Devotionals

A Great Deception

To those involved in this dying world he [Satan] will come with evil’s undiluted power to deceive, for they have refused to love the truth which could have saved them. God sends upon them, therefore, the full force of evil’s delusion, so that they put their faith in an utter fraud and meet the inevitable judgment of all who have refused to believe the truth and who have made evil their play-fellow.

II Thess. 2:10-12 (Phillips)


Consider the words of my dear brother Jon in his fine commentary on these verses—

There are only two prayers a man can pray: Either “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done”—or “my kingdom come; my will be done.” He who prays the latter, says, “I am king of my domain. I want to call the shots in my life.” God gives us freedom to pray either prayer. To do so, it is necessary for Him to send a “delusion” lest he who does not want to believe does so against his will.

Jesus touched on this same principle when He spoke in parables so that blind eyes would not see or deaf ears would not hear (Matt. 3:13). The power of Jesus’ words and life was so evident that had He not blinded the eyes and stopped the ears of those who did not want to believe they would have had no choice but to believe. Thus, they would have followed Him out of coercion rather than out of love.

That’s why when we witness to people, we find ourselves saying, “Don’t you get it? God is so good. Who wouldn’t want to be saved? Who wouldn’t want to know his sins are forgiven, that he has a Friend closer than a brother, that he’s going to live forever in heaven?” – only to hear people say, “No thanks.”

Who wouldn’t want to be saved? Even in the Tribulation, God will honor man’s choice. He will allow those who don’t want to see to remain blind.

The English sage, John Watson, of centuries ago, presents the question so very valid today—

One person we cannot avoid—the inevitable Christ; one dilemma we must face—

“What shall I do with Jesus, which is called Christ?”

Wrestle once again with Watson’s question– “What shall I do with Jesus…?”

Consider from Oswald Chambers—“Our choice is indelibly marked for time and eternity. What we decide makes our destiny; not what we have felt, nor what we have been moved to do, or inspired to see, but what we decide to do in a given crisis, it is that which makes or mars us. Sooner or later there comes to every life the question – Will I choose to side with God’s verdict on sin in the Cross of Christ? I may say “I won’t accept,” or “I will put it off,” but remember, both are decisions. Just when is the right time for salvation, to place one’s confidence in God’s work of giving Jesus, and His death on the cross to provide forgiveness for us sinners? Today!

Paraphrasing II Cor. 6:2—“At just the right time I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you. Indeed, the right time is now. Today is the day of salvation.”

Maranatha!

Philippians 4:17

Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.

-Paul from Philippians 4:17


The Roman and Greek world of Paul, consisted not only a terrible hardness of heart, but often a greater heartlessness of cruelty. Absent was provision for the poor. Most people were solely on their own, and if an incapacity occurred, one might very well starve and die. Consider the amphitheater packed with crowds gathered to see, with a sickening delight, another human’s blood flow in agony and death. Human suffering in these cultures was a thing to rejoice and revel in rather than to be prevented. Rarely was found a person who would give a coin or something of value to the poor. Historians bluntly record– “Charity was dead. The voluptuaries of that most degenerate age planned no hospitals, built no orphanages; they were too intent on their gladiators and mistresses. Self was paramount in Caesar’s court, and all over Roman realms.”

Yet in obscure Philippi, are a people thinking about the one who had preached to them and who himself is now suffering. They are moved by a radical new principle– love. Paul rejoices in them because he is seeing from the front row, another transforming aspect of the power of God’s grace resulting from the embrace of the gospel. Those who were once selfish now rejoiced, and without prompting are giving… unheard of!

I am thankful for you dear flock who, by the grace of God and the power of His word, have been, and are being transformed. You are a living epistle to view His goodness and love. I am thankful to witness the generosity that flows quietly out of this church family to be a part of blessing those who have found themselves in prison, to share the gospel not only locally but on the other side of the globe, there to provide a church building to believers who were in need of a place to get out of the weather and to provide a home for a pastor and his family, to contribute to those in our own town who are down-and-out, to assist with other believers and churches to see the church established and built up through sent missionaries… short and long term, to tend those from the flock who been in need of economic help. And then certainly to Matt and myself.

Annually, at this time, we are legally obligated to distribute the “giving-letters-reports.” Details of income I am purposefully unaware, but I do get to witness where resources flow. What a joy to see, like Paul, “the fruit that abounds to your account.” I am thankful for the conduit this church is privileged to be. I have no doubt also there is much giving done in absolute quietness. You have done as Spurgeon exhorts “felt for others—in your pocket.”

Two thoughts from senior pillars in the church today on this subject—

Billy Graham—“God has given us two hands—one for receiving and the other for giving.”

Chuck Swindoll—“ We are never more like God than when we give.”

God has given so much to us… we are very and undeservedly blessed by Him, Maranatha!

II Thessalonians 1:9

These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord

and from the glory of His power. II Thessalonians 1:9


Surprisingly, God’s Word says relatively little about Heaven. Perhaps one reason for this is our inability, because of such wonder, that we could not comprehend it. And though Scripture states little on Heaven it says even less on the eternity of those who reject the salvation of the Lord. Though there may be little to satisfy our curiosity of Hell, there exists plenty to give us strong warning. It does not mean it is any less real even though little is said. Interestingly it was Jesus who said more on Hell than any other in the Bible. Simply put, Hell is an awful reality.

Though his language may seem dated, it would be foolish to dismiss the truth, and candor of J. Vernon McGee on this subject—

“I know that it is not popular to talk about hell and judgement. Even the Christian testimonies that we hear and read are filled with I, I, I—“I became successful in business. I saved my marriage. My personality changed.” Nothing very much is said about the Lord Jesus. How many testimonies have you heard in which it is said, “I was a hell-doomed sinner going straight to hell, I was lost, and He saved me”? The important thing to say in a testimony is not what He has given you but from what He has delivered you. That was the whole purpose for the coming of our Savior. He came to redeem us! He didn’t come to give us new personalities or to make us successful. He came to deliver us from hell! That’s not popular to say. Folks don’t like to hear it.

Suppose you were asleep in a burning building, and a man rushed into that building to rescue you. He awakened you, picked you up, and carried you bodily out of that burning building. He liked you, so he adopted and made you his child. He brought you into his lovely home and gave you many wonderful gifts. Now if you had the opportunity to stand before a group of people and tell about this man and express your appreciation in his presence, what would you thank him for? Would you thank him for making you his child? I hope you would. But wouldn’t you really thank him most for the fact that he risked his life to save you out of a burning building? Nothing else would have mattered if he had not rescued you from a flaming death.

Psalm 98 reminds us—

The LORD has made known His salvation;

His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.

He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

We gain a glimpse into Heaven in Revelation 5. In it we read that we have been redeemed to God by the blood of the Lamb. There in Heaven are those “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” No people are exempted. We have a God and Savior who desires that every man be saved. If you don’t know the Lord Jesus as your savior, may today be the day of salvation— it is what He desires for you and appointed you for.

Maranatha!