There is more than this life…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 15:50-58

 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.   For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Good to keep at the forefront of our daily walk through life, in all we do, is the last statement.  Know that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.  Also encouraging is the knowledge that death for the believer no longer has a sting, no longer has the last word.  This passage is meant to encourage and inform.  We are passing through this life…it isn’t an end-all, be-all.  We are able to fully enjoy this trip and all it brings, rejoicing in the love of our God through Christ Jesus.  Take on the day in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Life for eternity…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 15:12-34

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

There is a promise and a premise.  Eternal life is ours.  Death is also ours.  But for those who truly believe Christ conquered death and sin, death is only temporary for the physical, however, there is a spiritual death for those who do not believe.  The believer does not share in death as final.  There is eternal life as promised and activated by Christ.  The promise is eternal life with God, not separated from God which is the final death.  The premise is this is truth because Christ conquered death for all who believe.  The physical death does not continue into spiritual death for the believer.  The believer begins life with acceptance of Christ and it never ends.

There is a way…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Hosea 14

O Israel, return to the LORD your God,

​​For you have stumbled because of your iniquity;

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.

Assyria shall not save us,

​​We will not ride on horses,

​​Nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods.’

​​For in You the fatherless finds mercy.”

“I will heal their backsliding,

​​I will love them freely,

​​For My anger has turned away from him.

I will be like the dew to Israel;

​​He shall grow like the lily,

​​And lengthen his roots like Lebanon.

 ​​His branches shall spread;

​​His beauty shall be like an olive tree,

​​And his fragrance like Lebanon.

Those who dwell under his shadow shall return;

​​They shall be revived like grain,

​​And grow like a vine.

​​Their scent  shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

“Ephraim shall say, ‘What have I to do anymore with idols?’

​​I have heard and observed him.

​​I am like a green cypress tree;

​​Your fruit is found in Me.”

 ​​Who is wise?

​​Let him understand these things.

​​Who is prudent?

​​Let him know them.

​​For the ways of the LORD are right;

​​The righteous walk in them,

​​But transgressors stumble in them.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Hsa&c=14&v=1&t=NKJVP>

What are the ways of the Lord?  What has been learned about him?  He will not tolerate greed, pride and arrogance.  He cannot stop the evil that results from denying Him.  He will not intervene where He is not recognized and so the consequences of the greed, pride and arrogance, to name  a few, will come to fruition and result in violence, pain, harm and destruction.  Look at our headlines and see that this is true.  Drive down a highway and witness the road rage over being first.  Go shopping and watch the fighting, cussing, pushing and shoving.  Listen to the filth that flows daily from the mouths of young and old alike.  Experience the lack of respect humanity has one for the other; witness the lack of respect for life unless it be your own.  We know one of the ways of God is he will not intervene; he spoke:  “The wages of sin is death” and death comes in many forms.

But it doesn’t end there.  We also know he loves his creation and has provided ways for them to return to relationships with Him that will combat the fruits of evil mentioned above.  The key is our turning to him away from the self-driven impulses that only bring harm.  The key is learning the ways of righteousness, loosely defined as right living.  We also know He is longsuffering.  He will respond, he will intervene when he is recognized, acknowledged and received.  And the fruits of that are love, peace, hope and a life that is good with a portion of humanity who have learned to love one another, who do not engage in the actions of those living in denial and darkness.

We can personalize this passage and see if it does not ring with truth:

“…O America, return to the LORD your God,

​​For you have stumbled because of your iniquity;

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.

Government shall not save us,

​​We will not ride on horses, (of war)

​​Nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods.’

​​For in You the fatherless finds mercy.”…”​

Come let us worship the Lord.  Let us follow in his ways of right living.  Let us be a force for the good and not join in with the force for the evil.  Watch what is happening and read the signs.

“… ​​Who is wise?

​​Let him understand these things….”

Listen to the voices around us and to the voices crying out for change…

“…Who is prudent?

​​Let him know them….”

Do not engage, but be a force that fights for the poor and oppressed, the ignorant and innocent.

“…For the ways of the LORD are right;

​​The righteous walk in them,…”

Follow the Lord, return from the cross and the empty tomb with hope, peace, and love.  Let our lives shine with His presence.

This concludes the reading of Hosea and what it holds for us today…

Proverbs 14:12 KJV – There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death.

Choose life or death

Choose life or death

Judgment calls…the unborn cry…blood is shed…

Ezekiel 32: 28-32

Yes, you shall be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised,

​​And lie with those slain by the sword.

29 ​​“There is Edom,

​​Her kings and all her princes,

​​Who despite their might

​​Are laid beside those slain by the sword;

​​They shall lie with the uncircumcised,

​​And with those who go down to the Pit.

30 ​​There are the princes of the north,

​​All of them, and all the Sidonians,

​​Who have gone down with the slain

​​In shame at the terror which they caused by their might;

​​They lie uncircumcised with those slain by the sword,

​​And bear their shame with those who go down to the Pit.

31 ​​“Pharaoh will see them

​​And be comforted over all his multitude,

​​Pharaoh and all his army,

​​Slain by the sword,”

​​Says the Lord GOD.

32 ​​“For I have caused My terror in the land of the living;

​​And he shall be placed in the midst of the uncircumcised

​​With those slain by the sword,

​​Pharaoh and all his multitude,”

​​Says the Lord GOD.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=32&v=1&t=NKJVP>

The past three days of reading from chapter 32 in Ezekiel are driving home the impression that there’s a lot of company in the place of judgment.  The reference to those who lie with the uncircumcised is seen as a reference to all who maintain their position outside the company of believers.

“…They shall lie with the uncircumcised,

​​And with those who go down to the Pit….”

Circumcision was a sign given to confirm the contract, or covenant, between God and humanity.  A contract that said God would provide, protect and perpetuate his people in return for their allegiance.

“…Genesis 17:7-10  “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.  And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This [is] My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised;…”

When they turn away from God it is seen as breaking the covenant and God continues to offer the privilege of a relationship with him but the second party has chosen to reject it.  At that point they face judgment.  They are no longer privileged to receive redemption from the consequences of sin.  Uncircumcised is used in the new testament to identify those who reject Christ, they are outside the circle of believers, it is the circumcision of the heart that identifies us as heirs with Christ of God’s redemption and relationship.

“…Romans 2:29 but [he is] a Jew who [is one] inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise [is] not from men but from God….”

There is no hope for the uncircumcised of the heart.  There is no hope for those who refuse the existence and provision of their Creator.

On another note, a sword is a type of knife and it is used here to kill and destroy.  Each nation fell in layers of time one upon the other as they refused to honor the God who created them.

“… ​​“There is Edom…​​There are the princes of the north,  ​​All of them, and all the Sidonians,…There [is] Elam and all her multitude,…There [is] Elam and all her multitude,…Assyria [is] there, and all her company,…Pharaoh and all his multitude,”…”

Today the knife is used to kill and maim the innocent; we are fast approaching the point where more are killed through abortion than the number of those who fall and have fallen by war.

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 4/17/12 6:44 PM:  the Roe v. Wade decision that has resulted in more than 55 million abortions.  According to Guttmacher Institute: From 1973 through 2008, nearly 50 million legal abortions occurred.  (Note the statistics stop at 2008) http://www.lifenews.com/2012/04/17/mitt-romney-repeats-call-for-overturning-roe-v-wade/

Military deaths: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_casualties_of_war Less than 55 million.

Will our nation escape the judgment these nations suffered?  It is hard to look at the numbers of innocent babies, the amount of innocent blood that is shed daily in our land.  We have the options and tools of prayer, voice and for a time, government to change that.  Will we commit to action or find ourselves caught up in the coming judgment of a God who says “Enough!”?  We have a personal promise of redemption but we live among the dead walking.  Let us join others in prayer for our nation’s sin.  If my people…

“…2Chronicles 7:14  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land….” 

Are we called by his name?  Will we humble ourselves and pray?  Will we seek His face?  Will we turn from our wicked ways?  Then He will hear and will forgive and will heal.  We are in the 40 days to the election, we are in 40 years of killing the unborn child; 55 million + abortions.  Can we spend 40 days “in our wilderness” fasting, praying, whatever the Lord leads us to do?  Can we corporately band together in unity to seek the face of God for healing in our land?

Consequences fit the crime? Is there an escape?

Ezekiel 21:14-23

“You therefore, son of man, prophesy,

​​And strike your hands together.

​​The third time let the sword do double damage.

​​It is the sword that slays,

​​The sword that slays the great men,

​​That enters their private chambers.

15 ​​I have set the point of the sword against all their gates,

​​That the heart may melt and many may stumble.

​​Ah! It is made bright;

​​It is grasped for slaughter:

16 ​​“Swords at the ready!

​​Thrust right!

​​Set your blade!

​​Thrust left—

​​Wherever your edge is ordered!

17 ​​“I also will beat My fists together,

​​And I will cause My fury to rest;

​​I, the LORD, have spoken.”

18 The word of the LORD came to me again, saying: 19 “And son of man, appoint for yourself two ways for the sword of the king of Babylon to go; both of them shall go from the same land. Make a sign; put it at the head of the road to the city. 20 Appoint a road for the sword to go to Rabbah of the Ammonites, and to Judah, into fortified Jerusalem. 21 For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the road, at the fork of the two roads, to use divination: he shakes the arrows, he consults the images, he looks at the liver. 22 In his right hand is the divination for Jerusalem: to set up battering rams, to call for a slaughter, to lift the voice with shouting, to set battering rams against the gates, to heap up a siege mound, and to build a wall. 23 And it will be to them like a false divination in the eyes of those who have sworn oaths with them; but he will bring their iniquity to remembrance, that they may be taken.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=21&t=nkjvp>

No news analyst needed here to know what is coming.  God speaks directly to the people and allows that he will not intervene in what is coming their way.  Instead he suggests their sin has brought this upon them because they have left him and turned to other idols.  He goes further to say the king of Babylon is acting under his direct influence.  This would make one think twice about displeasing the Lord God.  We can see a similar correlation between this  and the child who has deliberately disobeyed by breaking a rule, maybe even one that could cause harm to another and when the one in charge hands out the consequences for the disobedience, the child blames that one for his punishment not recognizing his disobedient action.  How many times do you hear “the teacher made me miss recess,” or  “the principal gave me a detention” or “Dad won’t let me go?”

The difference, of course, is the severity of the punishment in relation to the crime.  Souls were at stake here, disrespect is to the Creator who is the only one who can destroy a  soul.  Christ warns – be in fear of the one who can destroy the soul, rather than anyone who can destroy the body.

“…Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell….”

How does this, or does this apply to us today?  God judges, that is his prerogative and part of his nature.  He is also merciful and grants the way of escape from the consequences of sin that judgment brings, through his son, Jesus.  For us today, the cross makes the difference.  As believers we are covered by the blood of Christ, the sin is forgiven, we are told we are changed into a new creature who now may walk with God.  Accepting that knowledge by faith, we need not fear his judgment and wrath, we can find hope in this life and the next; that we are able to rise above the pain and suffering this world, time, space gives us and also rejoice and embrace the life he gives looking forward to joining him in eternity.

The sword is sharpened…

Having missed a few days this will be an attempt to play catch-up.  As the time allows more than one post will be published to bring the stream of posts into a current, chronological flow again.

Ezekiel 21:1-

And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem, preach against the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel; 3 and say to the land of Israel, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am against you, and I will draw My sword out of its sheath and cut off both righteous and wicked from you. 4 Because I will cut off both righteous and wicked from you, therefore My sword shall go out of its sheath against all flesh from south to north, 5 that all flesh may know that I, the LORD, have drawn My sword out of its sheath; it shall not return anymore.” ’ 6 Sigh therefore, son of man, with a breaking heart, and sigh with bitterness before their eyes. 7 And it shall be when they say to you, ‘Why are you sighing?’ that you shall answer, ‘Because of the news; when it comes, every heart will melt, all hands will be feeble, every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming and shall be brought to pass,’ says the Lord GOD.”

8 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 9 “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the LORD!’ Say:

​‘​A sword, a sword is sharpened

​​And also polished!

10 ​​Sharpened to make a dreadful slaughter,

​​Polished to flash like lightning!

​​Should we then make mirth?

​​It despises the scepter of My son,

​​As it does all wood.

11 ​​And He has given it to be polished,

​​That it may be handled;

​​This sword is sharpened, and it is polished

​​To be given into the hand of the slayer.’

12 ​​“Cry and wail, son of man;

​​For it will be against My people,

​​Against all the princes of Israel.

​​Terrors including the sword will be against My people;

​​Therefore strike your thigh.

13 ​​“Because it is a testing,

​​And what if the sword despises even the scepter?

​​The scepter shall be no more,”

says the Lord GOD.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=21&t=nkjvp>

The sword will come against all.  Jerusalem the city of God no longer acts as if she belongs to God.  And he is going to cut off everyone from the city both righteous and wicked.  We live in the land, on this planet and we share in its good and bad.  Righteous or wicked, it rains on us all. The poetry is full of sorrow.   Wail, beat your breast…  When mankind turns from its Creator it is a time of sorrow.  When life is terminated on this land where we live, it is cause for sorrow, wailing, beating our breast, groaning.  Look again at the nature of God.  He is expressing judgment but with that, sorrow; sorrow that runs deep over all creation suffering for their willful ways.

Take away:  Could it be that when the warning went out from Ezekiel, those who were righteous were given opportunity to leave a wicked place?  Like Lot were they given a chance to go to a place where God’s judgment would not be, but where they could worship him as he wished?  Just a thought and couple of questions.  We have eternal redemption.  We may be caught up in the consequences of the evil around us, but it doesn’t end there.  We have the promise that Christ, who also suffered for our sins, our willful ways, will walk with us through those times of sorrow and suffering.  That is our faith, he will never leave us nor forsake us.  He carries us, comforts us, leads us.  He knows our sorrows, they are not alien to him.  Evil must be judged and we may get caught in the judgment that falls, but we are not alone and this life is only temporary.  We do not have to stay in a place that practices evil.  Are we being warned?

I can’t get no satisfaction…

Ezekiel 23:1-21

The word of the LORD came again to me, saying:

2 ​​“Son of man, there were two women,

​​The daughters of one mother.

3 ​​They committed harlotry in Egypt,

​​They committed harlotry in their youth;

​​Their breasts were there embraced,

​​Their virgin bosom was there pressed.

4 ​​Their names: Oholah [fn1] the elder and Oholibah [fn2] her sister;

​​They were Mine,

​​And they bore sons and daughters.

​​As for their names,

​​Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah.

 

5 ​​“Oholah played the harlot even though she was Mine;

​​And she lusted for her lovers, the neighboring Assyrians,

6 ​​Who were clothed in purple,

​​Captains and rulers,

​​All of them desirable young men,

​​Horsemen riding on horses.

7 ​​Thus she committed her harlotry with them,

​​All of them choice men of Assyria;

​​And with all for whom she lusted,

​​With all their idols, she defiled herself.

8 ​​She has never given up her harlotry brought from Egypt,

​​For in her youth they had lain with her,

​​Pressed her virgin bosom,

​​And poured out their immorality upon her.

9 ​​“Therefore I have delivered her

​​Into the hand of her lovers,

​​Into the hand of the Assyrians,

​​For whom she lusted.

10 ​​They uncovered her nakedness,

​​Took away her sons and daughters,

​​And slew her with the sword;

​​She became a byword among women,

​​For they had executed judgment on her.

 

11 “Now although her sister Oholibah saw this, she became more corrupt in her lust than she, and in her harlotry more corrupt than her sister’s harlotry.

12 ​​“She lusted for the neighboring Assyrians,

​​Captains and rulers,

​​Clothed most gorgeously,

​​Horsemen riding on horses,

​​All of them desirable young men.

13 ​​Then I saw that she was defiled;

​​Both took the same way.

14 ​​But she increased her harlotry;

​​She looked at men portrayed on the wall,

​​Images of Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion,

15 ​​Girded with belts around their waists,

​​Flowing turbans on their heads,

​​All of them looking like captains,

​​In the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea,

​​The land of their nativity.

16 ​​As soon as her eyes saw them,

​​She lusted for them

​​And sent messengers to them in Chaldea.

17 ​​“Then the Babylonians came to her, into the bed of love,

​​And they defiled her with their immorality;

​​So she was defiled by them, and alienated herself from them.

18 ​​She revealed her harlotry and uncovered her nakedness.

​​Then I alienated Myself from her,

​​As I had alienated Myself from her sister.

19 ​​“Yet she multiplied her harlotry

​​In calling to remembrance the days of her youth,

​​When she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt.

20 ​​For she lusted for her paramours,

​​Whose flesh is like the flesh of donkeys,

​​And whose issue is like the issue of horses.

21 ​​Thus you called to remembrance the lewdness of your youth,

​​When the Egyptians pressed your bosom

​​Because of your youthful breasts.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=23&v=1&t=NKJVP>

What imagery!  The underlying issue is unfaithfulness, dissatisfaction, leaving a first love for another, looking after greener pastures, giving into a hedonistic lifestyle.  Could we say these are all anti-God desires?  The emphasis is on self and “what I want” rather than an outward focus on others and the Lord.  The results are disappointment, dissatisfaction, destruction, death.  Take away is be warned and always alert to our focus.  There is death apart from God; but there is life in God.  We do not need to look elsewhere for satisfaction; it doesn’t get any better than this life with Christ.  The grass is not greener elsewhere for there is poison hidden in that grass.  Giving in to the flesh nature does not bring satisfaction; the hunger only grows.  Christ is the only spiritual food that satisfies.