aspects of being servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and compassionate healer; and His attributes of omniscience, having all authority and power, and sinlessness.

Now it's the last section. We'll look at His resurrection, ascension, and prophesied return. There are 4 more days until Christmas, but I have 10 more verses waiting. We are going to go over by a week, into the New Year, which I believe fits. When we finish, we will be looking at the New Year with all that entails, the feeling of freshness, hope, optimism for a new start. And when we finish the last verse, we will be looking through the lens of scripture at the hope and optimism of His return and that all will be made new.

On to today's picture verse. Today and tomorrow focus on the Resurrection. Do not forget the Resurrection. It is the linchpin to the entire doctrine of Christ. For without the raising of Jesus, we believers are most to be pitied! Our hope would be vain, and all would be lost. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).


Further reading:

Devotional: The Hope of Christ's Resurrection

Parenting: Resurrection: The Most Important Truth


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Background and Introduction, Thirty Days of Jesus Series

Prophecy and birth

Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive

Day 2: A shoot from Jesse

Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time

Day 4: Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!

Day 6: The Glory of Jesus

Jesus' Boyhood

Day 7: Magi seek the Child

Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship

Day 9: And the Child Grew

Day 10- the Boy Jesus at the Temple

Day 11: He was Obedient

Jesus as the SON

Day 12: The Son!

Day 13: God is pleased with His Son

Day 14: Propitiation

Day 15: The gift of eternal life

Day 16: Two Kingdoms

Preeminence of the Son, His works & ministry

Day 17: Jesus' Preeminence

Day 18: The Highest King

Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself

Day 20: Jesus as Teacher

Day 21: The Shepherd

Day 22: Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus is Compassionate Healer

Day 24: Jesus is Omniscient

Day 25: The authority of Jesus

Day 26: Jesus' sinlessness


Friday, December 22, 2017

What about Joseph?

In conversation about the advent of Jesus' incarnation and the nativity, a friend shared her daily devotional with me. She said that her church had given out an advent calendar with daily devotions, and that day's focused on Joseph.

She explained that it mentioned that we focus on Mary the virgin who conceived, Gabriel's announcement, the angels' proclamation, the shepherds, the wise men, even the star and the manger, but Joseph isn't mentioned a lot.

Joseph was Jesus' foster-father. We know Joseph's father was named Jacob, and that Joseph was of the Davidic line. (Mt 1:16). We know Joseph was from Nazareth. (Luke 2:4). From Matthew 1:19 we also know that he was a just man.  We know he was a carpenter. (Matthew 13:55). That is all we know. Joseph is not mentioned again after Jesus turned 12 and appeared at the Temple. He was likely dead by the time Jesus was crucified, because Jesus commissioned John for Mary's care. If Joseph had been alive, Jesus would not have needed to do that.

I posted this painting last year but I'll do it again with some different thoughts this time. Gari Melchers was an American painter of the end of the last and the beginning of this century. Born of German immigrants and the son of a sculptor father, Melchers' works are excellent. One of my favorite works of his is The Nativity. Its focus is a bit different than the usual nativity scenes. He painted the scene absent of animals and Wise Men. He painted not an adoring Mary, but a more realistic scene where Mary, exhausted, with dirty rag and bowl of water beside her, leans against her husband's shoulder, gazing wearily at the Child. The Child in the feeding trough, swaddled, appears to be glowing, or is that just the lantern's glow that Joseph has set near him? Joseph in turn, looks at his son.

It's his expression that arrests you.

Joseph's hands are clasped quietly in his lap. His total focus is on the Babe. What is Joseph thinking? In Matthew 1:20, an angel had come to Joseph in a dream and had confirmed that the child within Mary was conceived by the Spirit. Joseph knew the truth. But how can a man's mind wrap around that?

Perhaps he is thinking of the revelation that the Savior is at last come to men. But as a baby? Perhaps he is thinking of the grave responsibility of raising the son of God. Perhaps...we don't know. It's an interesting moment. It's not 'Mary did you know?' but, 'Joseph what do you think?'

See below for yourself:


Tomorrow, a bit more on Joseph the carpenter.

I praise the Lord for all the elements of the Incarnation, all the parts of His plan that He perfectly executed.

Thirty Days of Jesus: Day 26, Jesus' sinlessness

This section of verses that show Jesus' life are focused on His attributes & earthly ministry. We've seen Him as servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and healer. We looked at His attributes of omniscience, His authority, and now His sinlessness.




Further reading:

The Cripplegate/Nate Busenitz: In what way was Jesus ‘made sin’ on the cross?

GotQuestions: Why does Christ's righteousness need to be imputed to us?


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Background and Introduction, Thirty Days of Jesus Series

Prophecy and birth

Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive

Day 2: A shoot from Jesse

Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time

Day 4: Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!

Day 6: The Glory of Jesus

Jesus' Boyhood

Day 7: Magi seek the Child

Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship

Day 9: And the Child Grew

Day 10- the Boy Jesus at the Temple

Day 11: He was Obedient

Jesus as the SON

Day 12: The Son!

Day 13: God is pleased with His Son

Day 14: Propitiation

Day 15: The gift of eternal life

Day 16: Two Kingdoms

Preeminence of the Son, His works & ministry

Day 17: Jesus' Preeminence

Day 18: The Highest King

Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself

Day 20: Jesus as Teacher

Day 21: The Shepherd

Day 22: Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus is Compassionate Healer

Day 24: Jesus is Omniscient

Day 25: The authority of Jesus


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Knowing we are a target...

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; (1 Peter 4:12)

John MacArthur preached, The Fiery Trial, Part 1, 1 Peter 4:12-14 on Jan 7, 1990
There is definitely a price to pay because if you name the name of Christ, you will become a conscience to an evil world which does not welcome such a conscience.
As the world darkens before His return (whenever that will be, I pray it is soon), our work as the Holy conscience of the Lord's people proclaiming repentance for sin, will become brighter against the cultural darkness.

We are in a war. Being a Christian and proclaiming Christ to a lost and dying world is an act of war. The General of the world, satan, takes issue with each and every volley, foray, and battle. He will marshal his minions to come after you (and me). Why? Bright people in a war are targets. It is counter intuitive when you're battling, to stand up and get out of the trench. It seems wrong to light a fire in the dark so snipers will see you. It seems odd to be called to put lights in the window and put away the blackout curtains. We do not put up blackout curtains and hide in the darkness. We tear down the curtains, expose the light and megaphone the truth to the quiet and quivering streets.

In 1990 being a Christian in Russia meant the communist government took issue with you. Persecution and restrictions against all religion did not ease until 1991. MacArthur again from the same sermon-
I had a Russian pastor say that to me right there one Sunday night not too long ago.  I said, "It must be difficult in Russia to pastor the church." He said, "Not so, it must be difficult in America.  In Russia we know who the true Christians are."
Do not be surprised when persecution comes to you. It is to be expected, and the result will be that you are strengthened, you will be shown to be a true believer, and God will be glorified.

Here is a list of the kinds of suffering that Christians endure, compiled in the MacArthur sermon above and taken right out of the New Testament. When you read the list, remember to think of the global church, not just the Christians in America.

Matthew 5:10, we will endure persecution for righteousness.
Matthew 5:11 & 12, endure revilings and slanders.
1 Peter 4:4, we will be evil spoken of.
Matthew 10, we will endure false accusations.
Matthew 10:17, scourgings for Christ.
Matthew 10:14, rejection by men.
John 15:18 to 21, hatred by the world.
Matthew 10:21 to 36, hatred by our own relatives.
Acts 7:58, some of us will endure martyrdom.
James 1, we will endure temptation.
Acts 5:41, we will endure shame cast upon us for Christ’s sake.
Acts 14:22, we will endure tribulations and troubles of all kinds.
Acts 4, Acts 5, Acts 12 reminds us that many Christians will endure imprisonment.
Some, according to Acts 14:19, might endure stonings.
2 Corinthians 11:24 & 25 reminds us that some Christians have endured beatings.
1 Corinthians 4:9, we will be made a spectacle to men.
1 Corinthians 4, we will be misunderstood, we will be defamed, and we will be despised.
2 Corinthians 6:8 to 10, we will endure troubles, afflictions, distress, tumults, labors, watchings, fastings, and evil reports. 

If you are not enduring any of these now, you will. If you are just coming out of some of these, you will again. I personally have endured 5 of them. I mention that because I live comfortable in America, dwell in a religious area, have a small life, and don't get out much. Yet there it is. Even unknown and small Christians like me who speak of sin and repentance, proclaim Jesus as holy and righteous, will be hated, slandered, rejected. I think of those brave Christians in the Muslim nations and missionaries in hostile territory. The towering men of the faith like John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, Sinclair Ferguson,... we will never know what they go through. Every pastor of every true church in the world fights battles ongoing and pitched, as pointed targets of satan. What they endure...

Yet we still do not hide our light under a basket. Soldiers of the faith, it's counter-intuitive to make ourselves targets. But it is what we're required to do.
So, the fiery trial here is not just any trouble. It’s talking about persecution for your faith, persecution for righteousness sake, persecution because of the identification with Jesus Christ. But God allows it to come.  Verse 12, "Which comes upon you for your," what? "Your testing." God allows it to come because it proves the genuineness of your Christianity.
God has not put me through the physical agonies that others have endured. It doesn't look as though I will be martyred (though you never know). I live well, quietly, and comfortably. Yet the bit I've gone through for His name is still difficult. Whatever you have gone through or will go through, means that will have more to rejoice in when He comes. I'll forget in a moment all that happened when I see His face. I'll feel such joy when I know eternity stretches before me as a peaceful, holy, beautiful life in Him.

Whatever we go through, big or small, Jesus is worth it. Oh, how He is worth it.

So stand tall, let the light of His glory shine.

Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. (Matthew 5:15)



Thirty Days of Jesus: Day 25, The Authority of Jesus

This section of verses that show Jesus' life are focused on His attributes & earthly ministry. We've seen Him as servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and healer. We looked at His attribute of omniscience and now, His authority.

There are two photos because I couldn't decide, lol. How to represent the authority of Jesus over life, in pictorial form? That was a tough one. I settled on the notion of the dock being the long journey of finite earthly life in the flesh, then we come to an inevitable end and launch up and into the eternal heavens. Jesus has authority over every step.





Further Reading

AIG: What is the extent of Jesus' authority?

Ligonier Devotional: The Authority of Jesus

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Background and Introduction, Thirty Days of Jesus Series

Prophecy and birth

Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive

Day 2: A shoot from Jesse

Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time

Day 4: Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!

Day 6: The Glory of Jesus

Jesus' Boyhood

Day 7: Magi seek the Child

Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship

Day 9: And the Child Grew

Day 10- the Boy Jesus at the Temple

Day 11: He was Obedient

Jesus as the SON

Day 12: The Son!

Day 13: God is pleased with His Son

Day 14: Propitiation

Day 15: The gift of eternal life

Day 16: Two Kingdoms

Preeminence of the Son, His works & ministry

Day 17: Jesus' Preeminence

Day 18: The Highest King

Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself

Day 20: Jesus as Teacher

Day 21: The Shepherd

Day 22: Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus is Compassionate Healer

Day 24: Jesus is Omniscient

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Setting our Minds

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in th...