Sunday, July 16, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - July 16, 2017

Today's Reading:

1 Corinthians 4

1 Kings 17

Amos 1

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading  

In 1 Corinthians 4, we find quite a list of what to expect, when you follow Christ. I was imagining reading a Craigslist advertisement with the list in 1 Corinthians 4. Perhaps the caption might read, "Become a Follower of Christ", and then the description would continue as found in 1 Corinthians 4:9-13:

1 Corinthians 4:9-13 "For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day."

If such an advertisement were placed, encouraging folks to apply to become followers of Christ, just how many responses do you think it would garner? I suspect not too many.

Well here are a few folks who "read the advertisement" and still "signed up". These lost it all for Christ, as Carey Lodge reported in Life:

Jim Elliot 

Jim Elliot was among a group of US missionaries who felt called to share Christ's teaching with the Waodani tribe in Ecuador in the 1950s. At the time, the Waodani were one of the most violent known people groups on earth, who regularly practiced homicide and fiercely defended their territory against those wishing to exploit the rich Amazonian land.

Elliot and his fellow missionaries initiated contact with the tribe after being taught some of their language; first by dropping gifts down from a plane and later establishing a camp not far from the Waodani settlement.

In January 1956, however, the five men were killed by members of the tribe as they approached them in person for the first time with the hopes of sharing the gospel.

The story generated worldwide news coverage, and Elliot's wife, Elisabeth, has since written a bestselling book entitled 'Through the Gates of Splendor' about her husband's journey. Jim's journal, which famously features the quote "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose", has also been read by thousands of believers around the world.

Amazingly, Elisabeth and the sister of another of the missionaries, Rachel, were introduced to the Waodani just two years after their murder, and were invited to live among the tribe. Many of them came to faith.

William Carey

Trained as a shoemaker, William Carey became known as the 'father of modern missions' for his missionary work in India. 

In 1787, he suggested that all Christians had a duty to share the gospel around the world, after which he was told: "Young man, sit down. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid and mine."

Undeterred, however, he founded the Baptist Missionary Society five years later in 1792, preaching a message during which he said one of his most famous quotes: "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God".

The next year, he travelled to India with his family, but his struggles continued. He saw no conversions for seven years, his son Peter died of dysentery and his wife's mental health deteriorated rapidly. "This is indeed the valley of the shadow of death to me," Carey wrote at the time. "But I rejoice that I am here notwithstanding; and God is here."

But in 1800, he baptized his first convert to Christianity, and over more than 20 years went on to translate the Bible into dozens of major Indian languages and dialects. He also founded Serampore College to train local ministers.

Mary Slessor

Born in Aberdeen in 1848, Mary Slessor became missionary to Nigeria under the United Presbyterian Church's Foreign Mission Board. Aged just 28, she sailed to West Africa in August 1876 and was assigned to the Calabar region.

This was where the Efik people lived; a community that believed in traditional West African religions and had particular superstition of twins, who were often killed or abandoned.

Slessor saved hundreds of children during her time in Nigeria; even adopting one young girl as her own daughter. She also travelled to dangerous regions where previous male missionaries had been killed, and was known for her pragmatism and sense of humour. 

She championed women's rights, and set up a mission hospital for the local people.
Slessor suffered from serious bouts of malaria and other tropical diseases, and was forced on more than one occasion to return to Scotland to recover.

She died in Calabar in 1915, aged 67.

Gladys Aylward

Gladys Aylward was a British evangelical Christian missionary to China in the 20th century. Having been raised in North London in a working class family, she initially worked as a housemaid, but had a long-harboured dream of becoming a missionary, and was convinced of her calling to China.

She was rejected by the China Inland Mission after failing to pass the necessary exams, but agreed to work for a 73-year-old missionary, Jeannie Lawson, who was looking for a young woman to carry on her work in the country. When Lawson died, Aylward ran the mission alone.

She went on to serve in the Chinese government as a 'foot inspector' – visiting women all over the country to make sure they were following the new law against foot-binding – which she saw as part of her missionary work. She also adopted a number of orphans, leading around 100 to safety during the Japanese occupation, and became known as 'Ài Wěi Dé', meaning 'Virtuous One'. She died aged 67 in 1970, and her story was made into a film – 'The Inn of the Sixth Happiness'.

CT Studd

Charles Thomas Studd was a famous English cricketer who went on to be a missionary to China, Africa and India. The youngest of the 'Studd Brothers', who were known for their cricket skills at Eton and Cambridge, Charles played in the first Test match between England vs Australia where the Ashes were named.

He was converted to Christianity along with his brothers while at Eton. Of the moment he met God for the first time, he said: "right then and there joy and peace came into my soul. I knew then what it was to be 'born again,' and the Bible which had been so dry to me before, became everything."
When he decided to give up sport to pursue a career as a missionary, he said: "I know that cricket would not last, and honour would not last, and nothing in this world would last, but it was worthwhile living for the world to come."

In his twenties, he served in the China Inland Mission, where he married missionary Priscilla Livingstone Stewart. They lived in China for 10 years, but moved back to the UK due to ill health, before serving in India at a church in Ootacamund.
Later, Prisilla and the couple's four daughter stayed in England, while Charles worked in Central Africa until his death in 1931.

According to his biography by Norman Grubb, in one of his last letters home, Studd wrote: "As I believe I am now nearing my departure from this world, I have but a few things to rejoice in; they are these:

1. That God called me to China and I went in spite of utmost opposition from all my loved ones.

2. That I joyfully acted as Christ told that rich young man to act.

3. That I deliberately at the call of God, when alone on the Bibby liner in 1910, gave up my life for this work, which was to be henceforth not for the Sudan only, but for the whole unevangelized World.

My only joys therefore are that when God has given me a work to do, I have not refused it."

Daily Bible Reading - July 15, 2017

Today's Reading:

1 Corinthians 3

1 Kings 15:33-16:34

Joel 3

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading  

In Joel 3, we see a compelling glimpse of Judgment Day. Many have wondered what Joel meant by "the Valley of Decision". Evangelists have used this reference in Joel 3:14 to call the audience to repentance. And as valuable as that is, actually, in context it isn't the people who are in the Valley of Decision, but Yahweh Who is doing the deciding. For it is He Who righteously judges man, at the End of the World.

Also, Joel 3 is seen as proof that Messiah will come to earth and dwell in Jerusalem in the coming Millennium. Many believe that Joel 3 gives credence to the second-chance-after-the-Second-Coming/Millennium-on-earth viewpoint. So what is Joel talking about and, using Scripture to interpret Scripture, when and where does it all take place?

In my blog from March 30, I showed how Scripture teaches that the literal city of Jerusalem will be a very spiritually dark place with the beast will ruling the earth from Jerusalem's Temple, in the Last Days. In fact, as this blog shows, the beast's temple in Jerusalem is the final Abomination of Desolation.

One of the most dangerous teachings today - if not the most dangerous - is the misunderstanding of prophecies like Joel 3. When we believe that the true Messiah will reign in Jerusalem in the coming Millennium, we open our hearts and minds to "wonder after the beast" - for it is he, not Yahshua, who will reign in literal Jerusalem's temple. Thus, it is a sobering and serious mistake to wrongly interpret Joel 3!

There are many references in Joel 3, which clearly identify this as an End-Time prophecy - so End-Time, in fact, that it will be fulfilled after the End of the World! But to determine that, Scripturally, we need to cross reference Joel 3, gaining further insights from other Bible prophecies on the same subject. Let's begin our study by reading the prophecy in Joel 3:14-20. We'll be paying special attention to the highlighted portions:
Joel 3:14-20 - "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the Day of Yahweh is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. Yahweh also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His Voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but Yahweh will be the Hope of His people, and the Strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I Am Yahweh your God dwelling in Zion, My holy Mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth out of the House of Yahweh, and shall water the valley of Shittim. Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation."


To start off, let's look at the concepts highlighted in yellow. The Day of Yahweh is Judgment Day, which takes place at the End of the World. Joel makes this clear in the prior chapter:
Joel 2:10-12  "The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: And Yahweh shall utter His Voice before His Army: for His Camp is very great: for He is strong that executeth His Word: for the Day of Yahweh is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? Therefore also now, saith Yahweh, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning..."
It is because there is no more opportunity to repent after Judgement Day that Joel pleads with people to repent now, before it is too late. 

In Scripture there are ten references to Yahweh roaring on Judgment Day. Joel 3 is one of the ten. When Yahweh "roars as a lion", He is being portrayed in His ultimate Judgment role. In His Role as the Lion, Yahweh brings destruction to the unrepentant, from which there can be no deliverance:
Hosea 5:14 "For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him." 

Job 10:7  "...There is none that can deliver out of Thine Hand." 

Isaiah 43:13 "Yea, before the day was I Am He; and there is none that can deliver out of My Hand."

Micah 5:8  "And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver."
In the references to Judgment Day, over and over again, Scripture makes it plain that this is a final work. The unrepentant will be destroyed on that Day.
Malachi 4:3  "And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the Day that I shall do this, saith Yahweh of hosts."

Thus, the teaching of a second chance in the millennium is a false doctrine. It wrongly interprets Joel 3 in a dangerous way, for it removes people's motivation to repent and turn back to God now, while there is yet time to do so.
Isaiah 55:6-7  "Seek ye Yahweh while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto Yahweh, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." 


Joel 3 references a wonderful future. God Himself will dwell with His people! But when does this take place? Since literal Jerusalem is to be the seat of the beast, we must not mistake the anti-christ for the fulfillment of Joel 3! 

Another point which merits our notice is Joel's statement that "no strangers pass through her any more". 

The word "strangers" is translated from the Hebrew word zur, which is a term referencing the unsaved. Specifically it means those who "turn aside" and "commit spiritual adultery" by serving themselves and other idolatrous "gods". The reason no strangers will pass through Jerusalem any more is that all the unrepentant wicked, the former city of Jerusalem (and the whole earth) will have been destroyed, when Yahweh dwells in Jerusalem (New Jerusalem). This timing is plainly shown in the following Scriptures:
Revelation 21:1-4  "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great Voice out of Heaven saying, Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."  
Isaiah 65:21-25  "And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.  They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of My people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of Yahweh, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock... They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy Mountain, saith Yahweh."
Revelation 3:11-12  "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of Heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name." 
When you put all the Scriptures together on the subject, letting Scripture interpret Scripture, the timing becomes plain. Yes, Yahweh will dwell here on earth with His people - forever. But this joyful future will not come for literal Jerusalem. After it and the whole earth are destroyed and made new, the New Jerusalem will come down from God out of Heaven. And then God will dwell with His people forevermore. Let's not miss the timing of Joel 3, as we surely do not want to miss its promised blessings!