Where Have You Left Him?

3If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! (Job 23:3).

I had the great privilege of leading a tour of 26 people to Israel for 10 days and taking my son, Simeon, then aged 21 with me. While in Jerusalem we were just preparing to go along the tunnels all along the western side of the Temple Mount itself. While we were getting the tickets for the 26 of us, without my knowledge, my son had quickly departed to put a written prayer into the cracks of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, a place sacred to Jewish people for they believe that the divine presence of God resides at the Wall. He forgot to tell people that he was just dashing down to the Wall. Consequently, only 25 of us went into the tunnels to explore the buildings that go back to the time of King Herod and Jesus. It was single file all the way as we walked the narrow tunnel along the wall. When we got to the North West corner of the Temple Mount, the wall opens up into a bigger area where we looked at an ancient cistern. It was then that the person at the end of the line came in and I discovered that my son was missing. Is there anything more terrifying for a father? To lose my son in a foreign city with a different language and culture made my heart fearful. I dashed back through the network of tunnels in search of him. Ten minutes later I found him waiting at the entrance to the tunnel network—he was really upset at his foolish choice to wander away from his father. It was a precious time as we hugged and thanked God that we had found one another.

Many of you that find your way to this website are looking for your Father. Somehow you know in your heart that you were created for more than what you are currently experiencing. There is a God shaped piece in the core of your being that you have tried to fill with religion, sex, food, cars, electronic gadgets—you name it! Satan, your unseen enemy has many toys that he will tempt you with, like a lure designed to attract a fish. God allows trials in our lives because He knows that only through the emptiness, difficulties and trials will you begin to seek after Him with all your soul and leave the toys behind. What do you really want at the end of your life? Will lots of toys satisfy you? I was blessed to have much of this world’s goods by the time I was twenty-one, but it just gave me an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. What I really wanted was to search for my Father. And guess what? He was searching for me! He was never far away; He was waiting for me to find the bottom so that I could finally look up to Him. I searched five continents of planet Earth and 30 different countries searching for the truth. When I was ready and open to receive the truth—there was the Lord Jesus filling me with joy, life and peace. When I gave my life wholeheartedly to Christ, it was the greatest, most peaceful experience I have ever had. What joy floods the soul when a man gives up his life to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and find His forgiveness for sin.

Isn’t it time for you to find your Father? Maybe today is your day to call upon Him. Keith Thomas

Are You Guilty Before God?

Several years ago I was driving through France when a red light came on in the dashboard of my car. I had to stop and visit a garage to make sure that the engine was okay to travel further. Just as the red light is to the dashboard of my car, guilt is to the soul of a man. Guilt is like a red warning light that tells you to stop and correct the problem before going on. Where is the conscience? Can’t we just turn off the red light in our souls? Brain scientists have found no area of our physical makeup where the moral conscience lies, that part of our nature that tells us we have done something wrong. That is because it is part of our soul—our invisible nature that goes on beyond physical death. Dear reader, this is critical stuff—you must take care of guilt before this life finishes because this is what God says:

6“Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty (Exodus 23:6-7).

You may say to me that you have never sinned and do not feel guilty. Then let me ask you a question—Have you kept the Ten Commandments all your life? Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen something that belongs to another? The greatest commandment in the law is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Have you kept that commandment? If not, then even though you might not feel guilty, upon your death the Law of God and your conscience will stand and accuse you before God in the courtroom of heaven. Your conscience is just the early warning light. In the court room of heaven, the God of creation has seen and will see every act and every thought you have ever committed. You must make peace with guilt on this side of eternity. We cannot be wrong about these things. Each of us only has one life to live. There is no second chance after death. The Bible says, “It is appointed to man once to die and then to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). We must make sure that the red warning light of guilt that shines on the inside of us is satisfied and that the guilt has been washed away. The good news is that the God of heaven loves you with an everlasting love and has initiated a plan to save you from your guilt and eternal destiny without Him. This is what He has said to you:

“For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them (Isaiah 61:8).

“The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. 
27And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins” (Romans 11:26-27).

God has loved you so much that two thousand years ago, He came down in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus, and gave Himself as the Sin Bearer. The God of justice cannot just weigh your good works beside your bad works—which sin would be the tipping point? All sin is an act of rebellion against a Holy God and His law. His justice demands payment of the life of the individual for even just one sin (James 2:10). His plan right from the beginning was to take the punishment for your sin. It would be a New Covenant or agreement between each of us that takes up His free offer of taking your guilt away and on to Himself. It was a covenant signed in the blood of a sacrificial lamb—Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). In our fallen human nature, we have a tendency to want to accomplish our salvation ourselves by working hard at overcoming our sinful nature—but this just brings pride, which is ugly toward God—and it doesn’t take away the problem of sin and guilt. God has made it so simple that even a child can know the joy of sins forgiven and cleansed. Turn to Him, repent (change the direction of your life before God), and believe the gospel (the good news about sin being paid for). Place your life into the hands of Christ and believe (trust) Him:

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). Keith Thomas

Put Out into Deep Water

He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:4-5).

Try and imagine what it was like for Peter. He had been fishing all night (v. 5), and now after cleaning their nets of all weed, he was exhausted and wanted to go home. I suspect, also, that he was discouraged and disappointed with catching nothing, and that they were cleaning their nets because they were finished with them for that time.

Jesus told Peter to go out into the deep water. The deep of the Sea of Galilee measures a depth of 200 feet. There’s no way, Peter probably thought, that his nets would go anywhere near down to those depths, and during the hot part of the day, that would be where the fish would be keeping cool. That would require a lot of net, which is very unlikely that he had, but because Jesus had said so, he stepped out in obedience. Jesus was a builder, what did He know about where the fish were and how to catch them? Peter was not expecting to catch one fish. After all, he was the expert when it came to fishing. What would this builder-come-rabbi, know about fishing?

It can be scary to leave the place of the shallows to follow out into the deep, but that’s where the big fish are. That’s where we shall experience great changes to our character and grow more to be like Jesus, and I think that is what all of us would like. I remember many years ago while I still worked on my father’s fishing boat with him (I used to be a commercial fishermen), the Lord spoke to me from the above verse, challenging me to leave my father’s fishing boat behind and follow Christ. I didn’t know anything other than being at sea. I just knew that I had to follow His leading. My intellect, or it could have been the enemy, said, “What on earth are you doing?” How are you going to earn a living now—you have never worked on the shore, never worked in an office, who’s going to employ you? You’ve never been to college to learn a trade.” I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I had to leave my father’s boat behind and push out into the deep to see what God was going to make of me. I began washing windows for a living—it was a very humiliating time in my life, but learning humility was good for the soul, so I leaned into it and later became a painter and decorator while I learned the Word of God, listening to teaching tapes while I painted. I started my own painting business to support my family while church planting. Looking back, more than thirty years later, I can testify that God is well able to make of us what He wants us to be. The lessons of God have taken me deeper and deeper into Christ—not that I am perfect—that would be foolishness, but I am ever striving to fulfill His calling on my life and I trust that you are too.

When Peter responded to Jesus and went out into the deep, he caught a huge amount of fish. When Peter saw what Jesus did, the Lord called him to leave his nets and follow Him. You will never regret leaving the place where you are comfortable, to respond to Christ’s invitation; “Come, follow me.” The things of God come to those who respond in simple obedience. One would say, “How can I learn to minister like Jesus?” Respond to His call, do whatever he tells you to do. Jesus would say, “Come follow me, and I will make you to become…fishers of men.” The main way that we can develop a life of intimacy with Christ today is by spending time listening to Him by reading the Word of God, by prayer and seeking to draw near to Him. Surround yourself with others who are encouragers, and lovers of God. He will make you into the person you are to be, and direct your life into one of fruitfulness. He who knows you best, will invite you to walk with Him and work with Him.

Keith Thomas: Taken from the study: 8. Jesus Goes Fishing: The series in the Book of Luke found in the middle column.

What on Earth are you Building?

As Jesus was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at these tremendous buildings! Look at the massive stones in the walls!” Jesus replied, “These magnificent buildings will be so completely demolished that not one stone will be left on top of another” (Mark 13:1-2).

Herod’s Temple was one of the Wonders of the World in its day. In the time of Christ it had been in the building for 46 years (John 2:20) and as Christ was talking, the building had still not been completed. The Jewish people were very proud of Herod’s Temple; it was one of the ways that Herod was trying to win his way into the Jewish people’s heart, even though he lived an ungodly life. I have lived in Jerusalem for more than a year and a half of my life and many times have walked up on the Temple Mount and reflected on the fact that every stone was literally thrown down just as Christ prophesied. It was totally destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Roman General Titus. Josephus the historian speaks of more than a million Jews were killed while the Romans set fire to the Temple. The gold of the Temple melted into the cracks between the bricks so every brick was separated, looting the gold and throwing the large magnificent stones from the Temple Mount.

When Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman in John 4, the big issue to her was whether or not she should worship at the temple that was in Samaria or the one in Jerusalem. Jesus said, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (vs.21-23). What was He saying?

God is not as interested about buildings as us. What He is more concerned about is the temple of the heart. Paul the Apostle wrote about this when he said “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). It’s seems to me like he was writing something that was 101 basic Christianity to the Church in Corinth using the words “Don’t you know” to remind them.

Isn’t it easy to get sidetracked into building what can be seen by men rather than what is seen only by God? I notice that the first Temple was called Solomon’s Temple, the second being Herod’s Temple. Maybe that is why God allowed the magnificent structure of the Temple buildings to be destroyed. The buildings were about what men had built. I don’t want to be disappointed at the end of my life by what I have built with my time, energy and money, and I don’t want you to be disappointed either. Jesus said that we were to not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:2-3). Is it about me? Does it have my name on it? Why am I building it? Is my labor truly glorifying to him or is it bringing glory to me? Is it magnificent to men but lacks value to God?

The things we build here on earth may be magnificent for a time but have little if any lasting value. The things that last are issues of the heart and character. I am convinced that many of you will be greatly rewarded for things that man has not recognized but God alone has seen.

Prayer: Please don’t let me get sidetracked into investing into things of this world; I truly want to build something that is glorifying to you.

Keith Thomas

The Healing of a Paralytic in Bethesda

1Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked (John 5:1-8).

We are told of a pool near the Sheep Gate on the north side of Jerusalem called Bethesda. John describes a scene of total misery with a great number of people just lying there. How many would constitute a great number? More than a hundred, do you think? They were all as close to the water’s edge as they could get, cramped and huddled together, desperately waiting for any movement of the water. Verse four in the King James Version says, “For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water; whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had (John 5:4 KJV).

It sounds from the description that it depended on how quick a person could get into the water after ripples of water appeared on the surface. Perhaps, in their desperation, the faith they had that God would heal in this way was the reason that they were healed. God answers desperate and faith filled prayer. However, it does seem that if only the first one who could get into the water after it was stirred was healed, it is obvious that some people would have been at a serious disadvantage. If everything depended on how quick a person could get into the water, the closer a person was to the edge of the pool when the ripples occurred, the better their chances of getting healed.

Amidst the degradation of the place we see Jesus visiting this mass of desperate humanity. We are told in verse 5 that the invalid had been in that condition for thirty-eight years, and that he had no one to help him into the pool. One thing we do know, the Father had seen this man and sent Jesus to help him. In that way, he was about to finally experience the healing mercy of God. The Father sent His Own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to care for him. The apostle John tells us:

6When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (Verse 6).

This man was still looking for an angel to stir the water, when the Lord Jesus, God Incarnate, was there to minister to him personally, and still he was asking for some help into the water! Later on, when the man was asked who healed him, he replied that he did not know. Scripture tells us that Jesus had “slipped away into the crowd.” He had been there “incognito,” and as soon as the man had been healed, Christ departed (verse 13). This says a lot about the character of Christ. Jesus didn’t do miracles and healings for any reason other than to relieve the pain of hurting people and glorify the Father. He simply healed the man to relieve him of his pain. The Lord didn’t even require faith in His true identity as the Son of God, for He didn’t tell him who He was.

The Lord told the man to do something that was impossible for him to do: “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” (verse 11). One thing is sure; the man received healing apart from his faith and understanding about Christ. The man was instantly healed. Christ did not lay hands on him or even help him get up. Nothing! Just words that are spoken! Imagine the scene. A word of command and it is done! The scripture says, “At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked” (verse 9). How kind the Lord is!

Keith Thomas