All posts by mannycoronilla

December 14, 2021

Jonah 1:1–4:11

Jonah is not really a prophetic book about the future, it’s actually a book about a struggling prophet and our amazing God, who is abundant in lovingkindness and relents from doing harm (Jonah 4:2).

God commanded Jonah to go Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, called “great” because of its many inhabitants, and warn them for their wickedness. But Jonah refused to obey. He fled the presence of the LORD and sailed towards Tarshish, away from Assyria in attempt to flee from the presence of the LORD and His call upon his life.

Aren’t you grateful, however, that it is impossible to escape the presence of the LORD? We read in:

Psalm 139:7–10 (NKJV) “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”

It wouldn’t matter where I was or how fast I ran (the wings of the morning – light speed is 186,000 miles per second) I can’t escape the presence of God and His gracious guidance. Jonah would soon discover this.

As Jonah sailed, God went after him in an interesting fashion. God sent a storm so strong, that the experienced and rugged sailors were afraid. They lightened the cargo, prayed to their gods, nothing changed, the storm only got worse. They finally cornered Jonah who spilled the beans. It was his fault, he had “fled from the presence of the LORD” (Jonah 1:10). Jonah informed them that if they threw him into the sea the storm would cease. Initially they refused to do so, but eventually they did, and Jonah was right.

One good thing about all this is that the sailors were converted right there on the spot, they witnessed the stilling of the storm.

Jonah 1:15–16 (NKJV) “So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.”

It breaks our heart to see that Jonah was so down and depressed, that he wanted to die. Many people struggle in this way even to the point of suicidal thoughts. If that’s you or someone you know, I pray the account of Jonah would be used by God as a Word of encouragement. There’s still a great future for you, filled and flooded with good. Next thing you know God uses your story of struggle and imperfection to help others going through the same thing. Please, don’t lose heart.

Throughout the narrative of Jonah we see the LORD engaged in nature – starting the storm, stilling the storm, even preparing a great fish to swallow Jonah (Jonah 1:17). Some people have a hard time believing that Jonah could actually be transported by a whale, but if Jesus believed and confirmed it, than that settles it (Matthew 12:39-41; Luke 11:29-32). Not only that, there have been accounts over the years of individuals in the mouths of whales, below is a link to one of the latest:

While in the fish’s belly, Jonah prayed and cried out to the LORD. Jonah had reached “rock-bottom.” You may have noticed the descent of Jonah. “He went DOWN to Joppa,” he went “DOWN to the lowest parts of the ship, and laid “DOWN,” he went “DOWN to the moorings of the mountains (Jonah 1:3, 5; 2:6). It’s as if he died and went down to Sheol but rose again. He  didn’t die, but he does become a typology of Christ. Jesus said in:

Matthew 12:40 (NKJV) “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Jonah’s prayer in chapter 2 is a deep expression of personal pain and struggle brought to God and therefore saved by Him. It really is true, “Whoever calls on the Name of the LORD, shall be saved.”

The fish vomited Jonah on dry land who this time goes where God sends him, and preaches the Word of warning, without any  woo whatsoever. “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” We’re not sure why the Assyrians responded the way they did, even reaching the echelon of the king, but they repented, in fasting and sackcloth. A decree went out from the king, who said among other things:

Jonah 3:8–9 (NKJV) “But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

And that’s exactly what God did, he turned from His fierce anger.

This grace shown to such wicked people infuriated Jonah, it was his greatest fear, it was the reason he didn’t want to warn Assyria in the first place. Jonah set up a seat, hoping to see the fireworks fall on Nineveh, but there would be no show to show.

God loved the Assyrians – there were many of them who didn’t even know their right hand from their left (in reference to children, or people who didn’t know any better).

God also loved Jonah. God taught him, in preparing a plant for shade, preparing a worm who would eat the plant and take away the shade…this is the world we live in…so many ups and downs in life. Days of shade and comfort and days of heat and pain. May we be faithful to function in this broken world and never give up – just look up to this God who pursues us with a love we’ll never understand.

Revelation 5:1-14

Revelation 5 is one of the most glorious scenes in all of eternity – one day, as believers, we’ll be there.

Can you see the scroll there in the right hand of the Father? It represents the title deed to the earth. This title deed had been given to Adam but then forfeited to the devil at the fall of man. Satan offered it to Jesus for one act of worship (Luke 4:5-7) but of course, Jesus refused. Jesus did it the right way, the hard way, as a Kinsman Redeemer He bought the title deed back – with His own blood. Technically, Jesus owns the earth, but practically He has not yet taken complete possession of what belongs to Him…there’s still souls to save.

When John saw this whole scene unfold, it was clearly communicated to him that no one was worthy to unseal the scroll – or even look at it. He wept much. What a horrible feeling that is, that feeling of hopelessness. Imagine if the whole wide world, if all the people of all time who are represented in this scene, were lost and defeated by the Devil. John felt that feeling of forever failure – and he was emotionally devastated.

But then…one of the elders (maybe a church representative?) spoke to him, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

And then John saw Jesus.

It’s fascinating the way He is described – both location and description. He’s in the “midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders…”How can He be in the “midst” of the throne, unless He’s God? And how can He be in the midst of the elders unless He’s man? Keep in mind, the four living creatures most likely represent Jesus as He’s presented in the four Gospels.

Not only where He is, but how He’s looks, as “…a Lamb as though it had been slain.” Isaiah tells us that when Jesus died on the cross for us, He was marred more than any man – He was a bloody mess. This is why John described Jesus the way he did in Revelation 1:5, “…to Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” This is why John the Baptist described Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. That was the price for the title-deed to the earth, to undo what Adam did, the second Adam laid down His life as the perfect and eternal sacrifice for all of our sins.

In the Bible, horns represent power, strength, and the authority to rule. Since 7 is the number of completion and perfection, Jesus has 7 horns. He did it, He prevailed!

Can you see Jesus taking the scroll from the right hand of the Father? It’s time to claim His land!

The rest of the chapter records the appropriate response – worship. We worship with our lips and we worship with our lives (Romans 12:1-2). He is worthy (this is the root of the word worship) for He has redeemed us (bought us back to God with His blood). If you’re a Christian, you’ll be there that day. This is us, after the rapture of the church, worshipping God for who He is, and what He’s done, and what He’s about to do.

Psalm 133:1-3

This Psalm speaks of the blessing of unity, and even the fact that it’s  “pleasant” for brethren to dwell together in unity. Pleasant is defined as, “Giving the sense of happy satisfaction or enjoyment.” When we’re not in it for ourselves, there’s no “I” in team, when we love one another, esteem others better than ourselves, when we know the flow of a family, the organization, or even a church, it’s an atmosphere of joy…it’s pleasant.

David describes this unity as poured out oil on Aaron the priest, and dew descending on Mount Hermon. Clearly these are indications of the anointing of the Holy Spirit, of blessings from above. 

May we all have that heart to be one, especially among the brethren (the church) (John 17:11, 21-22).

Proverbs 29:26-27

Proverbs 29:26 (NKJV) “Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice for man comes from the Lord.”

The word favor can translate “face,” or “audience.” Not just some, but many seek the personal notice or audience of the man who supposedly makes the decisions, when in all reality, everything comes from God.

Wouldn’t it be better to seek God’s face? For justice comes from Him!

Proverbs 29:27 (NKJV) “An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, and he who is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked.”

Abomination is a strong word, but it is disgusting to hear and see the things people do who defy God’s Word to the point of violating their conscience.

Men with men; women with women. Parents raising their boys as girls, or girls as boys. The murder of children within the warm of their mother’s womb. Murder all across the board, rape, incest, injustice, rewarding the lazy who don’t want to work. Don’t misunderstand we love the people, but ways that contradict the heart of our Creator are an abomination to us.

But then, if they’re honest, they’d admit, our ways of righteousness are an abomination to them.

December 13, 2021

Obadiah 1:1-21

The book of Obadiah is unique in the fact that it is the only book of the Bible written solely and specifically to a nation other than Israel. The Edomites were the descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau (Genesis 36:9).

Over the years the Edomites were guilty of mistreating the Israelites numerous times. When Israel was trudging to the promised-land, the Edomites refused passage to them, even threatening by force (Numbers 20:14-20). At that time Moses referred to Israel as Edom’s “brother.”

Edom was under the impression that they couldn’t be conquered due to their fortresses carved out of the rocks, their high habitation. But God promised them:

Obadiah 4 (NKJV) “‘Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,’ says the LORD.”

Apparently the Edomites rejoiced when the the Israelites were conquered. We’re not 100% sure, but most likely this is reference to the conquering of Judah in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians. The Edomites just sat there enjoying the view of their brothers’ destruction. They rejoiced, they plundered, they even entered in to the land to steal any spoil that may have remained. If there were any Jewish refugees fleeing for the lives, they didn’t help them, there was no mercy, on the contrary they caught them and delivered them to the Babylonians.

Pastor Chuck Smith, “It’s terrible when we fail to help when someones is oppressed. It’s even worse to watch with pride and derision and profit from their demise. But what makes it worse still is when the object of our derision is our brother. How do we respond when we see a brother fall? Do we help? Do we gloat? Do we profit?”

Obadiah goes on to make it clear that Israel will rise from the ashes and be raised to glory…but not Edom.

It is never wise to oppose Israel, she is the apple of God’s eye.

Zechariah 2:8 (NKJV) “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.’”

We should never oppose the Jews, not personally, or nationally. May we never forget that word back in the beginning, spoken in reference to the nation of Israel:

Genesis 12:3 (NKJV) “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Revelation 4:1-11

“After these things” means after the church age. I believe that when John is called to “Come up here,” it is a picture of the rapture of the church. From this point on in the book of Revelation, we will see the church only in heaven.

What will be the first thing we see when we get to heaven? Some say (based on Revelation 4:2) that our first sight will be God on His throne (makes sense to me).

I like what Sandy Adams said regarding John’s vision at this point, “Perhaps you have thought of heaven as a series of cumulus clouds. Or that the halls of heaven were hospital white and God appears in sterile scrubs. Discard those mythical notions. Heaven is adorned with a kaleidoscope of color. God is dressed in ruby red garments that sparkle like diamonds. Lightning bolts dart from His emerald green throne. A rainbow stretches overhead…colors on earth look pale when compared to the brilliance of heavenly hues.”

I’m not sure if God is clothed in red, but John saw God as these brilliant and dazzling stones in appearance; and the rainbow is not simply an arc, it encircles the throne, a perfect picture of grace (Genesis 9:11-17).

We’re not sure who the 24 elders are – if I HAD to guess, I would say that these are the 12 Patriarchs of the Old Testament and the 12 Apostles of the New Testament. Others say they are symbolic of the church.

The lightning, thunder, and voices that proceed from the throne may be symbolic of God’s sovereign rule and even the way He answers prayer (see Revelation 8:3-5).

Once again, we see the Holy Spirit symbolized in the number 7 (see also Isaiah 11:2; Revelation 1:4) and emphasized with fire (see Acts 2:3-4).

The four living creatures may be living witnesses to the nature of Christ who came as a Lion (King), a Calf (Servant), a Man, and an Eagle (Deity). I also see them as worship leaders, for whenever they worship God, the 24 elders join in to do the same.

They worship God for His holiness (holy, holy, holy), His power (God Almighty), His eternal and self-sufficient existence (Who was and is and is to come) and they worshipped God for the simple fact that He is worthy – as the Creator of all things. This gives us a glimpse of what we will be doing in heaven – so every time we worship, we are preparing ourselves for that time. And every time we serve the Lord in love and proper motives, we are laying up treasures in heaven – “crowns” – that we can cast before God’s throne, giving Him all the glory for making us and redeeming us – it’s worship for who He is and what He’s done!

Psalm 132:1-18

What an amazing Psalm, not just about the Temple, and how David wanted to build a house for God, but this is also about the “house” that God would build for David. There was this promise to David regarding his descendants, culminating in the Messiah, who would one day, rule from Jerusalem – forever!

Zion eventually became another name for heaven…and this Psalm definitely has heavenly hues.

There in heaven will be the “temple” of God – not literally for John the Beloved wrote this about heaven:

Revelation 21:22 (NKJV) “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

But, there will be the tabernacle of God in the sense that we will dwell with Him (Revelation 21:3). There in heaven will be the throne of God, the saints of God, the bread of God, the priests of God – clothed with salvation, “…and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.” (can you imagine the joy in heaven?)

Jesus, the Anointed One will have the “horn” of all power. His enemies will be judged – and His crown will flourish, forever and ever. What a wonderful truth!

May we never forget our future home, we should consider it frequently. Heaven is not just a destination, it’s a motivation.

Proverbs 29:24-25

Proverbs 29:24 (NKJV) “Whoever is a partner with a thief hates his own life; he swears to tell the truth, but reveals nothing.”

The New International Version puts it this way:

Proverbs 29:24 (NIV) “The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies; they are put under oath and dare not testify.”

They might say, “I was just the driver, I did nothing wrong.” But such people are just as guilty as the one who used the gun to rob, or pulled the trigger to kill.

Proverbs 29:25 (NKJV) “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”

We are not to fear what man can do to us. If we fear men, they control us. Let’s not fear what they think about us, what they might say about us, or even what they can do to us. Not that we don’t care about people, it’s just we must not fear people, for if we do, we’ll be trapped in the snare of our enemies.

Jesus spoke clearly on this:

Luke 12:4–5 (NKJV) “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”

How sad to read about the way the rulers in Jesus’ day feared men; it cost them their salvation.

John 12:42–43 (NKJV) “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

Proverbs 29:25b (NKJV) “…but whoever trust in the LORD shall be safe,” set on high; out of the reach of man

December 12, 2021

Amos 7:1–9:15

Amos 7 begins with 3 visions the prophet has.

The first is a vision of locust swarming at the beginning of the late crop and consuming everything – so Amos prays. BECAUSE of his prayer, God relents.

Amos 7:2–3 (NKJV) “And so it was, when they had finished eating the grass of the land, that I said: ‘O Lord GOD, forgive, I pray! Oh, that Jacob may stand, for he is small!’ 3 So the LORD relented concerning this. ‘It shall not be,’ said the LORD.”

Yes, prayer makes a difference!

The second vision was of a consuming fire which devoured Israelite territory – so Amos prays, and BECAUSE of his prayer, God relents.

The third vision is of a plumb-line, and tool by which one can check a wall and its framing to make sure it’s straight. Apparently Israel didn’t measure up, even after all the grace that God had lavished upon them, so we read:

Amos 7:8 (NKJV) “…then the Lord said: ‘Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.’” 

Or as the NLT puts it, “I will no longer ignore their sins.” God was about to judge. It’s a lesson for me, grace is not a license to sin, it’s should be a motivation not to. Grace not only forgives my sin, it helps me overcome my sin.

At this time Amaziah the Israeli priest of Bethel complained about the doom-and-gloom prophecies of Amos. He told him to leave, to  go south to Judah, he didn’t want him to ever prophecy in Bethel again – it was the king’s “sanctuary,” he said. But Amos explained the fact that he was called by God. Prior to being a prophet Amos was a simple farmer and shepherd – but the LORD God Himself commanded him to “Prophecy to My people Israel.” Amos HAD to speak, and he had another prophecy, this time for Amaziah:

Amos 7:17 (NKJV) “Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Your wife shall be a harlot in the city; your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; your land shall be divided by survey line; you shall die in a defiled land; and Israel shall surely be led away captive from his own land.’”

Amaziah brought devastation upon his family because he openly opposed the Lord.

In Amos 8 he has another vision, this time of summer fruit…indicating that just as the fruit was ripe to pick and eat, so Israel was now ripe for harvest. The NLT translates Amos 8:1b, “I will not delay their punishment again.”

Their songs would turn to wailing, their feasts to mourning, there would be dead bodies everywhere. They didn’t honestly honor the Sabbath, in all reality they couldn’t wait for it to be over, for them it was all about the money. They not only exploited the poor, they sold the poor…for a pair of sandals! One of God’s greatest judgments was a famine for His people – not of food – but a famine of the Word of God!

Amos 8:11–12 (NKJV) “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. 12 They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but shall not find it.”

Earlier they said they didn’t want the prophet to prophesy (Amos 7:12-13), so God gives them their way. What a tragedy…no fresh message from God’s heart to men! How horribly sad it would be when the Spirit went silent!

In Amos 9 we read about the devastation that would fall upon the people of Israel…and my, how this has proven to be so true! There was no hiding from God’s judgment. It didn’t matter if they dug down to hell, or rose up to the “heavens,” God would find them, and bring them to justice. To whom much is given, much more is required (Luke 12:48).

And yet – – in all this – – Amos declares it loud and clear that Israel will not be utterly destroyed.

Amos 9:8–9 (NKJV) “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” says the LORD. 9 “For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.”

God would scatter His people, but regather them, time and time again, until the last of the last days, when the “tabernacle” of David is established (this is a Prophecy of Christ as King).  And there will be peace on earth, blessings beyond measure. In that day Israel will finally find their forever rest.

Amos 9:15 (NKJV) “I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.

Revelation 3:7-22

If there was one church we’d choose to identify with, it would most likely be the church of Philadelphia, which literally means, “brotherly love.” This church is not a denomination but represents the church as a whole who has been faithful to God’s Word, preaching the Name of Jesus, and although weak in-and-of ourselves, finds herself drawing her strength from God (see 2 Corinthians 12:10). This is the church with ministry opportunities (open doors) and sovereign guidance from God (closed doors). This is the church that Jesus says will be kept from the trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth. That means that this church will be raptured out, before the Tribulation Period begins, for God has not appointed us to wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

The luke-warm Laodiceans probably represents most of the church today (at least in the United States of America). Neither hot nor cold, and that’s not good for coffee or coke, which is why Jesus shares a heavy warning, that such people will be vomited out of His mouth (doesn’t sound good to me).

This is a church with a lot of money, and maybe even many members; they appear to be successful in human eyes, but Jesus reveals their true state in that they’re wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Wow! I was thinking, how many times we focus and try so hard to look good to those who are watching, it’s all about appearance, at the expense of reality. Jesus counseled the Laodiceans to get right, to do whatever they needed to do; to buy the gold that God offers, to be clothed in the right-white clothing; and anoint their eyes with the eye salve Laodicea was known for. They needed to see everything from a Spiritual perspective.

Revelation 3:19 reminds us that God’s rebuke and chastening are all motivated by love.

The letter to the Laodiceans contains that classic visual of Jesus standing at the door, knocking. Somehow, someway over time Jesus ended up on the outside of His church. Lord is that me/us? God help us to open the doors of our hearts and let Jesus in…where He belongs, to dine with Him and fellowship forever and ever.

I realize we don’t know what Jesus actually looked like, and we should never bow down to any image of God, but I’ve always been touched by the painting of Jesus knocking on the door. You’ll notice there’s no door knob on the outside…it’s up to us, to open that “door” on the inside of our hearts.

Psalm 131:1-3

A short but beautiful Psalm about growing up and living a simple life of trust in God.

There will be MANY things in life that we will not be able to understand (things much too profound for us). But our peace is not planted or rooted there! Christians actually possess a peace that PASSES understanding and it’s a great guard for us.

Philippians 4:7 (NKJV) “…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Whenever we come across things that we don’t understand, we fall back on what we do understand – that God loves us, and has our best interest in mind. When we grow as Christians and move on from milk to meat, from being bottle-fed to studying God’s Word for ourselves, we learn to live on promises – not explanations. What a blessing it is to be weaned!

Proverbs 29:23

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

Another one of those clear contrasts between pride and humility. God resists the prideful, but gives grace to the humble.

“A life wrapped up in itself makes a very small package.”

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “The reverse effects of pride and humility warn against the one and encourage the other. Ironically pride, by which a person seeks to elevate himself, actually results in his being brought low, whereas one who is of lowly spirit is elevated by others to a position of honor.”

Consider the contrast between Absalom and David.

As a matter of fact, God hates pride  (see Proverbs 6:16-17)

C.H. Spurgeon warned that we are not be proud of face, place, race, or even grace.

A minister, a Boy Scout, and a computer expert 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 added, “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 smile said, “You are young and I have lived a rich life, so you take the remaining parachute, and I’ll go down with the plane.” The Boy Scout said, “Relax, Reverend, the smartest man in the world just picked up my knapsack and jumped out!”

December 11, 2021

Amos 4:1–6:14

The “cows of Bashan” (Amos 4:1) were the rich ladies of Israel who were spoiled and unsaved. They were not immune to the judgment of God – they would be carried away captive, and yes, when Assyria conquered the nation, the people and their children were led away with  hooks through their nostrils (Amos 4:2).

Bethel and Gilgal were places of idolatry for Israel. Amos emphasizes the fact that when they offered up those daily sacrifices and tithes every 3 days to their idols, they were transgressing. It’s almost as if he’s daring them (reverse psychology?) to bring greater judgment upon themselves.

God did everything He could to bring the people back to Himself, and yet declares 5 times in this chapter, “Yet you have not returned to Me.” He took away their food and rain, He blasted their crops, and even plagued them with disease. Young men were killed in battle, the stench of death was in the air. Cities were overthrown in dramatic fashion – and still – God was not able to get their attention! What was left, but for the whole nation to go into captivity…to face the music, to face their Maker, “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

Do you need to return to God? If so, I pray you’d do so now…that’s all He wants from us.

In Amos 5 he begins with a lamentation for the nation, and extends a call to repentance. God speaks through the prophet, “Seek Me and live,” “Seek the LORD and live.”

Amos 5:14–15 (NKJV) “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; so the LORD God of hosts will be with you, as you have spoken. 15 Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate. It may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”

We are to seek the Lord with all of our hearts! We are to hate evil. Don’t hate the sinner, just hate the sin. If we/I turn from our sin, “It may be…” – who knows what God will do.

There are those who long for the Day of the Lord and yet they’re not really ready for it.

Amos 5:18–19 (NKJV) “Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you? It will be darkness, and not light. 19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him!”

If Jesus were to come today…would I REALLY be ready?

Israel was living in persistent, resistant, consistent sin – and so we read:

Amos 5:27 (NKJV) “Therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus,” says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts.”

They and we can never say, we weren’t warned.

Amos chapter 6 is another warning to those who are comfortable in their sin, who trust in religion (Mount Samaria). This brings up an interesting point. There are many who think it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you’re sincere, like the people in the northern kingdom of Israel, or later the Samaritans. But Jesus in speaking to the woman at the well, informed her that the Jews were bearers of truth – they knew and revealed the true God (John 4:22). Yes! It DOES matter what we believe, the God of the Bible has revealed Himself to us and the one way of salvation through Jesus Christ.

If the Israelites were to look back in history, they would see the way God had judged other nations for their sins, are they any better than them None of us are. But we carry on, singing our songs, we eat, drink, and are merry while our nation is on the verge of ruin (Amos 6:6) – therefore Israel would go into captivity (Amos 6:7).

Their pride, their complacency. It would be so bad that they would dare not to even speak the name of the LORD (Amos 6:10). Their fear of Him would finally be realized in a deadly fashion.

I read all of this and I examine my life. O Lord, please cleanse me and rid me of my sin. Please help me to remember that You are a holy God, who does discipline, if necessary, in dramatic and even deadly ways.

Amos 6:14 (NKJV) “But, behold, I will raise up a nation against you, O house of Israel,” says the LORD God of hosts; “And they will afflict you from the entrance of Hamath to the Valley of the Arabah.”

Expositor’s, “This verse specifies the judgment that would overtake the Israelites; a nation, not identified here by Amos, would oppress them from their northern border, “from the entrance to Hamath” (2 Kings 14:25), all the way to their southern border at the Wadi Arabah. This nation turned out to be Assyria.”

Revelation 2:18–3:6

The church of Thyatira is often connected to Catholic Church.

Jesus’ eyes of fire and feet of brass definitely depict judgment upon the sins that often only He sees, as He scrutinizes the church with His eyes of omniscience. With the veneration of Mary and prayers to the saints, clearly the Catholic Church teaches spiritual adultery – it’s the spirit of Jezebel. The sexual immorality…and I say this with an aching heart…may even refer to all the molestation taking place in the Catholic church…when priests are unbiblically mandated to stay celibate, it will take its toll.

All this carries a serious warning, even a promise, that these people would be left behind to endure the Great Tribulation Period (Revelation 2:22). God help us to truly listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and to be overcomers in Christ! I believe there are those in the Catholic Church who are truly born again, who only trust in Jesus, but, as a whole, the Catholic Church is heretical, teaching salvation by works and elevating the church to the status of the Scriptures – very, very dangerous.

Next is the church of Sardis. So – here’s a church that has plenty of works, even their name boasts of their life, (something like New Life Community Church), but when Jesus checks their pulse, He pronounces them dead. This is probably why He revealed Himself to them as “He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars.” The messengers, pastors, and leaders of this church needed to be revived by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

A spiritual lull or deadness can happen to any person, church, and even an entire denomination when we begin to just go through the motions. It began as a movement of God, continued as a machine of men, and is now as dead as a monument. We all have to search our hearts – do we need a revival?

Pastor Chuck also described the church of Sardis as, “…the period of church history called the Protestant Reformation. It began in the 1500’s and exists through the present day. How sad it is to see some protestant churches become as dead as the church they set out to reform.”

Psalm 130:1-8

Have you ever been in a “deep dark place” emotionally, or spiritually? Maybe you’ve blown it (we all have) and you’re praying for God’s help, to move on your behalf, to answer prayer, to forgive.

This is what we see in this Psalm.

The Psalmist cries from “out of the depths.” (Psalm 130:1)

He knows if God keeps track and holds on to all his sins, he’s dust (Psalm 130:3), but thankfully God’s not like that (He’s not like us).

Psalm 130:3–4 (NLT) “LORD, if You kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? 4 But You offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear You.”

I love that verse because usually we connect the fear of God with punishment for sins, but here it’s connected to the forgiveness of sins. Here the fear of God is an awe of God. Wow! Thank You Lord – that You have forgiven me!

So, he waits for God to move. He waits for God to fulfill the promise of His Word. He waits in faith and fervency, more than those who watch for the morning.

Let’s say it’s night, it’s dark. When was the last time you doubted that the sun would rise? We don’t doubt that – we know, it’s just a matter of time. With this mentality the Psalmist knew (and we should too) that the sun will rise, that God will move on our behalf.

And He has – God has redeemed us from all our iniquities (Psalm 130:8) and as a beautiful bonus, taken care of all the details of our lives. Thank You Lord!

Proverbs 29:21-22

Proverbs 29:21 (NKJV) “He who pampers his servant from childhood will have him as a son in the end.”

There are 2 very different views on this passage, and 2 very different translations.

This is the only time in the Bible this Hebrew word is used, translated “pampers.”  In Hebrew it means to indulge, bring up, to treat delicately. The English definition says, to indulge with every attention, comfort, and kindness; spoil. 

According to the NKJV if you start early, pampering them from childhood, they become more than an employee – they become family.

But then there are the other translations:

Proverbs 29:21 (NIV) “A servant pampered from youth will turn out to be insolent.”

Proverbs 29:21 (NLT) “A servant pampered from childhood will become a rebel.”

There may be some merit to this translation because the Hebrew word translated “son” is only found here (nowhere else in the entire Bible) and the lexicon defines it as “greif, progeny, thankless one.”

At the end of the day, I think we all know, there’s a balance. Usually if you treat your employees, your friends, your family right, even pamper them a bit, just love on them…they’ll love you back…but not always – especially if we spoil them.

Proverbs 29:22 (NKJV) “An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression.”

“An angry man” “a furious man” – doesn’t refer to someone who gets angry occasionally, it’s someone who does so frequently, it’s a description of their normal disposition. And it’s probably not a little anger we’re talking about, this is a furious person.

In all honesty, anger can be a struggle for any of us, I’d venture to say maybe even most of us.

There’s things like road rage, office rage, computer rage, net rage, phone rage. 

I always tell people to be careful of anger, remember it’s only 1-letter short of danger.

32% of all people say they have a close family member who struggles with anger, while only 12% admit to it. 

Ungodly anger is heartbreaking when you consider all the rude insults, foul language, yelling, verbal abuse, physical abuse, violence, and hatred that can even lead to murder.

I’m not sure to what extent, but there was a time Pastor Chuck Smith described himself as an angry man – but God worked…and transformed him into a loving man (like James and John who at one time were sons of thunder – Mark 3:17).

December 10, 2021

Amos 1:1–3:15

The prophet Amos begins with his declaration of judgment upon various nations. 


1. Syria (Amos 1:3-5

2. Philistia (Amos 1:6-8)

3. Tyre (Amos 1:9-10)

4. Edom (Amos 1:11-12)

5. Ammon (Amos 1:13-15)

6. Moab (Amos 2:1-3)

7. Judah (Amos 2:4-5)

8. Israel (Amos 2:6-16)

We see in Amos 1:1 that the LORD was roaring like a lion from Zion, this should have brought fear to their hearts (Amos 3:8). The earthquakes, fires, and enemy soldiers were on their way, the people would be taken into captivity, but they didn’t flinch.

We read twice about the captives who were delivered to Edom (Amos 1:6, 9). This speaks of a time when the Philistines captured communities in raids and sold them for profit; they would be auctioned off in the slave markets and shipped to other part of the world (see also Joel 3:4-8).

It’s horrible to read the atrocities of the Ammonites who ripped women open who were pregnant as they conquered cities (Amos 1:13). The violent spirit of abortion.

Other notable sins of depravity include the way the children of Judah gave no heed to God’s Holy Word, and the children of Israel practiced sexual perversity.

Amos 2:4 (NKJV) “Thus says the LORD: ‘For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, lies which their fathers followed.”

Amos 2:7b (NKJV) “…and pervert the way of the humble. A man and his father go in to the same girl, to defile My holy name.”

Left to ourselves and cultural relativism – with no absolutes, society will always sink into sexual sickness.

Amos 2:9-11 shares how the LORD was the one who blessed Israel, defeating her giant enemies in front of her, redeeming her from Egypt, supernaturally providing in the wilderness for 40 years, raising up prophets and through them speaking His Word through – and yet they didn’t seem to care for the God who cared for them in such an awesome, intimate, and personal way. 

God was weighed down with their wickedness (Amos 2:13) and had no other option then to discipline His people – severely (Amos 2:14-16).

God had set His people apart, they were holy (Amos 3:2) but Israel refused to walk in agreement with God…they were going in diametrically different directions, when in all reality God’s people are called to walk humbly with Him!

Amos 3:3 (NKJV) “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

Micah 6:8 (NKJV) “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Our life can be summarized as a walk with God. Our walk, in one sense is our moral journey. To walk (live) like God, to walk with God, and as a result go wherever He leads us. Enoch is a good example of someone who walked with God and he becomes a picture of the Rapture of the Church, as God “took him” up.

Genesis 5:22–24 (NKJV) “After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

Tragically the children of Israel were not afraid that the trumpet of warning had been blown. Amos tried his best to communicate to them that he had been given this prophetic word from God who would never judge us without warning us (Amos 3:7).

Their palaces would be plundered, their idolatrous altars would be destroyed, their fancy winter and summer homes, and ivory houses would all be destroyed.  I can’t help but to think of Jesus’ words:

Matthew 7:24–27 (NKJV) “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Revelation 2:1-17

Revelation chapters 2 and 3 contain the 7 letters to the 7 churches in Asia Minor, referred to in Revelation 1:11. These letters are fascinating, for not only are they actual churches of that day, but they also describe the journey and history of the church throughout the ages – in a general sense.

Not only that, we can all search our hearts to see which one of these churches do we belong to today, personally?

Pastor Chuck said this about this section, “The book was addressed and sent to seven literal churches in Asia Minor, which is modern day Turkey. But they also can be seen to represent 7 stages of church history.

The church of EPHESUS represents the Apostolic church. The Persecuted church includes a portion of the Apostolic church. 

SMYRNA begins in this era but continues on through the 10 Roman Emperors who persecuted the church fulfilling the prophecy of “tribulation 10 days” (Revelation 2:10). The Roman Emperors were, Nero-Paul was beheaded under his reign; Domitian– he exiled John to the island of Patmos; Trajan– Ignatius was burned at the stake while he was emperor; Marcus Aureliusthe emperor when Polycarp was martyred, Severus, Maximinus, Decius, Valerian, Aurelianand Diocletian who was the worst of them all.

PERGAMOS was developed by Constantine as a state church. 

THYATIRA is usually linked to the Catholic church. 

SARDIS describes the Protestant church that became more and more liberal and dead.

PHILADELPHIA is the remnant church waiting for the rapture.

The LAODICEAN church is the lukewarm church of the last days.

As you read through each letter you’ll notice that Jesus usually begins with “positive” words (if any). He then states His concern and/or warning (if any), followed by words of counsel, and concluding with a promise for all overcomers.

I’m challenged by Jesus’ words to the church of Ephesus who had left their first love. They were still working and laboring to the point of exhaustion, they were careful to stay away from sin and sinners – nevertheless they had left their first love (see Genesis 13:14; Jeremiah 2:2). I don’t know if it’s possible to “feel” those same feelings I felt in the beginning, and I know we walk by convictions not emotions, but those early days of Christianity were so special to me, sweet, intimate, overwhelming, without a doubt, I had fallen in love! Today I must search my heart – now that I know the routine and all the clichés, do I love the Lord the way I did in the beginning? I sure hope so!

If ever I sense that persecution in my life, I cling to Jesus’ words in:

Revelation 2:10b (NKJV) “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” 

Which brings up another fascinating fact about these letters, how Jesus reveals Himself uniquely and appropriately to each church, in this case as the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life. As these Christians in Smyrna were martyred for their faith, they could endure suffering and death, for Christ had modeled it for them followed by the certainty of life. (see related article on Polycarp)

The church at Pergamos developed by Constantine was a time when the church married the government (not good). They were in the front lines and started off orthodox in their beliefs, but eventually it was all about the money, leading to idolatry, and spiritual adultery. The English word Nicolatians may refer to the followers of an errant Nicolas (see Acts 6:5) or…if the word is to be taken literally – in the Greek language it means, “Victory over the laity.” This may have been the time when the mentality of priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and even popes began to set up a religious hierarchy over the rest of the body of Christ…, victory over the laity…something Jesus hates (Revelation 2:15).

Psalm 129:1-8

Another Psalm of Ascents, sung as the people traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast. 

And another one of those Psalms that encourage us to say something, “Let Israel now say,” (and it’s repeated), “Let Israel now say…”

Psalm 129:2 (NKJV) “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me.”

I would even encourage you, dear friend and reader, to say it out loud. “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me.”

The enemy hates God’s people. He hates Israel because they are a sign to the world and he hates the church because we are not of this world. There have been many attacks to destroy us, but God has preserved and protected us – many a time…all of our lives.

The Psalmist prays that God would judge those who hate Zion – it’s his way of asking for protection that the haters would not be blessed, for they OPPOSE God – in that they come against the people of God.

Proverbs 29:19-20

Proverbs 29:19 (NKJV) “A servant will not be corrected by mere words; for though he understands, he will not respond.”

A servant refers primarily to employees, but this truth is applicable to all of us – when it comes to correction and cooperation. Often it takes more than words or verbal reprimands, for true change to take place.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Proverbs 29:19 (NLT) “Words alone will not discipline a servant; the words may be understood, but they are not heeded.”

Some of our children respond to words. Some need more, either circumstantial or physical discipline; every chid is different.

“This verse, coupled with verse 21, seems to suggest that discipline is needed for one’s servants as well as for his sons. Sometimes words are not enough; a servant may know the words but obstinately refuse to do as he is told. If so, other forms of correction are needed.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

We balance this truth with Proverbs 17:2 where a wise servant probably doesn’t need too much discipline and responds to it well. And then there’s Proverbs 29:21 where a pampered servant, who’s wise and treated well will, appreciate it…they become more than an employee, they become family.

Proverbs 29:20 (NKJV) “Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

Such a huge verse, isn’t it?

Can you believe that there’s more hope for a fool, than there is for one who speaks before he thinks? O Manny, be careful…watch every word – haste makes waste!

December 9, 2021

Joel 1:1–3:21

Joel’s name means “Yahweh is God,” and this brief book is clearly a word of warning God Himself, to the Jews, and to the rest of the world that the Day of the LORD is coming (a phrase we find 5 times in these 3 chapters), we’d be wise to be ready.

As seen in the chart below, most Bible teachers date Joel early on in the history of Israel/Judah, when compared to the other minor prophets – prophesying as a contemporary of Elisha.

Joel begins with a description of locust utterly devouring the land. This may have been a catastrophe that actually took place in the days of Joel, or perhaps it was simply a picture of what God would do to both kingdoms, Israel and Judah at the hands of the Assyrians, the Babylonians…and then one day with His own hands, at His Second Coming.

God describes the invaders as strong and without number, laying waste to His Vine and His Fig Tree (Israel). 

As I read of God’s judgment upon His people, I can’t help but think of my own beloved country, the United States of America. We have turned our backs on God, the One who has established us and blessed us beyond measure. At one time we were “One Nation under God,” but tragically this is no longer the case. At one time it was “In God we trust,” but sadly, this is no longer true. It may seem bizarre to think that foreign nations could invade our country, or that God Himself would take us down, but that’s what happens when sin abounds.

Is it too late? Perhaps. But that doesn’t mean the remnant doesn’t continue to cry out to God for mercy. This is Joel’s counsel:

Joel 1:14–15 (NKJV) “Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. 15 Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as destruction from the Almighty.”

Am I seeking the Lord like this? Especially in light of His imminent return.

God’s discipline and judgments come in many forms, Joel wants to warn the people. Imagine a place as glorious and lush as the Garden of Eden devoured by fire and left as a desolate wilderness where nothing escapes (Joel 2:3). Imagine a foreign army marching in unison, as a machine, running through our cities, entering homes, ravishing families. Imagine the earth quaking, the stars falling, the sun diminishing. Judgment would come to Israel, and judgment will come to this world!

Is it too late for America? Some people wonder even if it’s too late for themselves personally. Joel writes:

Joel 2:12–14 (NKJV) “‘Now, therefore,’ says the LORD, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. 14 Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him— a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?’”

Are we seeking the Lord like this? If so…maybe, just maybe He will have mercy on our land.

Joel repeatedly asks the leaders to consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly – gather the people, the congregation, the elders, the children, the nursing children, the newlyweds, as well as the priests; may we consider our witness (Joel 2:15-17).

Joel goes on to describe the mercy God shows to those who truly repent, and highlights His grace that will be showered upon Israel. God even promises to restore the years the swarming locust had eaten, all that time the enemy had robbed from them (Joel 2:25).

The ultimate blessing was bestowed upon Israel, when Jesus arrived in human flesh. In God’s amazing grace Christ died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit. Peter, when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, quoted from Joel 2:28-32 in explaining the miraculous tongues spoken on that day, and promising the Holy Spirit’s power all the way till the Day of the LORD.

And whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved! (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 19:9-13).

In Joel 3 God gathers the nations for judgment in the way they dealt with Israel. Half-way through the Tribulation period God will shelter Israel from the storm, while all hell breaks loose on planet earth…the weak will be strong, for the Lord their God will be their strength (Joel 3:10…we can say it now).

I’ve always been gripped by:

Joel 3:14 (NKJV) “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.”

Even today, decisions are being made. Will I fully follow God? Some decide not to follow Him at all. Billions of people deep down in that valley of decision…as the day draws near.

What a difference it makes to be God’s covenant people! Israel, as well as the church will be sheltered and strengthened and blessed, acquitted of our sins and guilt…all by the blood of Jesus Christ.

It’s a definite Day right around the corner, and at the same time G Campbell Morgan reminds us, “It is always the day of the Lord.” No matter what calamities may come to men and nations, He is always in control, and we must always be ready.

Revelation 1:1-20

We now come to the final book of the Bible – it’s not merely the Revelation of the future, it actually begins with the Revelation of Jesus Christ, an examination of the church, and then the things which must “shortly” take place. “Shortly” speaks of the fact that when the events of prophecy being to materialize, it will take place swiftly.

The book of Revelation comes with a built-in blessing to those who read it, hear it, and keep the things written within in it (Revelation 1:3).

We see the Trinity in Revelation 1:4-5, in the greeting of grace and peace from the Father, from the Holy Spirit, described as the seven Spirits (see Isaiah 11:2 where the seven characteristics of the Holy Spirit are listed), and from Jesus Christ. As the faithful witness Jesus is the Prophet. As the Firstborn from the dead Jesus is the Priest. And as the ruler of the kings of the earth, He is the King of kings. It just so happens that these are the three anointed offices in the Old Testament, (Messiah is Hebrew, Christ is Greek meaning the “Anointed” one. Jesus is the Anointed Prophet, Priest, and King…who loved us, and washed us from our sins…in His own blood (see also Acts 20:28).

One day we will rule with Him as kings (small k). Today we can represent Him as priests, share God with others, and bring others to God.

Revelation was written to prepare us for the coming of Christ. It’s interesting that Jesus is described as the “Almighty” in Revelation 1:8.

History tells us that John the Beloved, the writer of Revelation was actually placed in boiling oil, for his faithful service to the Lord, but he survived the ordeal and was then banished to the Island of Patmos. Here He is, “in the Spirit,” on the Lord’s Day (probably a reference to Sunday) and he hears the voice of Christ as the voice of a trumpet informing John of who He is (the Alpha and Omega are the first and final letters in the Greek alphabet, this is who Jesus is, the first and the last, the Beginning and the End) it all started and culminates in Him. 

Jesus then instructed John to write letters to the 7 churches in Asia (modern day Turkey).

When John turned to see the voice he heard, what a glorious vision it was! It was Jesus in the midst of the seven golden lampstands. The number 7 is the number of completion and perfection within the Bible and we find it 32 times in the book of Revelation. The 7 lampstands are the 7 churches and there’s Jesus in the midst of them. His robe covers everything but his feet, the gold band about His chest speak of deity. His head and hair which are as white as snow speak of his purity. His eyes of flaming fire symbolize the way He sees and sifts through everything. His feet of refined brass represent perfect steps of punishment that will take place (brass symbolizes judgment in the Bible). His voice as the sound of many waters reveal that in heaven His voice drowns out all other voices…what majesty! The 7 stars in His right hand represent the 7 messengers or pastors of the 7 churches. The sword that protrudes from His mouth reveals that all He has to do is speak it, and it’s done. His countenance as the sun, reveals His unparalleled glory. The Gospels veiled His glory for the most part, but the book of Revelation unveils it.

Revelation 1:19 provides an outline of the book:

1. The “things which you have seen,” refer to what John’s seen in the vision of Jesus. (Chapter 1)

2. The “things which are,” refers to the condition of the 7 churches – the current church age. (Chapters 2-3)

3. The “things which will take place after this,” concern the future. In the Greek language, the 2 words “meta tauta” are found here and in 4:1. This is in reference to the future, after the church age. Then comes the Rapture, Tribulation Period, Second Coming of Christ, Millennial Kingdom, Eternal Judgment, and finally finishing with the New Heavens and the New Earth. (Chapters 4-22)

Psalm 128:1-6

A frequent and repeated truth we read in the Bible is the blessings and benefits of fearing the LORD. The fear of the LORD speaks of a healthy reverence and awe of who He is, and yes, the fact that He does discipline His children, and judge non-believers.

Life is deeply beautiful for the obedient believer. We’ll work hard and God will provide everything we need; we’ll know, it’s from God.

We’ll prioritize our family, if we fear the LORD, and the general principle is that God will bless us with children, and even grandchildren. When the children are described as olive plants all around our table, it speaks of the fact that our children will be helpers, productive, and even valuable (olives and the oil they produced was highly valued).

When we fear the LORD we can truly enjoy His blessings each and every day.

Psalm 128:5 (NKJV) “The LORD bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life.”

When a nation fears God, she will experience peace, and we’re always to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Israel) (Psalm 128:6)

Proverbs 29:18

Proverbs 29:18 (NKJV) “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.”

Revelation speaks of God’s Word; written and fresh, at times oral, as He speaks through His people. Where there is no revelation, the people do whatever they want – anarchy – out of control.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Proverbs 29:18 (NLT) “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.”

“So the verse is stating that without God’s Word, people abandon themselves to their own sinful ways. On the other hand keeping (obeying) God’s Law (cf. 28:4, 7) brings happiness.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

In the days of Eli there was no fresh and personal revelation until the coming of Samuel. We read in:

1 Samuel 3:1 (NKJV) “Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.”

O Lord, may our hearts be right, so that You’d always speak to us in fresh and personal ways.

December 8, 2021

Hosea 10:1–14:9

Hosea 10 highlights the cutting off of Israel’s king, a prophecy of the Assyrian invasion.

Hosea 10:3 (NKJV) “For now they say, “We have no king, because we did not fear the LORD. And as for a king, what would he do for us?”

Hosea 10:7 (NKJV) “As for Samaria, her king is cut off like a twig on the water.

Hosea 10:15 (NKJV) “Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great wickedness, at dawn the king of Israel shall be cut off utterly.”

If only Israel had allowed God to be King, but their hearts were divided (Hosea 10:2), so the glory departed (Hosea 10:5), a perfect formula for disaster.

Hosea does not cease to appeal to the people…they had sown to the wind and were reaping the whirlwind, it was now time to sow good seed! It’s a good word for all of us.

Hosea 10:12 (NKJV) “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.”

In reading through the Scriptures, it’s clear to see that even when God does proclaim judgement on His people, He only does so with one hand, for on the other hand is mercy, and hope, and a continuing love for His children. We see that once again in Hosea 11.

It began with love, Israel was a child, a son of God (Hosea 11:1). God taught them to walk in the Word, He healed them, He drew them to Himself.

Hosea 11:3 (NKJV) “I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them.”

Tragically Israel forgot who made them, who loved them, who redeemed them. Israel forced God’s hand of judgment to fall upon them, and the prophetic punishment was issued “…but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to repent.” (Hosea 11:5) And that’s exactly what happened in 722 B.C..

Hosea 11:7 (NLT) “For my people are determined to desert me. They call me the Most High, but they don’t truly honor me.”

And yet in spite of all this disobedience, God reminds us how he’s not like us, He’s not like man, He’s a gracious God (Hosea 11:9). This passage brings to mind Isaiah 55:7-9 when taken in context. 

God predicted the day Israel would return from captivity and dwell in their own land, in their own houses (Hosea 11:11).

Hosea 12:3 takes us back to Jacob’s birth, an early indication that he would be a heel-catcher, a manipulator, and we might criticize him for this because he did it the wrong way at times, but at least he had aspirations.

Hosea 12:4 takes us back to that time when Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the LORD, an account we can read of in Genesis 32:22-32. Jacob wouldn’t let Him go until He blessed him, and the angel gave him a limp. This limp would be a blessing for the rest of his life, teaching him to rely on the Lord. Hosea encourages us to do what Jacob did – look to God for the blessings that only He can give. Hosea writes:

Hosea 12:6 (NKJV) “So you, by the help of your God, return; observe mercy and justice, and wait on your God continually.

Sadly, when Israel prospered, they no longer relied on the Lord – – it’s hard for a rich man (Matthew 19:23). If only they would have recalled the day when God raised up Moses who was the vessel to lead them out of slavery, then they may have taken to heart the truth that the LORD had proven Himself their God, ever since the land of Egypt (Hosea 12:9, 13).

Hosea 13:1 brings to mind:

Isaiah 66:2 (NKJV) “…but on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

When Ephraim (Israel) trembled at God’s Word they were exalted. But when He turned from God’s Word and began to worship other gods, they died, and Hosea said, “Now they sin more and more.” (Hosea 13:1-2)

Back in chapter 10 of Hosea we saw the cutting away of the king of Israel, but if you go back farther, it all started the day they cut God off from being their King. God therefore gave them a king (Saul) in His anger, and took him away in His wrath (Hosea 13:11). Why won’t we simply submit to His majesty…King Jesus! There is no other king, there is no other Savior!

I like to ask Jehovah Witnesses, “Who is your Savior?” If they say Jehovah God, I say yes, you’re right, that’s what we read here in Hosea 13:4, the the LORD (Yahweh, Jehovah God) is their Savior and there is no other Savior but Him. Then I ask them about Jesus, “Is He your Savior?” If they say “no,” I take them to a number of passages in the Bible, such as  Acts 13:2; Philippians 3:20; 2 Timothy 1:10; and Titus 1:4; 2:13, and many other passages that explicitly refer to Jesus as our Savior. If Jehovah God says, “there is no Savior besides Me,” and Jesus is repeatedly referred to as Savior, then Jesus is indeed the LORD Jehovah-God, the Second Person of the blessed Trinity (see also Isaiah 43:10-11).

Hosea 14 ends the book on a gracious invitation and declaration.

Hosea 14:1–2 (NKJV) “O Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; 2 Take words with you, and return to the LORD. Say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.’”

No longer will Israel look to other nations, other gods, or even themselves for salvation, the day will come when they look to the Lord. He will heal their backsliding, love them freely, cause them to grow, branches, buds, and beauty, they will one day be revived spiritually. 

In His love He disciplines us. His anger is only for a moment, His favor is for life. Even in wrath He remembers mercy, we see this over and over again in Scriptures. I pray we would know this…and I pray we would return to and remain in our first love (Revelation 2:4).

Jude 1:1-25

This is a short book but wow, does it pack a punch – there is so much here! When I taught the book of Jude back in 2019, it took me six weeks to get through this one chapter. Jude initially wanted to write a simple word of encouragement, but God had different plans and prompted him to write a letter of warning, urging the church to contend earnestly for the faith.

As you read through Jude you’ll notice the similarity between this work and Peter’s second letter, and there’s no doubt that Jude referenced Peter’s letter, but there are slight differences including the fact that Peter wrote his letter before it happened, while Jude wrote his letter after it happened. That certain men had crept into the church as false teachers and were turning the grace of God into a license to sin.

Jude writes to warn and remind the people that God knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and how to judge the ungodly – big time! Just as God judged certain people in the days of the Exodus who did not believe. Just as God sentenced the fallen angels who crossed lines of demarcation, and are reserved in darkness awaiting the judgment of the great day. Just as God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, because of the fact that they went after “strange flesh,” in reference to the blatant homosexuality of that city. God is holy and just, and we must remember, He is the Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25).

Jude reveals that these men, who could be identified as tares among the wheat (see Matthew 13:24-30) speak evil of dignitaries and reject authority. Jude mentions however, that even Michael the Archangel didn’t have the audacity to do that, as a matter of fact, when Michael contended with the Devil over the body of Moses, he didn’t go toe-to-toe with him, he said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Some people have no problem whatsoever speaking disrespectfully to their spiritual leaders, but here’s Michael speaking humbly…even to the devil himself. Now, just as a side-note, we don’t have the Biblical record of why the devil wanted the dead body of Moses; perhaps he wanted to desecrate the body, some even suggest that he wanted to possess Moses’ body.

Jude exposes these men as haters like Cain who was greedy for gain, prophets for profit like Balaam, and also as rebels towards authority like Korah (Numbers 16).

There they were in the “love feasts” of the early church…without love. They were only in it for what they could get out of it. They were like clouds without water appearing to bring help, but unable to produce. They were unsaved and therefore fruitless, not just dead, but twice dead, roots and all, dangerous waves of the sea (the sea symbolic of the mass of humanity – the antichrist will rise from the sea – Revelation 13:1) – God has reservations for these men…blackness and darkness forever! Enoch spoke of their judgment one day when Jesus comes back and there we are with Him at His return.

Today, there are still many false teachers amongst us. May we contend for the truth, share with the lost (with urgency), and build ourselves up on our most holy faith…keeping ourselves in the love of God, right smack dab in the middle of that sphere of blessing.

Psalm 127:1-5

This Psalm of Ascents was written by Solomon. The first verse is one of my favorites passages in all the Bible.

Psalm 127:1 (NKJV) “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”

I’ve always applied it to the church, but it is applicable to so much more. We can build, we can birth, we can labor with the greatest care and skill, but if God’s not in it, that “house” will fall (Matthew 7:24-27). The same is true with guarding the city or guarding the family, unless the Lord protects us, we’re sitting ducks. Jesus put it this way:

John 15:5 (NKJV) “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

This Psalm encourages me to do things God’s way and to trust Him. I’ll build, and I’ll watch, but I will also pray and trust in the Lord.

The primary part of that “house” is our families. We see in this Psalm that children are a blessing not a burden. Children are a reward from God. Children are like “arrows” we send out into the world as warriors for the Almighty. “Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them…” Did you catch that word – “happy?” It expresses the fact that children bring happiness – and although I can’t speak for every family, it’s almost as if Solomon is revealing, the more, the merrier.

I’m not saying you have to have 18 children. I just hope our perspective as God’s people is Biblical, that children are an absolute blessing from God.

Proverbs 29:15-17

Proverbs 29:15 (NKJV) “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Proverbs 29:17 (NKJV) “ Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul.”

Tragically our society has largely abandoned the concept of correcting our kids. Back in 1949 Dr. Spock told us not to spank our children and millions of parents took His Word over God’s. Today an entire society is paying the price.

It’s okay to discipline our small children with a swat of sort on the place of padding. Never out of anger, never hard enough to injur or leave a mark, and probably not something we do with our hand (our hands should be instruments of affection – although I have seen firsthand an effective slap that has changed lives for good). A little rod or paddle will suffice, however, so our children don’t end up like the undisciplined sons of Eli, who both died in their sins (1 Samuel 2:12-17; 22-36; 4:11)

“In Hebrew the rod of correction literally reads “the rod and correction.” Either the rod is the instrument of correction (in which case a figure of speech called a hendiadys is used), or both the rod (physical punishment; cf. 13:24; 22:15; 23:13–14) and verbal correction (lit., “rebuke”) are to be used. A child who is not disciplined and is left to himself (allowed to do as he pleases and have whatever he wants) will become an unruly person. He will disgrace (bring shame to; cf. 19:26; 28:7) his mother.” Disciplining one’s son results in the parents having peace and joy later because their son will behave and grow wiser (cf. 10:1).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

Parenting is very difficult and humbling. None of us are perfect parents, but I remember hearing many years ago that the first phase with our children is establishing loving authority. When that’s established we can move on to teaching our children (we can’t teach without authority). After teaching comes coaching, and after coaching comes the final phase of friendship, without ever losing that heart of a parent.

Proverbs 29:16 (NKJV) When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall.

Nowadays – the wicked are being multiplied even more – it’s not just simple addition, it’s multiplication!

We now live in tumultuous times of transgression…but don’t think they’re getting away with it, one day – we (the saved) will witness their judgment.

December 7, 2021

Hosea 6:1–9:17

What a beautiful invitation Hosea opens chapter 6 with:

Hosea 6:1–2 (NKJV) “Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. 2 After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.”

Gracious words to Israel, to all who have sinned, who’ve drifted from God, even defied the Lord – although He’s disciplined He will not deny us, if we return with a repentant heart. He even offers the resurrected life! Notice in Hosea 6:3 the way God responds:

Hosea 6:3 (NLT) “Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

He is willing and waiting to bless us with showers from heaven…as sure as the rising of the sun.

But Israel and Judah did not respond to the warning of Hosea. He identifies in detail their many, many, sins.

They were unfaithful (Hosea 6:4) and very religious, but without heart (Hosea 6:6). Their spiritual harlotry was horrible (Hosea 6:10).

We see the same indictment in chapter 7. As we’ve read, God is willing to restore the repentant, to heal the sick (Hosea 7:1) but the iniquity of Ephraim and the wickedness of Samaria continued. What were they thinking in doing such things? I have a hunch they weren’t thinking at all.

Hosea 7:2 (NKJV) “They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness; now their own deeds have surrounded them; they are before My face.”

Adulterers, alcoholics, full-on friends with the world, so much so that foreigners had devoured their strength (Hosea’s 7:8). It was obvious that they were headed for trouble, but they were too proud to get right with God.

Hosea 7:10 (NKJV) “And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, but they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek Him for all this.”

Things like this can happen in different degrees. It might be someone who is obviously in a backslidden condition, or someone who is backslidden in heart (Proverbs 14:1; Isaiah 57:17; Acts 7:39).

When the hard times inevitably hit, who do we turn to? The best thing is for us to return to the Lord, but we read in Hosea 7:11-16 how Israel turned to Egypt and Assyria for help and not God.

They did not cry out to God (Hosea 7:14)

They did not return to the Most High (Hosea 7:16)

As a matter of fact, they fled from God (Hosea 7:13)

Hosea advised the people to blow the trumpet (the shofar), in order to signal the impending battle, the invasion of the Assyrians. Their idolatry was their downfall. 

Idolatry is a common temptation. A person can be engaged in the worship of other gods, praying to statues or saints, or simply putting someone or something before God. I always have to ask myself, “Is God truly first in my life?”

1 John 5:21 (NKJV) “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Tragically because Israel worshipped the calf (Hosea 8:4) and the Baals and everything else under the sun, they planted seeds of sin and were about to reap a horrible harvest. They had sown the wind, and were about to reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). It’s true, we reap what we sow.

Galatians 6:7–8 (NKJV) “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

I can honestly say that one of the greatest gifts God has given to us is the Bible. It’s obvious to me that it’s truth from the top, it’s the perfect precepts and principles for all people; it’s the revelation of God. The Bible has proven itself in numerous ways, especially in the aspect of fulfilled prophecy. Jesus Himself validated the inspiration of the Old Testament and guaranteed the inspiration of the New (John 16:13). It makes perfect sense to me that if there is a Creator God (and there is) He would put the important things in “writing.” The reason I bring all this up is because of Hosea 8:12:

Hosea 8:12 (NKJV) “I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing.”

God has written for us His wonderful Word. But the people of the world consider it strange, foreign, alien, and weird. I was talking to someone the other day and to say that they considered me strange, would be putting it mildly. It was exactly what Hosea 8:12 declares.

This section might be summarized in:

Hosea 8:14 (NKJV) “For Israel has forgotten his Maker, and has built temples; Judah also has multiplied fortified cities; but I will send fire upon his cities, and it shall devour his palaces.”

Hosea 9 continues the declaration of judgment upon Israel. Some would return to bondage in Egypt, most would be carried away to Assyria (Hosea 9:3).

It’s hard, if not downright impossible to get right with God if the people despise the true prophets of God…but that’s what happened in Israel!

Hosea 9:7–8 (NLT) “The time of Israel’s punishment has come; the day of payment is here. Soon Israel will know this all too well. Because of your great sin and hostility, you say, “The prophets are crazy and the inspired men are fools!” 8 The prophet is a watchman over Israel for my God, yet traps are laid for him wherever he goes. He faces hostility even in the house of God.”

Before God judged Israel, He had clearly warned them. Hosea 9:9 tells us that things were so sinful, it had reached the stages of Gibeah. If you cross reference Judges 19:22 you’ll find that this is in reference to times of blatant homosexuality. What we find is any society who turns their back on God, will experience more and more of this type of sickening sin, because God no longer restrains them, but allows them to have their way (see also Romans 1:26-27). It was an abomination (Hosea 9:10).

Hosea 9:17 (NKJV) “My God will cast them away, because they did not obey Him; and they shall be wanderers among the nations.”

And that’s exactly what happened not many years later.

3 John 1:1-15

When I was a young Christian I remember learning the different books of the Bible, and their themes, with some very creative flashcards. According to these particular flashcards the theme of 2 John was, “Close the Door,” and the theme of 3 John was “Open the Door.” When you read through these 2 letters you understand the reason for the simple synopsis – in 2 John we are taught to “close the door” to false teachers, and in 3 John we are taught to “open the door” to true teachers of God’s Word.

Once again we have John the Beloved Apostle writing as an Elder, this time to a brother named Gaius, who appears to be a one of John’s “children,” in the sense that John may have been instrumental in leading him to the Lord. Someone had testified to John that Gaius was walking in the truth, and I echo his sentiments with enthusiasm, that there is no greater joy! As a parent and a pastor I agree wholeheartedly…there really is no greater joy than to see our children, honestly and genuinely in love with Jesus! I can have the most successful career or ministry, or be blessed financially, but if my children didn’t know the Lord, it would be tough if not impossible to experience the fulness of joy.

John writes this letter to let the church know that it’s good to welcome faithful ministers and missionaries into their homes, and then to send them out on their way with prayers, words of encouragement, and even financial support at times. John mentions in 3 John 1:7 that they didn’t receive donations from non-believers (a good attribute), so the believers should show them hospitality, and send them forward in a manner worthy of God.

Apparently there was a man in the church named Diotrophes who liked to have preeminence and power, who wasn’t allowing the people to help genuine servants of the Lord. Diotrophes even opposed John! John said that when he arrived, he was going to deal with Diotrophes and discipline him, because he spoke maliciously, didn’t receive the brethren, and forbade others to do so. What a drag to see some disciples so pridefully divisive. John had learned his lesson, he had a vision for the entire body of Christ (see Luke 9:51-56).

John encourages the church not to imitate (mimic) what is evil, but to imitate what is good – this is the fruit, the evidence of salvation. If a person only does evil, they simply are not born again!

John mentions a man named Demetrius who had probably been rejected by Diotrophes. John tells the church he’s a good guy, it’s okay to receive him, to show him hospitality, and to support his ministry. He had been recommended by the Apostle himself.

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is we need to know the truth well enough, so that we know when to divide, and when to unite.

Again, John is hoping to visit them…it’s always better when it’s done in person (if possible).

Psalm 126:1-6

Scholars are not sure on the exact background to this Psalm. Some take it at face value and see it as a time when Israel was brought back from captivity, while others say it was when the LORD defeated the Assyrian army which had surrounded Jerusalem.

Whatever the occasion was, it was like a dream come true for the people. 

Have you ever experienced anything like this? When God moves and blesses in such a glorious way that it feels like you’re dreaming?

We see it, others see it, and even say it, “The LORD has done great things for them. The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad.”

The Psalmist prays for God to move again. It may have even been a time of tears (Psalm 126:5). Since this was a song of ascents, (they would sing this Psalm on their way to Jerusalem) the songwriter knew, we frequently go through hard times. It’s just a reality of life because we live in a broken world. Has it been hard for you lately? Have you been sowing in tears? Don’t lose heart my friend, cling to this promise:

Psalm 126:5 (NKJV) “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

God is aware of every tear (Psalm 56:8), He has a purpose for every pain, and a harvest for every hurt.

Psalm 30:5 (NKJV) “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Proverbs 29:12-14

Proverbs 29:12 (NKJV) “If a ruler pays attention to lies, all his servants become wicked.”

It could be the lies of his advisors, it could be the lies of the reporters. We now live in the land of lies more than ever, fake news with diabolic agendas; and even if you’re not busy with that occupation, the population is just as bad. People are simply believing what’s being fed to them or what they want to believe, by whoever they choose to listen to. It’s almost as if they can’t think for themselves.

“If a ruler takes the advice of liars, then he encourages wickedness in the people around him. But if he instead rewards honesty then it will be encouraged and falsehood will be punished (cf. 20:8, 28).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

The rule of a ruler is to only rule on those things he knows to be true…has the information been validated? Is it completely true or only partially true? A rumor? A possibility? Be careful.

“They are so because they deceive him, and they become so; for instead of saying the truth which the ruler does not wish to hear, they seek to gain his favor by deceitful flatteries, misrepresentations, exaggerations, falsehoods.” – Keil & Delitzsch

Proverbs 29:13 (NKJV) “The poor man and the oppressor have this in common: the Lord gives light to the eyes of both.”

We usually see the poor man as right in God’s sight, and the oppressor on the other extreme, but God’s common grace covers them both – with light to see. The question is, what do we view with those eyes? May that common grace (creation) lead to special grace (salvation).

Proverbs 22:2 (NKJV) “The rich and the poor have this in common, the Lord is the maker of them all.”

God not only gives light, He gives life!

Jesus calls us all to show this common grace – even to our enemies!

Matthew 5:44–45 (NKJV) “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Proverbs 29:14 (NKJV) “The king who judges the poor with truth, his throne will be established forever.”

God has a special place in His heart for the poor (the poor are prominent – mentioned 35 times in the Proverbs). God raises up rulers with a responsibility to look after those sincerely struggling financially.

“Fairness (cf. v. 7) toward those least able to care for themselves (the poor, dal, “feeble, weak, helpless”; see comments on 10:15) is a mark of a good king (cf. v. 4) whose throne is therefore secure (cf. 16:12; 20:28). God blesses rulers who are concerned about the poor, and people appreciate such rulers.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

How do I treat those who can “help” me the least? A true test of character.

December 6, 2021

Hosea 4:1–5:15

The LORD brought charges against His people Israel…and what heavy charges they were!

No truth, no mercy, no knowledge of God in the land. Killing, stealing, adultery, they lost all restraint, it was bloodshed upon bloodshed. God would therefore bring judgment so severe, that even the land would mourn.

The priests were off, the prophets stumbled, they did not know the Lord, as a matter of fact, that’s why they were “destroyed,” – – and they all paid the price.

Hosea 4:6 (NKJV) “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

We must know the Lord, and much of that comes by knowing His Word…from the heart.

The northern kingdom of Israel didn’t worship according to the Word of God, they did not have the Temple of God, so it makes perfect sense that their “priests” were not of God. The more priests they had, the worse it was (Hosea 4:7-8 numbers are not important) – the priests followed the people rather than leading them closer to God – so God would judge them both.

When we have no relationship with God, we will become slaves to sin. In this case they were slaves to wine, they had become idolatrous alcoholics, foolishly asking counsel from lifeless idols. They did religion their way, and the world’s way, and they fell far away from God.

Much of the blame was because of their leaders – from the king all the way down to the so called priest and prophets.

Hosea 4:18–19 (NLT) “When the rulers of Israel finish their drinking, off they go to find some prostitutes. They love shame more than honor. 19 So a mighty wind will sweep them away. Their sacrifices to idols will bring them shame.”

Jesus told us what would happen in situation like this:

Matthew 15:14b (NKJV) “They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”

Hosea 5 continues to warn Israel and extends his words to Judah as well. Sometimes people think they can hide their sin from God, and yet He sees everything!

Hosea 5:3b (NKJV) “…Israel is not hidden from Me.”

The writer to the Hebrews said the same thing, and added the logical warning:

Hebrews 4:13 (NKJV) “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

The Jews were under the spell of the spirit of harlotry, they could not turn back, they did not know the Lord, their pride led to their fall.

NKJV Study Bible, “The OT frequently uses prostitution as an image of the sin of idolatry. Israel was pledged to serve one God (Ex. 20:3), so idolatry was like marital unfaithfulness against the Lord. Jeremiah and Ezekiel develop this image in graphic detail (Jeremiah 3; Ezekiel 16; 23), and Hosea actually married a prostitute as a living symbol of God’s patience with Israel’s infidelities (see ch. 1).”

Sometimes people think they can play with sin and get back on track after they’re through having “fun.” But here we see it doesn’t work that way. They couldn’t find their way back, and then, when they did seek the Lord, it was too late, He had withdrawn himself from them.

Isaiah 55:6 (NKJV) “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.”

It got so bad that Israel began to enter into pagan marriages, and raise pagan children (Hosea 5:7). Desolation was therefore the future of this nation (Hosea 5:9), “…because he willingly walked by human precept.”

It’s tragic to see that God’s people looked to help from this fallen world, entering into a treaty with Assyria. Bible Knowledge Commentary, “This probably refers to Hoshea’s alliance with Assyria (2 Kings 17:3) at the time he usurped the throne of Israel (cf. 2 Kings 15:30).”

Why is it that some people have to learn the hard way? God allowed Assyria to be taken away in 722 B.C., and Judah in 586 B.C. – it wasn’t until then that they would finally seek God earnestly.

Hosea 5:14–15 (NKJV) “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. 15 I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”

The purpose of God’s discipline was to drive the people back to Him. We must acknowledge our offense…and seek God’s face (His pure presence) earnestly. This is what Jeremiah also wrote to the captive Jews in Babylon – in those infamous verses:

Jeremiah 29:11–13 (NKJV) “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

2 John 1:1-13

The Apostle John writes this brief letter as an Elder, to the “elect lady and her children.” Some believe the elect lady is to be taken literally and refers to a sister who opened her home for God’s people to meet for fellowship (the early church often met in houses); while others believe the elect lady to be a reference to the church as a whole, as the bride of Christ.

The motive is love – John loves the people and wants to protect them from false teachers.

We don’t know the whole scenario, but somewhere along the line John ran into a few people from the fellowship and he rejoiced greatly because they were walking in truth. We’ll see later in 3 John 4 John says there’s no greater joy than when you see that…children walking in truth. 

I’m speculating here, but maybe those children informed John about some of the people who were attending the fellowship and bringing the Gnostic heresy into the church. Maybe that conversation spearheaded this little letter of warning about deceivers who do not confess Jesus Christ as “coming in the flesh.” Now, this is an interesting statement in the Greek language because it speaks not only of Jesus’ incarnation in the flesh, but also His resurrection in the flesh, how even when He rose from the dead He had a body that could be touched; Jesus even ate with them. The Jehovah Witnesses deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus and so, even though there are many “nice” Jehovah Witnesses, their teaching is heresy, we must not welcome them in to Christendom with this doctrine.

John warns the church, “Look to yourselves,” watch out, or you may not receive a full reward when you stand before Jesus Christ! We don’t want to lose the things we’ve worked so hard for…all these years, through a moment of indiscretion, wherein we think it’s loving to be inclusive with the cults. That’s not love. True love warns, it makes a stand, it holds to the doctrine of the disciples found in the pages of Scripture. We are not to allow false teachers into our fellowships, into our homes to study with, or into our churches so that they can have a platform to propagate their lies and potentially deceive others. This is why I as a pastor need to be so very careful in who I associate with or allow to speak from our church pulpit.

Jesus also warned us in:

Matthew 7:15 (NKJV) “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

Friend, test everything you hear, and protect yourself, your family, and friends by not fellowshipping with false teachers.

John closes the letter with a wish to see everyone in person – that would bring him joy and bless his heart. Nowadays we like letters, text messaging, or maybe phone calls, but the best fellowship is face to face, and heart to heart.

Psalm 125:1-5

The Songs of Ascents continue. These would be the songs the pilgrims would sing on their way, as they journeyed and ascended to Jerusalem.

If we trust the LORD, we’re compared to Mount Zion, a mountain that can never be moved. I think of  a couple of passages that touch on God’s part and ours:

Psalm 55:22 (NKJV) “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”

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.”

Not only Mount Zion, but now think of all the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. This is a picture of the way the LORD surrounds us, His people – and not just now, but forever more.

The Psalmist knew that Jerusalem would not end with the reign of the wicked – but along the way there would be good as well as bad in the world of men and even in the city of God – so he prays.

Do good to the good…Lord, to those who trust You. (Psalm 125:4)

Deal with the disobedient accordingly, Lord, hear me, don’t let them be. (Psalm 125:5a)

Ultimately, Lord, please, bring peace to Your people. (Psalm 125:5b)

Proverbs 29:9-11

Proverbs 29:9 (NKJV) “If a wise man contends with a foolish man, whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace.”

The fool won’t listen to the wise man, and whether the conversation ends in rage or laughter, any hope for peace will be superficial at best. Until a person surrenders his or her heart to Jesus Christ they will never be part of a good and “full” life, it will only always be a “fool” life.

Derek Kidner, “The general sense is clear: there is no arguing calmly with a fool.”

“Trying to win a court case with a fool (’ěwil, “an arrogant, hardened fool”) should be avoided because he follows his emotions rather than logic (Proverbs 27:3) as he keeps things in turmoil (no peace) with his angry (Proverbs 29:11) ranting (raging and scoffing).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

NET Notes, “The verb שָׁפַט (shafat) means “to judge.” In the Niphal stem it could be passive, but is more frequently reciprocal: “to enter into controversy” or “to go to court.” The word is usually used in connection with a lawsuit (so many recent English versions), but can also refer to an argument (e.g., 1 Sam 12:7; Isa 43:26); cf. NAB “disputes”; NASB “has a controversy.”

Proverbs 29:10 (NKJV) “The bloodthirsty hate the blameless, but the upright seek his well-being.”

Just as love is the fruit of the Spirit of God, hatred is the fruit of the enemy of God. The Devil and his hellish hosts hate all those created in the image of God, but especially those who follow completely, wholeheartedly, and unreservedly after God…the blameless.

Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV) “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.”

A fool who vents just opens up and lets it out, they shoot the lip from the hip, there is no wisdom whatsoever, nothing good comes out of their mouth, just the yuck, like vomit – it’s heartbreaking to think that many times it’s verbal abuse.

I honestly believe that the taming of the tongue is one of the primary keys to victory in all of our lives.

1 Peter 3:10 (NKJV) “For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.

James 1:19–20 (NKJV) “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

“A fool (kesîl; see comments on 1:7) readily gives in to anger (cf. 15:1; 29:8, 22), but a wise person maintains self-control (cf. 14:29; 16:32). Keeps himself under control is literally, “calms it back” like stilling a storm. The verb is used only here and in Psalms 65:7; 89:9 where it refers to calming the sea’s waves.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

Derek Kidner, “…the stilling of a storm, speaks of anger overcome, not merely checked.”

There is a difference.

December 5, 2021


Hosea 1:1–3:5

We now enter into the final stretch of the Old Testament, the 12 Minor Prophets. They’re not labeled “Minor” because they’re any less significanct, it’s primarily due to their brevity.

You’ll notice in the chart above that they’re not placed in chronological order, with Obadiah, Joel, Jonah, and Amos all taking place before Hosea – but the final three books, which are post-exilic, ARE in order, followed by 400 years of silence…before the New Testament.

Hosea’s ministry took place in the 8th century B.C., during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah – in the southern kingdom, and Jeroboam II in the northern kingdom. Hosea was writing primarily to Israel (the northern kingdom) warning them of their sin (spiritual adultery) and impending judgment, while simultaneously promising them that they’d be disciplined, but not destroyed.

In chapter 1 Hosea is commanded to marry a gal named Gomer. Some say she was already a harlot, others believe this was prophetic – that the day would come when she would leave Hosea for harlotry. Either way, God was communicating to Hosea that his marriage would be a picture of God’s marriage with Israel. Israel had been unfaithful to God, she’d given herself to Baal, the calf, and other gods. Their national situation is seen in the names of Hosea’s children, names given to them by God.

Jezreel – this points to God’s future vengeance on Israel

Lo-Ruhamah – this literally means, “no mercy,” for Israel

Lo-Ammi – literally means, “not My people”

God’s mercy would no longer shelter the people from the storm, the Assyrians would come in 722 B.C. and cary Israel away. They had drifted so far from God, that they did not know the Lord, they were NOT His people any longer. Israel had been living in idolatry for 200 years so God was about to judge Israel, but He would not forsake her. Isn’t it interesting that the end of chapter 1 speaks of the last days, when Israel will be restored (see Romans 9-11 for Israel’s past, present, and future). Below is a chart that provides an even bigger picture.

In Hosea 2:1-5 we see the charges against Israel. Just as a spouse can be unfaithful and fall into sexual sin, so Israel who had entered into this covenant and love relationship with God, had been unfaithful. It’s the equivalent of spiritual adultery.

Hosea 2:5a (NKJV) “For their mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them has behaved shamefully.”

In Hosea 2:6-13 we read of God’s chastening upon Israel. It was intended to correct them, so God would limit their freedom in order to bring them back to their first love (Hosea 2:7). It’s sad to read of the way this nation, this people went after the world and all the idols of the day, her lovers…and had forgotten God (Hosea 2:13).

In Hosea 2:14-23 we have God’s promise of restoration to the nation. In wrath He remembers mercy (Habakkuk 3:2). God would allure her and comfort her (Hosea 2:14). It wouldn’t merely be a master-servant relationship it would be reconciliation between husband and wife (Hosea 2:16). They would be His people once again. This won’t completely happen to Israel until midway through the Tribulation Period.

Just as a quick side-note, tragically many marriages can relate to the book of Hosea. Sadly unfaithfulness is a huge problem in the world today, and even in the church. God does allow the freedom to divorce if a spouse has committed adultery, but when there’s true repentance, there can also be true reconciliation.

Hosea 3 reveals the Nature of Love

1. Commanded (Hosea 3:1a)

2. Unconditional (Hosea 3:1b)

3. Supernatural (Hosea 3:1c)

4. Sacrificial (Hosea 3:2)

5. Covenantal (Hosea 3:3)

6. Fruitful/Beneficial (Hosea 3:4-5)

1 John 5:1-21

In this final chapter of 1 John, he uses the word “faith” once, and the word “believes” three times. This is how we’re saved! Whoever “believes” that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God (1 John 5:1). And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith, as we believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1nJohn 5:4-5). The moment we place our faith in Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit comes and lives within us as a witness that we’re saved (1 John 5:10; Romans 8:16). I’m so grateful that we’re saved by faith and not works, by believing and not by behaving, because although true Christians will always have works, and our lives will change, we will not be perfect on this side of time – by any means.

If you’ve read through the book of 1 John you definitely walk away with the message that true salvation means we show our love for God by keeping His commandments, which by the way, are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). The two most important “commandments” are to love God and to love others, we cannot say we love God if we don’t love others.

The water and blood in 1 John 5:6 are most likely a reference to the humanity of Jesus and contextually speaking, are emphasized because of the false teaching of Gnosticism, which denied that Jesus actually came in the flesh. Others believe it points to Jesus’ baptism (water) and death (blood). The latter view seems to fit well with 1 John 5:8 as a witness with the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is gathering a bride for Jesus, He’s drawing men, women, and children to the Lord. He’s telling us about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, given by the Father, and born to die in our place. The Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts that all we have to do is believe in Jesus as the Lord and Savior of our lives and there we will find freedom and forgiveness – it’s true, so amazing, so wonderful. The moment we believe, we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we’re saved, and we have a future home in heaven. Some people don’t have that assurance, they wonder and wait, because they’re basing it upon their own good works or religion. Such people will never enter the Kingdom of God. John wrote this letter for this very purpose (1 John 5:13). to communicate the truth that if we believe in Jesus, and simply keep believing, we can KNOW we have eternal life. 

I know I’m going to heaven, but it’s not because I’m a good person (because I’m not when I compare myself to God). I KNOW I’m going to heaven because I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ.

1 John 5:14 is such an important passage, because it teaches us that God is gracious to hear us and answer our prayers, when they are offered up according to His will. So the balance is, we won’t receive if we don’t ask, or if we’re asking with improper motives (James 4:2) and we won’t receive if the request is contrary to God’s will (thank You Lord), but God Himself will answer every prayer in His timing  – when – it’s in accordance to His will. So part of the prayer “process” is learning to discover the will of God.

1 John 5:16-17 are tough verses to interpret. If you see a brother or sister doing something that may lead to their physical death, don’t simply pray, act immediately, intervene. Other situations may find us praying for a while, praying from a distance but not necessarily intervening with the same urgency.

As we close this chapter and letter we’re encouraged to live holy lives. God’s children, who have God’s seed (1 John 3:9), shouldn’t continue in persistent, consistent, and insistent sin. When we keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21) we do our part in abiding and staying close to Christ. It’s a battle because we’re not only going against the grain of who we are, we’re going against the flow of the world system (which lies under the sway of the wicked one).

“Little children” – John the Beloved now in his 90’s is able to say that. You can sense his love, care, and concern for us children, in his closing words, “…keep yourselves from idols.” Don’t let anything or anyone come before or between you and the Lord.

Before we leave this chapter I’d like to share in a little more detail – a bit about “The Comma Johanneum,” also known as the Johannine Comma, which is a textual variant in respect to 1 John 5:7.

There are different opinions on this, but it is highly unlikely that the Comma Johanneum was originally a part of 1 John. None of the oldest Greek manuscripts of 1 John contain it, and none of the very early church fathers include it when quoting or referencing 1 John 5:7-8. The presence of the Comma Johanneum in Greek manuscripts is actually quite rare until the 15th century A.D. It is primarily found in Latin manuscripts. While some of the Latin manuscripts containing the Comma Johanneum are ancient, the Comma Johanneum did not appear in the original Latin Vulgate written by Jerome.

In the 16th century, when Desiderius Erasmus was compiling what became known as the Textus Receptus, he did not include the Comma Johanneum in the 1st or 2nd editions. Due to intense pressure from the Catholic Church and others who wanted it included because of its support for trinitarianism, Erasmus included the Comma Johanneum in later editions of the Textus Receptus. His decision resulted in the Comma Johanneum being included in the King James Version of the Bible and later in the New King James Version. None of the modern Greek texts (UBS 4, Nestle-Aland 27, Majority Text) contain the Comma Johanneum. Of all the modern English translations, only the New King James Version includes the Comma Johanneum.

While it would be convenient for there to be an explicit statement confirming the Trinity in the Bible, it is highly unlikely that the Comma Johanneum was originally a part of 1 John. What the Comma Johanneum says is true, and I am a firm believer in the essential doctrine of the Trinity, we must rely on the many other passages of the Bible where this truth is clearly and emphatically taught, as the basis for our proof texts.

Psalm 124:1-8

If you’re a believer you should say it…go ahead and say it (out loud) – “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side…then they would have swallowed us alive.”

Sometimes I’m struck with the fact that if it weren’t for God’s constant protection, the enemy would have killed and consumed me from day one. The Bible says that Satan is roaming about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

But God has protected us from our enemies, God has protected us from spiritual Tsunamis, God has protected us from their traps and all of their teeth.

It’s good to sing that Psalm, that song, regarding the fact that the Lord is on our side, He’s our helper in life, who happens to be the same One who made heaven and earth!

Does that comfort you? I hope it does.

Proverbs 29:5-8

Proverbs 29:5 (NKJV) “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.”

Spreads a net for whose feet? Probably both, they’re both trapped, but especially the flattered.

“The word “flatters” literally means to make (a person) smooth.” In Proverbs 2:16 and Proverbs 7:5 the word is rendered “seductive.” This flattery in Proverbs 29:5 is smooth talk that deceives because it intends to harm. A flatterer, however, suffers for it (Proverbs 26:28). He is caught in the very net he set for others (Proverbs 29:6; 1:18; 28:10).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

Flattery can be battery; it’s intentional harm, it’s lure to lust. The damage can happen overnight or overtime.

Flattery can be an insincere compliment. It’s okay to be kind and encouraging, to look for the good in others, but it’s not okay to say things you don’t mean in order to get what you want.

Proverbs 29:6 (NKJV) “By transgression an evil man is snared, but the righteous sings and rejoices.”

Transgression carries the idea of “crossing the line.” When the evil man crosses those lines in certain sins, his soul is snared. Contrast that with the righteous man – not snared by sin, but singing; unlike the evil man who is living in lamentation, the righteous man is lifting up his voice in celebration.

Proverbs 29:7 (NKJV) “The righteous considers the cause of the poor, but the wicked does not understand such knowledge.”

“One’s relationship to God shows up in his attitude toward the needy.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

The wicked don’t truly care, or consider the poor, but the righteous does both. God begins to put people on our hearts, He shows us those in need, and we start thinking, praying, pondering, “Lord, how can I help the ‘poor?’”

Job 29:16 (NKJV) “I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the case that I did not know.”

Psalm 41:1 (NKJV) “Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.”

I’m always amazed how some look down on, or are mean to the poor.

Proverbs 29:8 (NKJV) “Scoffers set a city aflame, but wise men turn away wrath.”

There are a couple of views on this. One speaks of violent and rebellious marches:

“These troublemakers get others angry and incite rebellion. (Cf. “anger” and “angry” in Proverbs 29:11, 22.) The wise, however, help calm a city by averting anger and its rebellious results.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

While some see it as scoffers inviting and inciting God’s judgment upon a city, contrasted to wise and repentant people who turn it away. This was the case for a season in Nineveh (Jonah 3:5-10).