The belief in the existence of God is called theism. The belief that there is no God is called foolishness. That's what the Bible calls it. Twice the psalm writer said, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God." (Psalm 14:1). The existence of God is the original truth from which all truth emanates. The Bible not only declares God is, it reveals who He is, what He is, and what He wants. Join us this month at RLA for the exciting new series: GOD!
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The prophet was sent to encourage a discouraged people. His name was Haggai. The discouraged people were the Jews who returned from Babylon to rebuild the temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.
The first temple, built by Solomon, was a wonder to behold. Built on the summit of Mount Moriah overlooking the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem, the temple stood nearly twenty stories at its highest point. It is estimated that the gold and silver used would exceed two-hundred billion dollars in today’s figures. Add to that the massive amounts of carved stone, quality lumber, in addition to other precious metals and materials, and you have a structure of incalculable worth.
This is the temple that was reduced to rubble by the Babylonian army in 587 BC. About seventy-years later construction on the new temple began.
While the building was in construction the prophet Haggai asked a question of those old enough to remember Solomon’s Temple. “Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?” (Haggai 2:3). While the Bible doesn’t say, I am sure there was unanimous agreement. While the rebuilt temple would be nice, it would never compare in glory to the first. Or so they thought.
Then Haggai encouraged them to be strong and complete the project with this promise, “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former” (Haggai 2:9). And it was, but not in the way they probably expected. While the second temple paled in comparison to the first in terms of cost and architectural beauty, it far exceeded the glory of the former in this way. Into the rebuilt temple came the Desire of All Nations — Jesus Christ God Incarnate — and filled it with greater glory (Haggai 2:7). The glory of the latter was greater than the former.
Like the discouraged Jews in Haggai’s day, we may take an assessment of our lives and say, “It’s nothing like I thought it was going to be. I had such dreams and high aspirations. But the years are spent and I have come up short of what I set out to do.”
Maybe that’s because somewhere along the way you met with failure and disappointment. A bad decision here, a wrong choice there, circumstances beyond your control have all seemingly worked together against you. Like the Jews on the second temple job site, you know you can rebuild but conclude it will never be what it might have been.
Enough! God has promised, “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former.” You are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and God has promised greater glory. As one writer stated, “God longs to do more in your life than you have ever envisioned.”
So reject the lie of the enemy that your life is as good as over. Refuse to accept the notion that God will never use you again. Stop looking back. Set your gaze forward. Open your heart to the Lord. Pursue Him with renewed zeal and passion. Claim the promise that the glory of the latter will be greater than the former. And into your heart God will give peace, “says the LORD of hosts.” (Haggai 2:9).
Pastor Todd Weston
When God Is Silent
“There was silence in heaven” (Revelation 8:1).
Let’s face it. There are times when God seems to go silent. On the one hand, there are things God chooses to reveal. On the other hand, there are things He chooses not to reveal.
Case in point. In the last chapter of John’s Gospel Jesus revealed what was going to happen to Peter and how he would meet with a martyr’s death on a Roman cross. But when pressed for more details, Jesus went silent. He said to Peter, “What is that to you?” (John 21:22)
Over the three years of His earthly ministry Jesus taught the disciples many things. But when questioned specifically about the restoration of national Israel and its timing, Jesus said, “It is not for you to know” (Acts 1:7).
Now we could spend a lot of time and energy speculating one of the many biblical mysteries. For example, we know that Jesus is coming again at the event known as the Rapture of the Church. But the exact moment of His return is a closely guarded secret.
We know that Jesus is preparing a place for us to spend eternity, but many things about heaven and the afterlife remain a mystery. In describing heaven the Bible reveals more about what is not there than what is there. When we try to push beyond that we are met with deafening silence. “There was silence in heaven.”
We might debate the mystery of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. These two truths are taught not only in the same chapter of the Bible, but often in the same sentence. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (man’s responsibility), for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (God’s sovereignty)” (Phi. 2:12b-13a). How do you reconcile that?
We could try to unlock the mysteries of the Bible, and many Christians do. Or we could accept Moses’ statement made to the Children of Israel, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29).
We must accept the fact that there are certain things we will never fully know and understand in this life because God has not revealed them. Rather than endless speculation on what has not been revealed, there needs to be continued focus on what has been revealed “that we may do all the words of this law.”
There is coming a day when our knowledge will be made perfect (1 Cor. 13:12). Jesus said, “In that day you will ask Me nothing” (John 16:23). Until then we walk by faith, not by sight.
So focus on the things God has revealed, and leave the mysteries with Him. Continue to trust God even when you cannot see, remembering Jesus’ words to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
Pastor Todd Weston
A solitary figure emerged from the city carrying an empty water pot. Her daily routine included a trip to Jacob’s well located about 1/2 mile south of the town in which she lived. The name of the town was Sychar which means “town of the sepulcher.” The name is a possible reference to the fact that the tomb of Joseph, Jacob’s beloved son, was nearby.
Jacob’s well was more than a place to draw the daily supply of water. It was a meeting place where the women from the town could talk and catch up on the latest news. These gatherings occurred either in the morning or evening hours when the temperature was cool.
But the woman in John 4 avoided the well at those times. Her reputation was too well known. Her name was associated with shame. With an accusing glance in her direction, mothers would warn their daughters, “You don’t want to grow up and be like…” That’s interesting. We don’t even know her name. All we know is that she was an outcast.
Actually, she was an outcast among outcasts.
Jacob’s well was located in Samaria in central Palestine. The Samaritans were a mixed race, descendants of the imported Gentiles and poor Jews left in Palestine after the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions. Intermarriages between these two groups produced the Samaritans. The Samaritans were rejected by the Jews (John 4:9), and this woman was rejected by her own people.
It was during the heat of the day when other women were inside and out of the hot sun that she approached the well alone. But she wasn’t alone. A man was sitting by the well. Drawing water was normally done by women, not men. And yet here was a man at the well waiting. Waiting for what? Waiting for her.
In what follows we find out why Jesus “needed to go through Samaria” (John 4:4). There was a broken heart to heal; an oppressed soul to set free (Luke 4:18). In Psalm 147:2-5 the writer tells us that the Lord “gathers together the outcasts…He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds…His understanding is infinite.”
Jesus understands the pain of the outcast because He was one Himself. Not only was Jesus rejected by the world He created, but His own people refused to receive Him (John 1:10-11). Even those closest to Jesus betrayed Him in the end. Engaged in conversation with the woman at the well, His understanding was infinite.
The story in John 4 has a happy ending. It closes with a picture of healing and reconciliation. The former outcast is surrounded by her neighbors as they invite Jesus not only into their city, but into their hearts (John 4:39-42).
Pastor Todd Weston
The Spirit Of Confusion
Isaiah predicted it!
The 19th chapter of Isaiah is a prophetic warning of judgment coming to Egypt. Egypt has a longer history than any nation mentioned in the Bible, including Israel. That is especially significant when you remember that in Scripture Egypt is a type of the unbelieving world. Many things written about the nation of Egypt are applicable to the world.
History points out that Egypt was originally monotheistic. In other words, they worshiped the one true God. But over time monotheism gave way to polytheism — the worship of many gods. Soon the culture of Egypt was inundated with all the evils associated with idolatry.
This was the spiritual condition that precipitated the divine judgment declared in Isaiah 19. A very interesting feature of this judgment is that God would send upon Egypt a “spirit of confusion” (Isaiah 19:14 ESV).
What is the state of the world today? Look around. The world is in a state of confusion. We live in a world that has lost its moral compass. The examples of this sad condition are endless:
In our gender-neutral society the polite phrase “ladies and gentlemen” is now viewed as offensive along with other gender-specific terms.
The “maternity ward” in hospitals will soon be renamed as transgender men (men that were born female) are having babies.
The word “normal” has just joined the list of prohibited politically-incorrect terms for it suggests the existence of normal versus abnormal.
Harming or destroying the eggs of a nesting sea turtle will result in a jail sentence and up to a $15,000 fine for each offense. At the same time, thousands of babies are aborted every day in America with impunity.
The biblical institution of marriage is under attack as various counter organizations motivated by godless agendas seek its demise.
Moral perversion results in mental confusion. That is where we are today; at the tipping point of global insanity. Like Egypt of old, the spirit of confusion has come to America.
Have you ever wondered how intelligent people can become so confused? Paul explained it in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11, “Because they refused to love the truth…therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false.” We either love the truth, or we will believe the lie. There is no third option.
Thankfully, there is hope! God’s answer to the spirit of confusion is the Spirit of Truth who guides us into all truth (John 16:13). God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). He is the God of truth (Deuteronomy 32:4).
So as my friend Terry Raburn says, “Learn the truth. Love the truth. Live the truth.” Do this and you will live successfully for Jesus in the midst of a crooked and confused world.
Pastor Todd Weston