God's purposes are not always as they seem!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Catastrophe

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Acts 16:26-30 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

At first glance, it would seem that God allowed this earthquake to take place in order that Paul and Silas would be set free. The earthquake came and their bands were loosed. There was nothing holding them back. They could have fled immediately — wouldn't have you?

But no — Paul and Silas waited…and as a result, the jailer and his entire family were saved!

Many times we assume God's reasoning for doing the things He does. The Lord may have released us to walk through a door that He has clearly opened — but He may also have other purposes in mind. Let's not be so quick to assume. There's no hurry. God won't shut a door if it is His divine will for it to be open!!

Let's be patient and be sure to be led by the Spirit of God. These are amazing times we're living in. We don't want to miss out on God's perfect will!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Catastrophe

The Volcano Waiting to Erupt!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Catastrophe

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

1 Timothy 6:6-10 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

As I write, it seems the prevailing concern among people everywhere is -– what's going on with the economy? Europe is on the verge of an economic collapse. Even the kings of wall street are reportedly dumping their shares in U.S. companies. People are watching their wealth dissipating and dwindling away. Reflecting on these material losses reminds me of a story about a lady who perished in Pompeii in the first century.

Pompeii was a flourishing city in Southern Italy until 79 AD. Suddenly, for two days Mt. Vesuvius erupted and completely destroyed Pompeii in all its pomp. The city was covered in meters of ash and pumice for 1700 years until it was accidentally discovered in 1748. When archaeologists began excavations in 1910 they uncovered a petrified woman clutching some of the finest jewelry ever recovered from the ancient world. She was apparently attempting to flee the doomed city, and in her haste, holding desperately onto her valuable possessions –- she lost her life.

During its time Pompeii was a magnificent city, yet it's destiny was destruction by a nearby volcano –- and so it is with our world today. There's so much beauty on our planet earth –- yet its destiny is certain! The day is soon coming when it's elements will be destroyed with fire, the earth and everything in it, laid bare, [2 Peter 3:10] –- and our earthly possessions will not come with us into glory, (only what we have done with them).

As the Apostle Paul said, we came into this world with nothing – and when we leave this world, we take nothing with us. We can make the mistake of holding too dearly onto our earthly possessions, making them our "treasure", (rather than storing treasure where moth and rust do not corrode etc.) – but this is a costly error, as illustrated by our "petrified lady". Instead, let's remind ourselves that we are stewards of God's possessions, responsible to use them with His interests in mind, to further His Kingdom with the things He has entrusted to us. With so much work to be done, let's never allow our earthly possessions to petrify us with greed or fear thus preventing the eternal work we were preordained for, and stealing our eternal rewards.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Catastrophe

Your God Shall Be My God!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Catastrophe

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Ruth 1:16-17 But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me."

As we continue our study in Ruth, this Shavuot season, I want to suggest a prophetic mystery hidden in this book.

We have seen that names have significant meanings, and as discussed earlier, Elimelech, whose name means "My God is King", left Bethlehem with Naomi his wife and their two sons. The birth of these two boys must have brought joy and happiness, yet, having perished in Moab actually caused their very names to lose their original meanings. The firstborn, Mahlon, which meant "ornament", over the years came to mean "sickly". Their second son, Chilion, derived his name from the Hebrew root for "joy", but his name came to mean, "pining" and "whining". Naomi, whose name means "pleasant", changed her name to Mara, which means "bitterness", saying, "the Lord has dealt very bitterly with me."

Now Ruth, whose name means "friend", remained persistent, despite Naomi's exhorting her to separate and return to Moab. Instead, true to her name and character, Ruth invokes one of the strongest, most beautiful expressions of faith and faithfulness in all of scripture: "For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me." Thus Ruth forsakes her native land and joins herself irrevocably to the nation, people and God of Israel…a truly faithful friend, even to the point of death.

I would like to draw out from the story of Ruth, a possible contemporary meaning and application for us to ponder. I would suggest that Naomi and her two sons can be viewed as a type or picture of the people of Israel, and that Elimilech's decision to leave the Land of Promise with them became a picture of Israel in the diaspora. This present exile of the Jewish people since 70 AD culminating in the holocaust, has often rendered them both "sickly" and "pining" for home, and Naomi's experience outside the land of Israel brought death and desolation upon her.

The modern nation of Israel, birthed after centuries from the ashes of the Holocaust, and a long painful exile, has been suddenly restored to her ancient homeland, yet, in much bitterness, just as Naomi had returned to her homeland from Moab. Yet Ruth's love and faithfulness must have been a profound comfort to her mother-in-law. So, Ruth can be seen as a picture or type of Gentile (Christian) believers, whose faithful love, friendship and comfort bring deep solace to the people of Israel, who are still experiencing the bitterness of the exile and even now, the misunderstanding and opposition of the nations of the world. Many Israelis already know that their truest and most faithful friends in the world today are Bible believing Christians whose love for them is unconditional, and beautifully reflects the devotion of Ruth to Naomi.

Finally, it seems significant that Ruth's loving and faithful character became inspiration for drawing out the redemptive grace of Boaz toward Elimelech's widow, Naomi, so that her family line and inheritance were restored and preserved. As their Kinsman Redeemer, Boaz was deeply moved by the humility and faithfulness of Ruth to her mother-in-law, and as such, she can be seen as a type of intercessor between Boaz and Naomi. For if Boaz is pictured as a type of Yeshua (Jesus) our "Kinsman-Redeemer", then Ruth, lying down "at his feet" can be a picture of believers' humble prayers and intercession for the Jewish people entreating the Lamb of God for the mercy which restores us all to the inheritance which belongs to Him.

If in fact, Ruth can be seen as a "type" for Gentile believers, and Naomi, a picture of Israel, restored to her land, but still in bitterness, then Ruth can be an inspiration and a pattern for Christians who love Israel and who recognize her irrevocable calling as a nation. If the faithfulness of Ruth through love and intercession helped to restore Naomi to her true Kinsman-Redeemer, can it also be that the faithfulness and intercession of Gentile believers will be a powerful influence for the restoration of the Jewish people to their "Kinsman-Redeemer, the Messiah Yeshua Himself? Our friendship with Israel in word and in deed, and our prayers, in the midst of global opposition [Zechariah 14:2] will be a powerful testimony for Yeshua, and will help to remove the veil from Jewish eyes concerning His true identity. As we support the restoration of their Land (a Biblical promise), we also help to open the way for the far greater blessing of eternal life. Doing so, we also will be blessed according to these timeless words; "I will bless them that bless thee, and I will curse them that curse thee!"

Worthy Christian Devotions » Catastrophe

He's coming as Judge, Are You Ready?

Worthy Christian Devotions » Catastrophe

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

Isaiah 51:5 My righteousness is near; My salvation is gone forth, and My arm [z’roah in Hebrew] shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on My arm [z’roah] they will trust.

John 5:22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,

Revelation 19:11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.

On December 25, 1908, a newspaper in Messina, Silicy dared God to make Himself known by sending an earthquake. Three days later, the city was destroyed by an earthquake that killed over 84,000 people.

Do we really believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is returning soon? He is – He's coming back to judge this world and no one will escape His wrath except those whose sins are forgiven through living faith in His atoning sacrifice. The world in its increasing sinfulness, rejecting His Son, seems to be daring God to bring judgment. This historical event in Messina speaks with shocking clarity that the God of Creation is real, that He listens carefully to the statements we make about Him and the communications we express toward Him, (as individuals, cities, and nations), and that He is a powerful Sovereign King whose judgments are imminent and totally righteous.

Because of sin, we are all born destined to die. Every one of those 84,000+ people were corrupt from the womb and fated for death, so that when this dare came before the Lord in Heaven, He chose the moment to take them and reveal this serious and dramatic testimony of His judgment to all the world. By revealing His judgment as a warning, God shows His mercy to those who remain alive, that we all may seek the eternal safety He offers. Yeshua's sacrificial death provides eternal life for all who are destined to die from sin…that is, all that come to Him in faith.

God is the true, righteous, and final Judge of us all. Will you be found in Him when He judges? If clothed in His righteousness, the Lord Yeshua, we will escape His judgment for sin. Trust in Him completely and know He is not only a just judge, but a "merciful, gracious, longsuffering" God who "abounds in goodness and truth". [Exodus 34:6] With judgment looming — let's also be about His business today!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Catastrophe

In Times of Extreme Drought — Find Your Treasure!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Catastrophe

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Isaiah 33:6 Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, And the strength of salvation; The fear of the Lord is His treasure.

As California enters its third year of an intense drought, with nearly 60 percent of the state now in an "exceptional drought", it reminded me of a story that happened in Israel.

It was 1986, in the midst of a three year drought, when two brothers who lived in a kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee made an incredible discovery. As these two fisherman monitored their equipment on the lake, they noticed something glistening in the sun covered in mud. It was a fishing boat. Upon deeper examination, archaeologists determined that these two brothers had discovered an ancient boat from the time of Yeshua (Jesus). It's was called the "Jesus boat" and is now located in a museum next to the Sea of Galilee.

Hidden under water for centuries, the only reason it was discovered was that the severe drought had lowered the lake surface so drastically; so that even when no one was looking for it — this treasure was discovered totally unexpectedly.

You may have noticed — it's becoming more and more spiritually dry in this world and sometimes I wonder, will anything good ever come out of this mess? Yet I think the same thing can happen for us as happened to those two fisherman. When things get low, and dry, and sparse, suddenly when we least expect it, God can reveal treasure that we couldn't see or know about because everything was abundantly okay. Maybe it's a friendship that blossoms because of the pressure or need … or, maybe just a new and deeper insight into the Lord's own sufferings; or maybe a new spiritual gift of encouragement … there are many possibilities, and I think we ought to be looking for them, though they might appear when we least expect it. 

Worthy Christian Devotions » Catastrophe