9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. — 2 Peter 3:9
God spoke everything into existence. Everything is held in place by the power of His word. Because everyone was “doing what was right in their own minds”, God destroyed the earth with the same water that had once covered the earth. Then He placed a rainbow in the sky as a sign to us that He would never again destroy the earth with water. Instead, the day is coming when He will destroy the present heavens and the earth with fire. We have once again arrived at that point where “everyone is doing what is right in their own mind” and not obeying the Lord. The Holy Spirit will not always strive with man and the time will come when God’s promise of destruction by fire will come. When? No one but the Father knows, but He is not bound by time, as we understand it. Our finite minds need eternity broken into small pieces so we can grasp it. That is not necessary for God. The One who is coming will come. While He is being patient with us, we need to be laboring in the fields that are white with harvest. It is not His will that any should perish and everyone will have more than ample opportunity to accept Him as Savior and Lord. But, we know that no matter how long He waits, there will be those who choose to go to hell rather than accept His free gift of salvation. Fill your lamps with oil, trim them to keep them burning and buy extra oil. Be alert! Be ready! The bridegroom is coming soon!“
The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
1 The Lord said to Moses,2 “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually.— Leviticus 24:1 NLT
Consider the olive. The tree grows in stony soil where other trees cannot grow. A new tree is started with a seed or a cutting and then transplanted. It grows for seven years before it has any berries on it and it is about fourteen years before the crop reaches maturity. In Old Testament times, the fruit was harvested by shaking and beating the tree with a reed or a stick. This injures the tree so much that it will only produce fruit every other year. Once it starts to produce fruit, it will continue to produce fruit for centuries. After the fruit is harvested, it is pressed to get the oil from it. This oil was then used to keep the light in the Tabernacle lamps burning continually. Jesus said that we are now the light of the world. For us to be the pure light that we should be, we must go through much of the same process as the olive. God transplants us from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light and we start on a journey. It will take some time for us to mature and produce fruit. We need to be shaken at times to get us out of our comfort zones. We need to be disciplined at times to get us back on the straight and narrow path. We have sinful, fleshly desires and those desires are not going to go away without a fight. So, God allows us to be pressed down until there is nothing left but a heart with pure motives. Then and only then are we able to be the light to the world and deliver it from the darkness of sin.
8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.– 2 Cor. 4:8-10 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Philip and the other disciples had been following Jesus for a while now. They had seen Jesus perform miracle after miracle. Even now, a huge crowd was approaching Jesus because they knew about His miraculous work. Jesus sees this as an opportunity to test Philip. He asks Philip, “Where will we buy bread to feed these people?” Philip doesn’t answer the question Jesus asks, instead, he makes a statement about their lack. It doesn’t seem to enter his mind that the Bread of Life is sitting right in front of him. When Jesus asks us to do something for Him, what do we see? What is our answer? Don’t we do basically what Philip did? “Even if we_______, we wouldn’t have enough! (fill in the blank with whatever you think you would have to do to accomplish the mission). Most of us, like Philip, avoid the question and look at what we don’t have. Jesus will never ask us to do a work for Him without providing everything we need to accomplish the task. All he wants is our availability and all we need to finish the work is Jesus. If we do what Jesus asks us to do, the oil and the flour will not run out.
15 The widow went and did as Elijah had told her, and all of them had enough food for many days. 16 As the Lord had promised through Elijah, the bowl did not run out of flour nor did the jar run out of oil.—1 Kings 17:15, 16 (GNT)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
When the children of Israel kept complaining about their food situation in the desert, God gave them meat in the evenings and bread in the mornings (Exodus 16:8) . The manna fell from the heavens and an east wind blew in the quail. After Elijah had told Ahab that there would be no rain or dew in the land of Israel for a few years, Ahab became angry and desired to kill Elijah. God instructed Elijah to go hide by the Kerith Brook. Even though there was famine in the land, God had commanded the ravens to bring Elijah bread in the morning and meat in the evening. Elijah had food twice a day and water from the brook. God had created the ravens as scavengers. They are able to find food and survive when others are dying from hunger. It probably doesn’t sound too tasty but God provided all that Elijah needed to survive. We may not be happy in our present position but God has provided that position to us so that we can survive. Be thankful until the brook dries up and the ravens quit bringing the food. If we are thankful and obedient, then God will open up another way to feed us just as He did for Elijah by sending him to the widow of Zarephath. The widow fed Elijah a little bread made from her last flour and oil. That little turned into an abundance. God blessed the widow for her obedience and her jars of flour and oil never ran out. Provision and abundance follows obedience.
1 After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. 3 Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. 4 (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) 5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”—John 6:1-7 (NLT)
Philip and the other disciples had been following Jesus for a while now. They had seen Jesus perform miracle after miracle. Even now, a huge crowd was approaching Jesus because they knew about His miraculous work. Jesus sees this as an opportunity to test Philip. He asks Philip, “Where will we buy bread to feed these people?” Philip doesn’t answer the question Jesus asks, instead, he makes a statement about their lack. It doesn’t seem to enter his mind that the Bread of Life is sitting right in front of him. When Jesus asks us to do something for Him, what do we see? What is our answer? Don’t we do basically what Philip did? “Even if, we_______, we wouldn’t have enough! (fill in the blank with whatever you think you would have to do to accomplish the mission). Most of us, like Philip, avoid the question and look at what we don’t have. Jesus will never ask us to do a work for Him without providing everything we need to accomplish the task. All he wants is our availability and all we need to finish the work is Jesus. If we do what Jesus asks us to do, the oil and the flour will not run out. 15 The widow went and did as Elijah had told her, and all of them had enough food for many days. 16 As the Lord had promised through Elijah, the bowl did not run out of flour nor did the jar run out of oil.—1 Kings 17:15, 16 (GNT)
13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.–James 5:13-18 (NLT)
Of course, we know that God already knows our needs and our situation, but He has instructed to ask and keep on asking. Jesus told the story of the persistent woman and the unjust judge. She kept pestering the judge until he gave her what she was requesting. God does not always give us what we ask, because sometimes we ask for things that we don’t need. Psalm 37:4 tells us that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts. Have you ever noticed that sometimes, when you pray fervently that what you end up asking from God is not what you were thinking about when you first started praying? That is when you can know that “the desires of your heart” have aligned with God’s Word and His will. Then the answer is always yes. But, if our desires don’t line up, then we often get a “no” or “wait”. Some people say that it is a cop out to pray “nevertheless not my will, but Yours be done”. But that is what Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. So, if He set the example, it is a good pattern to follow.
1 Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. 2 Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. 3 Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. 4 He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God. 5 Don’t you remember that I told you about all this when I was with you?–2 Thessalonians 2:1-5 (NLT)
The return of Jesus has probably been and still is the most debated subject in the history of Christendom. We cannot know for certain when that event will occur. Even Jesus told us that we would not know for sure, not even Jesus knew: “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.–Matt. 24:36 (NLT)
We can only know for sure that it hasn’t happened yet. In the above passage, Paul tells us of some events that must occur before the return of Jesus. Some have already occurred, but there are more to come. We have no need to chase after rumors of His return. When He returns in the eastern sky, everyone will know about it. Our concern is to stay ready at all times and spend our time telling others about Jesus and His love. Jesus will return at the very day, hour, minute and second that the Father has already chosen. We are to keep our lamps burning and filled with oil, so that we will be ready when He returns whether that be now or thousands of years from now.
Isaiah 61:1-2 (NLT) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies
Yes, these verses apply directly to Jesus, but they also apply to us as well. Jesus did this work while He walked on this earth. Now, since we are His living temple and He abides in us, it is our duty to carry on this work. This is the good news that He commissioned us to carry to a lost and dying world. His Spirit indwells us and gives us power, boldness, and the words to speak to those He puts in our paths each day. It is not necessary to go on a mission to a foreign country to do this. We live in a foreign country (we are aliens here) and our neighborhood is our mission field. The secular workplace that God has put you in is your mission field. We are all ministers of God’s saving grace and as such, we should minister to people as we go. Our pastors and teachers are responsible for equipping us to minister to the world around us, but it is our responsibility to do the hands-on ministering.