Tag Archive: tribe of judah


One of the most intriguing aspects about God is His choice to occasionally  reveal to His followers what will happen in the future. He has very specific  reasons for doing so: one is to give encouragement to those who are going  through the trials (Daniel  12:12), and another is to exhort us to continue in His work (Matthew 25:29-30). The  prophecies of the end times give an account of what will happen at the end of  history on Earth. They include the Rapture of the church, wherein all believers  are removed from the earth, the Tribulation, a seven-year period of anguish as  God judges the sin of humanity, and the Millennial Kingdom, where Christ will  reign as King. The Millennial Kingdom begins shortly after the end of the  Tribulation. But the Bible also gives guidance as to the timing of the Rapture  and the Tribulation.

The prophecies regarding the Rapture do not tell us  when it will happen, nor do they give us any sign to watch for. In fact, in Matthew 24:36, Jesus says,  “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the  Son, but the Father alone.” Although signs of the coming Tribulation may occur  before the Rapture (like the re-establishment of Israel), there is nothing that  must occur before the Rapture. All applicable references show the early church  eagerly awaiting Christ’s return (Matthew  24:33; 1  Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 3:20-21), not eagerly awaiting the signs of  Christ’s return. Still, the promise of the Rapture does fill God’s purposes. It  first exhorts believers to do the work before them (1 Peter  4:7). James said to be patient and strengthen our hearts because “the coming  of the Lord is near” (James 5:8).  The prophecies also encourage us because they say believers will not suffer  through the Tribulation (1  Thessalonians 1:10).

The prophecies regarding the Tribulation are  designed to both exhort (Matthew  25:1-30) and encourage (Matthew  24:22), but they also give specific signs to look for. Matthew 24:5-7 records a  few: “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead  many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not  frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For  nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various  places there will be famines and earthquakes.” But the section concludes with  the warning that these signs are merely the “beginning of the birth pangs” (Matthew 24:8). Although  these are signs, we do not know exactly when the Tribulation will occur. 1  Thessalonians 5:1-11 explains that the day of the Lord will come “just like  a thief in the night…suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child.”

“Wars and rumors of wars” have occurred for millennia. Earthquakes, volcanoes,  and hurricanes have repeatedly struck our world since long before we had the  technology to record them. It is not possible to say if any particular natural  disaster is a specific sign of the coming end times. There are political  indications we can look for, however. The re-establishment of Israel is a  powerful sign and one that few before the 1940s could not have imagined. It is a  major first step in fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 17:8) and the  prophecy that in the end times, the temple will be rebuilt (Daniel 12:11). If a  national leader from the West were to rise to power and take over three other  countries, it could possibly be the “little horn” of Daniel 7:8 which is believed to be the antichrist. The  Bible also gives spiritual signs to look for. Paul explained in 2 Timothy 3:1-9 and 2  Thessalonians 2:3 that the last days will be difficult because of the evil  that people will cling to. And 1 Timothy  4:1 says, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the  faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

The  signs of the end times are to encourage us that God has a plan and His plan is  ultimately to glorify Himself. The signs will be fulfilled, and His plan  will come to pass exactly as He has foreordained it for His perfect  purpose and according to His good pleasure. “I make known the end from the  beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will  stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah  46:10).

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We have a very real Enemy who seeks to deceive and distract us  from becoming  who God wants us to be. So we must always be alert. Prepare for spiritual  warfare by making today’s passage part of your daily time with God. For  example, “put on” the various armor pieces as you pray:

Lord, thank You for giving me everything I need for  doing battle in Your name. In the power of Your Spirit, I put on my “armor”–

  • Protect  my mind and imagination with the helmet of salvation. Focus my thoughts  steadily on Your love and power.
  • I claim  Christ’s righteousness as my breastplate, protecting heart and emotions.
  • So that I  won’t be governed by feelings, wrap Your belt of truth around the core of my being  to protect me from deception.
  • Guide my  steps in the sandals of peace. Set my feet firmly in the good news of Your  redemption and love for the world, and empower me  to stand firm against attack.
  • I raise  my shield of faith. Protect me from Satan’s arrows as I stand shoulder to  shoulder with Your army in a wall of opposition against his schemes.
  • I take up  the sword of the Spirit. Plant Your Word deep in my heart in a fresh, exciting  way so I will always be ready to deflect and cut down lies with Your  truth. I proclaim  Your victory today!

You should never be so  preoccupied with fighting that anxiety makes you lose your focus on the joy of knowing  God. Rather, remain at peace as you “dress” for battle, knowing that you are  fully victorious and secure in Christ, and that He has already defeated the  Enemy.

Are you born again? This is one of life’s most important questions. Jesus Christ said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

It is not enough to reply, “I belong to the church; I suppose I’m a Christian.” Thousands of nominal Christians show none of the signs of being born again which the Scriptures have given us—many listed in the First Epistle of John.
First of all, John wrote: “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin” (I John 3:9). “Whosoever is born of God sinneth not” (5:18).

A person who has been born again, or regenerated, does not habitually commit sin. He no longer sins with his heart and will and whole inclination. There was probably a time when he did not think about whether his actions were sinful or not, and he did not always feel grieved after doing evil. There was no quarrel between him and sin; they were friends. But the true Christian hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, considers it his greatest plague, resents the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be completely delivered from it. Sin no longer pleases him, nor is it even a matter of indifference to him; it has become a horrible thing which he hates. However, he cannot eliminate its presence within him.

If he said that he had no sin, he would be lying (I John 1:8). But he can say that he hates sin and that the great desire of his soul is not to commit sin at all. He cannot prevent bad thoughts from entering his mind, or shortcomings, omissions, and defects from appealing in both his words and his actions. He knows that “in many things we offend all” (James 3:2). But he can truly say, in the sight of God, that these things cause him grief and sorrow and that his whole nature does not consent to them. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Second, John wrote: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (I John 5:1).

A man who is born again, or regenerated, believes that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour who can pardon his soul, that He is the divine person appointed by God the Father for this very purpose, and beside Him there is no Saviour at all. In himself he sees nothing but unworthiness. But he has full confidence in Christ, and trusting in Him, he believes that his sins are all forgiven. He believes that, because he has accepted Christ’s finished work and death on the cross, he is considered righteous in God’s sight, and he may look forward to death and judgment without alarm.

He may have fears and doubts. He may sometimes tell you that he feels as if he had no faith at all. But ask him if he is willing to trust in
anything instead of Christ, and see what he will say. Ask him if he will rest his hope of eternal life on his own goodness, his own works, his prayers, his minister, or his church, and listen to his reply. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Third, John wrote: “Every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him” (I John 2:29).

The man who is born again, or regenerated, is a holy man. He endeavors to live according to God’s will, to do the things that please God and to avoid the things that God hates. He wishes to continually look to Christ as his example as well as his Saviour and to prove himself to be Christ’s friend by doing whatever He commands. He knows he is not perfect. He is painfully aware of his indwelling corruption. He finds an evil principle within himself that is constantly warring against grace and trying to draw him away from God. But he does not consent to it, though he cannot prevent its presence.

Though he may sometimes feel so low that he questions whether or not he is a Christian at all, he will be able to say with John Newton, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.” What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Fourth, John wrote: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (I John 3:14).

A man who is born again has a special love for all true disciples of Christ. Like his Father in heaven, he loves all men with a great general love, but he has a special love for those who share his faith in Christ. Like his Lord and Saviour, he loves the worst of sinners and could weep over them; but he has a peculiar love for those who are believers. He is never so much at home as when he is in their company.

He feels they are all members of the same family. They are his fellow soldiers, fighting against the same enemy. They are his fellow travelers,
journeying along the same road. He understands them, and they understand him. They may be very different from himself in many ways—in rank, in station and in wealth. But that does not matter. They are his Father’s sons and daughters and he cannot help loving them. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Fifth, John wrote: “Whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world” (I John 5:4).

A man who is born again does not use the world’s opinion as his standard of right and wrong. He does not mind going against the world’s ways, ideas and customs. What men think or say no longer concerns him. He overcomes the love of the world. He finds no pleasure in things which seem to bring happiness to most people. To him they seem foolish and unworthy of an immortal being.

He loves God’s praise more than man’s praise. He fears offending God more than offending man. It is unimportant to him whether he is blamed or praised; his first aim is to please God. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Sixth, John wrote: “He that is begotten of God keepeth himself’ (I John 5:18).

A man who is born again is careful of his own soul. He tries not only to avoid sin but also to avoid everything which may lead to it. He is careful about the company he keeps. He knows that evil communications corrupt the heart and that evil is more catching than good, just as disease is more infectious than health. He is careful about the use of his time; his chief desire is to spend it profitable.

He desires to live like a soldier in an enemy country—to wear his armor continually and to be prepared for temptation. He is diligent to be watchful, humble, prayerful man. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

These are the six great marks of a born again Christian.

There is a vast difference in the depth and distinctness of these marks in different people. In some they are faint and hardly noticeable. In others they are bold, plain and unmistakable, so anyone may read them. Some of these marks are more visible than others in each individual.Seldom are all equally evident in any one person.

But still, after every allowance, here we find boldly painted six marks of being born of God.

How should we react to these things? We can logically come to only one conclusion—only those who are born again have these six characteristics, and those who do not have these marks are not born again. This seems to be the conclusion to which the apostle intended us
to come. Do you have these characteristics? Are you born again?

Daniel 1:9-21

Years ago I made a commitment to obey the Lord regardless of the cost. Like everyone else, I have made mistakes, but my determination to follow Christ has remained unchanged. When difficulties occur, such a pledge helps a person to stand firm.

We all will encounter times when there’s a direct conflict between God’s way and what is being asked of us. Perhaps the boss tells us to misrepresent the company’s product to customers. Or a friend may be pressuring us to join her in some risky behavior. Or family members may urge us to lie on their behalf. Saying no could bring loss, rejection, or even the end of a relationship. On the other hand, going along with the request could compromise our Christian witness or break God’s commands.

Daniel faced such a dilemma. He and his three friends had a clear choice—to eat food prohibited by Scripture, or to refuse and incur the king’s wrath, imprisonment, or even death. Daniel showed great courage when he proposed a different eating plan (Dan. 1:12). His words and actions demonstrated his allegiance to the Lord.

Daniel and his friends were rewarded by God for their faith and commitment (v. 17). Despite their adverse circumstances, all four young men confidently trusted in the Lord’s sovereign care for them.

Daniel’s choice resulted in royal favor. Jesus’ obedience led to the cross and glorification. Paul’s trust in Christ resulted in hardship. When we obey, the consequences may vary, but two things are always the same: obedience glorifies our Father and pleases Him. What could be better than that?

Psalm 96:2-3

In the New Testament, the word light is identified with goodness and holiness. Darkness, on the other hand, is frequently associated with unrighteousness or evil.

Jesus described Himself as “the Light of the world” (John 9:5). He invited the people to put their trust in Him so that they might become sons of light (John 12:36). The apostle John called Jesus “the true Light,” who gives illumination to all (John 1:9). Our enemy Satan, who masquerades as an angel of light, has blinded the eyes of many so they do not recognize the truth of the gospel message. As a result, they fail to believe (2 Cor. 4:4).

The word light has significance for believers too. At salvation, we were transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of light (Col. 1:12-13 niv). Freed from slavery to sin, we were adopted by our heavenly Father and given a future home in heaven as well as a new family now—our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are no longer in darkness; instead, we walk in the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

Now we are “children of light” (Eph. 5:8), and our calling is to carry the truth about salvation and eternal life to an unbelieving world. Jesus has commissioned us to share the gospel message and to live it out in our daily life.

The apostle Paul understood what it meant to carry the light of the gospel to others. He dedicated himself to sharing the good news with those who did not believe and to nurturing the faith of other Christians. Like Paul, we are called to be light bearers to those around us.

Jeremiah 32:17

During one of the most trying seasons of my life, I would sit by the fire with a dear friend and pour out my heart. Since this man was a good listener, he could sense when I felt discouraged, and he would remind me that God is in control. This truth became an anchor in my life; no matter how much the adversity intensified, I found solace in knowing that my heavenly Father is sovereign.

The Lord has supreme and absolute rule, control, and authority over the universe and everything in it. The Scriptures state that there is “one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6).

Consider the assurances that this truth provides for believers. First, if God created everything and has complete power over all, then nothing can happen apart from His direction and permission. Second, we know from the Bible that He is intimately involved in our personal lives and cares about the details of each day. Third, Romans 8:28 guarantees that He makes something beautiful for His children in every circumstance—even in situations that seem painful and wrong. If our loving Father protects us in this way, we can experience peace in the present and confidence about the future.

In painful times, how do you view God? Especially during hardships and heartbreak, it’s important to remember that He is in control. Focusing on His sovereignty will give you the confidence to carry on. Reread today’s passage, focusing on the power, love, and ability of your heavenly Father.

Revelation 4:9-11

In our culture, God’s name is oftentimes mentioned with little reverence. In fact, many people actually use it as a curse. Even among those who love Him, it is far too common to use His name casually, without taking time to ponder who He is. When you say a blessing at mealtimes, for instance, do you realize that you are talking to the almighty Creator God who rules over all things?

Our view of the Lord impacts three areas of life. First, it affects our prayers. As we come to know Him better and better, our desires will start to look like His goals for us, and our petitions will align more closely with His purposes. Furthermore, as we recognize His greatness and power, we’ll become more confident that He can accomplish mighty things—and we will venture to “pray big.”

Second, our understanding of His righteousness and goodness influences our behavior. If God has these attributes, surely it is in our best interest to obey gladly. We will desire righteousness and be quick to repent of sin.

Third, our faith is impacted. Grasping that Jesus is holy, good, and powerful grows our trust in Him. Knowing our awesome God and remembering His great works will further build our confidence in Him.

Do you personally know our loving and holy heavenly Father? He invites you into an intimate relationship with Him. But, as with any good friendship, time and intentionality are necessary to understand Him and learn His ways. The more you do that, the more your prayers, behavior, and faith will be impacted.

What’s your view of the Lord? Do you see Him as the One who can handle all the challenges you bring before Him? Nehemiah knew God in this way. Upon hearing about Jerusalem’s destruction, he mourned, fasted, and prayed for intervention. His supplication (Neh. 1:5-11) offers a glimpse of how he viewed the Almighty.

First, the Hebrew term Yahweh refers to One who is absolute in faithfulness. Next, the title Elohim indicates infinite power and sovereignty over the universe. Finally, Adonai means “ruler over all.” Nehemiah was bringing his request before the throne with full confidence in God.

And the Lord answered his prayer in a powerful, dramatic way. As cupbearer in the palace, Nehemiah tasted food and drink first to protect King Artaxerxes from possible poisoning. For a servant in this position, to look sad was very risky (2:1), yet the terrible news disheartened him.

So the Lord worked a miracle: when the king asked what was troubling his cupbearer, Nehemiah expressed concern for the Jewish people. Instead of punishing him, Artaxerxes let him go to rebuild what had been destroyed, and even supplied the materials! God handled what seemed like an overwhelming, impossible burden for Nehemiah, and He can do the same for us.

Having the right view of the Lord will allow us to approach Him with absolute confidence. And we know that He will hear and answer our prayers (Ps. 86:7). Remember that He is absolute in faithfulness and infinite in power. Our heavenly Father is the ruler over all.

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” Matthew 4:23

A recurring problem among Christians is maintaining the proper balance between evangelism and social
involvement. Evangelicals are often criticized for being too concerned with people’s souls and not enough with their bodies. In other words, they don’t spend enough time feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick and educating the illiterate.

To say anything against any of these ministries would be like criticizing motherhood. The Lord Jesus certainly was concerned with man’s physical needs, and He taught His disciples to be concerned also. Historically, Christians have always been out in front in compassionate
causes.

But as in so many other areas of life, it is a question of priorities. Which is more important, the temporal or the eternal? Judged on this
basis, the Gospel is the main thing. Jesus intimated this when He said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe…” Doctrine comes before social involvement.

Some of man’s most pressing social problems are the result of false religion. For example, there are people dying of starvation who won’t
kill a cow because they believe a relative may be reincarnated in the cow. When other nations send enormous shipments of grain, the rats eat more of it than the people, because no one will kill the rats. These people are shackled by false religion and Christ is the answer to their problems.

In trying to strike the proper balance between evangelism and social service, there is always the danger of becoming so occupied with “coffee and doughnuts” that the Gospel is crowded out. The history of Christian institutions is filled with such examples where the good has become the enemy of the best.

Certain forms of social involvement are questionable if not altogether “out.” The Christian should never participate in revolutionary attempts to overthrow the government. It is doubtful that he should resort to political processes to right social injustices. Neither the Lord nor the apostles did. More can be accomplished through the spread of the Gospel than through legislation.

The Christian who forsakes all to follow Christ, who sells all to give to the poor, who opens his heart and pocketbook whenever he sees a genuine case of need, need not have a guilty con-science over social unconcern.

John 3:16-17

I have heard many reasons why people are uncertain about their eternal future. “I sin too much,” says one. “I don’t feel saved, Pastor,” says another. Someone else worries that she did not follow the “right procedure” to ask for forgiveness. Still others have erroneously learned from their families or churches that no one can be sure of salvation.

My response to all of these rationales is the same: If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that His death on the cross purchased God’s forgiveness for your sins, then you are saved. And you can be sure.

God’s promises never change. He said that those who trust in His Son would have eternal life (John 5:24). What’s more, a believer cannot be snatched from God’s hand (John 10:27-30).

The Lord loves us unconditionally. Nothing can separate a believer from God’s love (Rom. 8:35-39). Satan’s charges against us can never change how precious we are to our Father.

The Savior’s work on the cross is finished. Jesus Christ made one perfect sacrifice—His own life. In this single act, He atoned for every sinful deed, word, and thought (Heb. 9:11-12, 26). When we receive His salvation, it is ours forever.

God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins so we could live eternally in His presence. It really is that simple. Whatever your doubts, ask the Holy Spirit to confront them with biblical truth. He will quietly assure your heart that you are God’s child forever (Rom. 8:16).