Who Is The God of This Age?

images-1The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

We are in the midst of an unseen battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. This war is being fought on a spiritual plane over control of the human race. The majority of the population of planet earth has had the cloak of deception placed over them and they cannot see the good news as to what Christ has done in redeeming (buying back) men from the grip of the god of this age. Satan is the god of this age, an evil angel that chose to rebel against God and drew away with him an army of angels and demons after himself. His chief tactic against you and I is a strategy of deception to keep you from seeing that the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible is a compilation of 66 books that tell the story of a God who is the creator of the world and loves you and I so much that He paid the penalty of sin and rebellion against God by dying on a cross for the just payment of our debt of sin.

There are many so-called gods in this world, how does one tell who is the true God? The Bible tells us that there are only two kingdoms, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Satan has used religion against God. He knows that there is a missing piece that is absent from the jigsaw of your life—a part of your inner nature that cries out for the true God. Satan has served up different religions on earth in the hope that he can satisfy that inner craving for God that you have. That’s why our passage today describes Satan as the god of this age blinding the minds of unbelievers. We can tell who is the true God by the fruit that comes from the tree of the belief system of whatever god you have listened to in the past. Jesus in the passage below tells us to look at the outflow of a person’s life to see if there is evidence of true spiritual life—God’s life:

16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit (Matthew 7:16-18).

True Christianity is about receiving the gift of God, eternal life, into the core of your being. The result of receiving this impartation of the gift of God is that your life becomes “a good tree,” and bears “good fruit.” What does good fruit look like? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus contrasts the two kingdoms that are at war in this world. Satan is pictured as a thief whose plan is to steal what God wants to freely give you—the gift of eternal life in Christ. Satan wants to kill you and destroy you from ever being a threat to his kingdom. On the other side of this war, we see that Jesus Christ came to give you the gift of God’s life, eternal life, and the kind of life that is lived to the full.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).

Have you received this free gift of eternal life? There is nothing you can do to earn it. It is not worked for; it is a gift that one receives from the hand of God. Why don’t you ask Him to come into your life? Turn from serving self and Satan to serve the Living God. Receive the gift of eternal life today. Here’s a prayer you can use:

Prayer: Lord of Heaven and Earth, I come to you today acknowledging and believing that you are the true God and have sent Jesus into the world as my substitute for sin. I turn from my sin today. Come into my life and make me new. I receive today your free gift of eternal life in your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for all that you have done for me at the cross. Amen!

If you sincerely prayed that to God—welcome to the family of believers all over the world!

Keith Thomas

The Prodigal Father

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells us a story about two sons who really know very little about their father’s love. One just wants to give vent to his lower nature and sin to whatever depths he can. The other elder son is also a stranger to his father’s love and thinks that he can please his father by keeping rules. I think the story is more about the father of the two than about the boys themselves. The father is a picture of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and all who call upon Him. He is the prodigal Father. Let’s read the passage and then I will explain:

prodigal_son20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate (Luke 15:20-24).

Before you start your email program to throw me an electronic stone, let me explain by saying that the word “prodigal” is not mentioned in the text and actually means:

Rashly or wastefully extravagant:” as in prodigal expenditures on unneeded weaponry; a prodigal life. Giving or given in abundance; lavish or profuse: prodigal praise.” 

Yes, the younger son was wastefully extravagant, but the father was even more so with his grace, mercy and acceptance of his son back from the distant country. Let’s look at the parable with that view in our mind, the father’s lavish kindness toward his lost son. We are told that the son had gone to a distant country (v.13). Certainly there was no need in Israel for pigs, so he was probably amongst Gentiles (non Jews) in an adjacent country. Wherever he was, we are to see that he was several miles from home. The younger son comes to himself and decides to return home to his father. He makes up his speech and turns in the direction of home:   The father in this story is a picture of the Father who loves each of us. He also was a long way from home, waiting, looking for his son. We are told that as soon as the son turned for home, there was the Father, a long way from home (v.20). There was no anger within the father; the immediate emotion within the father even before he got up to his son, was compassion. Dictionary.com says that compassion is: Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. As soon as the father saw his son he ran to him. The father has been in pain for his son while he has been away from home. In thinking through this parable, why did Jesus have the father run to the son, what aspect of God’s character does this display?

Upon the son’s turning toward home, this father is so ready to forgive that he does not even give the young man a chance to speak his words. This is a father in great love with his son. He runs to him. No self-respecting aged father runs in the Middle East. But here we see the father is unrestrained in kissing his son. The English King James Version says, “he fell on his neck, and kissed him.” There is no thought about the stench of the pigs that still hangs on the boy. He is just so pleased to see him! The Greek tense says that he threw his arms around him and kissed him again and again and again. The father expressed his kindness before the son expressed his repentance. This speaks of God’s kindness and His readiness to be reconciled to those that have been apart from His love. Finally, the young man, in the midst of sobs, I’m sure, manages to get out part of his speech that he had prepared. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father cuts him off, and speaks to his servants to bring some things.

What things are brought for the son and what do they mean to us?

They were told to bring the “best robe.” There is a double emphasis here in the Greek text, the robe, that principal robe. We are not talking about a coat here; this robe speaks of the son being restored to a place of honor. It speaks to us of a robe of righteousness that covers over our pigsty of sin. The ring speaks of authority and power of attorney. In that day, rings were used to sign official documents. Often the ring had an impression on it that, when pushed into hot wax, was the official seal of the family. Pharaoh gave Joseph such a ring when he was elevated to second in command of Egypt, after interpreting Pharaoh’s dream (Genesis 41:42). We too are given authority by our God to do the works of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). The son was given shoes. No slave ever wore shoes, and the father would not let his son go barefoot. He was a son, not a slave. Our feet are shod with the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). We have been made sons of God. The servants were told to kill the calf that had been fattened ready for this day. This father had been slowly fattening the calf that he may celebrate when his son would come home. These were all gifts of grace lavished on the slave returning home to be restored to sonship. A Prodigal Father is quite an understatement! May you see God the way He really is!

Keith Thomas

Stretch Out Your Hand!

Jesus heals a man's withered hand on the Sabbath Matthew 12:9-13

Jesus heals a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath

6On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. 7The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. 8But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And he got up and came forward. 9And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?” 10After looking around at them all, He said to him, “Stretch out your hand!” And he did so; and his hand was restored. 11But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus (Luke 6:6-11).

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. These men were the religious secret police trying to stop anything that was not according to their man-made rules. A man with a withered hand came into the synagogue where Jesus was teaching on the Sabbath day. Did you know that Satan uses religion to control and bind people from experiencing real grace, love and mercy of God? The religious folk were there to try to stop the flow of God’s grace on the Sabbath. Of course, the Bible never says that healing and reaching out to others in love is not allowed on the Sabbath, that’s just religion with all its rules.

Try to picture it, Jesus is there in the Synagogue as the man walks in. He is noticed by everyone including Jesus. Knowing what the religious police were thinking, the Lord did not heal him straight away. He calls the man to stand up so that everyone could see that he had a withered hand. With him standing in front of all, Jesus questioned the Pharisees as to what they believed about God. Should the man not be healed on the Sabbath? The Pharisees represent God as being law centered and not caring for God’s people. The religious people were totally silent at His question. Deep in the heart of every one of us, we know to do right and to take opportunity to do good, no matter what day it is. Without touching the man, Jesus tells him to do the impossible, “Stretch out your hand.” With all the people looking on, the man obediently stretches out his hand and before everyone’s eyes, the bones start cracking and opening the hand up. New flesh appears around the joints of his hand, until the hand is totally healed! All without Jesus touching him! How humiliated the religious leaders were. In fact, they were furious (v.11). They didn’t care about the man and his withered hand; they were upset at Jesus’ defiance and showing up their religious rules as not exhibiting the heart of God.

What religious rules do you have to deal with? Do they have the heart of God in them? These religious leaders knew the Word of God and yet they did not know the God of the Word. They thought more of the recipe than the meal. The book tells us about how to have a living relationship with the God of the book. Let’s be careful to seek the heart of the Lord who wrote the book.

Keith Thomas

What Would You Ask God For?

stdas0192King Solomon was just a young man when he was anointed King over all Israel. Soon after becoming king, God tested his inner motives by coming to him in a dream and offering to give King Solomon whatever he wanted, it was his choice, and nothing was off the table. God said to him:

5At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (1 Kings 3:5).

Solomon responded correctly to the test. Because of the weight of the responsibility that was on his shoulders, and because of his youth and inexperience at leading a nation of five or six million people, he asked God for the gift of wisdom that he could govern correctly and distinguish between right and wrong (1 Kings 3:9). God was pleased at the motive that issued from the young man’s heart. Because he didn’t ask for the death of his enemies or wealth for himself, God not only gave him his hearts desire but also riches and honor more than any other man before him or after him.

If the God of the universe came to you today and asked you what one thing you wanted, what would you ask for? Be careful how you respond—for He is listening! Surely you would think hard and carefully if God made such an offer to you. Maybe you are young and have your whole life ahead of you. Maybe you are from a poor family and your aged parents are looking to you to provide for them. The weight of the responsibility hangs heavy on you—what should you ask for? Maybe you have been through hard, difficult times and you would like life to be easier, different, and more meaningful. Perhaps what you do in life gives you the feeling that you are making no difference with what you do every day—is there anything more discouraging? I had years as a commercial fisherman where I cried out to God for Him to use me. Day after day I was out at sea not making a difference in anyone’s life, for it was just my father and I alone on our boat. But there came a day when God called me from my nets to cast out His nets. Don’t despise the day of small things when God is teaching you in the waiting time. The time at sea was spent in many hours of reading and meditating on the Bible. When I look back I see that I was being trained for what I am doing now. It was the small things and a correct heart attitude that led me to now work with my other Father with His nets.

“Who dares despise the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10).

When I look back on a full life of serving my Lord for 35 years now, some of my best times of intimacy with Christ were out on the North Sea off the coast of England alone with my father and my Lord. It was the testing time when God was working on the inside of my heart to prepare me for what I am doing now, writing words that reach your heart—I trust God inspired words. I put it to you that the greatest need of every man, woman and child on planet earth is to be right with God through faith in Christ. This is what God would have you ask Him for.

 28Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:28-29).

God wants for you to ask Him for the gift that He so freely wants to give you—the gift of eternal life in Christ His Son. There is no work to be done. It is the finished work of Christ that satisfies the Father’s justice. If you ask for this, just like Solomon, you will get everything else too!

32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32).

Keith Thomas

Do You Pray with Persistence?

the_angelus“However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

Jesus is the person speaking in the passage above. He talks about a time just before He returns to earth, that the kind of faith and prayer that prevails will be a rare thing. The context of His words is from the Parable of the Persistent Widow, found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 18. The widow prevailed in her quest for justice from an unjust judge, by not giving up in her asking. Jesus uses the story to say that if an unjust judge gives in to a persistent widow, then how much more will the Holy God, who watches over all the affairs of men, grant the prayers of a prevailing woman of prayer!

It is my opinion that we are living in the time in which the Lord’s return is near, although how near, I would not like to predict. Many have made such claims in the past and have been proven to be wrong, to their embarrassment. However, there are some signs of the times which are obvious to any wise seeker of truth. The question is raised; “Will the Son of Man find faith on the earth?” We are living in a day when faith in Christ is under attack. In fact, people of faith in our Western culture are now being accused of being “politically incorrect.” Spirituality in our western worldview does not fit neatly, unless it is seen in an abstract way, or as a way of “self enlightenment or self improvement.” We are so consumed with our jobs and making a living, having so little time for anything else that we often do not have time for the really important things in life. We do not take the time to pray persistently as the widow did. The vast majority of the Church gets weary and gives up before God can reward their faith and prayer with the answer.

When Edmund Gravely died at the controls of his small plane while on the way to Statesboro, Georgia, from the Rocky Mount-Wilson Airport in North Carolina, his wife, Janice, kept the plane aloft for two hours. As the plane crossed the South Carolina/North Carolina border, she radioed for help: “Help, help, won’t someone help me? My pilot is unconscious.” Authorities who picked up her distress signal were not able to reach her by radio during the flight because she kept changing channels. Eventually, Mrs Gravely made a rough landing and had to crawl for forty five minutes to a farm house for help. How often God’s people cry out to him for help but switch channels before His message comes through! They turn to other sources for help, looking for human guidance. When you cry out to God for His intervention, don’t switch channels![1] Await His answer and keep looking to Him.

Keith Thomas

[1] 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Page 279, Edited by Michael Green, Baker Book House.