Sunday Morning Coffee: New Year’s Eve

And I’m home nursing a nasty cold that keeps playing hide and go seek with me.  It’s bad, it’s better, and I start feeling optimistic.  Then it’s bad again. So, for the sake of everyone around me, I decided not to share my sore throat and coughing/sneezing fits with my church family this morning.


So I’m thinking about the new year. 2018.   This is the 70th new year I’ve seen, although I wasn’t aware of the first few 🙂  That’s a lot of years, and here are some things I’ve learned.

  1.  New Year’s resolutions don’t work for me.  I end up becoming discouraged.
  2. Day-to-day works much better.  Just for today, I can do all kinds of things.  I know it’s just a mind game, but still.
  3. Don’t ever take the next year–or the next  day–for granted. Treasure each one. There may not be another.
  4. Same goes for the people in your life. They may not have a tomorrow, so treasure today.
  5. Be thankful.  Be thankful to God for every blessing. If you’re feeling down, discouraged, depressed–there is a remedy.  Count your blessings.  Can’t think of any?  Go read Psalm 107, then read it again, prayerfully.
  6. Here’s a counseling tip:  If you depend on your feelings to guide your behavior, you’re asking for trouble.  Feelings change from day to day. Instead, you need to depend on what you KNOW is truth, based on God’s Word.   From my years in counseling, I could tell you story after story of people who relied on their feelings and ended up in terrible trouble, not understanding how it happened.   Feelings are driven by what we believe to be true. If you believe your feelings are true, you’re going to be terribly confused from one day to the next.
  7. Most important:  Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?  Then be thankful for that, and share Him with someone else.  If you aren’t sure,  go to the Gospel of John and read it carefully.  It will give you the facts on Who Jesus is, why He came, and how you can have forgiveness and eternal life with Him.

So Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you so, so much for reading and following my blog.  You are a great encouragement to me.

Heaven’s Gain

One of our closest friends went home to heaven last night. We’d been to visit  in the afternoon, and it was clear that it wouldn’t be long.

There are tears this morning.  We’re going to miss him so much.  But the tears are accompanied by the wonderful memories, and by the sure knowledge that he knew the Lord as his Savior, and is rejoicing in the presence of God at this moment. He’d been sick for a long time, and his body is perfect now.  No more tears, no more pain, no more sickness or dying.



Antichrist’s Successes

Isaiah 33:3-4. “At the noise of the tumult the people fled: at the lifting up of  thyself the nations were scattered. And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpillar; as the running to and fro of locusts shall he run upon them.”

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If you will read Daniel 7:23-24;8:20-25;and 11:40-45, you will see a more detailed description of today’s passage. For a time, it will seem as if nothing can stop Antichrist as he devours the land. The sound of his armies  will be so terrifying that people will run to hide from his devastation.

In spite of his overwhelming strength, though, Antichrist will not stand against God. His armies will be defeated, and much spoil will be gathered from them (Zech 14:1-4).

Judah’s Prayer

Isaiah 33:2. “O Lord, be gracious unto us; we have waited for Thee: be Thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.”

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This is the prophetic prayer of the Jews, to be said in the Tribulation when Antichrist betrays them and determines to exterminate the nation (v. 2: Dan. 7:19-25; 8:20-25; 9:27; 11: 40-45; 12:7; Rev. 13).

Their arm means their strength. 

The time of trouble  here is the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer.30:7), and the time of trouble such as there never has been before, or ever will be again–the Great Tribulation  (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:15-22; Rev. 11:3-19:21).

Think of that description:  A time of trouble such as there never has been before, or ever will be again.  Worse than the Holocaust?  Yes. Far worse. But when it is over, there will never, ever be a time like that again.

If nothing else stirs us to seek the lost, to lead souls to Jesus Christ, this kind of prophecy should do so.  Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will not endure the Tribulation, whether they be Gentile or Jew. Jesus will have taken the church out of the world before the Tribulation starts.  I believe that it is partly the complete removal of believers that will leave the door open for the coming of Antichrist, who will appear as the answer to all the world’s problems–for a time.

We need to be sensitive to souls who are seeking Jesus Christ, now more than ever.

The Spoiler

Isaiah 33:1. “Woe to thee that spoilest, and thou wast not spoiled: and dealest treacherously, and they  dealt not treacherously with thee: when thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled; and when thou shalt make and end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee.”

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I am reminded of Galatians 6:7. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Commentators usually associate this spoiler with the king of Assyria, who was paid to help Judah, and who then turned on the kingdom to destroy the Jews; but the passage more particularly refers to  the future Assyrian, the Antichrist (14:25; 30:31; 31:8; Micah 5:5-6). He will make a 7-year covenant with the Jews, then break it in the middle of the 7 years and become the  greatest  spoiler of Israel in history or prophecy (Dan.9:27; Matt. 24:15-22). He  will deal treacherously with the Jews, and then, when it is time for him to cease, he will be dealt with likewise, and will be destroyed (v.1).

We cannot hope to rebel against God and escape the consequences.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Bernard of Clairvaux

“You will never have real mercy for the failings of another until you know and realize that you have the same failings in your soul.


I have a set of three books called Then Sings my Soul.  Each contain about 150 of the world’s greatest hymn stories ,  Today (Saturday) I was reading about Bernard of Clairvaux, who lived from 1090-1153.  A godly and devoted man, he wrote  the words for two of the oldest hymns we still sing today:  Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee, and O Sacred Head Now Wounded.

I remember studying both of these beautiful hymns in college in my Hymnology class, and reading about them again today has the music flowing through my mind.

Then, further down the page, there were several quotes from Bernard. One of them is the opener for this blog. I love it.  The Lord has been teaching me a lot about mercy in the last couple of years.  It seems to crop up when I least expect it, and I’m paying attention, because there are no coincidences with God.

Often, I need to show mercy in my counseling office. My clients are often  people  for whom no one has shown mercy. They are broken, hurting, desperately seeking some assurance that they have some reason  to exist.

It seems to me that we need to understand some definitions.

Justice  is getting what you deserve

Grace is NOT getting what you deserve.

Mercy is getting what you do not deserve,

We need to be less quick to demand justice for others; more inclined to show grace and mercy.

It’s what Jesus offers us, after all.

Eightfold Restoration

Isaiah 32:16-20. “Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; When it shall hail, coming down on the forest, and the city shall be low in a low place. Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.”

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Then:  When the Spirit is poured out upon Israel from on high, and the land is fully restored to fruitfulness.

There are eight specific blessings mentioned:

  1. Judgment will dwell in the wilderness
  2. Righteousness will remain in the fruitful firld
  3.  The work of righteousness will be peace
  4. The effect of righteousness will be quietness and assurance forever
  5.  My people will dwell in a peaceable habitation
  6.  In sure dwellings
  7.  In quiet resting places
  8. My people will be blessed with security and prosperity

The last two verses in this passage speak of the defeat and overthrow of enemies when Jerusalem is brought low at Armageddon (v. 19; Zech. 14);  the Jews will be delivered and made secure after this (v. 20).



A Word to the Women

Isaiah 32:9-15. “Rise up, ye women that are at ease: hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech. Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come. Tremble, ye women that are at ease: be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird  sackcloth upon your loins. They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine. Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitudes of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.”

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God’s warnings to Judah were not just for the men. He gave Isaiah a special warning to the women, as well, who were comfortable and unconcerned in their lack of obedience to God. Isaiah warned them that their days of living in luxury and comfort were coming to an end, and that they should be prepared for what was coming. There would be a time of barrenness and suffering, when the grapes would not be harvested and the fields were return to a wild state, a place  where wild animals would roam. Their luxurious houses would be reduced to rubble, and their expensive clothing would be exchanged for burlap.

These conditions would continue until God’s Holy Spirit returned to Israel, and, because of their repentance, comfort would be restored.

Just a note here:  God is not picking on women; He is not punishing the women only. All the people of Judah and Jerusalem will suffer for their disobedience to God. This passage is a special warning to the women that they had better prepare themselves for hard times ahead.

The Churl

Isaiah 32:7-8. “The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right. But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.”

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A churl is an unprincipled person whose main goal is to get gain for himself. His behavior toward those he considers his inferiors–and that would include just about everyone–is always deceitful and dishonest. This is a person who has no conscience, and whose goal is always to come out on top. It doesn’t matter to him how much his victims may suffer in his self-centered climb up his own ladder of “success.”

When a poor man’s cause was just,  the unprincipled men in power deprived him of his rights and plotted against him to enrich themselves.

In verse 8, the liberal is not a reference to today’s left-wing politicians. It’s so tempting to go off on that rabbit trail, because the meaning of this good word has, over time, taken on a completely different connotation and now denotes those who believe that the bigger the government, the better; and that we ordinary folks are unable  to make any decisions without their guidance.

Instead, this term is used to describe the honorable, generous, noble, benevolent public-spirited men who devote themselves to the welfare of the country and fellow men.  When they rule, the noble things they stand for will be established.

Again, we have to keep in mind that this chapter is a Millennium prophecy, describing the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ on earth after the Battle of Armageddon and the binding of Satan. It is NOT about present times.  We will not see peace on earth until Jesus Christ, Messiah, is ruling from Jerusalem.