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Don't Forget Israel
Lord Captain of the Sea

A friend of sinners? Oh my!

The True Love of my Soul

 

Don't Forget Israel

The existence of Israel is necessary for the return of Christ (Jer 23.3-6).

Millions of Christians around the world hold fast to the belief that a Jewish state is necessary for the Second Coming of Jesus. Their fervent support for Israel is backed by Old Testament passages that anoint Israel, refer to the Jews as God's "chosen people," and promise that God will bless those who bless the Jewish people (Genesis 12.3; Psalm 122.6).

When the Jews began to return to their ancient homeland during the late 1800s, they accomplished something that no other group of people has ever done - they survived 19 centuries of exile, worldwide dispersion and intense persecution, and re-established sovereignty for Israel. In fact, when Israel became an independent country again in 1948, it was the first time in more than 2000 years that the Jews had true sovereignty for their homeland.

Others Christians support Israel out of a sense of spiritual debt to the Jews, noting that the majority of the Bible was written in Hebrew and ordained by God to the Jews. It is through this original covenant between God and His "chosen people," that Gentiles are able to come to God. Paul speaks of this spiritual debt and instructs us to assist the Jews (Romans 15.27).

Other Christians have more secular reasons for supporting Israel. They believe that a united Jewish state represents the best hope of preserving the Holy Land and curbing the persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East.

Whether religious or secular in nature, a deep support for Israel resonates with millions of Christians. Undeterred by the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the widespread hostility toward Christians in the Middle East, throngs of Christians immigrate each year to the Holy Land. Indeed, Israel is the only state in the Middle East where the Christian population is actually growing. This support of Israel is particularly strong among evangelical Christians.

Now not all share their fervor. Many orthodox Christians and Catholics, for example, subscribe to the "replacement theology," or the belief that the Christian Church supplanted the Jews as God's "chosen people," when the latter refused to accept Jesus as Messiah.

Those who hold to a “replacement theology” have about them a certain sublime arrogance involved in simply crowning oneself "God's chosen people." Indeed, lacking any definitive new word from God, it would seem sublimely smug - and human - to presume that the original covenant between God and the Jews no longer exists. Furthermore, it would entail ignoring roughly 80 percent of the Bible (the Old Testament) and the Biblical prophesies, all of which talk about the restoration of Israel prior to the Second Coming.

  • Isaiah, for example, foretold that in the last days, "the Lord shall set his hand again the second time ... and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel ... from the four corners of the earth ... and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off." (Isaiah 11.11-13).
  • Ezekiel 37.22 proclaims that God will "...make them one nation in the land of Israel ... and they all shall have one shepherd ... they shall be my people . and the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify. Israel."
  • The New Testament speaks of the dismantling of Israel (which occurred in 70 AD) and the scattering of the Jews across the earth. Both Luke and Mathew prophesy that the Jews will gather again in Israel prior to Christ's Second Coming (Luke 21 and Matt 24).

While the restoration of Israel seemed inconceivable for much of Western history, it became a reality in our generation. In 1948, Israel was re-established as a nation. In 1967, the Holy Land was restored when Israel regained Jerusalem. Thus continues the restoration, hauled along, in part, by the evangelical's unwavering faith in God's promise to fulfill His Word.

My point is this: Although the war in Iraq has captured our attention momentarily and for a season, don’t forget to pray for Israel (Psalm 122.6).

Remember, the Bible predicts two types of regatherings of Israel...

  • Nationally - when the Jews return to their homeland. (Ezek 37.3-8)
  • Spiritually - when all Israel shall be saved. (Rom 11.26).

The *National Regathering* has already been fulfilled. Now all we are waiting for is the fulfillment of Israel's *Spiritual Regathering*. Therefore, we’re one step closer to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

The great thing about all this is that these things are being fulfilled within YOUR generation!

In the meantime, as you wait for the Lord, remember that each dawning day offers you a new chance to impress on the world the grace and love of Jesus Christ. Let’s you and me use these *final days* wisely.

 

Lord Captain of the Sea

On the same day, when evening had come, Jesus said to His disciples, "Let us cross over to the other side."

Now when they had left the multitude, they took Jesus along in the boat, just as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"

Then Jesus arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" Mark 4.35-40
Jesus is the Lord Captain of the sea. The other boats mentioned in our text must have been a convoy. Jesus was in one boat and the other boats each had their own captain and crew. Interestingly, the next verse mentions a fierce storm that sent huge waves breaking over the boats.

When you set sail with Jesus, smooth sailing may not always be on the horizon. You must not expect to find the sea calm from such storms. If the storm breaks on your Savior's boat, then it will surely break on yours. If your Savior's boat is tossed by strong winds, then yours will be affected as well. This is what Jesus meant when He said. “Take up your cross and follow Me” (Luke14.27). Anyone who carries the cross of Jesus will encounter a few splinters along the way. That’s what it means to identify with your Lord.

That night on the boat, no one was asleep except Jesus. All eyes were fixed on the storm. Jesus had His eyes on the Father. All others were horribly afraid. Jesus was at peace and perfectly calm.

Your Captain has shown you that the real storms in life are not the ones that occur on the outside of you, but those which stir and toss on the inside. You have no control over over natural storms. Those storms will occur in accordance with the God-ordained physical laws of this world. But the personal storms -- the ones on the inside -- are formed by you, yourself. You create your own storms.

When all the crew on the boats felt helpless, then arose Jesus from His nap. With three words. “Peace, be still,” He commanded the calm to come forth. And the storm instantly obeyed Him.

Notice it wasn’t just a calm that ensued at your Lord's command. It was a *GREAT calm.*

Although there may be sorrow, fear or panic on your boat, if it is in Jesus’ convoy, there will be perfect calm and joy as well. I guess we can say in a figurative manner that Jesus is not only on the boat, but He IS the boat wherein you must remain during those sudden storms that life brings along from time to time. He is many other things as well. He is your anchor, your rudder, your lighthouse, your life-boat, and your harbor.

One thing is certain. While in Jesus’ convoy, not one of His crew will suffer shipwreck despite the fierceness of the storm. By faith, you set your sails for another day. The winds and waves of life's storms will not defeat you. Why? Because you belong to Jesus, the CAPTAIN of your soul.

Instead of going up on deck and sizing-up the storm, why not rest below in the safety and presence of Jesus? Always you will find your Savior -- your Captain -- at peace. So also should you be at peace.

The Lord's boat has already docked in heaven. The other boats in His convoy are not far behind.

Sail ON!
 

A friend of sinners? Oh my!

Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Jesus to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, "This Man receives sinners and eats with them." Luke 15.1-2
It is very significant that Jesus attracted sinners while the *religious elite* (the Pharisees) repelled them.

Sinners came to Jesus not because He condoned their sin, but because He cared for them. Jesus genuinely understood their needs and tried to help them. But the Pharisees criticized those who sinned, and kept their distance from them (Luke 18.9-14).

The Pharisees had a strong desire to learn the Word and to maintain personal purity, yet they had lost their love for lost souls.

Observe the condescension of the Pharisee's when they referred to Jesus as, “This man. . .”

Man?!! How could they have been so blind? Jesus is no ordinary man. He towers high above us all! Jesus is holy, harmless, undefiled and separated from sinners (Heb 7.26). Jesus is separated from sinners in that He is not a sinner Himself.

Jesus receives sinners so that they may not remain sinners. None are so precious in our Lord's sight as the sinners for whom He died. Sinners come to Jesus because they know that He will be their friend. But more than this is the fact that deep down within the soul of a sinner is the desire to be free from sin and made whole.

Some sinners refuse to admit that they are lost, but deep inside they KNOW. They think they can attain wholeness by putting down other sinners while elevating themselves. But such comparisons are the worst kind of self-deception. They are lies born in the deepest pits of hell.

One doesn’t gain freedom and wholeness by putting down others, but by putting on Jesus.

Thanks be to God, Jesus still dines with sinners today (Rev 3.20).

If our Lord returned right now -- this instant -- would He find that there are churches, care groups, denominations, families, and believers who, UNlike Himself, would never stoop so low as to receive sinners?

By the way... who have YOU eaten with lately?
 

The True Love of my Soul

"Tell me, O you whom my soul loves." --Song of Solomon 1.7

It is well to be able to say without any reservation, embarrassment or fleshly conditions to the Lord Jesus – “O You whom my soul loves."

When we first came to Jesus on His terms and opened up our heart to receive His gracious gift of forgiveness and eternal life, we entered a relationship with Jesus with the thought that we would love Him “if. . .”

Realizing that such a shallow experience will not bring real contentment, we pressed on learning to love Him more without any conditions attached. No one should give any rest to his spirit until he feels quite sure about his or her love for Jesus. We ought not to be entertaining superficial thoughts on whether Jesus loves me now, or whether our love for Him will ever get better. If God loved us when we were helpless and ungodly (Rom. 5.6), sinners (v. 8) and enemies (v. 10), then how much more certain of His love for us now that we are His children (John 1.12)!?

It would be good for us to capture the confidence of some of the saints in the Bible such as Job who said. “As for me, I know that My Redeemer lives” (Job 19.25), and Paul, “I know Whom I have believed. . .” (2 Tim. 1.12).

As critical as it is in terms of importance, we should never become satisfied with just doing daily Bible reading and keeping a journal. If you’ve been reading one chapter in the Bible, start reading two. If you’ve been reading from the New Testament only, start adding to that the Old Testament as well. If you’ve been reading all of the required bookmark reading, then press on even further and go beyond! If you journal one page, strive to do more! We must never become complacent with mere “requirements.” Go beyond the requirement and you will find knowing God to be even greater than you could ever imagine.

Genuine love for Jesus begins with the knowledge that He first genuinely loved us (1 John 4.19). We have peace through Him (Rom. 5.1). Through Him we have been purchased by His blood (Eph. 1.7); it is through Jesus that we are able to look above our circumstances and rejoice (Phil. 3.1); it was Jesus who delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to His kingdom (Col. 1.13); it was Jesus who became poor for us so that we through His poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8.9).

Over time, when I become conscious of His goodness, His perfection, His infinite greatness, His sacrificial love, His bountiful forgiveness and His godly charm, how can my own soul be content with its present love for Him?

There’s got to be more, there is more, I must find more. For I will not be satisfied until I have exhausted all my God-given resources.

Pressing On,

Rich

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