"On Sunday, believers arrived at a house church in the Soviet Union in small groups throughout the day so not to arouse the suspicion of KGB informers. They began by singing a hymn quietly. Suddenly, in walked two soldiers with loaded weapons at the ready. One shouted, "If you wish to renounce your commitment to Jesus Christ, leave now!" Two or three quickly left, then another. After a few more seconds...
This unique passage in Revelation has a warning and a blessing.
The first part of this verse was a warning about the suddenness of the Lord's return as He is coming as a thief to the world not anticipating His return.
The Hebrew language contains numerous words that have the same root yet vast differences in meaning. On deeper examination however, these words can be related in illuminating ways. For example, the three Hebrew letters --"Lamed", "Chet", and "Mem"-- which spell, "lechem", or "bread" in English, are also the root letters for "fight" (lehilachem) and "war" (milchama). For centuries Rabbis have discussed and debated the connection between these three words.
When the twelve spies were sent out by Moses into the land of Canaan, ten came back with a bad report. Joshua and Caleb, however, returned with a good report, saying in essence, "If God is for us -- then who can be against us?" The two courageous spies expressed their confidence in a way that was quite cool: "Do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us." [Numbers 14:9]
In Israel, the celebration of Shavuot took place yesterday. Most Christians would recognize this as the celebration of Pentecost in Acts 2. However, the very first Shavuot took place fifty days after the Israel crossed the Red Sea. It was on this day according to Jewish tradition that the law was given on tablets of stone.
An ancient Hebrew commentator wrote of this verse, "In the words of our teachers of blessed memory and in the Midrash [ancient Hebrew commentaries of the O.T.], it is taught that the 'breaker' is Elijah and 'their King' is the branch of the son of David."
In the Greek olympic games of old, a unique race was run. The winner was not the runner who finished first --- it was the runner who finished with his torch still lit!
"One that sows discord among brothers" is an abomination to God. It’s an amazing passage that is often overlooked when considering offenses which God hates.
Over the years I've often gotten emails asking "When do you think revival will come?" Well.... first, what is "revival", exactly? One of Merriam-Webster's definitions is "a renewed attention to or interest in something".
Some time ago, I wrote a devotional about not worrying for tomorrow because tomorrow holds its own worries. But it occurred to me recently, that just about as often as we worry for tomorrow, we fret about yesterday. How many times do we find ourselves saying, "I wish things could be the way they were, I wish I was younger, I wish I could fit into those jeans again, I wish I didn't make that terrible mistake ... you fill in the blank"?
Shortly after WWI, Lawrence of Arabia was entertaining some of his Arab friends in Paris. He showed them the sights of the city: the Arc d'Triomph, the Louvre, the Champs Elysees. It was a remarkable irony to Lawrence that these amazing sights were not what most impressed his Arab friends -- but rather the bathtub faucet of their hotel room. They were completely astonished that someone could turn a handle...and get all the water he wanted.
One of His greatest promises to us is that nothing can separate us from the love of God. No tribulation or distress we might ever suffer can obliterate the power of His love to carry us through!
The Lord gave us His promise to send us a helper -- the Holy Spirit. The word for "helper" in the NT Greek is "paraclete". This word has more meaning then simply "helper" -- it was also an ancient term used in warfare. When Greek warriors went onto the battle field, they went out in pairs, so when the enemy attacked they could stand back-to-back, covering each other's blind side. The battle partner in Greek was called a "paraclete" -- he was there to watch your back!
Believers in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) have all been inducted into a priesthood by the new birth, a New Covenant priesthood established by the Lord Himself, in the order of Melchizidek [Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:11]. While the Old Testament Levitical priesthood was limited exclusively to the sons of Aaron, all New Testament believers in Messiah are called a "Royal priesthood" [1 Peter 2:5; 2:9].
In this prophetic passage the critical question is immediately followed by the powerfully convicting answer. Joel prophesies the Day of the Lord, and asks, "Who can endure it?" The next word "therefore", is followed by the prophet's urgent counsel: "Turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning!"
In Israel, the Ministry of the Interior is called Misrad Ha-Pnim, translated literally, "Office of the Faces". Those in charge of immigration and citizenship are looking into the faces of those who seek citizenship or residency within the land. Some have observed that the officials there carefully scrutinize each applicant...
While on the road to Damascus, Jesus appeared to Saul, blinded him and directed him to go to Damascus. There, God spoke to Ananias of Saul and told to lay hands on this troubled man. Ananias did as he commanded and Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit, healed of his blindness and immediately baptized.
Colonel G.W. Goethals, the man responsible for the completion of the Panama Canal, had major problems with the climate and the geography as it was being built. If that wasn't enough to deal with, he had an even bigger problem. It was the growing criticism back home from those who predicted he'd never finish the project and had opinions about how to do it better.
As God worked on creation for six days and rested on the seventh day, so our seven day week is established on that pattern. If, as the scripture declares, with the Lord one day is as 1,000 years and 1,000 years as a day, then the seven-day cycle also finds expression in a great historical "week". As we approach the 1,000-year reign of the Messiah, this "millennium" as it is called, (described in some detail in Revelation chapter 20), is clearly understood as a time of global rest, peace, and righteousness throughout the Earth.
Counselors, encouragers, and people who offer care to others often encounter those whose past failures threaten to define them and hinder their development, healing, and sanctification. Our enemy capitalizes on our failures and regrets, pressing home the current influence of what we could have, would have, or should have done, if only we were wiser, more courageous, honest, or godly.