Archive for the ‘Questions You Have Asked’ Category

“Heaven” Bible Study – Week #1
October 11, 2017

Heaven Bible Study, Fall 2017My friend, Barb Kinsey, and I are going to have 4 weeks of conversation, stories, and fun as we see if we can find Bible answers for our questions about Heaven this fall.   We’re inviting friends and neighbors to join us.  I’ll post each week here.  Click on the picture to see our first week in “Heaven”.  – Kathleen

 

Will Israel Someday Believe in Jesus Christ?
March 15, 2017

Will Israel Someday Believe in Jesus Christ?

     Jeremiah 51:5“For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God, the Lord of Hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.”  (spoken to the Israelites when they are warned by Jeremiah of the coming judgment of Babylon.)

     Isaiah 54:7 “ ‘For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you.’ ” (spoken by God to Israel.)

In fact, look at the whole chapter of Isaiah 54: (spoken to Israel)

And all of Isaiah 12 (spoken by Israel to their Lord after they come to faith)

Isaiah 11:12  “He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”  (This is not speaking of the Jewish return from Babylon in 500BC, since this verse speaks about a return from everywhere on earth.)

Jeremiah 33:  As the Jews are learning of the soon to come Babylonian invasion, Jeremiah slips in promises of what will come after:  “And I will cause the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel to return, and will rebuild those places as at the first.  I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me.  Then it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise and an honor before all nations of the earth, who shall hear all the good that I do to them; they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and all the prosperity that I provide for it” (:7-9)

But, in case you think the above verse only refers to the return of the Jews from Babylon in 500 BC, look also at these verses in Jeremiah 33, which speak of the coming of Jesus, and then the ultimate saving of Judah and Jerusalem:

“ ‘In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.  In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely.  And this is the name by which she will be called:  THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ ” (:15&16)

Hosea 6:1-3Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.  After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.  Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord, His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.”

All of Hosea 14, especially 1&2   “O Israel return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; take words with you, and return to the Lord.  Say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.’ ” (:2)

Animal sacrifices would not be enough.  Only words of true repentance would be sufficient.

And then, of course, Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said this, after the church had already been established:

     9:27-29  “Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved.  For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth.’  And as Isaiah said before: ‘Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been made like Gomorrah.’ ”

Yes, the nation of Israel, though then they will be just a portion of the total number of Jews who have ever lived, some day will be saved.

    10:12 “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.  For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ”

Yes, when Jesus came the first time a wonderful thing came out of a bad thing.  Israel’s unbelief at that time opened the door for all, Jews and Gentiles, to experience believing in and knowing the Messiah.

     10:19 “I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.”

Somehow the nation which is not a nation, in other words, the church, will bring about jealousy in the hearts of Jews, as they see a people who are able to communicate with the God of the Jews, but the Jews, themselves, are not.

     11:5 “Even so, then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”

Within the church there have always been a few Jews who have, by God’s grace, believed in their Messiah.

     11:11 “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall?  Certainly not!  But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.”

The church is right now being used, you might say, to provoke the Jews to jealousy, and thus bring the Jews to salvation…just as the Jews were used to bring salvation to the church.

The church is not the same as Israel.  There are promises made specifically to Israel which God will of course keep.  Israel is not gone from the care and touch of God.  And when Israel finally does come to faith…how much greater will that be than anything up to that point in history?

     11:15 “For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”

The time of Israel’s belief will be the blessing of eternal life for the Jews, and the blessing of eternal life for even more Gentiles, completing what God started.

     11:30-31For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy.”

When Israel was disobedient, Gentiles were blessed.  When Gentiles are blessed, Israel gets another chance at mercy.

Now look at Zechariah, who saw how it would look when Israel finally came to faith – the whole nation:

     13:1In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”

When will it happen? – when all the nations are gathered against Jerusalem

     12:9It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”

After two-thirds of the Jews have been destroyed, the final third will be the ones who, as a collective group, place their faith in their Messiah:

     13:8&9 “And it shall come to pass in all the land, says the Lord, ‘That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it; I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested.  They will call on My name, and I will answer them.  I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’.”

 

And that brings us to Zechariah 12:10, Revelation 11:13 and Revelation 14:14, all three verses describing the same event. Hold on for one more minute as we remind ourselves of the drama that has unfolded up to this point in the Last Seven Years:

The Jews who have not yet believed in Jesus, scattered throughout the world…

  • Have, like the rest of the world, seen anti-christ bring peace to a trembling world.
  • They have seen him come to power and demand to be worshipped.
  • Some of them fled from him when he came to power and began to pursue Jewish people, and God protected them.
  • Some of them stayed behind, attracted to the anti-christ.
  • They have seen the ferocious attacks against Christians by anti-christ.
  • They have heard the testimonies and seen the power of the Two Witnesses in Jerusalem.
  • They have gone through the great earthquake and somehow survived, perhaps realizing that those who called themselves Christians were suddenly gone from the world.
  • They have heard the testimonies of 144,000 Jewish believers in Jesus who were left behind when the rest of the church was raptured.
  • Many of them have realized that anti-christ, ruler of the world, is evil.
  • Others have been confused, beginning to wonder if they have been wrong to trust anti-christ.
  • The nations of the world are gathering outside of Jerusalem, preparing to attack, perhaps because of the Two Witnesses who cannot be stopped.
  • Finally anti-christ accomplishes the silencing and murder of the Two Witnesses.
  • They have watched those two dead bodies lie in the streets of Jerusalem for three days, not even given a decent burial.
  • Sometime during those three days the Holy Spirit has used all the chaos and terror, and all the truth spoken during the Last Seven Years by persecuted Christians, 144,000 witnesses, and the Two Witnesses in Jerusalem…and He has broken down barriers of fear and unbelief and blindness in Jewish hearts…
  • On the third day the Two Witnesses rise from the dead, in front of the whole world…and there is an earthquake in Jerusalem….
  • And Jews in Israel and throughout the world, watching this transpire, are so ready!  Their eyes are fully opened!  They cannot help but see the hand of God, Jesus, reaching into their lives, offering faith and salvation.

 

       Zechariah 12:10And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me who they pierced.  Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn…”

Revelation 11:13  “In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell.  In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.”

     Revelation 14:14:  “Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.  And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.’  Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.”

Jesus gathers in a harvest of belief – His people, the Jews, wherever they are in the world, finally come to faith in Him.

 

What are some practical, fun ways parents can pass on the heritage of loving the Word of God to future generations?
March 2, 2015

Here are a few ideas I’ve thought of…some of them I used with our children as they were growing up, and some I wish I had:

  1. Read the Word of God to them.
  2. Let them know you love the Word of God and read it every day.
  3. Memorize scripture together.
  4. Quote your memorized scripture to them
  5. Have Bible Memory contests
  6. Use scripture when answering questions.
  7. The Bible in 90 Days.  http://scriptureawakening.com/b90/
  8. Buy them great Bible study books or games:
  9. Plan a special meal, and invite them to come, letting them know that the reason for the evening is so that you can tell them your story of how you came to know Jesus and what are your favorite verses in the Bible.
  10. Tell them stories from the Bible about Families, and the value of handing down the truth of the Word of God from one generation to the next. (Like the story of Ruth)
  11. Put together a unique photo album. On the left side of the page put a picture, and on the right side, write the story of that picture….what was happening, who is in the picture…and what you learned from God during that time.
  12. Compile a family geneology, and indicate what you know about each person’s relationship to Jesus. Ask your children or grandchildren to help with the research or the compiling.
  13. Be sure your children see you praying.
  14. Sing scripture choruses together.
  15. If you play the piano, grab a hymnbook and let them turn the pages…talk about the words of the hymns. Learn some hymns together.  Teach them to harmonize.
  16. Take them on a short-term mission trip with you. What a rich experience for them to meet other kids their own age, in a different culture, who also love the Bible (in their own language) and Jesus.
  17. Teach them a verse or two in another language. Pray for children who speak that language.
  18. Take them to a baseball game, or fishing, or gardening…and talk about the things you are learning from the Lord.
  19. Turn them on to a good Christian kids’ website.
  20. Invite their friends over for dinner. Welcome them into the fellowship of your family as you pray before a meal, and talk about Jesus and scripture passages as you eat.
  21. Are you fully committed to doing things God’s ways until the end of your life? Do your children know that? Psalm 119:112 says I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the very end.”
  22. Do your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren know you spend time in the Word every day?

Proverbs 13:22  “ A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children…”

 

Questions You Have Asked: “Why didn’t God have His Son Born in the Most Beautiful and Glorious Place on Earth?”
November 17, 2014

God, why didn’t You have Your Son born in the most beautiful and glorious place on earth, with the whole world watching?  Why a quiet and lonely manger, with two young, uneducated parents, and animals and filth all around?

If I could ask this question, I think God would say:  “There is no place on earth beautiful and glorious enough to merit the birth of My Son.  There is no number of people large enough to fully appreciate His arrival.  I carefully chose the place and the time and the people and the surroundings. That’s all you need to know.”

That would be enough for me.

 

Questions You Have Asked: “Could There Be Another Savior, Besides Jesus?”
November 12, 2014

Good question.   Let’s look at the facts:  The Savior promised by God all through the Old Testament was going to be His Son.  “You are my Son, today I have begotten You.”  (Psalm 2:7) .  So what we’re asking is: could God have fathered more than one Son?

We know the answer to this question from one simple phrase:  Jesus is called the “only begotten Son of God”.  (John 1:14)  There are no other begotten sons of God.  Jesus is and always will be the only Son who was physically fathered by God.

 

One Savior/Messiah/Son of God was promised all through the Old Testament.  Only One.

If there had been or could be other begotten Sons of God, then there would be many Saviors.  But there was only One.

What are the implications of this, then?

  • That means Jesus is the only way to salvation.  There is no salvation in any other person, or in any other name.   John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man comes to the Father except through Me.”
  • And it means if anyone else ever comes along saying they are the Savior of the world, run very fast in the other direction.  “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we may be saved.”  Acts 4:12

Questions You Have Asked: Why Don’t People Believe in Jesus When There Are So Many Proofs That He Is Who He Said He Was?
November 4, 2014

With all the proofs of Who Jesus was, how can anyone not believe?

There is a very simple yet heartbreaking answer to this often-asked question.

Every person on earth is a sinner,   (“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.Romans 3:23)  and sinners do not want to have their sins exposed by the Light, but instead end up hating the Light.  (John 3:19&20)

Well, then, you might say, if that’s true, how does anyone ever believe in Jesus (the Light)?

Here’s how:  even the ability to hate sin and the desire to be forgiven is a gift of God.   That gift can be accepted or rejected by each person because every person has free will.

Those who see they are sinners but do not want to humble themselves before God and ask for His forgiveness become haters of the light.  They refuse to believe, not because they don’t have enough proof of Who Jesus is, but because they don’t want to admit who they are in the eyes of the Holy God.

Questions You Have Asked: “How Can God Let His Faithful Servants Be Killed?”
October 28, 2014

This is such a puzzle to most of us.   Why does God allow ISIS to crucify Christian Pastors, and slaughter innocent children in front of their Christian parents in the middle of a country which so desperately needs the Gospel?  Why doesn’t God step in and protect the ones who are faithfully serving Him in this world?

I’m sure I can’t fully answer this, but a scene in the book of Revelation comes to mind:

“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of th-11ose who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.  And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”  Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”  Revelation 6:9-11

There are just a few things to observe from this future event:

  1. Isis martyrs and many other Old and New Testament believers in the One, True God (Jesus) are in this group pictured in Revelation.  These are the ones who have been martyred for the faith throughout history.
  2. This is an honored, special group of people, evidenced by where they are standing, under the altar of God, in His throne room.
  3. They are just as curious as we are about why God keeps waiting to finally destroy all the cruel enemies of God. They cry for all martyrdom to be over.
  4. They are rewarded with a white robe. Why is this a reward?  Not exactly sure.  White robes are what the raptured saints will be wearing as soon as they are snatched out of the world, resurrected out of their earthly bodies, and gathered around the throne.  (described in Revelation 7:9&10)  And, white robes are what all believers in the One, True God (Jesus) will be wearing someday as we return with Christ on white horses (described in Revelation 19:11-14).  Perhaps the reward here is that the martyrs receive their white robes first, before any of the rest of us do.
  5. They are told to rest with the current horrible situation on earth. How can they rest, knowing what their fellow believers are facing? Their rest has to be based on their trust that God Himself knows what He is doing.
  6. They are told that there are a few more people to be martyred for their faith on the earth, and those future martyrs are not going to be robbed of their opportunity to join this elite group. In other words, to be martyred is an honor, and there is a job they are needed for, and Lord wants them to get their chance!

Again, I’m not sure this completely answers our questions about the suffering of faithful servants of God, but I am comforted in my heart to know that God is allowing these things, that He does have a purpose, and that those martyrs will someday give out a group shout, “It was worth it!!!”

Questions You Have Asked: Why Do You Need Us, God?
October 21, 2014

Since You are all-powerful, why do You need us to praise You or prophesy or tell others about You?  Couldn’t you just do anything You needed to to get the word out to people?  Angels?  Words written in the sky?  Why do You need us?

The Psalmist asked this question, too.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? “  Psalm 8:3&4

We can’t always know the “why” of things when it pertains to understanding the mind of God.  All of us have many, many “why”’s which may never be answered in our lifetimes.

But here’s what we can know:  God has made it obvious that He does care about man.  And He does choose to use men in His plan for the earth.   He lets us praise Him.  He lets us prophesy.  He lets us pray.  And He chooses to use all those things to spread His truth.  He could use any number of other spectacular displays of His glory, or methods of communication, and sometimes He does, but mostly, He chooses to use men.

Why?  Just put that on your list of things to ask Him someday when you are kneeling at His throne.

Questions You Have Asked: “Am I a Part of Some Bigger Plan?”
October 16, 2014

I can unhesitatingly say,  “Yes, you are.  We all are.”

If you read the stories in the Bible of ordinary people who were used in many, many ways as a part of God’s bigger plan, you would be convinced of this, too.

Take,  for instance, the priest Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth in Luke Chapter 1.  They were not powerful or rich or especially smart people.  They were ordinary.  They had wanted a child all their lives but hadn’t been able to have one.  They couldn’t make their own dreams come true.  And even when a real, live angel appeared right before Zacharias’s eyes, he, a religious man, couldn’t muster up the belief to accept what the angel said!

But, even with very weak faith at first, they brought into the world the tiny baby who would grow up to be the one who introduced the long-awaited Messiah to the world.

If you believe God raised Jesus from the dead, you have a part to play in God’s plan for all eternity.   If you don’t believe that yet, take the first step – ask Him to help you believe.  And then Wow!  Wait and see what God has in store for you.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus  for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”  Ephesians 2:10

Questions You Have Asked: Why Hasn’t God Answered My Prayer?
October 7, 2014

If you stop to think about it, there are many, many times in scripture when God waited a long time to answer prayer.  In fact, what strikes me is that most of the time God does wait a long time to answer!  Waiting seems to be the rule, not the exception.

That’s why Isaiah 40:31 speaks so directly to each of our hearts.  “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Waiting is normal.

But sometimes God hears your prayer, and says “No.”.

  •  God said “No.” to the people of Israel when they longed for the bread and meat pots of Egypt.  Learning to live as free people had turned out to be very, very hard, and they just wanted to go back to their old lives of slavery and quit trying to fight for their freedom.  God said “No.”  (Exodus 16)
  •  God said “No.” when a money-loving little prophet named Balaam wanted to do the wrong thing.  He asked God to bless him as he went about his greedy little business.  God actually spoke that “No!” to that prophet by the voice of a donkey!  (Numbers 22:22-34)
  •  Naomi, I’m sure, prayed for the Lord to spare the life of her husband, but God said “No”.  He died.  And then I’m positive she also prayed for the Lord to spare the lives of both of her sons.  But God said “No.”  They died.  Her bitterness rose up in her at what seemed to be the unfaithfulness of God.  But he wasn’t, was He?  His “No.”  was actually “Not in the way you pictured it.”  (The book of Ruth)
  •  Jeremiah prophesied and prayed for his whole lifetime for the children of Israel to repent and live wholeheartedly for the One, True God.  In Jeremiah’s lifetime they never did.  God said “No”…not yet. Jeremiah, but they will someday.” (The book of Jeremiah)
  •  Habakkuk pleaded with God to not send a horde of bloodthirsty Assyrians down to conquer Israel.  God said “No.”  And then God said “Stop asking, Habakkuk.  I am God.  I will do things My way.”  Habakkuk 2:10
  • The Apostle Paul pleaded with God to take away his affliction.  But God said “No.”  “My grace is sufficient for you.”  (2nd Corinthians 12:9)

So…what conclusions can we come to about unanswered prayer?

  • God always says “No.” to sin.  If you pray for the right to sin, you won’t get an “ok” from God.
  • Sometimes God says “No”, meaning, “Not in the way you pictured it”.
  • Sometimes God isn’t saying “No”, He’s saying “Wait”.
  • And sometimes He says, “Just trust Me.

We are called to pray.  And as we pray we grow in our faith.  Even when God says “No” we grow in our faith.

So if it seems like God is not answering your prayer, wait.   We learn, I think, to pray more and more according to God’s will, when we go through times of waiting and sometimes getting silence when we want answers.  We slowly begin to love to pray not because we think we can force God to do our will, but because we are beginning to love His will so much.

Why Hasn’t God Answered My Prayer?

Here’s the answer:  He is.

 

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