Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Glorious God

by Dan Jones

It often seems our culture pictures God as some kindly old guy with a long flowing beard seated on a cloud.  Sure, He’s wise and powerful, but we often seem to think of him as some kind of ambivalent wizard who can be persuaded to approve of whatever we decide is good at the time because, well, he is God and he understands, right?

We talk of God’s glory, but I’m not so sure we truly understand what that glory actually looks like.

“All for God’s glory,” we say. Or (especially at Christmas) “Glory to God in the highest.”

Biblegateway.com records 285 uses of the word “glory” in the Bible and many times the Bible describes the actual physical manifestations of His glory—and they are not subtle.

Exodus 24 describes Moses going to the top of Mount Sinai to hear the LORD. It says, “To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. (Verse 17, NIV)

At one point on the mountaintop, Moses asks to see God’s glory. (Charles Spurgeon said this was the greatest petition any man has ever asked of God.) 

And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33: 18-23 ESV)

The glory of God was so intense, Moses’ face glowed afterwards so brightly that people were afraid to come near him.  He had to wear a veil over his face as a result. (Exodus 34: 29-35)

The prophet Ezekiel was also in the presence of God’s glory when he was being shown the temple:

And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. (Ezekiel 43:2 ESV)

Ezekiel could do nothing but fall on his face at the sight of such glory.

Several times, the glory of the LORD fills a place and prevents people from entering it.

…and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God. (2 Chronicles 5:14)

In Psalm 29, God’s glory can again be heard:

The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. (verse 3 NIV)

His glory is lofty and high above all else:

From the rising of the sun to its setting, The name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. (Psalm 113: 3-4 ESV)

One of my favorite descriptions of God’s glory is in Psalm 97, verses 2-6. (ESV)

Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
and burns up his adversaries all around.
His lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory.

And here’s a description from Psalm 104:

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works,
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
(verses 31-32, ESV)

These are not descriptions of a God who is merely powerful, they are descriptions of a God who is omnipotent—ALL powerful!

He is not merely wise, He is omniscient—ALL knowing!

He is not a “big” God, He is an INFINTE GOD!

He is not just good, He is HOLY!

He is not merely worthy of praise, He is worthy of ALL praise!  

And that omnipotence, that omniscience, that infinite holiness and love culminated in one earth-shattering minute here on this earth:

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. (Matthew 27: 50-52 NIV)

But, while that one moment seemed like all the darkness and hate and pain and sin had blotted out God’s glory, His glory had in fact triumphed over all the evil the world would ever offer up.  

For the Jesus who was so mercilessly crucified would rise on the third day in the most glorious event described in all the Bible--His eternal triumph over evil and death itself!

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! (Luke 24: 1-6a NIV)

Today’s Praise



And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. Revelation 21:23 ESV

Monday, June 22, 2015

Closed Gate by Allen Jones




Well, I’m pretty excited to be writing my first blog for Kinship Christian Radio!  Why, you may ask?  Allen, how different is a blog from what you do on the radio everyday?

I’m so glad you asked!  One, there are no visuals on the radio.  It’s both a strength and weakness.  Strengthening your imagination muscles!  Getting to really cue in, on all that’s being said without so much visual stimuli.

However, I find sometimes, that I really wish I could show a picture to you, or we could all gather around a computer and watch a video together.

That is something this blog allows me to do, share pictures and images with you!  Even though I can go into great and excruciating detail to describe such pictures on the radio, sometimes it’s wonderfully simple to say, “Hey!  Look at the picture!  It’s right in front of you!”

Such as the picture in front of your face right now.  This is one of my favorite images in the world.  

It was taken back in 2013 when the federal government shutdown, and it is a picture that makes me both happy and sad.

It makes me happy because it’s just so darn cute, but it makes me super sad for that little boy!  He so wants to go to the zoo, he’s got his animal hat on, but the gates are closed, and there will be no going to the zoo today!

At this point it doesn’t matter how badly he wants to go to the zoo...those gates will not be opening, until congress and the President hash everything out.

Staring at those gates reminded me of a verse in Revelations 25

25On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

This verse is referring to the new Jerusalem.  When the wheat has been separated from the chaff and the immoral are no longer in this world.  

The evil have all been locked away, and there is no purpose in closing the gates.  For no harm will come to the city of God.

We will come and go as we please without the fear of ever being separated from God again.

But right now, we do still have that worry.  There is the possibility of showing up to the gates of heaven and find that there is no entry.  But not because of a heaven shut down, because the angels and God couldn't agree on some heavenly legislation.  It’s because we chose to never look to Christ in our life.

It’s because we didn’t accept his grace and sacrifice in our lives, and we never humbled ourselves before the Lord of all.  

To put it simply, we never knew Christ.

Matthew 7
22"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' 23"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

Those gates will remain open to all during this life on earth.  We have the choice to enter through those gates, but we must know Christ.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hidden God


Some time ago, I saw a comment on the internet by someone who wondered, “If there really is a God, why does He keep Himself hidden from us?”

I have to admit I kind of chuckled when I first thought about the question.

I mean, what would be a suitably acceptable sign that shows God has not hidden Himself?

How about ten plagues, one right after another, that convince the most powerful man on earth at the time to release over a million slaves, even though it would almost certainly devastate the economy, and destroy his status as a god?

And what if all those people were lead out across the desert by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night? Would that be convincing enough?

How about parting a sea so those people could walk through it, then having it swallow up the entire army that was chasing them?

Would that be enough of a sign?

To be fair, those signs probably wouldn’t be enough for a modern atheist to come to faith, even if they did believe they actually took place, because well, atheists don’t believe in miracles. Everything just has to have a logical explanation, right?

Which begs the question that if you refuse to believe in evidence that God exists, why would an omniscient God supply you with a sign He knew you wouldn’t believe anyway?

And, it’s a valid point that the very people who experienced those miracles first-hand turned to worshiping a golden calf in short order.

And while we’re on the subject, what about simply speaking everything in the entire universe into existence?

How’s that for a sign?

Sure, some say a “big bang” caused all of it to form and it was all inevitable because gravity existed and…

…we’re right back to “logical” explanations.

There is one thing, though, that I’ve never seen a valid, “logical” explanation for.

The recognition that we are all in some way flawed is universal in all cultures, religions, and philosophies—even atheism. It is the one thing all of humanity agrees upon.

We are not as we should be and we all agree on that to some degree.

But, where did that recognition come from?

I mean, if we are just here to have a good time and when we die we are just dead, end-of-story, that is a literal dead-end that leaves any thinking person with a shallow, meaningless existence.

If we are just the random result of millions or billions of years of molecular biological accidents, with no purpose or design, why all the human effort and expenditure of time and energy on philosophy, art, poetry, music, writing, and religion?

From a purely Darwinian standpoint, none of that makes any sense. (No, I am not buying that all that great, deep, thought and effort are merely highly advanced forms of mating rituals.)

And there’s the deal— the one thing human beings need more than anything else is not something that is a matter of our physical survival. It is a matter of our spiritual survival.

It is love.

It cannot be explained by a formula on a blackboard but we know without it, babies fail to thrive, children develop violent and anti-social tendencies which leads to adults with all sorts and kinds of terrible things going on in their lives—and in the lives of others.

Yes, love is undeniably a miracle.

And while there are well over 100 miracles listed in the Bible, I don’t think any one of them is enough to save a single soul--with one notable exception:

The love of Jesus Christ.

That God Himself would love us enough to be brutally murdered at the very hands of the people He would restore to Himself by His own death is an unfathomable solution to an unresolvable problem.

There is no way anyone of this world would have come up with THAT as a solution. No one would propose we mock and torture and kill the very God who created us to make up for thumbing our noses at Him and going off to try to be gods ourselves.

Only a God-like love would come up with that as a solution--and it only works if God Himself came up with it.

Yes, love is the answer to the question of God’s existence and it is a love that cannot be killed. You can deny that it ever existed. You can write it off as merely a human thing. You can crucify it and stuff it in a cold, dark tomb with a stone sealing the entrance and guards at the door.

But love will always rise again.

Today’s Praise
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Prosperity


For those of you who have never heard the term, the ‘Prosperity Gospel” or “Prosperity Theology” teaches that God wants you to have incredible wealth and fabulous health here on this earth, in this lifetime, and all you have to do to get it is to ask for it and have ample faith.

“Ample faith” is typically defined as a willingness to give large amounts of cash to pay for the Prosperity Gospel preacher’s new private jet.  And if you don’t get what you want when you ask for it, well, you just have to have more faith—which you can demonstrate by sending in more dollars.

One of the key verses used in this teaching is Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

And, one of my favorite verses could even come to mind:

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 NIV)

Well, I would like to say that the Prosperity Gospel is absolutely true
for your soul.

Jeremiah 29:11 is spoken by the prophet Jeremiah to the people of Israel when they are exile in Babylon. What he is telling them is that the LORD will restore His people to Israel. And, very few translations use the word “prosper” in this verse. The Hebrew word in the original text is “shalom” which means “peace” or “completeness.”  

Remember the beatitudes? Jesus spoke before a great crowd in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), listing a variety of people who were blessed: The poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness.

Not one of those blessings is about any kind of material possession at all. 

Nor, are there any blessings listed for people with excellent health.  In fact, verse 11 says: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

Well, that doesn’t sound like any fun at all. Clearly, Jesus needs a lesson in marketing.  Who would send in a fat check after that kind of talk? C’mon, get to the part about the shiny new car.

And, you will notice that Psalm 37:4 says taking delight in the LORD will result in Him giving you the desires of your heart (your soul), not the earthly desires of your flesh.

Oh, the flesh.

For everything in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:16 NIV)

Whenever I find myself a little confused by any theology, I find a peek into the book of James helpful. James is absolutely lacking in all subtlety, which is very useful for someone who needs a two-by-four between the eyes to finally “get it.”

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:1-3 NIV)

Oops. That doesn’t look at all like a shiny new car.

See, the danger in the Prosperity Gospel is that it comes up so incredibly, terribly short of what the real blessings God intends for you and I.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”—from “The Weight of Glory, and other Addresses” by C.S. Lewis.

When we go back to the Beatitudes, what do we find Jesus promising to all those poor, mourning, meek, hungry, thirsty, merciful, pure, peacemaking, and persecuted people?

For the poor in spirit: the very kingdom of heaven.
For those who mourn: comfort.
For the meek: the inheritance of the whole of the earth.
For those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: to be filled.
For the merciful: mercy.
For the pure in heart: to see God.
For the peacemakers: the title of Children of God.
For the persecuted: the kingdom of heaven.

In other words, it’s everything in heaven and earth our souls could ever desire, including a perfect relationship with God Himself!

And that makes a shiny new car and a private jet look like the mud pies they truly are.

Today’s Praise
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 ESV)


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Encouragement




Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people. (Philemon 1:7 NIV)

One of the things about writing this blog is that I do not have to be objective.

I freely admit to being biased.

I’m incredibly biased in favor of Jesus. I love Jesus.

HALLELUJAH JESUS!

Actually, I figure such a bias is a good thing. If the purpose here is bringing glory to God, helping the lost find Jesus, and encouraging believers, a writer without a distinct positive bias for Jesus would make little sense.

One of the best things a writer can have is feedback. It doesn’t have to be positive feedback, but it is absolutely essential that some form of feedback take place, which is why I am blessed that Facebook keeps track of how many of you are reading, clicking, liking, and sharing.

It lets me know if I am reaching you.  Last week, Facebook said 248 of you were reached with the blog about prayers reaching the throne of God. The week before, it was 318 with the blog about the 10/40 window.  Lately, most weeks seem to average around 200, which is very encouraging.

And, very often, some of you will even leave a comment about the blog. 

Thank you!

But, here’s the thing:

Radio doesn’t have a “like” button.

The folks in the broadcast booth have no idea I’m yelling, “God of mercy, sweet LOOOOOVE of mine…” whenever they play “Multiplied” by Needtobreathe while I am alone in the car. (I say “yelling” because, despite all my efforts at melodiousness, what comes out of me cannot be called “singing.”)

Nor do they know how deeply my soul is moved by the piano in “The Struggle” by Tenth Avenue North--or the banjo in “King of Heaven Come Down” by Paul Baloche.

The announcers don’t know they’ve touched me with a prayer, a thought, a reference to the Word, a Biblical insight. The preachers don’t know their sermons have stirred me to look into my soul and see my faults, or that they’ve shown me God’s incredible grandeur and grace.

And so, we come back to my bias.

The two dozen or so staff who make Kinship Christian Radio possible are people I know. They are people I’ve spent time with shoulder-to-shoulder. 

They are wonderful people who share the same bias for Jesus as I do. They genuinely care that people would be saved and spend eternity in heaven praising our One True King.

Once a year, they encourage you to share your feedback with them during June Letter Month. Drop them a line, send them an email, or call and let them know what’s working for you. Even if there’s something they could do better, they want to know.

The mailing address and electronic forms are on the website and there are even free gifts involved with any donation.  https://www.kinshipradio.org/

Be blessed, brothers and sisters.

(Oh, and “melodiousness” is indeed a word. Sometimes I surprise myself.)

Today’s Praise

Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassions, and God of all encouragement; (2 Corinthians 1:3 Darby Bible Translation)




   

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Before the Throne


And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. (Revelation 8: 3-4 ESV)

The verse above takes place in Revelation just before the seven angels blow their trumpets, which is the beginning of the end of life on earth as we know it today.

They signal that God’s kingdom is coming and His will is going to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I recently heard a preacher on Kinship Christian Radio note that the incense rising before the throne is mixed with the prayers of the saints—specifically, this part of the Lord’s prayer:

Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, Luke 11:2 ESV)

The preacher’s point was that each time we pray those words, those prayers are being stored up in heaven for the day that is, inevitably, coming to pass.
Of course, none of us knows when that day will be.  Anyone who claims to know the day or the hour is, by definition, identifying themselves as a false prophet.

Oh there will be signs. They are described in many places in the Bible including Matthew 24, Luke 17, and, of course, in Revelation.  

Many, many people have been obsessed with them, studied them, conjectured, interpreted, and spent lifetimes trying to gain as much insight as possible.

As near as I can tell, there are over a million websites dedicated to the subject.

And now, all across the internet, there are claims of people hearing strange trumpet noises from the sky.

They are too many to ignore and they are coming from all over the world. 

There are many theories about the noises, including: increased solar flares, acceleration in the shift in the Earth’s magnetic field originating in our planet’s very core, tectonic plates grinding, atmospheric pressure, trains, construction projects, aliens, and a strange secret weapon the U.S. government is using for defense and/or modifying the weather.

NASA’s official explanation is that it is Earth’s “background noise.”

And of course, many have said that the noises are the trumpets announcing the apocalypse.

Since I am but a humble blog writer, I will readily confess that I do not know what these sounds are or where they are coming from.

But I do know that Jesus said this: Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44 ESV)

Are you ready, brothers and sisters?

Are you ready?

Today’s Praise

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21: 3-4 ESV)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Back to Jerusalem


Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17 NIV)

I recently learned of a movement called “Back to Jerusalem.”

It’s composed of Chinese Christians who intend to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to millions of people between China and Jerusalem.

It began in the 1920’s with a group of students at Northwest Bible Institute in China and slowly grew. Eventually, the Communist government clamped down on it, persecuting, torturing, and imprisoning its members. Its leader was imprisoned for 40 years.

The movement went underground, but it would not die.

Since 2003, exiled Chinese house church leader Liu Zhenying (“Brother Yun”) has been leading Back to Jerusalem in an effort to send 100,000 missionaries along the “Silk Road,” the ancient trade route from China to the Mediterranean Sea.

The Silk Road passes through the heart of “The 10/40 Window.”  It is so named because it includes the countries between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator and includes northern Africa, the Middle East, India, China and southeast Asia.

Back to Jerusalem says, “More than 90% of the unreached people groups in the world today are located within the “10/40 window” more than 5,100 tribes and ethno-linguistic groups with little or no gospel witness. Of the world’s 50 least-Christian and least-evangelized countries, all 50 are located within this region!”

Most of the people living in the “10/40 Window” are Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist. And many of the governments within this area are opposed to any king of Christian work within their borders—with penalties for “proselytizing” that can and do include death.
Approximately one-third of the earth’s population lives within this window and it is estimated the over 70% have never heard the name of Jesus.

It’s also the area of some of the greatest poverty and poorest living conditions on the planet. Over 80% of the world’s poorest people live in this region and 84% of the people living here have the world’s lowest quality of life. (As measured by life-expectancy, infant mortality, and literacy rates.)

Oh, and did I mention that the Back to Jerusalem missionaries in the field carry out their work anonymously and make no appeals for money?

As an American Christian, I am humbled by the courage and faith of these people who willingly put themselves at great risk for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their efforts certainly make my contribution to the Kingdom of God seem pretty insignificant.

As Byron D. Klaus, President of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary wrote in his blog of the Back to Jerusalem members:

“When asked if they fear for their lives, they will respond with the observation that where they came from in China, they already faced persecution for their faith. They had suffered violent persecution, imprisonment and, at times, death. Their experience in obeying Jesus' command to take the gospel to all nations is only the latest version of their similar experience "back home in China."”

Its members are at work throughout the 10/40 window, bringing Bibles to Iran and China, relief to earthquake victims in Nepal, starting a tour in the U.S. later this year called “Bless Our Enemies,” partnering with Amish and Mennonite Americans to bring the Gospel to Muslim extremists in Iraq, and taking the Gospel directly to Islamic militants in Ethiopia and Kenya.

They also intend to evangelize the ISIS terrorists in Syria, saying they are “launching a spiritual offensive.” They say they are “not armed with a sentence of death but with a message of life, and ISIS jihadists are in their crosshairs.”

Lord, help me to remember Back to Jerusalem next time I feel a little “socially uncomfortable” about witnessing for Jesus. 
Amen.

Today’s Praise
Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses--is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock--not one!"( Isaiah 44:8 NLT)


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Too Far


“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “ ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’ ” (Ezra 1: 2-4)

The passage above is astounding for a number of reasons.

When Cyrus was king of Persia (576-530 BC), his kingdom was the most powerful nation on earth. His empire, centered in what is now Iran, stretched from India to Egypt and from what is now Saudi Arabia to the Mediterranean Sea.

Among other things, he was known as the King of the Four Corners of the World.

Among his victories was the defeat of Babylon in 539 BC. You may remember that the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, had defeated Israel and Judah and taken some Jews into exile. Hence, when Cyrus overthrew Babylon, the Jewish exiles in Babylon came under his rule, as did their homeland.

Isaiah prophesied that Cyrus would set the exiles free 150 years before he did so, and even called him by name in Isaiah 45:1:

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
whose right hand I have grasped,
to subdue nations before him
and to loose the belts of kings,
to open doors before him
that gates may not be closed: (ESV)

And, the amazing thing was, Cyrus did not know the LORD.

That was prophesied in Isaiah 45:4--

For the sake of my servant Jacob,
and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name,
I name you, though you do not know me. (ESV)

Cyrus actively assisted the Jews in restoring the temple, even returning items Nebuchadnezzar had removed from the temple and providing funds out of the treasury. His proclamation even mandates that others are to help the Jews.

So, what would cause this incredibly powerful and rich king of the Four Corners of the World to care about the Jews? What would cause him to actively seek to accomplish the will of God when he did not even know Him?

Ezra 1:1 says it was to fulfill prophesy, and that “the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia.”

That should give us incredible hope.

If God can stir up the spirit of a rich and powerful king who is ruling what was pretty much the entire world at the time, don’t we have hope that He can stir up the spirits of your friends and neighbors who do not know Him or do His will?

While your friends or neighbors or your senator, congressman, or president may not be mentioned by name in a particular biblical prophecy, there is this:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:1-4 ESV)

With this we know that God wants, wishes, and desires that all would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. We are urged to pray for all people from the highest stations in life to the lowest in all ways possible, knowing that the LORD our God can indeed stir up their spirits and bring them to salvation and to good and godly lives.

That gives me hope that no one has ever slipped too far and it is never too late for any person or for any nation.

Today’s Praise

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 ESV