Tragedy or Triumph?

Philippians 1:21–23 (NKJV)
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”

You may have heard the news:

The close-knit Colorado family of Calvary Chapel fellowships is mourning the deaths of Scott Cox and his wife Nancy. Scott served as Senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Windsor, Colorado. The couple died following a tragic auto accident on Monday, July 4, 2022. Scott and his wife Nancy started the church back in 2006. They are survived by their children Alex and Charlie. Please pray for their sons, their extended family, and the church, as they mourn this tragic loss.

Our hearts our broken, shattered…and yet I wonder, can we accurately refer to this as a tragedy?

In our passage for today, Paul informs us of that fact for the Christian – to die is “gain.” He even said he had that deep desire to depart and be with Christ, which is FAR BETTER. Death for us is a departure to glory, to heaven, where we as believers will live forever and ever in the very presence of God (John 14:1-3; Revelation 21:1-7).

But…if you’re like me, or even Paul the Apostle, we’re torn between the two, aren’t we? We long to live long lives on earth, to love our family, to serve the people. If you’re faithful, like Paul the Apostle, or Scott and Nancy Cox it would mean fruit from your labor. It’s a tough choice Paul said.

Thank God the choice is not ours, it’s His…and the truth is, Father knows best. God knows what’s best for everyone involved. May that comfort our hearts.

As I ponder the passing of Scott and Nancy, I’m also reminded of the fact that any of us can die suddenly. We all have an appointment with death (Hebrews 9:27), a race to run and finish one day (2 Timothy 4:7). Are we ready? As Christians we are, and we should not be afraid. Christians live in the invincible principal meaning we can’t die unless God allows it, and when He does, we’re home in heaven.

The challenge is for those we leave behind. Please pray for the family and the church.

It’s good to weep…and it’s good to worship. Praise God for the saved lives of two people who understood what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21a, “For to me, to live is Christ.”

May we all have that simple, saving summary of life.

Your brother in Christ,

  • Manny

Learning from an Ant

Proverbs 6:6–8 (NKJV) “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, 8 Provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.”

What a shame that we have been degraded to the point of having to be taught Bible truths by bugs! Imagine that…instructed by insects – but it is helpful – and I think at times, necessary for some.

1. Notice the ant’s inner Motivation (v. 7)
Having no captain, overseer, or ruler, meaning there’s no one pushing them, no one watching them, and yet they continue to work productively. No one has to tell them, “Ok, chop, chop, break’s over, get back to work.” No, the ant has a heart to work, honestly, and productively, they need no external motivation.

Christians should be the hardest and most faithful workers of all because we’re aware of the fact that ultimately, we work for Jesus. 

Ephesians 6:5–6 (NLT) “Workers, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart.”

2. Notice the ant’s thoughtful Preparation (v. 8) 
They’re “go-getters,” and they’re “gatherers” As go-getters they don’t sit back with a sense of entitlement saying mom, dad, family, friends, society, and government owes it to me. No, they go out and get it, they labor…they work for it.

We’re to do the same – and on the flip side, we should not support the lazy. Don’t misunderstand me, I know the Bible encourages that we give generously to the poor, but not to freeloaders interested only in handouts. We read in:

2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”


Warren Wiersbe said, “The biggest thieves of all are the lazy people who could work but won’t, the people who consume what others produce but produce nothing for others to use. The “sluggard” and the “slothful man” are mentioned at least seventeen times in Proverbs, and nothing good is said about them. We need to recognize the fact that work is not a curse. God gave Adam work to do in the Garden, even before sin entered the scene.”

I like what one person said, “Work is the meat of life, and pleasure is the desert.”

Another said, “It’s better to wear out than rust out, so beware of handouts.”

When there’s a genuine need – praise God that so many are sensitive to the Spirit and they give to the helpless, but if a man needs to learn to walk and work, we musn’t get in the way…we might cripple him for life.

Ants are “go-getters” and they’re “gatherers” (savers). Notice again what we read in:

Proverbs 6:8, “Provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.”

I realize this isn’t always possible for all of us, but I know of one young man who prior to the pandemic had close to 6 months of wages in his savings account. When the virus hit, and his industry was hit, he was furloughed and lost his income, but he was okay financially until he found another job, because he was a go-getter and a gatherer, a saver…like the ant.

God help us to be hard workers, go-getters, and do all that we can to save up for a rainy day. May we learn from the revelation of creation…even an ant.

Love you! Your brother in Christ, 
– Manny

The Prideful Truth

Proverbs 29:23 (NKJV) “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”

You’ve may have heard that story about a minister, a Boy Scout, and a computer expert who were the only passengers on a small plane. The pilot came back to the cabin and said that the plane was going down but there were only three parachutes and four people. The pilot then said, “I should have one of the parachutes because I have a wife and three small children.” So, he took one and jumped.

The computer whiz said, “I should have one of the parachutes because I am the smartest man in the world and everyone needs me.” So, he took one and jumped.

The minister turned to the Boy Scout and with a sad but sure smile said, “You’re young and I’ve had a blessed life, by God’s grace I know I’m saved, so you take the remaining parachute, and I’ll go down with the plane.”
The Boy Scout said, “That won’t be necessary, sir, the smartest man in the world just picked up my backpack and jumped out!”

A satirical story to illustrate the truth of today’s Proverb, “A man’s pride will bring him low (very low), but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”

We all have it, and it challenges us every day…pride resides within us and fights to take over. The dictionary defines it as, “A high view of oneself; a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.”

The world is proud of their pride, but Christians shouldn’t be. Pride is the root of all sin.

When I think of humility I think of honesty. I know who I am apart from Christ, a weak, wretched, wicked man. I don’t deserve anything good, and I’m not entitled. The truth is, I am NOTHING and can do NOTHING without HIM (John 15:5), but God has been gracious to me.

May we swallow the pride and walk in humility. We’ll be blessed by the results.

Your brother in Christ,

  • Manny

Family & Friends

Just thought I’d write a quick word of appreciation for my best friend and wife, Shelly, and for our good friends Anthony and Monique Ramos.

Thank You Lord for the one You gave me as a life-long companion. Your word says that there came a time when it was NOT GOOD for man to be alone, so you made Him a wife, the one person to help him in life. Thank You Lord for my beautiful friend and perfect companion. (check out Genesis 2:18, 21-25; Malachi 2:14).

And then there’s Anthony & Monique. We love this family (and what a family it is – 8 children!). They were saved by Christ from a very destructive lifestyle (that’s the case for everyone who gets saved), and we witnessed their hunger for God and growth as Christians in such a beautiful way. They attended Calvary Chapel El Monte for almost 2 decades, and even though they’ve moved far away, certain things never move; every time we see them, there’s a rediscovery of a bond beyond friendship, there’s no doubt…they’ve become family.

Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV) “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

p.s. – Click HERE to check out the Ramos’ Family YouTube channel.

December 31, 2021

Malachi 3:1–4:6

Malachi begins chapter 3 with a prophecy regarding John the Baptist who would come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Matthew 11:10; 17:12-13; Luke 1:17; Isaiah 40:3). He would be the forerunner to the main Messenger of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ 

Malachi then fast-forwards thousands of years to the Second Coming of Christ. He asks the question, “Who can endure the day of His coming?” (Malachi 3:2). God will judge the world and deal with Israel. The Levitical priests will finally be right in His sight and offer up pleasant sacrifices to God during the Millennial Kingdom.

Malachi then returns to the people of his day and shares with them God’s invitation:

Malachi 3:7 (NKJV) “…’return to Me, and I will return to you,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’” 

In tithes and offerings. It was here, they needed to return.

They were not giving to God what belonged to God and in that sin they had robbed Him and even brought a curse upon themselves.

I’m of the personal conviction that tithes are still expected of us today (as a minimum, a good place to start in our giving). Regarding tithing Jesus said in Luke 11:42, “…these you ought to have done.” If 10% was the expectation of the Old Testament, under a covenant of the blood of animals, how can it be any less under the covenant of the blood of Jesus?  Granted, there are some widows and others who have no luxuries whatsoever, living on a fixed income who cannot tithe. God knows, and this is why He doesn’t mandate it under the New Covenant, but for the rest of us with the latest phones, cars, clothes, fast food, fine dining, cable TV and all the other wants our hearts desire – to say that we can’t give God tithes and offerings – is closely related to robbing God. 

Now, some may say that I’m only of this conviction because I’m a pastor who depends on the giving of the church, but that’s not the case. I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is my provider and the sustainer of the church.

No, I take Malachi’s warning to heart. I do believe that some will suffer allowing the devourer to devour due to their disobedience in this area.

I believe we should give to God tithes and offerings. If we’re not financially there at this point, we should work our way towards this goal passionately. We should budget our finances in such a way that the first 10% goes to the church we attend (our home church where we’re fed) and the extras (offerings) go to other ministries and needs that God will show you.

Whatever you do, don’t worry. God will provide my friends, and He challenges us to test Him in this area (Malachi 3:10). Try it and watch how He opens the windows of heaven and blesses you in such a way that your cups overflow. That doesn’t mean we will be rich financially, but we will be rich spiritually…and God will meet our every need (Philippians 4:19).

One of my all-time favorite books that covers this topic is “The Treasure Principle,” by Randy Alcorn. You can check it out on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Let’s do all that we can to return to God.

May we never say it’s useless to serve God and to walk in His ways (Malachi 3:14). Tragically that’s what some were saying in Malachi’s day. I’m reminded of that passage in:

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Malachi not only warns the people NOT to complain, he encourages them to speak words of praise, and fellowship…words that reverence God. Malachi reveals something found only here, that God has a “Book of Remembrance,” He listens to our conversations and records them in His book. I’m assuming that one day this book will come into play for future rewards.

And then in chapter 4 Malachi closes the book (and the Old Testament) with warning and wooing. For the wicked, the day of the LORD is a fiery furnace. For the righteous His Second Coming brings healing forever. Are we ready? Are we righteous? If not, may Malachi’s words penetrate our hearts to be always be ready, through faith in Christ.

He closes the book with a prophecy of Elijah as one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11, during the Tribulation Period. He will come before that dreadful day of the LORD.

It’s fascinating to me that the Old Testament closes with a curse, while the New Testament closes with grace. 

It’s pretty clear that the difference between the two (blessing or cursing) is dependent upon whether or not we will take God’s Word to heart as spoken through His messengers – messengers like Malachi…and ultimately Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2).

God helps us to take His Word to heart!

Love you guys! What an incredible journey it’s been going through the Old Testament like this! Thanks for joining me.

Revelation 22:1-21

More visuals of heaven. We once again see the throne of God (which includes the Lamb). From that throne proceeds a pure river, this water of life. I do believe we’ll drink from it, I also believe it symbolizes the wonderful life God grants us in His sovereign grace.

Then there’s the Tree of Life (something we saw back in Genesis 2:9; 3:22, 24) that’s rooted and rises in the middle of the street, and on both sides…yielding different fruits each month (does that mean there’s still this yearly type of calendar we have, with orbits of the earth and moon?). Somehow the consumption of the water, fruit, and leaves contribute to the preparation of our bodies to inhabit eternity. It’s for that reason God did not allow Adam and Eve to partake of the Tree of Life while in a fallen state.

How beautiful are those words, “no more curse.” The immediate contrast to the curse is the crown, God’s crown. His righteous rule over all. There we will see the Lord, we will serve the Lord, and reign with Him forever and ever. There there will be no need for artificial lights, the darkness will flee forever from the presence and glory of God, His Light illuminates every nook and cranny of heaven.

1 John 1:5 (NKJV) “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”

Again, John is instructed to write all this down, for the words are faithful and true – and blessed are those who read and heed this book of Revelation, who preserve its pages and share it with others, “…who keep the words of the prophecy of this book.”  (see also Revelation 3:10; 12:17; 14:12). Some people steer clear of the book of Revelation, they avoid it thinking it’s too tough to interpret, but the angel commands John NOT to seal the words of this prophecy, for the time is at hand.

Revelation 21:11 is not a passage teaching us that God doesn’t want people to repent, it’s simply a literary tool urging us to act NOW – don’t wait ‘till later or tomorrow – it may be too late. And if you’re one of those who love the Lord and are set apart to Him – stay there…may you never be moved.

I believe Jesus mentions His reward to motivate us, so let’s do what John tells us in:

2 John 1:8 (NKJV) “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.”

The revelation continues with the wooing and warning. If we do His commandments it shows we know God and love God (John 14:21, 23) – we will be blessed to partake of that Tree of Life – God is wooing us. But God also warns, that outside are dogs (metaphorically speaking of a man with an impure and impudent mind), sorcerers (drug addicts), sexually immoral, murderers, and idolaters. You don’t want to end up “outside,” my friend.

Jesus Himself sent His angel to communicate this message to all of us – if anyone thirsts, let that person come to Christ. This is an invitation from Jesus, the Spirit, and the Bride (the church) (see also Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37-38; Matthew 11:28-30) – come to the King of kings (the root and offspring of David), the bright and morning star (announcing the arrival of a new dawn, a new dynasty) come to Him all you who labor and are heavy laden.

How can we possibly be ready for His return? I’m forever grateful that the Bible ends with that word – GRACE!

Psalm 150:1-6

In this final Psalm in the Jewish hymnal we touch on some different facets of praise.


Of course we can praise God anywhere, but two wonderful places to praise God corporately are in His sanctuary on earth (where the congregation is gathered) and in His sanctuary in heaven (some translations say “Mighty heaven”). I love our times of worship in church, but I must admit, I do look forward to praising God in heaven.


We praise God for what He’s done and who He is. His mighty acts include creation, the new creation, and of course redemption (the cross and resurrection). His mighty acts are the wonderful things God has done for us all our lives, and the things He continues to do for us each and every day! How great Thou art!


We praise God with all the instruments God has given us. It’s wonderful to travel the world to see and hear the different forms of praise and worship. Drums and dance galore, percussion, piano, keyboards, saxophones, trumpets, orchestras, guitars (acoustic and electric) even the clashing of cymbals can be celebrations of praise. Although there are a plethora of instruments that vary in worship, the one instrument to be “played” and offered to God by all of us is that of the heart (Ephesians 5:19).

Who should praise God?

Everyone who has breath…let everything that has breath praise the LORD. With that breath we sing, we speak, and we live for God.

Proverbs 31:25-31

Proverbs 31:25–31 (NKJV) “Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.

This fashion of this virtuous woman is godly strength and honor, and she has much to look forward to.

Not only are her tasks amazing, but her tongue is as well.  This virtuous woman has a heart for good works as well as a heart of good words. She’s a woman of wisdom, she knows the Word…and she knows how to apply it.

This virtuous woman knows the Truth and speaks the Truth in love. Notice again the description there in v. 26b, “And on her tongue is the law of kindness.” She’s not a Bible thumper. The Hebrew word translated kindness speaks primarily of mercy.  She’s a merciful woman. Not lashing out with her lips, but she’s kind in conversation…she’s wise, knowing what to say, and when to say, and how to say (Proverbs 25:11). We read something similar in Ephesians 4:15 “…speaking the truth in love…”

Perhaps you’ve heard that maxim, something listed in the Dictionary of American Proverbs that, “Behind every great man, is a great woman.” And here we see, it has some Biblical merit. We would even say, not just behind, but “Beside every great man…”

The city gates back then, were similar to city hall nowadays. There the elders would meet, there the judgments would take place, there the wise men would gather, to be used by God for the good of His people. These guys were counselors, mentors, judges, and in that sense successful. Here we see it’s largely because of their amazing wives.

As a wife fulfills her role…her husband is then freed up to fulfill his – and I believe it works both ways.

We see this virtuous wife doing so much from a practical perspective…for her family and for her husband. The NLT says, “she carefully watches all that goes on in her household…” In other words…she knows what’s up.  She knows what’s going on with all of her children…even her teenagers. You can’t pull the wool over her eyes.

In the end, everyone is appreciative. Notice the children rise up and call her blessed…and that’s probably speaking of the fact that many children don’t realize what a blessing their mothers are, until they’re a little older. It’s okay moms…keep doing what’s right in God’s sight.  Don’t seek the approval ratings of immature children. Raise them up in the training and admonition of the Lord…one day they’ll stand up and publicly thank you.

The word charm in this context (Proverbs 31:30) might be described as elegance…the nice clothes, expensive jewelry, or even the correct mannerisms as a lady. Charm can be good, but ultimately that’s not what it’s about.

Neither is beauty all that big.

The Hebrew word translated “passing,” also means vain.  Don’t misunderstand what God is saying, it’s ok for a man or woman to do his or her best to make themselves presentable and even attractive to their husband or wife, but that is not anywhere nearly as important as the inner man – the inner woman.

You can see the beauty of a woman, and be passionately drawn to her, but it’s just eros, it’s erotic, it’s lust not love.  The good looks, the beautiful body, that won’t make a marriage, neither will it make a husband happy, or a man successful.

What is it that they really want?

The inner beauty; eyes might want the outer beauty, but the heart wants the inner beauty.

We read that clearly articulated in 1 Peter 3:1-4.

When God was looking for a man to bless His people, remember what He said to Samuel?

1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV) “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.””

…but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.  The fear of the LORD is a phrase we found 17 times in the Proverbs.

The fear of the LORD includes awe and reverence…but it’s more than that.  It’s a fear of discipline as well – that my disobedience will bring the chastening of God, into my life. It’s also a fear that I will disappoint my DADDY.

If God has blessed you with a virtuous wife and/or mom, be sure to “give” her the reward she has earned privately, and even publicly.

Share with others the things she has done, her works, there at the “gates.” May we be grateful and express our gratitude openly.

But ladies, if for some strange reason you are not rewarded on this side of time for your virtue and inner beauty, don’t worry…God will reward you one day. Remember Jesus’ words in:

Revelation 22:12 (NKJV) “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”

“Let everyone,” says Bishop Patrick, “extol her virtue. Let her not lack the just commendation of her labors. But while some are magnified for the nobleness of the stock from whence they sprung, others for their fortune, others for their beauty, others for other things, let the good deeds that she herself has done be publicly praised in the greatest assemblies, where, if all men should be silent, her own works will declare her excellent worth.”

Ruth 3:11 (NKJV) “And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.”

To the wise guys…and the wise gals. May this book, the Bible…and especially the Proverbs be at home in your heart, and lived out loud in your life. Remember, “Wisdom is to the soul, what health is to the body.”  God is willing and wanting to make us whole and healthy Christians.

May we even follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ…as He matured, we read in:

Luke 2:40 (NKJV) “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”

O Lord, I’m Your child too. Please help me to grow, help me to be strong by Your Spirit, filled with wisdom from above. And Lord, I’m so sorry…for me it’s different than Jesus, I know I will fail You. I’ll try not to, but I know in advance, I will miss the mark. I pray, I plead for Your grace to be upon my life…in Jesus’ name. Amen.

December 30, 2021

Malachi 1:1–2:17

Malachi’s name means “messenger,” and that he was! He wrote with courage and clarity in calling out the wicked complacency of the people during the years of Nehemiah’s absence.

Chuck Swindoll, “Malachi certainly wrote to the people of Judah (Malachi 1:1; 2:11), but the historical setting becomes clearer in Malachi 1:8. Here the prophet used the Persian word for governor, indicating a time period between 538–333 BC, when the Persian Empire ruled the Promised Land. Malachi also wrote about the corruption of the temple sacrifices, meaning that he likely delivered his message many years after the Israelites rebuilt the temple in 515 BC. The prophet’s concerns mirror those of Nehemiah’s, suggesting that Malachi prophesied to the people while Nehemiah left the city for several years, beginning in 432 BC (Nehemiah 13:6).”

The book begins with an expression of God’s love for Israel. It’s clearly a corrective writing and warning motivated by love. Have you learned that hard truth that the Lord will correct us…because He loves us?

Some people struggle with the concept of God loving Jacob and hating Esau (Malachi 1:2-3), but this “hate” was an idiom of the day pointing out the chasm of difference between believers and non-believers. Jesus used the same expression teaching us that we are to “hate” everyone, even those closest to us.

Luke 14:26 (NKJV) “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

Of course this doesn’t mean we are to literally hate people…as a matter of fact we are commanded to love everyone, and by this all will know we’re Jesus’ disciples and are saved (John 13:35; 1 John 4:7-8).  So what is Jesus saying? That there is to be no rival throne in our hearts, we are to love the Lord more than anyone else. Malachi’s statement means there is no comparison between the grace a believer has, and the judgment a non-believer will experience. This is the difference (generally speaking) between Israel and Edom.

Having established the fact that Israel is God’s covenant people, Malachi goes on to severely rebuke them, especially the priests. They were viewing ministry as a burden – in despising the offerings of the LORD, they were despising the LORD Himself. The sacrifices the people were giving were the leftovers. The lame, the blind, the sick, the stolen would not be accepted by the Governor, how could they have have the audacity to offer them to God?

The responsibility of the priests was to honor the LORD among all people, but they doing the exact opposite, they were profaning His name. Not only in their sacrifices but in their vows as well.

Malachi 1:14 (NKJV) “But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished— for I am a great King,” says the LORD of hosts, “And My name is to be feared among the nations.”

It makes me examine my life. Am I giving to God the best of the best? The tithe from the top? Or am I giving God the leftovers? Is ministry wearisome to me, am I tired of it, or am I still in awe that I have been given this gracious opportunity to serve the Lord and his people?

In Malachi 2 he continues his heavy rebuke of the priests for various reasons all rooted in the fact that their heart was not right. They were not open to correction and would therefore forfeit their blessings and curse themselves. Tragically this would affect their children as well – the whole household was falling apart.

The priests had drifted from the law of the LORD and had no fear of God. They weren’t loving or living the truth so the people were not learning the truth from their lips.

Malachi 2:7–8 (NKJV) “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of hosts.”

Rather than helping the people spiritually, these priests were hindering and harming them, even the ones we husbands are called to love the most – our wives. Malachi opens up this section with the fact that we are all made in the image of God and are therefore equal as men and women (Malachi 2:10), this includes husbands and wives – we should not deal treacherously with one another.

It’s heartbreaking to read the way the priests were either marrying non-believers or flippantly divorcing their wives. They were the epitome of hypocrisy weeping on the altar, asking God to receive their offerings and answer their prayers, when behind the scenes they were dealing treacherously with their wives. Make no mistake about it, God sees what’s going on behind the scenes and not just up there on the “stage.”

They had forgotten, or didn’t seem to care about the LORD’s holy institution of marriage (Malachi 2:11), how God loves marriage and hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). What damage it does to everyone involved – it’s spiritual violence!

May husbands and wives meditate on this section of Malachi. May we remember how it all started, how God saw it was not good to be alone so He gave us a companion for life; we entered into a covenant to love and to cherish one another and fulfill our roles and responsibilities of husband and wife. Yes, we know that marriage is hard, it’s a perpetual test of character, but we were made ONE…on that day. Jesus said;

Matthew 19:6 (NKJV) “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Our Father wants to bless families, He wants to bless husbands and wives, as well as their children. It’s a fundamental part of His plan to carry the gospel from generation to generation. We need to be warned and informed that our children may pay the ultimate price of eternity in hell, all because of a parent’s selfishness. Let’s heed the warning and work things out.

Malachi 2:15 (NLT) “Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.”

Revelation 21:1-27

God gives us a glimpse of the glory of heaven, which can ultimately be defined as the sphere of God’s unveiled existence. In “heaven” (which Paul refers to as the “third heaven” – 2 Corinthians 12:2) there will be a new first and second heaven and a new earth (the first and second heaven refer to this planet’s atmosphere and outer space). Some Christians believe that the current heaven and earth will be obliterated and replaced – but I tend to lean more towards God redeeming all creation as Paul wrote in Romans 8:20-22.

Just as our bodies will be resurrected so too will “heaven and earth.”

In Revelation 21:3 the voice is loud because God wants everyone to hear! 

In heaven, God will be with us, we will be with Him, we will see Him (Job 19:26; Matthew 5:8) and there will be no more painful tears, suffering or sorrow, no more death or decay, all that is sinful will pass away, God makes ALL things new. God Himself told John (and us) “Write for these words are true and faithful.” This is not just wishful thinking or a fleeting fantasy, this is reality, there is life after death.

All this is written not just as information, but as an invitation, Jesus Himself invites the weary worn out world, “If you’re thirsty, come to Me, I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to all who thirst.”

Have you responded to Jesus’ invitation?

It’s also clear that this book is written as a bold and blunt warning to those who resist God and insist on their sin, rooted in unbelief. All those who choose to refuse, “…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

We then get this visual of the New Jerusalem. This is where God’s people live, in a space approximately 1,500 miles in length, in depth, and in height. If every level was a ½ a mile high, the total surface would be larger than the entire land mass of planet earth. We get a glimpse of some of the details, the jewels, the pearly gates, the names of the 12 tribes of Israel on each gate, the names of the 12 Apostles on the foundations of those gates, the walls of jasper, the city and streets are made of pure gold. There is no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. Imagine not needing the light of the sun or any other lamp because the glory of God illuminates everything, the Lamb is its light! As I read, I sense God’s full and unveiled presence everywhere in heaven.

We read that the nations of those who are saved shall walk in this light, they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it, which means that there is still this beautiful diversity in heaven. The different foods, cultural practices, skin colors and the like will be there in heaven. There are still many mysteries and things we don’t know or understand, there are many questions we have as Christians, but the most important part of it all is that we will be with God, and that’s the most important thing. Jesus said in: 

John 14:2-3 (NKJV) “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

“That’s all I want Lord, that where You are, there I may be also…and as we’re on our way, please Lord, help us to bring as many people with us as we can.”

Psalm 149:1-9

I wonder if we realize how powerful praise is? I wonder if we praise God the way we should?

We sing the oldies (they never get old) but we must always be looking for new songs as well, for God is always doing new things.

I love the enthusiasm of this Psalm. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker, the children of Zion (a picture of heaven) be joyful in their King. Dance, and sing praise with timbrel and harp, even the guitar!

We humble ourselves in acknowledging our constant need for God. What a “beautiful” passage:

Psalm 149:4 (NKJV) “For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.”

I thought it was interesting to read how the Psalmist even encourages Israel to sing aloud on their beds! Some say it points to praising God even when it’s “nighttime” (Job 35:10; Psalm 42:8). NET Notes said this, “Perhaps the point is that they should rejoice at all times, even when falling asleep or awaking.”

The Psalm closes with sounding victory over Israel’s enemies. For us, it’s not necessarily victory over nations, but it is victory over the fallen flesh, over the world system under Satan’s sway, and victory over the devil and his demons. Let’s be sure to swing our two-edged sword, the Word of God (Psalm 149:6; Hebrews 4:12).

Proverbs 31:10-24

Proverbs 31:10–24 (NKJV) “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. 15 She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants. 16 She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is good, And her lamp does not go out by night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes tapestry for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants.”

It’s fascinating how this final section of Proverbs is an acrostic poem portraying a virtuous wife. 

Each of the 22 verses begins with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The Hebrew word translated “virtuous,” speaks of strength, might, and efficiency.  I found it fascinating that the word is most often translated “army” in the Bible.  When you find a woman like this, it’s as if you have an army on your side!

The same Hebrew word is translated “excellent” in Proverbs 12:4, where we read that, “an excellent wife is the crown of her husband.”

But…such women are very, very rare.  Hence the question, “who can find a virtuous wife?” If you do find such a wife, you will find that her worth is far above rubies.

V. 11-12

A virtuous wife is trustworthy, committed to her husband, he knows, he can count on her; he has confidence in her; not just that she won’t go out on him, but that she will fulfill her role as wife and mom, helper and homemaker (she builds her house) (I Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:5).

So, he will have no lack of gain…(she will greatly enrich his life – NLT). She does him good…all the days of her life. Keep in mind that “all the days of her life” is not just to the last day…but every day.

Here are some specifics/practical things about her (13-22, 24)

Key Words:

Clothing (13, 17, 19, 21-22)
For her family – she goes out looking for, gathering the material she needs, like wool and flax; she brings it home and makes clothes for her family.  Not just to cover them, but to keep them warm (blankets). Nowadays, it may not be making clothes (for some it’s that way) but it might be more along the lines of shopping, buying, washing, ironing, etc.

Clothing for others

Proverbs 31:19–20 (NLT) “Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. 20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.”

When I read of this heart she has, as well as the skill she’s cultivated, it brings to mind a woman in the NT by the name of Dorcas.  

Acts 9:36-39 (NKJV) “At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then 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.”

Clothing for herself (17, 25a, 22)

She has strength and style, and that’s okay.

She’s definitely not wimpy: “She girds herself with strength.”  No doubt she strengthens herself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6)

All women, wives and moms definitely need that strength.  Having to take care of us husbands in so many ways can be a full-time job in and of itself…but then when you add the kids in, from carrying the baby in your womb, to giving birth, the nursing, the nurturing, the lack of sleep at night, the lack of rest by the day, it just never ends.  Some of you moms who’ve raised, or are raising multiple children…our hats off to you, we’re so grateful to you!

Consumer (14)

Cook (14, 15)
(A great love language)

Capitalist (16, 18, 24)
She makes some money through her line of clothing, or on a property deal…which then is used to plant a vineyard…an awesome blessing for every family in those days.
This woman is able to contribute financially. She makes good material, and does so working late into the evening. She even sells to sellers!

Caring (15b, 20)
…there she is willingly working with her hands, stretching out her hands…even beyond her family…considerate of the needy and the poor.

The Bible dictionary defines wisdom as the “ability to discern and make right choices.” It’s more than knowledge…it includes knowledge, but it’s really the ability to take the knowledge of God, and His Word – and in this world, apply that knowledge…on the decisions we make, the words we speak, the thoughts we think, the passions we pursue.

It’s interesting…over the process of time within the dental world, they began to call those third molars that make their way into our mouths…wisdom teeth.  Their reasoning was the teeth begin to grow in the latter part of the teenage years…and the assumption of the day was…that’s when you become an adult, and with age comes wisdom.

But that’s not always the case. huh? Wisdom doesn’t come from within, or without…wisdom actually comes from above (James 3:17).  We can pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and more often than not, God will give us trials along with teachings, to make us wise guys and gals.

Praise God for this Virtuous Wife!

December 29, 2021

Zechariah 14:1-21

During the Tribulation Period Jerusalem will be sacked by the Gentile nations led by the Antichrist. Jesus will save His remnant, and then at the end of the Tribulation Period He will return, and we (all those who have died in Christ up to that point) will return with Him.

Zechariah 14:5b (NKJV) “…thus the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with You.

Jude 14 (NKJV) “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints.”

After the Tribulation Period and the return of Christ, King Jesus will rule from Jerusalem for 1,000 years (the Millennial Reign).

Zechariah 14:9 (NKJV) “And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be ‘The LORD is one,’ and His name one.”

King Jesus’ return will make changes in the heavens (Zechariah 14:6-7) and the earth (Zechariah 14:8), living waters will from from Jerusalem.

Today, Jerusalem is a heavy stone, almost a ticking time bomb, you never know when there will be an uproar in city or at the Temple Mount. Many Arab nations are enemies to Israel and refuse to acknowledge Jerusalem as its capital. But imagine the day when Jerusalem will be safely inhabited (Zechariah 14:11), only during the Millennial Kingdom.

Zechariah 14:12 describes the judgment upon the enemies of Jerusalem, and the plague they will experience (Genesis 12:3).

During the Millennial Kingdom, homage to the LORD will be expected of all people. If the nations (or national representatives) refuse to keep the Feast of Tabernacles then they will be disciplined by God – rain will be withheld from their lands. This gives us an indication of what the “atmosphere” will be like during the Millennial Kingdom. One would figure that the people of the world would believe and bow down to their Lord, but for many (if not most) it will only be a superficial commitment because they were in one sense, forced/expected to honor the King. These people choose their sin over their Savior. This explains how at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, when the devil is released to test the people of the world (Revelation 20:3, 7-10), he is able to muster up a rebellion against Christ…for many will merely have gone through the motions/expectation during Christ’s reign. (heartbreaking)

How critical it is that “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” be engraved not only on the bells of the horses (Zechariah 14:20), but on the tablets of our hearts.

Revelation 20:1-15

For many of us, it’s a prayer we’ve been praying our entire lives:

“…Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

It’s the Millennial Kingdom – King Jesus has come. Satan is bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years. That means that the devil and his demons won’t be around to tempt and torment for an entire millennium. During this time, Jesus will rule from Jerusalem as King and we will rule with Him in different cities. Our future jurisdiction as blood-bought believers will be based on our present faithfulness; we recall Jesus’ words in: 

Luke 19:17, (NKJV) “And He said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’” 

And in:

Luke 19:18-19, (NKJV) “And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ Likewise He said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’” 

(see also Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:3; Revelation 3:21).

The Bible is filled with many passages that paint wonderful pictures of the Messiah’s reign. It will be a time of peace and prosperity; if anyone gets out of line, it will be dealt with swiftly as Jesus rules with a “rod of iron.” Death can take place, but for the most part, people will live hundreds of years. Dangerous animals will be tamed as described in:

Isaiah 11:6-9 (NKJV) “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

What a wonderful time it will be! “Many aspects of the curse (Genesis 3:15-19) will be reversed. People will live to a great age, but death will still occur. As before the flood, animals will revert to vegetarianism and will no longer fear man. Living waters will flow from beneath the sanctuary of the Millennial Temple bringing life to the regions they water.” (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:20, 25; Ezekiel 47:8-12; Zechariah 8:4; 14:8; Revelation 21:1-2)” –

It will be a wonderful land when the Lord physically and literally reigns from Jerusalem…but at the end of the thousand years, Satan will be released one last time to test the heart of man – for love must always be tested. Tragically there will be many who despise Christ reigning over them (Luke 19:14) – they will follow Satan and his soldiers to a futile resistance where fire comes down from heaven and devours them. FINALLY, the devil is cast into the Lake of Fire where the Antichrist and False Prophet are, and all whose names are not written in the Book of Life, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Imagine that Great White Throne – where all non-believers will stand before Jesus to be judged (John 5:22). Is your name in the Book of Life? If you’re not sure, I pray you would receive Christ today, as your Lord and Savior, and then join in on this mission to pull as many people out of the fire as we can (Jude 23).

Psalm 148:1-14

The Psalmist begins with an encouragement to Praise the LORD from the heavens.

The angels, the hosts, the sun, moon, and stars.

Psalm 148:5 (NKJV) “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created.”

But then he moves on to tell us to Praise the LORD from the earth. 

The elements of nature, the fire and hail, snow and clouds, the wind…all fulfill His Word. The mountains and trees, beasts and domestic animals, creeping things and flying fowl all bow before Him.

If all creation praises and obeys God then…shouldn’t we? Earthlings? Destined for heaven? Kings, princes, judges, and all people – young and old – you and me, let’s be sure to praise the Lord!

As Christians we have been grafted in, to be so near and dear to Him (Psalm 148:14) – what a an awesome God He is. Let’s settle it in our hearts, therefore, to live a life of praise to God!

Proverbs 31:8-9

Proverbs 31:8–9 (NKJV) “Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

Of course we know this is applicable to many victims of injustice and poverty in our days, but I can’t help but think of the abortion issue, the 125,000 babies who are slaughtered every single day, by their parents – legalized, pushed, and propagated by our government. 

Here we see that all of us, and especially leaders have a responsibility to be an influence for good, not evil, to save, not take  lives! We must open our mouths (repeated phrase), judge Biblically, and plead passionately for the needy.

Proverbs 31:8 (NET) “Open your mouth on behalf of those unable to speak, for the legal rights of all the dying.”

December 28, 2021

Zechariah 12:1–13:9

Zechariah 12 catapults us all the way to the Battle of Armageddon, when the nations of the world gather together in the Valley of Megiddo, to attack Jerusalem and, in essence, fight against God (Revelation 16:12-16; 19:11-21). This takes place at the end of the Tribulation Period. It won’t be much of a battle; Jesus will return and all the redeemed with Him – Jesus will strike the world with the sword of the Word that proceeds out of His mouth, (He will speak the slaughter) and protect His people living in the land of Jerusalem. We read in:

Zechariah 12:4 (NLT) “On that day,” says the LORD, “I will cause every horse to panic and every rider to lose his nerve. I will watch over the people of Judah, but I will blind all the horses of their enemies.”

This is Bible language for Divine intervention! Divine judgment.

Zechariah 12:9 (NKJV) “It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”

And then the day comes, when the Jews clearly see the sacrifice of their Messiah. It will require the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus returns, He still bears the scars…they will see Him and mourn (Zechariah 12:10-11). 

We read in Zechariah 13 how idolatry will finally be finished, and a fountain of forgiveness will be provided by God.

Zechariah 13:1 (NLT) “On that day a fountain will be opened for the dynasty of David and for the people of Jerusalem, a fountain to cleanse them from all their sins and impurity.”

Of course we know there’s only one fountain of forgiveness, none other than Jesus Christ, who loves us so much, that He’s willing to wash us from all our sins in His own blood…it’s there we’re made as white as snow. Not only are we forgiven initially, but in one sense we’re forgiven continually. I’m reminded of that passage in:

1 John 1:9 (NKJV) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Not only will the idolatry of the Tribulation period and worship of the beast be extinguished but every false prophet will be judged. Zechariah may be referring to the time of the Millennial kingdom at this point (Zechariah13:3-5), when every false prophet will be swiftly dealt with by King Jesus and those who rule with a rod of iron. 

Some say Zechariah 13:6 refers to the claim of the false prophets, but I have a hunch that Zechariah abruptly shifts gears, and speaks of Jesus, as the Jews see Him, with His scars, they ask Him, “Where did you get those wounds?”

Zechariah 13:6b (NKJV) “…Then he will answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’”

Zechariah continues – more prophecies about Jesus and the Jews. As a matter of fact, Jesus quoted Zechariah 13:7 in:

Matthew 26:31 (NKJV) “Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’’”

The remainder of the chapter (Zechariah 13:8-9) speaks of the surviving Jews (1/3) protected by God at the end of the Tribulation Period. What a beautiful but painful experience when we’re refined in the fire.

Zechariah 13:9 (NKJV) “I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”

Job and Peter said something similar (Job23:10; 1 Peter 1:6-7).

Revelation 19:1-21

Revelation 19 begins with a great multitude in heaven praising God for His just judgment. This is the first time we see the word Alleluia in the New Testament. This is a Hebrew word that has been transliterated universally, it means, “Praise the Lord!” Once we’re in heaven, we’ll be able to understand even more so, the necessity of judgment upon those who reject God’s righteousness provided in His Son, and not just a temporary punishment. We read something interesting in:

Revelation 19:3 (NKJV) “Again they said, ‘Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!’”

The next “Alleluia” is due to that glorious wedding day and Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Jesus is the Bridegroom (John 3:29), the church is the bride, and this is the Day we’ve all been waiting for – a formal, finalized, and forever “outward” expression of an inward reality. We belong to Jesus, as a chaste virgin, dressed in white, clean and bright (2 Corinthians 11:2). He bought us by dying for us and takes personal care of us as His bride (see Ephesians 5:25-33).

In Revelation 19:10 we’re reminded that we are NOT to worship angels (Colossians 2:18), we are forbidden to bow down before anyone but God (see Matthew 4:8-10).

Next – what a glorious scene, Jesus returns on a white horse, finally coming to conquer the world, and to literally, physically rule and reign from Jerusalem – the King returns. He has many names (Faithful and True, the Word of God, King of kings, Lord of lords, and one that only He knows) are glorious. His description (eyes like fire, many crowns on His head, a sharp sword proceeding from His mouth) wow! He comes to conquer, He returns to reign and He will do so with a rod of iron, meaning that if anyone gets out of line, He will deal with it immediately – there will be no nonsense when Jesus rules.

This is the battle of Armageddon, and all the rebel soldiers who marched to war as described in Revelation 16:12-16 will foolishly fight God and be massacred on the battlefield with a simple word from the lips of the Lord.

Sandy Adams has some helpful words, “Revelation chapter 19 describes the climactic conclusion to a galactic battle. Waged in heaven, resumed on earth, won at the cross, resisted through the ages – the war between God and Satan winds up for its grand finale’ in the Valley of Megiddo. It has been a long time since this wicked world has seen the Lamb. What a surprise to hear Him roar like a lion. He came the first time to save. He comes the second time to slaughter.”

Revelation 19:14 reveals the fact that we will be with Him, but I’m pretty sure that Jesus does most – if not all of the fighting, we’re just following Him on white horses. If you were to travel to Israel today you would see this battlefield that will one day be swirling 4-feet high in blood. In Revelation 19:19 we read of the capture of the beast (antichrist), as well as the false prophet who are both cast alive into the Lake of Fire burning with brimstone, while the rest of the resistance were killed by the “sword” of our Savior. What a glorious day that will be! It’s not the absolute end of evil, but we’re getting there…and from this point forward it only gets better – next is the Millennial Kingdom, one final fight a thousand years later, followed by the everlasting, unending Kingdom of God.

Psalm 147:1-20

As Christians we know – there are innumerable/infinite reasons to praise the LORD. We also know – how good, pleasant, and beautiful it is to praise Him.

Consider how God has regathered Israel to her land, numerous times! (The outcasts regathered – Psalm 147:2)

Consider how God is so personal and powerful – that He’s able to heal the broken hearts of any person individually, but He also knows every star by name and makes sure that not one is missing (Psalm 147:4; Isaiah 40:26).

He lifts up the humble; He casts down the proud. Psalm 147:6 states it in dramatic fashion.

Psalm 147:6 (NKJV) “The LORD lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground.”

He gives rain for grain for food for people; He’s even responsible for feeding the young raven. He’s not impressed with the strength of man, but He is impressed when men and women fear Him.

Throughout the ages God has protected His people. Some may question this, but we need to know, that if it weren’t for God’s gates (Psalm 147:13) all of God’s people would have been wiped out – instantly.

God blesses us with a wide range of benefits from peace, to meat, to the finest wheat; by His word we get snow and then water, as He melts the snow, and by His Word we receive direction.

And then there’s His Word of Words, so to speak – the Bible! Spiritual insight, truth, revelations of things pertaining to the Kingdom.

Psalm 147:19–20 (NKJV) “He declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to Israel. 20 He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His judgments, they have not known them. Praise the LORD!”

We have His Word, where would we be without it? Left to ourselves, we’d be lost, and without a clue.

I’m so blessed to think that those of you who are reading this blog are first reading His Word. God will bless you my friend!

“A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” – President Theodore Roosevelt

Proverbs 31:1-7

Proverbs 31:1-2

The name Lemuel means “for God” or “belonging to God.” It is not at all certain, but some believe this to be King Solomon…Lemuel perhaps being another name given to him by his mother (Bathsheba) (any of you moms have multiple names for your kids?)

Here we read that Lemuel relays the counsel that his mother had given to him, to which Pastor Chuck Smith said, “Much of the book of Proverbs contains advice passed down from father to son. But this last chapter is the advice a mother gave to her son.”

Bathsheba warns her son, beware of the wrong type of woman!

Proverbs 31:3

The first thing she says, we read there in Proverbs 31:3, “Do not give your strength to women…” (some people have the potential to weaken us) (we’ll see later that the virtuous woman is a complete contrast, she strengthens her husband).

If Lemuel is Solomon, he completely ignored his mother’s advice on this point.  As a matter of fact, women were probably the primary cause for Solomon’s failure in the end.
We read about Solomon in: 

1 Kings 11:3 (NKJV) “And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.”

An later in:

Nehemiah 13:25-26 (NKJV)  “…Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things…who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, pagan women caused even him to sin.”

Mom tells Solomon, “be careful…” as a king there’s a heavy crown to wear, be sure to take your responsibility seriously, God is the one who’s given you this authority…be careful you don’t get weakened by a woman, who has the potential to reduce a man to a crust of bread. (Proverbs 6:26)

Son – if you’re a womanizer, they’ll take your time, your attention, your money; you won’t be able to fulfill your responsibility as king…you’ll lose your family

Bathsheba also warns her son to beware of wine.

Proverbs 31:4-7

Another thing you must beware of as a leader is wine and intoxicating drink.  Those who are dying need their senses dulled…but not you my son.  You must be sober and sharp, always have your full faculties.

Intoxicating drink – most likely refers to barley beer. We have even stronger drinks now – not to boast, it’s actually something we should be ashamed of.

We read something similar in:

Ecclesiastes 10:17 (NKJV) “Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes feast at the proper time–for strength and not for drunkenness!”

Notice again, the reasoning we read there in:

Proverbs 31:5 (NKJV) “…lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted.” 

(See also Deuteronomy 17:18-19)

Drinking and drunkenness are bad for many reasons. The alcohol will master you.  It’s addictive, and destructive to the person who drinks. They bring themselves to a place where they need a drink to think, to calm their nerves, to have fun, and eventually, just to function.

In Proverbs 31:7 we see, it only numbs the pain and hides the problems – it doesn’t heal or help. But the main reason not to drink, as stated in this context, is the way it affects others.  The King might forget the law and therefore pervert justice towards the afflicted. One shouldn’t take that chance! As we’ve seen so often in the Proverbs, justice is first, fundamental, foremost for Godly leaders, in God’s eyes…may we never forget that the poor and afflicted have a special place in His heart.

December 27, 2021

Zechariah 10:1–11:17

Zechariah 10 speaks of the restoration of the nation of Israel. 

The chapter begins with the word “Ask.” Sometimes we don’t have simply because we don’t ask (James 4:2). Jesus commands us to keep on asking.

Luke 11:9 (NKJV) “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

God promised, that the time would come when He would answer their prayer for rain, He would “rain” down blessings from above. He’s not like the lifeless idols which the people looked to because of their lifeless leaders. God’s anger was kindled against the leaders of the day; He promised to punish them and to bless the house of Judah.

Zechariah 10:3 (NKJV) “My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the goatherds. For the LORD of hosts will visit His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as His royal horse in the battle.”

Zechariah 10:4 tells us that from Judah would come the Cornerstone…another prophecy of Jesus Christ the Chief Cornerstone who would come to their rescue (Psalm 118:22; Luke 20:17).

Warren Wiersbe, “The flock was in trouble because it had no shepherd to care for it. But the Lord will return and be the Shepherd. He will rescue the people, strengthen them, and establish them in peace.”

In this restoration the nation of Israel, the LORD would be with them and  strengthen them to fight and prevail, to be regathered to the land and increase as they once had. The amazing thing about this prophecy is that this has happened numerous times, even in our generation, Israel was born-again as a nation in 1948 after close to 1,900 years of being without a land scattered throughout the world. God’s blessed them to fight, God’s blessed with fruit (rain). Prophecies fulfilled right before our eyes – ultimately pointing to Jesus’ actual return and reign from Jerusalem forever and ever.

Zechariah 11 begins by speaking of something that would happen in 70 A.D., when the Roman armies would invade Israel traveling through Lebanon and down into the upper Galilee region. God then spends the bulk of the chapter indicting the leaders of the land, the worthless shepherds in the days of Jesus.

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “The passage focuses attention on Israel’s spiritual condition at the time of Christ’s ministry and the consequences of her rejection of Christ, the True Shepherd.”

The Jewish leaders were a mixture of civil and sacred leaders, and they miserably failed the people in both areas. They were not in it for God or the people of God, they were in it for themselves, they were rich as they fleeced the flock and led them to the slaughter.

Zechariah 11:10 is a prophecy of Jesus (Beauty) who was broken on the cross in order to establish a New Covenant.

Zechariah 11:10 (NKJV) “And I took my staff, Beauty, and cut it in two, that I might break the covenant which I had made with all the peoples.”

Zechariah 11:12-13 is a detailed prophecy of the actions of Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and afterwards regretted it, casting down the money in the Temple . The priests then used the silver to purchase a potter’s field (Matthew 26:15; 27:3-10).

One fascinating thing before we leave this chapter – Zechariah 11:16 is a picture of the antichrist. Having rejected Jesus the Jews would tragically accept the false (John 5:43).

Zechariah 11:16 (NKJV) “For indeed I will raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for those who are cut off, nor seek the young, nor heal those that are broken, nor feed those that still stand. But he will eat the flesh of the fat and tear their hooves in pieces.”

Did you notice the 4 types of people (sheep)?

1. Sheep who are cut off (lost)

2. Sheep who are young (children and new believers)

3. Sheep who are broken (hurting)

4. Sheep who still stand (healthy)

The antichrist is the epitome of a wicked and worthless shepherds who cares nothing for the flock. Tragically there are many “shepherds” who are more like the antichrist than they are Jesus Christ. God will one day judge the worthless shepherds.

Revelation 18:1-24

We come now to the judgment of what many call “Commercial Babylon.” There have been and will be many people committing spiritual adultery and idolatry through the worship of money and the things that money can buy. It’s okay to have possessions, but it’s not okay when those possessions possess us. It’s okay to have what we need, but God knows that oftentimes we go far beyond our necessities and live in lavish luxuries. Jesus said in:

Matthew 6:24, (NKJV) “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” 

But the kings, leaders, movers and shakers of this world worship at this altar, and get rich at the same time, through the seduction of society – people get caught in culture (especially in the United States of America).

I appreciate the way Warren Wiersbe describes this it, “John certainly had Rome in mind when he wrote this chapter, but his imagery means much more. Babylon symbolizes the whole godless world system that caters to the appetites of sinful men and women (1 John 2: 15–17). True believers have nothing in common with the harlot and her city and should be separated from them (Revelation 18:4; Jeremiah 50:8; 51:6; 2 Corinthians 6:14–18). In every age, the church has had to identify its Babylon and separate from it.”

For that reason the warning is issued in:

Revelation 18:4 (NKJV) “Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” 

Reminds me of the warning in 2 Corinthians 6:17. It’s so easy to get sucked into the things of this world, the latest and greatest, to where it consumes us – even as Christians. Paul wrote in: 

1 Timothy 6:8 (NKJV) “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”

He also wrote in: 

Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” 

God will supply all our needs, not all our “greeds.” How we need to be careful – for as we see in this chapter, the citizens of Babylon will be judged by God…yes it’s true what we’ve heard all of our lives, “It’s all gonna burn!”

I was captured by the concept that it will happen not only in one day (Revelation 18:8), but in one hour (Revelation 18:10, 17). Some say the future city may be a literal place such as New York, or Los Angeles, or maybe even a rebuilt Babylon in modern-day Iraq. Somehow the judgment is connected to a specific place where materialism is mainstream. The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her.

The list of merchandise includes jewelry, clothing, things made of wood, metal, and other materials, there was food and drink, stock, horses, chariots (cars?) and even people were for sale – I think of the sex-trafficking throughout the world – our hearts ache for them. Revelation 18:14 is so sad – to think that sometimes our soul “longs” for these things, we’re told and sold through the endless advertising that bombards us. I need to be careful that my heart doesn’t go after these things, I wouldn’t be the first servant of God who sold out for money (Achan, Gehazi, and Judas did).

The day is coming when this entire entity, this world system, the Babylonian spirits will be judged. I thought it was interesting how in verse 2 the demons are all captured, imprisoned, and caged. Revelation 18:22 mentions the music – what a powerful tool of the enemy much of the worldly music has been…can’t help but think of Romans 12:2.

Psalm 146:1-10

Hallelujah is transliterated from Hebrew – it means, “Praise the LORD.”

We will praise Him in heaven, but then it won’t be by faith – then, it will be by sight. It’s only here, “while I live,” on this side of time that I can praise Him by faith.

May we praise God from the heart, with our whole being.

We love all people and honor our leaders but we must not put our trust in them. Our trust and happiness come only from God.

Psalm 146:5 (NKJV) “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God.”

Our hope and helper is the same One who made the heavens and the earth, who keeps truth and justice, who gives food to the hungry and freedom to the prisoner.

The latter is a literal truth, but it’s also a deeper truth. Before I was a Christian, I was a prisoner to drugs, alcohol, and so much more, I was in bondage to sin. I was headed for an eternal prison, a home forever in hell. But Jesus set me free from every prison I was in – this is who He is, and this is why we praise Him.

He gives sight to the blind. He lifts up the lowly, He loves us and watches over us all. He takes special care of the orphans and widows.

He will bring justice to the wicked…on that day when He makes every wrong right and reigns, forever and ever.

Proverbs 30:33

Proverbs 30:33 (NKJV) “For as the churning of milk produces butter, and wringing the nose produces blood, so the forcing of wrath produces strife.”

Agur advises and God commands that we stop the strife and the things that lead to it…like loose lips and unbridled anger.

‘Cuz stirring it up like that, makes butter from milk, blood from a beating…and strife for life (James 3:5-10).

I want to know Christ more, and make Him known…