Saturday, January 28, 2023

The Wedding Dance

Photo by Paul Munhoven 8/2/2011

Today my husband and I are celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary, by the grace of God! And we are just a few months away from celebrating the 23rd anniversary of our salvation, when we became betrothed to God. I therefore thought it would be fitting to repost this from the archives.

In this dream, I hear a flute melody whispering on the breeze from far away, and I follow it across the hills to a country hamlet, nestled in the valley among pine trees, surrounded by rocky cliffs.

A young couple has just exchanged their marriage vows, and although the ceremony is over, the celebration is in full swing. The villagers clap in time to the music, joyously tapping their feet, joining in on tambourines and lyres. But all eyes are fixed on the couple, joined as one in the wedding dance. 

He wears white trousers and boots, topped by a princely white shirt and cape, and she is in a simple, long white frock, trimmed in hand spun lace. Both have crowns of fragrant wildflowers encircling their heads – his red roses and white lilies, and hers baby’s breath and forget-me-nots.

He is strong and handsome, his muscular arms protecting and guiding her through every move. Although the clearing where they twirl together is uneven, with rocky ledges and gulches, he never misses a step. As she clings to him and gazes up into his riveting eyes, her footing is sure, but when her attention drifts, distracted by others in the crowd, she stumbles. Yet even as she loses her balance he stabilizes her, whisking her away from danger and closer to him.

Soon the light changes from the midday sun illuminating the white fields, scattered like sheep on the hillside, to the long dusty beams of purple and maroon at sunset. The music changes too, sometimes tender and romantic, sometimes pounding with excitement and power, with bursts of joy intermingled with sad, soulful melodies that make me weep.

Yet the couple dances on, for he beautifully interprets every nuance of the changing rhythms. Boastful young men try to cut in, but she does not give them her hand any more than she would give away her heart, for it is promised to her beloved. As the sun sets, wolves and coyotes howl from the cliffs, and though she shudders, she buries her face in his chest and they waltz on.

A band of gypsy marauders presses in on the crowd, their raucous taunts and violins nearly drowning out the haunting flute melody, so that I must strain to hear it. But the couple still dances, moving together in perfect harmony with the flute and with each other, the bride following the groom’s perfect lead through turns, drops and sways. By now she is weary and physically drained, yet his vibrant energy sustains her, and he supports and even carries her when her strength wanes.  

Thunder echoes off the cliffs; then the skies open in a drenching downpour. The earth beneath the couple’s feet dissolves into mud, yet his attire and her bridal gown remain pristine. The flowers in his crown began to separate, revealing rainbows sparkling from golden, bejeweled crowns beneath, and I suddenly realize Who He is! The haunting trumpet sound and brilliant flash of lightning pierce the darkened sky and they vanish, caught up together in the heavens.

As I awoke I thanked Him for being my betrothed, my beloved spouse (Song of Solomon 5:1), for guiding me through the dance of life. How blessed I am by the promise that one day my Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) will return for me and catch me up with Him in the clouds (1 Corinthians 15:51-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) where we will celebrate our marriage feast (Revelation 19:7-9), never to be parted. 

In the meantime, He is my shelter from the storm (Psalm 61:1-3) and my refuge from all harm (Psalm 91). He illuminates and steadies my path (Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 3:6), catches me when I stumble (Psalm 91:12), and keeps me unspotted and blameless through His imputed righteousness (Romans 4:22-25; 5:17-21Revelation 19:7).

If I keep my eyes fixed upon His face I will not fear the harms and threats around me (Numbers 21:8), as He is my strong Tower (Proverbs 18:10) and my Fortress (Psalm 71:3). When I am weary, I can lean on Him (1 Peter 5:7) and He will carry me (Isaiah 40:11), for His strength is made perfect in my weakness, and His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).  

May I always focus on the tender, soft melody of His love song (Zephaniah 3:17), of His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12) and shut out the world clamoring around me (Romans 12:2). May I await His swift return (Revelation 11:1422:7,12,20) with the patience of the wise virgins (Matthew 25:1-12), separated and holy through His grace (Ephesians 1:4; 5:27; 1 Peter 1:15), my lamp burning brightly with the Holy Spirit.

How I long to hear that trumpet sound heralding my immediate transport to that celebration in the clouds, when my Beloved and I will be together forever! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

© 2013 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Rapture : Triplets of Eternity


Raure to Heaven: Triplets of Eternity

A new beginning awaiting all believers is the Rapture, when instantaneously the trumpet shall sound, the dead in Christ shall be raised in glorified bodies, and living believers shall be changed into glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:52). The sound heralding this miraculous transformation is described as the shout of the Lord, the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

The Rapture will occur at the same instant all around the world, creating pandemonium on earth for those left behind as many pilots, drivers, surgeons and other believers suddenly disappear in the midst of what they are doing. Some will vanish at night while sleeping, others at sunrise or sunset while preparing breakfast or supper, and still others in the middle of the day, while working in the fields (Luke 17:34-36).

Yet all this occurs at the same moment in time, authenticating the Spirit-breathed nature of Scripture, as this was written nearly 1500 years before Columbus showed that the earth is a globe!

Those believers still living at the Rapture will be caught up (Raptured) in the clouds with those believers who died before, will meet the Lord in the air, and will forever be with the Lord in their glorified state (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Once the Rapture occurs, believers will take part in three events: the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and the Second Coming of Christ.

At the Judgment Seat of Christ, believers will be rewarded for the work God does through us in our earthly life, for we are coworkers with God: we are God's husbandry, meaning that He raises and trains us; and we are God's building (1 Corinthians 3:8-9),. But because God is a Gentleman, He does not force His will on any of us, and we must yield to His direction through the Holy Spirit before His perfect will can be done in our lives.

The perfect Foundation of each believer’s life is Christ Himself, but how we build our lives on that foundation is up to us (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). Work done for our own glory, to satisfy our own lusts, or even done for the church but with the wrong motives will burn up like wood, hay, and stubble, consumed by the fiery judgment. But good works done to God’s glory, to further His Kingdom, and motivated by love for Him will be purified in the refiner’s fire and remain as a reward, like goldsilver, and precious stones (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

Overcome by gratitude for His love, holiness and sacrifice for us, we will cast these crowns at the feet of Jesus. He alone is worthy to be crowned and to receive glory, honor and power (Revelation 4 9-11).

Announcing the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be a powerful pronouncement as the voice of a great multitude, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, Those present are commanded to be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Christ the Lamb, Who will marry His bride, the Church, in the presence of the blessed guests (Revelation 19 6-9). This last group includes the angels; the Old Testament saints who are in Heaven because of their faith in God; and the Tribulation saints, who were saved after the Rapture and martyred for refusing to take the mark of the beast.
The Tribulation saints will no longer hunger, thirst, or suffer from the scorching sun, for the Lamb will feed them and lead them to living fountains of waters, and God will wipe away all their tears (Revelation 7 16-17)..   

After the Marriage Supper, believers will have the awesome privilege of accompanying Christ as His armies when He returns in His Second Coming for the battle of Armageddon. We are described as riding white horsesclothed in fine linen, and white and clean (Revelation 19:14).

In Heaven we will have new bodies, a new address, and a new name (Revelation 2:17). Our glorified, eternal, perfect bodies will be like that of the resurrected Christ (Philippians 3:21), and we will never die, age, or become ill. Instead of pain, sorrow, and tears, we will experience vitality, joy, and a new song. (Isaiah 35:10; Revelation 5:9; 21:4).

Our new home will be in our own mansion, (John 14:2), in the New Jerusalemin the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1-2). The length, breadth and height of the New Jerusalem will be equal, each 12,000 furlongs, most likely a pyramidal shape. There will be three gates each on the east, north, south and west walls of the city, or twelve gates in total, each made of a single pearl. Each wall will be guarded by three angels and will bear the names of three of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Similarly, there will be twelve foundations of precious stones, inscribed with the names of the twelve apostles (Revelation 21:12-21)., and the tree of life planted by the river of water of life will bear twelve kinds of fruit (Revelation 22:1-2).

Praise God that when we finally behold Him in glory, we will have unimaginable joy, for Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

It is my earnest prayer that everyone reading this post will go to Heaven, and that all of us will join in that mighty chorus of Holy, Holy, Holy (Revelation 4:8), worshipping the Trinity of God the FatherJesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit throughout eternity.

May anyone who does not yet know Christ confess that they are a sinner in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23), turn from their sins, and call on His Name to be saved!  (Psalm 116:13,17; Acts 2:21) Anyone who does this, placing their faith (Acts 16:31) in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) as the only way to the Father (John 14:6), can be sure of abundant, eternal life in Heaven! (John 3:16; 10:10)

No man knows the day or the hour, but current events and the signs of the End Times (Matthew 24) suggest that the days remaining are precious few. May we look up, eagerly awaiting the new beginning of the Rapture to usher us into eternity! It could be this year, this month, or even this very day! May we be ready by knowing Christ as our Lord and Savior, keeping His commandments, and serving Him

© 2013 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives

Saturday, January 14, 2023

What If?


This morning, as my husband and I were reading our daily devotionals, he posed the interesting question, “What if, once Adam and Eve had sinned, they confessed their sin to God and asked for His forgiveness? Would that have eliminated the curse of sin and death?

As we know from Scripture, Adam and Eve’s first reaction was not to repent, ask for forgiveness, and seek restoration of their fellowship with God, even though they had known the blissful existence of perfect peace and joy, intimate fellowship with God in the garden, and every blessing one could ever imagine, all lovingly provided by God’s grace (Genesis 1-2).

Quite the contrary. Once they had eaten the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6), lost their innocence, and realized they were naked, they tried to hide from God’s presence and to cover up their sin by sewing aprons of fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). (If you’ve ever seen a dry fig leaf, which crumbles if you even look at it askance, you’ll know how futile that was!)

Once God confronted them (Genesis 3:8-11), things went from bad to worse. Rather than admitting their disobedience and begging God for His forgiveness, they played the blame game. Adam, whom God had designated as the spiritual head of his household (Genesis 2:18-25), should have taken responsibility for his wife’s transgression, and certainly should not have followed her in her rebellion. Instead, Adam blamed Eve for tasting the forbidden fruit, and even worse, he indirectly blamed God, as the One Who had given Eve to him as his wife (Genesis 3:12).

Not to be outmaneuvered, Eve blamed the serpent for having deceived her (Genesis 3:13), rather than owning up to her weakness as she yielded to the temptation of lust of the eyes (the tree was pleasant to look at), lust of the flesh (the fruit would surely taste good), and pride of life (the devil’s lie that eating the fruit would make them wise so that they would become gods themselves; Genesis 3:6; 1 John 2:16).

As far as we know in Scripture, Adam and Eve did not repent of their sin before God pronounced judgment. Eve and her successors would now experience great pain in childbirth and submission to their husbands (Genesis 3:16), while Adam and his offspring would have to labor intensely to provide their food from the sin-cursed ground (Genesis 3:17-19).

And yet, we later see some evidence that the hearts of Adam and Eve turned back to God, for Eve believed in God’s promise that her seed would one day defeat the devil (Genesis 3:15; 4:1,25). Once God had expelled Adam and Eve from the garden (Genesis 3:22-24), they must have taught their children what God had told them about the need for animal sacrifice to please Him. Abel brought such an offering to God, even though his brother Cain rebelled and pridefully offered crops he had worked hard to grow (Genesis 4:2-16).

So what if Adam and Eve had immediately repented of their sin and begged God for mercy? Would that have reversed all the dire consequences: expulsion from the garden, physical death and sin nature as the new destiny for all mankind, pain in childbirth, and sorrow in eking out a living?

We know that God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse from unrighteousness, if we confess them (1 John 1:9). There is no sin so heinous that it cannot be forgiven, thanks to Jesus Christ paying our sin debt in full (Hebrews 10:10-14). Whosoever, whether Mother Theresa or Adolf Hitler, trusts in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) will be saved to eternal life (John 3:16).

And yet we cannot escape the consequences of our sin. God gave us free will to choose to accept or reject His Son, and to obey or disobey His commandments. Either way, there are consequences – blessings or curses.

Imagine a saved man who flies into a jealous rage upon discovering his wife in another man’s bed. Without thinking, he picks up a heavy vase and bashes in her skull. Immediately he is filled with grief and genuine remorse, realizes how wrong his actions were, and pleads with God to forgive him and accept him back into fellowship with Him.

Surely God will forgive him. He will not lose his salvation, and God will restore their broken fellowship (John 10:29; Romans 8:35-39). Yet the consequences of his sin remain. His wife will not be resurrected from the dead, nor will he escape legal punishment for murder.

Sometimes the consequences of our sin are delayed, yet they relentlessly pursue us until they are fulfilled. Consider a long-time alcoholic who gets saved; realizes that he has been sinning by abusing his body, which is now God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17); and asks God to forgive him. From that day on he remains sober and glorifies God through his testimony and witness to others who struggle with addiction.

Yet one day, as he gazes into the mirror, he notices a sallow tint to his complexion. Tests and doctor’s visits soon reveal that he is dying from alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. Could he rightfully blame God for allowing this consequence of his former sin to finally catch up with him? I believe not, for God is holy and just, and there are inevitable consequences of breaking His laws.

Back to Adam and Eve. Had they asked God for forgiveness and sincerely repented, seeking His face instead of running away and blaming others, I believe He would have forgiven them and immediately restored their close relationship with Him and with one another. Yet He still would have had to address their disobedience by judging their sin. He had warned them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for if they ate it, they would surely die (Genesis 2:17).

God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), and even if Adam and Eve had immediately confessed, the punishment of physical death could not be taken off the table. God in His infinite knowledge and wisdom (Psalm 139:1-6) knew from before the beginning of time that man would disobey Him, and He had the perfect plan to restore mankind by sending His Son to pay for our sins, so that all who trust Him would have eternal life (John 3:16).

Even if Adam and Eve repented, death still would have entered the garden and the world, starting with the animal God slew to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness (Genesis 3:21). Yet God showed the first instance of His repeated cycle of judgment and mercy. He softened the blow of physical death, pain and sorrow by expelling them from the garden before they could eat of the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24). Had they done so, they would have been doomed to live forever in a sin-corrupted world in sin-corrupted bodies.

The second such recorded cycle was when Cain took out his anger at God not accepting his offering by killing Abel, his brother. God judged Cain for his sin of fratricide by removing his farming prowess and making him a fugitive and vagabond. Yet in His mercy, God marked Cain to warn others not to slay him (Genesis 4:2-16).

I believe Adam and Eve were saved despite their transgression, for they knew and trusted God before the fall, and their words and actions after the fall showed their faith in His plan. So, like the rest of us who are saved, they would have to cope with sin’s consequences, but once their earthly life ended, they enjoyed eternal life in Heaven.

Praise God that in His mercy, He not only forgives our sins and restores our fellowship with Him, but He gives eternal, abundant life to all who trust Him!

© 2023 Laurie Collett

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Triplets of Treasure: Gold, Bdellium, and Onyx


In the traditional church calendar, January 6 is the celebration of Epiphany, when the wise men worshipped the young child Jesus in the house where Mary and Joseph had fled to avoid Herod's cruel command that all male infants be slaughtered. In some countries, this date also denotes the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas. I therefore thought it would be appropriate to repost the following article on gold and other treasure, and to expand on what we know about these wise men, or Magi.

Tradition has it that there were three kings, as Matthew 2 mentions three precious gifts they gave the Christ Child. However, the Bible does not specify how many there were, and refers to them as wise men rather than kings, suggesting that they were the most learned men of their time, well versed in astronomy, science, and literature including the Hebrew Scriptures. 

Despite their learning, they were not too proud to seek after a young Child Whom they perceived was ultimate Truth, for Christ's wisdom is infinite. They obediently followed God's leading not only to follow the Star that would guide their journey, but also to discern Herod's true motives and to return home by an alternate route, so that he would not force them to reveal Jesus' whereabouts. 

Despite their abundant wealth, they did not disdain the Child born in the most lowly of circumstances, but brought Him treasures of gold, fitting to crown the King of Kings; frankincense, for He is our great High Priest; and myrrh, foreshadowing His death on Calvary's cross to pay for all our sins, and burial before He rose triumphant on the third day.

May we, like the Magi, be humble, wise, discerning and generous, bringing Christ our greatest gifts of time, talent, and treasure!  

From the beginning of the Bible, God foretold of man’s sinHis judgment, and ultimately His redemption through sending His Son as the perfect sacrifice to reconcile sinful man to Holy God. We see God’s Triune nature in His plan of creation; the three lands comprising the Garden of Eden, and even in three treasures specifically mentioned in these lands. These are goldbdellium and onyx from the land of Havilah (Genesis 2:11-12), echoing the themes of sin absolved by God’s reconciliation and grace.

Gold, being the costliest metal known in Bible times, was offered by the people to decorate the holy furnishings of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:11-39; 26:6-37, etc.) the priestly ephod or breastplate (Exodus 28:5-36; 39:2-25), and the temple (1 Kings 6:20-35). These offerings honored God, and yet sinful man also used gold to dishonor God by making a golden calf to worship as an idol (Exodus 32:2-31), and a golden statue to glorify king Nebuchadnezzar instead of the true God Who created Him (Daniel 3).

Gold is a symbol of kingship, as in the crown placed on King David’s head (Psalm 21:3; 2 Samuel 12:30), the golden scepter extended by King Ahasuerus to Esther as a token of his favor (Esther 4:11; 5:2; 8:4), and the royal gift of gold from the wise men to the young child Jesus (Matthew 2:11), reflecting His status as King of Kings (Revelation 17:14; 19:16).

But gold also reflects God’s judgment, in that He tests usour works, and the motive for our works by placing them through the refiner’s fire like a goldsmith burning out impurities until He sees His own reflection in us (Job 23:10; Proverbs 27:21; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 1 Peter 1:7).

Thankfully, our trials on this earth are temporary, and our rewards in Heaven last forever, for those who have trusted in His deathburial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way (John 14:6). In Heaven the church is represented as seven golden candlesticks (Revelation 1:12); our King of Kings is clothed in a golden girdle and crown (Revelation 1:13; 14:14); and even the streets are paved with gold (Revelation 21:18).

The second treasure in the land of Havilah is bdellium, which is a precious resin from a tree. As the sap exudes from the tree and hardens, it resembles a pearl that may be used in jewelry. The white manna God provided in the wilderness to feed His people was the color of bdellium (Numbers 11:7).

Pearls in Scripture refer to the precious truth of God’s Word that should not be cast before swine (Matthew 7:6); the priceless kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:45-46), and the gates of that glorious city, each made from a single pearl (Revelation 21:21).

But pearls in the Bible also symbolize costly treasure that may be used sinfully to adorn ourselves in pride (1 Timothy 2:9), to trade in the world system glorifying Satan (Revelation 18:12,16), or to decorate the whore of Babylon. This symbol of the false church of the Tribulation is described as decked out with gold and precious stones and pearls (Revelation 17:4).

Aromatic oils in the resin of the bdellium tree are also used in perfumery, as incense and in traditional medicine, reminding us of Christ’s qualities as fragrant Lily of the Valleys (Song of Solomon 2:1), as the great High Priest after the order of Melchizidek (Hebrews 7), and as the Balm of Gilead (Jeremiah 8:22; 46:11) Who is the Great Physician.

Because bdellium oil resembles frankincense and is sometimes added to myrrh for the above uses, its appearance in the Garden of Eden also foreshadows the three gifts of goldfrankincense and myrrh given to Jesus by the wise men (Matthew 2:11), signifying His role as KingPriest and Sacrifice to atone for our sins.

Onyx, the third treasure from Havilah, is a precious stone with stripes or bands of the mineral chalcedony in alternating colors, resembling agate. These stripes are often in shades of redblack, and white, representing Christ’s shed blood that washes away the darkness of our sins until we are white as snow (Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 51:7; John 1:7)., His perfect purityholiness and righteousness are imputed to our account (Romans 4:6-24; 5:13; 2 Corinthians 5:19), for by His stripes we are healed(Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24)

Like gold, onyx was used to glorify God in the priestly ephod or breastplate (Exodus 25:7; 28:20; 35:9, etc.) and in the temple (1 Chronicles 29:2), and onyx (also known as sardonyx) is one of the precious stones foreseen in the foundation of the city of Heaven (Revelation 21:20). Before God expelled Lucifer from Heaven for his sin of pride, onyx and gold were included in the precious materials covering the anointed cherub (Ezekiel 28:13).

God has blessed our planet with beautiful treasures, but His truth, or wisdom, is priceless, worth far more than the goldbdellium, and onyx found in the Garden of Eden (Job 28:12-18). May we hold fast to His truth that our sins demand His judgment, but that His amazing grace has reconciled us to Himself! 

© 2015 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives