Living Each Day in The Spirit

Daily Fellowship With God

  1. It is only in daily, direct, living communication with God that my soul can be strengthened.
  2. Be still before God no matter the time it takes. In prayer, or worship, or in any act of daily life all success is dependent on God being first in your heart, your mind, your soul and your spirit.
  3. Humble yourself before the Living God. Allow God to take his proper place on the throne of your heart by assuming your proper place of lowliness at His feet, so that He might fill you with His Holy Spirit.
  4. Nothing in creation delights God more than His beloved son, therefore, enter into God’s holy presence with a heart that is thankful for the blood of Christ and the assurance that it gives you of The Father’s acceptance.
  5. God loves you with all the love that He has for Jesus Christ. He seeks your daily response to His love. Trust Him with your love by showing Him a heart of obedience to His will. Join Him each and every day in the work that He is doing around you.
  6. Live in the faith of Christ’s presence and power in you. Be conformed to His likeness in mind and spirit. Live so that those who interact with you today will see Christ in you and be drawn to Him.
  7. If we are properly humbled before God in Christ’s death on the cross, dead to our sinful nature, then we will also be made alive in the power of His resurrection. One can only be powerful in humility before God; humbled before him as Jesus humbled Himself in obedience even to death on the cross.
  8. Rely entirely on the Holy Spirit to reveal the things of Christ through you. You can only succeed in this by remaining humble and still before God and man. Never run ahead, seeking to accomplish things FOR God, but always wait on Him to express His will in your life first, then work WITH Him to glorify Him in whatever you accomplish.
  9. As you meditate on the unfathomable reality of your salvation, seek the grace to live your life as completely devoted to God as Jesus lived His.
  10. Begin each day in a deep, restful faith and fellowship with God, and He will fill you with all the power and blessings of His Kingdom of the Heavens.
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Star in a Jar

Speaking Light Into The Universe

In Genesis 1:4, God spoke and His words brought light out of the darkness:

“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning —the first day.”

 

I have seen many strange uses of sound in my life, both in the laboratory and in the natural world. I have seen dolphins create bubbles in the shape of rings then push those bubbles ahead of them, through the water, like a toy, using nothing but sound from their built-in sonar. In the laboratory I have seen sound used to levitate objects, lifting them into the air and floating them on invisible waves of energy. In addition, sound-like energy is at the root of string theory and thus, M-theory, but Stephen Hawking would have to come back to explain all that to you.

The point is, that sound is capable of many mysterious things, things science cannot yet understand, and yet, we seem to have so much trouble believing in the God who spoke the universe into creation. Today, however, we come a bit closer to understanding God’s creation by the scientific discovery of a process that defies our sacrosanct laws of physics. It is being called “sonoluminescence,” that is, the transformation of sound into light within a fluid. Remember that the spectrum of fluid densities is very wide. It includes high-density materials such as liquefied metals, like mercury, but it also includes the lightest of gases, such as hydrogen. All of these, including water, are considered fluids and all are subject to the laws of fluid dynamics.

In  the book of Genesis, The Bible describes all of these different densities of fluids as, “Waters,” and, today, within flasks of water, scientists are creating light from sound in tiny bubbles they call, “Stars in a Jar.” They are called such because they are tiny bursts of super-heated plasma energy, the very same form of energy that makes up the stars in the vast universe that surrounds us, including our own star. Scientists are studying these stars in jars all over the world today because there is speculation that one day the process could be used to produce consumer energy.

The process of sonoluminescence, however, defies the laws of both fluid dynamics and thermodynamics and though it’s being reproduced in laboratories, we find that it daily occurs naturally in the depths of the oceans, produced there by a tiny crustacean called a pistol, or mantis shrimp. These shrimp stun their prey with an explosive sound that is so sharp and powerful, it often produces the sonoluminescence effect. God has said that we have no excuse because the evidence of Him is all around us. He can be denied, but He is undeniable, and far beyond our laws of physics. In Him, all things are possible, even making light from sound. Science proves Him every day.

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Truly Free

There can be no greater irony regarding truth than the inscription of John 8:32 on the lobby wall of the CIA in Langley, Va.. I’m sure that it was well meant at the time of its installation, but neither the person who authorized it nor the organization have any more understanding of truth than did Pontius Pilate in the first century, AD. The truth is that, as Jack Nicholson’s character, Colonel Nathan Jessup said in the motion picture, A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth.”

Such is often the case in our world. There are nations of people, societies, cultures, and individuals who can’t handle the truth. Millions and billions of people who are in no way prepared for the freedoms promised by the scripture in John 8:32. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

When Jesus spoke these words He prefaced them with a stipulation that few in our world today have accepted, or kept. There can be no stronger evidence of it than the so-called, “Arab Spring,” of 2010, with its continuing tsunami of violence and depravity spreading across the Middle-East and onto the shores of the entire world.

If I were free to rewrite the scripture, I would write it thus, And you shall know the truth, and the Truth shall make you free. Did you notice that the word truth is capitalized in the second stanza of the verse? That’s because the Truth is a person. Jesus said, “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.”

But the world today, as we approach the end of time, is filled with every kind of human depravity, exactly as it is described in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans. Mankind have altogether become filled with unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, and hatred of God, but there is another form of depravity that pervades society today. It is the depravity of willful ignorance. Willful ignorance is defined as the intentional denial of an obvious truth or condition because it doesn’t support a commonly held popular opinion. It is, in effect, a form of mob hysteria. A prime example of such ignorance today is the hysteria over gender identity, but it doesn’t stop there, it permeates every aspect of our daily lives, and, In large part, it is a sign of the times in which we are living, a fulfillment of the prophecies of Sodom and Gomorrah.

That brings me to the bubble of time. Time is like a soap bubble that is floating through the atmosphere of eternity. While eternity exists both inside and outside the bubble, time only exists on the inside. When the bubble ceases to exist, time will be no more and, like any soap bubble, cosmic forces are terminally at work constantly thinning the transparent walls of the time bubble, until, one day, in only a moment, the bubble will burst and only eternity will remain. Where will you be when time comes to an end? Where will you spend eternity?

Your earthly body cannot survive the eternal environs. Only your soul, a spiritual existence of awareness, will survive eternity, so it’s important you prepare. You can choose to spend eternity either locked in darkness or flying free in God’s light, those two are the only choices. To be free, your heart and soul must be prepared. The test of your preparedness is whether or not you know the Truth, and, by the knowledge of Him, have the law of love written in the blood of Jesus Christ, on the doorposts of your heart.

Morally speaking, freedom requires a large measure of individual responsibility, along with a significant measure of unselfishness. The more self-centered a society is, the more irresponsible its members become. The more irresponsible the less freedom can be allowed, and the concept of freedom brings us to the subject of democracy.

Given the state of education today, I don’t think anything could be more misunderstood than the polity of democracy. For those who went to university but failed to educate themselves, you might be interested to learn that democracy is not a permanent form of government, it is only transitional in nature, moving polity from one form of government to another and it certainly does not, in any instance, result in freedom. An implemented Democracy will consistently result in the tyranny of “majority rule,” and pure democracy can only lead to chaos, civil war, and, ultimately, anarchy. So the idea that you can set people free by planting the seeds of “democracy” among them is not only errant, it’s ignorant and, I’m afraid that, in the case of the “Arab Spring,” the ignorance was willful.

So, if freedom is the goal, how do we prepare people for it? To begin, the world must be prepared morally. By that, I mean that the leaders of any society must have a proper and consistent standard of morality that stems from individual responsibility and unselfish service to the community at large. Because the nature of any culture flows down from its leaders, not up to them, this type of leadership must remain in place until the behavior of the people is fashioned by it. Only when the people, in the vast majority, have adopted a culture of unselfish responsibility toward one-another, will they be prepared to be free. Unfortunately, leading by example could take a very long time to translate into cultural change, especially among the vast majority, thus the temptation toward utopianism, (but I digress.)

Jesus was very aware that leading by example might require more than a man’s lifetime to foment a change of heart in a majority of any people. He had twelve men following Him daily that were a constant proof. In His frustration, He more than once asked them, “Are you so dull?” (Mark 7:18) It was a rhetorical question. The point is that we, humanity, are dull, in every sense of the word, and it takes more than leading by example to change our hearts. The Apostle Peter is a clear illustration of this principle. Peter, in the course of a few weeks, went from denying that he ever knew Christ Jesus to testifying before the Sanhedrin that Jesus was the Messiah. So, by what power was this rapid change wrought in Peter’s heart? It was by the power of the Spirit of The Living God.

So how do we get the power of the Holy Spirit into the hearts and minds of the vast majority of any people? We do it by the power of prayer. On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus fervently prayed for himself, for His disciples and for all believers, present and future. The church must follow His model of fervent prayer, by making prayer a priority in every moment of our daily lives. Only by the power of prayer can we prepare the soil so that the seed we sow will not go to waste. And we must sow good seed, seed that is soaked in the stipulation of Christ’s blood. Only by the power of prayer can the Holy Spirit bring conviction and only by the power of conviction can repentance spring forth. Mankind must repent before the change can come.

The world today is in no way prepared for freedom and their condition is the church’s responsibility. The scripture is clear, the church has been given the power to move mountains and to change the world. There’s no denying the influence of the church in much of the world’s history, the good that has come from it, but we need to do more. We need to resist the legacy of Laodicea. We need to march out into the everyday world around us and testify to the Truth that we know in our hearts. We need to fervently pray for individuals, groups, and leaders so that the soil of their hearts will be prepared to “know the Truth,” so that the “Truth will make them free.” We need to, each and every member of the Body of Christ, commit ourselves to The Great Commission, to “go forth and make disciples of every nation,” so that their hearts will be changed, as Peter’s was. Only then, only in the light of the Truth, will people truly be free.

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Making America Great Again

I’m not sure that we, as a nation and as a people understand just how angry God is with us at the moment. In the early 18th century of Colonial America, Johnathan Edwards, a Puritan preacher, and theologian wrote a sermon entitled, “God Makes Men Sensible of Their Misery Before He Reveals His Mercy and Love.”

 

He based the sermon on the scripture from Hos. 5:15,

“I will return again to My place

Till they acknowledge their offense.

Then they will seek My face;

In their affliction, they will earnestly seek Me.”

Edwards concludes that, in the pride of our sinful nature, we will always turn our backs on God and that, until we clearly see our need for Him, we are not inclined to seek Him out. Edwards put it this way, “Until the sinner is convinced of his sin and misery, he is not prepared to receive the redeeming mercy and grace of God, as through a Mediator, because he does not see his need of a Mediator till he sees his sin and misery.”

Alexis de Tocville

The truth of that message is revealed again and again throughout the scriptures of the Bible and the extrabiblical history of the entire world, not just Western culture. Knowing this, I find it strange that so little of what we hear today from the pulpits of America reflects this truth, or acknowledges God’s righteous anger over our apostasy. In the time that Edwards wrote this sermon, our pulpits were “aflame with righteousness,” as Alexis de Tocville observed. That flame led to a “Great Awakening,” a massive spiritual revival in 1734-35 and again in 1741. As much as the godless in America don’t want to acknowledge that we are a Christian nation, those revivals of the church’s power led to the birth of our freedom from tyranny and our constitution, the greatest plan for secular governance the world has ever known.

Today we, the church in America, half-heartedly pray for revival but our message to a lost nation is a weak, watered-down version of the Gospel, not the meat of our relationship with a living, and angry God. Did you go to church on our so-called “Easter Sunday,” without recognizing that “Easter” is a Pagan celebration? Easter is the one Sunday of the year that the churches in America are mostly filled with the lost who are seeking God’s forgiveness in exchange for their attendance. What was the message you heard from the pulpit on that day? Did it accurately reflect our sin and the misery it has caused in every part of the world? (America’s reach is long and powerful. It has been so since the time de Tocville wrote about its greatness.)

Did the message you heard from the pulpit propound God’s righteous anger, or our dire need to repent and humble ourselves in fear before an angry God? I seriously doubt it. The verse from “Oh Holy Night” comes to my mind this Resurrection Day, “Fall on your knees, oh hear the angels’ voices?”

Our reality is in fact described in the verses prior to Hos. 5:15, where the prophet speaks for God, saying, “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, And like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue.”

But we are so blinded by our own depravity that we don’t see the truth of our situation. Whatever we see that we recognize as being wrong, we blame on circumstances, on politics, on each other, or some interfering third party, but Jesus spoke the truth when He said of the church in this age, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—” Wake up America. Wake up from your dream and repent.

In 1831 Alexis de Tocville, a French sociologist, came to America to study our prisons, but on experiencing this nation, he greatly expanded the scope of his journey and wrote his famous treatise, “Democracy in America.” In it, he makes the following observation;

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

Want to “Make America Great Again?” Then recognize your sin and the misery it has caused, humble yourself before our angry God, repent, pray for forgiveness then “go” and Make America GOOD Again!

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The Gray Empire

1Kings 19:21

“And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.”

Choose this day whom you will serve,” Joshua commanded the people, and be aware that you are going to serve somebody whether you like it or not. The daily choices you make will be based on your worldview, that is, what you believe about the world around you. If you believe that the “world,” and I include all the known universe in that expression, only exists in what you see, touch and sense, and in how you feel about it, then your choices will reflect a sensual reality. That, however, is a very narrow view. It’s a view that refuses to believe that evil exists as an intelligent entity. It’s a view that refuses to believe, or even allow for the belief, that the world you see and feel and sense could have been created by intelligent design. It’s a view that cannot, and will not consider that there is a spiritual dimension to this world that is ever present and has functional influence over our thoughts, our perceptions, and thereby, the choices that we make each and every day. It is a view that is blind to the battle that rages around us in contest for our temporal minds, and our eternal souls.

As Morpheus informs Neo in the movie, The Matrix, “it is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” or, as in the case Lt. Daniel Kaffee, in “A Few Good Men,” “You can’t handle the truth!” You have become like Pontius Pilate,  unable to see the truth that is standing right in front of you. The result of this blindness is that you create, in your mind, a mythology I call, “The Gray Empire.” The Gray Empire is an imaginary world where there are no absolutes, no black or white to choose, no truth and, thus, no lie. There is only gray and, therefore, no need to choose. The trouble is, as they say, “to not choose, is to choose not to.” The question, of course, is, choose not to what?

In the case of The Matrix, it is to choose the blue pill and go back to sleep denying the slavery of sin. In the case of A Few Good Men, it is to deny the very existence of evil thus the need for a wall. In the case of Pilate, it is to deny Christ, the light that has come into the world and the promise of eternal life in Him. To live in the Gray Empire is to deny all three, that is the choice that is made by not choosing. So, you decide. Will you take the blue pill and accept the dark lie, or will you take the red pill and know the harsh light of the truth? You are free to decide, but choose you must because the Gray Empire is no more than a mythical reality, it is the matrix, nothing more than a lie perpetrated by the world of men. I implore you, choose this day whom you will serve.

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A Voice Crying in The Wilderness

***WARNING***

Some May Find This Post Disturbing, Please Use Discretion.

The science cited in this post is not 100 percent, but it is very solid.

Jesus spoke often about the future, warning His followers that being a sojourner behind enemy lines would not be an easy life to live. It is, rather, if truly lived, a life filled with danger, suffering and the many difficulties associated with the Narrow Way. On the occasion of sending out the twelve to spread His gospel of love, Jesus gave this surprising revelation: “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” Mat. 10:21-22

I have been terribly concerned lately for all the division being sown among us on a worldwide basis, division of every kind, religious, political, moral, philosophical, division among families and a widening divide between genders. I clearly see our enemies sowing the seeds of division and doing it with the help of our own leaders, using our educational systems, our courts, our free press and every kind of entertainment media. By their efforts, every bond of nature and of men is being broken. I attribute this wide-spread assault to the work of Satan, and perhaps that’s true, but I’ve come to see that, just as in the Garden and again at the Cross, Satan has been duped or perhaps compelled, to carry out God’s plan, a snare set by God that Satan has freely walked into by the power of his own will.

Christianity seems to have lost sight of God’s true purpose in creating a temporal world, a purpose that will forever be a mystery to the lost but ought to be understood within the church. You see, in the end, God must know who among us are with Him and who among us are against Him. In the end, He must separate the wheat from the chaff. In the end, the world must be so divided that there can be no question about an individual’s relationship to Him, for our distinct destinations in eternity are at stake. That is why Jesus, speaking to His followers, gave them some of the most troubling words ever to come from the lips of a savior.

He said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to “set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’” Mat. 10:34-36

That time has come upon us, the time for God to prepare the Earth for its destined finale. In Genesis when God came to observe the people of the post-diluvian world, He watched as they used illicit knowledge to construct a city and a tower in defiance of Him. As He observed, He commented on their activities, “Indeed the people are one together and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from that place, over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building their city,” …at least for a time.

God’s action was a delaying tactic to prevent the people from destroying themselves before God’s appointed time has come. All these thousands of years later, standing atop our new tower of science and technology, with the Hubble telescope and many other tools at our disposal for observing the universe, we can see how near Earth is to its literal end. As our solar system passes out of a dense, and highly magnetic, hydrogen cloud, a protective cocoon that has enveloped us for the past fifty thousand years, we find that the earth’s destruction could come as soon as within the next century. Our small planetary system is traveling through the Milky Way Galaxy at a speed of approximately 1.5 billion mph so that it will very soon sling-shot us out of the protection of the hydrogen cloud’s magnetic shields and into the void of deep space. At the same time, the protection we receive from our own star’s already failing magnetic shields will be greatly reduced. In addition, the Earth’s own ever-shifting magnetic shield will also begin to weaken. The result of all this will leave the earth exposed to the brutal onslaught of powerful, tsunami-like waves of interstellar radiation that continually surge through deep space. Add to all this the much-reduced protection we will have from the million mph solar wind produced by our own star, and in a very short time, Earth’s atmosphere could be stripped away and the earth become a barren, lifeless red planet like Mars.

Of course, God knew all this from the beginning. He has warned us time after time about the coming end of all things temporal, and the imperative we have to prepare for a new life in eternity. Today, in the twenty-first century of Christ, standing atop our high tower of defiant knowledge, we can actually see the literal end coming, and we are shocked to find that it is not far off. Just a few years ago scientists thought that we had ten thousand years or so to prepare, and now we find that there may be only a couple of hundred or less.

The question is, what will we do with all this terrible knowledge? Will we continue to deny God, deny His existence, deny His hand in creation, deny the benefit of His moral law, deny His son, His sacrifice of blood, His death, His resurrection? Or will we, in all wisdom, voluntarily cease building what Augustine referred to as “The City of Man,” with its lofty tower of illicit knowledge. Will we instead, fall on our knees, beg His forgiveness and turn to Him for our salvation, denying our sinful selves as His son commanded. The choice is yours of course but bear in mind that what’s at stake is where you will spend the rest of your eternal life. God is on the move. He is moving from darkness to light. Don’t let human pride cause you to be left behind.

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Sin Is Not A Verb

or

Why I Support the Death Penalty

I was recently schooled by a Catholic friend on the subject of the Pro-Life Movement. She insisted that Pro-Life included banning the death penalty. Her argument was, to be honest, very Pro-Life, along with being high minded and idealistic of a world we might all love to see and live in. She implied that the death penalty was not God-like, not demonstrative of His loving-kindness or the forgiveness that we, as Christians should demonstrate in our own lives. She quoted Pope John Paul and Pope Francis and she concluded that we all have a right to life and that, taking the life of a convicted killer cuts him, or her, off from the opportunity for repentance and salvation. These are all beautiful thoughts and somewhat reflective of a Kingdom of Heaven ideal, I suppose. The trouble is that the mirror she’s seeing this reflection in is a dark and dirty glass that is distorting her view.

Her beautiful thoughts, unfortunately, are born of an ignorance of the scriptures, and thereby ignorance of God. The “right to life” she mentioned is in the constitution, not the Bible, and therefore dependent on the whims of government and despots, not the promises of God. In fact, the Bible, God’s Holy word and the revelation of Himself, says just the opposite. The Bible informs us that we are all deserving of death, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” His word goes on to say that, “The wages of sin is death,” but to truly understand these words requires that one correctly understand the concept of sin.

We have all been taught to believe that sin is a verb, that it is defined by the things we do while under the influence of certain sinful emotions such as pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. But sin is not a verb, it’s a noun and the things we do are the fruit of sin, not sin itself. Sin is an intrinsic part of who we are and who we have been since the day Adam fell prey to the temptation of Satan in the Garden. On that day, everything changed and the man and the woman who were made in God’s image became defiled. They were literally changed by what they did, mind, body, and spirit. Let me rephrase the words of the Bible to make this better understood, “All have sin and all fall short of the glory God intended.” In other words, we have become a great disappointment to God in the same way that Satan and his fallen angels have. In the course of time, God has become “grieved that He made us.”

Think for a moment about the gravity of that truth. The God who created us, the Holy God for whom sin is a form of Kryptonite that must never touch or come close to Him, the same God who was forced to cast the rebelling angels from His presence in Heaven, was also forced to cast Adam and Eve from the purity of the Garden He had created for them. Only purity can stand next to God, only purity can walk with Him in the Garden of His Kingdom. Sin has forever separated us from God our Father and from the Kingdom He created us for.

I say all this to establish a background, a foundation for what follows because, without this understanding of who we are in the eyes of God, it will be impossible to understand the world that we live in today. What followed the Great Flood in which God expressed His grief, was a binding law to regulate human behavior, a standard by which all men should live and be judged within The Father’s moral will. This law, this standard of morality and ethic calls for a penalty of death in almost every instance of violation. His law stands in force to this day. Jesus said of it, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”

How can that be, if we live in the age of God’s grace if Christ shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins? The answer is simple, “Free Will.” Each of us is free to choose to obey the law or not. The overwhelming evidence provided by the Bible and supported by secular history indicates clearly that we are not very good at obedience. The biggest part of our sin nature has made us selfish and irresponsible. The proof of it became obvious the very day that God confronted Adam about his disobedience. In his new, sinful nature, Adam pointed to Eve and said, “it was the woman,” he then pointed to God and added, “that you gave me.”

That sinful tradition continues to this day and lies at the very heart of sin. First, the self-awareness that led to rebellion and then the selfish irresponsibility that leads to all manner of wickedness. The rise of wickedness compelled God to destroy the life He created on the earth by means of a flood. Only by His grace did he preserve a future for mankind. And now, seeing wickedness rise again, He will destroy the earth once and for all by fire as He demonstrated at Sodom and Gomorrah. In the meantime, we are free in God’s grace or mercy to choose our own way in this world. We may choose to live our lives in God’s permissive will, free of all moral constraints, lawless and defiant of God or denying Him altogether. In such a case we live our lives under God’s mercy, but we are without His grace, unforgiven if you will, and subject to all the penalties of the law including and especially death.

Most of us rather choose to live in God’s moral will where God gives the state authority over life and death. In this case, we live our lives according to the law, by God’s mercy, but also lacking His grace. Other than having a fixed standard of morality according to God’s will, there is often little perceptive difference between the people who spend their lives in His moral will and those who live in His permissive will. History and the Bible have well proven that people are incapable of living according to an external standard. We are all born of a criminal mind and of those who will be judged by God, many will be compelled to account for the things they did in His name.

Finally, there is God’s specific will. That is a life lived in God’s grace, forgiven and filled with the Holy Spirit so that the law is written on one’s heart by the blood of Jesus Christ. For such as these, there is no sin, all is forgiven. There is only one law for those who live by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that is, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ” (Luke 10:26, 27)  Such people do not commit crimes against their neighbors and thus are not subject to the penalties of either the law or of sin. On rare occasion, when this general rule is broken and harm is done in the flesh, then what is done in the flesh, outside the power of the Holy Spirit, is subject to the law of the flesh.

In short, people are free to choose to live by the Spirit or to live by the law and all must be held accountable according to their choice. When you choose to act in the flesh you can expect to be judged by the law and punished accordingly. The Apostle Paul makes this very clear in Romans 13. In verse four of that chapter, he tells us, “For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it (the state) does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.” Then, in 1 Corinthians 15:56, “Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” In other words, to live by the law can only lead to death, there is no other way for a life lived outside of God’s specific will. As long as people choose to live and act outside of God’s specific will, they will be subject to the law. That choice requires the state to build prisons and authorizes Government to decide who will live and who will die, as stated by Pilate in John 19:10, when he said to Jesus, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Indeed he does and he gains that authority from God.

 

 

 

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Our Suffering World

“Do you not comprehend that, as you stand on the earth, you are standing at the very conjunction of Heaven and Hell, the gate of which lies before you.”

(B. James Wilson, from “Kingdom of Light”)

Who among you, who publicly confesses faith in Christ, has not been challenged by the plaintiff question, “If your God is so loving, why would he let this happen?” (“This” being the latest earthbound suffering, or perhaps even some suffering from the past.)

It seems to me there is an enormous misunderstanding among both believers and non-believers regarding the nature of suffering in the world, and the nature of God’s will and purpose in that suffering; so much misunderstanding in fact, that the question itself requires serious examination. First, in the case of the non-believer, the question is more rhetoric, an accusation against God that is best answered with the question, “Indeed, why?”.

In the same way, Jesus was also challenged, but He answered them not. Instead, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. ” (Isaiah 53:7)

As it is for the Teacher, so it will be for the disciple. In such cases, it is better to pray for that person than to give an answer, because the question is not a question at all, but a premise for debate, a challenge to God’s sovereignty and authority in the world. Their rhetoric is intended to sow the seed of doubt in the same way as the serpent in the garden. In its very nature, the question, asked in this way, becomes an illustration of the problem. It is the heart of rebellion against God, the very heart of sin and not deserving of the knowledge or the mystery of His grace and mercy.

Sometimes, however, the question is truly a plaintiff cry, that is, a wounded heart crying out to God seeking an answer, seeking understanding. In this case, the best answer is simply the gospel of God’s love for the individual. Not a defense of His authority, or sovereignty, but an outpouring of His love and compassion through the believer, His ambassador on Earth. As God points out in Job 5:18, “For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole.”

It is important to note here that God accepts responsibility for Job’s suffering. Such is the nature of a great king, the seal of sovereignty, accepting that “the buck stops here.” God has never been shy to announce His involvement in human suffering. He clearly accepts responsibility for the Great Flood, for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, even for the destruction of the cities of His people in Israel and Judah and their exile. Through Amos God says, in 3:6, “If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?”

This reality may be shocking to some, but God has a purpose in human suffering, just as He had a purpose in the suffering of Christ Jesus, His own son, whom He sent to die on a cruel cross, saying through Him, In John 10:17-18 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

In these words of Jesus, lies the key to our misconception of suffering and death. You see, as much as you may not like to hear it, God does not place the same value on our temporal lives as we do. As Jesus points out to us, He has the power to lay down life and to pick it up again. He proves it over and over, from creation to Ezekiel’s valley of the dry bones, and from Jonah’s rescue to Lazarus,  of whom Jesus said, In John 11:14-15 “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless, let us go to him.””

I repeat the words of our savior, “that you may believe.”

You see, what is important to God is your faith, not your life; not that life is not precious to God; it is, and He has plenty to say about that, but your life here, on temporal Earth, is not as precious to Him as His purpose for it. So the proper question to be asked is not, “Why would God allow this suffering,” but, “What is God’s purpose in this suffering?”

Believers suffer too, and, like Job, they cry out to God wanting to understand the reason for it. The answer today is the same as it was for Job, in his day. That answer lies, veiled, in the opening scripture of Job’s story, that Satan, a fallen angel, leader of a rebellion against God, is free within God’s permissive will, to challenge your faith, by bringing suffering upon the faithful. What we, the faithful, fail to understand and what we fail to teach, or even speak of in our churches, is the fact that we are the subjects of a war, an invisible war that surrounds us every day; a war in which we are forced to choose one side or another. The truth of that is well put in the song, “You’re Going to Serve Somebody“, written and performed by Bob Dylan, but more importantly, pointed out by God Himself in Joshua 24:15.

We are free each day, in joy or suffering, to choose between God, or Satan, between goodness, or evil, between darkness, or light. The Gray Empire in which the world lives, hiding from our true purpose, hiding from our Creator, that empire is the real mythology. It is, in effect, the Matrix of movie fame. Unfortunately, our fallen nature makes us more likely to properly respond while in suffering, than we would in times of joy, so sometimes God allows us to suffer in order to draw us to His side. At other times, as noted in Job, chapter one, we suffer because of an attack on our righteousness. In such a case, however, our suffering is limited by God’s decree. Sometimes our suffering is part of a pruning process, a way for God to use us to produce more and better fruit for Him, but most often our suffering is our own, the coincidental result of the fallen world in which we live.

For those of us who believe, and recognize the spiritual battle that permeates our lives here, on Earth, the refrain, “onward Christian soldier, marching as to war,” actually means something beyond the words of an old hymn. Paul reminds us of this purpose for our lives in his letter to the Ephesians, when he says, in 6:14-18 “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”

This is our draft notice and marching orders, our declaration of war. As with any war there will be suffering, especially for the “innocent”, those who are lost and confused, those who think that the Gray Empire actually exists and will be caught up in the battle, unaware of the truth, when the Matrix collapses.

In the end, as difficult as it may be to accept, God allows us to suffer when we deserve to suffer, or when our suffering can turn us to Him, or when our suffering can prepare us to serve Him. The patterns of suffering in the Bible clearly demonstrate that when God’s people are living according to His will, that is His moral and specific will, suffering in their world is greatly reduced by His mercy. The opposite is true when the situation is reversed. So what is God’s purpose? It is to put an end to the rebellion that has torn His Kingdom apart and, through sin, brought suffering to the world He created. More importantly, however, is God’s will in all of this. His will clearly demonstrates that His love is the driving motivation behind all of His actions, from creation to the fact that He sustains us each day, from breath to breath. His perfect will is that all people should be saved and none should be lost at the end when the Gray Empire finally collapses. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all,” (1 Timothy 2:3-6.)

Therefore take joy in all your suffering, for in it lies the perfect will of God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.”

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The Time Has Come!

The time has come for the crumbling church to rise up and take back what has been lost, but so many who sit in the pews each Sunday are too sick to join the fight. I’m not talking about physical illness, the kind that permeates the prayer list each week. I’m talking about spiritual illness, an anemia that causes blindness, apathy, and complacency. The persons I’m referring to may have attended worship services every Sunday since they were a child. They may be an active member of a Sunday School class, who knows the Bible from front to back, but in their daily life, they live in disobedience, deaf to God’s voice because they are not listening to Him. Instead, their heads are filled with all the distracting voices of this world calling to them every day of the week. How is it that, so often, a person’s walk and their talk do not line up?

Recently I was asked, by a man whom I’m discipling, how it could be that a person could confess a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, yet still, “walk with the Devil.” He was speaking of his own walk and he was deeply troubled by what he was experiencing. I explained to him that he is not alone in his experience, but the struggle he described is not the same thing as spiritual apathy, in fact, it is quite the opposite. If you feel sometimes, as the old wise man once said, that, “there are two dogs fighting a battle to the death inside you,” then count yourself blessed that you sense it and see it, few people do. None-the-less, for all who take their discipleship seriously, an invisible battle truly rages around you, in you and over you, each day. It is a battle for your mind, and your will. It is a battle being waged between the Holy Spirit and Satan’s forces of dark depravity, a struggle between darkness and light. It is the spiritual equivalent of the challenge that Joshua faced when he led The people of God into the Promised Land. He was given a command from God to drive out the sinful nations that had previously occupied that place. So it is for we who have been born again, that we, led by Christ Jesus, cross over into the Promised Land to do battle with the strongholds of sin that have occupied our lives, and to make room for the Holy Spirit.

Oh, listen to me, church! This journey with Christ is not a transcendental quest for peace, or happiness, neither is it for wealth or good health. The pursuit of those things is the way of the Sadducees, the false prophets of the priesthood, wolves in sheep’s clothing. Nor is the Way of Christ a quest for self-righteousness under law, that is the religion of Pharisees, self-appointed enforcers of a morality that they have defined themselves. They stand at the doorway to the Kingdom of God, refusing to enter in and preventing others from doing the same. The Way of Christ is also not a utopian struggle for an imagined, perfect world. Utopia is the religion of despots and dictators, of false prophets such as Mohamed and Karl Marx. It is the way of brutal men, like Joseph Stalin and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, men who believe that the end justifies the means.

The Way of Christ is not an aesthetic journey to find inner peace and tranquility to be found through a multitude of ritual practices, as so many of the Eastern Religions teach. That way amounts to a search for self, a quest that is born of the original sin and rooted in the religion of Satan, who, as Lucifer, thought to place his throne above that of God.

Jesus said, “It is not peace that I bring, but a sword.” Your God, your Savior, and your King is calling you to the front lines of a battle for the souls of men. Unfortunately much of the church, perhaps most, are living what I will call, Sponge Bob Christianity, a form of discipleship that is shallow in its commitment, confined to Sunday mornings when toothless, baby believers gather together, selfishly seeking to be filled with the milk of the gospel rather than the meat of obedience to God’s commands. The milk sustains them just long enough to spend another week wasting the power of the Spirit and the Word by neglecting the command of their Savior to “Go into the world.” They are, in effect, Monday morning atheists, living the rest of the week as if God didn’t exist, allowing the Power they have been entrusted with to evaporate into the air instead of using it to advance God’s Kingdom.

Jesus said, “If you are my disciple, pick up your cross daily and follow Me.” He means that we should die to “self” at the start of each day, then march forth to do His bidding right where we live in the world. Too often, however, we are like frightened soldiers hiding in the relative safety of the trenches while the enemy consumes the ground we were sent to defend. The time has come for the church to rise up, to fix bayonets, (that is the Sword of Truth), and charge out of the trenches to take back the ground that has been lost to the enemy over centuries of error, remembering all the while, that our battle is not with flesh and blood, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

The battle begins with prayer and victory comes through obedience to the work that The Lord puts before you each day. So, put on the whole armor of God and, when you leave your pew on Sunday, join the battle for the Kingdom, a battle that rages around you each and every day of the week.

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Changing Our Paradigm of Death

Some religions celebrate death, certainly Christianity is one that should.

I know of a religious sect that mourns the birth of a child and celebrates the death of a member with feasting and great joy. As Christians, we could learn something from this small sect. Instead, our paradigm of death is one of grief and sorrow; believe me, I’ve had my share. As painful as it may be, the truth is that our grief is all about us, it’s selfish. When we grieve, we are mourning our loss, our attention is focused on what has been taken from us, not what our loved one has gained and attained, if they are a true believer.

“Believer” is a key word in this scenario. When Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany, died, Jesus wept. We can imagine first that he was grieved by his own loss of a dear friend, but scripture indicates to me that he wept in sympathy, feeling the depth of Mary and Martha’s grief. In my mind I can picture the scene where Martha runs to greet him as he approaches the village. She runs to him with tears streaming down her cheeks, falling into his arms, sobbing at the sight of him, accusing him in her anger, then begging him in her desperate need for solace. Then Jesus takes her tear-stained face in his hands, looks deeply into the windows of her soul and utters the powerful words we have all heard before, but, perhaps, not understood; “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn. 11:25)

Do you? Do you believe this? I mean do you truly believe? In Mark 9:24, a man, the father of a child possessed by evil spirits, says to Jesus,  “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Perhaps we all believe with a reserve of doubt, a shadow of “unbelief,” that prevents us from experiencing the full power of Jesus’ promise to us when he said to the repentant thief, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Our assurance lies in Jesus’ words found in Mat. 24:35, where, in giving his disciples the parable of the fig tree, he says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

This prophesy contains a powerful promise to us, but what did Jesus mean by, “my words will by no means pass away.” On the face of it, he means that nothing in time or creation can alter or negate the promises he has made to us, but our assurance of this lies in the underlying principle of the law of the Medes and the Persians found in the book of Daniel. In chapter six of Daniel lies the story of how King Darius’ advisors tricked him into condemning Daniel to the lions den. When King Darius realizes their deception, they inform him that it is too late for him to save Daniel, by reminding the king of “the law of the Medes and the Persians,” found in Daniel 6:15, “Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be altered.””

Thus it is for God also, The King of Kings, that what is decreed cannot be altered, or withdrawn. It is a principle that is as true for the promise as it is for the curse. It is the reason that Jesus died on the cross in order to satisfy the requirement of the law, that sin deserves death. He died there for all sin, for all time, for all people, because the law can never be altered or withdrawn. (Ref. Mat. 5:18) What is true for the curse is also true for the promise and though we cannot find the proof of it in his promise to the thief, we can be assured of it in his own resurrection, that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. In John 10:18, Jesus assures us that, “No man takes (my life) from me, but I lay (my life) down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

What is spoken cannot be altered, or withdrawn. We are assured, not only by the promise, but by the principle, by the law of the Medes and the Persians. Take heart, brothers and sisters in Christ. Celebrate, find joy in your loss, that the one you love is in the arms of God, that they have not died, but have at last found life; that Christ Jesus holds their face in his hands and looking deep into the windows of their soul, has said, “I Am the way, the truth and the life.” Welcome home.

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