Among the dead no one proclaims Your name. Who praises You from the grave? (Psalm 6:5) Is Your love declared in the grave, Your faithfulness in Destruction? (Psalm 88:11)
The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any who go down into silence. For the dead cannot praise You; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in Your faithfulness.
(Psalm 115:17; Isaiah 38:18)
You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but You brought us to a place of abundance.
you will not be engulfed in raging rivers.
If it seems like you’re walking through fire with flames licking at your limbs,
keep going; you won’t be burned.
I will sacrifice a thank offering to You and call on the name of the LORD.
(Psalm 16:5′ Psalm 116:17)
I couldn’t do anything on my own, whether good or bad, that went against God’s command. Never betray His trust, get over “it” and keep walking in His will.
May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones. Just as you drank on My holy hill, so all the nations will drink continually; they will drink and drink and be as if they had never been.
Jesus: “If any of you is thirsty, come to Me and drink. If you believe in Me, the Hebrew Scriptures say that rivers of living water will flow from within you.”
Jesus was referring to the realities of life in the Spirit made available to everyone who believes in Him. But the Spirit had not yet arrived because Jesus had not been glorified. (John 7:38-39)
The Holy Spirit connects believers to the Father and His Son. So any fear about being disconnected from God may be abandoned; the Creator of the Universe dwells within His people, sustains them, and will accomplish the impossible through them.
true sons and daughters of the Living God!
Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)
We Are Christ’s Ambassadors
Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)
My Soul Rests in God Alone
On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah. (Psalm 62:7-8)
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry.
In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior.‘ (Jeremiah 33:16)
For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.
This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.”
Decree of the man who hears godly speech,
who knows what’s going on with the High God,
Who sees what The Strong God reveals,
who bows in worship and sees what’s real.
I see him, but not right now,
I perceive him, but not right here;
A star rises from Jacob
a scepter from Israel,
Crushing the heads of Moab,
the skulls of all the noisy windbags;
I see Edom sold off at auction,
enemy Seir marked down at the flea market,
while Israel walks off with the trophies.
A ruler is coming from Jacob
who’ll destroy what’s left in the city.
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (1 Corinthians 13:12-13)
The Way of Love
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-11)
Love Your Enemies
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45)
“A new command I give you: Love one another. AS I have loved you, SO you must love one another.” (John 13:34) Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (Luke 23:34)
Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:28)
By now Balaam realized that God wanted to bless Israel. So he didn’t work in any sorcery as he had done earlier. He turned and looked out over the wilderness. As Balaam looked, he saw Israel camped tribe by tribe. The Spirit of God came on him, and he spoke his oracle-message:
Decree of Balaam son of Beor,
yes, decree of a man with 20/20 vision;
Decree of a man who hears God speak,
who sees what The Strong God shows him,
Who falls on his face in worship,
who sees what’s really going on.
What beautiful tents, Jacob,
oh, your homes, Israel!
Like valleys stretching out in the distance,
like gardens planted by rivers,
Like sweet herbs planted by the gardener God,
like red cedars by pools and springs,
Their buckets will brim with water,
their seed will spread life everywhere.
Their king will tower over Agag and his ilk,
their kingdom surpassingly majestic.
God brought them out of Egypt,
rampaging like a wild ox,
Gulping enemies like morsels of meat,
crushing their bones, snapping their arrows.
Israel crouches like a lion and naps,
king-of-the-beasts—who dares disturb him?
Whoever blesses you is blessed,
whoever curses you is cursed.
Thus says your Lord, the LORD, even your God Who contends for His people, “Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling, The chalice of My anger; You will never drink it again. “I will put it into the hand of your tormentors, Who have said to you, ‘Lie down that we may walk over you.’ You have even made your back like the ground And like the street for those who walk over it.” (Isaiah 51:22-23)
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed–a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Friends, let me go over the Message with you one final time— this Message that I proclaimed and that you made your own; this Message on which you took your stand and by which your life has been saved.
(I’m assuming, now, that your belief was the real thing and not a passing fancy, that you’re in this for good and holding fast.)
The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says; that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around (although a few have since died); that he then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him; and that he finally presented himself alive to me. It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence.
But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste. Haven’t I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn’t amount to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it. So whether you heard it from me or from those others, it’s all the same: We spoke God’s truth and you entrusted your lives.
Now, let me ask you something profound yet troubling. If you became believers because you trusted the proclamation that Christ is alive, risen from the dead, how can you let people say that there is no such thing as a resurrection? If there’s no resurrection, there’s no living Christ. And face it—if there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. Not only that, but we would be guilty of telling a string of barefaced lies about God, all these affidavits we passed on to you verifying that God raised up Christ—sheer fabrications, if there’s no resurrection.
If corpses can’t be raised, then Christ wasn’t, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. It’s even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they’re already in their graves. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.
There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ. But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first, then those with him at his Coming, the grand consummation when, after crushing the opposition, he hands over his kingdom to God the Father. He won’t let up until the last enemy is down—and the very last enemy is death! As the psalmist said, “He laid them low, one and all; he walked all over them.” When Scripture says that “he walked all over them,” it’s obvious that he couldn’t at the same time be walked on. When everything and everyone is finally under God’s rule, the Son will step down, taking his place with everyone else, showing that God’s rule is absolutely comprehensive—a perfect ending!
Why do you think people offer themselves to be baptized for those already in the grave? If there’s no chance of resurrection for a corpse, if God’s power stops at the cemetery gates, why do we keep doing things that suggest he’s going to clean the place out someday, pulling everyone up on their feet alive?
And why do you think I keep risking my neck in this dangerous work? I look death in the face practically every day I live. Do you think I’d do this if I wasn’t convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus? Do you think I was just trying to act heroic when I fought the wild beasts at Ephesus, hoping it wouldn’t be the end of me? Not on your life! It’s resurrection, resurrection, always resurrection, that undergirds what I do and say, the way I live. If there’s no resurrection, “We eat, we drink, the next day we die,” and that’s all there is to it. But don’t fool yourselves. Don’t let yourselves be poisoned by this anti-resurrection loose talk. “Bad company ruins good manners.”
Think straight. Awaken to the holiness of life. No more playing fast and loose with resurrection facts. Ignorance of God is a luxury you can’t afford in times like these. Aren’t you embarrassed that you’ve let this kind of thing go on as long as you have?
Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.
You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection “seeds”—who can imagine what the resurrection “plants” will be like!
This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!
We follow this sequence in Scripture: The First Adam received life, the Last Adam is a life-giving Spirit. Physical life comes first, then spiritual—a firm base shaped from the earth, a final completion coming out of heaven. The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. In the same way that we’ve worked from our earthy origins, let’s embrace our heavenly ends.
I need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, earthy lives don’t in themselves lead us by their very nature into the kingdom of God. Their very “nature” is to die, so how could they “naturally” end up in the Life kingdom?
But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:
Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?
It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!
With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.
(1 Corinthians 15)
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
The Lord is RAISING up a generation of harvest laborers who walk with Him in spirit and in truth in all that they think, say and do for His glorious name’s sake! All to Jesus, they surrender. Joined as ONE to the LORD that is where the LORD commands the Blessing even life forever more.
This is the abundant life–there is no lying, thievery in their midst as they give all glory, honor and praise to the LORD Christ Jesus! His house (family) is a house hold (family) of prayer for the nations. We draw near to God in perfect submission coming together as One in the LORD for what God has joined together no man can tear asunder. The prayer of faith will heal the sin-sick and raise the dead for the dead praise not the Lord.
I will not die but live to declare the Word of the LORD!
We resist the devil and he must flee! We release the Spirit of the Risen Lord of Life! There is none good but God and we live to see the dead
Raised in newness of life in Christ Jesus who is our life.
In the midst of a great famine the likes of which the world has never SEEN,
Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not hurt the oil and the wine!” Rev 6:6
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
O taste and see that the LORD is good; and blessed are all who trust upon Him. (Psalm 34:8)
I will authorize my two witnesses to prophesy for 1,260 days dressed in sackcloth, the clothes that mourners wear.
These two witnesses are the two olive trees and two lampstands standing in front of the Lord of the earth. If anyone wishes to harm the witnesses, fire spews out of the witnesses’ mouths and consumes their foe in flames. Anyone who wishes to harm them is destined to die this way.
“Do not lay a hand on My anointed people;
do not do any harm to My prophets.”
Do not fear or worry. Tomorrow, face the army and trust that the Eternal is with you.
The Eternal has responded to your pleading: “Do not fear or worry about this army. The battle is not yours to fight; it is the True God’s.”
Trust in the Eternal One, your True God, not in your own abilities, and you will be supported. Put your trust in His words that you heard through the prophets, and we will succeed.
. . . whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)
For it is IN Him that we live, move and have our being.
This Gospel begins not with Jesus’ birth or John’s baptism but with a deliberate echo of the creation story in Genesis. It takes us back before time began to the moment when God interrupts the silence and speaks the cosmos into existence. Only John’s Gospel names Jesus as the Logos and declares that He existed long before time was measured. This Greek word carries a variety of meanings, all relating to the act of speaking. It could be translated “word,” a thought that comes to expression, message, declaration, reason, or the content of preaching; most are found in various translations. It is clear that John means that logos is declared to all creation.
John’s use of logos is unique and has often been rendered as “Word.” While this is a useful translation, even a casual understanding demonstrates that “Word” reflects only part of its meaning. Most readers will interpret “word” as a unit of language—a combination of sounds generally spoken but also written—that carries meaning. To understand what John means, readers need something more than their cultural understanding of “word”; they need a new way of thinking about it. This is why we have chosen to offer another rendering, an interpretive, poetic translation, of what may be one of the most theologically loaded words in Scripture. Since logos essentially refers to the act of speaking or bringing thoughts to expression, we have decided to use the word “voice” to capture that reality. John declares that truth has culminated in the person of Jesus. No single word captures the complete meaning of logos, but “voice” has a number of advantages.
First, “voice” manifests the act of speaking. Voice is that which is spoken and that which is heard; it comes on both sides of any communication event, bridging the gap between sender and receiver. John intends that in Jesus God is speaking and revealing Himself to the world.
Second, a voice is distinct and personal. We can distinguish people from one another simply by their voices. In John 10 Jesus describes the fact that the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd when he calls and they follow, but they refuse to follow a stranger because they do not know his voice (John 10:1-5). John desires that we know Jesus as the Son of God and believe in Him personally as the Good Shepherd.
Third, “voice” is dynamic in that it reflects the robust and powerful activity of a living God. It is historical in that any act of speaking comes to expression and takes place in the real world as a “voice” calling, demanding a response. It challenges any notion that the Christian faith can be reduced to rules, propositions, or doctrines that can be merely believed or dismissed and not lived out in our lives. Since in Jesus God is speaking and revealing Himself to the world, and since in Jesus we hear the Voice of God, then this new reality changes everything so we, too, must change.
In the beginning
Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.
The Voice was and is God.
This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator;
His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
all things that exist were birthed in Him.
His breath filled all things
with a living, breathing light—
A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched.
A man named John, who was sent by God, was the first to clearly articulate the source of this Light. This baptizer put in plain words the elusive mystery of the Divine Light so all might believe through him. Some wondered whether he might be the Light, but John was not the Light. He merely pointed to the Light. The true Light, who shines upon the heart of everyone, was coming into the cosmos.
Jesus as the Light does not call out from a distant place but draws near by coming into the world.
He entered our world, a world He made; yet the world did not recognize Him. Even though He came to His own people, they refused to listen and receive Him. But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God; He bestowed this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God’s will.
The Voice took on flesh and became human and chose to live alongside us. We have seen Him, enveloped in undeniable splendor—the one true Son of the Father—evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth. John the Baptist testified about Him and shouted, “This is the one I’ve been telling you is coming. He is much greater than I am because He existed long before me.” Through this man we all receive gifts of grace beyond our imagination. You see, Moses gave us rules to live by, but Jesus the Anointed offered us gifts of grace and truth. 18 God, unseen until now, is revealed in the Voice, God’s only Son, straight from the Father’s heart.
Before Jesus comes along, many wonder whether John the Baptist might be the Anointed One sent by God. But when Jesus appears in the wilderness, John points others to Him. John knows his place in God’s redemptive plan: he speaks God’s message, but Jesus is the Word of God. John rejects any messianic claim outright. Jesus, though, accepts it with a smile, but only from a few devoted followers—at least at first. Of course John is crucial to the unfolding drama, but he isn’t the long awaited One sent to free His people. He preaches repentance and tells everybody to get ready for One greater to come along. The One who comes will cleanse humanity in fire and power, he says. John even urges some of his followers to leave him and go follow Jesus.
The scroll John eats is taken from the hand of the powerful messenger who announces the fulfillment of all the prophecies. Just as it did for the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel (2:8–3:4), the scroll represents the message John is required to proclaim; but first he must take it in and it must become a part of him. Initially it tastes sweet, but as it settles deep within him, it becomes bitter. God’s message is always bittersweet. It is sweet joy for those who turn to God, but bitter sadness for those who do not accept it.
Then I received a measuring rod. It resembled a staff, and I was commanded to take measurements.
A Voice: Get up, and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship in it. However, do not measure the court outside of the temple. Separate that area out because it has been handed over to the nations. They will trample over the holy city for 42 months. I will authorize my two witnesses to prophesy for 1,260 days dressed in sackcloth, the clothes that mourners wear.
These two witnesses are the two olive trees and two lampstands standing in front of the Lord of the earth. If anyone wishes to harm the witnesses, fire spews out of the witnesses’ mouths and consumes their foe in flames. Anyone who wishes to harm them is destined to die this way. They have the authority to shut up the sky so that no rain may fall during the time of their prophecies. They also have authority to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with any plague whenever they desire.
The two witnesses bear a striking resemblance to the faithful prophets of Israel and the faithful martyrs of the churches. Together they stand speaking God’s message as the nations rant and rave and trample the holy city. The lampstands, which signify the churches, are not the light, but they welcome the light and present it to the world. The olive tree, even today, is a symbol of Israel. Olive trees supply the oil for the lamps so that they may burn brightly in the darkness. For a season, the two witnesses enjoy God’s protection, but a time is coming when they will fall victim to the nations and then lie silent.
On the day they finish their testimony, the beast from the abyss will declare war on them and win victory by killing them. Their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city (which, spiritually speaking, is called Sodom and Egypt) where their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days, representatives of the peoples and ethnicities, languages and nations stare down at their lifeless bodies and refuse them a proper burial. Because these two prophets tormented the earth dwellers by speaking God’s message, the people will rejoice over their dead bodies and celebrate their deaths by exchanging gifts with one another.
At the end of the three and a half days, the spirit of life that comes from God entered their corpses, raising them, and they stood again on their feet. Those who looked on were terrified by what they saw. Then they heard a great voice from heaven.
A Voice: Come up here!
Their enemies watched the spectacle as the witnesses ascended into heaven in a cloud.
In that same hour, a great earthquake shook the earth causing one-tenth of the city to crumble into dust, and 7,000 people were killed in the earthquake. Then the rest who were left alive, quaking in fear, turned and glorified the God of heaven.
The second disaster has passed; watch as the third disaster comes quickly.
The seventh messenger sounded his trumpet, and great voices in heaven confessed:
Voices from Heaven: The kingdom of the world has given way to the kingdom of our Lord
and of His Anointed One.
He will reign throughout the ages.
When the seventh messenger blows his trumpet, the kingdom of this world comes to an end. The rule and reign of God and His Anointed has arrived in full to eclipse the rogue kings who rebelled against the Creator and mocked His good name. God’s kingdom entered our world in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It slipped in almost unnoticed beneath the noses of the powers that be. It grows silently as a seed in the earth until it fills the cosmos.
Today Christians live between the times: we live as aliens and strangers rescued from this present darkness, but we also live as citizens who long for the Kingdom that is to come. Until then we are to seek His kingdom and help carve out the territories for Him.
Then the twenty-four elders, who sit before God on their thrones, fell prostrate and worshiped God.
Elders: We give You thanks, Lord God, the All Powerful,
who is and who was.
For You have wielded Your great power
and have begun Your reign.
The nations have raged against You,
but Your wrath has finally come.
It is now time to judge all of the dead,
To give a just reward to Your servants, the prophets,
and to the saints and all who honor Your name,
both the small and the great,
And to destroy those who cause destruction to the earth.
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened up, and His covenant chest could be seen within His temple. Lightning flashed all around. Noises and thunder rumbled. The earth trembled. Heavy hailstones fell from the sky.
(John 1; Revelation 11)