FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 24 – Published 6/16/18
IS THE GOSPEL ENOUGH?
It’s amazing how the Word of God has been “re-created” over the last century. With all of the so-called advancements and progress, there has also been an evil deception at work. Under the disguise of intelligence and technology enhancements, we have witnessed an increase in religious “hype” but a decrease in true spiritual commitment to God. It’s no secret that Jesus was a profound teacher (of course he was God), as he used very simple stories to explain the mysteries of spiritual principals and revelations. He lived a humble and quiet lifestyle because he knew the dangers of becoming entangled with fame, pride and negative distractions from this world. He wrote an instruction manual in order to warn us about how dangerous it is when we allow ourselves to be exposed to the influences of sin and how our carnality can lead us into arrogance. Most people when they start out trying to do something they are sincere and do things the right way. But as they grow in popularity, most allow themselves to be swept away with pride and compromise their faith. This carnal decision to play games with God’s truth is always the beginning of their downfall and the ruin of their testimony for Christ. The Gospel should be our most important treasure and holiness unto the Lord our goal but it’s amazing how easy it is to fall back into sin. We would all agree in times of peace and happiness that truth is the cry of our soul, yet when tested many have decided that God is not enough.
Let’s take a glance at history to illustrate what has happened to the beauty of knowing God and being content with his person. Since time began, walking has been the basic form of transportation but through the years mankind has improved his methods of transportation much like our “improvement” of ministering the gospel. Humans decided that walking was not good enough so they started riding animals and then building chariots and wagons. Then on to trains, automobiles, planes, rockets, all faster, bigger, better and all that. Similar to personal evangelizing and street preaching, people began to think this was not good enough, so they started to enhance the gospel to make it more appealing to the masses. Much of this has been done to increase numbers and money to the ministry – and it has worked to some degree. However, just like the snake oil salesmen of the wild-west, the word of faith movement was marketed as a promised formula for success – except there was no money back guarantee. Not only did the programs and buildings become fancier, but the message has also changed. Ministers borrowed the ideas from the world’s most successful motivators to become more aggressive with their materialistic persuasions and demands. Many leaders became obsessed with an image of prosperity that could impress the masses all in the name of power and authority. This fleshly confidence began to influence the masses with these deceptive ideas that in turn produced larger reputations and created more excitement to increase their numbers and pocketbooks.
Some decided that just teaching the same Bible stories over and over was becoming boring so instead of asking God to change the hearts of the people, they decided to change the content of their message. They began sifting through the bible and take verses out of context to prove their chocolate cake doctrines. Of course, teachings about pleasure and riches appeal to the natural mind and stimulate the senses but just think about the amount of ministry corruption and deception that has been exposed over the last forty years. It is an attitude of arrogance that has caused many churches and movements to jump the track from sacrifice and self-examination to a direction of spiritual ruin. In some ways, the charismatic lifestyle and image are similar to the humanistic philosophy that Hitler adopted in Nazism as an anointed vision called the Arian race. His worldview also believed that God wanted a selection or chosen superior people to control the world who were perfect, beautiful, strong, ruled in authority and were extremely prosperous. And let us also consider another question about society in the will of God: Is the American dream a Godly concept? The image of perfect robots is not the idea of true Christianity. Denying our flesh and suffering is the presence and power of Christ. How dangerous and how deceptive a thought can become when leaders can speak to the masses with such power and eloquence.
Allow me to ask a personal question; Would you be “into” religion if it did not have blessings, money, health, peace, joy, miracles, favor, rewards, eternal life, joy, victory, etc..?? Would you follow the Lord and love him unconditionally even in the face of death if there was no eternity? Do you feel that people put their hope in heaven because they just “want” to go to the most beautiful place in the universe and not go to a place of torment? Is this true salvation? It has been told that in heaven there will be no pain no worry, endless food and enjoyment, no work just leisure relaxation and fun, wealth beyond imagination, mansions, and gold, energy, strength without sickness, perfection, glory and eternal life. But let me ask the question; would you still want to go if God was not going to be there? If our eternal home was a hot windy dessert without food or water, living in a tent but God was there would you still be just as excited about heaven? Are we following Jesus just for the fishes and loaves? Are we longing to be with God in heaven or are we lusting after the wealth and riches of his paradise and loving the idea of escaping hell? Do you thirst after God’s Word that explains about our responsibilities and helps us understand how to know him better or do you spend all your energy asking him for things? Without the lights and loud music, books, radio, TV or the religious rituals and the church politics can you just walk in God’s spirit? Is the gospel that draws us near to him enough, or is it God – plus other things? Is just his presence enough for you to surrender your will in this life and trust him through the painful trials that you cannot understand? Are you building your entire life on the rock of relationship or the sands of a distorted carnal imagination?
In the quiet times, is it enough for it to be just you and God? Why do some people always need some noise in the background wherever they are and whatever they are doing? Do you believe that many people are uncomfortable with silence? Why? Because when it is quiet they are afraid they will hear God’s voice. Many people are afraid that God will relay to them a message that will require them to change their life. It is a fear of being convicted and the grueling process of change which is something that our human nature tries to avoid with everything we have in us until we are told that death is at the door. There are stories of people that have said they will continue living the way they want and at the last second they will ask God to forgive them. The corrupt natures idea is to sin all you want and then be forgiven at the last second, washed clean and ready for an eternity in heaven. It’s true that miracles can happen but at the same time we are not guaranteed it will turn out this way. Rolling the dice with this type of attitude is dangerous, to say the least. The sincerity and motives behind the concept of salvation seem to be simple but are actually quite complex. Since salvation is based on God’s grace and not on how much we do or our lack of works, we can see how easy it is to become confused. It’s difficult to imagine how the thief on the cross was saved and someone who goes to church all their life could be lost. However, we must accept by faith that God’s way is a perfect way and He has a certain way of doing things and every person is held accountable for following HIS instructions. If we go through any other process or formula according to our theories and opinions, we will miss eternal life altogether. It has to be God’s EXACT way or redemption would be a massive hodgepodge collection of religious arguments and interpretations or in other words total chaos.
How do we know we are saved and how can we be sure we are following the correct path? We begin with spending time alone with God every day and simply talking to Him. When we study His Word and sincerely ask Him to reveal His will to us, we are headed in the right spiritual direction. Of course, there are many conditions which are included in this covenant relationship and one of the most crucial is laying down our will. If we are not committed to surrendering our control to live however we want, everything else falls into the category of trying to make a special deal with God. Another word for this secret strategy is being manipulative as a master game player and allowing deception to blind us to the point actually believing this might actually work. It is a hard truth to admit but we want to do everything except what He wants us to do. In reality, there is no substitute, no alternative, and no secret under the table deals with God. If the gospel is not enough then we are blind and lost and have yet to embrace the truth which can set us free from ourselves. Jesus said He is the way which implies there is no other way. He is the truth and no matter what we think, he will always have the last word on earth and in all eternity. Jesus is the life and this not only means a spiritually abundant life while we are here on this planet but He is also the giver and fulfillment of eternal life.
There is an old saying, “Anyone can, everyone won’t, but somebody will.” We see the invitation for being saved in the gospel and agree that salvation is offered to everyone who will believe and receive. We also understand that everyone will not bow their knee to Jesus and many will suffer and miss out on heaven. This leaves the statement that some will see their desperate need and the hopelessness of life with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The greatest question is will you accept His invitation?
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 23 – PUBLISHED 6/9/18
ONLY BY THE GRACE OF GOD
I originally wrote this article several years ago as I stepped outside at work during the winter. I have added and tweaked on this since then. So much is going on all around us and it is very sad to see people who cannot see that life is miserable without Jesus. The frustrating part is that we desire to make a difference! We know we have the key to the prison cell and we have the cure for the disease of sin, but we also know that only a few want it. In fact, the world is growing more violent and aggressive toward the Christian faith because they hate Jesus. Today, the world is still crying out to give them Barrabus, because they are of their father the devil. They love the wide and broad way of sin and darkness and only an absolute miracle from God can influence and convict us to turn away from sin and turn to God. It is only by the grace of God that anyone has ever allowed Him to sit on the throne of their heart as Lord and King.
Staring into the gray, overcast sky, I find myself once again allowing the foggy mixture of damp and cold to influence and add to the restlessness of my emotions. The drizzling rain, the dreary, lonely feelings of quiet meditation stir thoughts within me about the ages mankind has spent pondering that age-old question: what is really our purpose? My thoughts are no different from all the other dreamers and philosophers throughout the millenniums however, I am not searching in vain for answers to impossible questions, because I believe the spiritual dimension is beckoning the “seekers” to wade out deeper into the vast realms of holy wisdom, to come and see, to feel and know the mysteries that are sewn within the fabric of divine reality. The truth is out there – but hidden, not because God does not want us to discover it, but rather He has preserved it just below the surface of our mortal existence for those who are driven and determined by faith to understand and comprehend who He is and what He wants. This higher dimension will be revealed only to the disciplined soul whose ultimate goal above all things is to become God’s personal friend. It is within these individuals that His Kingdom is contained.
The dimension of God is the opposite to the realm we live in and compared to our natural and upside down thinking I think it would be alright to call His “world beyond words” the right-side-up kingdom. In man’s environment, the goal is to become higher so that we can be more successful, powerful, and proud of our accomplishments. In God’s way of thinking, His perfect vision is for someone to realize that His principles and standards are designed for the first to be last and the last to be first. Why? Because He is requiring and searching for something different than we are. The remnant disciples that are willing to abandon everything in this natural realm in order to understand and thrive within this heavenly “order” will experience and gain all things in the Spirit realm with Him. The overcomers will go far beyond human intelligence and immature emotions until they discover the absolute truth. The wise virgins will forsake the natural desire to climb the ladders of earthly gain to instead become students of downward mobility. This passion and reverence for His truth is the beginning of wisdom.
The most important tradition found in ancient civilizations has been the passing of knowledge to the next generation for the simple reason of preserving the heritage and legacy of the past. One sign of a dissolving society is when the older leaders become distracted, or lazy or they just lose interest to teach at all. As the up and coming decision makers begin to reject traditional thinking, the originally established philosophies are set aside and replaced with new and seemingly dynamic concepts. If moral convictions that were once a normal way of life are allowed to be transformed into unfamiliar worldviews, the next generation of movers and shakers have the potential to change the thinking and complexion of an entire culture. It’s easy to see this is happening today. Change is good as long as it brings a clearer understanding of God’s truth, but when mixed with feelings and opinions, it can be just as dangerous as it is helpful. A society must not become so angry and frustrated with their condition, that they are willing to accept a “new age” direction out of desperation. This is an old “hat trick” from Satan, which falls into the category of spiritual deception with the consequences being damaging and deadly. What does this have to do with worship? If we fail to teach our children God’s truth and do not take an active role in their spiritual development, the enemy will continue sowing tares into God’s wheat field until there is a drought of God’s truth. We must arise and live in the awareness of God’s presence so that our young ones can SEE Jesus and know how to abide in His Word!
There is nothing more important for us who love biblical wisdom than to pass the “baton” of spiritual life and the soul-saving secrets of absolute truth to the future. We are called to preserve and demonstrate the hope and security of God’s Word which has the power to transform those who choose to embrace its principles. For example, modern education is openly teaching the young minds of this age the humanistic idea that the evolution theory is uniformity; that is, it seeks to show that life in all its various forms and manifestations probably originated by causes similar to or identical with the forces and processes now prevailing. These philosophies teach the absolute supremacy and the past continuity of natural law as now observed. Uniformity says the changes now going on in our modern world have always been in action, and these present-day natural changes and processes are as much a part of the origin as anything that has taken place in the past. This view of nature and matter tries desperately to disprove God and His Word for the purpose of establishing a new world order of laws and precepts to live by. How can we teach the next generation about worshipping the creator when the educational system is saying the Bible is a lie? How can we as Christians serve the Lord of all creation while our children are trying to decide who is telling the truth? No one knows all absolute truth except God Himself, but we must conclude there is definitely such a thing and be willing to stand for this foundation of our faith at all costs!
A part of this truth that we can clearly understand is that the nature of man is evil, and as he continues to destroy the earth, even the animals will not be able to survive his greed. In turn, God is bringing judgment upon man because of his sin and is very displeased with the way humans have treated His beautiful world not to mention each other. The blood of Jesus can wash away sin and present anyone that receives Christ as Lord as a member of His royal family, but these errors that are being accepted as the standards of intelligence are holding the blind in the bondage of ignorance. One absolute truth is worth more than libraries of humanistic theories and philosophies, but until the remnant lights the fuse of God’s dynamite power, these strongholds of darkness will continue to grow. Will the world continue to spiral downward into sin? According to the Bible, it paints the picture of a society that becomes controlled by an earthly government and who are deceived more than any other time in history. We know there is coming a time of tribulation and the military actually makes war with Christ which I can never fathom could be possible. All of this does not sound like a spiritual revival for Jesus, so to me it seems the masses will continue heading deeper into the darkness. This leaves the serious Christian with needing to prepare for aggressive hostility as the hatred for God becomes more intense. If we have ever taken the prayer closet seriously, we should be even more determined to spend much time there and find the mind of God for our lives because it will make the difference between being drowned in the flood of deception and discovering the keys to abiding in the presence of His peace.
So how can we make a difference in a world that is sliding into the pit? Well, at the highest place in our priorities, it is the same as it has always been since the beginning of the world. We simply do what God tells us to do, as this is all we are called and required to do. One thing that is frustrating and difficult to understand, (but also true) is when it comes to evangelism and counseling, we cannot change another person, no matter how hard we try. Why? It’s because the powers that draw men and women into the darkness of destruction are associated with more than an external attraction. If it were a savage beast that was holding people in the grip of sin, we could attack and kill the monster, thus allowing them to be free. However, the desire that comes from deep within their heart not only allows the beast to persuade them but they literally extend the invitation to control them. Since they worship the monster, they willingly protect this relationship and only the power which comes from the Almighty who spoke the universe into existence has the ability to renew a mind and transform a soul. Yes, our prayers are used and even multiplied in association with having God’s attention, but ultimately even the Lord of all glory and authority will not force an individual to abandon their monster and turn away from this deep love and worship for sin. Even though the person realizes they are incarcerated in a horrible dungeon of doom, they have concluded that temporary relief is worth all they are going through. They do not want to set free because they embrace what they are doing and are using their own way of dealing with their demons to escape from the agony of reality. Why is reality so bad? Because life without Jesus Christ does not contain the contentment, peace, and security they are searching for.
The documentary called, “Chasing the dragon” shares the stories of several individuals captured in the addiction of heroin. One young lady looked into the camera and sincerely admitted that she loved drugs more than her own children and more than her own life. They had all been through the jails and rehab programs but nothing helped. At the end of the film, there appeared a screen relaying the news that each one of these individuals had overdosed and had died. Their fate was self-inflicted, they did not have to die. But why? The reason why so many take their own lives is because they have been traveling down a dead end road so long, they finally realize the bridge is out up ahead and there is no hope to find happiness. The monster possesses them. They are exhausted from trying everything to bring relief but without yielding their life to God and allowing Him to fill them with His Holy Spirit of love and forgiveness they eventually give up. They have either never understood that Jesus is the only one who can give them peace and joy in this world or their carnal rebellion is so fierce, they have sternly declared they will never bow their knee to Jesus and would rather die than surrender their will. Drugs, alcohol, money, sex, fame, power, and everything else we can think of will not satisfy the angry, selfish soul. Accepting Christ as our Lord, humbly crawling up into the lap of our heavenly Father, trusting Him with our lives and resting our head on His chest, is our only hope and the true meaning of life.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 22 – PUBLISHED 6/2/18
THE MARK OF THE BEAST IS COMING
A friend sent me this article the other day and I found it interesting. I believe that technology is moving so rapidly around the world and new advances in all areas are being created daily. We are no doubt moving toward a New World Order which is preparing the way for the anti-christ. Let us be sensitive to what is being asked of us and listen closely to how God wants us to live. May he give us wisdom and understanding in these last days. Here is the story.
Fingerprints, Eye Scans Now Required To Buy Food In India
There was a string of interesting financial reports from India this week that appear to be unrelated at first glance, but upon further inspection, they all seem to be working towards a common goal—an intrusive big brother surveillance state that tracks every single financial transaction for every single resident. According to The New York Times, the Indian government has implemented an identification system that will require scans of fingerprints, eyes, and faces for all financial transactions, including food, banking, cell phone plans and state assistance. The program is called “Aadhaar” and it will be mandatory for the 1.3 billion people who live in India. Most of India is already enrolled in the program, with a total of 1.1 billion already using the system. However, most people are obviously signing up under duress, as they have no other ways of accessing basic commerce or financial services.
Over the past several years the government in India has been slowly building the program, setting up individuals with IDs while collecting their biometric data. Now, the government is ready to make the program mandatory for nearly every aspect of life. Adita Jha, a 30-year-old environmental consultant in Delhi who was interviewed by The Times, said that she was forced into the program. “You almost feel like life is going to stop without an Aadhaar,” she said. In some cities, parents are not allowed to leave hospitals with newborn children until they are signed up. In addition to the vast violation of privacy that this program introduces, it is also highly inefficient, with possibly fatal results. A recent study determined that 20 percent of an entire region was cut off from food rations because their Internet connections were not good enough to access the program.
If you think this type of control grid isn’t possible in the United States, think again. Harvard Professor Jacqueline Bhabha praised the drastic new policy, saying that, “No one has approached that scale and that ambition. It has been hailed, and justifiably so, as an extraordinary triumph to get everyone registered.” Even the article published in The Times this week seems dismissive towards “critics and civil libertarians” who oppose the measure while spending an unusual amount of time touting the “benefits” of such a program. This is the type of dystopian nightmare that the crypto-anarchists and cypherpunks who initially developed the concept of cryptocurrencies were seeking to prevent. They saw this future coming; they saw governments setting up surveillance grids and making plans to track financial records with biometric data.
Knowing that cash and gold might be illegal or confiscated in a society like this, they worked to develop an idea for digital cash, that is secure and untraceable. It is not just the infamous Satoshi that we can credit with this technology; this mysterious entity simply built upon an intellectual blueprint which was laid down by radical tech specialists like Timothy May, just to name one prominent example among many. For this reason, central banks around the world—but especially in India—are growing more hostile towards cryptocurrencies. In a statement released this week, the central bank of India announced that financial institutions in the country would no longer be able to deal with cryptocurrencies, which means that residents will no longer be able to purchase cryptocurrencies or cash out through their banks. Businesses that deal in cryptocurrencies will need to cease their services or face legal penalties.
The statement read: Cryptocurrencies and crypto assets, raise concerns about consumer protection, market integrity, and money laundering, among others. Reserve Bank has repeatedly cautioned users, holders and traders of virtual currencies, including Bitcoins, regarding various risks associated in dealing with such virtual currencies. In view of the associated risks, it has been decided that, with immediate effect, entities regulated by RBI shall not deal with or provide services to any individual or business entities dealing with or settling VCs. Regulated entities which already provide such services shall exit the relationship within a specified time. In the very same statement, the central bank of India announced its plan to release their own digital currency, which will be a fiat monopoly currency that is totally traceable, unlike cryptocurrencies.
Rapid changes in the landscape of the payments industry along with factors such as the emergence of private digital tokens and the rising costs of managing fiat paper/metallic money have led central banks around the world to explore the option of introducing fiat digital currencies. While many central banks are still engaged in the debate, an inter-departmental group has been constituted by the Reserve Bank to study and provide guidance on the desirability and feasibility to introduce a central bank digital currency. The banks understand that their whole existence is at stake, so they are working to ride the tides as best as they can and steer the innovation of this technology in a direction that suits their needs, which would be a shift away from anonymity and decentralization. If central banks are able to run a monopoly fiat currency on a blockchain, they will have more power and control than ever. It is highly possible, almost guaranteed, that these interests will attempt to use the force of government to make this happen. If used by the people and for the people, blockchain technology could allow us to create financial systems that are resistant to inflation, centralization, and control. But in the bankers’ hands, it could create the dystopian nightmare that cryptocurrencies set out to prevent.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 21 – Published 5/26/18
NO GREATER LOVE
Memorial means to “remember” and every year on the last Monday in May, we honor those who sacrificed their lives in the line of active military service. On Memorial day we stop and pay our respect to those who were willing to stand in the gap between freedom and tyranny! For those who follow Christ, we are also reminded that every Christian has been called to say and do what is right and to stand in the gap for our faith in God.
LET US PRAY – “Thank you Lord for who you are. We worship and honor you. Help us to know your ways and give us the desire and courage to obey your commands. Amen.”
The First Amendment was not only signed into existence with ink but with the blood of over 1.1 million Americans that have died in U.S. wars along with many more that have suffered from physical and mental difficulties. Truly, our privilege and freedom to openly speak and live what we believe are liberties that have come at the highest expense.
We are only a few miles from Camp Nelson (how many have ever been to Camp Nelson?) and as we drive past you can see many rows of the over twelve thousand perfectly lined white marble tombstones. I ashamed to admit, but I’ve often driven past without hardly thinking about how each of these individuals at one time or another accepted the call of duty. And what is that call? To defend and protect our liberties – whatever the cost! Each one of those brave soldiers was at least willing to give their life for their country and many did. It is said – “All gave some and some gave all.”
Many families have suffered loss from war including my own and we have a deep appreciation for the men and women that have served to protect our country. My mother’s brother, Kenny Maye was killed in Korea and I have his tags, casket flag and a rare picture of him. He was only 20 years old in 1950 and his body was never found. Sadly, his existence is nearly unknown and I often wonder about the life he could have had.
As a volunteer chaplain, I have the privilege to serve and enjoy wonderful conversations with the fine men and women of our nation’s military. Some of them are now in their eighties and nineties and many have amazing stories that only a few people know about. One of these individuals is a man named Edward Hicks who willingly stepped forward when his country needed him the most. He was only 22 years old when he received the call to join the World War II Normandy invasion commonly called D-Day. Only four months earlier in February 1944, he married his lovely bride Mary Lou.
Edward like many other young men bravely responded to what would be known in the chronicles of history as “Operation Overlord.” By the way, the “D” simply stands for whatever day a military assault is planned. For example; D-3 meant three days before a D-Day, while D+7 meant seven days after a D-Day. On June 6th, 1944, America and her allies engaged in one of the most significant military operations of the 20th century which literally changed the course of the world.
Edward and his company were assigned to six miles of beach that was code-named “Omaha” which has been recorded as one of the bloodiest first wave battles of Normandy. Only 600 men survived out of 2600 that came ashore. He recalls when he jumped out of the amphibious vehicle, how the water was up to his neck and icy cold. With being loaded down in full gear that was now water-logged, he said it was a miracle that he did not drown. As bullets were splashing the water and whizzing past his head, all he knew to do was to stay as low as possible. Using floating bodies as shields, he was numb with fear. As he slowly crawled upon the sand, he immediately began to dig a hole where he could partially avoid the onslaught of constant machine gun fire.
With God’s grace and the Germans running out of ammunition, he somehow managed to work his way inland and eventually joined his comrades. He remembers the water was red with blood and is haunted with knowing that every young man who died on that beach was someone’s child. Edward received several medals for bravery including a silver star and 4 bronze stars but there is much more to being a hero than human fortitude and earning awards. It’s also recognizing the true meaning of spiritual love. The love that Jesus demonstrated on the cross is the type of compassion that inspires individuals to love others as much as they love themselves and we are reminded in Matthew 22:36-40 that loving God and loving others are the two great commandments which are the foundations of every spiritual law.
How many realize that Christians are being persecuted all over the world? But because of heroes like Edward and all the other military personnel – we do not have that persecution here in America. (And we pray that we never will). There are so many brave men and women who served this country in all the wars down through the years. We say THANK YOU for standing in the GAP!
One more story and this is another World War II hero. His name was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.
One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would NOT have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader gave him a direct order for him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back.
As he was returning to the ship he saw something that turned his blood cold. A squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding their way toward the American fleet which was defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet SO, there was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the ship. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber machine guns blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. O’Hare wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.
However – he did not stop there! He continued the assault, diving at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible. Finally, the Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered plane limped back to the carrier.
Upon arrival, the film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had in fact destroyed FIVE enemy aircraft. This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action, Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of World War II, and the first Naval aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Sadly, a year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His hometown would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today… (how many has ever heard of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago? Yes, it’s named in tribute to the courage of this great man.
In March 1775, Patrick Henry made a motion to form a standing army to fight in the revolutionary war. In his speech, he said this: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death” and I believe this is the heart of ALL the heroes who have served and especially for those who have died for our country.
But allow me to ask another question: what about the heroes of faith? In Hebrews chapter 11 and starting in verse 32, we have the HALL OF FAITH that names those who paid the greatest price and are known as those who obtained a GOOD report through their trust and belief in God.
Today, I ask myself, “Do I have faith?” Do I demonstrate my faith by my works? Do I love people and care enough to fast and pray for them without ceasing?
In Ezekiel chapter 22 and verse 30 we read, “I (GOD), looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.”
Is that what God is saying today? Is He finding anyone that will stand in the gap and pray for this nation and the world? How many have a burden for those who are lost? How many are reaching out to help and are praying for lost family members and friends? Are Christians forgetting what will happen to those who die without knowing Jesus Christ?
The people of Israel had turned away from God. They had become distracted and intoxicated with sin and pleasure. As long as the blessings are flowing people are generally content and happy, but they do NOT want to hear about yielding their will or sacrificing their flesh. When the churches announce about a having a chicken dinner the place is always packed – but when they announce a special prayer meeting – 2 or 3 will show up. Why?
Galatians 5: 16-17 explains, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other.”
The bottom line? We all choose what we want to do – We serve what we love
So, today, we can see the comparison with those who have given their lives to save someone physically and those who were willing to intercede and pray for the spiritual salvation of others. Thank God, we have had so many throughout the history of our nation who has willingly fought in military combat AND those who have fought on their knees in spiritual warfare. Whether literal or spiritual – however, we are laying down our life – we can know that without obedience to God’s commands and developing agape love, we will never have the determination or compassion to stand in the gap for God or another human being.
In closing, let us ponder this profound statement by Jesus Christ in John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friends.”
LET US PRAY – “Heavenly Father, we are humbled by your infinite love and grace. Help us to be more like you. Let us not rest until we take our responsibility seriously. Give us passion and stir our hearts to seek your holy truth. May you receive ALL glory and honor and in your majestic name we pray, amen.”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 20 – Published 5/19/18
WE ARE DEVOTED TO WHAT WE LOVE
How many realize the no pain – no gain declaration that is used as a battle cry for physical exercise can also be applied to the spiritual realm? The concept of planning with expectation is not complicated; if you want to see a wonderful harvest, you will need to plant a lot of good seed! Whether in the spiritual or the natural realm, when it comes to sowing and reaping everyone will always invest in what they love. If you enjoy watching television you will have the biggest and nicest one you can afford. The same is true with cars, houses, diamonds or whatever we decide is important. We can trace our interest and time to the desires that capture our heart and many have never considered what entertains our imagination is directly connected to our personal worship.
When it comes to being a follower of Christ, our prayers and generosity are a huge part of walking the Christian walk. Whether we take God seriously or settle for a halfhearted religious attitude, our daily life becomes our most noticeable testimony. For example, those who are negative and are constantly griping and complaining about everything, probably do not pray or give that much. Brother Billy, how can you say such a thing? Well, I can prove it. Those who intercede and stand in the gap with fervent prayer and sacrificially give their finances because they believe God is telling them to do it, will not curse the ones they are praying for! How do you know? When we truly love people enough to pray for them we are moved with compassion and broken in humility. We will not pour out the sweet fragrance of prayer before the Lord’s throne about someone and then turn around and spew out poison against them. When we invest our sweat and tears because we have a sincere burden for someone, we will defend them. Investing our concern into someone’s miracle and then criticizing them would be like rolling up our sleeves and laying bricks in a wall today and then chiseling them out tomorrow!
Our pure conversations and good attitudes carry the blessings of life and produce positive energy that inspires and edifies everyone. Christian discipleship is all about investing our talents and abilities into the cause as a participator. We must realize that negative words and dark energy can be used to curse and discourage those around us because they carry the power of death. Brother Billy, you don’t really believe all of that hocus pocus stuff, do you? This is nothing to debate about. It’s a spiritual principle from God’s Word and is as real as the sun rising in the East. This divine truth reveals the substance and evidence that can explain and be traced back into everyone’s life – good or bad. Walking in God’s holy wisdom involves speaking life and unless we have His vision for our mission, we not accomplish His will. It is carnal pride that ruins our spiritual sensitivity and will diminish our most valuable character trait which is spiritual love.
Genuine faith and love are the foundational cornerstones when it comes to building God’s kingdom and when these attributes become our highest priority, giving will become a natural response. James says in chapter 1 and verse 22, “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” This is saying that just talking about what we should do is not really accomplishing anything. In fact, we can convince ourselves that having good intentions is just the same as actually doing something but this could be used as just an excuse to be selfish. I’m reminded of the old saying that actions speak louder than words as it’s always wise to examine our motives according to God’s way of thinking. It’s easy to be critical of the church, our place of employment, the government or whatever and verbally condemn it especially if it has not cost us anything. However, it takes faith to obey and a sincere love to humble ourselves and pray for others even when we do not agree. The ones who faithfully demonstrate compassion and forgiveness toward those in need are responding to the call of spiritual obedience. I believe we can agree that if God controls our finances there is a good chance He has our heart.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 19 – Published 5/12/18
WHAT IS SABBATH REST? by Joseph Herron
I have been reading the writings of Joseph Herron for several years and his insight has stirred and inspired me to search the scriptures and learn valuable spiritual revelation. He has also challenged me to examine my own heart for faith to press forward and courage to believe God’s Word. I thought you would enjoy his teaching about “Sabbath Rest” so I am providing it this week. You can read more of his work at his websites – heart4god.we and parablesblog.blogspot.com – blessings!
A word of explanation is necessary before we begin. In this work, I am using names in reference to God the Father and God the Son that is more faithful to their Hebrew original than the names and titles generally in use by the church today. The name Yah, or Yahweh, will be found in reference to God the Father, and the name Yahshua will be utilized when speaking of the Son. This usage is not intended to be divisive, nor does it serve as a renunciation of the usage of titles such as Lord or God. Neither is it a condemnation of those who choose to call the Son of God Jesus. My intent as a teacher of the Bible is simply to illumine and instruct. There is great meaning in the Hebrew names of the Father and the Son, and these names are directly related to one another. Many of the people whose lives are portrayed in Scripture also serve as types and shadows of God, bringing to light truths that might otherwise be hidden.
For example, Joshua, the Israelite leader who led the people of God across the Jordan and into battle to take possession of the land of Canaan, bears the same name as the Messiah. They both were called Yahshua. Like Joshua in the Old Testament, the Son of God began His ministry at the Jordan River as He was baptized by John. Both men labored to establish a kingdom dedicated to Yahweh, the first external and natural, the latter internal and spiritual. Yah is the name used in reference to the Father on forty-nine separate occasions in the Old Testament. Most Christians have utilized this name of God without knowing that they were doing so. Whenever the word hallelujah is uttered, the speaker is literally exclaiming “Praise Yah,” for this is the meaning of the Hebrew word from which it is derived. The longer name Yahweh is found an additional 6,828 times. The name of the Son is likewise significant, for Yahshua is understood to mean “Yah’s Salvation.” The Gospel writer indicates that this is the meaning of the name given to the Savior at His birth. Matthew 1:21, “And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Yahshua, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” It has been the practice of this writer for many years to use these names, which more clearly represent their Hebrew originals. It is my hope that their employment in this book might aid the reader by bringing forth light on relationships that are obscured, as well as promoting an increased intimacy with God the Father by calling Him by His memorial name, instead of a title which men have substituted.
It has been nearly 6,000 years since Adam was created by Elohim. It has also been 2,000 years since Yahshua (Jesus) walked this Earth in fulfilling the ministry that His Father entrusted to Him. It is recorded for us in scripture, that in the mystery of Yahweh’s plan of the ages, a thousand years correlates to one day, and one day to a thousand years. We find this truth revealed in II Peter 3:8, Psalms 90:4, as well as in other passages. II Peter 3:8, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” When Yahshua walked among the Jews He chided them because they could forecast the weather, but they could not discern the day in which they lived. Matthew 16:2-3, “He answered and said to them when it is evening you say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red; and in the morning, it will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening. Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” In contrast, when David went to Hebron to establish the kingdom we are told, in a very favorable mention, that among those who joined themselves to him were 200 chief men from among the sons of Issachar, “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (I Chronicles 12:32). It is an important matter with Yahweh that His children have an understanding of the days in which they live.
As we examine Peter’s words we can discern that not only have 6,000 years elapsed since Adam’s creation, with man poised to enter the 7th millennium, but man equally stands ready to enter the 7th day of Yahweh’s divine timetable. We can understand much of what this 7th day will hold as we look at what occurred on the 7th day of creation, and what the 7th day represents throughout scriptures. The 7th day is a day of rest. The 7th day is the Sabbath. In the epistle to the Hebrews, Paul wrote that there yet remained a Sabbath rest for the children of God to enter into (Hebrews 3, 4). He gave great cautions lest any of the saints of God should fall short of entering into this rest. Entering into this rest holds far more significance than most saints have considered, and many are oblivious to the peril of failing to enter in. The Sabbath is much more than just a day that occurs once a week in which physical labor is to be avoided. It was given to be a symbol of something much greater. In understanding the symbolism we can see that its significance has such importance as to touch on Satan’s original sin, as well as mankind’s transgression in the Garden of Eden. By violating the principles that the Sabbath represents all the sins listed in the ten commandments of Yahweh ensued, including lying, covetousness, envy, and murder. It is in returning and entering into the true fulfillment of the Sabbath rest of God that these transgressions will be overturned. We live in that very transitional period of the ages when man will enter into the 7th millennium, the Sabbath rest of Yahweh. However, not all will enter in at the appointed time. Some will be prevented due to disobedience and unbelief. This book will address this peril in the hope that some will awaken from their slumber and apply all diligence to the pursuit of entering into the Sabbath rest of God.
There are other significant scriptures that speak of the awesome day in which we live. It has been nearly 2,000 years since Yahshua walked this Earth and completed His ministry. It has been nearly 2,000 years since that great Pentecost when the Spirit was given to indwell mankind. In the ensuing years, man has known what it is to be divided as his flesh has battled against the Spirit, and the Spirit has warred against the flesh (Galatians 5:17). This torn and fractured state of mankind has been appointed to last for a specified period of time appointed by the Father. The Scriptures declare that our healing is fast approaching when no longer will man be torn asunder, but he will be made wholly into a creature that fully agrees with Yahweh in spirit, soul, and body. We find this prophecy in Hosea 6:1-2. “Come, let us return to Yahweh. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him.” For 2,000 years, two days in Yahweh’s timetable, man has been torn as he has known the agony of the war of flesh and Spirit raging inside his members. The victory has been assured. The life of Christ overcomes the death of sin. It is appointed unto men to experience this warfare in their members, but a glorious day is quickly coming when the warfare will end and life will fully overcome death. For 2,000 years, from that awesome Pentecost when mankind received the promised indwelling Spirit of Yahweh, man has known the agony of being a divided house. The flesh has tried to resist and wage war against the life of the Spirit, and the Spirit has been seeking to put the flesh to death. We stand at a juncture in time that is doubly important. We can look forward with anticipation to entering into the Sabbath rest of Yahweh and also being freed from the torn and embattled state that man has known for 2,000 years.
There has been very little rest in the first six days of mankind. Man has known misery and suffering. For six days the whole creation has been subjected to the futility of the curse, and with groaning and travail, it has been longing for its deliverance when the sons of God are finally manifest in their restored state (Romans 8:19-23). Full deliverance will come when we lay aside these mortal bodies that are subject to the curse of sin, and we are clothed with immortality; when we will lay aside this corruption and put on incorruptible bodies (I Corinthians 15:53). We live at the transitory date when man will enter the 7th millennium, the Sabbath day of creation. Our healing awaits us. A true Sabbath rest awaits us. May your soul and spirit be stirred as you anticipate the awesome things which will soon appear.
Hebrews 4:1, “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.”
Understanding the Present Hour
Before proceeding with the subject matter of this book, it is necessary to address some issues that could cause the reader difficulty. Much of what is written in this book is contrary to what is commonly accepted and taught in Christianity today. This will undoubtedly cause some concern to certain readers. It is often difficult to receive some truth that we have not previously heard, but it is even more difficult when the truth is in clear contradiction to what has been preached by myriads of pastors, evangelists, and teachers until it has become the accepted standard, or norm, of our day. Unfortunately, there are few saints who actually understand what is clearly foretold in scriptures, that the last days before the return of Yahshua would be a time when great error would exist among the saints of God. Once one understands this, then they can appreciate that when the truth is proclaimed it will be very common to find that it flies in the face of the accepted beliefs of the day in which we find ourselves. Let us look at a few scriptures that reveal this understanding, that the days preceding Yahshua’s return would be days of profound deception and error.
II Timothy 3:1-7, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Note very carefully here that Paul identifies the day he is speaking of to Timothy. “But realize this, in the last days difficult times will come.” How many ministers today are proclaiming that we live in the last days? It seems that many recognize that the hour is late, but they have failed to discern what the state of Christianity would be at this late hour. Paul begins this passage by saying, “in the last days difficult times will come,” and he concludes by saying that people would be “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” In between these two statements, Paul describes the heart of mankind in these days, and it is due to the corrupt state of the heart of man that these days are difficult.
Timothy was charged by Paul to preach the word, and things were already difficult in those days, but consider the difficulty of any minister who finds himself proclaiming truth to those described in this passage. Indeed, their task would be very formidable. Yet Paul doesn’t stop here. Paul is still maintaining the same train of thought when he speaks the following words. II Timothy 4:1-4, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.” When should one expect this time to come when men will not endure sound doctrine? Paul already has informed us that he is speaking of the last days, the days in which we now live. If men are not heeding sound doctrine, what are they listening to? They are listening to great accumulations of teachers that are speaking the things their wayward hearts want to hear. They are turning aside unto myths and fables.
It should be obvious that the days we live in are the subject of Paul’s discourse to Timothy, for we are in the last days, yet what preacher will admit that it is his congregation that has hired him to tell them the things they want to hear? What preacher would confess that he is simply tickling the ears of those listening to him, that he is teaching falsehood and myth? We live in very difficult days, for the masses of Christendom have departed from truth and they prefer to hear things that agree with their own lusts. Paul said that in the last days men would be “lovers of self, lovers of money… lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God.” What sort of things do you suppose that such men would like to hear? Perhaps they would like to hear a message of financial prosperity. Perhaps they would like to hear a message that says that God wants to pour out blessing after blessing of material goods upon those who are His children. Is this not what is being proclaimed today from so many pulpits? Yet men do not realize that Paul was warning Timothy about those who are within Christianity in this very day, people who have accumulated teachers unto themselves to tell them the things they want to hear.
In contrast, sound doctrine has no home among such saints who are lovers of self, of money, and pleasure. It is with difficulty that Yahshua’s words are shared with them. Luke 16:13, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon is the system of world materialism and it is identified with the love of money and all that money can purchase. Myriads of saints today are in that tragic condition of trying to straddle the fence. They want to serve God and mammon at the same time. To accomplish this feat they have developed false doctrines that proclaim that it is the will of Yahweh that every saint should be running over with the goods of this world. Yahshua, however, said that His kingdom followers should not concern themselves with issues of what they would eat and drink, or what they would clothe themselves with, but they should seek first His righteousness and His kingdom. The Pharisees who heard these words scoffed at Yahshua, for we are told that they loved money. Multitudes also scoff today for they share the same affliction.
Luke 16:14-15, “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” We live in a day in which men are proclaiming those things that they esteem while neglecting the things God esteems. I have picked just one topic, albeit a major one, that is being falsely taught today to demonstrate that men have departed from truth and have sought out teachers that would tell them things in accordance with their desires. Men in their love of self and love of money have devised all manner of false interpretations of scripture to justify their lust for things. Absent is the message of the disciple’s cross and the proclaiming of Christ’s words that if we would save our soul life, we must lose it, but if we lose it we will save it. Absent is the message of taking up our cross daily and following Yahshua. Matthew 16:24-27, “Then said Yahshua to His disciples, if anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds.” The message of self-denial is not found in the houses of prosperity today. Every man will be recompensed for his deeds, yet the recompense will be very grievous for those who have accumulated to themselves teachers to tell them the things they desire to hear. The very issue of self-denial is at the heart of a true understanding of Sabbath, for in Hebrews we read these words of Paul. Hebrews 4:10, “For the one who has entered His rest [Sabbath] has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” If we are to enter into God’s rest, we must cease from doing our own works. This is self-denial. This is the work of the cross in the lives of the saints. Because men have not ceased from their own works, preferring to indulge the selfish desires of their hearts, they have strayed from the truth and have embraced falsehood and myths. The issue of serving mammon is but one issue in which this has happened. There is virtually no area of truth that has remained unaffected due to the difficulty of the days we live. In the book of II Thessalonians, Paul described the dire state of these days with the word “apostasy.”
II Thessalonians 2:1-3, “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Yahshua the Messiah, and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first…” Once more Paul is writing about the days that precede the return of Yahshua. He is writing of the days we live in, and he states that Yahshua will not return unless the apostasy occurs first. Strong’s Dictionary of Greek words defines apostasy in the following manner. 646 apostasia (ap-os-tas-ee’-ah); feminine of the same as 647; defection from truth (properly, the state) [“apostasy”]: As one looks further into the meaning of this Greek word, it is seen that it shares a similar root with the Greek word meaning divorce. The apostasy of which Paul speaks is literally a divorcement from truth. Taken in relationship with Paul’s other statements we can discern that the last days will be a time when those who claim to be followers of Yahshua will divorce themselves from truth, and they will in turn be wed to myths and fables. They will figuratively heap up for themselves teachers that will proclaim error and falsehood unto them.
This is the perilous circumstance that we find ourselves in today. It is not the masses that are proclaiming truth, but the remnant. Truth is not widely preached and received, rather it is largely rejected, having been replaced with falsehood. How did this circumstance come about? Again the apostle Paul informs us of the reason. II Thessalonians 2:10-12, “Because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved… for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” Because men have preferred lies over truth, the Father has sent a deluding influence upon them so that they might believe what is false. This passage and the others we have looked at are not talking about the world, but those who claim to be followers of God. Paul earlier said they would have “a form of godliness, but deny the power of it.” This is speaking of the church. The true power of godliness is the power to transform a human life, but men have preferred not to be transformed. Instead they have desired to transform the scriptures to support the pursuit of their soulish life and its desires. Those who read this book, and other writings that are proclaiming truth in this hour, must realize that what is written here is out of synch with the masses of Christendom because the masses of Christendom are themselves out of synch with God. Yahshua said He was the truth, yet the truth is not loved in the last days before Yahshua’s return, and as a result the Father has sent delusion upon mankind so that they might believe what is false, which is what they prefer. As one examines the scriptures with an understanding heart they will perceive that it has ever been the case with mankind that only a remnant has really known what the Father was doing in the day in which they lived. In the days in which Moses led the children of God forth from Egypt and into the wilderness, there was truly a large body of people who were known as God’s chosen people, but not all understood what they should have known.
Psalms 103:7, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.” What a gulf separates knowing Yahweh’s ways, and witnessing His acts. Of the millions of Israel, only one man was said to have known the ways of Yahweh in the day in which he lived. We see the same thing in the days of Daniel, of Jeremiah, of Elijah, etc.. Certainly this was also the case in the day the Father sent His Son to be born and to walk this Earth in the form of man. There were myriads of Jews dwelling in and around Jerusalem. The temple and the synagogues were a center for the people to learn the things of God. Was it to these centers that Yahweh sent His messenger to prepare for the coming of His Son?
John 1:6, “There came a man sent from God whose name was John…” What was John’s message? Was it not to prepare the way for Messiah to come? If there were myriads of devoted Jews in that day, a priesthood, as well as many teachers of the Law, then why did not God use these men to proclaim His truth and to prepare the way for His Son? Why did He not have the message proclaimed in every synagogue? It is ever the remnant that Yahweh works through. He chose a man who was little esteemed. He had him to grow up in the wilderness, not in the centers of power. And He had him accomplish his ministry away from the synagogues and the temple. Why should it surprise the understanding saint to hear that those who will prepare the way for the second coming of Yahshua will follow a similar pattern? In the gospels we are told that Yahshua “came to His own, but His own received Him not” (John 1:11). Knowing this was the case of His first appearing to mankind, and that history ever repeats itself, the importance of the following scripture should give rise to serious consideration, as it speaks of His second coming.
Luke 18:8, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Yahshua is here speaking of His second coming to the Earth. At His first coming there was a whole nation of people who claimed to be followers of His Father. There was a well used religious system centered around the Temple and the synagogues. People were studying the scriptures continuously, and they claimed to be waiting for the appearing of Messiah. Do we not have a similar scenario today? There is a body of people, huge in number that claim to be followers of Yahshua (Jesus). There is a religious system that is utilized regularly. In place of synagogues there are church buildings on every street corner and at every crossroads. This great body of believers also claims to be awaiting the return of their Messiah. With all of this teaching and religious structure in place, those who claimed to be waiting for Messiah did not recognize the day of their visitation when He appeared 2,000 years ago. Yahshua was despised and rejected. Certainly the Jews and their leaders would never have admitted to having a wrong understanding of Messiah and what His appearing would be like, anymore than would those in Christianity today. Yet Yahshua asks whether He will find faith on the Earth when He returns. Incredibly, Yahshua describes the last days prior to His return, unto His disciples in the following manner. Matthew 24:10-13, “And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.”
Many will fall away; many will be mislead; most people’s love will grow cold; men will be lovers of self, lovers of money; men will not endure sound doctrine; men will turn aside to myths and fables; Yahshua will in no way return unless the apostasy occurs first; will He find faith on the Earth? These things should sober any sincere follower of Christ. It is the remnant who will be saved. The true flock of Yahshua is called the “little flock” (Luke 12:32). Yahshua Himself questioned whether He would find faith on the earth at His return.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 18 – Published 5/5/18
INTERCEDING FOR OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN
Like many of you, I have a burden for the lost. There are people all around us that are not saved and living on the dangerous edge of facing an eternity without Jesus. We are so distracted by our own affairs that many times we forget this tragic reality. How could a Christian go through life without considering this sobering truth? Even more painful is having close friends and precious family members who are in this serious state of being. For those who have children that are lost, we know that prayer is the least and the most we can do. For the ones who have older children and some that are married, there is a great concern for them and their spouses. If we are focused on Christ and serious about our spiritual walk, it is truly a heavy burden. And then for those who are grandparents, we are praying day and night for the salvation and protection of our grandchildren. This troubling world is filled with deception and lies and it’s heartbreaking to see these younger generations being persuaded and moving forward into a new way of thinking that is contrary to the Bible. The older Christians (like us) are being considered as out of touch and not having a modern understanding of this politically correct new world order. Sadly, there is a growing lack of respect for those who still believe the scriptures and who are seeking to be led by the Holy Spirit. We are noticing a lot more eye-rolling and scoffing but we must not give up our faith and hope that God can intervene and save our loved ones. Who else will intercede and stand in the gap? Who else will teach and demonstrate God’s ways? It is up to the remnant, the spiritual warriors of God’s kingdom to be willing to fight on our knees. We must ask for more faith and believe with all of our heart, to never surrender, to plead for discernment and always pray without ceasing.
“Lord, I believe you approve and are ready to move when we become serious about praying. I know you are the only power and authority that can change situations and circumstances. I also believe you want your people to seek your face with FAITH which is the crucial ingredient that initiates and inspires you to move on our behalf. We are not to pray amiss or for our own selfish motives, but when we pray according to your perfect will, we can expect any and all mountains to be moved. I place my family at the foot of your cross, I give them to you and trust you completely. I know that you work in mysterious ways that I could never imagine. May your Holy Spirit prick their conscience and please convict them in their daily activities and conversations and also haunt them in their dreams with the absolute truth of your gospel and the mysterious ways of your Spirit.”
“Lord, I ask that you focus your attention on my children and their spouses. Please make divine appointments with other Christians and connect them with our children and their spouses for the purpose of transforming their minds and saving their souls. Do whatever it takes no matter how strange in order to convict their hearts and turn their thoughts away from darkness and into your holy light. I do not need to guess or wonder if this is your will, I know it is. It’s my spiritual responsibility as their earthly parent to intercede and stand in the gap for my children. It is my authority in Christ to approach your throne boldly and lift them up to you. I am confident you will do everything you can to help rescue them from a Satanic world and to reveal your mercy, grace, and love. It is your divine truth that has the power and ability to penetrate the rebellion and pride that holds a person in spiritual bondage. May they be confronted with this absolute truth everywhere they turn and with everyone they listen to. Your perfect truth is the only hope that can set them free from deception and set their feet upon the solid rock of your eternal peace and security. I ask this today in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
Here are a few prayers and scripture promises that we can trust and depend on. If you know of others that would be encouraged to have this letter, please pass it on.
Dear God, you have made it abundantly clear in scripture that you want to save and bless our children and their children. I stand upon the rock of your Word, it is the foundation of my faith. I trust you completely! Your Word opens doors, changes circumstances, moves mountains and accomplishes the impossible! I give my children and grandchildren to you and believe they will be saved and filled with your Spirit in JESUS NAME! “And they said, believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” Acts 16:31.
O Lord Jesus, I have believed in you and you have redeemed me and forgiven me. I believe it is your perfect will to save my children. Please save each and every one of my children for your glory. Raise them up to be mighty warriors in your kingdom for your purpose. Use them as your holy instruments and vessels of honor. Fill them with boldness and courage to stand strong against the enemy and anoint them to speak your truth to the blind and deceived world. “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children” Isaiah 54:13.
O Lord, you have promised that all my children shall be taught by you. Please do this. Please reveal yourself to all my children, and save them. Please fill my children with your great peace. Protect them from the lies and false teachings of humanism. Humble them and speak to their hearts with your supernatural power. “And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord: My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore” Isaiah 59:21.
Heavenly Father, you have promised that your Spirit and your word would never depart from me or my children or their children. Please save each one of my children and grandchildren and descendants and fill each one with your Holy Spirit. And please cause each one to love and delight in your word. Give them joy unspeakable and let them be full of your peace and confidence. “The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you” Psalm 102:28.
O Lord, please establish my children and descendants before you. Teach them your ways, may they be devoted to you. Cause each one to follow you wholeheartedly as remnant disciples all the days of their lives. “Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed” Psalm 112:1-2.
Lord Jesus, I respect you and I always want to have a reverential fear of you. Help me to delight in your commandments more every day. Please cause each of my children and descendants to be Christians and inspire them to be mighty in the land. Please use them to influence thousands for you. “The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!” Proverbs 20:7.
Jesus, thank you that you have helped me to walk in integrity. You promised that if I did this you would bless my children. So I ask you to please bless my children. Surround them with your angels and cover them with your hand. Give them wisdom and understand to know your voice and the courage to obey your commands. Thank you, Lord Jesus. “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread” Psalm 37:25.
Father, I thank you that in all my years you have never forsaken me. Thank you for all the ways you have provided for us and blessed us abundantly. I ask that you would continue to be faithful to my children and also provide for them in every way. Thank you, Lord. “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge” Proverbs 14:26.
Jesus, please help me to listen to you and respect you. Please deliver me from temptation and sin. Help me to have more self-discipline. Please deliver my children from the deception of being proud and high-minded and the temptations of sin and all forms of evil. Thank you that you are our mighty refuge. “I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them” Jeremiah 32:39.
Father, you have given me a new heart. You have promised that if I worship and obey you in reverence it will be for my good and my children’s good. So I pray that you would please do a strong work in my children and all my descendants. Please cause them to fear and obey you for their good and their children after them. May they accomplish your plans and their divine destiny. “Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time” Deuteronomy 4:40.
“Dear God, you have given me a burden to keep your commandments and you’ve helped me by the power of your Spirit. Help me to help them. Please intervene with my children and my grandchildren. Help me to show them and be a witness to your way of living. Anything that I do which is of you – I pray they will never forget. Please engrave your Word upon their hearts and give them a passion to obey you and help them to discover who you are and what you require. I will always pray for them, I will never give up. You have made it abundantly clear that you desire to save them and bring them into your kingdom. I worship you and give you all the praise and glory forever, amen.”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Published 4/28/18 – Part 17
LIVING AN ILLUSION – PART 4
You have just read a possible account of what might happen at the end of life for those who have never asked for forgiveness, yielded their will to God or called upon Jesus Christ to save them. The gospel has been preached and taught all around the world and for the most part, people of every nation has at least heard about Jesus and why He died on the cross. In America, most everyone is acquainted with the gospel and the basic Bible stories, but why is there so many that refuse to believe and serve God in their own personal life? Maybe they are satisfied and convinced they already do. Maybe they are like John and Pat who never really worried that much about it. Whatever the case, every Christian is left with the painful and frustrating facts that we cannot save anyone or even persuade them to accept God’s invitation. We can pray and we must pray because this is where the power comes from. Not the power to force but the power to convict by the holy and perfect Word of God. God knows what it would take to convict someone’s conscience and this is why and how we must pray.
Where is it established that a person must accept, respect or embrace the political, social, and or religious ideas of someone else? Each human being has been given a free-will to manage and comprehend their own opinions and worldviews. We cannot and should not expect to coerce, force, or intimidate a person into believing what they do not agree with. I certainly cannot expect someone to accept the gospel just because I openly declare the plan of salvation. When someone becomes angry and violent toward another individual who simply states this basic principle of truth, it confirms how the human race is possessed with a defiant spirit of pride, manipulation, and control. It also exposes the reality that God is filled with compassion and is reaching out to the world with the gracious offer of eternal salvation. God so loved the world that He sent Jesus, His only Son to die in order that whoever would believe would not suffer destruction but instead could be ransomed forever. You see, all humans are born with this attitude of enmity against the Creator but as a result of our fallen human nature, evil always opposes good. It’s only natural to reject and rebel against the authority of the Almighty which is why God has declared in His Word that we must be born-again. This spiritual metamorphosis includes repentance, renewing our mind, surrendering our will, and being sincerely transformed into a brand new spirit being. This conversion process allows us to experience His grace and the ability to comprehend the true meaning of life. Nothing is more important than redemption.
Political correctness is a cornerstone of the new legal system of social acceptance which demands that everyone must embrace a certain way of thinking. I use the word demand instead of suggesting because of the aggressive and violent agenda for every human being to obey this system. The choice is to either compromise or face the devastating consequences associated with not following its regulations. Those who reject these cultural ultimatums are deemed unfit to function and contribute to the world and are openly discredited and stigmatized in every way possible. The conservative Christian view is now considered to be the poison which contaminates the conscience and our social environment. This modern movement has publicly condemned and discredited the Bible along with God Himself as being racial, hate-filled and discriminating against those who disagree with its philosophy. Yet, according to this new system, progressive thinking “demands” a tolerance and respect for its own secular agenda. This aggressive system of the beast is absolute hypocrisy and deception in the most offensive form.
We can clearly see where the world is headed and according to Biblical prophecy, we know it is not hopeful, to say the least. The few pioneers who in the past have harbored the secrets and mysteries of the demonic world have now morphed into a crusade to literally abolish God from the planet. Christianity has always been a minority and as the population grows larger the smaller the Christian influence. This along with a spiritually lukewarm approach, the younger generations lost respect for following Jesus and was persuaded through public education to embrace humanism. Sadly, this has conceived and nurtured a harsh and calloused culture of politically desensitized zombies. The Creator according to the Bible stands for everything the humanist opposes and now with the floodgates being opened to barbaric independence, we are witnessing the rapid and popular advancement of atheism. Instead of mankind bowing their knee to the maker of heaven and earth, we are seeing human arrogance on steroids as the remaining opportunity for Satan to deceive the masses is coming to an end. The tsunami of wickedness, perversion, debauchery, deception, confusion, chaos, violence and hatred is covering the world in a media frenzy filled with fear, depression, and anxiety. The strategy of evil is simple: confuse the mind – distract the conscience – overwhelm the heart – steal the soul.
It is not a great revelation to realize the world will not embrace Christ. The world has been filled with wickedness since the beginning of time and will continue to grow worse until the end of the age. An important question is how the Christian should approach this environment and the answer is always saturated with an awareness of being led by the Holy Spirit. Listening and obeying the voice of God in all that we do is the perfect resolution for the overcomer. Christians not only have a right and freedom to obey Biblical commands and follow the Creator of the universe, but they also have a responsibility to carry the light of the gospel in hopes that someone might possibly be convicted with the eternal truth which can save a soul. A true Christian is not rebellious or condemning toward the unbeliever, but rather burdened with a sincere sorrow for the lost who without Christ will suffer for all eternity. They know that Jesus is the only way, the only truth, and the only spiritual authority that can open the eyes of the blind and set the captives free from sin. The world is filled with darkness and deception and anyone can only comprehend the true meaning of life when we surrender our heart to Jesus Christ. There are questions that need to answered like how can those who know the truth about judgment, not be alarmed or have a sense of urgency about those who are lost? Does it not haunt us that many of our friends and family members are walking on the rim of hell? Do Christians even believe in hell? Could it be that followers of Christ are so terrified of God’s judgment they allow themselves to be distracted because it makes them feel better to think about other things? Yes, it’s painful to consider that spouses, parents, and children will live and die without accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord, but it is true. All of the spouses, parents, and children who are dead and waiting to be sentenced to the lake of fire are someone’s spouse, parent, and child.
So, how can we conclude this subject? Some might suggest that we talk about something happier that includes heaven and eternal peace and joy. This would certainly be true and it does bring comfort, however, our subject is also not a fabricated story and even though very disturbing, we must face the facts of it being the most heart-breaking and horrifying reality that is actually happening all around us. I have never held a sign on the side of the road that says, “Repent and turn to Jesus today” but I can definitely understand the reason why some do. The burden for the lost can become great and it should bother us and yet the frustration about what to do also can be discouraging. I have always believed that spiritual conversion is directly associated with a “divine appointment” which simply means that God carefully prepares the opportunities for salvation. In this light, evangelism is not a haphazard event but rather divinely directed by the Holy Spirit on the part of the messenger and the listener. God plans these meetings and gives the world a chance the hear the truth and then the decision is left with them. We have the choice to fight against the conviction of truth or surrender our will to His authority. This is not just a one-time confrontation but rather a daily settlement within the deepest part of our conscience and will also play a huge part in our final judgment. We can do many religious deeds and good works and along with our moral views, we can appear to be righteous to all who know us. However, it will always come down to how much of God we wanted in our lives and how much of our carnal nature we were willing to sacrifice. Our salvation is proven by God’s love for us but our relationship with Jesus Christ is demonstrated by our love for Him.
Oh Lord, you are the maker of all things. You created humans and blessed them with everything good and perfect. Your original man and woman made a decision to sin against you and then sadly faced the consequences of failing to obey you. After this terrible fall in the Garden of Eden, all humans thereafter have been born spiritually dead. Each person who has been introduced into the world has a spirit that is lost and in desperate need of being redeemed. Those who hear the gospel and receive it into their life are given the gift of salvation and their spirit is “re-born” into a child of God. His gift of mercy and grace allows them to walk in God’s Spirit on earth and spend eternity in heaven with Him. However, all who fail to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior within this temporary journey are blind and deceived to the absolute truth and the meaning of life. These children of the darkness who refuse and rebel against the love of God will not only miss the peace and joy with God in this life but will also face an eternity of pain, suffering, and regret. Lord, I was born spiritually blind and lost.
Lord, I had no desire to love you or serve you. I did not know you and had no intention to know you. My spirit was hopelessly lost and I did not care about spiritual truth. I was born with a rebellious attitude. It’s normal for me to sin. It’s normal for me to be selfish, hard-hearted, and self-centered. I’m filled with pride within the core of my being and it’s very comfortable for me to live and do whatever feels good. I was born with a carnal nature that hates God. My original nature loves to be independent and to make my own decisions. I do not want anyone to tell me what to do or how to live. My nature is very aggressive and stubborn and will fight anyone to the death who tries to change me. I was born with a free-will. BUT – You looked beyond my fault and saw my need! Somehow you loved me in spite of who I was and with your grace, you redeemed me and transformed me into something completely different. You were willing to take a clump of dirty coal and turn me into a sparkling diamond. You burned away my old self-righteousness and made me pure and clean and righteous by the blood of Jesus! Humans are not robots as you have graciously given to each person the ability to choose how they will live and who they will follow. This also includes the most crucial decision a person will ever make – whether or not they will believe, trust, and follow God. Once a person has heard about God’s great love for them, they will make the daily choice to either embrace Him or reject Him. I was born with an un-renewed mind. My mind is the processing plant that makes all of my decisions and works very closely with my carnal nature. Together, these two are known as co-captains of our ship who determines all the plans and decides which direction we go. These two work directly under their fleshly dictator called general and president free-will.
So, in order for me to be changed and transformed spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, it’s going to require some serious determination, to say the least. The old way of thinking and living must die in order for Christ to become the Lord and King of my conscience. There can only be one master and the serious problem is that we do not want to kill our independence or our fleshly desires. Many are determined to have both world’s at the same time but if we try to bring Jesus into our lives while still serving our old nature, we will not have the capacity to experience the blessing of His presence or any type of spiritual victory. This attempt at living in the middle of the road is often associated with the deception of a religious lifestyle. The painful reality is that attempting to mix Jesus and the devil together is actually living in a denial of hating God and being an enemy against our Creator. The only way to truly walk holy with the Lord and invite Him to control us completely is to yield and sacrifice our will to His will and then learn to sincerely hate sin. To be an overcomer for Jesus we must abhor sin to the point of being filled with a spiritual sorrow. We can develop a reverential fear and trembling when we realize how much our sin hurts and disappoints God. Unless we are nauseated with all sin, we will continue playing games with manipulation, denial, arrogance, and deception. Sadly, this way of living is considered a lukewarm lifestyle and also one that does not have a happy ending. Yes, there is grace, but this is not an excuse to continue living in carnality. Yes, there is mercy, but God in His perfect judgment must require an accountability from us in order to preserve His divine truth. Yes, there is His sovereignty, but this cannot annul or overturn His eternal Word of wisdom and authority. Yes, there is forgiveness, but this privilege is more than saying we are sorry. True repentance is turning away from our sin and never allowing it to snare us or control us again. As we can see, there are many interpretations of the Christian life because our flesh and the devil are doing everything possible to distract us from the truth. We are our own worst enemy and until we come face to face with this revelation, we will continue LIVING AN ILLUSION. We are either dwelling in the holy of holies or we are not. He is either our Lord of all or not our Lord at all.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 3 OF THE SHORT STORY – “LIVING AN ILLUSION”
Again, the silence was deafening. They slowly began to walk together and to John, it felt like a condemned convict being led toward his cell on death row. He gritted his teeth and winced as if he was in excruciating pain as he was already recalling his old life and how he turned over his decision-making process to his carnal nature. He could have tried harder to follow Jesus but he just didn’t want to. He could have been as close to God as he wanted but he loved the flesh much more. He could have turned away from the temptations of the world and cried out to the Lord, but he just did not want to do it! And now…no do-overs, no second chances…he was going to hell. He is now reaping exactly what he had planted. If he could only go back and warn everyone. If he could only have a chance to explain that being a Christian is not what everyone thinks it is. He would stand on the street corner and beg people to repent. He would fall on his knees and pray day and night if only he had another chance. He began to weep and cry out as he grabbed Cassiel by the arm. It was no use, everything was settled, nothing added and nothing taken away. Cassiel pulled him loose and said they needed to keep going.
Continuing further down the corridor, the atmosphere began to change as it was becoming darker and more difficult to see up ahead. The air was transforming from what was a fresh aroma of roses to now more of a stench that smelled like something burning. It wasn’t long before John realized this offensive stench smelled like charcoal and the misty fog was actually a growing density of smoke. The temperature was also noticeably becoming warmer which made him feel nauseous and fearful. Cassiel slowed to a stop and politely stated this is where they would separate. John’s breaths were ragged and had increased like he had been jogging, “Where are you going? with a sense of panic.” Cassiel turned and looked directly at him, “I must return to earth for there are many more souls getting ready to cross over. I’m going to help them and be with them just like I was with you. Continue in this direction and you will eventually be greeted by another guide named Procel who will lead you the rest of the way. “Goodbye John.” “Wait, do not leave me!” Please, I’m afraid, it’s becoming darker and the smoke is taking my breath. In the distance, John could now faintly hear what sounded like people crying and screaming in agony. Louder he called out, “Oh No…please…I beg you to please help me!” Cassiel walked away and quickly disappeared in the smoke. John was now all alone surrounded in a cloud of gasses and vapors that reeked of brimstone as it seemed like he was standing at the edge of a volcano. Everything was quiet except for the crying voices which seemed to be coming from all directions. His thoughts painted a horrible picture of people burning and suffering but yet not being able to die. He remembered the scripture that mentioned the rich man who lifted up his eyes being tormented in the flames of hell and how he begged Abraham to send Lazarus the beggar back to earth to warn his five brothers. Abraham told the rich man if the world will not listen to God’s Word they would not listen to someone who comes back from the dead.
Suddenly, he could hear footsteps, and out of the fog, there appeared an image of a disturbing creature walking toward him. This must be the escort Cassiel was talking about. John could sense a dark presence as the demon stood in front of him. With eyes boring a hole through him, he was motionless except for a penetrating and arrogant sinister smile. John was trembling in fear as the creature was more fearful than any horror movie he could imagine. It had four faces of different animal-like characteristics and the face staring at him reminded had the features of a chimpanzee. as it was tall and dressed in battle gear that included leather overlaid with chains and a large belt of iron plates around the waist. The fallen warrior was very hairy with tall boots with many buckles and had large calloused hands. With an angry and irritating voice, he spoke with authority and harshness that John imagined a cruel prison guard would sound like. “Come…NOW!” With a terrifying explosion of laughter, Procel bellowed, “It only gets worse from here!” He took a couple of steps into the darkening decent then turned and aggressively motioned for John to come along. John could not move as his legs had become stiff and his mind was racing. He thought about running the other way, but where would he go? In the blink of an eye, the hideous creature reached out with force and took hold of his arm and began to pull him. John began to scream as loud as he could, “Help me, somebody…please help me! Noooooo…please…Jesus help me…please.” Soon they both disappeared from sight and for a few moments you could still faintly make out John’s hysterical cries but after a while, it blended in with all the other voices.
Cassiel was already back on earth and was now patiently standing in the corner of a dilapidated nursing home waiting for the last breath of an elderly lady named Pat. A nurse was busy with the routine monitoring as one of the staff stepped in the doorway. “I believe we should call the family and the chaplain.” As the young orderly was heading out into the hall, she turned around and asked, “Have you ever seen an angel in the room of someone dying?” While writing on the chart and without looking up, “In over 30 years, I’ve seen some very strange things. It’s very common for someone in the dying process, even if they in a deep coma, to reach out toward a corner of the ceiling like they see something. I believe the death angels do come for us when it’s our time.” The young girl paused for a second and then quietly slipped out. Pat had taken a turn for the worse overnight and she was rapidly deteriorating as there was no doubt the end was very near.
Very similar to John, Pat also considered herself to be an average person that had lived a normal life. She had graduated college, married, had a couple of kids, cooked and cleaned and all those things a regular wife and mother does. She had visited the church for special occasions but had never really thought that much about spiritual things and honestly felt that what she believed was no one’s business. She saw herself as being decent, clean, well mannered, and always thought that religious views should never be talked about in public. She could care less what other people thought and considered her own views no one’s business. She never felt the necessity to read the Bible or pray and rather received everything she felt she needed to know about the world from the news. Her husband had passed away a few years earlier, and her own health issues had multiplied after experiencing several debilitating strokes. Sure, she had heard about Jesus and the story about Him being on the cross and all that but never really entertained the idea of investigating it or even overly concerned about it. Her honest conclusions were to be cautious around extreme religious people because they were suspicious kooks. Besides, in her mind, most religious people were hypocrites and probably more dangerous than anyone else in our society. She had formed her own ideas and thought that if there really is a God, He will do whatever He wants in the end so why should she worry about it? She used to tell her friends that living and dying was like rolling the dice or playing the lottery as some will win and some will lose. Instead of researching the Bible, she built her own persuasions and convictions which included always trusting her tuition and depending on her own common sense. Besides, she was educated and intelligent, and with science declaring that everything started from nothing, it appeared to her this “God thing” was mostly an emotional folklore. She had taught her kids to be strong and independent but intentionally neglected to guide them to Jesus because she thought they would be made fun of in the modern culture. The same was true about missing a wonderful opportunity to teach her grandchildren about God. For unbelievers, it’s only logical if God is not a part of their life, they will have no desire to tell anyone about the Bible. Yes, every now and then she would hear someone say, “What if there is a God, and what if He’s right?” But, she would just laugh it off as another nut case trying to beg for money or promote a political agenda. As her breathing was becoming shallower, one of her last fading thoughts was recalling a recent magazine article which declared that everyone could be happy whatever situation they were facing. It did not mention God but did express that if a person could just think good and positive thoughts, anyone could live in true peace and contentment. The heart of what was deemed an inspirational message was that everything will somehow work out in the end. Another deceptive presentation of a humanistic philosophy that is popular with our human nature but very offensive to God Himself. “It’s all going to be alright” sounded wonderful to her at the time and now with the same sense of false security that maybe heaven was like a large casino and there was a chance that she could slip past God and sneak in through the back door, she closed her eyes and hoped for the best.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Republished – 4/14/18
LIVING AN ILLUSION – PART 2
John had considered himself an average person and with all due respect, this was a sad but accurate description of his life. He never really accomplished anything exciting, significant or notable but rather lived a melancholy, laid-back style that was shy, quiet and low-key. His normal routine was going to his mundane place of employment which he hated, coming home, eating dinner, watching TV until he could not hold his eyes open and then going to bed. Now when it came to sports, he was much more enthusiastic and his hobbies and were unashamedly high on his list of true loves. His fate had allowed him to grow up in the twentieth century in the United States where he had the opportunity to be educated, land a decent job, have a loving wife and raise two children, but he never realized what a blessing this was. To categorize his social status, you could say he was raised middle-class and had maintained a mediocre level of success considering he usually did just enough to get by. He mowed his lawn, kept his vehicles washed and seemed to get along with most everyone. On the outside, you could say that he was a decent fellow but he also had a short fuse when things did not go his way. He had been a rebellious teen but finally settled down and became satisfied with being in debt and living check to check like most everyone else he knew. With much support from a hard-working wife, they raised their three children and then he eventually retired after 40 years in the insurance business. He went to the doctor regularly but did not embrace the idea of eating healthy and exercising seriously, again like most everyone else. Cheeseburgers and milkshakes were his ideas of a wonderful and balanced example of nutrition. When he was in his early sixties, it was discovered among other serious health issues, he had developed a serious cancer and after some aggressive surgery and chemo treatments, he was in very poor condition. He lived a couple more years in a weakened state and then to everyone’s surprise, at 67 years old, he had a massive heart-attack and died suddenly. A few people came to the funeral and the minister did the best he could to create a legacy of integrity and admiration. Several times it was affirmed how much he loved his family and how he would give anyone in need the shirt off his back. They all enjoyed and laughed at the stories of how he loved to eat and what a devoted sports fan he was. Of course, it was mentioned that he was now standing in line at the all you can eat buffet in heaven and what a great time he was having with those who had gone on before. The usual prayer and sad song concluded the service and after a short presentation at the grave to say their final farewells, everyone went to the vehicles and drove away. It’s sad but true, after the initial shock of the death of a loved one, we all discover the painful reality that the world keeps spinning and life goes on. We are born and we die but it seems we just do not realize it’s what goes on in-between these two events that will make a difference in the next life. Denial is actually a deceptive and very dangerous “happy place.”
When it came to John’s spiritual life, I guess you could say this was another part of his journey that was average. His enthusiasm about the gospel and the spiritual world could be compared to learning about George Washington and the development of our American government. John had gathered facts but he had no personal connection or relationship with God Himself. He believed there was a God and visited the church occasionally in his life, but never really felt the conviction to consistently pray or learn more about the Bible or the meaning of life. He thought it was normal to not worry about dying and eternity or become involved with serving the Lord, and the sad part is – it is very common. He had formed his own worldviews and concluded that if a someone believed that God was real, they had nothing to worry about and everything would be alright in the end. In fact, he had read somewhere that maybe everyone would go to heaven because God is filled with love and mercy and did not want anyone to be lost. He assumed that every person who was a morally decent human being no matter what they believed would be given a certain amount of points or some type of credit especially if they were nice and tried to help others. (Now that is a comforting and peaceful thought. Too bad it’s not true). He just guessed that God graded on a huge curve, looked over the silly stuff and that He would surely take many other things into consideration within His final judgment. To be honest, he always thought that religion was for sissies and old women. He made fun of people and called them holy rollers, and thought it was embarrassing to profess you were a Christian in public. He did not want anyone to laugh at him or think he was emotionally and educationally weak or a nut case. Besides, he was a tough guy, always trying to be cool, a progressive thinker and proud of his macho independence.
“So, if you are a messenger, I assume you are an angel?” Cassiel stood before him and replied, “Is that what you think I am?” John was noticing how peculiar and unnerving this being really was. He could not even tell if it was a he or she, but rather its striking image reminded him of a marble statue that spoke wisely and could move gracefully, yet more strange than anything he could have dreamed. “I am probably not what you think I am. Not all “angels” are the same.” Cassiel stood at attention like a soldier as John kept staring. The being knew that John had many questions – they all do. After an awkward silence, John spoke up, “So…what happens next? Where are the streets of gold, the cities and rivers and God’s throne and all that?” Cassiel turned and gave him a serious look and then glanced out into the distance without any change in facial expression. His voice broke the anticipation, “The heaven you have heard about is certainly real and will be unveiled in the future but it is reserved for a very small remnant of saints. You are presently in a holding place that some languages on earth refer to as Sheol. This is where all souls which have crossed over are gathered to wait for the final judgment. Sheol is divided into two separate places. God’s children are led into paradise while those who are lost are sent to Hades. There are levels and degrees of punishment for those who are in Hades just as there are levels and degrees of reward for those who are in paradise. Eventually, the saints will stand before The Lord of Lords at the judgment seat of Christ where all of their deeds will be considered and the lost will stand before Him at the Great White Throne judgment to be sentenced.” All at once, John did not have a very good feeling about this. He could feel himself becoming tense and a strong sensation of dread washed over him like an emotional tsunami. “Now wait a minute, you seem to be giving me some negative vibes here. Since there are only two eternal destinations…which one will I be a part of?” Cassiel once again stood motionless and the silence was uncomfortable, to say the least. “I’m afraid I have bad news…I’m sorry. I’ve been instructed to escort you to Hades.” The words seemed to freeze in the air and then drop like a stack of china plates. It was as if someone had punched him hard in the gut and knocked the breath out of him. He was paralyzed, not knowing what to say, he could not think or move. The silence was deafening, his ears were ringing and voice cracking as he could barely utter the words, “there must be some type of mistake.” Cassiel’s answer was steady and confident, “there is no mistake.”
Stunned beyond belief, John somehow managed to gain some composure and sheepishly wondered out loud why he had not received any type of consideration for the good things he had done. He finally spoke out, “I believe in God…I was a decent person…I never killed anyone or committed any heinous crime or hurt a child. How can this be happening? Surely some of my good deeds are worth something, I helped people, I went to church a few times, I even gave twenty dollars to Saint Judes Hospital!” Cassiel looked around as if waiting for someone and then hesitantly responded, “John, I’ve watched you since you were born, and you’re right, you’ve been an average normal person, but being decent has nothing to do with going to heaven. The Bible carefully explains about taking up your cross and following the Lamb but you refused to embrace any level of dedication to Jesus. You never accepted Him, you were never born-again and you never had a real personal relationship with God. You willingly allowed your mind to be deceived as it was easy and pleasurable to live according to what you wanted to do and now… you are facing the consequences. I must tell you the truth…it’s too late for you. You will spend eternity without God’s presence because you did not love Him on earth. Your final destination will be filled with regret and you will be reminded of your selfishness and rebellion while you suffer in a place of darkness and pain. God loved you and Jesus died for you but you rejected salvation. Your final answer was to walk away and now you will remember this forever. Only those who choose to surrender their will on earth and sacrifice their life because they sincerely love God and desire to know Him personally are invited to live in heaven with God forever. Only those who have been washed in the blood of Jesus and have been truly born-again are rewarded with eternal life. You never allowed yourself to be convicted with fear and trembling about what true salvation really meant. You never had a fervent passion to develop a spiritual intimacy with Jesus. You never wanted to learn how to pray or worship in Spirit and truth or had a desire to know what the Bible required for you to do. The Holy Spirit tried to warn you hundreds of times that without self-discipline and a determination to have God as the highest priority, a person cannot walk in God’s Spirit or live in His presence. Yes, there are huge masses of people who are religious and spiritually lukewarm but sadly, there is only a very small group that will be given access to heaven.” Out of desperation, John felt like he was on trial and needed to present some type of critical evidence which could overturn this magnificent presentation but he could not think of anything that could justify his earthly life of sin and reverse this depressing verdict. “What about mercy?” John pleaded, “What about God’s love and compassion?” Cassiel continued, “The grace of God sent Jesus to the cross to save whosoever will, however, this grace does not mean that mankind can live however they want. Grace is the opportunity to be forgiven of sin and welcomes the individual to become accountable by inviting Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Master. This means inviting Christ to sit on the throne of their heart and freely giving Him control over everything they think and do. Unfortunately, this also explains why hardly no one will agree to these terms. Everyone wants a Savior but only a few want a Lord which includes the holy vow to completely lay down their life for Him. Yes, God loves everyone and His mercy endures forever but how many will sincerely worship and love Him? He proved His love on the cross, but how many will prove their love for Him with absolute obedience?”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Excerpts from the book – LIVING AN ILLUSION – PART 1
We have heard and been taught that every person which has ever lived will someday stand before God and have a discussion about the life they lived. Some will argue and deny that knowing God personally is hardly a summary of the meaning of life, but for the most part, the majority will agree this is true to some extent. The default life is an existence that requires no spiritual discipline, sacrifice, or yielding of the will. This is a worldview that does not have to do anything but relax and be perfectly content to float down the river so to speak, to enjoy all that life has to offer and take a dangerous chance about God and the next dimension. On the other hand, the Christian life is about searching and learning what God requires and being willing to accept the call to become a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. This life-changing decision has everything to do with yielding our mind, body, and soul to the Creator of heaven, earth and everything in-between. We also may agree this is definitely worth considering since He has promised with all certainty that He is The way, The truth, and The life. Many Bible scholars are convinced there are two divisions of judgments and both are directly associated with whether the individual falls into the categories of what is referred to as saved or lost. Even though there are many different levels of good and bad, the basic concept describes a certain number of souls who are spiritually born-again and are declared as being a child of the Most High OR on the other side of the fence where we have those who reject the invitation to become a member of God’s family and thus are referred to as spiritually blind. The deeds that were committed or omitted in both camps are directly associated to how everyone will be judged and are all held accountable to the sovereign decisions that only God has the perfect wisdom to address.
With many years of listening and observing not only the world but also within my own life, I have arrived at the conclusion that I am just as much of a philosopher as I am a minister. I see myself as a seeker of truth and a messenger but also feel intimidated to not only wade into the deeper waters of reason and purpose but as a teacher that is introducing and leading others into the way of Christ. I am a sinner just like everyone else but also live according to the promise of God’s Word which invites me to embrace Him by faith and allow His grace to save me. To say the least, I am grateful, to say that He looked beyond my fault and saw my need. Besides the Bible, I have also read the thoughts of many leaders and noticed that individuals who are committed to their calling are serious-minded, bold, and disciplined, yet at the same time filled with sorrow and compassion over a fallen humanity. I believe that Jesus was filled with patience and love while also being honestly blunt and the huge difference is that He was not a hypocrite as humans tend to be. I do not desire to be remembered as someone who could talk about God all day but could not live for Him for even an hour. What do you want to be remembered for? Yes, I’ve made terrible mistakes and taken some hard falls and it’s only with humility that is given by His endless mercy and that I can live and move and have my being. I proclaim my righteousness is as a filthy rag and if I have accomplished anything in my life that has eternal value, it was manifested through me by the one and only Holy Almighty Father. What is my message? To cry from the housetops and stand in the middle of a busy highway if need be to warn a captive world being held in bondage about how Christ loves them and desires to set them free from sin. To plead with all whom God will arrange with divine appointments about the dangers of accepting the default life and becoming satisfied to trade seventy or eighty years on earth for an eternity of terrible pain and disappointment. The red devil with a pitchfork is not a joke and neither is the holiness of God who has always demanded honor, reverence, and respect. His offer for all to embrace His divine blueprint is the greatest gesture of compassion the world has ever known.
It’s no secret that seekers of truth have lots of difficult questions. I guess the most important question at the end of life is how much truth did the seeker find and more importantly how much of it did they comprehend and demonstrate? It’s been said that knowledge is merely the accumulation of informational facts but wisdom is the “understanding” of knowledge. Again, we use the idea of levels to describe just how far and how deep we will venture in our quest to know the mysteries and secrets about the meaning of our existence. The passion to discover these revelations seem to only matter to a small amount of the population which is peculiar in itself, but nevertheless, we can agree as the fictional X-file agent Fox Mulder used to say, “the truth IS out there.” Speaking of truth, with the help of technology we can receive a constant flow of communication from the world at the push of a button and most consider this as a blessing. However, what the masses do not realize is that all events are mixed with opinionated commentary that conforms knowledge from their own personal perspective. In this light, things are not always the way they seem, and thus the critical need for spiritual discernment. By the way, it appears that humans love to learn the dirt about others and then proceed to judge and counsel them according to their way of thinking, but are not willing to examine their own heart and accept their own advice. It’s much easier to tell everyone else what to do instead of dealing with our own failures and embracing the sacrifice of self-discipline. Prayer, for example, has been suggested as the true spiritual thermometer of the soul. Charles Spurgeon is quoted, “Beware I pray thee, of presuming that thou art saved. If there be no vital change, no inward godliness; if there be no love to God, no prayer, no work of the Holy Spirit, then proclaiming I am saved is but thine own assertion, and it may delude, but it will not deliver thee.”
This fictional dialogue between a man named John and a spiritual being named Cassiel is not meant to be condemning or fearful but rather as something to seriously consider. I call this a work of fiction but it could very well happen. The doctrine that we are held accountable for our actions is not a strange or unreasonable idea but actually one of the basic fundamental pillars of the Christian faith. We can only speculate what happens after we die or what types of conversations we might encounter, but whatever the case, we do imagine we will have access to someone in this time and place of transition. It could be that angels escort the saved and fallen angels are sent to escort the lost, but we are not sure. We also have a brief example in Matthew chapter seven and verses 22 and 23 where Jesus describes how people will someday try to convince Him of all the good religious things they have done and He concludes bluntly that He was not impressed. In fact, “depart from Me, I never knew you” indicates there are many who are confused about the difference between religion and relationship. We are not redeemed because we scored a certain amount of points or were a generally good person. It is a sad and sobering reality that many seemingly decent and somewhat religious people will surprisingly find themselves in hell. With a world of reasons and excuses, we can know that mankind has never taken Jesus seriously and only a few have been willing to surrender their will completely to Him. The full gospel of Christ is offensive to our human nature and if presented any other way, it is being distorted. It’s also why religion is so popular and how we must not be afraid to warn against it. The gospel has been remodeled to please the masses and has softened the burden for lost souls by talking about how much God wants to make us rich. Is this disturbing? Yes. Shame on the Christian that is more interested in the comforts and pleasures of this world while millions of lost souls are falling into an eternal hell. If we are NOT disturbed and convicted about people dying without Jesus – something is deeply wrong.
So, will we really have a chance to sit down with a spiritual being and have a friendly chat immediately after we die? Sorry, but again we do not really know. There are a number of people who have had near-death experiences that contained some interesting adventures but maybe they were dreams or hallucinations. Others have claimed to come back from the dead, but most scholars will agree that once a person crosses over into the next life, they cannot return. Of course, we have the mystics who can channel spirit guides through the portals and dimensions of the netherworld and psychics who believe in reincarnation and use crystal balls and seances to summon the deceased that have not yet crossed over, however, Hebrews Chapter 9 and verse 27 says that it is appointed unto humans ONCE to die and then the judgment. If anyone has been granted the opportunity to cycle multiple times they would have to die more than once and according to the Bible this is impossible. In this light, we can know that any familiar spirits which can be conjured are actually familiar spirits (demons – fallen angels) posing as someone from the grave in order to deceive. Luke chapter 16 states that souls cannot pass from Hades to paradise because a great gulf or barrier prevents them from intermingling. I personally believe there is a similar gulf that does not allow a soul to come back to earth after they are deceased UNLESS there is a specific reason that God would allow. On an interesting note, we read where the rich man that was in Hades could see into the realm of paradise where Abraham and Lazarus were but Lazarus could not see him. This would be similar to a one-way mirror. It also creates a speculation about whether the lost who have died can possibly see into the earth and be reminded (and tormented) of not only their loved ones who are living without God but also how they neglected the opportunity to be ransomed by God’s love and give their life to Christ. May the Holy Spirit speak to our heart as we sit back and listen to this conversation.
John had been declining for a few weeks and was in a hospital room hooked up to wires and tubes and machines. Hospice had been called in and he was now receiving a regular dose of morphine every two hours. Sometimes he could hear muffled voices and could see lights and shadows when he would try to open his eyes but mostly everything seemed blurred and confusing. He knew (somehow) that he was slipping away from this life and could sense his heart and body simply letting go. His mind was swirling but all at once sensed something unusual. He opened his eyes as wide as he could and it seemed he could make out a figure in the corner of the room next to the ceiling. It was a man that was coming into the room and was just quietly floating in the air. John blinked a few times and tried to focus in spite of the drugs. “Could this be real” he asked himself? He slowly closed his eyes but discovered he could still see and maybe even better than ever. John noticed the presence was now reaching out his hand down to him and he did not really know why, but with all of his strength, he tried to raise his hand up to this stranger. Suddenly, he could no longer hear the swishing of his heartbeat in his ears and also noticed he had no power or need to breathe. Without speaking, John could communicate and said, “Where am I?” He was in a daze, looking around like he had just awakened from a dream. “What is happening…who are you?” “Hello John, my name is Cassiel and I’m a messenger. You’re spirit is separating from your body and now you are going through the process of discovering who you are and where you are going.” John now had a firm hold of his hand and was being lifted through the ceiling and on up through the top of the building into the clouds. He kept going higher and faster and could recognize that his senses were more increased than even when he lived in his old body.
It seemed he could hear in all directions what was being said before Cassiel could even say it. The sounds within this environment reminded him of huge Ocean waves crashing on the shore and he could see trails of colors he had never imagined. Everything was like being transparent, but highly detailed, layers of depth more advanced and complete than his senses could describe. He could literally see the wind as the air was wavy like the heat coming off a hot pavement. In the distance, he could make out what appeared to be explosions of light and streams of rainbows that were so vividly bright and clean. The only thing he could relate this to is the feeling of being underwater and at the same time engulfed and saturated with an overwhelming brilliance of wonderment, beauty, and awe. John was speechless as they traveled, it felt like a long time but there was no way to tell as this dimension seemed to be nothing like the realm of earth. When they finally began to slow down, it seemed to be an appropriate opportunity to say something about what had just happened. “I remember you…I saw you right before I…left. You were reaching out your hand. I looked down and could see my body and then as I lifted my head, I was flying so fast, like at the speed of light. It felt like I was falling forward through the universe…past the sun and the stars…then I heard what sounded like loud claps of thunder that was vibrating the air along with the echoes of many voices. Eventually, I could see a tiny light far away and I knew I was being drawn toward an opening, like the end of a tunnel that was a million years away. You were holding on to me.” John stopped for a moment and with quivering lips mumbled… “I died.” With a long pause he spoke in a monotone voice, “I’m dead.” Cassiel had heard all of this so many times before yet calmly but firmly replied, “Yes, John, you did pass away, and now you have crossed over into eternity.”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Part 13 – Published 3/31/18
SPEAKING TO THE MOUNTAINS
Soon after Jesus had resurrected from the grave, we find a beautiful story found in John chapter 20 that is a wonderful example of how much God loves us and wants to encourage us. Here is a true account of the friends and family of Christ that were gathered together after His crucifixion, grieving and mourning over His death when all of a sudden He appears in their midst! I’m sure they are awestruck beyond words. He stretches out His hands and reveals the wound in His side, and of course, they are overjoyed to see Him. He spoke peace unto them and breathed on them and filled them with the Holy Spirit. Allow me to say, that even in the times when we are struggling to believe, He will make the extra effort to find us and prove to us that He personally cares about us. Thomas was not there that night and when he was told that Jesus had visited them, he said that until he could touch His scars, he could not accept it. After eight days they have gathered together again, except this time Thomas was there, and Jesus miraculously appears again. He told Thomas to reach out and touch the scars, and he did. Jesus said, “Be not faithless, but believing,” and Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God.”
How many times have you needed the Lord to inject faith into your doubt? It’s no secret – having faith is difficult. However, when Jesus intervenes – nothing is ever the same! Most of the time we do not believe because we simply cannot see Him or what He is doing. By the way, Thomas is not the only person who doubts – He’s a perfect example of you and I. It’s much easier to believe when we can see God and understand every detail of His plan but this is usually not the way it works. Faith is walking over invisible bridges. Hebrews 11:1 in the NIV says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” which requires some deeper thinking. Faith is paying our bills or our tithes when we only have a small amount in our bank account. Faith is resting in God and having a sincere confidence that His Word will never fail. Going back to our original story, in verse 29 we read, “Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Yes, it’s very difficult to trust the Lord when all we can see is discouragement and hopelessness but let’s remember when Almighty GOD speaks to the storms, they have no choice but to obey His commands. He is always with you on the front-line of battle and the devils and demons must bow before Him and submit to His authority! Paul and Silas were being held in prison, yet began to worship. Why? Because they had JOY in knowing that God was on their side. The Bible says that joy is a spiritual strength that is NOT confined to a geographic location, a mood, or an emotion – it’s activated when the determination to believe God becomes stronger than the temptation to doubt Him! They made a CHOICE to praise God because they loved Him and trusted Him and this opportunity is available to anyone!
Faith declares that I will trust God no matter what happens because He always has my best interest in mind. Hopelessness is a mental decision from the default nature that occurs when people only have confidence in their own decisions. This is where religion becomes confused with a relationship. Religion has never helped anyone because it is based on a physical and mental form of traditions and legalism. You see, human intellect, impressive education, riches, church buildings, rituals, or political power cannot redeem a soul or bring true spiritual peace. Only God can change a mind and transform a life and our relationship with Him is the meaning of life. Nothing is more powerful than His authority, and He knows that if we will place our life completely in His hands and develop our faith, In the name of Jesus we can speak to the mountains in our life, and they will be removed. His perfect will is for us to follow Him, trust Him, love and worship Him and obey His voice in ALL things.
I realize that church leaders must be transparent with their feelings because if the “human factor” did not come through with our personalities, we would all seem very robotic. But at the same time many feel pressured or forced to be “bouncy happy” all the time because they want to keep everyone pumped up, and fear if they do not demonstrate a positive image, they will appear weak and discourage others. Learning how to be “real” is like walking an emotional tight wire, and people need to remember that we all still live in a fragile human housing. The role of a pastor is not easy and deserves more prayer and less criticism. Years ago I attended a meeting of pastors that were discussing the trials and challenges of ministry, and instead of being excited, I was disappointed because they were not wearing their “super-hero” capes. I listened as these leaders shared their burdens and worries and questions about church growth and how to get people to embrace their vision. As they talked about their problems with everything from excessive debt to people being unfaithful, I sensed a heaviness of negativity and defeat. When it was over, I was left with a feeling exhausted and a lack of hope for the local church. I was not encouraged, inspired, or built up in any way, yet was surrounded by God’s warriors that were supposed to be filled with God’s power and faith. I felt there had been a mistake because I thought I was going to a celebration of spiritual victory with the generals, but instead had been sitting in on a religious pity party. I was saying to myself, that everyone knows there are problems in the church, but pastors are supposed to have the answers! What I was NOT considering is that generals need places to vent their frustrations and struggles and a safe environment would be with those who understand what they are going through. Local assemblies have teachers, counselors, associate pastors, administrators, singers, musicians, superintendents, elders, and deacons, but none of these are actually responsible for knowing the direction of the church because they do not “literally” lead it. Of course, Christ is the head of the church, but He appoints the “under Shepherd” to relay His messages and care for the sheep. Let us all remember that the pastor is hated by the devil and wears the brightest bulls-eye on his back.
It’s true, the supernatural gift and office for pastors is to know God’s vision for the assembly and lead His soldiers into the battle! But what I personally failed to experience in that room was compassion for those who stand on the front lines. These men were letting down their guard in front of me. They felt secure with each other and used this time as a place of refuge away from the war, to share their wounds, experiences, and open hearts. I did not adjust to what was happening and was judging too harshly. They are the ones that get up in the middle of the night and kneel on cold hospital floors praying for the sick. They hold people’s hands who are passing on to the next life. They are the ones that counsel the messes that others have made and go inside the prisons to preach the kingdom message. They carry the worries and stresses that no one else knows because many people have shared their secret lives with them and trust them to keep it confidential. While none of us, including pastors, are to live in a world of depression, let us also remember that it’s okay to be honest with the ones we trust and who care for our souls. Overcomers carry burdens, but they also learn to leave those burdens at the cross because they are very heavy and can hinder our liberty to live in joy. May we remember that as servants of the Most High, ministers feel the same pain and heartache that everyone does, and there is no condemnation for being transparent. It is not an option but critical that we all learn how to encourage ourselves and know the source of our strength. Overcomers learn that qualities like fortitude, perseverance, and integrity are formed in times of great difficulty. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (II Corinthians 4:8-9).
Father, I desperately need you to fill me with your PASSION. Make me hungry for your presence, and help me to develop an awareness of your voice within my heart. If I do not have your FIRE, I will never come out of my comfort zone. If I do not have your love working in my conscience, I am nothing. Break me and melt me so that I can be molded into your image. Do a strong work in my heart that will literally CHANGE the way I think. I am weak Lord; please give me compassion and a burden for the lost. I need your faith and strength and desire to become the witness you are waiting for me to be. Use me in your fields that are white with harvest. Pour out your Spirit on me I pray. In your holy name, I pray, Amen.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 12 – PUBLISHED 3/24/18
WHERE ARE YOU IN THE MASTER’S PLAN?
We have been given God’s promises and instructions that explain how we are to react to the world’s system and how to believe that He will create and provide the miracles we need. But for the most part, we have become a spoiled generation that has never known what it means to have a serious need except in a crisis. This mindset has put many of God’s people into a self-induced coma of relaxation and comfort. May we not lean on our own understanding or trust in our own strength, politics, talent, logic, or education when it comes to being a last-day overcomer, but rather let us simply listen to God’s counsel and then pray for the courage to walk by faith and accomplish HIS will. If we are going to be provided for like Elijah at the brook and the woman with the measure of oil, we must learn how to not only be an encouragement to others but (by faith) encourage our own hearts. If we cannot believe God to heal our sore toe today, what makes us think we will be able to believe Him for a loaf of bread in the day of famine?
There is no reason to be stressed or worried about what man can do because we have been promised that our direction and encouragement will be given to those who seek and TRUST the Almighty. “The Lord is near unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him: He also will hear their cry and will save them” (Psalm 18-19). He will lead us in the revelation of His Word, He will supply prophecies, visions, dreams, wonders, miracles, and signs as He guided and provided for the children of Israel. Trust that He will never fail and that His Word is TRUE forever. The Lord said in Acts chapter 2 verses 16-21, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it will come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they will prophecy: and I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon to blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass that whosoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So many today are dependent on other people but we must learn how to walk by ourselves with only holding on to His hand. We must learn how to hear God’s voice for ourselves. We must develop a spiritual confidence in God and not be afraid to make decisions based solely on His voice even if everyone we know turns away from His truth. If we do not start learning today, it will be too late to develop an understanding when the world begins to shake.
Is it not true that God has always been trying to get our attention? He is doing everything He can to tell us (and the world) that we need to allow Him to OPEN the eyes of our hearts so that we can learn how to live for Him. Of course, the devil wants to keep these revelations a secret because he realizes they are military strategies that can tear down his spiritual strongholds and defeat the powers of darkness. The devil and all of his minions are on “high alert” to prevent God’s overcomers from being enthused and motivated! Remember the story found in I Samuel chapter 30 about David and his army when they returned home to Ziklag and found the city had been burned and all of their families had been taken captive by the Amalekites. Verse 4 says, “Then David and all the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept until they had no more power to weep.” But notice in the last part of verse 6, “but David encouraged (strengthened) himself in the Lord his God.” We MUST learn how to strengthen ourselves in the Lord our God! The ones that are involved with ministering God’s Kingdom will not always feel like standing strong or being electrified with an overflowing current of excitement. These are the times when we need to have a private consultation in front of the mirror and lay down God’s law to our will! We are being called to listen to King Jesus as He inspires us to confess out loud HIS TRUTH over ourselves and our situations and then make the decision to live it!
You see, the old will and nature are directly associated with the old way of thinking. However, when our minds have been renewed in Christ, our will MUST take its rightful place in submission to Jesus. We can demand, confess, and command all we want, but until this structure of order has been established, the process will not function properly. This is the heart of the Christian life and also what many churches are avoiding to teach. If a church is not instructing the people about this revelation, they are actually hurting and hindering the spiritual advancement of God’s people. Where is the seeking out our own salvation with fear and trembling? All the rituals, programs, and traditions that have become a comfortable part of our church experiences will only amount to a comfortable social gathering unless we embrace the revelation of yielding our will. We know how strong this religious spirit can be because we saw a glimpse of it when Jesus personally came against it. Remember, the people cried give us Barabbas and our will is constantly crying the same thing. Our depraved nature is a big spoiled baby that demands and dares anything or anyone (especially God) to disrupt its pleasures and desires. Very few individuals including most of the religious world have ever made the decision to fight and resist this bondage. When the “will” controls the person there is NO way that Jesus is their Lord. This is such a serious subject and yet many churches have made the decision to feed the beast instead of destroying it. We must die in order to live but the “will” is controlling the pulpits. Christians do NOT want to hear about dying to the flesh! They want to hear about how wonderful they are and how God wants to give them their hearts desires. Religious people will fight and kill you over their traditions because their views are more important than having a personal relationship with God. If all attendees were truly filled with the Holy Spirit, they would demonstrate the character of Christ and turn the world upside down for Jesus. Sadly, I’m convinced that many church members are living in the false security of a religious lifestyle and have never taken or desired to take the step of faith into the Holy of Holies. This explains why the religious world is HUGE and will continue following the message of comfort and pleasure while the remnant bride may be small in numbers but dedicated to walking the narrow path of truth no matter how painful. When we have a genuine passion to yield our will and grow deeper in our spiritual intimacy with Jesus, our perspective on everything (including church and religion) completely changes.
One of the greatest mysteries and deceptions of life is not realizing that our will is very sneaky. Humans believe they control themselves but actually, they are being controlled. When we hear about there being room for only one THRONE in everyone’s heart, most of the time this statement goes in one ear and out the other without being planted. Why? Because this truth is so powerful that the human “will” realizes this revelation can destroy its stronghold to control an individual. The natural human attitude is very powerful and so manipulative that most everyone in the world does not comprehend they are being possessed by their own fallen nature. However, when a person makes the decision to invite Christ to govern the throne of their heart, the will is defeated and must submit to the Lordship of Jesus. This life-changing miracle opens the door for the mind to be renewed and transformed which allows us to sincerely walk in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Two kings CANNOT rule the same kingdom. Romans chapter 6 is one of those chapters the human will tries to avoid at all cost. No matter how far we run away and hide, or how many masks we try to wear, we are never escaping the responsibility of being accountable. We are never doing it “our way” no matter how proud Frank Sinatra was of being rebellious and stubborn. Verse 16 blows the trumpet loud and clear warning us of our foolishness, “Do you not comprehend that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you become a slave of the one you obey, either of sin which leads to death, or of obedience which leads to righteousness?”
You see, if we listen to our own thoughts, we are serving our flesh, if we follow the influences of Satan we are serving the kingdom of darkness, and if we obey God’s persuasion, we are serving the Almighty. The old Bob Dylan song confirms God’s Word that you and I,“Gotta serve somebody.” There is NO way around it! We can take the safe path of least resistance where we just hold our shields, play defense, go through the motions, and do just enough to get by, or we can face our fears of being uncomfortable, take a bold stand, pick up our swords, and go on the offense. We have a mission: “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of PRAISE for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that HE might be glorified” (Isaiah 61: 3). Will we sit around and allow discouragement and apathy to rule us the rest of our life? Or will we arise and DEMONSTRATE to others how and where to find the oil of gladness on their way to accomplishing the divine destiny Jesus has called them to live? God has given us a trumpet – will we blow it? Where are you in the Master’s plan?
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Part 11 – Published 3/17/18
GOD’S HIDDEN ARMY – by David Wilkerson
This week’s message is a short prophecy from David Wilkerson. It’s an encouragement to the body of Christ and I wanted to share it with you. I have read much of his writings and believe God has used him as a bold voice over the years. I encourage you to read, “Set the trumpet to thy mouth.” He was known to be critical of the religious system and believed there was a tiny church within the much larger church who were actually the true remnant disciples of Jesus. This has always been a more radical view, but to me, one that deserves consideration. I believe this is why teachers like Tozer were always frustrated with the direction of the church. He loved God’s people and God’s kingdom but also realized that much of what he was seeing was a false and deceptive form of godliness. The devil is the ultimate imposter who is a religious expert filled with lies and twisted influences and sadly, many cannot tell the difference between religion and relationship. May we continue seeking God’s revelation wisdom and understanding.
“Something very powerful is going on in the world today. God is doing a hidden, quiet work, something so supernatural that it is beyond human comprehension. He is preparing a small but powerful army that is going to be the most dedicated on the face of the earth. The Lord is going to close out the ages with a pure, devoted, fearless remnant.
All my life I heard stories of our godly forebears, men, and women who spent hours, even days, in fasting and prayer. They knew God’s voice and they had the power to successfully stand up
against evil in their day. These godly forefathers have passed on but God is in the process
of raising up another army. This new army will be composed of believers both young and old who lay hold of God. A whole new realm of ministry is about to come forth!
The denominational church system appears to be in the throes of death, possessing almost no influence in the secular world, no mighty power of Christ. Growing numbers of ministers are
falling, and worldliness continues to creep into the church of Jesus Christ. The devil is claiming victory, as more and more pastor’s race down the road of compromise and corruption.
Yet the Bible says we are not to fret! God has a plan and it is being manifested. He is hearing the cries of His children who have given themselves totally to him. People will run to find them, crying, “I know you are someone who touches God…and I need God to touch me!”
Beloved, God wants to make you a part of his hidden army! He wants to give you a ministry to others who come to you with their burdens and trials. When you spend time with Him, you will be able to stand up boldly with spiritual authority and declare, “thus says the Lord” because you have been seeking, praying and listening to His voice.”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 10 – Published 3/10/2018
ARE WE OUR OWN WORST ENEMY?
Human existence is created with a standard requirement to choose right and wrong and has always been forced to deal with good and evil. We all have free-will to choose how we will live and there is no such thing as walking through this life refusing to participate in the divine accountability process by claiming to be independent. Even if it was possible to live isolated from civilization no one has the power or authority to decide whether or not they can be excused from God’s judgment. I see so many people wanting to leave the grid and get out on their own and all that, but they never mention about still being held accountable to God. They also do not talk about whether or not they are being led by the Holy Spirit or if they are just tired of the rat race. It would seem that everyone would understand this principle of how there are only two choices but not being able to see spiritual truth is a sobering example of deception. Being spiritually free has nothing to do with living in a cabin on a mountain. It means freedom from sin and yielding our will to God so we can enjoy the liberty of walking in His presence wherever we are.
The same is true when choosing which style or flavor of Christian views. They are not all the same. There is God’s truth and everything else. I would say that a high percentage of people would agree that every soul that has ever been born will face God some day and give an account of their life. This may not be a popular subject even among the church world, but nonetheless, an issue that falls under the category of statements that is true. The fascinating aspect of this knowledge is that most individuals do not really enforce it as a vital part of their own self-discipline. How do you know? If this was actually happening, we would be spending our evenings praying instead of watching TV. We seem to be religious experts in comprehending what is right and wrong and are always first in line to judge others but have a tendency to be very lenient with our own life. Human nature has a self-preservation mode built into its mentality that unfortunately gives us the capability to convince ourselves we are alright even when we are clearly wrong. It’s dangerous but true that the conscience can out-smart and cleverly persuade the brain that we are perfectly justified in our actions. This ability to come up with excuses and override every voice of reason (including the Holy Spirit) can be blamed for much of why we are our own worst enemy. It also partly explains how individuals can seemingly live however they want without experiencing the agonizing conviction of guilt.
God is not only perfectly aware of how humans are wired but keeps track of every thought as the Bible says in Jeremiah 17:10 says, “I the Lord search the heart, I test the emotions, even to give every person according to their ways and according to the fruits of their doings.” Since He created us and is Omniscient, He realizes how difficult it will be for anyone to allow Him to change their mind. You see, we cannot hide behind religion to mask our true spiritual condition and accepting a free ticket to heaven is not all there is to salvation. Eternal security is a result of surrendering the control of our will so that as our Lord He can transform us from the inside out.
Christian liberty is not about doing whatever we want but the desire to surrender our will in order to enjoy freedom from sin. Those who are serious about following Christ will also be serious about overcoming sin in their life. Since our nature is fighting against our considerations to be more like Jesus we are definitely going to need to read the training manual about spiritual warfare. The Bible is filled with instructions on how to know right from wrong and how to ask for God’s help to give us the victory but only those who diligently seek truth will find it. This has always been the problem – people do not want to know how physically, mentally, and spiritually unhealthy they are. We do not want to hear how we need to change which is why the Bible has more dust on the cover than the issue of Better Homes and Gardens. We prove our love and trust to God by the way we live. Wow! Someone needs to write that down!
Taking time to consider the complexity of human behavior and how it makes the spiritual transformation process a tremendous challenge should at least open our eyes to a greater sense of personal responsibility. Again, the question is do we want our eyes open or are we happy to hope for the best? It seems that even the gospel of Jesus Christ is now being transformed into the gospel of success and pleasure. I believe God wants to bless us but we must be careful to not just focus on blessings. He also wants to do some major changes in our life that may be painful so we must also allow Him to do whatever it takes to accomplish His plans. Actually, the only person who promised earthly wealth and power was when Satan offered these things to Jesus when Christ was fasting and praying. Hmmm… The choices we make in this life will come down to allowing our carnal nature to control us or allowing the Holy Spirit to control us. By the way, these decisions will also be the focus of our conversation when we stand before God one day. Will we fight against the darkness and become a living sacrifice or will we celebrate life as a party and worship the creation instead of the Creator? Living in denial and not caring about developing an awareness of our accountability gives our human nature the perfect opportunity to ruin us in this life and possibly the next.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 9 – Published 3/3/18
HAVING THE DESIRE TO WORSHIP
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in Spirit and truth” John 4:23-24.
It’s strange that many Christians do not comprehend about worship but we can see how this can happen if worship is never taught or explained. The same is true with praying, Bible study, and evangelizing simply because many churches are based on a spectator mentality. Very similar to going to the movies or an opera, the idea of a religious “program” has turned many assemblies into not much more than a formal social gathering. It’s true that large crowds will attend a non-threatening meeting where food is served along with quality entertainment and maybe this explains the success with seeker friendly churches. They hardly want to get into the nuts and bolts of the deeper aspects of spiritual living because they do not want to run everyone off. Nonetheless, there is much more about worship and if we pull back the covers of our rebellion, another more disturbing idea is exposed. Do we really want to worship God? We know our carnal human nature fights against the Spirit of God and certainly does NOT desire to praise and worship someone that we cannot see. People might bow down or kiss a statue but this does not please the Lord. We are commanded to NOT make an image of God.
We have talked about worship in the corporate setting of church and in times of quiet solitude, but there is another view of worship that is the highest form of expression in love, obedience, and devotion and that is the constant “state of mind” of God’s presence. More than music or a system of rituals and traditions, the true concept of worship has more to do with the attitude of the heart than anything else.
OK, since we know that our flesh opposes to worship Jesus, what are we going to do about it? Are we going to allow our flesh to rule us or are we going to put some effort into this situation? First of all – do we care? This is the idea of being lukewarm which is another way of saying someone does not care. My question has always been, if we have no desire to worship now, what makes us think we will want to worship in heaven? Come to think of it, if we do not want to pray, worship, give, or serve in this life, why are we calling ourselves a follower and disciple of Christ in the first place? So, how do we become spiritually ignited? We must decide who we want to be and how we want to live and then give ourselves completely over to God and ask Him to do whatever it takes to help make this happen. My advice is not to ask this unless you are ready to have your world turned completely upside down.
If going to church does not necessarily prove that someone is an obedient disciple of Christ then can we agree that singing a praise song is not necessarily worshiping God? It is true that singing unto the Lord can be a part of expressing love and gratitude but the scripture in John 4:24 say’s, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” It does not say they shall just “sing songs” in spirit and truth. Whether in deed or thought, one must be flowing with the intentions of pure love or the labor will be tainted with the smell of ulterior motives. Many of our religious traditions have caused confusion and unfortunately, many Christians have been lulled to sleep by the subtle deceptions of what a Christian should be. The masses feel pretty good about their church attendance and how they participate in a “worship” service an hour every week but is this the complete, “big picture” of holy devotion, adoration, and obedience? Of course not! Our traditions try to deceive us into thinking that going to church is the Christian life (I wish it was that easy). Actually the tiny amount of time we are in church together is like a time-out in a game where the players go to the sidelines to join together in the safety of unity, catch their breath, get a drink, wipe off the sweat and blood, listen to instructions from their coach and be reminded of their purpose and destiny – then they go back into battle. Like the team of players, the battle is not with each other which is why we love the peace and anointing when we are together – the real combat is against the devil which lives in the children of darkness and influences much of the world’s system where we walk every day.
I once thought that church was THE place of worship and that we should try to spend as much time as possible to magnify God. I was often frustrated because there were many other parts of the service that took up the time. What I have come to realize is that a church service is not the entire worship experience for the week but rather a time where we learn how to worship the rest of the week. Likewise, a sermon is not the only word we should receive all week but rather is a supplement to our daily intake of God’s Word. The church is a learning/practice session that equips and instructs us how to “DEMONSTRATE” being a disciple when we leave the building. The truth is that worshiping in Spirit and Truth is not just going through the motions of a ritual or ceremony – it’s how we live every moment. Singing songs or working in Christian service, in general, is very elementary and shallow without the consecrated, committed life of being Christ-like. Unfortunately playing church is quite common which is why services are cold and lifeless. Worship is walking in the constant awareness of God’s presence or as commonly referred to as “walking in the Holy Spirit.” True praise and worship is living and walking out the words of the very songs we are singing about. If a person only goes to church and sings worship songs (which is alright) but they may not understand the bigger picture of worship. This is an example of how a holy act of spiritual reverence can evolve into another religious ritual and sadly the enemy has influenced this deception into Christendom.
Many years ago the Lord spoke to us through a prophetic word that God would give me a gift to write songs but I would have to “walk them out” (some hard walking) which is the reason we named our ministry at the time, “Walking Thru Ministries.” The Lord was saying that just because someone can write about truth (preach, teach, sing, serve or whatever), these are all forms and ways of communication that can help us learn how to LIVE for Him, but this is not all there is to it. Working for His Kingdom can become just busy labor without the His anointing and our consecrated, committed life of being Christ-like! Worshiping in Spirit and truth does not just mean our vocals are in perfect harmony or the music is in the right key. Also, our hair standing up on the back of neck or goosebumps on our arms does not mean anything to God if our walk does not match our talk. It’s all about allowing Jesus to transform us into His image and being willing to yield our will so He can execute His plan through us. We can listen to sermons and sing songs while not even thinking about God or what is being said and I’m sure all of us have done it. Many believe that filling a quota of deeds somehow (in the cosmic filing cabinet of records) earns them a more pleasing position with God and a higher place of spiritual achievement but that is just an illusion. The Pharisees were constantly performing religious works and God was angry with them. Why? They were trusting a legalistic ritual and had no idea about a personal relationship with God. Their story and the confrontation with Jesus is written specifically so that we can see and understand the difference between religion and spirituality.
The first part of Proverbs 23:7 say’s, “For as he thinks in his heart so is he…” Our church services and programs should never be a place where we act spiritual or put on a show to convince others how close we are to God. Worship is not a style but an intimate relationship from the creation to the Creator. It is our highest connection to God now and forever. Worship is a revelation that involves spiritual wisdom and understanding about who God is and who we are IN HIM. When the desire to express our love for God becomes our continued focus and intention – then we are truly learning how to worship.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 8 Published 2/24/2018
THERMOMETERS, SWITCHES, AND ELEVATORS
There are two kinds of spiritual conditions; HOT – and everything else in between. Just like the different sizes of spiritual roads (broad and narrow), the different attitudes of the heart is what IDENTIFIES each person and actually each church. A spiritually strong church is filled with people that have embraced the revelation of letting go of the love of this world. They have been presented with the opportunity to be mentally and spiritually transformed and have made the commitment to stay in the operating room until the work is done. I do not need to ask what this has to do with worship because as we have mentioned throughout these letters, our thirst to worship God reveals the temperature on our relationship “thermometer” with Him. Worship is our outward expression to God – that reveals our internal love for Him. Show me a dry, lukewarm church and I will show you a group of people that do not have a burden to pray. Yes, it’s wonderful to learn more knowledge but it’s also time to demonstrate the truth we have already learned.
Christians will always find themselves standing at a crossroad that presents the choices of either taking the detour to “carnal parkway” or to just stay straight on the “HIGHway of holiness.” Those who are filled with God’s Spirit and know His perfect will are constantly faced with the convictions to be a participator or a spectator. When a person cuts ties with this world’s system and sacrifices their will and desires to follow God completely, they no longer use the “switch” where they turn God off and on. The flip switch now has a protective covering on it called “a holy vow” and their dedication to love controls their decisions. When the follower of Christ allows this switch to be turned on and left on, they will forever be changed from a believer to a disciple. That is exactly what happened to Peter, Andrew, James, and John in Mathew chapter four. “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he, (Jesus) saith unto them, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets and followed him. And going on from there, he saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he (Jesus) called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.” (Verses 18-22) Have you dropped your nets and followed Him? If not, do you think that someday you might? Do you want to be at this level, or do you just want enough to get by? Come to think of it, just how much of God do you want?
“Elevate” means; (to raise or lift to a higher level; to improve one’s moral or intellectual awareness; to improve one’s spirit) and as we elevate with Christ, the intensity of our light will increase as we go to a higher voltage. The deeper and higher we go to God the more our eyes will be opened to see how much more there is to enjoy. Sadly many are still sitting on the ground floor without even caring about the rows of buttons that lead to higher habitations with God. The Lord wants us to “rise” in our understanding and increase our passion to become all that He dies for us to be. It is said that the more we learn, the more we realize we do not know but sadly many have felt that learning and developing is not necessary to inherit eternal life. The problem is not with the number of available lighthouses, but that very few are turned on or operating as a city that is set on a hill. Worship and prayer are not just EVENTS – They are a lifestyle of adoration! It’s not that people do not know or have even plugged into the power source – it is the refusal to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” Matthew 5:16. It’s not that Christians do not have the understanding of what they should do, but they will work overtime trying to avoid the most important “command” and that is to willingly crawl onto the burning altar and be consumed as a living sacrifice. God desires to take us from glory to glory, higher and deeper but has given each person the free will to make their own decisions. There is nothing (except our own decision) that is stopping any of us from worshiping, praying, studying and seeking His face every day, every night and being literally FILLED with Him. “For I am persuaded , that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8: 38-39. May we notice that everything is mentioned here except our own free-will. The problem is that we go to God like we shop at the grocery store. We push our basket around, take what we want and leave. When we have all the blessings we want, we refuse to develop or progress any further with Him and unfortunately, this is hurting Christianity. We do not necessarily need to hear more about how to live for God, we just need more enthusiasm to do it.
There is an epidemic of laziness. A lukewarm attitude does not care about quality or excellence and never gets anything accomplished that is worth anything. It’s a “barely get by” mentality that is poison to a company, a relationship, an organization – AND a church. Since this stinking way of thinking does not really care about anything and lacks a deep devotion and commitment, it will not blink an eye to back-stab and criticize. If people do not believe the cause is worth the cost – they will not support it or pour their heart and soul into it. The simple truth; if people do not value a soul they will not pray or have a burden to witness. If they do not value the vision of the church they will not give or serve. If a person does not love God with all of their heart, they will not surrender their will to Him! In fact, if people do not love to worship, they will actually hinder the atmosphere.
Maybe the reason why some people do not worship the Lord is that they have heard the Bible stories about Jesus but have never experienced HIM personally. There is a huge difference! (I see the pictures of Presidents on my money every day, but I never knew them personally). Maybe they already worship so many other idols there is no room left for God. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me” (Exodus 20:3-5). Maybe some are living in a lukewarm lethargic coma. Or maybe the reason why people are not concerned with worshiping God is that they have never deeply fallen in love with Him. I want to share a word from the Lord that still pierces my heart with conviction. This was written on a scrap piece of paper and handed to me by a dear saint at a church on June the twenty-seventh, 2010. “You cannot be “in like” with me; you must be “in love” with me. “In like” will only take you to the gate, but “in love” will take you all the way to where I am. “In like” will not crucify your will; “in love” will make you say, not my will but your will be done, no matter where it takes me or what it cost me.”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 7 – Published 2/17/18
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIVING – II
We have been given God’s promises and instructions that explain how we are to react to the world’s system and how to believe that He will create and provide the miracles we need. But we have become a spoiled generation that has never known what it means to really have a need except in a crisis which has put many of God’s people into a self-induced coma of relaxation and comfort. We must not lean on our own understanding or trust in our own strength, politics, logic, or education when it comes to survival, but rather listen to God’s counsel. If we are going to be provided for like Elijah at the brook and the woman with the measure of oil, we must learn how to not only be an encouragement to others but (by faith) encourage our own hearts. If we cannot believe God to heal our sore toes today, what makes us think we will be able to believe Him for a loaf of bread in the day of famine? There is no reason to be stressed or worried about what man can do because we have been promised that our direction and encouragement will be given to those who seek the Almighty. “The Lord is near unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him: He also will hear their cry, and will save them” (Psalm 18-19). He will lead us with the revelations of His Word, prophecies, visions, dreams, wonders, miracles, and signs as He guided and provided for the children of Israel. The Lord said in Acts chapter 2 verses 16-21, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it will come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they will prophecy: and I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon to blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass that whosoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
The word of the Lord for today is that He is trying to get our attention. He is doing everything He can to tell us that we need to allow Him to OPEN the eyes of our heart so that we can learn how to live for Him. Of course, the devil wants to keep these revelations a secret because he realizes they are military strategies that can tear down his spiritual strongholds and defeat the powers of darkness. Satan and his demons are on “high alert” to prevent God’s overcomers from being encouraged and empowered! Remember the story found in I Samuel chapter 30 about David and his army when they returned home to Ziklag and found the city had been burned and all of their families had been taken captive by the Amalekites. Verse 4 says, “Then David and all the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept until they had no more power to weep.” But notice carefully in the last part of verse 6, “but David encouraged [strengthened] himself in the Lord his God.” Wow, what a revelation! Have you ever been in a place where the only encouragement was found between you and God? This world can be a very lonely place when you are trying to follow Jesus. Those who are involved with ministering in God’s Kingdom will not always feel like standing strong or being electrified with an overflowing current of excitement and enthusiasm. Every now and then we fall into sadness and depression because our emotions are connected to our circumstances. These are the times when we need to have a private consultation in front of the mirror and remind ourselves of God’s promises! We must listen to King Jesus as He inspires us to confess out loud HIS TRUTH to ourselves and over our situation. Amen! I’m preaching better than you are responding.
You see, the old will is associated with the old way of natural thinking. However, when our minds have been renewed in Christ, our will must yield and take its rightful place in submission to Jesus. This is the most difficult challenge we will face as Christians. The question will always remain, do we really want to go this far with God? We can demand and command all we want, but until this structure of order has been established, our spiritual development will not function properly. We can take the safe path of least resistance where we just hold up our shields, play defense, and do enough to get by, or we can face our fears of being uncomfortable, take a bold stand, pick up our swords, and go on the offense. We have a mission: “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of PRAISE for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that HE might be glorified” (Isaiah 61: 3). Will you sit around and allow discouragement to rule you the rest of your life? or will you arise and help others find the oil of gladness on their way to accomplishing the divine destiny Jesus has called them to live?
Soon after Jesus had resurrected, we find a beautiful passage found in John chapter 20 that is a loving example of how much God wants to encourage us. Here is a story about the friends and family of Christ that were gathered together mourning over His death when all of a sudden He appears in their midst! Of course, I am sure they are awestruck. Then He stretches out His hands and His side, and they were overjoyed to see Him. He spoke peace unto them and breathed on them and filled them with the Holy Spirit. Allow me to say, that even in the times when we do NOT believe, He will make the extra effort to find us and prove to us that He personally cares about us. Thomas was not there that night and when he was told that Jesus has visited them, he said that until he could touch His scars, he could not accept it. After eight days they were meeting again, except this time Thomas was there, and Jesus appeared again. He told Thomas to reach out and touch the scars, and he did. Jesus said, “Be not faithless, but believing,” and Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God.” How many times have you needed the Lord to inject faith into your doubt? When Jesus intervenes – nothing is ever the same! Selah. When He speaks to the storms, they have no choice but to obey His commands, and when He is with you on the front-line, the devils and demons must bow before Him and submit to His authority! Paul and Silas were locked in prison, yet began to worship because joy is not confined to a geographic location, a mood, or an emotion – it is activated when the determination to believe God becomes stronger than the temptation to doubt Him! They made a CHOICE to praise God because THEY LOVED HIM! He knows that if He can keep your faith running at a high level that with faith in the name of Jesus YOU can speak to the mountains in your life, and they will be removed!
Hopelessness is a condition of the default system that occurs when people only trust their own decisions. Human intellect, impressive education, riches, or political power cannot help save souls or bring true peace. Only God can change a mind and transform a life. I realize that church leaders must be real with their feelings because if the “human factor” did not come through our personalities, we would all seem very robotic. However, at the same time, many feel pressured and obligated to be “bouncy happy” all the time because they want to keep everyone pumped up. They are afraid if they do not demonstrate a positive image, this will discourage others. Learning how to be “real” is like walking an emotional tight wire, and people need to remember that we all still live in a mortal shell of flesh. The role of a pastor is not easy and deserves more prayer and less criticism. I remember attending a meeting years ago with a small group of pastors that were discussing the trials and challenges of ministry. I was young in the ministry and sat quietly but instead of being inspired and excited, I was disappointed because they were being exposed without wearing their “super-hero” capes. I listened as each one shared their burdens and worries and questions about church growth and how to get people to catch their vision. As they talked about their problems with everything from excessive debt to people being unfaithful, I sensed a heaviness of negativity and defeat. When it was over, I was left with a feeling of concern and a lack of hope for the future of all churches. I felt there had been a mistake because I thought I was going to a celebration of spiritual victory with the generals, but instead had been sitting in on a religious pity party. I was saying to myself, that everyone knows there are problems in the church, but pastors are supposed to have the answers! What I had forgotten was to realize that even generals need places to vent their frustrations and weaknesses and a safe environment would be with those who understand what they are going through. I look back and realize this honest exposure of their vulnerability was more of a therapy session and was good for them to air out their discouragements even though they were spiritual leaders that were filled with God’s power and faith. Local assemblies have teachers, counselors, associate pastors, administrators, singers, musicians, superintendents, elders, and deacons, but none of these leaders are actually responsible for knowing the direction of the church because they have not been called to be in charge. Of course, Christ is the head of the church, but He appoints the “under Shepherd” to listen to His direction, relay His messages and care for the sheep. Let us all keep in mind that the pastor also wears the brightest bulls-eye on his back.
It’s true, the supernatural gift and office for pastors is to know God’s vision for the assembly and lead the warriors into the battle! But what I was able to learn that day in a room of pastors was compassion for those who stand on the front lines. These men were laying down their armor and letting down their guard as a break from the battle. They felt secure with each other and used this time as a place of refuge away from the war, to share their wounds, experiences, and open their hearts. I did not adjust to what was happening and was judging too harshly. It was not about me feeling good or having a false security toward another human being. It was about understanding that we are all frail and can only succeed and accomplish anything worthwhile when God moves THROUGH us! They are the ones that get up in the middle of the night and kneel on cold hospital floors praying for the sick. They hold people’s hands who are passing on to the next life. It’s their voice that is heard echoing the twenty-third Psalm in the cemetery. They are the ones that willingly counsel the terrible messes that others have made and go inside the prisons to preach repentance and forgiveness. These humble servants carry the worries and stress that no one else knows because many people have shared their secret lives with them and trust them to keep it confidential. While none of us, including pastors, are to live in a world of depression, let us also remember that it’s okay, to be honest with the ones we trust and who care for our souls. Overcomers carry burdens, but they also learn to leave those burdens at the cross because they are very heavy and can hinder our liberty and ability to live in joy. May we remember that as instruments of the Most High, ministers feel the same pain and heartache that everyone does, and there is no condemnation for being transparent. It’s not an option but essential that we all learn how to encourage ourselves and know the source of our strength. Overcomers learn that qualities like fortitude, perseverance, and integrity are formed in times of great difficulty. Who knows, there may come a time when we have no one but God. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (II Corinthians 4:8-9).
Father, I desperately need you to fill me with your PASSION. Make me hungry for your presence, and help me to develop an awareness of your voice within my heart. If I do not have your FIRE, I will never come out of my comfort zone. If I do not have your love working in my conscience, I am nothing. Break me and melt me so that I can be molded into your image. Do a strong work in my heart that will literally CHANGE the way I think. I am weak Lord; please give me compassion and a burden for the lost. I need your faith and strength and desire to become the witness you are waiting for me to be. Use me in your fields that are white with harvest. Pour out your Spirit on me I pray. In your holy name, I pray, Amen.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 6 – Published 2/10/18
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIVING – I
“And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death” (Revelation 12:11).
The blood of Jesus empowers His saints with the authority in His NAME! Their testimony was and is a declaration of faith which declares they know who they are IN Christ and that NOTHING can stop them from accomplishing His will! The Kingdom of God is advancing – because it CANNOT be stopped! God’s nature is love and nothing can conquer love! By now, we realize that the Christian journey is not all smooth interstate driving. There are side roads and difficult places that many times contain discouragements, frustrations, and disappointments. For the remnant disciple, a wonderful lesson to learn and stay aware of (after we’ve been knocked to the ground), is the courage and confidence to get back up, dust ourselves off and keep going. The enemy has spent the last 6000 years trying to confuse and distract men and women away from God’s will, but thankfully, the Lord’s love is the divine light that CANNOT be quenched! Darkness cannot overcome one tiny lit candle, and all of the hate in the universe cannot outweigh one act of genuine love! Love IS the authority of God and will never fail! When we learn how to encourage our own hearts, we can take another step into the maturity process of being an overcomer for Christ. How do we do that? Finding that secret place alone with God, pouring out our fears and allowing Him to fill us with His Holy Spirit. Spiritual intimacy with Christ is the key to living as an overcomer.
It’s true there are times when we become down and discouraged, and we all will have problems and situations that we must deal with in this life. Thank God, He is always there as a safe haven to give us genuine hope and support that can help us through our times of troubles and sorrows. But there is a different type of sadness that is finding its way into the hearts and minds of the weary warriors, and it’s coming from a decrease of joy. Yes, the battle is intense, and at times many of the soldiers may crawl and drag themselves to the body of Christ (and hopefully your local church is a hospital for the wounded). If your church is not a place to find refuge and encouragement, their emphasis is on the wrong thing. There is nothing wrong with counseling and prayer, however, the worship service is no place for negativity, unbelief, or an attitude of defeat. We must be sensitive to the spirits of depression, negative personalities, oppressive, critical, and judgmental attitudes that are like a contagious virus that can infect others with hopelessness and drain the atmosphere of spiritual joy. In I John chapter 1, verse 4 we see that joy is like a liquid in a “tank” that can run low or be remain filled, and it’s crucial to guard our joy and protect it. Much of this has to do with understanding about our joy with the Lord, spiritual warfare, and our personal responsibility. “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” If the general of an army told the soldiers they did not have a chance to win the battle, it would exhaust their strength and crush their faith before they even started. Likewise, if we neglect our joy, it does not take very long for us to be overcome with darkness and sadness. So how do we stay filled with joy? This is one of the simplest yet most complex revelations of our faith: Our constant flow of Joy comes from abiding under the shadow of The Almighty with a personal, constant, and intimate relationship with Him.
Thoughts of defeat, frustration, worry, failure, and fear are the uninvited guests in the church, and all ministry leaders are too familiar with these haunting shadows of discouragement. No matter how we seem on the outside, the spiritual strength of the individual is based on the fullness of joy within the heart. Without a strong personal relationship with God, there is limited joy, and with low joy there is a mediocre interest in worship, study service and prayer. So, we can say the stronger our relationship with Him, the more full our joy will be and the more He can be seen within us. As believers in the “full-gospel” we must be careful not to fall back into human reasoning and become deceived about what is a “normal” Christian life. Would you agree that our idea of normal is probably not God’s idea of normal? How sad to imagine that many Christian assemblies have become spiritually hindered by fear and anxiety to the point where it is difficult to tell the difference between God’s remnant warriors and a gathering of executives in a corporate board meeting. I do not mean to be critical, but the Bible reveals how the last days are going to unfold and how religious spirits will continue to be a problem, but Praise God, the future has been written – the gates of hell will NOT prevail! No matter how carnal the religious system becomes, Jesus will accomplish His agenda! Allow me to say, when God’s presence shines into a situation, the darkness runs and hides in defeat! When Jesus calls us to let go of the boat and walk on the water, there is nothing that can prevent your victory as long as you stay focused on His presence! No wonder the devil and every demon in hell spends every waking moment on preventing God’s presence from manifesting because they understand there is NO higher authority! Satan does not even care if we accept Christ as long as we live as a secret agent because when we are embarrassed about God, we are NOT a threat to the dark kingdom. However, when our flame receives more oxygen from the Holy Spirit and we explode into a raging fire, the devil realizes we are being used to help recruit more soldiers for the Lord’s army and we are working mighty signs and wonders to bring glory to Jesus! Amen! Now that is normal! Allow me to ask, will you allow the enemy to stop you from being an overcomer? I believe we can agree we are living in the last moments of grace, but it’s also a time to demonstrate our faith. Overcomers in Christ live by God’s voice and as His “special forces” are trained to PRAY and OBEY!
Living for Jesus will not become easier in the future. The world is becoming more hostile against God’s people and the enemy is increasing his attacks. This is not being negative or promoting fear, this is a warning to prepare for what is coming. A strong army was never developed by sleeping on the couch. We, (including myself) are wasting valuable time by allowing our flesh to control our mind. The body follows as the mind decides. There are so many distractions and temptations and these places of decision are where the battles are won or lost. People are dying and are spiritually lost all around us and it is our prayers that can deliver and save them. Are we really depending on someone else to do what we have been called to do? God’s remnant warriors will be used to help teach and lead many into the revelation of His absolute truth. Prepare today in this time of mercy because it will be difficult to build strong faith when the world is turned upside down. Ask Him to fill you this day with His knowledge and wisdom, or you will not have the anointing or discernment to boldly stand in the days ahead.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 5 – PUBLISHED 2/3/18
THE CURSE OF HUMAN INDEPENDENCE
God is right and everyone who does not follow Him is wrong. How easy this sounds and yet it’s amazing how many people are offended by this statement. Actually, this truth is offensive to all of us. How so? Because human nature wants to live free and independent and does not appreciate anyone telling them they are wrong – even God. Certain reality television shows follow those who want to live in the wilderness and enjoy the freedom of surviving on their own. The scenery is breathtaking and their isolated lifestyle reflects just how courageous and adventurous some people are and is no doubt a tribute to good ole human determination and grit. However, if we stand back and watch and listen carefully, we begin to notice once again how the beauty of being free has more than one interpretation. I am convinced that we all have been given a destiny as a part of a divine blueprint that was drawn by God before we were born. I believe we can all agree He has always been His hope that we hear His gospel, accept Him into our heart and them surrender our will to His Lordship. Within this life-changing born-again transformation is a journey filled with many decisions to obey His voice or follow our carnal flesh. The Christian who takes their vow to love and worship God seriously realizes that allowing the light of God to shine to the world is a major part of the meaning of life. I’m not judging but only asking how could hiding away from the world be a part of us being a light to the world? How could a Christian become so focused on their own life and intentionally place themselves in a situation where they are as far away from other humans as they possibly can be? I thought we were called to help people and love others. This seems to be a distorted view of freedom that could be a selfish deception. If you shared this with them, I’m sure they would tell you to leave and “mind your own business.” But, again, whatever the situation might be, my question is how many have told God the same thing?
I have often wondered about the human will and how strongly we defend it. We can be nice and polite as long as everyone does not get too personal. Our attitude is that if we want a counselor we’ll go find one. This is why people become restless in a church service when the topic is about personal change. We might want things to be changed around us but we certainly do not desire any part of us changing. It is no coincidence that churches have picked up on this and have selected custom messages that are more light, positive, and inspiring. This might seem good but how can we be completely transformed into His image if we are not hearing the rest of the story? I was reading an article the other day where members of Congress, (who by the way are lawmakers) and they were questioning a highly regarded judge about what he believed. Here we have several highly intelligent individuals coming together for the purpose of trying to expose the personal convictions and considerations of someone who has invested their life to upholding the law. There is nothing wrong with this because it’s crucial for all voting members to know who they are electing before they make their decision. One cannot help but ponder about this exchange as to what the criteria is based on in the light of what is politically justifiable and what type of an answer would be considered socially acceptable. In a world where correctness seems to have become our new standard of acceptance, who in God’s name is the legal system looking to for the “right” answers? We remember in the time of Jesus that Rome accepted the idea that all people in the region should follow the kingdom of Caesar. It was not acceptable to have anyone disagree or to even speak of another way to believe. The same is true in all the other tyrants and dictators that have ruled nations and empires as many brave souls have been tortured and destroyed for standing for their convictions. This is why there have been revolutions and the quest to find a world free from evil oppression. Even in the birth of this nation, many dreamed of a land where they were free to worship God and teach their children His ways. Today we can look around and clearly see that we cannot speak God’s truth without being persecuted and ruined. The names are different but the agenda is the same. Governments do not want God, they do not want anyone to try and change them and they will not tolerate the idea of the Bible being the ultimate instruction manual for holy living. In the name of LIBERTY, our society is becoming more aggressive against yielding to God and allowing Him to change their minds and hearts toward Him. Who would have thought that too much freedom could be a curse?
In our colleges and legal system, its believed that anyone who embraces and teaches the Bible as a literal collection of true convictions and considerations is wrong and should NOT be respected as credible. The enemy of our souls (Satan) has made very good progress with breaking down the parental responsibilities using everything he can to discredit God and His people. Within the last 60 years, we have seen the moral deterioration and the rise of an aggressive culture that now has a firm stronghold of what is good and evil. Much of the modernized world is growing and gaining an acceptance of two major deceptions and I believe that it will only grow worse until Jesus returns. The first smoke screen is no more than a bully tactic to justify the agenda of human nature to dictate the direction of mankind. It’s now declared as the universal social law, that if a person disagrees with someone’s lifestyle, they are obviously guilty of hating them. This judgment openly accuses this person of being prejudiced, racists or a bigot and establishes the message that will certainly ruin the accuser and remove any sense of credibility. The second deception teaches that in order to truly love someone, you not only obligated to encourage, support, endorse, and promote them but you must agree with everything they believe, say and do. Allow me to say that both of these ideas are false and are born from the dark imaginations of secular humanism. We are to never compromise our convictions and would never need to in order to demonstrate God’s sincere love and compassion. For example, we could go into the jungles and bring food and medical help to the natives without having to believe in head-hunting or worshiping the Sun. It’s a lie to persuade the masses that we must agree with someone’s lifestyle or we are wrong and should not be trusted. There is never a shortage of opinions, but just like any other decision and judgment, the highest judge is God and the absolute truth will always be what He has said. I am not ashamed of this statement any more than someone else who believes it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to live in sin. For those who do not believe that God is real and His Word is true, I am not saying these individuals should not be treated with courtesy and respect. Everyone is given a free will to believe whatever they want. I only ask that I also be included and tolerated for my own personal ideas and convictions. I know that everyone will not accept my worldviews but as the Bible says, “may we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” When mankind begins to create laws which force us to believe and obey his humanistic philosophies, we become incarcerated within a political and religious system of control.
It is evident the majority of the world does not agree with the God of the Bible as being the author and finisher of their faith. With so many diverse religions and philosophical convictions, along with masses of people that have no spiritual affiliation at all, we have lost our identification. For example, our government has declared themselves as a neutral legal and religious system, so my question is; who do they look to for direction when they try to make laws? Human logic? Human intelligence? And if so, who in particular, the Supreme Court? Again, humanism is a dangerous and deceptive way to openly justify rebellion against God. If you are not going to look to Him as a credible truth, then you have already insulted Him and most likely have become His enemy. The creator of all things never intended for His creation to rule themselves. The hammer was never intended to build the house by itself. The very one that gave all people the opportunity to live in the joy and peace of His presence has now been mocked and disregarded as a joke! Can you imagine how God feels? It’s the darkness of pride that caused Lucifer to fall from heaven and it’s this same evil spirit that has corrupted the hearts of mankind today. The masses have spoken; “I will support and follow my fallen nature. I willingly choose my carnality and the kingdom of darkness over the pleas and warnings from the God who made me and wants to save me! I would rather have 70 years of fleshly pleasure than an eternity of spiritual bliss with the Almighty God. I loved my sin more than anything else and gave it the power to lead me and control my thoughts and with the choice of my will I choose my own destiny!”
The dark influence in the Garden was to question authority and it created a doubt and fear that God was lying. How many today refuse to believe that God can be trusted and we know exactly where this opinion is coming from. There is a growing anger against Christianity because people are saying that God’s character is bad and is the reason why Christians are hate mongers and cruel. I read a bumper sticker the other day that said, “I am an atheist because I have read the Bible” and I read where a person had made an online comment saying, “Who wants to serve someone that demands that you worship them or they will destroy you forever?” Can you see where all of this twisted thinking is heading? How will we as Christians be able to defend our faith and are we even called to try? Jesus stepped forward without fear and simply said what He was told to say. He gave Himself freely and laid down His life so that others would have the chance to live. To love, pray and obey is the most we can do.
After all is said and done, every person that has ever lived will discover that life was about more than themselves. It will be revealed that we could have been as close to God as we wanted and the only thing that kept us from spiritual intimacy with our maker was our desire to ignore Him. Every knee will bow and every tongue will eventually confess that Christ is Lord. Many will be filled with sorrow as they realize that He was seldom on their mind at all unless they needed something. Every soul will finally understand that He could have saved them and been so much more than a religious feeling or a half-hearted ritual. We will understand that He wanted to be our reason, purpose and the very meaning of our existence. God in all of His mercy and majesty is not wavering or compromising in His justice. He is perfect in His demands and requirements according to His true and holy character. When we stand before Him, our eyes will be opened to the reality that we were more in love with ourselves than anything or anyone else. We will comprehend that we were actually more in control of our destiny than He was. If only we could go back and live again, but only if we can know what we know now. Sadly we must admit it would be no different. We realize this hour what we must do and we are still not willing to submit and yield our heart completely to Him. Remember the man who had passed on to the next life, cried out and begged to come back so that he could warn his family and friends about a miserable place of extreme torment. He was separated from God in the darkness and heard a voice saying that, “it would not help – they would not listen to you no more than they have listened to others.” The decision to move toward the light must come from the deepest part of our soul and must become stronger than the desire to remain the same. The amount of determination and discipline to love God and walk with Him is known by very few. How much more do we need to see and what else can Jesus say or do to persuade us and encourage us to drop our nets and follow Him?
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 4 – PUBLISHED 1/27/18
THERE IS A WAY TO KNOW OUR PURPOSE – II
WE HAVE PEACE WHEN WE EMBRACE OUR SPIRITUAL DESTINY
God is ready to make a way for those who really want to accomplish their destiny. Our heavenly Father has drawn a divine blueprint for everyone’s life and it’s our mission and responsibility to not only find out what it is, but to accomplish it. Strange as it may sound, He is even more excited about our potential than we are and is simply searching for someone that wants to do HIS will instead of their own. It’s a shame to not only feel that we have come up short in His plans, but stop and take a look around at how many people are literally wasting their life. We can agree that many are deceived and in denial about where they are and where God wants them to be. I know a 26 year old man that plays video games all night and sleeps all day. He lives at home with no job, no car and no idea about his future. I have tried to intervene but have come away feeling sad and helpless to get through to him. I also know a lady who cares for an elderly couple and they both have always been atheist. She called me the other day and said the wife had passed away at the age of 93. The husband is the same age and while making final preparations, he became very serious about making sure that God’s name was not mentioned during the funeral. You know, we can do all we can to help others, but sometimes we can do more by praying than trying to convince another person to accept Christ. It’s true we are to witness to everyone (and even use words if necessary), but true spiritual conviction is a divine appointment that can only be arranged by God Himself.
Embracing our spiritual destiny sounds exciting but requires the grueling process of submitting and yielding our entire life to Him. How do we do this? By allowing Jesus to sit on the throne of the heart as Lord and Master, (which by the way, also explains why not very many people are interested in the message of, “I surrender all”). In order to live for God we must learn how to die to self. Since God has this mission for our life already mapped out, it only makes sense that He also has definite places, people and endeavors that are included in this unique design in order for it to work out according to His intentions. When we are living in God’s will, we are amazed at how smooth the miracles will come because where God guides – He provides. This does not mean we will escape times of having to be patient and discomfort, but it’s our responsibility to recognize that He is working behind the scenes and to be as humble and cooperative as we can. When we take an exit ramp because we think we can accomplish our goals a better and faster way, we are actually hindering the original plan and possibly ruining our chances to succeed with what we have been called to do. In these times, we need to repent for our disobedience and ask God to help us return to where we need to be. How many people are swimming against the current in this life because they did not follow God’s instructions? How many are miserable because they followed their own desires instead of the Lords? I would say the majority which reveals why there is so much sadness, anger, depression and anxiety. When we try to sneak through a back door that is not a part of God’s will and manipulate circumstances for our own selfish agenda, we will never experience spiritual contentment or the joy of His presence.
LEARNING THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR HUMAN NATURE
Purity and holiness is a very important part of being victorious in the eyes of the Lord. Brokenness, meekness and humility brings us close to God and enables us to hear His still small voice. It’s when we are puffed up with self-confidence and arrogance that we drift away from His presence to the point where we can drift away and lose connection with Him. Allow me to stop right here and encourage those who have become spiritually lukewarm. Recognizing that you are not in fellowship with God proves that you are still sensitive enough to know that something is wrong. This is the wonderful and beautiful grace of God that has engraved you on the palms of His hands. The miraculous and comforting power of the Holy Spirit is ever present to welcome you back into the loving arms of your creator. Your heavenly Father is waiting for you (right now) to ask Him to forgive you, to restore you and saturate your mind, body and soul with His goodness and mercy. We all have fallen away from God sometime in our life and have come short of His glory, but the good news, is that we do NOT have to live this way! The only thing preventing you today from laying your head upon His chest and sipping from His cup is your stubborn will. God’s love is like an Ocean and He’s waiting for you to dive in and swim in the depths of His wonder and delight.
Situations that are agreeable to our flesh and our carnal mind are rarely the direction God is trying to guide us. Since our flesh and God’s Spirit are enmity toward one another, they will never be able to see eye to eye. This is exactly why we need to be cautious in our decisions because we may be heading into a snare trap filled with devastating disappointment. Just because it looks good and feels good does not mean this is what God wants for us. You see, just because things are not working out for us, this does not mean God is against us. Actually, He is for us and wants to see us accomplish His will because it is all for His glory. However, we must come to the realization that our human nature hates God and does not desire to yield or submit to Him. Our flesh will scream and fight and cry until we finally take control and demonstrate self-discipline. Drifting away from our daily prayer and study time is a sure way to become lukewarm and backslidden and this opens the door to deception and weakness. The enemy will try everything he can to distract us away from thinking about God including lying and tempting us to indulge in something that is wrong and our flesh is always ready to do what feels good. We always hear about the devil being our enemy and he is – but do not forget that he can only “influence” our mind. It’s our will that makes the decision to obey the darkness. It’s very important to remember that most of our problems come from our human nature begging us to satisfy and fulfill what it wants. This is why words like perseverance and self-discipline are crucial when it comes to following Jesus. It’s truly our personal responsibility to stay close to Jesus and have the courage to say no to our sinful human nature. Anybody can – Everybody won’t – Somebody will.
GOD’S LOVE INSPIRES US TO PRAY FOR OTHERS
The love for God and others are the greatest commandments you and I have been given. Love is not an option or something we can compromise or modify – it is a direct command. Yes, I realize the love of many is “waxing cold” in the last days and we can already sense the departure of concern and closeness within our families and friends. Our old human nature has a built-in aggressive arrogance that can easily progress into resentment, revenge and hatred. I do not care how highly individuals may consider themselves to be a Christian, if they are always harshly criticizing, judging, slandering, mocking and attacking those who do not agree with them, they are not walking with Christ. Why? Because the level of love we have for the Lord Jesus Christ can be measured by the love we have for others. If we do not pray and spend time with God, we will not sincerely care about people. I John chapter 4 and verse 20 says, “If someone says they love God, and hates another person, they are a liar: for those who do NOT love people that they have seen, how can they love God whom they have not seen?” When people are led by their emotions, they are naturally self-centered and carnal. They may seem to be nice on the surface, but this is a phony and superficial love. God’s agape love is developed when we spend time with Him in the secret place. As we grow in our relationship with Christ, we will develop a sincere concern and compassion for others. It requires a fervent love to pray for someone other than ourselves! We will never have the passion to pray for anyone until we love them with God’s love. Sadly, the reason why prayer is rare is because the love of many have waxed cold.
WHO SITS ON THE THRONE OF OUR HEART?
Have you ever been tempted to argue about your opinions? We all have ideas and views but we must restrain our emotions and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is NOT easy because we always want to prove we are right. However, we are to give it over to God and let Him take care of it – His way! The Bible say’s in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” This verse is saying that it’s not what we are doing outwardly that impresses Him, but rather He is concerned about our attitude and our character. What we do depends on our works – who we are depends on His grace. When we allow Him to remove our arrogance, we can submit to His authority as He rebuilds us into His image. A contrite heart is associated with sorrow and repentance and is an excellent frame of mind to live in. Jesus was God and walked as a man in an attitude of meekness and love. Pride hates to submit to God which is why this is so difficult. It does not matter what labels we wear or how outspoken we are – being a follower of Jesus is learning how to be meek and humble and to demonstrate His love in all situations. The Lord never called us to fight political or religious battles because He knows this never accomplishes anything positive. I write for a public forum and I intentionally avoid controversial subjects. Why? Because provoking people to anger only increases the amount of strife and hatred. Of course we have opinions about controversial political and social issues but we have not been called to argue people into God’s Kingdom. Instead, we are commanded to demonstrate our love and allow the Lord to shine His light through us which has the convicting power to change and save a soul.
Second Corinthians 10:4-5 declares, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” We have so much arguing and bitterness in the world, may we present a refreshing river of peace and encouragement to a world that is lost and confused. It’s not how smart or charismatic we are but rather within the closet of fervent prayer and fasting is where God can change what needs to be changed! We should NOT agree or compromise with someone who is wrong, but we also cannot force the world to accept God and His truth! This where discernment is critical and having spiritual wisdom in season and out of season. If God has not instructed us to say something specific it would probably be better to be silent. Walking with the Almighty requires us to step down from the throne of our heart and invite and ALLOW Jesus Christ to become our King and the LORD of our life. Only when He is allowed to rule, possess and control our mind and heart can we truly walk in His Spirit. Amen.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
THERE IS A WAY TO KNOW OUR PURPOSE – I
When it comes to obtaining spiritual knowledge and wisdom, it’s all about personal revelation. In other words, it’s not how much information we know but how much we understand and has been allowed to be seeded and rooted within our heart. The devil and all the demons of hell have tons of spiritual knowledge but they do not allow it to penetrate their conscience and change who they are which makes it of no effect. Here is one of several basic fundamental principles to remember. Make sure you know your direction. Research thoroughly before you move. If you do not know what to do or where you are going, do something positive while you are waiting. If you have been praying for a long time and have not heard anything, I once heard someone say, “while waiting for a door to open, praise Him in the hallway.” If you are really serious, you can declare a “private” and personal fast. There is no need to broadcast this on facebook or tell everyone you see. By the way, fasting is not always just about food but can be the denial of other pleasures along with dedicating some quiet time alone with Him every day. When you discover all of the basic fundamentals and requirements that are connected to what you are interested in, you may realize you are not qualified, not ready or simply not called to proceed at this time or at all. Yes, God can do miracles but He does not put the cart before the horse or force people to embrace or accept you. He can give you favor and present opportunities but most of the time, we (diligently and with perseverance) work in order to be in the “position” to press forward. He opens doors for situations that He has been preparing in the background that can utilize your skills and is the perfect fit for you. We need to know our gifts and callings before we can have a vision for what He is planning so that we can move in a definite direction. Besides, it’s all about His will and not our own.
LEARNING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FAITH AND REBELLION
Just because we read about how to live a victorious Christian life does not mean we will automatically convert into an overcomer. We must absorb His Word through our brain and into our spirit all the while learning how to surrender our will and discipline our flesh. The true Christian life is not easy, in fact the more serious we become the more difficult it will be. Listen, if we are born again, our spirit is connected with God’s Spirit and we have a wonderful opportunity to channel His energy into our being. If we can prevent our mind from talking us out of it, we can be saved from ourselves but it’s going to take our total commitment and dedication. Being filled with His Spirit means that He has been given us the opportunity to transform the way we think and this will literally change who we are. Persistence and stubbornness are not the same thing. Being stubborn toward God is being rebellious and He is not impressed with this type of determination. He appreciates and blesses us for being persistent because it is a demonstration of faith but when He tells us no and we keep going forward we have fallen into dis-obedience. There have been times in my life where I did not know whether to quit or keep going. When doors have been slammed in my face and locked from the inside I kept knocking and continuing even to the point of trying to force them open with a bull-dozier. There are major problems with this type of mentality. They never come open and all of the attempted demolition makes a huge mess not including the misery and discouragement from resentment and bitterness. It’s crucial to know if the devil is working against us – or if the Lord is saying no.
DO WE REALLY WANT TO LISTEN TO GOD?
Anyone that has ever got off the couch and tried to do anything they felt was important has felt the resistance of the carnal flesh. Whenever God’s children feel a passion to demonstrate their convictions, it would be a good idea to be prepared for laziness, rejection, control issues and emotional vulnerability. Most of the time it is not our fear about how others will react or what they think about us, but it’s the warfare required to take control of our own mind and will. It’s true, we will face adversity and it is truly disheartening to realize that most people are not interested in our vision, but the real war will always be between our flesh and God’s Spirit. When we venture out of our comfort zone and take the bull by the horns, we are setting ourselves up to be tested within the deepest recesses of our being. Everyone wants love and appreciation because feeling good about ourselves is a huge part of our psychological and emotional stability. However, when we place too much emphasis on how we “feel” and not enough toward what God says, we are already being defeated by compromise. We are emotional beings but we cannot afford to be controlled by them and one of the most difficult things is knowing the difference between our voice and His voice. This helps to understand why religion is plentiful and taking up our cross is rare. It is much easier to live according to our own way of thinking than to eliminate the denial and accomplish what the Lord has planned. As we discover what God wants us to be, we are then faced with deciding just how much we will do.
WE CAN BE AS CLOSE TO GOD AS WE WANT
There are reasons why things happen (though it seems that most of them are unsolved mysteries) and every now and then we can see a glimpse of how God was actually at work behind the scenes. I realize we could all save ourselves a lot of heartache if we would take the time to hear God’s voice but this will only happen when we decide that being close to Him is the meaning of life. Sometimes I wonder if He becomes intentionally quiet so that we can learn more about faith. Could this possibly be a part of our spiritual education where we have the opportunity to develop humility? If we received an immediate answer every time we talked with God, we would not understand the virtues of patience and His perfect timing or even have a burden to pray. If solutions were automatic we would probably become demanding and prideful and lose our compassion and sympathy. GOOD NEWS! It’s possible to NOT be led around by our emotions! The Lord is trying to renew our mind with His Word so that we can see what He sees and not find ourselves caught in a snare trap every five minutes. However, the devil is trying everything he can to distract us from thinking about God and loves to throw some awesome pity parties. The enemy knows that if he can discourage us, he has immobilized our love and one of the key elements of our spiritual life – our joy. We can become dedicated to listen and follow God’s thoughts OR continue being entangled in the confusing world of emotions – the choice is ours. “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose LIFE that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 2 – Published 1/13/18
LORD, IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU AND ME
“I repent of my sin and any trespasses against You. With both the sins of commission or omission, I ask You to forgive me and wash me clean with Your blood as white as snow. I confess by FAITH that my mind is influenced and controlled by Your Word and that I have a passionate desire to live under the persuasion of the Holy Spirit! I choose to gird up the loins of my mind by reading Your Word and filling my mind with Your thoughts. Dear God, Your Word strengthens me and keeps my mind free from unbelief and lying strongholds. I plant Your Word deep into my mind, as Your divine truth develops into a strong and bold lifestyle. Please give me more desire and self-discipline. I understand that I can draw as close to you as I want, but my flesh is so weak. Help me to be more determined and give me perseverance to prevent the devil from finding access into my life! I love you Oh Lord, I trust You and I ask all of this in Your holy name, amen”
Let us spend a moment confessing with our mouth and declaring to heaven and earth what we really desire to be in this life.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” These simple prayers and confessions are a part of the warriors armor. God is ready to equip His children but our spiritual development comes from the inside out. Absorbing His Word and speaking our prayers and confessions out LOUD is a part of the word of our testimony. Revelation 12:11 declares, “And they overcame him (devil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
It’s true, the dedicated follower of Christ is always under attack from the devil and the closer we come to God the more intense the spiritual warfare. However, let us not forget that our greatest enemy is our flesh. If we can discipline our flesh, we will not need to worry about what the devil says or his temptations. How many will take this battle seriously? It’s much easier to ignore the responsibility to pray and turn away from what is pleasing in His sight. In fact, “floating down the river” takes no work at all and explains why true Christians are few and far between. We are not referring to a religious ritual but we are talking about those who have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and a passion to be pure.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” II Corinthians 10:4-5. This is reminding us to not fight and argue in our own intelligence but rather to enter into our prayer closet and see the power of God produce miracles for His glory!
God is pouring out His Spirit today as His return is very soon. His Bride is carrying the light of His presence. This remnant is called to demonstrate His character and commissioned to speak His truth! Joel 2:28-32 declares, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.”
Isaiah 55:11 promises, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” God honors HIS Word and His Word NEVER fails! As we allow our heart and mind to become filled with God’s Word, we can release His truth into the atmosphere and allow Him to energize and empower these words to accomplish His will. Let us take a moment and become saturated with His love, faith and hope. May you be renewed with His strength as you draw closer to Him. Speak these confessions OUT LOUD and experience a surge of spiritual hope and encouragement.
LORD, I DEDICATE MY LIFE AND WILL LIVE FOR YOU NO MATTER IF NO ONE ELSE DOES
I AM ALLOWING YOU TO CHANGE MY LIFE AND TO MAKE ME A LIVING SACRIFICE
I AM DETERMINED TO HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE IN ALL THINGS FOR YOUR GLORY
I AM GETTING INTO POSITION TO RECEIVE YOUR BLESSINGS AND FAVOR
IF I HARBOR SIN IN MY HEART – YOU WILL NOT HEAR ME – PLEASE PURIFY ME
I WILL PRAISE AND WORSHIP YOU WITH LITTLE OR WITH ABUNDANCE
JESUS, I KNOW YOU PROVED HOW MUCH YOU LOVED ME ON THE CROSS
THIS DAY I GIVE MY MIND AND HEART COMPLETELY TO CHRIST
LORD YOU GO BEFORE ME AND MAKE THE IMPOSSIBLE – POSSIBLE – AMEN!
YOU PROVIDE MIRACLES AND OPEN DOORS FOR ME THAT NO MAN CAN CLOSE
YOU GIVE ME DIVINE FAVOR IN ALL THINGS ACCORDING TO YOUR WILL
MY FAITH, ANOINTING AND CONFIDENCE IN YOU IS INCREASING
I AM BECOMING SPIRITUALLY STRONGER AS YOU PREPARE ME TO SERVE MORE
I WILL FAST AND PRAY FERVENTLY BECAUSE I WANT TO LIVE IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES
I AM ADVANCING AND PROGRESSING IN MY FAITH AND CONFIDENCE IN YOU
ANGELS ARE ENCAMPED AROUND ME AND WORKING ON MY BEHALF – THANK YOU
I AM INCREASING IN SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT, SENSITIVITY AND POWER
MY TALENTS, ABILITIES AND SPIRITUAL GIFTS ARE EFFECTIVE IN YOUR KINGDOM
MY HEART AND MIND IS BEING CHANGED FROM THE INSIDE OUT
I AM BEING PURIFIED AND SANCTIFIED BY YOUR HOLY REFINING FIRE
MY CONSCIENCE IS BEING RENEWED AND TRANSFORMED THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT
I AM INCREASING IN THE WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR WORD
I HAVE A SOUND MIND – I CAN HEAR YOUR VOICE – I KNOW YOUR DIRECTION – AMEN.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 1 – Published 1/6/18
OPINIONS AND DISAGREEMENTS
“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must NOT be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, and correcting His opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” II Timothy 2:23:25.
We’ve heard the old saying, “opinions are like elbows, everyone has one” and there is much truth to this. We can travel around the world and ask people a series of questions about religion, politics and social issues and I’m sure the diversity of answers would be astounding. When it comes to our personal worldviews, we realize that each human being has been given a brain that contains the ability to process thoughts along with a free-will to make decisions about what they believe. For those who accept God as the creator of all things and the Lord of their life, we know that He has graciously given us this wonderful gift and privilege. If we go a step further in our acknowledgment of God, we have no problem with including the Bible as a detailed explanation about what He thinks and how He wants us to live. However, now that we have already crossed the line with a majority of individuals that strongly reject God and the Bible as being the ultimate spiritual authority, we return to our opening statement about everyone having their own ideas about what our existence is all about. “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” Proverbs 10:12.
Since the beginning of time, we have witnessed disagreement. In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve specific orders and warned what would happen if they did not follow His instructions. Of course, they were easily persuaded otherwise. By the way, every word the Father speaks is nothing less than absolute truth. God is perfect and has never lied or failed. He is the beginning and the end, Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent. These are huge attributes of His character that declares His ultimate authority but, it’s amazing to consider that even with the Lord’s supreme sovereignty, He still gives every man or woman the choice to embrace or reject what He says. So, we read that Eve listened to a strange voice that not only had opposing views toward God but defiantly tried to convince the woman to do the same. In the glorious privilege of free-will, she agreed that God must be trying to deceive her. Unfortunately this concept had such a strong influence, the human race is still following it today. This sin did not (and does not) go unpunished, as we realize that it ruined the original world and broke the spiritual fellowship between humans and the Most High. Since God is flawless in His judgment, He could not (and will not) ignore this defiant act of rebellion or else it would make Him a liar according to His own words. We are reminded of this passage which allows us to understand there are consequences to our views, words, and deeds. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23.
So far we have talked about world-views, the reality of wide-spread disagreement and that God is absolute truth. Now let’s look at another Bible story that involved the same family, but this time with the two sons of Adam and Eve. Their names were Cain and Able, and they were young men trying to function in an exciting and challenging new world. When their parents sinned and were expelled from the Garden, the first blood was shed from an animal and was used as clothing. Blood sacrifices were also explained to be used as a sacrifice of praise and worship to God. This was not an insignificant matter, but was considered very holy as even Christ was slain and is portrayed as the Lamb of God. Cain was a farmer and grew vegetables and fruits which was a perfectly acceptable profession and Able was a shepherd that raised livestock. One day, the time had come to present a sacrifice to God as a spiritual gesture of their worship, faith and commitment. Able followed the usual protocol and slaughtered an animal for his sacrifice but for some reason, Cain brought an offering of fruits and vegetables. God accepted Able and his sacrifice but rejected what Cain had brought because it was not blood and God does not compromise. In short, Cain became so furious that he killed his brother and sadly lived the rest of his life as an outcast. Now, allow me to include that all Cain would have needed to do was repent and then present a new sacrifice to God and all would have been fine. The problem was when he became arrogantly jealous and decided that he could do whatever he wanted no matter what God said. (The apple did not fall far from the tree, pun intended). Cain had an opinion about how to serve God but when God says to do something – He means to do it exactly His way. There is no doubt that rebellion and insubordination is a strong part of our DNA and this old nature is the identity of our most difficult enemy. Many will say that Satan is our only adversary but our flesh is what we should really be concerned about. The devil speaks to our mind about betraying God but it is our will that ultimately decides which path we will take. The Lord has done and wants to do everything He can to help us “overcome” our flesh and the devil but we are servants to whom we obey.
In our discussion about opinions, we find a crucial illustration within this account. First, we see again that our rogue views and ideas can get us in big trouble very quickly. There is not a multitude of options or alternatives when it comes to obedience. There is following God and there is believing something else. Of course, other than God Himself, no one has all the truth and it’s clear that all have sinned and are in desperate need of His constant mercy and grace. The point we find here is there is only one truth and when we are not connected to God’s absolute truth, we are wrong and unless we repent, we will be judged accordingly. Now, I realize this is dogmatic and most people do not agree with this theology but again if we accept the Bible as absolute “truth” then we must submit to foundational pillars of the faith that cannot be altered or modified. We look around today and realize that opinions and disagreements about spirituality and theological doctrines have been the root cause of more death and destruction than anything else. They are also becoming altered and distorted according to the dreams and illusions of carnality. The attitude that Adam, Eve and Cain had toward God exposes fallen mankind as a deceived and blind creature whose only hope is the redemption of the cross. We are fighting and arguing from the time we are in diapers and with certain individuals, controversy becomes such a significant part of their personality that instead of demonstrating the character of Christ, they literally spend their lives searching for new opportunities to provoke and debate. The Bible clearly explains that we are not to wrestle against the principalities and powers in our flesh but rather to war against the lies of darkness through prayer and fasting. We cannot win arguments with our intelligence or charismatically persuade people to believe in God’s truth. We pray and obey, and then place our faith in the Holy Spirit and His ability to convict hearts and change minds.
Another point worth mentioning is that many have the opinion we can live however we want, believe whatever feels good and everything will turn out alright. There is a popular fantasy that all religions are tied together and eventually are blended into one major super-highway that leads to heaven. In this dangerous philosophy, the unity of faith is brought together as a great and wonderful solution to religious division. I can understand if we wanted a simple and quick formula that can ease our conscience and deny our accountability to absolute truth, but this is just another example of mankind trying to establish their own way of living instead of submitting to God’s way. There would have been no reason for Jesus to die on the cross and be raised from the dead if we could just as well trust and worship the Sun or a statue. We would not need the Bible at all, if it was acceptable by God for us to read and believe in some other book or ideology. There are many people who have wanted to be God and millions that have followed them but there is only one true God and He is the only way, the truth and the life. He created everything and everyone will stand before Him at the judgment. There are not 90,747 separate compartments of heaven where false idols, anti-Christs and deceived teachers congregate with all of their followers. There is one throne and one God who sits upon the throne. This is nothing new, it has always been that way and will continue for all eternity.
We can disagree with God all of our life and we can believe however we want but it will never change the truth. Will it matter what our opinions are? What do you think? Do you believe your opinions are important? Would you give your life for them? Actually, we are all giving our life for what we believe. You know, if we are right by believing and following God and His Word, we will have an eternity to spend with God that will be more awesome than can be imagined. If we are wrong, we can still say that we lived a wonderful life of peace and contentment. For those who have never accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and are wrong about what they believe, the Bible says these individuals have made a terrible mistake and the consequences will be an eternity of darkness and misery. In this simple view, there is no doubt that our opinions and the way we live are the most important decisions we could possibly make in this life. Is it worth researching? Is it worth discussing? Is it possible to find absolute truth and embrace it? I believe yes to all of these questions. Knowing truth has always been God’s desire for us because He has done everything He can to save us from our our selves. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that will ask will receive and he that seeks will find and to him that knocks it shall be opened” Matthew 7:7-8.