What the Bible says about light and seed

The True Light "In him, (the Lord Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world,…the world didn’t recognize him." John 1:4,9.

The Good Seed and the Weeds “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seeds in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. Matthew 13:24,25.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

God Smacked

Republished from omegaletter.comGod Smacked
Witnessing Tools
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Wendy Wippel 

''Whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives'' (Hebrews 12:6). Not a warm fuzzy verse but one that speaks of His love. And we've all recognized God's discipline once or twice.

But has God ever reached out and slapped you when you needed it? He has me. Once:
Here's the story.  It was 1985, and I had just completed my Master of Science at The Ohio State University.  A fledging molecular biologist, I intended to continue on for a Ph.D.  And then things changed.  My advisor lost his research funding.

What to do?  As it happened, the collegiate church I was involved in was in the midst of planning a church plant at the University of Cincinnati.  My home town. 
It seemed like an omen.  Particularly when in practically no time I landed a research job in the medical center at the University of Cincinnati, and within just a couple of weeks I was home.

The church plant, when the dust cleared, consisted of 26 adults: two pastors (with  their families) and 22 singles.   Twenty-two singles (to be specific) that consisted of 17 young men and five young women. 
Which for the five young women involved, was pretty good odds.  (For the Lord longs to be gracious to you…. what can I say?)
For me, however, as one of those singles, there were just a couple of problems.

Problem #1:  I had just finished graduate school, having worked a few years in between my bachelor's and master's degrees.  All the young men were fresh out of college.  (I was headed toward thirty, and they were barely twenty).
In fact, they had the nerve to call me Grandma Moses.

Problem #2: I was at the time…. how shall I say this?   Big boned?  Pleasingly plump?   Full-figured?
Ok.  I'll admit it.  I was one hefty girl. "Queen-sized".  (It was stamped into my panty hose.)
I was fat.  Very fat.
And as such, as the inevitable romances in a single's group flared and died (or flared and tied), I was invisible.  Just never in the running.  On the outside looking in.  And Hell hath no misery like a woman scorned.  Depression and an absolute, all-pervasive despair threatened to drag me under.

And then it was time for the annual retreat.
This particular year the single's retreat was to be held in Bellefontaine, OH, a couple of hours drive from Cincinnati.  The group assorted itself into carloads, mainly on the basis of departure times dictated by work schedules.  When all was said and done I hooked up to ride with a new girl (that made six!) named Annette.

Annette had just joined the group, but was obviously a sweetheart and an enthusiastic, growing Christian.  To meet her was to know she had a passion for her Redeemer.
But this one thing I had against her… Okay, these four things:  She was blond, she was bubbly, she was a former cheerleader, and every single guy in the single's group had, at first sight, immediately fallen madly, head-over-heals in love with her.  And for that (though I barely knew her), try as I might to overcome it, I really hated her.

In just a few days time, nonetheless, I found myself beside Annette,  in the front seat of her car, headed toward Bellefontaine.
Like I said, she had just joined the group.  We chatted, and as the miles went by the conversation moved past small talk into the more spiritual realm.  She started to open up, and told me that God had really revealed Himself to her, over the last year or so, as a real God.  A personal God.  A God who loved her.  A God who could really comfort her.   And all these things had come about in the midst of some hard times she had been having.
I hate to admit this, but here's the deal.  At this point I'm sitting there looking at blond, bubbly, Annette, and really not empathizing at all.  I'm thinking it's just the typical scripted Christian patter.  What Christian's say to each other so the other person knows how spiritual you are.

Bottom line.  I just couldn't get past my pain.
And this is what I'm thinking:  "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. You're blond, you're beautiful, you have every guy that meets you wrapped around your finger.  What", I think to myself, "could you know about hard times?'

But then I realized that Annette was telling me the rest of the story.
Namely, that on one particularly cold night, midwinter night not quite a year before, Annette had just graduated from nursing school, and her large family wanted to celebrate her achievement.  As well as a couple family birthdays.  They set up a family celebration at Annette's favorite restaurant in Toledo, where Annette lived.  Annette piled into the family car with, her mother and father, a sister, a brother, and the sister's husband and set off down the road to meet various other family members as agreed. 

Light snow was falling, but winter in Toledo is no big deal.  There's lots of snow.
Lots of snow, that, in fact, tends to melt and turn to ice, and on this particular evening the car hit a patch of black ice and slid head-on into oncoming traffic.  Oncoming traffic in the form of an 18-wheeler.  It was a horrendous crash, and soon the occupants of the family car littered the freeway.
Annette, having occupied the middle of the back seat, was blessedly uninjured. And she did what any good nurse would do, running from family member to family member,  checking vital signs.
Every single occupant of the car-- except Annette-- was dead.

It was at that point in her story that I felt as if the hand of God had literally reached down and slapped me into next Tuesday.  And I recognized my self-absorption, my ingratitude (for a million blessings), and my basic unbelief for what it was. .  It was if I audibly heard Him say, "Wendy, what do YOU know about having hard times."

And though my struggle with whining at God didn't end there, it definitely got set on a path towards victory.
And ultimately, the rest of the story for me is that we are God's children, and as His children, whether we're covered with mud or blood or snot or rot (spiritual rot), when we call on Him--like a loving parent-- He picks us up.  And then He cleans us up.  And He's never shocked.
It's only us that forgets that our hearts are desperately wicked and without cure.
"And we have known and believed the love that God has for us." (I John 4:16)
And we know and come to believe his love through our trials.  Specifically, through His faithfulness in our trials.

And God was faithful to me.  God's revelation of my heard through Annette was not the end of my story. God later blessed me with a similar experience--similar in that I heard Him speak to me so clearly it changed my life.   And the second time it was not censure, but solace. 

But I will have to share that one some other time.
About Wendy Wippel

Monday, August 29, 2016

Elijah on Mt. Carmel

Elijah on Mt Carmel
Republished from gracethrufaith.com

    Elijah’s 3000 year assignment was truly “Mission Impossible”
    … and it’s not accomplished yet.

    So (King) Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God follow Him, but if Baal is God follow him” (1 Kings 18:21)

    A Little Background Please

    As King David’s life was drawing to a close, the Lord chose his son Solomon to succeed him. It was the time of Israel’s closest approximation to the Messianic Kingdom promised by God. There was peace in the land and Israel’s influence in the world was with out parallel. Kings from every land came and paid homage to Solomon, whose wisdom was legendary. Solomon reigned in peace and prosperity for 40 years but toward the end of his reign began to pay the price for his one act of disobedience. The Lord had forbidden the Israelites from marrying foreign women, knowing that they would bring pagan gods into Israel and lead their husbands into false religion (1 Kings 11:2). In violation of the Lord’s prohibition Solomon had taken 700 wives and 300 concubines, many of them foreign, and had permitted them to worship their own gods, even building idols of some on a hill east of Jerusalem. This angered the Lord and caused a civil war in Israel that resulted in the Kingdom being divided. Following the death of Solomon, the Northern Kingdom, called Israel and consisting of the land given to 10 of the 12 tribes, descended rapidly into idol worship while the smaller Southern Kingdom, called Judah and consisting of the land given to the remaining 2 tribes, remained faithful to God.

    During this time all those in the Northern Kingdom who remained faithful to God migrated south with the Levites (2 Chron 11:16) so all the 12 tribes were represented in the Southern Kingdom. The notion of 10 tribes being lost following the subsequent defeat of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria is not Scriptural, and any doctrine based on the so-called lost 10 tribes is therefore suspect. But that’s a topic for another day.

    How Long Will You Waver Between Two Opinions?

    For the next 80 years the people of the Northern Kingdom vacillated between allegiance to God and allegiance to various Canaanite deities, sometimes worshiping all of them at the same time. During Elijah’s time there had been a drought in Israel for 3 years, a sign of God’s displeasure with this ongoing flirtation with paganism. Ahab was King of Israel and had married a daughter of the King of neighboring Phoenicia (Lebanon), a powerful and influential woman named Jezebel. She personally supported 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. It was these prophets that Ahab summoned to Mt. Carmel in response to Elijah’s “invitation.” In the presence of all the people Elijah (his name means God is Lord) challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest designed to reveal the one true God.

    Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has 450 prophets. Get 2 bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire – He is God.” Then all the people said, “What you say is good.” (1 Kings 18:22-24)

    All that morning the prophets of Baal called upon their god. They danced around their altar, and cut themselves with knives, part of their religious practice. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder,” he said, “Surely he is a god. Perhaps he is relieving himself or busy or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened” (1 Kings 18:27). This went on all through the day with no response from Baal. Then at the time of the evening sacrifice Elijah took 12 stones, one for each of the 12 tribes of Israel, and built an altar for the Lord. He dug a trench around it and placed wood upon it. He cut the other bull into pieces and arranged them on the wood. Then he had the people bring 4 large jars filled with water that he poured on the offering and the wood. “Do it again,” he said and they did. “Do it a 3rd time,” he ordered and they did. The water ran down around the altar and filled the trench. And then he prayed. “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that You are God in Israel, and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that You O Lord are God and that You are turning their hearts back again” (1 Kings 18:36-37). Talk about a grandstand play. Can’t you just feel the tension mounting each time the altar was doused?

    Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil and even licked up the water in the trench. When the people saw this they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord – He is God. The Lord – He is God” (1 Kings 18:39). Elijah had them seize the pagan prophets and execute them according to Mosaic law (Deut 13:1-5) and shortly thereafter rain fell on the land of Israel for the first time in 3 years, a sign of God’s pleasure. Jezebel swore out a death curse on Elijah but God took him alive into heaven. The people later abandoned God again, judgement came in the form of the Assyrian armies, and the Northern Kingdom ceased to exist.

    Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It …

    At the close of the Old Testament, the Lord promised that Elijah would return to earth to herald the coming Messiah. He would once again turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, or else God would strike the land with a curse (Mal 4:5-6). Jesus said that John the Baptist was the promised Elijah (Matt 17:11-13), and although the hearts of many were turned to God King Herod put him to death. 38 years later the land was struck with a curse, judgement came in the form of the Roman armies and the Nation Israel ceased to exist.

    At the end of the age, Elijah will once again bring drought upon the earth at the Lord’s command, and for the 3rd time will implore the people to repent of their sins, and again the hearts of many will be turned to God. The antichrist will think he’s put him to death, but again God will take him live into heaven (Rev. 11:11-12). Judgement will come in the form of the Lord’s armies and the world as we know it will cease to exist.

    This Is Your Last Chance

    Elijah used 4 jars of water to douse the altar 3 times. 4 is the number of the earth (by the end of the 4th day its creation was complete) and the water can represent the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (see John 7:37-39). If so then the three dousings of the altar hint at Elijah’s three missions to earth offering God’s Holy Spirit and imploring the people to turn their hearts back to Him. After limited success each one ends in failure and is followed by a judgment. Each time the Lord in His mercy provides His people another chance.

    The Millennium is man’s last chance; there is no 4th mission for Elijah. But at the end of the Millennium in spite of utopian conditions with Satan bound and 1000 years of personal rule by the Lord Jesus Himself, there’s still enough residual evil in the heart of unregenerate man for Satan to mount a rebellion as soon as he’s freed (Rev 20:7-10). This illustrates man’s total inability to remain faithful to God. In spite of 7000 years of history filled with the undeniable revelations of God’s existence and His endless patience in dealing with us, only the shed blood of Jesus is able to make us fit to dwell in His presence.
    And now you know the adult version.

    The Hal Lindsey Report 8 26 2016

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