Prophecy and Prediction

Since man’s days are determined, the number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass. Look away from him that he may rest, till like a hired man he finishes his day (Job 14:5-6).

God isn’t like a fortune-teller sitting with a crystal ball outside a circus tent. He doesn’t look across history to see what’s ahead so He can tell us what He sees. Prophecy isn’t God predicting something. God doesn’t predict, He proclaims. He doesn’t fortune-tell, He forth-tells. He knows what tomorrow holds because He predestined it to happen before time began.

This is a blessed truth to the Christian. It reminds us that nothing is a surprise to God. He’s not in Heaven wringing His hands in worry over tomorrow’s stock market, your health, or someone’s political agenda. Instead, everything is moving exactly according to His eternal plan. We can rest easy in His sovereignty today and tomorrow.

A Visa

One of the steps for my travel to Kenya is obtaining a visa. A visa isn’t a plastic credit card. It’s the approval from a government to visit and then leave a country.

To get into the nation of Kenya, an American must have the permission of the Kenyan government. The visa will allows us to stay a certain length of time in Kenya, and later it will become our ticket to leave.

Without a visa you can’t get in. If you lose your visa, you can’t get out!

The Kenya visa application isn’t too bad. It’s all done online, is only about 5 pages of questions, and a fee of $51.

There are countries which have treaties allowing citizens to travel without a visa. American citizens, for example, don’t need a visa to travel to Canada or Mexico. Americans can visit 99 different countries without prior visa approval, but that leaves 97 others where a visa is required in advance.

It’s easy to understand why people are confused about world travel. It’s even easier to understand why people are confused about getting to Heaven. Ask and you’ll get all kinds of answers: everyone goes to Heaven; good people get in free; those who engage in certain religious rituals like water baptism can go; after you die you can work your way there by good deeds and the good deeds of others.

Getting into Heaven, though, isn’t about what you or I or the guy next door thinks, it’s about what the King of Heaven says. Who does He let into His Kingdom? His answer is the only one that matters.

Jesus said it best to the Jewish leader Nicodemus. Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).

Each of us is born into this world of humanity. We were born of blood, of the flesh, and of the will of our parents. These things, however, don’t matter to God. His government works differently. It’s about those who were born – not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man – but of the will of God (John 1:13). To those born again of God’s will, He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).

Sealed with the Holy Spirit

Not too long ago, letters and documents were sealed with wax or clay in which was placed an imprint. The “seal” secured the document and identified its owner.

When a person hears the gospel and believes it, the Father seals the believer with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22-23). The Spirit is the symbol that we belong to God in Christ, and our salvation is fully and eternally protected until the redemption of the purchased possession (Ephesians 1:14). The Spirit in the believer is God’s guarantee to keep us saved and to present us as a glorious and holy bride to His Son (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27). The Spirit ensures that the Church will be a godly and virtuous bride to be given in marriage to Christ Jesus at His return.

The word guarantee is the Greek word arrhabon, meaning down-payment. It’s the modern Greek word used for an engagement ring, which is a down payment or promise that a marriage will take place. The down-payment God has given us is the indwelling Holy Spirit Himself (Romans 8:9, 16) guaranteeing that every promise Jesus has made to His Church will be fulfilled in Heaven.

In Christ you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Greater Works

Lake County, Oregon, USA
Lake County, Oregon

He who believes in Me the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:12-13)

Think of the works of Jesus and what comes to mind? He walked on water, cast out demons, knew the thoughts of others, multiplied food, preached the gospel of the Kingdom, healed the deaf, gave sight to the blind, caused the lame to walk, cured the diseased, raised the dead, forgave sin, and gave eternal life. That’s quite a list of works!

Jesus claimed that each of His works was actually a revelation of the character of the Father (John 10:25; 14:10).

On the night of His betrayal and arrest, Jesus told the 11 disciples that they would do His works and greater works because He was going back to Heaven. What are “greater works”?

Some people believe that the “greater works” means miracles of greater power. To these people I like to ask, “What is more powerful than the works Jesus did 2,000 years ago? What could be greater than raising the dead, forgiving sins, giving eternal life, and feeding tens of thousand with few sardines and bites of bread? If you have greater power than Jesus, you are greater than God!”

Jesus could not, and did not, mean more powerful without diminishing His deity to you the creature!

The gospel record shows that Jesus never traveled more than 150 miles from His birthplace. Both His message and works were limited to a tiny sliver of ground known as Israel, about the size of Lake County in my home state of Oregon, only 8,019 square miles. Yet within only  a decade of His death, the apostles took the Gospel of salvation into Africa, Asia, and Europe. They multiplied His works throughout the known world and salvation changed the course of human history.

Each of His works, Jesus said, were done to glorify the Father through Him. “Greater works” doesn’t mean that we can do something more powerful than the en-fleshed God could do, that’s heresy! It means that Christians would spread the Evangel around the world (Matthew 28:18-20).

Flying to Kenya

where living begins, pastor, Richard L Rice, Kimberly Rice, Matthew Ferraro, Kenya

When I make my journey to Kenya in a few weeks, and then home again, I’ll have to fly on 7 different planes and pass through 9 airports. The travel time will be a total of over 68 hours. Total distance by air is 22,990 miles at a cost of 9 cents per mile.

The Bible says that to be absent from the body means being present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

For the one whose trust is in Christ Jesus alone, upon death our:

  • Flight time to Heaven is instantaneous;
  • Distance traveled is immeasurable;
  • Cost to us, nothing; cost to God, the death of His Son;
  • Time waiting in airports is nil.

And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Predestined

Where Living Begins Pastor Richard L Rice

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29).

Many people cringe at the word predestination. I used to! But we can’t reject a word that is used six times in the Bible. The prefix pre- means beforehand, and destination describes the destiny of the predestined one.

What is the destiny that God has predetermined for those He foreknows? To be like Jesus, conformed to His image!

This world is full of characters. Heaven will also be filled with characters, but they will all be characters who’ve been made like Jesus. God’s primary goal isn’t to fill every empty room of Heaven to capacity but to fill His home with people like Himself. To accomplish this, He makes us worthy of Himself and His Heavenly home. For this to happen, He makes us like His own much loved Son.

Restless

Carson City is the capital of Nevada. It’s a beautiful small city with an old-West feel, nestled against the snow-covered Carson Range. Driving into Carson after hours of dead Nevada desert was like entering a paradise.

The friendly and overly-talkative hotel manager walked us from the front desk to our room. I opened the door, wheeled in our luggage and plopped myself headlong onto one of the two beds. I couldn’t bounce up fast enough. The bed cover was wet and smelled of urine!

I wadded up the bed cover, held it at arm’s-length, and with my head turned sideways marched across the parking lot to the front desk. We couldn’t wait to get moved to another room, a clean room, which was given to us free for our stay.

Like that room, life is full of filth in a filthy world. We live in a world that is being destroyed by man’s sins and is condemned under the curse of God. Yes, there is still extreme beauty and much happiness to experience, but as CS Lewis asked, Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind. 

Sadly, many people have become used to living in the filth and now think of it as the acceptable standard. For the Christian, the sin, ravages of moral rot, and God’s curse upon this world only makes us restless to be in the perfect presence of Christ in Heaven.

We are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (Philippians 5:6, 8).

Our Citizenship

German officer coat and hat 6.2016My son is finishing his third year of German language in high school. He loves it! Every conversation is littered with Deutch words and phrases. He listens to their music, follows German politics and politicians and is planning to move to Germany. It seems that everything he thinks of has a German slant to it. Fortunately he’s not scouring the internet for a German fraulein! … at least not yet.

Though the United States is his home and has been the home of his family for 6 generations, he keeps his mind and eyes on another land. It’s a land he’s never visited, but he’s heard about, read about, and has his heart set upon.

The Bible says of Christians: Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20).

It seems we often forget this truth because our minds, eyes, and hearts get too wrapped up in the things of this earth. We forget that Heaven is our true home and homeland. We fail to set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2).

It’s hard not to be consumed by the things in the land where we reside and what we naturally know, but remember Christian friend, your citizenship in not in this world. Heaven is your eternal home.

Divine Health and Financial Prosperity Today

My son and I were in a very serious car accident in December of 2006. After many legal battles and much time, the insurance company was required by the court to make a payment to Daniel. As Daniel was still a child, the court mandated that the money be put into a conservatorship. This means that while all the money belongs to Daniel, he’s unable to touch it until he reaches a certain age. It has long been his award, but it will be unrealized until a much later date.

Some of us are so untaught in God’s Word that we can’t discern the difference between God’s promises for life on earth and His promises for Heaven. This ignorance of the Bible leads us to expect – and even demand and declare – things from God which He has set aside in conservatorship for others or for eternity.

Sin within the heart demands satisfaction here and now. Promises of financial prosperity, divine health, and social superiority appeal to the heart which is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Greed, pride, jealousy, selfishness, discontentment, and many other sins are fed and enlarged by purveyors of a man-centered gospel.

The Bible says that as Christians, our citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20); we await a heavenly country and the city there which God has prepared for us (Hebrews 11:15). It’s not material things, but every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ that God has given us (Ephesians 1:3).

Let’s stop expecting Heaven on earth and instead seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on the things on the earth. For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).

Polishing the Brass

titanicIt was the largest, fastest, and most luxurious ship in the world. Late in the evening of April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg only 375 miles from the shore of Newfoundland, Canada. In less than 3 hours, 1,517 of the 2,224 crew and passengers were drowned.

The crew ignored warnings of icebergs in the area because they believed the advertisement that the ship was “unsinkable.” One passenger boarding the ship, Mrs Sylvia Caldwell, proclaimed that God Himself could not sink this ship. 

As the unsinkable Titanic sank, passengers still believed the ship could not go under the icy Atlantic Ocean. Some began playing a game of soccer with chunks of ice on the deck. The ship’s orchestra continued to play as people around them panicked. Millionaire businessman Benjamin Guggenheim took off his life vest and donned his black tie, tails, and top hat while walking the deck saying he would go down with the ship as a gentleman. Hundreds stood around a priest praying that God and Mary would save them yet did nothing to save themselves.

One thing no one did, however, was polish the brass on the sinking ship.

We do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day … for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (Second Corinthians 4:16, 18).