How God Knows the Future – Obadiah

predicting the future

The vision of Obadiah: Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom…. Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You shall be greatly despised (Obadiah 1:1, 2).

I grew up in a church ripe with pastors who were excellent Biblical prophecy teachers. One thing I was never certain about was how God could predict the future. I thought He looked down through the corridor of time to see what would happen and then reported it to us.

My opinion was un-Biblical.

We were so busy examining signs of the times, discussing when the Rapture would occur, and how the kingdom of God would be established on the earth that we missed something very fundamental: What Bible prophecy reveals about God.

The opening verses of Obadiah reveal one of those fundamental ideas about God. He knows the future because He has ordained every event of the future. Bible prophecy isn’t God’s guess about tomorrow, it is the absolute statement of what God is doing tomorrow.

God described the future of Edom (which no longer exists as a nation or a people) because it was His doing. I will make you isn’t what God could see happening in the future, it’s what He was going to do.

Consider, for example, what He says in Revelation 17:17 about the future one-world government and religion: For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. Does this sound like God’s guess or God’s absolute decree?

The Book of Obadiah – every word of it – was fulfilled in 70 AD. The Romans destroyed the nation-state so that it was cut off forever (verse 10) and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau (verse 18). Likewise, every word of the Bible will come to pass because the sovereign Lord will make it so.

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Head and Body

Da Vinci

Paul wrote to the believers in the city of Ephesus that Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23). Have you ever considered what this means?

Jesus as the Head of the Church means that:

  • the church is more a living organism than a business or organizational structure;
  • the same life-blood in the Head flows through the body;
  • the Head and body work together as one in ultimate union and unity;
  • where the Head leads, the body follows.

What ideas can you add to these four?

The relationship of Head to body isn’t one of superiority or power, but of order and function.

What brought Paul to write this phrase? Look at the opening portion of the verse: For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church. The qualities of Christ’s headship over the Church must be what is meant also by the headship of the husband over the wife.

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Your Servant Hears

hearing voice of God

The opening chapters of the Book of Revelation contain a series of seven messages Jesus had for seven churches of that day. Each message ends with the phrase, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 28; 3:6, 13, 22). This phrase means simply that God has spoken and His people will obey. That willful obedience is a sign of our friendship and love for Him (John 15:10-15).

If God spoke to you, how would you reply? Would you act or would you ignore Him? He speaks to you through the Bible. How you respond reveals the condition of your heart.

After my sermon one Sunday, a man came to me and said, “God spoke to me through your sermon today, but I’m not going to change. If I’m wrong, then so be it.”

Surprised by the man’s hardhearted rebellion I replied, “God will have your obedience, even if He has to treat you as He did Jonah and take away the idols you raise in His place.”

The boy Samuel didn’t know the God of Israel, yet when He spoke, Samuel’s answer was very simple: Speak, for Your servant hears with a view to obedience (1 Samuel 3:10, literal translation).

A servant hears and obeys; a rebel lives for his own cause.

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*** Watch the video made from our ministry trip to Kenya in June: Click HERE

Language

imagine 7.29.2015

Now the whole earth had one language and one speech (Genesis 11:1).

I love language and words. Since the infamous Tower of Babel, language has been complicated. Today you must know the language and the way that language is used depending on where you are and to whom you are speaking.

I was surprised on my first visit to Africa, to hear Kenyans speaking with British English accents. It took some time to understand their speech, and even then Kenyans use words differently than we do in American English.

For example, in America we wear pants; in Kenya they are trousers; in British English pants are what you wear under your clothing.

In America, the front end of a car is the hood and the back end is the trunk; in Kenya they are the bonnet and the boot.

In America, noodles are called pasta and spaghetti is a kind of noodle covered in tomato sauce; in Kenya all noodles are called spaghetti no matter how they are cooked.

In America we get water and move from place to place; Kenyans they fetch water and shift from place to place.

In America, we use a flashlight in the dark while we fill our truck with gas; in Kenya they light a torch while the lorry is filled with petrol.

As there are differences in the use, meaning, and pronunciation of words from country to country, the same is true in religious circles. The word grace has a different meaning from Protestants to Roman Catholics. To a Protestant, grace is the favor of God apart from any works or merit, given directly by God; to the Roman Church, grace is God’s favor received through the Church by means of particular deeds like water baptism and last rites.

Again, according to the Mormon Bible Dictionary, grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts. When the Mormon missionaries come to your door and say that they are “saved by grace”, their meaning is very different from what Protestants and Roman Catholics understand.

We use the same words, but they have very different meanings.

** Help build a Bible College in Kenya. Click here for details: Click HERE

*** Watch the video made from our ministry trip to Kenya in June: Click HERE

Water

Children fetching water

The human condition is such that what we have in abundance, we often take for granted.

For much of the world clean drinking water is a rare commodity. In many places water is also a difficult commodity to reach.

Southeastern Kenya has reservoirs of underground water; the problem is that the resources for reaching the water are scarce. Everywhere you go, you’ll see old women, men on bicycles, and very small children all carrying yellow plastic jugs to fetch precious water for the day.

Here in Portland, Oregon, we have an overabundance of water since it rains 42 inches over 155 days of the year. Most of the year, just leave a cup outside and by nightfall you’ll have water to drink. We have snow in the mountains, bubbling springs feeding rivers and creeks, and underground wells. Oregonians complain about the rain which allows us to turn on the tap and have all the water we want in our homes and yards. We take the rain for granted.

Jesus likened the Holy Spirit to water in John 7. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his hear will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive …. (John 7:38, 39). 

The Third Person of the Godhead indwells us at salvation (Romans 8:9), makes us a part of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:13), empowers us to live and witness for Jesus (Acts 1:8), and prays for us when we don’t know what we should pray for (Romans 8:26). We should never take His presence within us for granted.

** Help build a Bible College in Kenya. Click here for details: Click HERE

*** Watch the video made from our ministry trip to Kenya in June: Click HERE

Desiring the Blessing of God – Amos

angry dog

Jack was tired after working all day rotating tires and replacing flats. Nothing relaxed him like the 20 minute walk home each evening. It was his way to unwind and get his mind in a proper mood before dinner with his wife and three young children.

He rounded the corner onto Bentmore Avenue when an angry Pit Bull charged the fence. This happened every night, but it still startled Jack. This time, however, the big dog was able to get enough of a foothold in the chain link fence to pull himself over and onto the sidewalk with Jack.

He pulled the jacket from under his arm to swat at the dog and then took off running. It was three blocks further to home. The dog was on the worn out man’s heels, but that didn’t stop him from finding an additional burst of speed.

Jack jumped the waist high fence of his yellow ranch style home and headed right for the side door which was kept unlocked during the day. It was a close call, but he slammed the door as the dog lunged for Jack’s leg.

Safe!

It had been a good decade since high school and the last time Jack had run anywhere for any reason. He reached his hands toward the wall as his body collapsed in exhaustion. He made it. He was safe. This was his lucky day. “I’ll have to buy a lottery ticket,” he laughed aloud.

His right hand still holding up his body against the wall, Jack reached for the light switch with his left hand. “Click.” The lights went on. He looked up, to where his right hand rested, just in time to see himself bit by a large Brown Recluse Spider.

This hilarious – yet frightful – scene is like what the prophet Amos described. Amos warned the nation of Israel that there was a terrible time of testing and destruction which must come before the age of God’s blessing (Amos 5:18-20). The Day of the Lord they desired so much wouldn’t begin as anticipated.

We’re not unlike the people of Amos’ day. We’ve thought the persecution of Christians to be a third-world experience. I heard it growing up in church and as an adult: Jesus will come back before things get too harsh. We expect God’s material blessing of health, wealth, and prosperity, but willingly forget that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

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*** Watch the video made from our ministry trip to Kenya in June: Click HERE

In the Silence

Tillamook Forest

I picked her up at 7:30 on Saturday morning and we headed west toward the Oregon coast. Jennifer wasn’t used to getting up early, and for her, anything before 9 am was “early.” About 10 minutes into our drive Jennifer was fast asleep. I’m no expert, but I assumed that putting my date to sleep within 10 minutes wasn’t a good omen.

Heading through the rich farmland of Washington County, we encountered dense fog before torrential rains and winds over the summit of the coastal mountains. Still Jennifer slept. She awoke just as we approached our destination. I made the two-hour journey with an unconscious woman asleep in the passenger seat.

It was my first date with Jennifer.  It was my last date with Jennifer.

Silence can be very awkward, yet there are other times when silence is “golden.” Herbert Lockyer writes, “Silent love can be a mighty force.  The greatest work in the world is not accomplished by the best talkers” (All the Women of the Bible, p 105).

As I drove that Saturday morning to the Oregon Coast, I marveled at the force of nature beating down on the car. I was impressed by the mighty Douglas Firs lining the highway that cuts through the Tillamook Forest. I was awed by the quiet stillness of the world, except for the squeaks and swooshes of the wiper blades. And as the fog hung gently over the roadway, hiding the world from my view, I was reminded of how small and insignificant my life really is … except to God. And what started out as a hopeful date with Jennifer, ended up being a intimate drive with my Saviour.

Be still and know that I am God! (Psalm 46:10).

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Gilligan’s Island Marathon

lligan's Island

When my wife and I married, I promised to go to bed each night with her. I wasn’t going to be a husband who stayed up late to watch the Gilligan’s Island Marathon while my wife went to bed alone. We end the day together, as one.

Going to bed with her is the easy part; falling asleep with her is another story. My wife can fall asleep within 60 seconds of turning off the light. It’s a fact. I’ve timed her. I, on the other hand, lay awake for an hour or more before the Sandman visits my side of the bed.

We also get up at the same time in the morning. I don’t need to get up with her, but I do so that our day begins together. Though we wake at the same time, she gets an hour or more sleep than I get. No matter how much difference there is in the hours we both sleep, we rise together. We begin the new day together, as one.

The Bible lets us know that as followers of Jesus, no matter when we actually fall asleep (die), we will all rise together to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). There will be one resurrection of God’s saints when death is swallowed up in victory and our bodies take on immortality. We shall awake to the new eternal day together, as one with Jesus.

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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

** Help build a Bible College in Kenya. Click here for details: Click HERE

*** Watch the video made from our ministry trip to Kenya in June: Click HERE

The American Flu

the flu

I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world (Romans 1:8).

From the great city of Corinth in Greece, Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, commending the reality of their faith in Jesus and the godly influence they were having on others around the Empire. It was something to thank God for.

While in Kenya in June, I was the keynote speaker at a pastor’s conference on homiletics, which is the science and art of Biblical preaching. I was joined by the local bishop of the Redeemed Gospel Church, one of the leading denominations in Kenya.

During the lunch break, Bishop Matheka and I had a lengthy discussion about religious trends in the United States. We spoke of the undue influence of mega-churches, spiritual decline and heresy, and the homosexual agenda in politics and churches. Toward the end of the conversation the Bishop said, “When America gets the flu, it is Africa which sneezes.” The spiritual illness of America manifests its symptoms in Africa.

As Americans, most of us don’t realize the enormous influence we have on the rest of the world. Many Kenyan pastors get their theological training by watching US television programs. Trends in American music and culture become African fads over night. What happens in Washington DC politics becomes a heavy-handed stick to beat Kenyan leaders into submission.

What we do and believe and advocate as Christians does not stay within our map-drawn political borders. Our choices swarm the nations of the world before most believers have even placed our feet within the boots of Biblical truth.

As American Christians, we have the ability to build, strengthen, encourage, and uplift our African brothers and sisters in Christ. And what believing Kenyans are wondering is if we care.

Do we?

** Help me build a Bible College in Kenya. Click here for details: Click HERE

*** Watch the video made from our ministry trip to Kenya in June: Click HERE

The Tired Soul

tired soul

There are days and seasons of life when we feel special and that our lives are different. Then come those concrete walls of realization that we find ourselves flung against.  In an instance we realize that we’re no different from the guy next to us: easily and completely cut-off, fully and finally dismissed, silently and suddenly ignored, beaten up and pushed down.

The stilled night echoes the mantra of the mind that all is lost. The soul breaks within leaving you emptier than the Tin Man built without a heart. Your life and hopes and dreams disintegrate around you. The stubborn wall stands firm, unchanged, unfazed by the blunt pain of existence.

It doesn’t matter who we are, not one of us is immune to the rigors of life.

One man named Job experienced a day unlike any other. In one day his ten children were killed, he lost everything he valued, and was covered from head-to-toe with oozing sores. The only thing he was left with was a blisteringly negative wife and three accusing friends! Yet through the dark night of his soul, Job’s attitude stayed strong: “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10).

The only thing we can usually change about our circumstances is our attitude.  We can understand that life isn’t fair, that good and bad things happen to everyone, and that God is still God no matter what happens to us.

The reason for Job’s problems is recorded for us in the Bible; but Job was left in the dark. He asked God ‘why’ but God’s answer was simply: if I tried to explain it all to you, you wouldn’t understand.  And that’s true of you and me too.

People will fail us, turn against us, let us down, betray and hurt us.  Circumstances will fly in directions that seem wildly uncontrolled. We’ll feel alone, abandoned, neglected, confused and even lost. In time, we may come to understand some of the ‘whys’, but in the meanwhile, we can always remember that God has a plan and purpose greater than our ability to understand. We can trust that All things work together for good, to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  That’s a soft pillow for the tired soul.

** Help me build a Bible College in Kenya. Click here for details: Click HERE

*** Watch the video made from our ministry trip to Kenya in June: Click HERE