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Saturday, January 27, 2024

Romans 9:13

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
For further study - Romans 9:6-14

Tucked into the doctrinal teaching of Paul in this prophetic ninth chapter of Romans we find an example of the sovereignty of God as well as a very significant prophetic truth that will be played out in the end times.

Our key verse is a quote from an Old Testament prophet, the last of the prophets, Malachi. The quote is taken from the first chapter of Malachi where the Lord is speaking through "His messenger Malachi" to the Jews and the Palestinian people of today. I'll get into more on that in just a moment.
Malachi had told Jacob and the descendants of Jacob, the Jews, that he loved them, Malachi 1:2.

Then in verse 3, Malachi records the words of the Lord that He "hated" Esau. This is the quote that Paul wrote to the Romans and in particular the Jews in the church in Rome.

Remember, Romans 9, 10 & 11 are a message to the Jews about Israel past, Romans 9; Israel present, Romans 10; and Israel prophetic, Romans 11.

Verse 14 of our extended reading for today is an answer to anyone who might question the Lord as to whether He was unrighteous in His statement that He "hated" Esau. This word "hate" is not expressing an "emotional experience" of the Lord.

Reading verses 10-12 will help us to understand that this is an example of the "sovereignty" of God, not a "hatred" of Esau and his descendants. Notice in verse 11 how that before the twin boys of Isaac and Rebecca were even born, "neither having done any good or evil," that the Lord, through "sovereign selection," selected the younger twin to be born Jacob, to be served by the elder brother, Esau.

That was contrary to tradition. The eldest son was to receive the "birthright" and the "blessing" given to  him by his Father so that he would continue the heritage of his Father. God changed that and while the boys were still in their mother's womb God determined that the "elder" would serve the "younger".

This act of "hatred" had nothing to do with salvation, but "selection", selecting the elder son to serve the younger son. This is a significant selection by the Lord. It put in place a 4,000 year old conflict that will only be settled when Jesus returns to earth.

A study of a number of passages will reveal that Jacob, the second born, "selected seed," would become the nation of the Jewish people, Israel. The elder son, Esau, would be the father of the Edomites, the Palestinian people of today. (See my audio series, "Esau and the Palestinians".)

Ezekiel 35Malachi 1 and the little Old Testament book of Obadiah reveal that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict started over 4,000 years ago and will only be resolved when Jesus Christ returns to Jerusalem, Obadiah 15-18.

All the efforts of world leaders today will not completely resolve the Israeli-Palestinian (Jacob-Esau) conflict. Only Jesus can do that when He comes back.

By the way, the prophecies of this conflict between the Jews and the Palestinians have never been as intense as they are now, or at any other time in history. The prophetic resolution of the conflict could be very near to fulfillment.

The stage is set, all the actors are in place and the curtain is about to go up on the final act of this prophetic drama. Keep looking up, because before these prophecies are fulfilled, the Rapture happens and it could happen, today!

PRAYER THOUGHT: Dear Lord, please help me to recognize Your prophetic scenario, playing out in current events, and help me to live my Christian life in light of Your soon return to settle all conflicts.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Romans 1:20

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
For further study - Romans 1:19-32

The extended portion of the reading for today is very difficult to read and then apply to our understanding of the Lord's way for us during these days.

The first two verses of our reading for today, including our key verse, reveal to us that all of "mankind" is without excuse, if they reject Jesus Christ. You might say, what about those who have never heard the gospel, the un-reached peoples of this world.

My first response has to be what Paul wrote to the Romans and, in fact, to all of us. All of humankind has the "light of conscience" and the "light of creation".

We are all born as sinners but until we sear our conscience we know right from wrong. Also, in God's creation we can see His glory made manifest, Psalm 19.

After these un-reached accept the "light of conscience" and the "light of creation" the Lord will get the message of salvation to them. By the way, this is a great passage for worldwide missions. There are people out there who need to hear, and how can they hear unless we go?

Verses 21-32 discuss a lifestyle that is prevalent today, "man leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their flesh, one toward another, men with men", verse 27. This is referring to a sexual relationship. The passage tells us that woman would do the same, "change the natural use into that which is against nature," verse 26.

Paul explains why this happens in verse 25. It's because mankind "changes the truth of God into a lie and worships and serves the creation more than the Creator." Because of these activities against God and against nature, He will give those who do so over to a "reprobate mind", verse 28.

Please notice also that Paul warns those who allow this to continue, they are actually sinning against God and nature, they are in a position of receiving judgment as well, verse 32.

Before we conclude our thoughts on this passage I am reminded of a passage of prophetic truth recorded by Dr Luke who wrote the record of the Lord's message, which refer to these days.

The passage in Luke, chapter 17:28-30, speaks of the coming of the Lord back to the earth. The passage describes a day when He comes that will be similar to the "days of Lot". Remember, Lot was one who lived in Sodom.

Remember, the sins of "Sodom", described in our extended reading for today, brought judgment upon the people and Sodom and Gomorrah, which were both destroyed, forever.

We must pay attention to society today, as we study God's prophetic word, ie: Luke's record of the words of Jesus. We must realize where we are in God's time. These days are as it was in the "days of Lot".

It seems that we are quickly approaching the day when Jesus will shout and call us to join Him in the heavenlies. Today could be that day.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Lord, help me to discern the times and to realize that your coming is very close. Help me to live my life in light of this knowledge.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Romans 1:4

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
For further study - Romans 1:1-18

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, in fact, all of the Christians in Rome while he was traveling across some parts of Europe and Asia preaching and teaching. Paul had become an apostle to the Gentiles, which made up most of the body of Christ in Rome.

Though Paul had not been to Rome, many of those who had trusted Christ and then would have moved to Rome, made up the church in this city. Paul had led these people to the Lord during one of his mission trips.

Some believe that Peter started the church in Rome, which is entirely incorrect. Peter never even visited Rome much less started a church there. If anyone was responsible for the church in Rome it was Paul and his converts who went to live in Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire.

Paul was a great man of prayer, verse 9, and he prayed for the body of Christ in Rome to the Lord, as he says, without ceasing. Paul so very much wanted to visit the church in Rome to teach them the greater truths that the Lord had revealed to him.

Our key verse, verse 4, is such a powerful verse as it tells us that God had declared Jesus, His Son, to have power and that was made manifest by His resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead guaranteed He was the Son of God who died to take away our sins and that He was the one qualified to do that. The resurrection also was a display of power that is available to all believers by faith, Ephesians 1:19-20.

There is one other authority that was given to Jesus, as a result of His resurrection, and that is to foretell the future. Revelation 1:18 is the testimony of the "resurrected Jesus Christ". In Revelation 1:19this resurrected Jesus Christ tells John the past, the present and the future.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ also is the power of God for salvation to the Jew first and to the Gentile, verse 16. Notice the last verse of our extended reading, verse 18. The "wrath of God" is and will be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.

This is a prophecy which says that when Jesus comes from heaven, He will come as the "Judge" to judge ungodliness and unrighteousness, that which is spoken of not only in Romans 1:19-32 but the first 3 chapters of the book of Romans as well.

Romans 1:24-28 reveals the lifestyle of a growing number of people in our world and sets the stage for the time of the return of the Messiah Jesus Christ.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me to live in and by the "resurrection power" of God made manifest in the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Acts 20:24

I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

For further study - Acts 20:17-31

This passage in Acts verifies the "gospel" that we are preaching today, the "gospel of grace", verse 24b, our key verse for our devotional reading today. There is a difference between the "gospel" preached in the "Gospels", which will be preached during the Tribulation Period, and today.

Today, as the text reveals, we are preaching the "gospel of grace". Both, during the time of the ministry of Jesus on earth and the Tribulation, the "gospel of the kingdom" was and will be preached.

The "gospel of the kingdom" is basically that the "kingdom" is coming to the Earth, when Jesus sets up His eternal Kingdom, and that the "gospel", the "good news" is that Jesus will save you, give you "eternal life".

This is the message that will be preached throughout all the world during the Tribulation, Matthew 24:14, and then Jesus will come back at His Second Coming. However, today, before the Rapture, we are preaching the "gospel of grace", verse 24b.

Verse 21
 is a statement by the Apostle Paul who was involved in a ministry of soul winning towards both the Jew and the Gentile. Verse 19 informs the reader that Paul did this ministry "with all humility of mind, and with many tears and testing".

Paul did not even count his life "dear" so that he might finish the "course" that he was following, with "joy" so that he might get the "gospel of grace" out to a lost and dying world. What a description for this Christ-like servant to set as his pattern, for us to follow in this day.

There is a warning from Paul, verses 29-31, which speaks of the time leading up to the coming period of judgment, the Tribulation, when "grievous wolves" will try and devour the "flock", the "Church". Those "grievous wolves" are "false teachers" that will go after the "body of Christ" in the last days. We must be on alert to this warning.

I love Paul’s statement about his ministry over a three year period of time, verse 31. Paul did not cease warning everyone, "night and day", and he did his ministry in "tears". This is again another model for those of us in work for the Lord, to follow as we do the work with "compassion" and do it "continually".

This passage for our devotional today helps us to see how to be involved in preaching the "gospel of grace" in these the last days. Paul did this "night and day" as he waited for the Lord’s return. This is a must program for us to follow as we await His shout for us to join Him in the "air". It could be today.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me dear Lord to "continually" preach the "gospel of grace" with "compassion" as I await your shout to join you in the heavenlies.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Acts 19:10

And this continued by the space of two years so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

For further study – Acts 19:8-22

This passage of scripture is a portion of the record of the ministry of Paul on his second missionary journey that would take him into Asia Minor, to Ephesus on the coast of the Agean Sea. This area today is the country of Turkey.

Paul would come to this city, one of the major cities of Asia, the location of the temple of the goddess Diana. The great leader of the Grecian Empire, Alexander the Great had visited this city and built a great theater that would seat over 25,000 people.

Verse 8 reveals the "ministry method" used by the Apostle as he endeavored to reach the area with the message of the gospel. For three months Paul would "speak boldly, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God."

Many living in Ephesus would reject the message and go to their neighbors, speaking "evil" of the "way", which would drive Paul to "separate the disciples" for additional teaching. Paul would use the "school of Tyrannus" for the next two years for this special training, verse 9.

I’ve been in Ephesus at the spot where the "school" was located almost 2,000 years ago. As I now read this record of Paul’s ministry I am thrilled with the way God used one man to impact one of the great cites of the world at that time in history.

It is also very impressive to see how God worked in the lives of many people who were involved in the worship of a false god, or should I say "goddess", verses 23-41.

This major impact on these people and their great city was because of the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, verse 20. What a lesson for each of us today, we must use the "Word of God" to impact this world, not the methods of the world.

Please notice one other verse, our key verse for today’s devotional reading, verse 10. The text says that over a two year period, all that dwelled in Asia heard the Word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

This is an awesome achievement in ministry, a whole region of the world hearing the word of God. But notice the region that this ministry affected, Asia Minor. This is where the church in Ephesus would be used to establish six other churches that would receive a special message from Jesus, personally to them.

Of course, we are talking about the seven churches of Asia Manor, the churches of Revelation 2 and 3. The letters that these churches would receive from Jesus would be the last words of Jesus to the Church.

All work that we do for the Lord, though it may seem "little" in our eyes, is "much" in the eyes and plan of God. Paul’s example of ministry and the method of his ministry should encourage each of us to keep at the task of serving Him until He shouts for us to join Him in the "air" at the time of the Rapture, which could happen today.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Thank you Lord for the "example" that you give to me through the ministry of your chosen servants. Might I follow this example of the "method of ministry" that Paul used to reach an entire region of the world, and might I do this eagerly as I await the shout by Jesus at the Rapture.

Monday, January 8, 2024

Acts 17:6

And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, these that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.

For further study - Acts 17:1-14

This passage in Acts, "The Action Book" of first century Christianity is a record of Paul's visit to Thessalonica and also to Berea.

This second missionary journey of Paul would result in a number of Greeks and Jews coming to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. The trip also relates the story of how young Timothy got involved in Paul's ministry, Acts 16:1-5.

Paul arrives in Thessalonica and goes to the synagogue for three weeks straight to reason with the Jews about Jesus Christ. This method of evangelism is one that Paul used very effectively.

As a result of Paul's reasoning with the Jews from the scriptures in the synagogues, there were a number who trusted Jesus as Lord and Saviour. We must "reason from the scriptures" when we work at the ministry of evangelism.

It is also interesting that Paul went into the synagogue, "as his manner was", verse 2. The synagogue system was not developed until the Babylonian Captivity when the Jews were out of the land, without a Temple, thus the need for a "worship center".

All along God had a plan to use the "synagogues as centers of evangelism". God's plan always works best. We need to find out what His plan is and join Him as a “partner” in that ministry plan.

By the way, notice that Paul was only there for three weeks and with the converts he started a church. It was to these "young Christians" that Paul wrote a letter, I Thessalonians, explaining the "Rapture".

This was "real meat” for young Christians. The "town fathers" did not like what was happening under Paul's ministry and they called together some of the new converts to try and downplay the working of God.

I love the phrase in verse 6, "these that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." Oh, that we could be referred to as those who are “turning the world upside down”.

The motivation of these "world turners" was their understanding that the return of Jesus Christ could happen at any moment, thus they went forward with intensity to serve Him before He did return.

This is evident by what Paul wrote these new converts in Thessalonica about the Rapture, I Thessalonians 4:13-18. As we become more aware of the soon return of the Lord we will go forth to do ministry as those who were turning the world upside down.

Just one last thought from Paul's sojourn in Berea. He preached there and the Bereans heard the Word and then searched the scriptures to see if Paul was correct, verse 11.

This is a great principle, hear the Word preached and study the Scriptures for yourselves to see if the preacher is Biblically correct. Please apply this principle to my teaching.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me dear Lord, to understand the Scriptures, in particular the prophetic Scriptures, and then to apply them to my daily life as I await Your call at the Rapture to join You in the heavenlies.
Friday, January 5, 2024

Acts 15:15

And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written.

For further study - Acts 15:1-18

Our extended portion for today's devotional reading is a record of a meeting of the “church council” at Jerusalem about 15 years after Jesus had gone back to heaven.

Remember, just before He left earth from the Mt of Olives in Jerusalem, Acts 1, our Lord told His disciples that they were to stay in Jerusalem until they had received “power” and then they were to give the people of Jerusalem the gospel message of how they could be saved, and be prepared for here, and after death.

After Jerusalem they were to go to Judea and Samaria and then to the “uttermost parts” of the earth with this “gospel” message.

Peter, the preacher on the “Day of Pentecost” and a disciple of Jesus Christ, saw many results to his ministry and many Jews did get saved. But also remember, that it was Peter who went to Cornelius in Ceasarea and led this first Gentile to Jesus Christ as his Saviour.

Once converted, Paul also traveled around that region of the world and led many Gentiles to a salvation experience. With the conversion of these many Gentiles, some in the church in Jerusalem were concerned. They believed that a Gentile must first become a Jew and then a Christian.

Therefore, the church council in Jerusalem, with James, the head of the church, not Peter by the way, James called everyone together for this council. James had both Peter and Paul rehearse the exciting stories of Gentile conversions to Christ that they had witnessed and participated in during their traveling ministries.

The bottom-line result of this council meeting was that James stood and said, verses 13-18that the scriptures agreed with what was happening. Salvation was, and is, for the Gentiles as well as the Jews. In fact, this is God's special program for today, "visiting the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His names sake," verse 14.

Then James said, after God's plan for reaching Gentiles is complete, the Lord will return to build the “house of David” with Jesus returning to build His temple and then to rule and reign from it in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.

Romans 11:25 says this is God's program, "until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in". When the last Gentile gets saved, a number that only God knows, then Jesus will come back.

What an opportunity for each of us today, to witness to Gentiles as well as Jews. Just think, you could lead that last Gentile to Jesus, and then Jesus would come.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me Lord, to be a witness of my faith for you, Jesus, to all people both Gentiles and Jews.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Acts 7:55

But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.

For further study - Acts 7:54-8:4

Our extended reading for today's devotional is the record of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, and the very first mention of the one who would be known as the Apostle Paul.

Stephen had been chosen as one of the first deacons, Acts 6:5, and was a man "full of faith and the Holy Spirit", verse 5.

Because the "Synagogue Council" was unable to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke, Acts 6:10, the Council brought this newly appointed deacon to address them with His own defense.

By the way, Dr Luke records that even the "Council" saw Stephen's "face as though it had been the face of an angel", Acts 6:15. Not only were the members of the Council present for Stephen's address but the High Priest at the Temple was there to hear Stephen speak as well, Acts 7:1.

What Stephen had to say, Acts 7:2-53, was so powerful that it "cut to the heart", verse 54, of those in the Council so that they rushed forward and "gnashed upon him with their teeth",verse 54.

Verse 55 has long been a puzzle to me, however, I think I figured out what was going on that day of Stephen's death. The verse tells us that Stephen, "just before he was cast out of the city and stoned," verse 58, looked up into heaven and saw the "glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God", verse 55.

My confusion was because I read in Hebrews 1:38:1, and 12:2 that Jesus is now "seated" at the right of God in the heavens, Stephen saw Him "standing". I am not dogmatic but I believe that Jesus may well have stood up to greet Stephen, the first Christian martyr, as he entered heaven.

This record of Stephen seeing Jesus, whether "seated or standing", He is at the right hand of the Father, not seated on His throne, His "promised throne", since Jesus is not now "King" of His coming Kingdom.

God the Father will give the throne and the Kingdom to His Son after the Tribulation Period, at His Second Coming. Bible prophecy reveals that the time of His Second Coming is quickly approaching.

Verse 58 introduces us to an enemy of God. This is one who was fierce in his attacks on the Christians, the members of the Church at Jerusalem, 8:1. It was a man named "Saul" who would one day be a leader of these Christians.

Until that time Saul would bring about "great persecution" against the Church, 8:1, making "havoc of the Church", 8:3. Notice the positive aspect of persecution, verse 4, the Christians were "scattered abroad, going everywhere preaching the Word".

We can rejoice when persecution comes, it will allow us to change "opposition into opportunity".

PRAYER THOUGHT: Thank you Lord for being there at the right hand of God the Father as my special provider, help me to be full of faith and the Holy Spirit as Stephen was, and to turn opposition into opportunity.