Saturday, August 31, 2019

Demons in the Church and around You

The Rise of False Prophets

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in [e]the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet. These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”
2 Peter 2 - NASB


But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4 NASB
Read for yourselves.  This is OUR world TODAY.  Churches being lead by the hired hands that Jesus spoke of.  Read it again.  It's our world today.
There is no 'experimenting' with demonic activity. Medium's, Fortune Tellers are doorways to demonic activity. There is no 'just for fun' about it.  There's a very big reason why it was worthy of getting such people stoned to death as God's penalty for it.
Long ago while we didn't have a regular teacher in one of my Elementary School classes, the other students convinced the substitute to allow an experiment in levitation using chants.  That is demonic activity. It was allowed even though I objected and didn't believe in it.
Demonic activity is very much a part of our lives today.  People committing heinous acts to other human beings, to animals.  It's not about the gun used, it's about the sin contaminated person behind it.  It's not about the explosives used, it's the heart of the person or people behind it.
The rise in the whole LGBTQ movement. the whole gender neutral movement, all of it goes back to demonic activity.  It's a full blown perversion of what God intended people to be like.  Sin at it's worst.  Churches today are welcoming and accepting the whole poison of that point of view.  Don't get me wrong, those types of people need Christ. But there's no room for them to be serving in a Church when the Bible say such people will not be going to Heaven.  Scripture is very clear as to who will NOT enter Heaven.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NASB
God is NOT kidding about any of this. Read the opening of 2 Peter, what does it say?  "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves." Then read the beginning of 2 Timothy again. God the Spirit is warning us all that this would be coming.
Look at the true stories in the Gospels of the types of demon possessed people that Jesus came across.  Several it appears that nobody suspected that they were.  Others it was very evident that they were.  Not just by 1 demon but many.  All demons must bow to the Lord Jesus Christ.  They all had to report to Him when He was among them in the people.
These types are not easy to get rid of out of people.  Jesus said that there were types that only came out through prayer and fasting.  Meaning fervent prayer and fasting.  
The most evident thing is that this isn't the most prevalent thing facing the professing Church today.  Hired hands were a type of shepherd that Jesus warned about. Yet many so-called churches use worldly hiring practices rather than Pastoral Calling to put the Lead Pastor into their local Church.  THIS is how doctrines of demons are introduced into the Church.  It's how slight-of-hand and miss-direction take over a church. Of COURSE it will blossom and grow when the real Word of God in it's entirety is NOT preached!  Individually possessed people are one thing, but to capture an entire church body is something else.
You use just enough truth to keep people and not enough to change their lives.
Let me say that again.
You use just enough truth to keep people and not enough to change their lives.
There is no accountability.  You ask for that and the question is not answered, it's put off or you get a very terse reply.  Accountability is necessary to the life of a believer.  Jesus wondered if He would find the faith when He returned.  I tell you it's so scarce right now whomever has it would have to set off flares in order for it to be seen!  
It's not that these demons are more powerful than a believer, it's that the attacks on non-trained Christians is so pointed and direct it's gotten them scared to come out that they are a Child of God.  Satan is coordinating his attacks in sly ways and quiet ways.  When the damage is found out it's so deep that it honestly would take a miracle to fix it.
I have been convinced that the Abomination of Desolation set up in the Temple is an artificial intelligence.  Satan is the driving force behind AI. Not God. 
People will be forced to worship the Antichrist or die.  We are not so far from that event in time.  There's nothing left short of the last person who will be saved is saved.  My personal oppinion it will be just like the thief on the Cross. That individual will give their life to Christ and that will be it.  There won't be time to learn more of the Bible, no time to be baptized. No time for anything.  They will commit and the entire TRUE Church will be gone.
All those who did not choose Jesus Christ as their personal Savior will still be here or still be dead in the ground.  All those mentioned in 1 Corinthians...the fornicators, the idolaters, the adulterers, the effeminate, the homosexuals, the thieves, the covetous, the drunkards, the revilers, and the  swindlers, will still be here.  As well as anyone else who didn't choose Christ.
It's black and white.  The choice is for everyone. God could have demanded a lot more, but left the choice to each person.  Jesus died on a cross to pay the penalty for all the sin of mankind.  That left everyone with a choice.  Until He did that for mankind, there was no choice.  Any single sin was enough to be punished by death.  A single thought, a single action.
The interesting thing is this...there is one huge similarity in thinking for those in Hell and those in Heaven.  In Hell, everyone there is wanting those still alive to listen to God.  In Heaven, everyone there is wanting those still alive to listen to God.  There is no hope for those in Hell.  Those in Heaven are living in hope.
This isn't about bashing...this is about revealing God's truth on the matter of the world today. Demonic activity is very real, it's nothing to be playing with.  Demons are indeed in the professing Church.  Wolves in sheeps clothing.
I have personally seen these people up close. Shook hands with a man whom I thought was a Pastor of a local church. The instant my hand touched his, I saw, in broad daylight, a photo negative of him with an evil grin on his face. The second I let go everything was 'normal' just a man smiling at me knowing that I knew who he was.  I have heard stories of the children of families with demon possessed children. They were playing around with Ouija boards. The child began to misbehave, and it got worse from there.  When taken to my Pastor at the time the child screamed out in his presence when he wanted to begin pray.
There's a huge reason why we are encouraged to be in prayer consistently.
We cannot fight these on our own.  Only in Christ is victory possible.

No two Faces about it

It is as old as the game itself, if not older considering Cain tried it first. The 'Poker Face'.  Being able to not show your emotions in a given set of circumstances.
Do Christians do this?  It's essential to evaluate ourselves, to see if we have let ourselves become something Christ doesn't want us to be.
Many do it. Ok pretty much everyone does it.   They put on different faces for different people.  But what does it have to do with being a Christian?
Bluntly put, Jesus was the same to everyone.  He wasn't going to be any less who He was in front of the Disciples than those He healed. Even to those who were the religious leaders of Jesus's day.
We, on the other hand, tend to compartmentalize our interactions with each other.  Rather than show Christ on the street, we keep Him at a distance. Rather than show Christ at work, we leave Him in the car.  Rather that take Him with us to the movies we make Him sit in the lobby. 
I think that is what Jesus meant by being ashamed of Him.
We struggle often because of ourselves.  If we can't unsave ourselves, then we have Christ with us at all times.  Yet many struggle with life because we think Jesus is a coat we put on to go out into public.
I am no less guilty than others in this.
It took several things to change my views, and God is still showing me things to change in that regard.
It's taken a long time to this point in my life to really begin to see that I need to think differently.  It's not what am I going to do, it's what are we going to do. It's not where am I going to go, but where are we going to go.  It's not just me, it's Christ and I together.
He is both in me and next to me. 
Not just next to me.
If I try to do things on my own I will fail.
If I try to handle people on my own I will fail.  If I try to handle any part of life on my own I will fail.  "Apart from Me you can do nothing".
But oh we try.
My personally rough life after moving out on my own began by thinking I saw God's Plan for me and how I could contribute to its success! Wrong. Oh so very wrong.
It is His Plan. I am His workmanship.
I am to be the pottery, He is the hands that are shaping me into His masterpiece.
It's not my hands not my vision of me.
The vision of what we will be in Christ is known only to the Master.  The clay has no idea what it will look like or be until the Master is finished.
We cannot live two lives.  We cannot be one kind of person in front of others and another when around believers.
There's no way to live like that.  It will catch up with you.  You will be frustrated. Angry. Won't trust others. You will fail so often that you will withdraw from others.
You will get to the point of being numbed.
Just doing what seems to work with no feelings behind it.
There is no separation between God and the life of a Believer.  No living one way at one time and another at other times.
What was interesting as this whole thing stirred into writing this morning was where I was reading in Corinthians. 
Paul told them that things like factions would happen in the Church.  Differing opinions. It would be through examination that the will of God would be seen.
We need to look at our lives to examine whether or not we have been trying to keep Jesus separate from the things going on in our lives.
The world will try to convince everyone of what they deserve.  How you deserve a car, a hotel stay. A elaborate vacation. Altering your body. Money. 
If you aren't including Christ in everything in your life ask yourself why.
If we are to take up our cross and follow Christ.
If we are to be Disciples. And as I have said on other occasions, the Jewish blessing of a new Disciple.  "May you be covered in the dust of your Master".
Our lives, all of our lives, is to mirror Christ.
I had a lot to think on this morning about this message, and still do. Maybe you will too.
We live in a world of entanglements. Yet Paul tells of the life of a soldier does not get entangled in such affairs. His job is to wholeheartedly serve the one he is in service to.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Flirting with Sin

“As long as they are bound by their Nazirite vow, they are not allowed to eat or drink anything that comes from a grapevine—not even the grape seeds or skins.” Numbers 6:4 NLT

Surely this is a lesson to the Lord’s separated ones, teaching us to come away from sin in every form—to avoid not only its obvious manifestations, but even its spirit and likeness. This kind of strict caution is not popular these days, but rest assured, dear reader, it is both the safest and happiest way to live. The one who yields a point or two to the world is in fearsome danger; the one who eats the grapes of Sodom will soon drink the wine of Gomorrah. A little crack in the dike in Holland lets in the sea, and the gap opens quickly until an entire province is drowned. Conformity to the world, in any degree, is a trap for the soul, making it more and more liable to larger, presumptuous sins. A Nazirite who drank grape juice could never be entirely sure whether it might not have begun to ferment, so he could not be certain in heart that his vow was intact. In a similar way, the Christian who flirts with sin cannot enjoy a clear conscience. Questionable thoughts and behaviors do not need to be questioned; they are wrong to us. We must not toy with temptations, but flee them with all speed. Better to be mocked as a Puritan than despised as a hypocrite. The careful way of life may involve much self-denial, but it has pleasures of its own that are more than a sufficient reward. - Spurgeon

This is certainly what faces the Church today.  Every believer faces this on some level, even before they pick up the newspaper, before they listen to the radio or watch TV.  It can begin just by getting dressed.  What you wear will influence you and those around you.  What you look like to yourself is one thing what others see can be just about anything. 

A whole lot is said, oftentimes, without saying a word.

But then we get dressed.  We quickly check ourselves over.  All looks good. Yet is it?  Think about that passage above.  Think about what Spurgeon was getting at. We are living in a culture that has been quietly desensitizing believers and unbelievers alike.  To be honest it's been made into a mocking joke of What Would Jesus Do.

Does your even your appearance bring honor to God, or to something else?

People today, any I have found even Pastors of church's on down, downplaying the seriousness of what God was saying about the severity of toying with temptations.  Of even them forgetting what Paul wrote of himself when he was so observant of his actions that if anything he did in the freedom imparted to him in Christ would cause some unbeliever to stumble, he wouldn't do it.

Does what you look like show modesty?
Does what you look like show that you are divided in your life between God and an idol?  An idol? Yes, an idol. I have seen this proven time and time again.  Have seen believers so passionate about people, celebrities, sports figures, sports teams than they are about God!  The Bible is clear, you cannot serve two Masters.
I have personally had people, plural, tell me that they would pray for me because I wasn't a fan of their team. Obviously, God doesn't approve of that, so I really wondered who they intended to pray to.

In our childhood parents introduce idolatry without knowing it. It's just been something handed down generation to generation.  It was just something done.  People face less stress and strife when they fit in with others. Football jerseys. Baseball jerseys. Movie themed t-shirts.
Political pins were once the thing.

It's all there in front of you and I.

Do we spend time with Jesus daily, not just 3 times a minute or two in quick prayer, but really good valuable time?
Or are we more willing to blow 2 hours with a movie than 2 hours with God?
Are we more willing to blow several hours watching a sporting event than 1 hour with God? 
Will we spend an hour watching television, even the news, but won't give God 15 minutes a day?

Do we promote strife between us and others by our allegiance to a team, rather than open arms to share Christ?

We are unknowingly taught at an early age how to flirt with temptations. How if it isn't hurting anybody it's ok. How much joy can be had if we just lighten up and not be so serious.  We are immersed in it in schools. God was taken out, but Satan never left. Not only had he not left, he was promoted to the head of the class.  He pushed aside teaching about God's creation.  Encouraged teaching of the lie of evolution. Teaching that it's ok to basically bully someone, because it will make the bullier look good and the one being bullied either give up or fight back. Strife. It caused idolatry in the form of backing their teams to plant the seeds of adulthood idolatry in professional teams.
Vanity takes hold when looks are all important.  Young girls basically dressing like harlots. No modesty at all. Toying with young boys and when an incident happens nobody wants to take the blame.
As I said, Satan was allowed to stay and have his way.

As adults, we face it in greater detail. Your job, your house, your detailing your yard. To have that look of success in the world's eyes.

How on-board you are with your company.
How you must sacrifice to show your allegiance to your company.  How it will affect your image. 

No where seen is how it had affected your relationship with God.

You spend so much time watching television, movies, news, the internet that yet another day goes by where your Savior was forgotten about again.

If you are doing life without Christ then you are not living life, you are avoiding it.

Life, for the believer, is lived IN Christ. WITH Christ.  IN Christ we are a new creation. IN Christ we are His workmanship.

Scripture says we are soldiers for the cause of Christ.  That a soldier does not entangle himself in the affairs of the world around him. But had his attention on whom he is in service to.

How has sin crept into your life?

For me, it was indeed an eye opening thing when someone told me that because I wasn't a fan of their team that they would pray for me.

I hear that man's voice echo in my mind.

It made me look at myself.  I was not saying it but was doing the same thing as him.  I had the shirts for 'my team'. I had cups, posters, wall hangings. I was shown more by God of other things in my life.

Remember when Christ comes into your life, your heart and mind are His to go through.  It's a Spiritual case of the cable show Hoarders. We give Him all right to go through every part of our lives, to remove or change whatever is in conflict with becoming more like Him.

I was shown many areas where I needed to make a choice.  Honor Him or honor someone or something else.

Things as little as knickknacks can be the beginning of a wrong path in my life.

Peter was indeed being restored by Jesus when Jesus asked him three times do you love me?

It was breaking Peter's heart. He was broken before Christ. He thought his hope of life was over. Yet he was shown forgiveness and was restored.

So look at your life.

Do you love Jesus?  Look around you as I need to do, does your life reflect Jesus or does it reflect the world?

As many a song has said this world is not our home.  We are just passing through.
Ours belongs to the Kingdom of God. 

People are needing to choose between Heaven or Hell.  Are we helping them not to choose Heaven? Are we showing them that Jesus is an ok guy or are we showing them who He is, how important your relationship is with Him.

That's for you to think about.  I still have areas to let go of. Part of the two edged sword of asking Jesus to show me more is that He will. About myself and about Him.  Then it's up to us to deny the importance of obedience to Christ or to submit to it. 

It's hard. Because you will indeed fall into the footsteps of Christ.  People won't accept you. You will face opposition.

Guess what.

Jesus said that would happen if you did. An interesting way to see you are indeed saved and are going the right way.

Don't take it from me.  Read...

"You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." James 4:4

How much do you love me? - Jesus

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Our Lives

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10

There are many motivations in the Christian's life. One is our awareness that one day we will give an account of our lives to Christ, as He sits in judgment upon humanity. It is much more comforting to believe that Christians will be ushered into heaven with no questions asked about our faithfulness upon earth, but that is not what Scripture says will happen. Paul cautioned that in the final day of judgment, every Christian will give an account for his or her actions. This expectation terrified Paul and motivated him to strive to please God in everything he did (2 Cor. 5:9–11). Paul knew that although he might ignore the Spirit's quiet voice during His life on earth, a time of accounting would come when he would have to explain why he had rejected God's instructions. Paul never carelessly assumed that, because of all he had done for God's kingdom, God would overlook his sin. Instead, he understood that to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). God does not force His will upon us. He will ask us to answer for the way we responded to Him. - Blackaby

It's sort of an interesting morning as far as thoughts go.  I read this and as it stands out as it does, I need to bring along something from Dr. Michael Youseff's sermon from Sunday.  Somehow they seem connected.

Many say oh God is a God of love, He won't really send people to Hell.  Well, yes, the God of the Bible will.  Judgment has to happen.  Each book of the Bible tells of an aspect of Jesus. The whole Bible speaks of Jesus. Dr. Michael Youseff in his sermon from Sunday:

Genesis, He is the seed of woman
Exodus, He is the Passover Lamb
Leviticus, He is the High Priest
Numbers, He is the smitten rock
Deuteronomy, He is the Prophet
Joshua, He is the Captain of the Lord of Hosts
Judges, He is the Creator and Final Judge
Ruth, He is the Heavenly kinsman redeemer
Samuel, He is the Anointed One
Kings, He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Chronicles, He is the Glory of God in the Temple
Ezra, He is the teacher that comes from God
Nehemiah, He is the rebuilder of broken lives
Esther, He is the protector of His people
Job, He is our only comforter in times of trouble
Psalms, He is our good Shepherd
Proverbs, He is the wisdom of God
Ecclesiastes, He is the Preacher of the Kingdom of God
Song of Solomon, He is the Bridegroom who is coming for his Bride the Church
Isaiah, He is the Mighty God everlasting Father Prince of Peace
Jeremiah, He is the potter who shapes our lives into the image of God
Lamentations, He is the weeping Prophet
Ezekiel, He is the wheel inside the wheel
Daniel, He is the Son of Man coming on clouds of great glory and he is the 4th person in the fiery furnace
Hosea, He is the love of God to the backslider
Joel, He is the baptism of the Holy Spirit
Amos, He is the Author of judgement and mercy
Obadiah, He is the God of Vengeance
Jonah, He is the Salvation of our Lord
Micah, He is the Great Intercessor
Nahum, He is the stronghold in the days of trouble
Habakuck, He is the God of Mercy
Zepheniah, He is the establisher of the Kingdom of God upon the Earth
Haggai, He is the desire of all nations
Zechariah, He is the branch of Jehovah
Malachi, He is the refiners fire the son of righteousness that will rise above all the world with healing in His wings.

Matthew, He is the Kingly Messiah
Mark, He is the Miracle Worker
Luke, He is the Great Physician
John, He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world
Acts, He is the risen Lord
Romans, He is our justification
Corinthians, He is our sanctification
Galatians, He is our Liberation
Ephesians, He is our Perfection
Philippians, He is our Joy
Colossians, He is the Head of the body the Church
Thessalonians, He is the coming Lord who will reign and rule forever
Timothy, He is the judge of all men
Titus, He is the redeemer of the world
Philemon, He is the friend that sticks to you closer than a brother
Hebrews, He is the Author and Finisher of our Salvation
James, He is the Healer of All Nations
Peter, He is the Chief Shepherd and the Bishop of Our Souls
John's Epistles, He is the Word of God
Jude, He is the Coming Lord with 10 thousand of his saints to execute judgment upon the world
Revelation, He is the Alpha and the Omega the Beginning and the End, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the root of Jesse, the root of David, the lamb of God, the Word of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Read that again.  I heard it Sunday and had to go back and transcribe it myself. It's an awesome list.  Your challenge is to find those in each book he describes.

I have thought and often told others no to certain things in my life because I said that I have enough to answer for before God.  Scripture is clear that believers do not stand condemned as those who rejected Jesus. But we do have to give an account of what we have thought and done in this life.

There is a bar that is set, a standard, if you will, before God. I agree with Blackaby when he mentioned Paul's take on personal accountability towards God.

In a world that is literally Hell bent on controlling and consuming your thoughts,  it's not going to be easy to follow Christ.

Satan knows the Bible better that most. He had spent his whole existence trying to thwart even 1 word of it. We have countless millions in all Earth history who have tried to help him...and many of those profess to be Christians! 

What will you say before the Holy God, the Lord Jesus Christ, concerning why you did this or that.  Of why you didn't do this or that. Hmm?  Paul thought about it quite often evidently.

When living in this world where we face a daily barrage of sights, smells, tastes and sounds, it's hard. Very hard to keep our way pure before God.

Some just don't bother fighting it.  They just go with the flow, and whatever consequences there are, there are.

It's a fight, it's a war.  One of my favorite movies has a quote that's more Biblical in its thinking than it looks.

There's a war going on in this world, a world war.  It's not about who has the most bullets. It's about the information. What we see, what we hear, it's all about the information.

Ironically, last year someone who works for a television news network was cornered by someone and in anger she tried lashing out at her attacker. What did she say? "Its our job to tell you what to think!"

Years ago the commissioner of the NFL was quoted as saying that Sunday used to belong to Christians. Now it belongs to the NFL.

People have been quietly giving up their rights to think for themselves all in the name of acceptance.  Be a fan of this team, not that one.  Be on this bandwagon and not that one.  Tempers flare.  Passion explodes.  In the end?
Time is wasted, souls are lost, people end up in Hell because what was important was never talked about...where were they going to spend eternity.  People were too caught up in celebrities, movies themes, book characters, sports, recreation that the real life altering question of do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior never gets asked or addressed.

We all have to give an account before God  about our lives, those who are believers.
As its described, all our lives are put on the alter, the refiners fire is lit. What remains is what was worthy.  All the wasted thoughts and actions are burned away. 

For non believers there's quite a different set of judgments.  The first is whether or not your name written down in the book of life.  When someone comes to Christ, who is saved, He writes your name in that book.  That's the book that allows people into Heaven. Not written means no entry.

The second is the refiners fire...but because of no Salvation in Christ...everything is burned up.  Your works, your thoughts and deeds mean nothing.

Nobody will ever be 'good enough' on their own to enter Heaven.  If it were possible at all then Jesus died needlessly.

He says that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father but through Him.

So think about your life.  People probably told Paul what they tell me.  That he thinks too much.  Have fun! Don't be so serious all the time!  Don't you think about anything else?

Seriously, I will one day be standing before Jesus and you think those excuses will work?   Well that Pastor said it was ok!

That Pastor will not be your lawyer before Jesus.  Remember that.  No so-called Priest will be your lawyer before Jesus.

You stand on your own before Jesus Christ. Nobody with you, just you.

All the sudden things are different now aren't they?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Door

"As you respond to God's invitations, don’t be caught by surprise when adversaries try to thwart what you are doing. If you concentrate on your opponents, you will be sidetracked from God's activity. Don’t base your decisions on what people are doing. They cannot prevent you from carrying out God's will (Rom. 8:31). Many times the most rewarding spiritual work is done in the crucible of persecution and opposition. While Paul was in Ephesus, a riot broke out in reaction to his ministry. The city theater resounded with an angry mob who shouted for two hours in support of their god, (Acts 19:23–41). Despite this fierce rejection, Ephesus became one of the chief cities from which the gospel spread throughout Asia. It takes spiritual discernment to see beyond human activity to God's will. As you seek places of service, look beyond what people are saying to find what God is doing." - Blackaby

When in the midst of life at its heaviest it's often difficult to see where it's going.

The verse that accompanied that devotional from Blackaby is:

"For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries." 1 Corinthians 16:9

I agree with him in that it's difficult to see where to go or where you are going when the world is shouting so long and loud around you in opposition to what God is wanting or doing.

I find it interesting that the devotional was about this because I am also reading in 1 Corinthians as well.  Where I am is where Paul was sharing God's definition of idolatry.  Interestingly enough God's definition fits this world's idea of 'fun'.

As Blackaby also began, so shall I, when a door of opportunity opens, adversaries come in as well. 

Or as others have said "Expect the unexpected".  In our home we know to expect things to come up that aren't necessarily good the nearer we get to Sunday Morning.  Saturday is notoriously fraught with things that happen that aren't always good.  The intent of God's enemy is clear.  To try to ruin Sunday Morning worship.  

If we think that life is all about going out and having fun then indeed we have bought into the lie.  Granted it is indeed possible to have fun while doing the work of God.  Have on many countless occasions.  Paul's actions were based on where did God want him and what was it God was doing.  How could he join God in His activity.

Paul also knew very well that the same door of opportunity allowed in those who wouldn't like his opportunity.

It's easy to pick out destruction in a picture.  You often don't even have to look hard to find it.  It's often much more difficult to locate the beauty in the same picture.

To say that life isn't rough for me personally right now would be a lie.  Indeed I agree with Paul in this. A door of opportunity had opened and although it took time things that weren't expected began to happen.  Adversaries also came.
God's working and his adversary doesn't like it.

Quite often all that can be done is to quietly keep praying and moving forward.
Press on as Paul said on a different occasion. 

While a single play on the board is visible to us, God sees countless millions of chess boards at one time.  There is but one set of goals.  Bring honor to Jesus and work towards the day of His return.

The mission of the Apostles wasn't worldly success.  It was the spreading of the Gospel.  It wasn't money or material possessions.  It was souls.  Life for us as believers isn't about following movies, following television shows, being devoted to sports teams. If those things are more important to a believer in Jesus Christ than the work of Jesus Christ then that believer has an idolatry problem.  They have left the race set before them to indulge in worldly distractions.

There's a difference between using a tool for good and using it for not so good things.   A brush and paint in the hands of an artist fantastic portraits can be made.  In the hands of someone with less than good purposes hatred is shown. 

God didn't intend for people not to have fun.  But we tend to want more that we should have.  Jesus often stepped aside to rest. Many don't just step aside, they camp out.

I find it very disturbing when believers will get more enraged at attacks on 'their team' than they do at abortion happening. They will get into someone's face about who they root for yet when someone slanders God's name they don't give it a second thought. 

Many adversaries have come into your life.  We just have been lied to as to who and what they are.  God has always provided opportunities to further the Gospel.  We choose to listen to the distractions like a dog seeing a squirrel rather than focusing on the mission at hand.

God is always working everywhere. As Jesus said beseech the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into His Harvest.

I was convicted concerning this whole sports team thing several years ago.  I was getting more upset over people and their reactions and responses to the teams that I liked than I was the things of God.

I got rid of all my tshirts and things that had those teams on them.  I won't cause someone to stumble by wearing them. 

Paul on a different occasion mentioned that if the liberty he had in Christ would cause someone to stumble, whatever he was doing, he would stop for the sake of that person.  In that specific case it was eating.  He was more concerned about their conscience that his own wellbeing.

Remember that we will always face adversity when we choose to follow Christ.  As He said if you do follow Him and the world hates you, remember it hated Him first.

Be mindful of what you let in through doors of opportunity.  Because it may not always be an easy thing to get rid of or work around.

Success in God's eyes isn't the same as success in the world's eyes.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

God's ways...not our ways...

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 14:11

There are two ways to attain high esteem. One is the world's method: Take every opportunity to promote yourself before others; seize occasions for recognition and manipulate your way into the center of attention. The other way is God's way: Humble yourself. Rather than striving for recognition and influential positions, seek to put others first. Cultivate humility, for it does not come naturally. One of the many paradoxes of the Christian life is that when God sees your genuine humility, He exalts you. - Blackaby

This reading is a difficult one in our world to accept.  We see, hear and experience the worldview of to be a successful anything you must do this or that.  Everyone must be a leader to be considered successful. That you should seek this or that accolade.  Quite the opposite of what God says.

As Blackaby went on to remind his readers, Jesus told of a man who sat himself high up at a position of honor at a banquet, only to be humiliated because the one giving the banquet had him move farther away to give his seat to another.

The world wants to give everyone a trophy.  Paul wrote the truth, run your race in such a way as to win the prize. Not your prize for participating.

It's a rough time in some ways for me right now.  I am indeed struggling in some areas concerning recognition.  I had come up with ideas to improve things at work and am not permitted to participate in their development.  I am left but to watch others work them out.  I am not against people being recognized, but more so, I understand what God's saying about not seeking it.  It can easily make people think more highly of themselves than they ought to.

I was also reading in Corinthians today too.  Paul was instructing those in Corinth about life. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified."

It's easy to 'go with the flow'.  To listen to the voices that talk of easier paths to success.  But those paths likely are not THE path that God sets before us.

We don't deserve anything.  We do not deserve that house, that car, that career.  We deserve Hell, but because of the Grace of God we who put our faith and trust in Jesus won't see it.

It's not easy watching things that I came up with in someone else's hands to be crafted in a way that is different from what I think it should be, the way I envisioned it to be.

But then again humanity went a way that was contrary to how God said it should be too.

What I am to do is obey God.  I may never see the recognition that the world says is my due.  But that isn't important.  What is important is that at the end of my time on this Earth is to hear "Well done" from my Savior. 

If I am to be lifted up before others, it will be God's doing.  If God says now isn't the time, then I am to trust Him in that. 

God's ways are not our ways. His thoughts are higher than ours. 

I just need to keep moving forward. Do what He has set before me.  Wherever it may be, to be found in obedience to my God.  Be it here or somewhere down the road.  My life is not my own, I was bought with a price. It's for me to honor God in all I do.

Monday, August 26, 2019

The days are evil and Satan knows it

These days we are bombarded with opportunities that entice us to invest our time and energy. Each day the voices of urgency cry out for every available moment. So many causes promise that time spent on them will reap great rewards; how can we recognize God's voice among so many competing voices? A fool makes unwise choices with his time. With every new opportunity that comes along, the fool chases off in a different direction, not questioning whether that is the best choice. - Blackaby

Just look around you.  If you watch television, you can't go but a commercial or two without hearing about what you deserve.  The car, the truck, the face, the house, the vacation.  Take your pick.

Blackaby is oh so right in this entry for today.  I intentionally get up when I do in this before-the-birds-are-awake hour because I know that it's important for several reasons.  One is like Blackaby says about the demands on my time.  The other is God honors me by showing up at our time together to talk to me, to do as I had prayed several years ago now.  That prayer being "Show me more".

I removed television and movies from my life.  I removed sports teams from my life.
I would rather read about the things of God than immersing myself in useless things like those. 

To be honest, Readers, I was shown that those things are idols.  I do not bring glory to God by vegitating in front of a TV. Or a movie that doesn't remotely remind me of God. I don't bring Him glory by getting passionate about a Sport. Quite the opposite happens and no it's not all in good fun.  It causes anger issues, it causes strife. It causes people to turn on people.  It does nothing to further the Gospel when it brings out the worst in people.  You have any idea how desperately sad it is to be told by someone, after they hear you aren't a fan of 'their team', that they will pray for you about it?  That's a horrific thought that someone would even joke about something like that.  What if someone who doesn't believe in Christ would hear that?  I was reading in 1 Corinthians 8 today about Paul's take on idols. About if he even might give the perception of acceptance of one before an unbeliever he would never do whatever it was again.

We live in a world where the Spirit world is treated like Science Fiction.  We live in a world where the things of God are treated like Science Fiction.  That that sort of stuff written in the Bible might have happened centuries ago but doesn't happen now.  We live in a world rewriting the Bible to be all inclusive so that all religions can be in 'harmony'.

We live in a world where it is exactly like Jesus said.  Would He find the faith when He returns?

True faith in God is becoming exceedingly difficult to find.  As Blackaby says the demands on our time are formidable.

You get up, so much to do before heading out the door.  You are in your car, there's only so much time to get to where you are going.  You get there and then it's down to the minute of your time until it's time to go home.  Then you have a strained time getting home because of people not paying attention and causing you to waste time.  You get home and are still on a time schedule.  You need to eat. Possibly have appointments. Squeeze in this or that...then realize that it's time for bed but you don't because there is more to do.  You lose sleep because of the pressure on your mind about what got done and what didn't.

Sounds a lot like the story of Mary and Martha doesn't it?

That's the world view of 'success'. Sacrifice to be able to retire.  Yet we have institutions that keep pushing the retirement age out farther.  So no you can't slow down.

Yet what was the practice of Jesus with His Disciples?  To get away to some silence and solitude.  To get off the beaten path and spend time with Jesus.

What was Martha told?  Mary had chosen wisely and it would not be taken from her.

Notice my hypothetical person about never once slowed down.  Never once stopped and remembered to include God in his or her day.

I don't miss television or movies.  I don't miss a lot of things when I ask God for more. He has the real Universe to show me, why should I want what is fake?

Yes I have things that I need to do each day.  Work beckons.  There's things around the house that need done.  But I always begin the day with my Bible reading and devotionals.  Time with Jesus here and likely in the car on the way to work.  Throughout the day I find ways to listen to praise music.  I have experienced entering the Throne room of Jesus in a song while at work before.  It was amazing!  In my mind I was singing to my Savior and He showed me He was listening.

I share prayer requests with others while at work.  God is always with me, no matter how big the day is.  I keep my hand in His. 

So think about that. Think about your life.
How busy are you?  Have you given Jesus the scraps of time from your day, if even that at all?  Have you given Jesus anything?

As I have said on other occasions, these writings are not entirely my own. God brings the subject matter and I write what He forms in my mind.  Every day without fail He does it.  He charged me with writing it and sending it out to the world.
His Words were, "I am going to give you things to say, it's up to you to write them and send them out."  You have no idea how amazed I am at what comes out.

My prayer request stays the same. "Lord, show me more."

He shows me more in His Word and shows me things to let go of.  I am His workmanship.  What about you?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Is it?

"It is good for me that I was afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes.
The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of gold and silverpieces."
Psalms 119:71-73

"It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" Hebrews 10:31

Yesterday I was asked to look up the second passage you just read, today while reading Psalms God showed me that passage. 

My cup from which I am drinking my coffee this morning says "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10

Some may wonder if these passages are even of the same train of thought. I think God is saying they are. 

Though in the physical sense the one from Hebrews can seem daunting.  But,  as God does, there's always more than what we see.

Think about that passage in terms of Spiritual growth.  I have really bad memories of gym class, pick a year, I loathed it.  Always picked last, everything we did was more comparable to torture to me than supposed exercise.  I never looked forward to those times. It was terrifying to me.

When we grow, in most cases, it's gradual.  In some people, that growth isn't gradual, it's quick and painful.  In that sense, growth hurts.

We who are in Christ, experience growing in Christ.  In a Spiritual sense, it can be terrifying, daunting, shocking and every other highly descriptive word you can use, when God takes us to and through times of growth.  Now consider this my reader, everything you go through, whether or not you think you 'messed it up' is growing you.  Jesus never once has been surprised when you turned left instead of right when He really had wanted you to turn right.  The growth will still happen but might take longer.

There will be times of painful transition.  My word, if I ever wrote down all the painful things that God has taken me through, I could relate to John's take on writing down all there was about Jesus.

Painful, terrible (at least to my perspective), terrifying things.

But go farther in the Scriptures.  What else is said of the hands of God?  Granted today this isn't nearly scratching the surface. 

John 10:28-29 "and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand."

But there's also the other, very real, connotation of that one from Hebrews.

People who have rejected Christ are indeed living in terror, in Hell. 

Hell is a place of torment and pain. It is a place where people are indeed spiritually alive but without physical bodies.  How can this be?  Consider how seeing something horrifying really affects your soul.  It's not just emotions, it's your soul that is affected.

Jesus Himself tells of the conditions there. The people there rejected God. They rejected Salvation through Jesus Christ.  They chose instead to bear their punishment for sin. The full brunt of sin.
That's judgment from the hands of the living God.

Now here's something that perhaps you haven't connected.  Until this moment I hadn't either.  Read this again.

Luke 16:22-31 "Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Read between the lines.

That level of pain and anguish.  Multiply it times infinity.  That's what Jesus experienced on the cross when all the sin of mankind was heaped upon Him.  It takes my breath away.  Wow. In the book of Romans it clearly says that the wages of sin is death. Unless cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, your sin remains on you. You will pay that price yourself.  You just read what is in your future if you do not repent and turn to Jesus.

It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  Is it going to be terrifying to be in endless torment in Hell? Yes.  Just telling it as the Bible says it.

Yet for the believer, it's the opposite but not what you think.  It's not really terrifying in the sense of terrible.  In many its getting past our fears to begin to live for Christ that scares us most.  Being told to step out of the boat.  Peter terrified?  Wouldn't you be?  The other 11 terrified that they would be told to do the same?

Fear is the choice weapon of Satan.  Fear and terror.  He will use it to diminish the effectiveness of a believer and use it to keep people from understanding Salvation.

If you are not saved, you also have every reason to be afraid.  To be in terror.  Judgement is coming for those who have rejected Christ.  Salvation is but a choice away to receive what Jesus paid for.  Ask for it from Jesus. 

For the believer many growth spurts are indeed and inevitably painful but soon healing comes.  But once past the fear of it we look back and wonder why we were so afraid.  The truth of that passage in Hebrews is once we are no longer fearful we will see the comfort in the hands of the living God.