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Who are the "Sons of God" in Genesis Chapter 6? (Part 7) - Steve Schmutzer -
Part 7: The Return of the Days of Noah
In Matthew 24:37 and Luke 17:26, Jesus explained that life on earth will be "....like the days of Noah" just before His Second Coming. His disciples had asked Him for a sign that would signal the very end of the age. Among the distinguishing marks of carnality, calamity, and complacency which He explained, Jesus specified this period of antiquity before the Great Flood to describe this future point in time.
This theme fascinates me and I do what I can to learn about it. While I've not done an exhaustive study of this matter, I feel common sense tells us several things about Jesus' reply:
It's more than the fact that people will be "....eating, drinking, and marrying." That's been happening for centuries as a prerequisite for human survival. Some "scholars" labor to argue that meeting these physiological fundamentals of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is somehow a sign that Jesus is coming back soon.
It's more than the fact that folks will be caught unawares. Sure - that's true, and Jesus even says so. But folks have been caught unawares by other events - and even "judgements" - before. That dynamic alone does not sufficiently mark this reference to "the days of Noah" above all other times humanity has been equally unprepared.
It's more than the fact that this period before the Great Flood was a time of great sin. Those who emphasize this angle struggle to explain why God reacted differently to sin then than He does now. At what point does God decide He's had enough? Since God's character is unchangeable, this case is weak and irreverent.
Let me be clear - there is some truth within each of these arguments. But as I stated earlier in this article series, "It's not true enough." There was much more going on during "....the days of Noah" that prompted Jesus to say what He did. Jesus could have picked any point in history to liken the time before his Second Coming to, but He chose "the days of Noah" and He had specific reasons why.
The prior installments of this "sons of God" series has laid a solid foundation of issues that must be considered in light of this comment by Jesus. Sound interpretive principles, a review of heresies within church history, and multiple points from responsible Biblical exegesis have been introduced. The result is a cohesive storyline has emerged from the greater body of Scripture.
Almost two months into the process, I've received enough reader feedback to Parts 1 through 6 of this series to conclude there are four types of people insofar as these themes are concerned:
THE REJOICERS - This group seems to speak up the least, but it is encouraging when they do. This group already believes in responsible Biblical interpretation as Part 1 of this series discussed. They have independently reached the right conclusions about these matters as a result, and they are thrilled that I'm presenting them the way I am.
THE REPENTERS - Members of this crowd had held to various errant beliefs about the "sons of God" in Genesis 6:1-4 before they considered all the facts. Some confessed they felt pressure to hold to wrong views while others said they were there out of ignorance. Regardless, this group has turned 180 degrees and is now pointed in a proper direction.
THE REJECTERS - This bunch flatly refuses to accept the truth of the Bible. Most of them choose to camp on one or two verses to the exclusion of all others. They think it's OK to have broadly-divergent views. Rather than submit to the full counsel of God's Word, they do and say whatever it takes to stick with the things they most want to believe.
THE REVILERS - This gang may be in the majority. They are everything the "rejecters" are, but with an added dose of venom. It's not good enough for them to simply disagree; they need to resort to abusive language and name-calling. This group makes their own case less cogent by their immaturity, and their choices render them as basically irrelevant.
I cannot do anything about the third and fourth groups, and so this final installment of this series, "Who Are the Sons of God in Genesis 6?" is chiefly directed to the first two categories of folks. With the humility and open-mindedness of those crowds in my forward view, it is my hope to help us all "struggle towards the light."
Permit me to summarize my high-altitude case. This is what I believe the Bible teaches, and it's a running start as we look ahead to times to come.
God put Satan on notice in Genesis 3:15 that a forthcoming Messiah would emerge through the unadulterated genome of the human race to ultimately and permanently defeat him. That Messiah was Jesus Christ. In that same verse, God also prophesied that enmity would be ongoing between the physical "seed" of the woman and the physical "seed" of the serpent.
The initial expression of this enmity is documented in Genesis 6:1-4 when fallen angels left their divinely-prescribed domain (Jude 1:6) and mated with human women in an effort to corrupt the human genome and eliminate any chance of the Messiah's arrival. This abhorrent act produced the gigantic Nephilim and resulted in God imprisoning those fallen angels who were responsible (2 Peter 2:4-5).
Though conditions on earth deteriorated precipitously as a result (Gen. 6:5, 12) of the actions of these "sons of God," God protected the purely-human lineage in the ark and drowned everybody else in the Great Flood. This preserved the conditions for the Messianic promise as well as God's plan for salvation.
Because God permitted sin to rear its head then as He does now, the Nephilim gene found its way onto the ark. This is documented in the genealogies of the Scriptures and is isolated to Ham's descendants. God later promised that the Messiah would come from the line of Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:1-6) and He stated that Abraham's descendants, the Israelites, would face the post-flood Nephilim in The Promised Land (Gen. 15:18-21). Satan narrowed his target to the Jews.
That all happened exactly as God had stated, and it took the Israelites a couple tries to get into The Promised Land as a result. Key battles with the Nephilim, the physical "seed" of Satan, are documented in the process. In the struggle, God told Moses, Joshua, and David to utterly destroy them all.
The Bible indicates a Nephilim connection in the conflict between the "gates of hell" and the ministry of Jesus and His future church (Matt. 16:13-18), and a similar element plays out within the fallen angels that accompanied His crucifixion (Psalms 22:12-13). But Jesus declares victory to the incarcerated "sons of God" which had first spawned the physical Nephilim (1 Peter 3:18-20), and all this sets up the final run into the future where Satan will be utterly crushed exactly as Gen. 3:15 had first foretold (Rev. 20:7-10).
So, back to Matthew 24:37 and Luke 17:26 where Jesus said it will once again be "....like the days of Noah." Will fallen angels enter the sphere of humanity again to sexually interact with humans and produce hybrid creatures? Will we see enormous Nephilim roaming the earth once more? Will mankind battle against giants in a struggle for basic survival before the Second Advent of Jesus Christ?
I think the basic answer to these questions is, "No," but I think the better answer is, "Not exactly." While the enmity between the "seed" of the serpent and the "seed" of the woman will continue to express itself according to Genesis 3:15, I believe Satan is going to try some different tactics moving forward. He'll be more subtle in the days ahead, but from God's point-of-view it's still the same thing.
We have to look at a series of clues in the Bible to get a grasp of what's coming, and while none of us have a crystal ball, I feel a collective view of these things helps to define a reasonable response to the question, "How will the 'days of Noah' manifest once more?"
The book of Daniel offers some points for consideration. In Daniel chapter 2, Daniel is explaining Nebuchadnezzar's vision of the great statue to the king. It's a panoramic view from Nebuchadnezzar's time to God's future kingdom that "....will endure forever" (Daniel 2:44).
Daniel says here of the end of the age just before the return of Jesus Christ that, "....they will mingle themselves with the seed of men" (Daniel 2:43). The text arranges "they" and "men" as two different sources. The implications of this are compelling when they are evaluated alongside Jesus' warning about the return of the "days of Noah" and the real meaning of Genesis 6:1-4.
The book of Daniel makes another connection between the pre-flood era and the time just before Christ's return. In the explanation of Daniel's vision in chapter 8, Daniel is told the antichrist will rise during a time when "rebels have become completely wicked" (Daniel 8:23). It's not "partly," and it's not "mostly." It's "completely." Different translations all make the same point that sin will reach maximum expression just before the Lord's return.
It sounds like the dynamics of sin just before the Great Flood. Genesis 6:5 says, "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Things were not "partly" or "mostly" evil before the Great Flood. They were "completely" so.
In other words, there was a time on earth before the Great Flood when humanity had become so completely depraved that the proverbial cup of sin could not take another drop. Jesus said those conditions are going to return, and Daniel 8:23 appears to state the same thing.
Those pre-Flood conditions were precipitated by the blending of fallen angelic "seed" with the "seed" of mankind. Daniel 8:23 seems to suggest it will take the same terms of the past to achieve similar conditions in the future.
The end of the antichrist and the false prophet is unusual. They are both "....captured and thrown alive into the lake of burning fire" (Rev. 19:20) when Jesus Christ returns and defeats them. They are the first two recipients of this eternal fate, and they are later joined by Satan who is "crushed" for good in Rev. 20:10.
But here's the kicker - the antichrist and the false prophet bypass the Great White Throne judgment which is a prerequisite event for all faithless humanity. Each unbeliever from all of history is tried by God before being tossed into the burning sulfur. Rev. 20:11-15 describes the horrors of the Great White Throne judgment, and a key point is nobody gets missed.
Hebrews 9:27 prescribes this fate with uncompromising words, "Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." Here's the bottom line: if you reject Christ, you will be judged and sent to hell. There are no exceptions.
But the burning lake of hell was also intended for "the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41), and so that's why Satan ends up there. But any way you look at this, the antichrist and false prophet are either not human or not fully human. If they were human, they'd face the Great White Throne judgment first, and that doesn't happen.
That point leads into the next one which is the mark of the beast changes one's physical nature. Do I know this for sure? No, I don't. But every rational assessment of the situation lines up with this position.
In Revelation 14, three angels fly through the heavens and loudly proclaim their divine messages to "all those that dwell upon the earth." It's the third angel's message in Rev.14:9-11 that announces if anyone worships the antichrist and his image and takes his mark, then they are condemned to the eternal lake of fire.
This angel's message is cut and dried. Nobody can repent once they take the mark. God's efforts to extend mercy and grace no longer apply to these individuals anymore. Put another way, those who take the mark of the beast are already judged because they become unredeemable. The mark is a mortal decision with irreversible consequences.
I believe there's much more than a choice at play here-there's a change in one's physical nature. I think this change ties back to the same reason the antichrist and the false prophet bypass the Great White Throne judgment and are thrown directly into the lake of fire instead.
I believe those who take the mark of the beast will knowingly choose to change their body's DNA structure from what it had been before - to something else. They will no longer be 100% in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
They may look human on the outside - who knows? The point is their genome will be corrupted. They will effectively be a "hybrid" - a Nephilim. They will have been "mingled with seed" that is not human in a new fulfillment of Genesis 3:15, Genesis 6:1-4, Daniel 2:43, Daniel 8:23, Matthew 24:37, and Luke 17:26.
For many, this will be a very tough choice. They will consider their short term concerns above all else and they will feel pressure to take the mark (Rev. 13:17). It's that, or starvation. That's why they're getting a supernatural message about the gravity of the situation from an angel.
But I believe many others will want to follow their leader. They will want to imitate the antichrist and be just like him (Rev. 13:3, 4). They will admire him and support him in all that he does.
I have little doubt that those who take the mark will be taking some element of the antichrist in the process. It is the mark "of the beast" after all. They will be persuaded that by doing so, they can evolve beyond what they have been to something much more - something like him!
For those that think I'm full of pre-digested compost, the technology to do this exists right now, and it's being refined daily. Technologies surrounding gene splicing, CRISPR gene editing, chimeras, cloning, transhumanism, singularity, and so on are all the rage now. Many people are eager to submit their bodies to these new frontiers of science, and many more will want to do that when they are fully deceived.
Add to this the phenomenon of UFOs and alien abductions. Folks, these are not "little green men from Mars." They are fallen angels manifesting in a way they have for centuries. Their agenda is a dark one, but it's a familiar one.
One of the most well-known researchers in this field was John E. Mack from Harvard Medical School. He died in 2004, but his credentials were impeccable. He researched almost 100 cases of alien abduction, and his conclusion - according to a book he published in 1994 - was that these beings had a covert agenda to develop a hybrid race. He's no longer alone in that view among the scientific community.
As Christians, we shouldn't be shocked at this. The Bible, in so many ways, says the same thing! The Bible clearly says fallen angels created a hybrid race once before, and the Bible suggests it will happen again. That doesn't mean God is no longer in control - it means He is in control. He said this would happen a very long time ago.
While I've marched rather systematically through Parts 1 through 6 of this series, I've given myself the latitude to skim over some of the points of Part 7. It is not my intent to do a deep dive on the various frontiers of science or the eschatological implications of future Nephilim. Rather, my intent is to sufficiently equip each reader with the basic information they need to then be like "the Bereans" (Acts 17:11).
Examine the issues for yourself. Resist the temptation to snort and brush it all off. Pray for wisdom (James 1:5), and "....study to show (yourself) approved unto God" (2 Tim. 2:15). May God bless you richly as you lean on the truth of His eternal Word.
Battle of Gog/Magog On The Horizon? - By Britt Gillette -
Recently, I was listening to a nationally syndicated radio program, and the host made an astonishing observation. She described a recent trip she took to Israel. She talked about looking over the border into Syria. Then she dropped a line that grabbed my attention. She said, "When you look over the border today, you're not looking at Syria anymore. You're looking at Russia, Iran, and Turkey."
This wasn't a religious broadcast. It was a secular, political talk show. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think the host realized the true significance of her observation. I don't think she spoke from a perspective of Bible prophecy, and it made her statement even more powerful. Because any objective observer has to agree with her.
The nation of Syria no longer exists. It may exist in name, but that's it. What used to be Syria has been carved up and divided by any number of groups. And the three biggest are Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Why is this so significant? It's significant because it sets the stage for an event the Bible prophesied over 2,000 years ago.
The Gog of Magog War
Twenty-six centuries ago, Ezekiel described a last days alliance that will invade Israel from the north. The Bible says a man named Gog will lead this massive invasion force (Ezekiel 38:2-6). Here are the nations who will join Gog, followed by their modern day names:
Rosh = Russia
Magog = Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan
Persia = Iran
Cush = Sudan
Put = Libya
Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah = Turkey
Notice anything? That's right. Of all those nations, the three most powerful - Russia, Iran, and Turkey - now reside in Syria. They have military forces camped on Israel's border. And not just any border - Israel's northern border. Remember, Ezekiel said the Gog of Magog invasion force will come from the north (Ezekiel 38:15; Ezekiel 39:2). So now we have three of the nations in Gog's invading force perched on Israel's northern border. Mere coincidence? I don't think so.
The Bible foretold this exact scenario in Ezekiel 38-39. Never before have the military forces of these three nations been on Israel's northern border at the same time. And never in the history of the world, have the three formed an alliance. At least that is, until now...
In the past two decades, Russia and Iran have become close allies. In 1995, the Russian Ministry for Atomic Energy signed an agreement with Iran to finish the Bushehr nuclear power plant. This work had stopped following the 1979 Islamic revolution. Since then, the two nations continue to strengthen their economic and military ties.
Russia is one of the few world powers that consistently defended the existence of Iran's nuclear program. Today, both nations freely work together to prop up Bashar Assad's regime and suppress any opposing factions in Syria. They've coordinated military operations in Syria and carved the nation into spheres of influence. Despite thousands of years of recorded history in which there's no record of such Russian-Iranian cooperation, today we see it.
And what about Turkey? For years, those who study bible prophecy have wondered how Turkey fits into this alliance. After all, Turkey is a longtime ally of Israel. As a founding member of NATO, the idea of Turkey joining a Russian invasion of Israel has been hard for many to imagine. After all, NATO exists to combat Russian aggression. As recently as 2014, I noted in my book Signs of the Second Coming:
"Turkey is another interesting member of this military alliance. Since the restoration of Israel in 1948, those who understand bible prophecy have struggled to figure out how Turkey fits in. Why? Because in 1949, Turkey became the first Muslim majority country to officially recognize the state of Israel.
Turkey and Israel have a long history of diplomatic, economic, and military cooperation. Turkey is also a member of NATO. And what is the purpose of NATO? Its purpose is to defend member nations against Russian aggression. So why would Turkey join a Russian alliance to invade another country?
While it hasn't made sense in recent years, that idea doesn't seem so far-fetched today. In May 2010, Turkey and Russia signed a series of agreements enhancing their energy ties, including an agreement to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant. And in recent years, Turkey's domestic politics - historically secular in nature - have been heavily influenced by Islam. And that gives Turkey more than enough motive to join the Gog of Magog Alliance."
And here we are. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has consolidated power in Turkey. Ataturk's Turkish Republic is dead. Its secular government is gone. In its place, Erdogan is building an Islamic Republic aligned against Israel. The relationship between Vladimir Putin and Erdogan is strong and growing. All that's left to take place is a clear break between Turkey and NATO, permanently moving Turkey into Russia's sphere of influence.
What It All Means
So what does all this mean? It means the stage is now set for the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39. And it means more events will begin to align with Ezekiel's account. Expect this alliance to get closer. Expect Israel to become isolated. And expect more nations to join Russia, Iran, and Turkey. As these events take place, it means the world draws closer and closer to witnessing the Gog of Magog war.
This means Russia, Iran, Turkey, and the other nations in the Gog of Magog alliance will send an overwhelming invasion force against Israel (Ezekiel 38:8-9). No other nation will come to Israel's defense (Ezekiel 38:15-16). But God will. This means He'll put His full power on display for the people of this world when He supernaturally destroys Israel's invaders (Ezekiel 38:18-23).
Most of all, it means we're in the last days (Ezekiel 38:8; Ezekiel 39:25-29), the Second Coming is near, and the rapture of the church is even closer!
Nearing Midnight: Missing Dave Hunt - Terry James -
Circumstances involving an email arose the other day, revolving around a request that I address a question in Bible prophecy. A dear ministry friend had just received the email asking what I meant by something I wrote in a commentary that my friend posted on her website. The question was about Jesus' prophecy in Matthew 24 regarding the days of Noah and days of Lot-Matthew 24:36-44.
This prophecy is one I consider most relevant to this very moment in which we find ourselves. I believe the Lord was talking specifically to the present generation. We have covered the prophecy a number of times in recent weeks. I am convicted in my spirit that we stand upon the very precipice of its fulfillment.
Here is that prophecy:
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." (Matthew 24:37-42)
Jesus followed up the exhortation to be watchful with a second exhortation reinforcing the first: "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:44).
After responding to the emails from my friend and her website follower, I began to think back on one of the great prophecy teachers I've been privileged to call friend and Christian brother. It is Dave Hunt to whom I refer, as the title of this commentary suggests. I'm sure that most all who read this article know about this superb speaker, writer, and teacher of God's Word.
Dave went to his heavenly home a few years ago. His ministry is The Berean Call, which continues today.
The question of whether the Rapture of the Church is in Jesus' Matthew 24 Olivet Discourse has long been a somewhat contentious matter among students of Bible prophecy. Most often, the seminary line has it that there is no reference whatsoever to the Rapture in that account, although some within that high realm of Bible academia believe the Rapture is within the prophecy Jesus gave.
I, of course, don't belong to that high realm, but do believe with all that is within my spirit that Jesus was foretelling not only the Rapture, but a pre-Trib Rapture, meaning that the Rapture will happen prior to the Tribulation era, that great time of worldwide judgment and wrath prophesied by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, Paul in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, the prophet Daniel in 9:26-27, and John in the Book of Revelation.
The preachers and teachers of this present day continue to neglect Bible prophecy, and almost never express any thoughts whatsoever on the Rapture of the Church. These spend even less time presenting their parishioners with any teaching on the pre-Trib view of the Rapture.
It is with this lament weighing heavily that-upon dealing with the above-mentioned email-Dave Hunt came to mind.
Dave conducted a session at the Pre-Trib Study Group in Dallas on the Matthew 24 prophecy in 1998. I sat in on that early-morning session and was validated in my spirit by Dave's facing the study group head-on with his lecture.
Many there that morning were of the higher academic sort-good brothers, sisters in Christ all. But, many-probably most-believed the Olivet Discourse held no mention of the Rapture. That prophetic utterance by the Lord, most held, was and is for Israel only.
I looked into my computer and found my files on that session. I have both a transcript of the session and the audio file. I've had fun going over both since entertaining the email interaction mentioned above.
Dave Hunt gave a masterful rendering of Matthew 24 that morning in 1998. He began with his terrific sense of humor in full force, although most of us were still trying to come to our senses as we sipped on black, caffeine-soaked coffee.
Well, if the truth were to be known, which is not easy, Tommy [Dr. Thomas Ice, Pre-Trib study group director] scheduled me at this early hour, hoping nobody would show up to here my heresies, and I was hoping the Greek scholars wouldn't be here, to bombard me with errorist indicatives and that kind of stuff. Furthermore, I knew Tommy was throwing me to the lions this morning, and my name isn't Daniel, so I got cold feet and decided to change the topic. He said the topic is "Is the rapture in the Olivet Discourse?" Well, I'd like to talk on the topic "The pre-trib rapture in the Olivet Discourse." I couldn't quite handle that question. I couldn't justify why there ought to be any question at all. Why the pre-trib rapture, or the rapture, or the church, or anything else was in the Olivet Discourse.
Dave defended his-and my- belief that Jesus was indeed speaking of the Rapture and even more so to the pre-Trib Rapture in the days of Noah, days of Lot portion of His Olivet Discourse.
We are at a time in human history that Jesus described perfectly, as only the God of all creation could. Again, I believe that Donald J. Trump was put in the presidency of the United States for just this hour. We are, I believe, entering a time of building, buying, planting, socially intensive activity like marrying and giving in marriage, unprecedented in the annals of mankind. It will be just at such a time-"a time you think not"- that the "Son of man is revealed."
Jesus Christ's "revelation" to this rebellious world will come in the form of the Rapture of all born-again believers, both sleeping in death and those alive, when He calls, "Come up here!" (Revelation 4:1).
Outrageous Grace - Lee Strobel - www.biblegateway.com
"This is embarrassing," my friend said to me over the phone.
"That's okay," I assured him. "Go ahead. You can tell me."
He sighed. "Well, we found out our little girl shoplifted a book from the church bookstore. We were really surprised because she's a good kid. Anyway, I was wondering whether you would help us out with something."
Frankly, I was relieved the news wasn't more serious. "Sure," I said. "What can I do?"
"We'd like you to represent the church so she can come in and apologize," he replied. "Maybe you could figure out some sort of restitution. We want to use this as a teaching moment."
I agreed to help, but I have to admit I had an even bigger lesson in mind.
The next day, the parents and their eight-year-old daughter walked hesitantly into my office and sat down. The girl was so small, she was almost swallowed up by the chair. Her eyes were downcast; her mood was somber.
After I exchanged some pleasantries with her parents, I sat down on the edge of my desk so I was facing the girl. As gently as I could, I said to her, "Tell me what happened."
She hesitated, her lower lip quivering. "Well," she said as she started to sniffle, "I was in the bookstore after a service and I saw a book that I really wanted, but I didn't have any money." Now tears pooled in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. I handed her a tissue, which she used to dab her eyes before continuing.
"So I put the book under my coat and took it," she blurted out, almost as if she wanted to expel the words as fast as she could so they wouldn't linger. "I knew it was wrong. I knew I shouldn't do it, but I did it. And I'm sorry. I'll never do it again. Honest."
She was so contrite that it broke my heart. "I'm glad you're willing to admit what you did and say you're sorry," I told her. "That's very brave, and it's the right thing to do."
She nodded slightly.
"But," I continued, "what do you think an appropriate punishment would be?"
She shrugged her shoulders. I knew from her parents that she had already thrown out the book to hide the evidence. I paused for a moment, then said, "I understand the book cost five dollars. I think it would be fair if you paid the bookstore five dollars, plus three times that amount, which would make the total twenty dollars. Do you think that would be fair?"
"Yes," she murmured, though I could see fear - almost panic - in her eyes. Her mind was whirring. Where was she going to come up with twenty dollars? That's a mountain of money for a little kid. She didn't have the five dollars to buy the book in the first place, and suddenly her debt had spiraled completely out of sight.
At that moment, I got up and walked behind my desk. Sitting down, I pulled open the top drawer. The little girl's eyes narrowed. She couldn't figure out what I was doing. I pulled out my checkbook, picked up a pen, and wrote a check from my personal account for the full amount that she owed. I tore off the check and held it in my hand. Her mouth dropped open.
"I know there's no way you can pay the penalty that you deserve," I told her. "So I'm going to pay it for you. Do you know why I'd do that?"
Bewildered, she shook her head.
"Because I love you," I told her. "Because I care about you. Because you're important to me. And please remember this: that's how Jesus feels about you too. Except even more."
With that, I handed her the check, which she grabbed and clutched to her heart. She simply blossomed with a look of absolute relief and joy and wonder. She was almost giddy with gratitude. The same little girl who had slinked into the office under the weight of shame now left lighthearted and skipping.
I don't know how God ultimately used that teaching moment in her life. But I do know this: once a person, even at a young age, experiences a taste of the kind of grace offered by Christ, it leaves an indelible mark on the soul. Who could resist being attracted by the forgiveness and unmerited favor extended by Jesus?
This is one of the greatest dimensions of the unexpected adventure. The message we convey isn't based on condemnation or shame. We're not offering people a life sentence of hard labor to try to somehow make themselves worthy of heaven. Instead, we have the privilege of telling people how they can find complete forgiveness as a free gift that was purchased when Jesus died as our substitute to pay for all of our wrongdoing - past, present, and future.
"Grace means there's nothing we can do to make God love us more," writes Philip Yancey in his classic book What's So Amazing About Grace? "And grace means there's nothing we can do to make God love us less. . . . Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love."
Wow! When I try to let that sink in, I'm just as overcome with gratitude as that little girl. At the same time I feel a renewed desire to let others know about this incredible message of redemption and reconciliation. After all, with good news like that, how could we possibly keep it to ourselves?
Daily Jot: Mainstream America the hope of a nation - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
There are many people predicting civil war in the United States. Others ponder the possibility that the nation already is under a massive coup attempt by leftist forces that include the Democratic Party and its allies in the mainstream media. Notwithstanding the ferocious and relentless attack on the office of the President since before he took office, the vicious narrative fomented by the left, the verbal and physical attacks on those supporting the current President, and the fake news emanating from those collective attacks almost prove the point that America is being torn apart by a civil war and a coup attempt. The louder the visceral, the harder it is to see the true America.
Last weekend, I attended my 45th high school class reunion. I hadn't seen some of these folks since graduating in 1973. It further impressed upon me why Ohio is such a bellwether for predicting who wins presidential elections. While our school was not racially diverse, it was diverse in other ways. Our school was a mixture of farmers, factory workers, service providers, government employees, small business owners, professionals and executives. They are Democrat, Republican, Independent and probably apolitical. There are diverse interests from car racing to horses to dogs to sports to food (especially food). There is a wide range of financial status. And when we get together, there is diverse conversation.
This is mainstream America. These are the quiet people who love their families, do their jobs, enjoy their downtime, and believe in the American dream. They don't meddle in other people's business. They treat others as they would like to be treated. In talking with them, politics was not at the center of the conversations. But it did come up in very respectful and thoughtful ways. I observed that the vast majority of my classmates love their country. They may have differing opinions on how to solve its problems, but they respect one another's opinion and are willing to listen to it. Many of them, in fact, most, are skeptical of the mainstream media. Some don't even watch the news because they don't know what to believe.
These Ohio men and women are real people. They are not radicals. They have a stake in the country. They want the best for their children and grandchildren. They are willing to give a chance to whatever President is voted into office. They don't appreciate being labeled if they disagree. They are not hostile, but they will get their backs up if pushed into it. They are the salt of the earth who stand in the breech between liberty and tyranny. This is the America that the radicals both despise and misunderstand. As Christ said in Matthew 5:37, "But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil." You will always know where you stand with them. Getting together with these folks renewed my hope in the American ideal. There are more of us than there are the radicals. We are not as loud, but we are more resolved.
Daily Devotion: Endurance Training - By Greg Laurie -
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. -James 1:2-3
How we wish we could find some La-Z-Boy we could relax in while getting the benefits of exercise. But no such thing exists. In the same way, when we're running in the race of life, we can't be sitting. You can't run and stand still at the same time. If you are sitting, you are not running. If you are running, you are not sitting.
Even as muscle gets stronger through use as it's broken down and built up, the same is true of faith. James 1 says, "When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance" (verses 2-3 NLT).
God will test our faith for our own good. I know we would like to have trouble-free lives. I know we would like to have temptation free-lives. It's been said that one Christian who has been tempted is worth a thousand who haven't. It's also said that Christians are a lot like teabags; you don't know what they are like until after you put them into hot water.
Faith grows stronger through testing. Take Abraham for example. The Lord started by telling him to leave his country. Later on God told him to take his son Isaac and lay him on the altar. He started with a simple test and went on to a more difficult one.
We'll go through series of tests in our Christian lives of faith, and each one will make us stronger. Yes, the tests will get harder. But we'll get even stronger, because God is whipping us into shape for greater challenges and greater opportunities. Everything is preparation for something else.
FROM THE HEART
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