“For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)
The phrase “the new world” as applied to the two American continents is believed to have been coined by the explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who claimed to have been the first to sight the actual mainland. This is believed to be the chief reason why “America” was named after him rather than Christopher Columbus, who had “discovered” some of the islands of the West Indies just a few years before. (Actually, some of the Norsemen and possibly others “discovered” this new world several centuries before either one—not to mention the American “Indians” who reached the continent much earlier than any of them.)
Columbus himself has many memorials named after him too, of course. Think of the many cities named Columbus or Columbia, as well as the great Columbia River. Even America itself has been called Columbia in a number of songs and poems.
But was not a “new world” to God! It has been here all along, and we are thankful to be a part of it today.
There is a real new world coming, however! The Old Testament prophet received God’s promise long ago. “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17). The New Testament prophet, John, actually described it as seen in a wonderful vision. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth,” he said, and then described some of its beauties (seeRevelation 21:1).
But the apostle Peter transmitted the most wonderful news of all about this new world when he wrote that “we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). And all of us, who by faith have been made righteous in Christ, shall live there forever! HMM
“The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” (Isaiah 61:1)
The Lord Jesus appropriated this beautiful verse of the prophet Isaiah to Himself, preaching from it one day in the Nazareth synagogue and proclaiming: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). Note that He came to preach the gospel to the meek, not the arrogant, and to bind up the brokenhearted, not the hardhearted.
He also came to set the captives free. This was not, however, to deliver the Jews from Roman bondage as many had hoped, but a far greater deliverance. In the Hebrew, the phrase “opening of the prison” is only one word (a doubled word), and it occurs only this one time in the Old Testament. When Christ quoted it in the synagogue, He actually expanded and interpreted it as follows: “. . . recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18).
The “prison” which Christ came to open is evidently a spiritual prison, a binding of the soul, a blinding of the mind. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36)—free from the bondage of sin, translated, “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
There was also another prison, a very real prison, deep in the heart of the earth to which He came. While His body slept in the tomb, His spirit descended into Hades where the spirits of all who had died in faith were awaiting Him, and “when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and . . . ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:8, 10). HMM
The Institute for Creation Research
“And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.” (Genesis 45:28)
When someone exclaims, “It is enough,” either a requirement has been satisfied, or a need has been fulfilled, or a limit has been reached. This phrase occurs seven times in the Old Testament (two different Hebrew words) and three times in the New (each a different Greek word).
In its first occurrence (in our text), Jacob is overcome with thankful emotion at the news that his beloved son, long given up for dead, is still alive. For a very different reason, Pharaoh later cried: “Entreat the LORD (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail” (Exodus 9:28).
“It is enough: stay now thine hand” (2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chronicles21:15). This command of God to the death angel stopped the destruction of Israel following David’s sin of numbering his people. Later, when Elijah thought he could bear no more, “he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough” (1 Kings 19:4).
On the other hand, “there are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough” (Proverbs 30:15-16).
In the New Testament, Jesus said: “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord” (Matthew 10:25). As the time of His arrest was drawing near, He told His disciples: “It is enough, the hour is come” (Mark 14:41). When they produced two swords, “he said unto them, It is enough” (Luke 22:38).
There obviously are many types of circumstances which can lead one to cry: “Enough!” But “in the ages to come,” there will never be an end to “the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). We can never get enough of God! HMM
The Institute for Creation Research
John Piper has been sharing a series of short videos on him speaking about the gifts of the Spirit. The first was on tongues. I now want to share what he had to say on prophecy. Here are some excerpts to whet your appetite:
“I have been significantly influenced by Wayne Grudem’s book on prophecy . . .I think our tendency is to despise what the New Testament treats as prophecy . . . Prophecy in the New Testament doesn’t seem to have the same scripture quality, inerrant, inspiration and authority . . . you don’t go up to Isaiah and say I am going to test what you say . . . but you do do that with New Testament prophecy. . . Prophecy in the New Testament seems to be down a notch from prophecy in the old testament and is exposed to testing. . . God brining something to mind that you would not otherwise have thought of in the moment for the sake of upbuilding, encouragement, consolation. . . the way I personally appropriate this for myself . . . I pray as I am sitting there, God grant me a gift of prophecy in this preaching . . . bring to my mind things about yourself, and about this text, and about the truth, and about this people that I will be able to say in such a way that they will pierce with unusual, I might say, prophetic power into their lives. . . it happens very regularly that people say “have you been reading my mail, you looked at me and you said” I didn’t even know that I was looking at you . . . I was preaching on small groups . . .and I looked to my left and said “you might be working on the 34th floor of the IDS tower, maybe you should call people together and have a small group. . . a woman comes up afterwards and said “I work on that floor and I have been praying about whether to start a small group.”
Read the rest:
There are many compelling lessons to be drawn from the Scriptures and one of the clearest is that sinful and rebellious people can never be forced into repentance. The same act that may cause one person to repent and believe will cause others to hate and despise God! The same Bible sermon that brings the person to tearful submission at an altar of prayer will send others out with pride and a resolve to have their own human way. Students of the Scriptures are aware that the Old Testament prophets and the writing apostles of New Testament times foresaw and proclaimed God’s coming day of judgment-the consummate settling of accounts between the Sovereign God and his rebellious and sinful creation. How desperately we would like to believe that in the face of coming judgment, all lost men and women will cry out to God, but such will not be the case: “The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent” (Revelation 9:20).
And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
“The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Soloman is here.
“The men of Nineveh will rise up in judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
Pray that our leaders will follow the ways of the Lord and make their decisions based upon fear and reverence of His Word. Pray that we as a nation will not turn our backs to God‘s will and desires. Pray that our leaders will deliver us as a nation from destruction by honoring our Creator and Sovereign who has established us and desires to bless us as a nation.
By Jeff Coors, Executive Chairman of the Board for Intercessors for America
In the back of most Americans‘ minds today are questions about our nation’s future. Can the future of this country be as bright as the past? Have we seen our best days? Does God care about America as a nation? People wonder, “Can America be saved?”
The leadership of IFA has chosen to focus on this question during 2012. God has made it clear that nations are blessed when they follow Him. (“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Psalm 33:12) But nations are judged when they turn their backs on Him. (“The wicked will go down to the grave [sheol]. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God.” Psalm 9:17 NLT) History is filled with the graves of nations who turned their backs on God, but this same downfall doesn’t have to happen to America.
When God saves a nation it does not mean universal, eternal salvation for all people within the nation. Salvation comes through grace by faith as a personal response to the Holy Spirit‘s work in an individual’s heart. However, the Old Testament does illustrate how God “saves” large groups of people from two outcomes: from His wrath and from outside threats.
In this context, the word “save” is most commonly the Hebrew word “yasha,” which means: to save, be saved, be delivered, to be liberated, to save from moral troubles, or to give victory. It is this concept of being spared from national trouble, and of being secure from growing danger, to which we hope to draw your attention and prayers.
First, God can save groups of people from the wrath they deserve. As we read in Micah 5:15, God says, “I will take vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations that have not obeyed me.” He does hold nations accountable for their collective actions, just as He holds individuals accountable for their personal decisions and actions. Isaiah describes God’s standards of judgment when he writes in 64:5, “You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved (yasha)?”
Jeremiah 5:1 answers this question: “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.” It appears that our God will save a group of people from His wrath based upon the obedience of a few. An incredible measure of mercy!
In the midst of this mercy He still demands a nation’s obedience. Isaiah 45:22 emphasizes that only our Lord can save a nation: “Turn to me and be saved (yasha), all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” Mercy comes, and yet complete obedience by all is desired. God saves nations from His wrath and also from outside threats. The Israelites learned this as they fled Egypt: “Blessed are you, Israel! Who is like you, a people saved (yasha) by the LORD? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will tread on their heights.” (Deuteronomy 33:29) God also provided leaders to be used by His hand to save Israel from outside threats: “Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved (yasha) them out of the hands of these raiders.” (Judges 2:16)
As we begin our year, I would encourage you to pray that God would save America. Pray that He would save us from His wrath, which we deserve, drawing us toward obedience as a nation; and that He would save us from our enemies.
Christmas Thoughts from Presidents Past – Sunday, December 25, 2011
President Hoover wrote in 1932: “Your CHRISTMAS Service held each year at the foot of a living tree which was alive at the time of the birth of Christ..should be continued as a further symbol of the unbroken chain of life leading back to this great moment in the spiritual life of mankind.” President Eisenhower remarked in 1960: “Through the ages men have felt the uplift of the spirit of CHRISTMAS. We commemorate the birth of the Christ Child by…giving expression to our gratitude for the great things that His coming has brought about in the world.” President Carter commented in 1977: “CHRISTMAS has a special meaning for those of us who are Christians, those of us who believe in Christ, those of us who know that almost 2,000 years ago, the Son of Peace was born.” President Reagan stated in 1983: “CHRISTMAS is a time…to open our hearts to…millions forbidden the freedom to worship a God who so loved the world that He gave us the birth of the Christ Child so that we might learn to love.” Reagan continued: “The message of Jesus is one of hope and joy. I know there are those who recognize CHRISTMAS DAY as the birthday of a wise teacher…then there are others of us who believe that he was the Son of God, that he was divine.”
“Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended.”
“Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended,” spoke President Bush, SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, after Islamic terrorists hijacked passenger jets, flying two into New York’s World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and one which crashed in Pennsylvania. That evening President Bush stated: “Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. Pictures of planes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger.” President Bush continued: “America was targeted…because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world…I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve…I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me.’” On September 13, 2001, President Bush stated: “Scripture says: ‘Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.’ I call on every American…to observe a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance…In the face of all this evil, we remain strong and united, ‘One Nation Under God.’”
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