“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, and all liars - they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8 NIV)
Today as I write this it is 56F at 7:00 a.m. The weather forecast is calling for hotter temps to return, and as you read this it will be August and, in some minds, “Hotter than Hades”. The expression “HTH” has always amused me. If hell is a burning lake of fire and brimstone (sulfur) that lake would be 832.28 F. The temperature of the equilibrium state of liquid sulfur and its vapor is 444.6C or 832.28F. Pretty hot.
Jerusalem’s ancient garbage dump - a place called Gehenna - was illustrative of the ceaseless agonies of hell. This dump was on the south side of Jerusalem. In Old Testament times, children were sacrificed to idols there. In Jesus’ day, it was a place burning with constant fires to consume waste. The material burned there included everything from household trash to animal carcasses to convicted criminals. Needless to say, the Jews considered Gehenna a cursed place of impurity and uncleanness.
The word translated “hell” in Mark 9:43 is the Greek word Gehenna, which comes from the Hebrew name for a place called the “Valley of Hinnom.” Jesus uses this place to paint a vivid image of what hell is like. The Jewish people often associated the Valley of Hinnom with spiritual death.
A New Dawn
We are about to embark on a new adventure. At the end of July, specifically the 31st, we will have Reverend Jen Evans in the pulpit as our new Minister of Word and Sacrament. That day will be a new dawn, a reawakening, a new beginning for FPC Madisonville. God gives us a new beginning each and every day in the name of Jesus. This month FPC gets a new beginning in His Holy Name and the hope for new growth. And as with each new day we can choose the path we will take. The vision of a new beginning will be nothing but a dream unless we step in to do what is mindful and necessary. We must be willing and available to pay the price that will bring it about. Are we willing to give the quantity and quality of praise, worship, prayers, and sacrifices needed for the church to expand? Are we willing to stop grumbling and complaining how things were, are, and could be and have faith in God to lead us in His direction? Are we willing to have faith, trust, and confidence in God to lead us forward? Let’s be grateful for what we have and thank God for what He has done and will do. Let us take delight in the Lord and experience great pleasure and joy in his presence. Let us commit ourselves to trust Him, believing He will do things in His time, and we will wait patiently for Him to work out what is best for us. The person in whom God delights is one who follows God, trusts Him, and tries to do His will. God watches over and makes firm every step that person takes.
It’s a new dawn, enjoy the sunshine.
Take Time to Breathe
The following is a compilation from the work of Pastor and Author Doug Batchelor:
The book of Ezekiel was written by the prophet bearing the same name, which means "God will strengthen." A Hebrew from the tribe of Levi, he was among the elite of Judah who were captured by Nebuchadnezzar and carried away to Babylon. Ezekiel prophesied between the years 600 and 570 B.C. and was a contemporary of the prophet Daniel. Some scholars believe that his reference in the very first verse of the book to "the thirtieth year" was probably an indication of his age. If so, that means Ezekiel would have been only 25 years old at the time he was forced to leave his homeland. Thirty was also the age when a priest could begin to minister (Numbers 4:3). It was at age 30 that Jesus began His ministry, Joseph began to rule over Egypt, and David began his reign.
This fascinating prophecy of dry bones in Ezekiel has something for everyone. He was speaking primarily to his fellow captives among the children of Israel. By this time in history, the 10 tribes of Israel had been so widely scattered among the surrounding nations that they seemed all but lost as a people. The tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi had just been conquered and carried away captive to Babylon. It looked as if their national identity was forever gone and they would never again return to their Promised Land. Hence, one purpose of this vision was to inspire them with hope that God would someday revive them as a nation.
Isaiah 43 Is Alive and Well!
In view of the economic uncertainties and geopolitical tensions around us, we are tempted to “play God” and depend on ourselves. Like Israel under captivity, we are prone to either fight our own battles or resign to our own fate. But God tells us otherwise. He is a God of new things. He wants to make all things new. He wants to realign our hearts with His. God is calling us to look to Him, not at our circumstances, and to focus on our freedom in Christ.
Although there is a time and place to recollect past events to glean its wisdom, we don’t stay there. Don’t expect past victories to sustain us. The past is a great place to learn from but it’s a terrible place to live in. Some of us hang on to our baggage (unresolved issues, failures, and negativity) for too long. Learn from them and let them go! If we live in the past, we will never embrace the future God has in store for us.
The question we must ask ourselves then is, “What is God saying to us today?” In 2 Corinthians 5:17, He gives us the answer, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” This is the heart of the Gospel! Our past failures, brokenness and pain no longer define us, condemn us, or rule over us. We are a completely new creation, and we have a new Spirit living in us!
A Friend of Lonely Robot
God and I have had some wonderful conversations lately. This last Sunday, he told me to study 1 Samuel 8. OK says I. This chapter is about the Israelites wanting a king and the price they would pay for having one. From there my mind wandered to the idea of God vs Man, then to Lonely Robot’s 2015 video "God vs Man," then to how are we related and yet different. The following are parts of two articles discussing God and the Man of God:
First God: Because God is a personal Spirit I will seek intimate fellowship with Him. “I reach out for You. I thirst for You as parched land thirsts for rain.” (Psalm 143:6) Our awesome God is gloriously incomprehensible. The following are four of the many ways He is beyond our understanding.
God is infinite. Unlike us, God has no limits or boundaries. He is not confined to the dimension of space. His love, holiness, mercy and all His other qualities are unlimited in their scope and expression.
God is self-existent. Unlike everything else in the entire universe, He had no beginning. Because He is the Creator, He is the only One who exists outside of the created order.
God is eternal. He is not bound by the dimension of time. He created time as a temporary context for His creation. With God, everything that has ever happened or will ever happen has already occurred within His awareness. God encompasses all of eternity!
God is self-sufficient. All creation relies on God for existence, but He has no need for anything. He does not need our help. He only offers us the privilege of being involved with Him in the fulfillment of His purposes.