Apr 19

3 Reasons to Study Revelation NOW

The time is NOW to study Revelation

Like the spare room cluttered with stuff, needing to be organized, Revelation is this room. We shut the door and promise to deal with it later. Revelation is easy to find and we know the topic is about the end of days, but still we avoid it. Some people avoid it because it seems scary while others can’t be bothered deciphering the symbolism, disasters, seals, bowls and weird creatures.

To me, the book gives the aura of mystery and symbolism that many theologians and authors have twisted it into something complicated, making it too hard to fully understand. That is, until I stumbled on a Bible teacher who has a passion for the Word like none I’ve seen before.

The ministry is called Thru the Bible and is founded by the late pastor Dr. J. Vernon McGee. His radio ministry desires to share the Word of God with the nations. In a 5-year plan, you can listen to Dr. McGee discuss every chapter of the Bible. The people at Thru the Bible have taken his radio messages and transcribed them into books. For some reason, these transcripts helped me learn better than the spoken word. Maybe it’s because I could see and better understand his teachings and then go over it again and again. Regardless, his teachings give me confidence and a better understanding of Revelation. Dr. McGee knows the Bible! While I learned a tremendous amount from his teachings on Jeremiah, Genesis and Matthew, I was blown away when I studied Revelation. Here’s why…

Dr. McGee states that Revelation is the EASIEST and most ORGANIZED book of the Bible?!

I have never heard anyone state this before. He says the apostle John is very clear in the text. Where John is recalling what he is seeing we are to take him literally and when John wants us to look at things symbolically, he uses the word “like” or “as”. And unlike the book of Jeremiah, Revelation is in chronological order.

The Church is raptured before the Tribulation

Here is another aspect that blew my mind…you know the debate of when the church will be raptured, is it before of after the Tribulation? With Dr. McGee, there is no debate. The church is mentioned up to chapter 3 and then no more until the end. Why? We are gone, taken to heaven. John does not explicitly say it but this lines up with God’s character. God never pours out His wrath on His bride. Sure, we get punished for bad behavior, but not like this. Look at Noah or even the Babylonian captivity recounted in Jeremiah and played out in Daniel. That “captivity” was God’s protection (Jeremiah 24). Those who stayed behind were destroyed. After Revelation 3, the only “church” left is the apostate church. Apostate is a fancy word that means turned away, particularly from one’s faith. Many of our friends and family will be left behind because they do not have a relationship with Jesus! You cannot be Christian merely by association or by doing good and godly things. We know this yet many people we think are saved are not.

WARNING: We need to know our ENTIRE Bible before we study Revelation.

Dr. McGee warns not to study Revelation unless you have a good working knowledge of the other 65 books. Revelation is the culmination of everything and often refers to passages found elsewhere in the Bible. I agree with this warning but add a little more. It is also helpful to know a little about Jewish religious feasts. Jews celebrate 7 times throughout the year: 4 in spring and 3 in fall. These are mandatory times of remembrance and celebration. When the Temple was around, they were required to travel to Jerusalem for the adherence 3 times a year. Those feasts with travel include Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles.

What’s the Jesus connection?

Christ’s death, burial and resurrection coincide with Passover, Feasts of Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits respectively. The Holy Spirit comes on the Feast of Weeks. The Rapture, Great White Throne of Judgement and Eternity line up with the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and Tabernacles respectively.

The events of Revelation are not something a young believer would understand or appreciate. Many of us are guilty of focusing on only the New Testament and especially the “red letter” passages of the Gospels. Christ’s story is woven through the entire work of the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. Authors like Nancy Guthrie have done a good job of teaching this. My ladies’ group has done several of her studies. The ladies are always surprised to see Jesus in the “white spaces” of the Old Testament. Throughout the Bible we see shadowing and word pictures of what is to be fulfilled in Christ. Jesus constantly refers to Old Testament passages. They lose their significance if we don’t study those parts of our Bible too.

The end of God’s story concludes with Christ the victor. Both death and Satan defeated. Many of our friends and loved ones are also condemned and separated from God for all of eternity.

Reasons to study Revelation NOW:

1) Events appear to be lining up.

No one can deny we have the technology to carry out the events seen in Revelation. China is working on prohibiting buying or selling if you do not have a certain social score. Some European countries are beta testing implantable microchips for employees. Facebook recently purchased a government ID tracking software. Plus, there is no denying the push for one world government and currencies. Can anybody say Bitcoin?

Within a generation, white Europeans will be outnumbered by Muslim Europeans.White Europeans are in a negative population growth while Muslim women have many children each. The Middle East and Europe are destined to become one in the very near future.

In the US, the darkness and degradation are at new lows. Have you seen the Fred Rogers documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? If we see a man with Fred Roger’s mannerisms, soft spoken, love for children, kind and gentle soul, we would question his intentions, wouldn’t we? Fred Rogers was a devout follower of Christ who lived out his ministry in the secular realm, sharing love and acceptance to all children. Any other man desiring to be around young children must have an ulterior motive, right? He’s a sick perv. Nope. In the 1960s and 1970s, there wasn’t as great deal of a sexual perversion like it is now.

It is now legal to kill babies at any time during gestation, including once it is delivered. Sex with children will be just as commonplace as homosexual relations. People are born this way after all. Don’t believe me? There are a subculture of men who openly admit to only admiring these youngsters. Have you ever heard of NAMBLA (National Man Boy Love Association)? I remember back in college in the early 1990s joking about this group. A gay friend followed them and would tell us they were known for having Will Wheaton sightings. At the time, Will Wheaton was a child actor on Star Trek Next Generation. Apparently, NAMBLA members put Wheaton on their hot list. Disgusting. Like a frog in a pot that slowly begins to boil, we forget how far we have fallen in our depravity until we turn around and remember what our culture used to be like. Right now in the state of New York, it’s a greater crime to be racist than to kill your unborn child in a fit of rage. God have mercy on our souls.

2) The message is imperative.

Do you “cheat” and read the end of the novel to see how it all works out? It can be relaxing knowing that the characters will be OK even though they are going through turmoil at the time. The same is true for us. Since I studied Revelation, I feel more at ease about the craziness of this life, because I know Who wins!

Stop reading the Bible and the stories about Jesus as if they were fiction. Spend some time on them, letting it sink in, this is truth! I remember over 12 years ago when I had this a-ha moment. It was when I first began studying the Jewish feasts, I began to realize God was real. Might sound stupid or silly but I can recall saying it over and over again…God is real, God is real. At the time, I had been a Christian for 10 years. I felt guilty of seeing Jesus as a story book character instead of God, King, and ruler of the universe!

Understanding Revelation makes me pray for other’s salvation. This should be our number 1 priority. Eternity without God is unbearable. Story lines like NBC’s the Good Place serve only to deceive us into thinking we all go heaven. Those outside of Christ’s righteousness will be cast into oppressive darkness and finally the lake of fire. This is the same lake of fire that is reserved for the Antichrist and Satan.

Dr. McGee says people want to be judged by God. They want to see if their good outweighs their bad. Unfortunately, God demands perfection if we come on our own merit. Since none of us have that to offer, the punishment is very clear: eternal separation. Eternal, forever. Oppressive darkness in a place that is real, not made up.

3) Helps us focus on what is important.

After studying Revelation, I can’t help but daydream about eternity. The small and insignificant things of this world don’t stack up. I care less and less about status, stuff, accolades, etc. None of it matters. It’s all fleeting, temporary and nothing compares to the riches that await me in eternity!

A side effect of studying Revelation is increased prayer for lost loved ones. How often are you concerned with the salvation of others? We will enjoy the bounty of never-ending peace and joy. Those who do not have a relationship with God will be judged and then cast out for ALL ETERNITY to a place of oppressive darkness, pain and torture. WAKE UP! This is real. Heaven is real; Hell is real!! TV shows like the Good Place, Touched By an Angel, and Ghost Whisperer all lead you to believe that we all go to some magical place of light when we die. It’s not true.

God is loving but His grace and mercy have a shelf life, a time limit. I’ve been drawn to Isaiah 55:6-7: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his ways and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord and he will find mercy, and to our God for He will freely pardon.” The mercy of our God does not last forever. The fullness of time will come, and He will seek justice and unleash His wrath on all mankind. We like to think of God as loving but forget He is also holy. His holiness cannot be near our unrighteousness–it’s why we need to be covered with the blood of Jesus. For us,  there is no judgement, only reward. But for those who choose to stand on their own merit, they will be judged at the end of days.

This parallels the Jewish feast known as the Day of Atonement. Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Dr. McGee writes something peculiar to me. He says man wants to be judged by God. We want to stand before God and have our good and bad placed on scales to determine our entrance into paradise. What most people fail to realize is that God has an impossible standard. His acceptance is based on perfection. If we miss the mark, even by a little, we cannot enter His presence.

Hell is a real place. Make no mistake of it. Many people as well as many learned Bible teachers have claimed hell to be either a place outside the gates of Jerusalem where trash was burned or simply made up. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 assures us that everlasting punishment is real.

Revelation goes into great detail to assure us that hell is where the Antichrist, false prophet, and eventually Satan will be cast. God created hell for them, not for us. Unfortunately, man sinned and lost his ability to be in relationship with God. Our Savior is a gentleman and does not force Himself on anyone. We either choose it or not. Islam, the religion of Satan, is not like that. In Muslim countries, 90%+ follow the faith. The very name, Islam, means submission. There is no freedom, no choice, only submission.

Here’s the bottom line…I know it can be difficult to believe the fantastic events of Revelation. Rest assured, they will all come to pass just as John foretold. Here’s why. God has a 100% track record on predicting the future. Recall the numerous prophesies regarding the birth and death of Jesus? They all came true! God is a God or order. The death, burial and resurrection align with Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and the Feast of Weeks. I highly encourage you to study the fall feasts. The next one is the Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah.

Don’t be afraid

Remember God has not given us a spirit of fear! Perfect love casts out fear! Before you start worrying about the what if’s of the future, remember how God has provided and protected you in the past. For me, it was Snowpocalypse here in Atlanta. The entire town went to work and then decided to leave early because of a bad snow storm. Roads were jammed like never before. It took commuters 5-12 hours to get home. Some never made it. Cars were left on the roadsides, abandoned everywhere! I was downtown at the time. Took me 5 hours to drive to my sister-in-law’s place. It’s a drive that should take 20 minutes. My biggest fears: running out of gas, no food or water, having to go to the bathroom and being stuck in traffic. God took care of EVERYTHING! Found a bathroom downtown at the only convenience store in all of downtown. Not only did I not have to wait, there was toilet paper! Had a stash of snacks and water in the car and safely made it to a gas station despite skidding out a couple of times. I narrowly made it to the drug store to get saline for my contacts. The store closed shortly after I arrived. For 2 days, I was a refugee with my sister-in-law. God provided food, safety and shelter for me. Whenever I start to worry about the impending destruction, I remember this story.

Find comfort in words from God found in Psalm 91. It’s said every evening by Jews in their bedtime prayers.

Feb 26

3 Reasons NOT to Pray

prayHave you prayed today? Why? Is it because you ought to or because you want to? Is it because you WANT something? What if it were true there are 3 reasons not to pray–legitimate ones? Remember that the Christian life is all about FREEDOM! The old covenant was all about rules and regulations, 613 to be exact. Following those rules was how people showed love and devotion to God. We should still follow some of those rules like the familiar ones in the 10 Commandments because they keep us safe and give blessings. Thankfully we don’t have to follow rules like milk and meat don’t touch. Many of us would be heartbroken to think that eating a cheeseburger could hamper our Christian walk! But what are these 3 reasons not to pray?

  1. God knows what we need before we ask. Matthew 6:8 Are you kidding me? Jesus made this statement in the section about the Lord’s Prayer. You might have missed that phrase in verse 8. Jesus was setting up the model of how we ought to pray. So why would He make a statement like the one in verse 8 and then show us how to pray?
    1. Prayer expresses our trust in Him. While we don’t need to pray, we get to pray. When we cry out to God, we are showing we trust Him with our lives and not merely saying it. We are showing we genuinely trust God, His wisdom, His plan, His sovereignty over our lives.
    2. Fellowship with God. Can you believe the God of the universe wants to be your friend? Prayer is the vehicle by which we can have this friendship with Him. But prayer needs to be more that just a quick sentence or two in the morning or before a meal, it should be an ongoing dialogue throughout the day. He’s always with us. Don’t shut Him out!
    3. He allows us to be involved in eternally significant activities. Wow! Have you ever stopped to think about that? I’m thinking about when we pray for someone struggling whether physically or spiritually. We are fighting for that person’s very soul! Doing battle in the heavenlies! Have you ever read This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti? He does an excellent job at portraying what happens in the spiritual realm when Christians pray. It’s like our prayers empower the angels to fight for good! This is what our prayers do–push back the enemy!!
  2. Get out of Jail free. Is this the way you see prayer? A cry when nothing else works but then you turn away again when life settles down. In the book of Revelation, we are warned about being this type of follower of Christ. They are called lukewarm followers, not hot and not cold. In Revelation 3:16 it says Jesus will vomit those types of believers out. Ouch! Verse 17 shows these lukewarm followers are wealthy, in need of nothing physically. Sounds like most Americans doesn’t it? But Jesus’ response in verse 17 is to say, “hey, you think you have it all but in reality you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.” Jesus is looking at us spiritually. At the end of days, all will be burned. Only that which withstands the fire will be proven worthy and will last. Revelation 3:18-21  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
  3. Study and not prayer is the highest form of worship. When we pray we speak to God. When we study God speaks to us. This is one of my favorite quotes from the book Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus by Ann Spangler. In my own prayer life, I’ve stopped by endless cries. The Holy Spirit has convicted my heart that when I constantly pray about a particular unpleasant situation in my life, it is like being in a conversation with someone who has diarrhea of the mouth! Point 1 says God knows what I need before I utter the prayer. Every once in awhile I gently offer it up in prayer but I don’t harp on it like I used to.
    1. The Bible is God speaking to us. Isn’t that what we really want to know? What does Jesus say about a particular situation. So many times the answer we seek is for God to take the hurt and difficulty away.
    2. Read this excerpt from Hebrews 12…In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

      “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
          and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
      because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
          and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]

      Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it

Focus on this promise of righteousness and peace that come from being trained by hardship. Jesus, Himself, endured hardship and allowed Himself to be trained by it. If our Lord and Savior did it then so can we. As we push through the pain, lean into the Word, let it become a part of you.

So, if I’ve convinced you there are 3 reasons not to pray, what now? Should we all stop praying? No. But I do believe we need to change how we pray.

I’ve been studying different aspect of Judaism for years now. In the past year, I discovered a book of prayer, one that Jews have used for centuries. It’s called a Siddur, the Jewish book of prayer. In it are all of the prayers Jewish people recite for all types of festivals, blessings, and prayers for all of Jewish life. As I’ve studied the book there are a few things I’ve noticed.

Jewish prayer is about praise and not supplication. In my opinion, 99% of the prayers they utter are in praise and remembrance to God. Only 1% is requests. Now I may be exaggerating a little but the difference is staggering. Jews have been praying in this manner for THOUSANDS OF YEARS. Jesus would have prayed like this. They knew the principle in point 1 that God knows what we need before we ask it. They know that prayer allows us to enter into fellowship with God and shows we trust Him and His plans for us. Prayer i.e. praise–Jehovah Nissi the Lord is my banner. Moses named the altar this after the Amalekites were defeated in Exodus 17. When we praise God, His presence goes before us to fight our battles.


As I read through the Siddur, I’m struck with how much praise they give for every minute detail of their lives. Here’s little tidbit you probably didn’t know. We all know we should say a short prayer of gratitude before we eat a meal. Well, Jews pray before and after a meal! They have a complete and utter desire to praise God in all aspects of their lives, so much so, it is their goal to praise God at least 100 times a day!! If we all spent that much time getting in our praises, there wouldn’t be any time left to send up those whiny prayers for deliverance. God knows what we need before we ask, Matthew 6:8.

Forgive me for calling yours and my typical prayers whinny. It’s harsh, I know, but true unfortunately. When you get to the heart of our typical prayers, we pray because we WORRY. My prayers for deliverance, to make the hurt stop, for salvation for loved ones, for provision, are all wrapped up in worry.

Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Oct 02

Jesus is our Firstfruits

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man,the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23

What in the world is  “firstfruits” and why does it matter? First of all, it should matter to all of us. NO OTHER DAY (EXCEPT PASSOVER) IS MENTIONED AS MANY TIMES IN THE BIBLE. This celebration of the harvest was important, no essential, to the existence of the entire Jewish nation.

 When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the land the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 26:1-4

19 Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God. Exodus 23:19

Under the new covenant of modern Christianity, we are nothttps://i.pinimg.com/originals/02/34/8e/02348edc246f5e7a53f1d4f70d593dd4.jpg expected to bring the first of our harvest before the altar of the Lord. But, understanding what this act of giving our firstfruits, gives a deeper understanding to the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

The choice of the day

In the spring, Jews celebrate several feasts, times of celebration and remembrance. The first one we are all familiar with– Passover. Passover is feast that requires all people to travel to Jerusalem to commemorate God’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. It is celebrated in conjunction with lots of animal sacrifices including the slaughter of perfect lambs that were raised in Bethlehem. Hence the reason one needed to be near the Temple. This is a one day celebration followed by a seven day celebration known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is a time when one does not eat any bread made with yeast. The yeast is a picture of sin in the Bible and it is a remembrance of the Passover story of the bread made in haste with no time to rise. The Feast of Firstfuits is a day that is mandated to be celebrated the day after the Sabbath after Passover. So  if Passover is celebrated on a Wednesday night, the Sabbath is Saturday, and Sunday is Firstfruits. It all gets a little more confusing when you remember that Jewish days actually begin at sunset.

How they celebrated

As people would grow their crops (typically barley), a small amount called an omer, approximately 2.2 liters, was set aside as their firstfruit offering. Men would consider the crops, looking for the best part and tie off a section to use as this offering so as not to damage it. Then on the day of the feast, it alone would be harvested and brought to the priests in the Temple. The priest would wave it before the altar, up and down, and left to right. A small amount of the grain would be thrown into the fire and the rest used to feed the Levites. No produce was eaten until this offering had been given.

Significance for us in Christ

In 1 Corinthians 15 (see above), Paul makes a statement about Jesus being the firstfruit for those who have fallen asleep (died). What does that mean? Well, first we need to look at the day that Jesus rose from the dead. Do you remember which day it was? Yes, it was a Sunday morning. I was raised Southern Baptist and they take pride in celebrating Jesus on that day of the week because that is when Jesus rose from the dead. The hidden message behind why Jesus rose on that day lies in the fact that it coincided with the celebration of the Feast of Firstfuits. See, Jesus died on Passover, at the exact time the lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple. He remained in the grave for those couple of days to wait for the Feast of Firstfruits and then rise! He is the firstfruit, a promise for us of what is to come– life beyond the grave!

15 The first offspring of every womb, both human and animal, that is offered to the Lord is yours. But you must redeem every firstborn son and every firstborn male of unclean animals. 16 When they are a month old, you must redeem them at the redemption price set at five shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. Numbers 18:15-16

But it gets better because there is more to this connection between Jesus and firstfruits. In the Old Testament, Mosaic Law commanded that every firstborn as well as the first of the crops (grain, oil, wine, etc.), belonged to Him. Yes, the firstborn of every Israelite family belonged to God. But, there was a way to ransom this child back. It was a ceremony known as Pidyon Haben, Redemption of the Son. It was possible to redeem the firstborn son out of full-time service to God by paying 5 pieces of silver to the priest. If you recall, it was during this Redemption of the Son ceremony that Jesus was first hailed as Messiah. Read this passage from Luke 2.

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”[b]), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”[c]

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Pidyon Haben, an act that is probably new to most of you, has such deep meaning.

Numbers 3:13 says, ” for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They are to be mine. I am the Lord.”

If you recall, the only way to redeem those first born was…through faith in the covering of the lamb’s blood that was placed on their doorposts. We are all firstborn, all sinners under the curse of Adam, in need of redemption. Redemption can only be found through faith in the sacrifice of our Passover Lamb, Jesus, the firstfruits of eternal life.


The Feasts of the Lord by Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal

A Family Guide to Biblical Holidays by Robin Scarlata and Linda Pierce

Aug 24

The Book of Jeremiah

Where has this book been all my life? Seriously. I have been a serious follower of Jesus for a LONG TIME and have never studied this book. Sure, there’s a couple of passages that are underlined, you know…I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to give you a hope and a future. But why have I never studied the book of Jeremiah until now?!

As I’ve gone through my Christian walk, I’ve leaned heavily on my pastors, teachers and mentors. They share which books are good to study. I remember being encouraged to read a Proverb a day. Who doesn’t love the book of Psalms. Then of course, I’ve studied every book of the New Testament–some several times. I’m a sucker for a great story which is why I’ve read through them all in Genesis, Esther, Ruth, Job, and Jonah. But why has no one ever encouraged me to read the book of Jeremiah?

The Old Testament is confusing at times.

First there’s the names, ugh the names. I only know a handful of people who can ever pronounce them. I asked one of these people and she said she makes it up and says it with confidence. She fooled me! Then it’s the story. I like a story I can follow from beginning to end. What kid doesn’t know the story of Noah? Heck, what non-believer doesn’t know the story of Noah? The biggest stumbling block for me and the Old Testament has been the culture/Jewish religion. So much is implied between the lines. We westerners are not the intended audience which is why so much is left out. For years, I have struggled with understanding those gaps. Today, I feel much more confident but realize there is more out there to learn.

So what if I told you that studying one book could help you better understand 5 other Old Testament books? Would the study of this book be worth the effort? That, my friend, is what the study of the book of Jeremiah gives you! And what are these book? They are Lamentations, Daniel, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. ALL of these books, the story, the plot, the characters, have their foundations in the book of Jeremiah.

Here’s a teaser…

Most of us are familiar with the story of Daniel. The story opens with the tragedy of the best and brightest of Israel being carried off to Babylon against their will. What is left out is that this capture was a result of years of misbehavior on the part of the Jews. Nobody worshiped God anymore. The hills were filled shrines to other gods. Over and over, Jeremiah begged the people to stop the worship of these false gods! As a result, God’s wrath was poured out over His people in the form of Nebuchadnezzar’s army overtaking Jerusalem and carrying away its people.

Read Jeremiah 24

After Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and the officials, the skilled workers and the artisans of Judah were carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Lord showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the temple of the Lord.One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket had very bad figs, so bad they could not be eaten.

Then the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

“Figs,” I answered. “The good ones are very good, but the bad ones are so bad they cannot be eaten.”

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

“‘But like the bad figs, which are so bad they cannot be eaten,’ says the Lord, ‘so will I deal with Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the survivors from Jerusalem, whether they remain in this land or live in Egypt. I will make them abhorrent and an offense to all the kingdoms of the earth, a reproach and a byword, a curse and an object of ridicule, wherever I banish them. 10 I will send the sword, famine and plague against them until they are destroyed from the land I gave to them and their ancestors.’”

It was the Lord’s provision of BLESSING and PROTECTION that they were taken to Babylon. Chew on that for awhile.

Jun 05

What is God’s Plan For Your Life?

this way

Ever wish God’s path for our lives was this easy to find?

What is God’s plan for your life? This is the question millions of people ask themselves. It’s the reason why Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life was a bestseller. Before you can ask what God purpose is for you, I think we need to ask ourselves who God is, His character, His goals.

Do you see God an some all-loving, all-seeing, Santa Claus type character in the sky? Ask and you shall receive… While God is love, He is also a lot more than that. God is holy and perfection is His standard.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Pick up a book or listen to a sermon from any number of famous preachers and you’ll hear this verse taken to the extreme. Many preach the gospel of ease, comfort and pleasure as being God’ goal for our lives. God wants you to have that dream job, dream house, and make lots of money. He wants us to be free from heartache, disappointment and disease. Are you still waiting for your breakthrough? Do you think that if you just keep that positive attitude, God’ going to shower His blessings upon you?

The truth is that God’s goal for your life is not happiness but holiness.   Consider Hebrews 12:7-11. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

We are only true sons and daughters of God when we go through the difficult times because it is during those struggles that we learn how to depend more fully on God. It is when we learn to cling to His word, run to His strong tower, and submit our will to His. My favorite part is the end where it promises a “harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Beware of ANYONE who tickles your ears with fancy words of emotional goodness, puffing you up with false inspiration and hopes of an easy life. Stay clear of emotional hype and sermons with pithy sayings. Instead, surround yourself with humble children of God who you can enter into conversation with, bouncing your concerns and struggles off of. Learn how to become One Body Strong.

Mar 04

In a Crowd of People…Yet Alone. Yes, This is Church

alone_in_a_crowdIn The Friendless American Male,  Larry Richards is reported as saying that “in church we sit together and sing together and greet one another cheerily as we leave at the end of a service. We do all of these things, sometimes for years, without forming any real personal Christian relationships. Our words often seem superficial. The church, therefore, becomes a place where Christians live alone together.”

This quote, taken from Ann Spangler’s book Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus struck me right between the eyes! I’ve been there, in a large group of people yet felt very alone. Unfortunately, most of us live there–alone in a crowd of people. Nobody really knows you or your struggles. This loneliness stretches across socioeconomic, gender, and age brackets. We are ALL susceptible to feeling alone. The downside of this condition is depression, addiction, binging, and even suicide.

Now to the positive side…God NEVER intended for us to live in Christian community this way. In fact, his models are like Acts 2:42 where the disciples were encouraged to get together and “break bread” on a regular basis. God wants us to “do life” together with other believers, not be distant and alone.

The next question is, how do you get to this point? The answer…One Body Strong! The small group study will teach you how to live as the Body of Christ, the way God meant for it to be. Learning, growing, leaning on each other through the journey we call life.