Freedom

Choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

In America, every year July 4th brings with it festivities, fun, food, family and friends, and fireworks—all as a celebration of national freedom.  But even with all the celebrating and fun, many Americans are still caught in the web of bondage on a mental, emotional, relational, financial, vocational or spiritual level.  Most often, we ourselves create the chains that bind us by making poor or sinful choices.

The longer I live, the more convinced I am that life is a series of choices, each choice has a consequence, and we must live with the consequences of our choices.  In order to have true freedom in your life, then, you must make wise choices.

Will you choose good over evil (Psalm 34:14; Romans 12:21)?  Obedience over rebellion (Proverbs 10:8; Hebrews 13:17)?  Truth over deceit (Colossians 3:9; Proverbs 12:22)? Kindness over dishonor (Ephesians 4:32; Proverbs 14:2)?  Every day you make hundreds of choices and these form the basis for your lifestyle.

Seek God’s wisdom in all of your decisions, not the wisdom of the world, the flesh or the devil (James 3:17).  Take the sometimes difficult step of saying, “I’ll do it God’s way!” even though it may mean avoiding the easy road.  In the long run, the freedom that comes with making godly choices is definitely something to celebrate!

Things to Ponder

from Tim Hudson,
former UGA Campus Minister

Before making any decision, be sure you can live with the consequences. Wise people ask themselves, “Do I have what it takes to handle this? If I can barely cope now, how will I handle more?”

Proverbs 13:20 “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise:”

Before God builds up the ministry He builds up the person, because added success brings added pressure. If success makes you unavailable to God and your family, it is not success, it is failure.

Get rid of the myth that you can do anything if you just put your mind to it. Dogs can walk on their hind legs, but is is not their calling. Be honest with yourself. Do well what you do well and help find others to do well the other stuff that needs doing. Learn to delegate, that is the path of the wise!

Time is our most valuable and limited resource; we do not have any to waste. If the return is not greater that the investment, it is not worth the time. Wasted time is the leading cause of failure, so get away from people and habits that waste your time. Become more focused and goal-oriented.

Live every day as though it were your last—it might be!

Survive in order to thrive. Let nothing take you out: “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5)

Survive today—thrive tomorrow, and each day with God on your side, go on to greater things.

Friday Funnies

Cranky Beautician Arguing with her Customer

A woman came into the beauty shop one day to get her hair fixed.  Her beautician was noted to always be complaining about most everything.  The customer stated that she was planning on leaving for Rome in a few days.

Beautician: Rome…Rome…Why that is one of the dirtiest cities you could ever go. How are you going to get there?

Customer: We are flying Continental Airlines.

Beautician: Continental…They are the worst airline! And they have the ugliest hostesses. Where are you staying?

Customer: We are staying in the Villa.

Beautician: Villa…Villa! Why that is so overrated and way too expensive. I wouldn’t stay there if I were you. What are you going to see?

Customer: We are planning on seeing the Pope.

Beautician: Why girl, you would be lucky to even see him from long distance. Don’t you know everyone wants to be around him. You won’t be able to get within a mile of him.

A month went by and the customer went back to the beautician, hoping to break her of her bad habits. The beautician asked her what she has been doing and the customer replied that she had just got back from Rome.

Beautician: Rome…I bet your flight was bad.

Customer: No, the flight was great. They had actually overbooked the flights and gave us first class seating and fed us steaks all the way to Rome. And our hostess was the most handsome man I had ever seen!

Beautician: Well. What about the Villa?

Customer: Funny you should ask. The Villa had just completed a $5 million restoration. They were also overbooked and we were forced to stay in the owner’s personal villa. Wow! The accommodations, the service, we had everything, we lived like kings!

Beautician: Well…what about the Pope?

Customer: We took the tour to the Vatican. One of the guards taped us on the shoulder and stated, “The Pope often entertains a few people now and then, would like to have a personal visit with the Pope?”

Beautician: I can’t believe that. What did the Pope say?

Customer: He took one look at me and asked, “That’s the worst hair-do I had ever seen! Who fixed your hair?”

COURT
Lawyers should never ask a Southern grandma a question if they aren’t prepared for the answer. In a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand.
He approached her and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?”

She responded, “Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.”

The lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?”

She again replied, “Why, yes, I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He’s lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can’t build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.”

The defense attorney almost died.

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, “If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I’ll send you to the electric chair.

Bible Study

PRAISES FROM A  MULTITUDE Revelation 7:9-17

As, we continue to move through the book of the Revelation, we are in the middle of a parenthetical passage. Chapter seven is inserted into the narrative to allow us to catch a glimpse of the grace of God at work during the most horrible time earth has ever known.

      In our last study, we saw the Lord redeem 144,000 Jewish men. These men were sent out into the entire world to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to all nations. In this passage, we will see the fruits of their preaching, as a vast multitude is brought to faith in Jesus Christ and is delivered out of the Great Tribulation.

      It comforts my heart to know that the Rapture of the church does not spell the end of people being saved. I praise the Lord that He intends to redeem a multitude that no man could number during the dark years of the Tribulation Period. This passage reveals the heart of our great God. It is in His heart and plan to save sinners, and He is going to do just that during the Tribulation.

      The Bible is clear that Jesus Christ came into this world for the sole purpose of saving sinners from their sins, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15. It is also clear that God intends to save every person who will turn to Jesus by faith, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,” John 6:37. Here is God’s promise to His elect, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9. That is the heartbeat of God and it can be heard in the verses before us today.

      Let’s go back into the heart of the tribulation period and rejoin John in his vision of that terrible time. In these verses, we are going to learn about a vast multitude of redeemed saints, and we are going to get a glimpse into glory as the curtain is pulled back just a little.

  

I.  v. 9-12   A PORTRAIT OF THIS MULTITUDE

A.  v. 9  How They Are Shown – Reading John’s description of this multitude reveals a number of things about who these people are.

1.  Their Number – They are described as “a multitude which no man could number.” They are a group of people so vast that John makes no attempt at all to declare their number. What a wonderful image of the grace of God.

      On the Day of Pentecost, 3,000 souls were saved, Acts 2:41. Some time later, 5,000 were saved on one occasion, Acts 4:4. We are also told that God “added daily to the church such as should be saved”, Acts 2:47.  I read that and I am amazed at His saving power! But wait, about 1,000,000 were saved in Nineveh when the entire city repented and turned to faith in God, Jonah 3:5-10. Praise God for His saving grace. Even more amazing than that is the story of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Over 1,000,000 were saved by grace when they placed the blood on the doorposts of their houses by faith, Ex. 12.

      All of these great demonstrations of the powerful, saving grace of God pale in comparison to what He will do during the Tribulation Period! God will save a multitude that will number in the millions! This representation is in strong contrast with a very common opinion that only a few will be saved.

2.  Their Nationalities – We are told that they come from “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues”. Here is a multitude that knows no racial, economic, social, or national distinctions. The Gospel has been preached worldwide, without respect to any people group and a vast multitude is saved. They are Gentiles and they have been saved by grace. In the first  verses of this chapter, God dealt with Jews. Now, He extends His grace to the Gentile nations of the world. 

3.  Their Nature – Some people look at this multitude and see the church. This multitude is not the church! First, they are “standing”. When the church is shown in Heaven, they are sitting, Rev. 4:4. Second, this crowd was saved out of “Great Tribulation”, v. 14. The church will be saved from that terrible time of wrath and judgment, 1 Thes. 1:10b “which delivered us from the wrath to come.”; Rom. 5:9 “ being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”                             

While they are not the church, their appearance and condition in Heaven is clearly described.

(1).  They Are Virtuous – They are “clothed with white robes”. This is always a picture of righteousness in the Bible. These people are saved by grace and they have been rendered righteous. That is the promise of God to all who will come to Jesus Christ by faith, 1 John 1:7 “ the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”; Isa. 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”. He is in the saving and cleansing business! 

(2).  They Are Victorious – These redeemed saints have palm branches in their hands. Palms are a symbol of victory. The crowds waved palm branches and placed them in the road as Jesus entered Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, John 12:13. These saints are celebrating the great victory that was given to them over sin, Satan and the power of the Antichrist. They have overcome and they enjoy the spoils of the victory they have been given.

B.  v. 10  What They Shout – These saints lift their voices in an anthem of praise to their Redeemer for His redemption. They know that they are in Heaven for one reason and for one reason only. They are there because of the grace of God and the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. They praise Him for His great grace!

C.  v. 11-12  What They Stimulate – When the angelic host around the throne of God witness the unbridled praise of this redeemed multitude, they join their voices with them in praise to God. The shouts of the multitude inspire the angels to praise the Lord too. Imagine the sound of millions of voices joined together in an anthem of praise.

      Now, the angels lift their voices and cry “Amen!” Thus, they add their agreement to the praises of the redeemed. They add a seven-fold statement of glory to God and praise Him for Who He is and for what He does. They know what they have said is true, so they close their statement of praise with another “Amen!”

      The angels cannot praise God for salvation, for they have never known the depths of sin. But, these angels have seen the love of God in action as He went about the business of saving lost humans. They marveled as they watched as their Creator, the Lord Jesus, died on Calvary to save people who despised Him. Praising God for salvation is a human privilege

 

 I.  The Portrait Of This Multitude

 II.  v. 13-14  THE RANSOM OF THIS MULTITUDE

As John watches this powerful scene, one of the elders approaches him and asks John about the identity of this vast throng of people. John declares his ignorance of their identity and petitions the elder to tell him who they are. He proceeds to do just that.

A.  The Ministry Of Their Deliverance – John is told that these are people who “came out of great tribulation.” These people have been living through the horrors of the Tribulations Period. But, even during that time of intense wrath and judgment, there is a ray of light as the amazing, boundless grace of God reaches down to touch a vast multitude of lost souls.

B.  The Method Of Their Deliverance – These people were saved the same way people have always been, and will always be, saved: by grace through faith, Eph. 2:8-9. We are told that they “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  This simple statement reveals a profound truth: God only has one method of salvation.

      Whether it was Adam and Eve in the Garden; Abel with his sacrifice; Abraham and his ram; Israel and the sacrifices of the Tabernacle and the Temple; salvation in the Old Testament was through the blood of the Lamb. When they shed the blood of an innocent animal to atone for their sins, they were looking ahead to the day when God would send the perfect sacrifice that would take away sin forever. Those Old Testament saints were saved by looking forward to Calvary. When Jesus came and went to the cross, He accomplished what millions of animal sacrifices could only picture. When Jesus dies, He obtained eternal salvation for all who will believe on Him, Heb. 10:10-14; 9:28.

      Those of us on this side of the cross are saved by looking back to what Jesus did at the cross and realizing that His death and resurrection are all that is needed to our salvation. When we trust Him by faith, we are eternally saved, Rom. 10:9-10. even in the midst of Great Tribulation, souls will be saved by the simple preaching of a simple Gospel. Here it is once again: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”, 1 Cor. 15:3-4.

 

I.  The Portrait Of This Multitude II.  The Ransom Of This Multitude

III.  v. 15-17  THE FATE OF THIS MULTITUDE

A.  They Are Destined To A Heavenly Presence – We are told in verse 15 that this multitude finds themselves at home in Heaven in the presence of Almighty God. Their days of suffering and sorrow have ended and they have arrived in glory. They are no longer separated from the Lord by distance, by sin or by time. They are home with Him and they are there to stay!

      Notice where they are! Because they have been redeemed and cleansed, they are allowed to stand in the presence of God! This was unheard of in Old Testament times. In the Temple there was a place called the “Court of the Gentiles”. This was the outer court of the Temple and non-Jews were not allowed to go any deeper into the Temple complex that this outer court. To do so brought a Gentile under the penalty of death.

      When Jesus died, the veil in the Temple was ripped down the middle, Matt. 27:51. This signified the fact that all men had equal access to God. These redeemed Gentiles are brought into the very presence of God.

            Their present condition must make Satan livid with rage! Verse 14 tells us that they “came out of great tribulation”. These people are in Heaven because they were martyred for their faith in Jesus and for their refusal to embrace the Antichrist and their king and as their god. The worst thing Satan could do to these people was to kill them, and it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to them. They gave up the pain and sorrow of a world gone made for the safety and joy of an eternity in the presence of God!

B.  They Are Destined To A Heavenly Profession – The Bible says they will “serve Him day and night in His temple”. This joyous, redeemed multitude is in the presence of God. They will spend their eternity carrying out His will as they serve Him, worship Him and bask in His presence. 

C.  They Are Destined To Heavenly Provisions – Now, remember, these saints were saved out of the Tribulation Period. They had been saved, but they had also suffered with everyone else on earth. Just because they turned to the Lord does not mean that they were sheltered from the horrors of those days. In fact, their faith in Jesus Christ might have made their lives even more miserable here on earth. Remember, the book of Revelation is not in chronological order. We are seeing people who are martyred throughout the years of Tribulation. We are told several things about their past and about what they can anticipate in Heaven.

·         They will hunger no more – Remember the famines we talked about in Rev. 6:5-6? We are also told that Antichrist will require people to wear a mark in their bodies before they can buy or sell, Rev. 13:16-18. Because of their faith, they will refuse the mark and will go hungry. The Bible also says that their refusal to wear the mark will be a death warrant to them, Rev. 13:15. But, we are told that in Heaven, the Lamb will feed them! There will be no more hunger in glory. They are home and they will be well cared for!

·         They will thirst no more – We are told that the waters of the earth will turn to blood and be unfit to drink during the Tribulation, Rev. 8:8; 11. As a result, the people of earth will be thirsty. But, in Heaven, they are led to fountains of living water by the Lamb. They are satisfied there.

·         They will suffer no more – The references to the sun and the heat remind us that the Tribulation Period will be a period of intense physical suffering, and the redeemed saints of God will not be immune from the effects of God’s judgments upon nature. In Rev. 16:8-10, the intensity of the sun will be greatly increased causing dehydrated men great pain and suffering. They will literally chew their tongues in their pain and agony. But, in Heaven, none of the things that hurt them on earth will be allowed to follow them there.

·         They will weep no more – Imagine all they have seen and suffered because of their faith. Their hearts have been broken and their eyes wet with tears even as they gave their all for Jesus Christ. But, the Lamb of God will wipe away the tears of their suffering and sorrow. He will comfort them and give them rest, peace and blessing.

·         By the way, these blessings are ours as well, Rev. 21-22!

Victory Baptist Church 26 June 2019 victory palmetto.com

Wade’s Wednesday

When Burdens Seem Unbearable

By Charles Stanley

Psalm 13:1-6

Which is more influential in your life—circumstances or your perspective? Although we may long for a pleasant life filled with abundance, comfort, and good experiences, the reality is that we live in a fallen world. Almost nothing is as it should be, but the way we perceive life’s hardships and burdens depends largely on our perspective.

For example, when we are overburdened, the world might look dark even when the sun is shining. The birds may be singing, but all we hear are the sorrowful cries of our own heart. The burdens seem so overwhelming that we may even distance ourselves from others, yet that only encourages us to dwell even more on our problems and leads us further into despair.

But when we open the book of Psalms, the words penetrate our bleak circumstances, inviting us to draw near and find rest in the Lord. How gracious of Him to give us this amazing book of comfort. But greater still are the lessons we learn from it.

[In Psalm 13 we find that] David is weighed down with burdens. He asks, “How long?” Have you ever felt like that? He describes his troubles and pleads for an answer, but by the end of the psalm, his perspective shifts when he remembers that God is trustworthy.

If you feel as if you’re bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders, stop and look up to your heavenly Father. Remember a time in the past when God carried you through hard circumstances, and rejoice in His steadfast faithfulness. He didn’t fail you then, and He will not fail you now.

Tuesday With Karen

The Beauty Of God’s Hand

The beauty of God’s hand is seen in so many ways,
From sunrise to the sunset, the rainbow after the rain;
The moon & stars in the night allow His glory to shine,
There’s nothing more beautiful than His work divine.

The beauty of God’s hand is heard by the birds who sing,
They, cause the valleys and mountaintops to have a glorious ring;
From the smallest creature to the mighty & great,
It shows His sweet majesty in all that He creates.

The beauty of God’s hand is seen in the ocean’s roll,
Also, with the winds and waves He so wisely controls;
From tidal waves at night to the shells upon the beach,
Everything from His hand is so glorious to see.

The beauty of God’s hand is moving in our life everyday,
He always leads & guides every step on the path we take;
There is nothing more precious or gracious in man,
Than the glory we see in the beauty of God’s hand!

 

Commandment

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:”  Deuteronomy 6:4-6
 
Since Jesus gave His life to die for our sin we are no longer under the law of the Old Testament, but Jesus repeats this commandment in the New Testament as the first and greatest commandment.  “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” (Mark 12:28-30)  These words are as true today as they were when Moses said them, and as important as when Christ said them.  Our love for God should have priority in our lives, above all else.  How much do we love the Lord our God?  If our love was measured by the amount of time we spend reading His Word and talking with Him in prayer, how would we measure up?  Can those around us see the love of God shining through our lives?  Do we love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and all our strength?  That covers all aspects of our lives.  Think of the best friend you have on earth.  Now, would that person still consider you a best friend if you treated him or her as you treat God?  

Pilgrims

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country… now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”  Hebrews 11:13-16
 
We have a dear preacher friend, who for many years has called us “pilgrims”.  When we read these verses in Hebrews, we see that we really are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”  We journey here on earth for only a short time.  John 14:2 & 3 are very familiar verses to many, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  We just came back from a summer vacation.  It is fun to visit another place for a short while.  I want us to think about some of the places mentioned in the Bible.  As pilgrims, we can keep a vacation journal and take little visits to some of these places.  And then, when our work on earth is done, we will go to our new heavenly home that Christ has prepared for us.  

I Know

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know
“14  For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21
 
Paul’s prayer for the believers at Ephesus was that they might know “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,…”   God’s Word tells us to know the extent of His love, but His love passes our knowledge.  The most familiar verse in the Bible tells us of God’s amazing love.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  (John 3:16)   For many this verse was embedded in memory many years ago and God can bring it front and center to remind us of His great love.  Many more learned of God’s love as babies with this little song by William B. Bradbury.
“Jesus loves me! this I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
The Bible tells me so.”
You may have sung this song as a child.  Can you still sing with assurance today, “Jesus loves me! this I know”?

Friday Funnies

BEST FRIENDS

Best of friends, Rabbi Schwartz and Father O’Malley were at a diner enjoying lunch. Father O’Malley put down his ham and cheese sandwich and commented, “This sandwich is so good! Kosher dietary restrictions made sense in ancient times, but when are you going to join the modern age and eat delicious, wholesome food like this?   Without missing a beat, Rabbi Schwartz replied, “At your wedding.”

HERE IS YOUR SIGN

The A priest and a pastor stood near a sharp curve on a busy road holding signs. “The end is near!” read the priest’s sign, while the pastor’s warned, “Turn around before it’s too late!”   As he passed by, a man in a sports car yelled “Idiots!” and shook his head. Then he blasted his horn, raised one finger and stomped on the gas. Moments later the clerics heard the sound of screeching tires, followed by a big splash.   The priest turned to the pastor and said, “Maybe we should change our signs to ‘Bridge Out’.”

AT THE PEARLY GATE

A man appeared before St. Peter at the pearly gates. “Have you ever done anything of particular merit?” St. Peter asked.

“Well,” the man said, “once I came upon a gang of bikers who were threatening a young woman. I approached the largest and most heavily tattooed biker and smacked him on the head, kicked over his bike, ripped out his nose ring, and threw it on the ground. ‘Now leave her alone!’ I yelled.””    St. Peter was impressed: “When did this happen?”   “Just a couple of minutes ago.”