“Christian Verses” Podcast: Psalm 119:105

The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew (with just a handful of passages written in Aramaic), and the New Testament was written in Greek. So, unless you can read those languages, you need an English translation of the Bible. But which translation is right for you? After all, there are several of them out there these days. In the new podcast, Malcolm and I engage in a very down-to-earth, practical discussion regarding this topic. If you are serious about Bible study, or even if you are simply wanting to get started with Bible study, our conversation can help you. Here’s the link to the podcast:

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The Song of Solomon (Post #2 of 3)

(My original plan was to devote two posts to The Song of Solomon, but the more I got into the book the more I realized that I would need three posts. So, here is post #2.)

Come out to see King Solomon, young women of Jerusalem. He wears the crown his mother gave him on his wedding day, his most joyous day. (Song of Solomon 3:11, N.L.T.)

The Song of Solomon gives us King Solomon’s God-inspired account of his courtship and marriage to a woman he calls The Shulamite. The term “Shulamite” likely indicates that this young woman lived in Shunem in the hill country a few miles north of Jerusalem (6:13). Evidently, King Solomon frequently visited his lands there, lands upon which he grazed a flock (1:7) and possibly also had gardens and vineyards (Ecclesiastes 2:4-7). The Shulamite’s family had vineyards and a flock there as well (1:6; 1:8; 8:12), and it was in this hill country that Solomon and The Shulamite first met and fell in love.

As the book begins, the couple have just met. 32 of the book’s first 39 verses are spoken by The Shulamite. For starters, she wants Solomon to kiss her over and over again (1:2) and draw her away unto himself (1:4). As she says, “Oh, that the king would bring me to his chambers” (H.C.S.B.). She is beautiful, but she worries that he will be turned off by the fact that her skin has become too tanned and dark from working in her family’s vineyard (1:5-6). She expresses this worry by comparing her own appearance to a vineyard and saying, “They (her family) made me the keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard (my appearance) I have not kept.”

Next, she wants Solomon to tell her where he feeds his flock and where he lets it rest at noon. Why does she want this information? It’s because she wants to come see him in innocence rather than acting like one of the prostitutes of the time who veiled themselves to hide their face (1:7). Solomon answers her question by playfully telling her to find him as she grazes her little flocks in the footsteps of his large flock (1:8). It is also at this point that he extends to her the first of many compliments by comparing her to a beautiful mare standing among Pharaoh’s chariots, chariots that were always pulled by stallions rather than mares (1:9-10). I myself wouldn’t advise a man to compliment a woman by comparing her to a horse, but, hey, it worked for Solomon.

In verse 12, The Shulamite poetically speaks of how she will send forth the fragrance of her perfume to entice Solomon while he sits at his table. In other words, she hopes that he will remember the sweet smell of her perfume even after he has returned to his palace in Jerusalem. Then she compliments him by describing him as “a bundle of myrrh” (N.K.J.V.), “a cluster of henna blooms” (N.K.J.V.), and a man she wishes would lie all night between her breasts.

On and on the love-struck banter goes like that. Solomon tells her that she is fair and has dove’s eyes (1:15), and she responds by telling him that he is handsome and pleasant (1:16). Then she figuratively refers to the grassy sites where they rendezvoused for their romantic meetings. She calls those sites their green “couch” (N.A.S.V.) and adds in that the sites are surrounded by cedar trees and fir trees that she calls the “beams of our houses” (1:16-17, N.K.J.V.). It is as if she is imagining how wonderful it would be to reside in an actual house as Solomon’s wife. The fact that she says “his fruit was sweet to my taste” (2:3, N.K.J.V.) shows that they kissed at those outdoor sites up there in that hill country.

With all this romantic rendezvousing taking place, it isn’t long before Solomon formally invites The Shulamite to dine with him in the banquet room of his palace (2:4), and it is following that meal that their intimacy gets perilously close to the sin of premarital sex. As Solomon places his left hand under her head and embraces her body firmly with his right hand (2:6), The Shulamite feels the inner temptation to let things go too far. This prompts her to warn the young women of Jerusalem: “Do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time” (2:7, N.L.T.). She herself has now experienced firsthand just how difficult it is to stop the lust train once it has built up steam.

Following the meal in Solomon’s palace, The Shulamite returns to her home and the winter months fall upon the land. The indication is that the couple doesn’t see each other during those days. But once the winter is past it doesn’t take Solomon long to make his way back to The Shulamite’s home. Sure, he’s returned to the hill country to check on his flock but he’s also come to see her. Verses 8 and 9 of chapter 2 quote her describing him as a young stag who comes leaping and skipping to her house. Once there, he asks her to come away with him and enjoy the pastoral wonders of Israel in the springtime as he feeds his flock (2:10-17). The renewed romance once again flames the fires of passion within The Shulamite and causes her to spend a terrible night in bed alone, longing for Solomon to be with her (3:1-4). That long night prompts her to repeat her warning to the young women of Jerusalem: “Do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time” (3:5, N.L.T.).

This time around, though, she won’t have to wait long for the word “marriage” to enter the relationship. One day not long after that wistful night here comes King Solomon, decked out in his royal regalia, smelling of myrrh, frankincense, and fragrant powders (3:6). He is escorted by sixty of his most valiant men, each of whom carries a sword and is an expert in warfare (3:7-8). Solomon himself is seated upon a wooden chair that is covered in silver, gold, and the color purple (3:9-10). This, of course, is the royal procession by which Solomon has come to take The Shulamite to Jerusalem to officially become his bride. This explains why the following verse (3:11) quotes The Shulamite as encouraging the daughters of Zion (Jerusalem) to come out and see King Solomon on his wedding day as he wears his royal crown.

Once the wedding has taken place, the next chapter (chapter 4) is a full chapter about the honeymoon night of sex that Solomon and The Shulamite enjoy. In verses 1-5, he lavishes praise upon his new spouse for her exquisite beauty, and few body parts from her upper torso escape his glowing report. He mentions: her dove’s eyes (4:1); her dark hair (4:1); her white teeth (4:2); her scarlet lips (4:3); her lovely mouth (4:3); her pleasing temples (4:3); her regal neck (4:4); and her soft breasts (4:5). Following all this sweet talk, he describes her virginity as an enclosed garden, a shut up spring, and a sealed fountain. (4:12). The Shulamite, for her part, expresses her readiness to lose that virginity by saying, “Blow upon my garden that its spices may flow out, and let my beloved come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits” (4:16). Is all this racy stuff? You bet. But it isn’t sinful. These are simply two newlyweds who are about to enjoy the God-approved intimacy of holy matrimony.

Not surprisingly at all, the next passage brings past-tense language from Solomon as he says, “I have come to my garden” (5:1). He then tells his friends who have attended the royal wedding and stuck around to enjoy the wedding feast, “Eat, O friends! Drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved ones!” (5:1, N.K.J.V.). And it is here that we will leave the couple until next time. The courtship, the marriage, and the consummation of the marriage are now finished, and the only question left to be asked is, “Will the couple’s fires of romance continue to burn red hot or will the tedious days of marriage turn those fires into dying embers? That’s the question that I’ll answer in my next post as we finish up the book by walking through chapters 5-8. So until then, I hope you’ll stay tuned……

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The Song of Solomon (Post #1 of 3)

While the king is at his table, My spikenard sends forth its fragrance. A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, That lies all night between my breasts. (Song of Solomon 1:12-13, N.K.J.V.)

God never intended for “sex” to be a dirty word. As a matter of fact, sex was one of His primary reasons for giving the bodies of Adam and Eve different parts. Seriously, when He said to that married couple, “Be fruitful and multiply” He meant for them to do that by having a lot of sex. That alone should be enough to make the case that God is pro sex.

However, it should also be understood that God never intended for sex to be exclusively for the purposes of reproduction. No, the experience of pleasure comes into play as well as sex provides an outlet for the physical lusts and desires that are part and parcel to the human experience. If you need more proof that God meant for sex to be about more than procreation, let me introduce you to The Song of Solomon.

The Bible tells us that God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding that made him wiser than all men (1 Kings 4:31). To go along with that wisdom, He also gave him “a largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore” (1 Kings 4:29, N.K.J.V.). By combining all that wisdom with all that largeness of heart — to say nothing of his untold wealth — Solomon was able to live life to the fullest more than anyone in history.

Out of all his wisdom and largeness of heart, Solomon spoke 3,000 proverbs (hundreds of which have been preserved in the Bible’s book of Proverbs) and wrote 1,005 songs. Of those 1005 songs, it seems that he considered the love song The Song of Solomon his best. This would explain why the opening words of the book read: “The song of songs…” That phrase is why most modern translations of the Bible entitle the book The Song of Songs rather than The Song of Solomon.

Whichever title you prefer, the book is a love song Solomon wrote when he ruled over the united nation of Israel that had been left to him by his father, King David. Writing under the divine inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16), Solomon fills the book with poetic language, metaphors, and imagery from that part of the world. If the book held no other value, it would be significant in that it mentions no less than 21 species of plants and 15 species of animals and uses 49 Hebrew words that occur nowhere else in the Old Testament.

While the book mentions a few other groups of lesser characters who play minor roles in the story, first and foremost it is centered around two people: The Beloved (Solomon) and The Shulamite (Solomon’s wife). In passage after passage, the couple passionately and lustfully pine for each other in a manner that is sensual and even downright erotic. But there is no sin involved at any point. Despite the fact that the couple obviously like each other’s looks, they restrain themselves during their courtship and only engage in sexual relations once they are married.

It strikes many people as odd that a man such as Solomon, who had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:1-3), could write so beautifully about a monogamous relationship. Primarily, two possible explanations have been offered for this apparent contradiction:

  1. Many believe The Shulamite was Solomon’s first wife. If this was the case, his relationship with her would have come before he took up with all those other women and allowed them to turn his heart away from God. The Shulamite would have been the wife of his youth that he speaks of in Proverbs 5:15-20 and Ecclesiates 9:9.
  2. Others believe the book’s reference to 60 queens and 80 concubines (Song of Solomon 6:8) indicates that Solomon already had 140 other sexual partners before he married The Shulamite. While the language used to describe these 140 other women doesn’t explicitly say they were Solomon’s women, it is easy to make that leap of logic. If the 140 women were indeed Solomon’s wives and concubines, it would likely mean that the courtship and marriage he experienced with The Shulamite was the most pure, idyllic, and innocent that he ever knew. This theory is bolstered by the fact that many of Solomon’s marriages were nothing more than political arrangements to foreign women, alliances that helped him expand his empire (1 Kings 3:1; 11:1-3).

In the next post from this short series, we’ll begin our walk through The Song of Solomon. By devoting a few posts to this book, I trust that we will be brought to a new appreciation of what God’s plan for sex in marriage looks like and sounds like. It’s a shame that the church has allowed the world to have all the “fun” (for lack of a better word) with sex. God isn’t nearly as staid and boring as He is made out to be, and if The Song of Solomon is any indication He wants husbands and wives to not only have sex but look forward to it and enjoy it. So, does that pique your interest in the book? If it does, then please join me for the next couple of posts as we do a closer examination of this typically unexamined book.

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The Baptism For the Dead

Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? When then are they baptized for the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:29, N.K.J.V.)

In Mormonism, living members of the Mormon church who are in good standing with the church can be baptized by proxy for their deceased relatives who were never baptized into the church. This practice is known as “the baptism for the dead” and Mormons find their justification for it in our text verse. The practice also explains why the Mormon church operate one of the world’s biggest ancestry websites.

To be clear, Mormons do not equate such a baptism with the automatic “salvation” of the deceased person. It’s more correct to say that the baptism merely gives the deceased person the opportunity to join the Mormon church in the afterlife and achieve spiritual advancement there. Obviously, even in the most ideal of situations, a living Mormon can never know whether or not a deceased relative has taken advantage of the opportunity.

Under Mormon belief, the dead initially go to what we might think of as a “spirit prison.” Mormonism’s scriptural basis for this belief is found in Luke 16:19-31, Christ’s story of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar. As is often the case with Mormon doctrine, the Mormons begin with a legitimate text, the story Christ tells, and proceed to deviate from mainstream Christianity by applying a different interpretation to the text.

In that story, Jesus describes “hell” (K.J.V.) as being the general realm of all the dead, saved believers and lost unbelievers alike. The Greek word translated as “hell” in the passage is Hades, which is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament Hebrew’s Sheol. Hades and Sheol are the same place, the realm of all the dead. As such, the site has two sections to it: a paradise section and a torment section.

Evangelical Christians interpret Ephesians 4:8 to mean that Jesus, as part of His post-resurrection ascension back to heaven, emptied all the souls from the paradise section of Hades/Sheol and transported them to heaven with Him. This event permanently closed the paradise section of Hades/Sheol and allowed for the souls of deceased Christians to from then on be instantaneously transported to heaven at the moment of death. This is how the apostle Paul could rightly teach that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:21-23).

As for the torment section of Hades/Sheol, evangelical Christians consider it as being still very much open for business to receive all lost souls at the moment of death. Simply put, it is the “hell” that everybody thinks of when they hear that word. Actually, though, even that section will one day be emptied of all its souls as each of them (along with the lost person’s version of a resurrected body) will be called forth to stand before Christ at the Great White Throne Judgment and be sentenced body and soul to an even greater “hell” known as the eternal lake of fire (Gehenna, in the New Testament Greek) (Revelation 20:11-15).

So that covers how evangelical Christians interpret Luke 16:19-31. But now let me get back to Mormon belief. The Mormons take 1 Peter 3:19-20 to mean that the dead souls — they refer to them as “spirits” — of the afterlife “prison” are taught by other spirits and that even Jesus Himself teaches them. If a spirit responds to the teaching, believes the Mormon version of the gospel, and thereby gets “saved,” he or she can move from “prison” to “paradise” to await the final judgment. Consequently, it is through the baptism of the dead that lost people, who didn’t heed the Mormon gospel in life and thus become a part of the Mormon church, can do so in death. Furthermore, the baptism of the dead helps Mormons to account for the problem of what to do concerning someone who dies having never heard the gospel.

Still, though, the fundamental question in all this is: “Is the Mormon understanding of the apostle Paul’s reference to ‘the baptism of the dead’ correct?” And the answer to that is, no, it isn’t. For that matter, Mormonism’s entire “gospel” (with its contention that Jesus was the firstborn of God’s “spirit-children,” that Jesus and Lucifer were brothers, and that human beings can literally become “gods”) is seriously whacked. But if the Mormon take on “the baptism of the dead” is wrong, just exactly what did Paul mean by the term? Various interpretations have been offered. Here are three plausible ones:

  1. Some interpret the term to mean that despite the fact that the intensely persecuted Christians of Paul’s day were oftentimes martyred shortly after their public baptisms, this threat of death didn’t stop new Christian converts from being baptized. In this way, these new converts were baptized “for” (in place of, to replace the ranks of) the dead Christians who had been martyred. Under this interpretation, Paul’s argument is that it would be foolish to replace the ranks of Christians martyred in the immediate wake of baptism if there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead. As commentator William MacDonald, who favors this interpretation puts it, “It would be like fighting on in a hopeless situation.”
  2. Some interpret the term to mean that Christians who submit to baptism view themselves as being symbolically “dead with Christ.” Baptism, of course, symbolically depicts not only Christ’s physical death and resurrection but also the Christian’s. Also, it is the Christian symbolically saying, “I am now dead to sin and raised to walk in the newness of life in Christ.” All of this symbolism regarding death fits the interpretation nicely. This interpretation is lent even more credibility by Romans 6:3-11, a passage where Paul uses terminology such as “baptized into His (Christ’s) death,” “buried with Him through baptism into death,” “united together in the likeness of His death,” and “died with Christ.”
  3. Some interpret the term to refer to people who were converted to Christianity and subsequently baptized on the basis of the testimony of martyred Christians. Under this interpretation, the words “baptized for the dead” would more accurately be translated “baptized with regard to the dead.” The gist of this interpretation is that Christians who were bold enough and obedient enough to be baptized, even though they knew that martyrdom awaited them when they came up from the water, were powerful role models that helped draw others to Christianity. Any religion that could produce such devotion surely had to be something special.

The fact is that any one of these interpretations is favorable to the notion that a Christian can be baptized by proxy for a deceased person and have that baptism somehow mean something to the deceased in the afterlife. Even if some of the Christians of ancient Corinth were actually engaging in this strange practice, as some commentators contend, Paul certainly wasn’t advocating the practice. Under this scenario, he was simply pointing out the uselessness of such a practice if there is no resurrection in which any Christian will be rewarded for doing anything.

In conclusion, the main thing to keep in mind about 1 Corinthians 15:29 is that it definitely does not mean that a dead person can be saved by another person being baptized on his or her behalf. We know that it can’t mean that because baptism plays no part in salvation anyway. Baptism is merely an outer object lesson a saved person undergoes to publicly evidence the salvation that has already occurred on the inside. Paul himself even said that Christ didn’t send him to baptize but, instead, to preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:14-17). That’s a bizarre thing for him to say if baptism plays any role whatsoever in salvation. It would be like him saying, “Jesus sent me to preach the gospel, but I only preach half of it because I don’t make a big deal about baptism.”

Oh, and here’s something else we shouldn’t forget: The Bible teaches that there is absolutely no second chance at salvation in the afterlife. As Hebrews 9:27 says, “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (N.K.J.V.). Going back to Christ’s story about the rich man whose soul ended up in “hell” (the torment section of Hades/Sheol), that man surely would have embraced a second chance at salvation if one had been offered. But it wasn’t. The best he could do was plead that his five brothers would be sent a spiritual messenger persuasive enough to keep them from joining him in that awful place of torment, and in the end even that request wasn’t granted. Let this be a lesson to each of us regarding the finality of the decision we make in life concerning whether or not to believe in Jesus as Savior or reject Him. Eternal consequences ride on the back of that decision, and there won’t be any changing those consequences once we leave this life and head out into the next one.

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“Christian Verses” Podcast: Hebrews 9:27

After you die, is there any chance of salvation? Religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism believe in reincarnation. Catholicism speaks of a place called Purgatory. Mormons actually get baptized for ancestors who died lost in an effort to get those ancestors saved in the afterlife. But does the Bible align with any of these doctrines? That’s the question Malcolm and I tackle in the week’s podcast. Here’s the link:

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New Stuff

Regular readers will notice that I’ve recently tweaked some things about the blog’s appearance. I changed the background color from a shade of blue to a shade of maroon, and I also changed the font to something a little different. I added in a more recent picture of myself, too. These cosmetic updates simply serve to keep the site looking fresh. Nothing about the blog’s content has been changed or deleted.

On the subject of new stuff, the church I pastor — Roan Mountain Baptist Church — now has a website up and running. The site is still a bit of a work in progress, but we’re off to a good start with it. You can access it at roanmountainbaptist.com. The site provides information about the history of our church, a statement of our beliefs, some pictures of our folks, a schedule of our service times, etc. It also features a link to this blog and will soon provide a link to our new You Tube channel where the videos of our Sunday morning services will be archived for viewing. If you are interested in watching the two videos we’ve already done (for our January 5th and 12th services), just go to You Tube and search “Roan Mountain Baptist Church.” You shouldn’t have any trouble locating the videos or playing them.

As for my family and myself, we are plugging along just fine. I’m now in my seventh month at Roan Mountain Baptist and things are going well. Tonya is still teaching math to the 7th graders at Bowman Middle School. Ryan is teaching Physical Education at Harris Middle School and will be serving as the head baseball coach for the season that will be starting in a few weeks. Royce is currently in his second semester of the General Education program at Mayland Community College. He’s also working at Ingles supermarket three days a week.

As usual, my desk looks like a landfill as it is covered with tons of little notes and papers that have to do with upcoming sermons, blog posts, and whatever else I’ve felt compelled to jot down a note about at some point and time. (By the way, that spotless desk I’m sitting at in the new picture is my desk at church, not my “real” desk at home.) Malcolm and I are still faithfully doing a podcast each week (more or less) even though we’re about as far from professionals as it gets. Our whole goal is to build solid spiritual meat into our discussions and trust God to use the whole endeavor in wonderful ways. I’ve also recently been trying to do a better job on Twitter. Yes, I do have a Twitter account, but for the most part I’ve only used it to advertise new posts on the blog. Lately, though, I’ve also been using it to share some of the zillion quotes that I’ve collected over the years. The plan is to keep doing this, but that’s been my plan before only to have it dwindle away to nothing. We’ll just have to see how it goes this time around.

People sometimes ask me what preachers I listen to each week. The truth is that I go through different seasons of my life, fixating on one preacher for a while and then moving on to another. Currently, I have the television broadcasts of two preachers set as timers on my D.V.R. One is the Love Worth Finding broadcast of the late Adrian Rogers, and the other is The Urban Alternative broadcast of Tony Evans. Rogers has been dead for 14 years now, but they are still showing his sermons. I don’t know how long they will be able to continue doing that because there comes a time when the whole setting looks dated — think back to my opening paragraph — but I’m certainly enjoying the broadcasts now. I’m enjoying the sermons of Tony Evans as well, and for Christmas I received The Tony Evans Study Bible and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary as gifts. That’s just what I needed, right? Another study Bible and another commentary.

In regards to Roan Mountain Baptist, this past January 1st I began a Wednesday-night series of studies in the book of Genesis, my favorite book in the Bible. This series isn’t a verse-by-verse type deal but will still require several months to complete. My Sunday-morning sermon this coming Sunday will cover what the Bible teaches about abortion. I’m preaching this in honor of this Sunday being National Right to Life Sunday. The following Sunday, January 26th, I’ll begin a ten-sermon prophecy series entitled “Things to Come.” If everything goes as it should, we’ll get the abortion sermon and the prophecy sermons posted onto the You Tube channel for any and all to hear if they so choose.

Well, I guess that’s about it for now. I hope you haven’t been too bored by this personal update. I offer this type of post periodically merely as a way of letting you folks know what’s going on with me. Believe it or not, people do ask every now and then.

As always, you have my heartfelt appreciation for reading this blog, and I trust that God will continue to use it as a source of blessing in your life. Please pray for me that He will lead me as to what to write. There’s no magic here, no fairy dust, no “Wile E Coyote Super Genius” at work. (Boy, I’m really showing my age with that reference). It’s just me, the Lord, a Bible, and a laptop. I’ve already written 984 more posts than I ever planned to write, and the jury remains out as to how many more I have in me. If this thing keeps going, that guy in the picture in the upper-right-hand corner will surely start looking more and more older. I guess the best I can hope for is that I’ll be like Adrian Rogers in that by way of technology I’ll be able to keep ministering long after I’m gone. That would be nice. Either way, it’s already been a fascinating ride and I sincerely thank you for joining me for it.

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Till Friday and Even Beyond

Famed pastor J.H. Jowett was once faced with a perplexing problem that demanded action on his part. Being unsure of what action to take, he consulted fellow pastor Charles Berry and asked him, “What would you do if you were in my place?” Berry answered, “I don’t know; I’m not there.” Then Berry added in, “And you are not there yet. When do you have to act?” “On Friday,” answered Jowett. “Then,” said Berry, “you will find your way perfectly clear on Friday. The Lord will not fail you.”

And did God give Jowett the guidance he needed on Friday? Yes, He did. Sometime later Jowett shared the whole story with F.W. Boreham, another notable pastor of the time, and Boreham used the story as an illustration of how important it is to wait upon God for guidance. As Boreham said in his colorful way of evoking three Biblical stories to prove the point:

Give God time and even when the knife flashes in the air the ram will be seen caught in the thicket (Genesis 22:1-19). Give God time and even when Pharaoh’s host is on Israel’s heels, a path through the waters will be suddenly open (Exodus 14:1-31). Give God time and when the bed of the brook is dry, Elijah shall hear the guiding voice (1 Kings 17:1-16).

Maybe you are at this moment faced with a problem that calls for action on your part. (And let me remind you that choosing the option of doing nothing is actually an action.) But what should you do? You should saturate heaven with your prayers for God’s guidance and take no action until you receive that guidance. As Boreham noted, the Angel of the Lord didn’t speak to Abraham from heaven until Abraham had literally stretched out his knife to slay Isaac in sacrifice to God (Genesis 22:9-10), God didn’t part the Red Sea for the Israelites until Pharaoh’s soldiers and chariots were literally within sight of them (Exodus 14:9-10), and God didn’t tell Elijah to relocate to the widow’s house in Zarephath until the Cherith Brook that had been keeping Elijah in water literally dried up completely (1 Kings 17:7-8).

Someone has said, “God is never late, but He does miss numerous opportunities to be early.” Truer words were never spoken. But I’d like to add this to them: Even if God seems to be late, as was the case with Christ’s healing of Lazarus (John 11:1-44), He just has something completely different in mind — in Lazarus’ case, it was a resurrection — for the situation.

The takeaway from all this is that you should seek God’s guidance, wait for His answer, and trust Him until your “Friday” comes. Even more than that, if that “Friday” comes and goes without you hearing from Him, then you’ll know that He is up to something far better than you yourself have asked for or could have imagined. Putting it simply, God rarely gets in a hurry regarding anything He is doing in our lives, and His greatest works almost never take place according to our deadlines.

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