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God protects his own

“Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”Luke 22:31‭-‬32 HCSB

I find this interaction between Christ and the disciples fascinating and very comforting because of the truth that is being revealed here. Holy Spirit is speaking and I pray we are listening.

Upon further study, due to dual use of the English word 'you', in most English translations, it seems as though Jesus is only talking to Peter, but he is speaking to all the disciples. Although Jesus begins by calling out Simon Peter to listen up, when he says "Satan has asked to sift you like wheat", the Greek word for 'you' here is plural!  It's more like our 'you all' we use when we want to be clear we're referring to everyone. This is why the NET Bible translates it more clearly saying this in vs 31, "Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat ". Then in the next verse he is redirecting his words back to Peter again, because the next 'you' is singular! This would be hard to detect in most more literal translations without Greek study notes. But some more dynamic translations help by adding the clarifying words...as you can see above. Also we can deduct Jesus is redirecting to Simon Peter with the second you because we read the following context of Peter denying Christ. But the NET makes the true Greek stand out better saying vs 32 like this  in saying Simon's name," but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." These are the reasons it's good to read multiple Bible Translations if you are able...and in the English language we are truly blessed with many!

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Now why is this important? Well because a major truth is being made known here; an important reassuring one at that! Jesus is saying that the devil has to get permission for what he does against us. If Satan had his way, he would totally destroy and torment every Christian alive! But Jesus said Satan came to God seeking permission to put all the disciples through serious tribulation and temptation; to "sift them like wheat! " Jesus then reassured Simon that he interceded for him and he would come back from his failed testing. Implying that he gave Satan permission to go after Simon Peter only for reasons God determined. That in itself is faith building. But this is even more blessed...Jesus is telling us that Satan has no power to act, except that which God allows him to do! (Luke 10:17)

If you face trials and temptations from the devil, God not only knows, but He has allowed it!  And for his good purposes in our lives!

While some may be upset at this statement of truth that God is allowing our sufferings to happen; those who haven't really "tasted and seen that God is good",  I for one, as many of you, have come to see the way our God is our Savior! He makes beauty from ashes; He humbles us, helps us to die, breaks us down, in order to raise us up in glory, and give us new Life to make us beautiful in His time.  His perfected members of his Bride, the Church!!

Psalm 84:11 declares, "For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right."

I believe this!  I know this in my own life! God is our sun, meaning our source of provision for all our need, and He is our shield, meaning our defender, our protector!  And nothing is withheld from us that is good and right!  Now this is usually only thought of in the most pleasant of ways, but in reality for a child to grow and mature, we parents have to enact testing and trials as a means of discipline to help our little ones develop and not be spoiled and of little use. So when God allows Satan to hurt you and test you, which clearly is only done under God's permissions, then this too is a GOOD thing! His careful limits, watchful eyes and heart of love for us helps us grow into the people he requires us to be. It is not evil or bad. No nothing that comes into the life of a Believer is ultimately bad, no matter how painful or terrible it may seem at the time. God's Word says "Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?" -Heb 12:7 Yes I take great comfort in this powerful truth, that Satan and his demon hordes cannot touch me, except for that which is filtered through the hands of my loving Father who wants to make me perfected for his Son; to be like him... and will never abandon me nor forsake me! (Heb 13:5) God really is in control... And He is for me, not against me! (Rom 8:31) This is exactly where I always want to be! What about you?  Do you know the perfect Father God? (Ps 18:30)

These life tests will prove whom are His...  Or not. Those that fall away, sadly are proven to not have ever "known" the heart of God as lover of their soul, may it not be so about you. Do you 'know' Jesus. If you do, the Spirit will cry out in you to Father God, "Abba, Father" ! (Rom 8:15)

May the peace of Christ fill you as you meditate on this life-changing truth.

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Deceptively close to heaven.

Did you know a person can believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and still not be saved? Many people have been belief and had preached into them these Biblical truths: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved" as quoted fromActs 16:31, or from Christ's own words in John 3:16, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life", as well as other Scriptures that say salvation comes by "faith (belief) alone" and it's not as a result of works as clearly explained in Ephesians 2:8-9. These statements are absolutely true! It is only by faith we are saved, and only by belief that God redeems us and adopts us into his eternal family as heirs with Christ! We cannot earn any of it.

So what am I saying? I am here to tell you that some of the most hideous heresies come from taking Bible passages out of context of the whole counsel of God as given by the Holy Spirit inspired Word. While is it true Jesus and Paul and all the new testament writers spoke much about the fact that God saves those who "believe", we must absolutely know, teach and preach how God defines belief! Jesus and the Apostles all wrote much about what this faith is. It's not enough to bark out one line Bible quotes like these 3 verses above if we do not very clearly define Biblical Faith as Scriptures define it.

All sorts of well meaning people have "Faith", but are lost and still in their sins.  We love to make pretty signs and symbols that say "Believe" or "Have Faith" or talk about the 1st Corinthians 13 concluding statement of the greatest attributes to possess as Faith, Hope and Love!

But we must be very diligent and very careful to not let these words stand alone and be defined by every person's whims! They are useless and meaningless left on their own. We cannot and MUST not assume other people know what the heck we are talking about when we say, "Just have Faith"!

There are two types of Faith according to Christ. One type that deceives and one type that saves. Jesus made it clear many times what saving faith really is, and what kind of love is good, and what type of hope is ultimately beneficial and of lasting value.

You see you can have faith in God for the wrong things. You may hope in the wrong things and you may have love for the wrong things. It's not enough to say Faith- Hope- Love and sing Kumbaya and let's all get along.

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Jesus came to bear a CROSS, and so too must YOU, if he is to be YOUR master.  Many people are just "fans", but few are the "followers". Here is the difference in people who believe and are not saved and those who believe and are saved. True Biblical faith is repentant faith. True faith is humble faith. True faith is obedient faith. It's not perfect faith, we all stumble, and God is gracious, but real saving faith costs us greatly.  Matter of fact, it costs you your entire life. Jesus said, If anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34)

Here again Jesus is telling us clearly that you can believe and do all sorts of great things, but be as lost as any sinner in hell! Listen closely to his words. 

“Not all those who say ‘You are our Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. The only people who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On the last day many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, we spoke for you, and through you we forced out demons and did many miracles'. Then I will tell them clearly, ‘Get away from me, you who do evil. I never knew you'. “Everyone who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. Everyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house, and it fell with a big crash.”   -Matthew 7:21-27 NCV. Hearing is a form of belief here, but effective belief is that which compels us to obey.

"Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them." Jhn 14:21. ('Has' is the belief and 'keeps' is the obey)

Conclusion is this: Jesus is telling us that by faith we alone are saved; yes this is true, but faith has feet; it follows and obeys him.

A quick nutshell Gospel message and way to more accurately quote John 3:16 in Biblical context is like this: define belief biblically by adding obediently for clarification. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes (has obedient faith) in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

When you first have faith, real faith, it comes by Holy Spirit new birth, then this same Spirit God leads you into dying to self and living for Jesus.  If this is not your life experience; If your love for Jesus is not a compelling drive to sacrifice your life for him and seek out ways to better serve him, you too may be an idol lover, and your love may well be in vain. Many lost Hindus love Jesus and have shrines dedicated to him in their homes and pray to him also.

Examine your hearts and your lives. Don't be fooled by 'out of context' Bible passages that get you close to heaven, but never really knowing the this living God that demands you bear your cross, just as he bore his.

You don't have to be among those who hear, "Depart from me, I never knew you!"

Repentance and obedience is in order for us today and tomorrow. Just as you received Christ Jesus as LORD, so walk in him... Those who 'know' him, who received him in repentant humble obedient faith must go daily in this attitude.  Teach others likewise and preach a complete Gospel message, lest you lead others deceptively close to heaven, but never helping them enter in.

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Coconut gods

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Coconut gods

When you describe only one attribute of someone, are you actually describing that person, or are you creating a false image of them? Lets make an analogy.  A man became stranded on a tropical island with no fresh water and he was about to die, but he had a two-way radio with signal in which I could communicate with him, and let's assume I knew for a fact that that island had coconut trees with water filled coconuts and it was the right season for young coconuts, but that man knew very little about coconuts and the life-giving water found inside.

 

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Say I talked to him and told him about how wonderful coconuts were.  That coconuts are brown on the outside and have this fibrous husk and wood-like shell, and maybe I talked about how the coconut can be made into nice little wooden bowls.  Would I be doing that poor thirsty person any good?  No, not unless it rained before he died! If I told him coconut is wood, and certainly they are wood all over; would I be giving that person a real and accurate view of what a coconut really was?   It's inaccurate to tell someone a coconut is wood only, it's a partial or a functionally incomplete description the thing called a coconut and its benefits. Actually quite a useless conversation to that person dying of thirst. Although it's really not inaccurate to say coconuts have fibrous hard shells; to say that only in describing a coconut to someone who does not know what a coconut is, would be a part-truth that is in reality a deception or a lie; a distortion of truth. A false image. The image I described above in reality is a false image of what a coconut really is.

In this story above, not only is it a twisting of truth, it's downright evil, because I have knowledge of the truth of how that coconut could save his life, but I did not inform and help him find the full useful truth of that coconut. Truth is vitally important to someone who does not know enough of it.  Coconuts are so much more than wood!  Wood is one of many attributes of a coconut. Coconuts are full of water and nutritious fleshy food also. Their husks make great firewood for cooking and warming . Later in their cycle they can be pressed into beneficial oils.  There are many attributes of coconuts.  Nothing at all what you would think if all you knew was what I said above.

What am I getting at?

Many well-meaning people today are giving a false reality of who God is and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God has made it very clear. He hates falsehood! He hates false images being made of him, misrepresenting him as something lopsided or one dimensional emphasizing only the attributes of which we prefer for our own selfish reasons!  God spoke long ago and even coded it into the law given Moses .  "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth." (Ex 20:4).  Then Jesus Christ himself repeated this timeless truth when he spoke to the woman at the well in John 4:23-24 when he said,"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

Truth.  God wants us to know him in truth, through the empowerment of his Spirit  though our spirits. Truth is so important because if we misrepresent

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it in some important way as to leave someone with a twisted or one-sided view of God, then they like the man above in the fictional story, will likely perish.

We need to care about people enough to tell them the truth about God as graciously as possible. I recently watched the TV special of "The Passion" play, hoping in vain that truth about Jesus Christ might be brought out in such a way as to demonstrate what the love of God was all about some 2000 years ago when Jesus died for us. I turned off the TV feeling so incomplete and unfulfilled.  It really only spoke of Gods love in a confusing way and for us to love our fellow man and basically all get along.  They all sang familiar hit songs of modernity that wrought out human emotions and many were in tears watching and enjoying what they felt was the Love of God on display. But was it really?

What we saw on TV that day was a false image, an Idol. The very thing God hates! The Gospel of Christ and the passion of which it was conceived and brought forth in to living flesh was only done in response to the eternal holiness and justice of God Almighty! Yahweh, God I AM, cannot and will not let the guilty go unpunished. Listen to what God said about himself to Moses: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,  maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (Ex 34:6-7)

This God of love, who is very much described as Love throughout the Bible, is also the God from which all mankind must learn to tremble...tremble...TREMBLE! He is high and lifted up in extreme searing holiness! Even the demons bow before Jesus and tremble in fear!  (James 2:19) But rarely does proud and arrogant man. No. We just want to add Jesus to our portfolio of niceties and love songs to make us feel happily deluded so we can go about our way living as we so please. But God, he is a perfect God in whom no darkness exists ( 1 John 1:5) and who requires each and every one of us to likewise be perfect as He is perfect (Matt 5:48) in order to not face judgement to a life in eternal fire punishment! (Matt 13:42)  The Word of God says, "Our God is a consuming fire!" (Heb 12:29)  The Gospel is good news of God!  But good news about what? It is in the Gospel we come to see the true love of God and what HE did to rescue us.  But what was Jesus really rescuing us from?  Was it from Satan and hell?  Sure..but what is hell and what is the power of Satan over us?  It's quite simply the justice of God being worked out in our lives for all our lawlessness and rebellion....for our sins. There was only one mention of the word sin on that Passion TV show that I heard when Perry said Christ came to save from our sins. But in this world, who knows what this means?  No one speaks of it anymore. We are all told we are basically good people who just need a little direction and love of God in our lives. Who doesn't want love?  Sure we all like that. But what we do not like is to be told we are sick and utterly ruined and depraved to the  core! But without this part of the Truth, we will not repent and we will accept a false vision of God, not God at all, but a coconut god, an Idol. Yet this is what we are and this is why Jesus came to die. He humbled himself and the majestic Son of God became like one of us to die and become the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God to atone for our evil doings.Without the shedding of pure blood there is no forgiveness of sin! (Heb 9:22) God alone could only do this because no person, no not one of us is good and thus are unable to save ourselves from the very righteous ANGER from God over sin (Rom 3:10); God the very One who created us in love  to know him intimately and be his children. God's love compelled him to do this for us, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!  (Rom 5:8) This is the real God of the Bible.  The God who hates sin, and the God who came and died for our sins, and then proved his power over sin and death and rose victoriously from the grave on that Resurrection Sunday! Do you really think God would go to all that extreme measure if He did not  both love His holiness and his people? Gods blood took place of our eternal punishment! Christ paid the price and took the blows from the justice of God the Father! This God demands holiness. You must likewise be holy in order to live. Come before him unclean and you perish forever in Gods burning wrath! So by God's grace and love he did for us what we could not ever do. He spilled his own atoning blood.

But... But not everyone has their sins atoned.  While the blood of Christ is enough to atone for all peoples sins, only those who choose to follow Jesus by surrendering their life to him and be his forever slave will find this great and eternal Salvation and be set free!  Jesus said it in many ways, but in a succinct manner in John 3:16 " God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."  But it is not enough to leave it at that one summary statement, we must hear the full counsel of Gods Word and the teachings of Jesus and see the bigger picture of truth so we do not end up with a crazy coconut belief about God.   Jesus explained what it means to believe and he demonstrated it. He said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."(Luke 14:26)  Belief means obeying and following Jesus as Master and owner, forsaking all else as of little importance compared to him. This is the Jesus of Calvary who died for us!  This is the God who calls us to "repent" and have obedient faith! When we fall on our knees before him willing to surrender it all to him, then we are given the new life of the Spirit, born-again into the eternal family of God with new power to overcome sin and live for Him. This is what the Gospel is about, humbling ourselves before God so that HE will then lift us up! This is love, not that we loved him, but that he loved us first and called us out from among sin and death to live no longer for ourselves, but for him who was crucified and rose from the grave, our Master... Jesus of Nazareth!

No more Coconut gods !  Please no more just talking about the love of God out of context of how and why that love was expressed on on the bloody Roman cross!  Go help people see the real God; the real Jesus living in you and preach in loving grace, knowing but by the grace of God, we too should have perished, but preaching the truth of the holiness of God and the wickedness of man. For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God...Every human needs to repent.

Jesus came to declare the Truth. His truth is this: We all are sinners, utterly wicked by comparison to Holy God. We all will perish by the very anger of God against us for our sins. God loves us so much he came and died for us in the person of Jesus Christ and rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father in Heaven. Truth is we must repent and accept by humble faith God's free offer of salvation  in order to receive Christ's atoning blood as our payment and restoration. This faith means following and obeying Christ as Master of everything in your life.

Truth is... This is the Biblical faith that saves!

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. - 2 Cor 5:21

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The Great Terrorist

"May I be daily more and more conformed to thee, with the meekness and calmness of the Lamb in my soul, and a feeling sense of the felicity of heaven, where I long to join angels free from imperfections, where in the image of my adored Saviour will be completely restored, so that I may be fit for his enjoyments and employments.I am not afraid to look the king of terrors in the face, for I know I shall be drawn, not driven, out of the world." - excerpt from a Puritan prayer from 'The Valley of Vision'

Early America was filled with many well educated and literate devout followers of Christ. Prayers and speech like this are full of solid theological  meaning and depth that we just do not hear today. We today are some of the shallowest people our nation has ever produced due to the techno-media sound bite attention span most of us have, we rarely plumb into the depths of God's word and truths and apply them so eloquently to our own words and lives.  When I read these Puritan prayers, I am challenged to think and ponder God's Word and his blessed truths as they apply to myself. Thank the Lord for many writings from these godly people of early America and beyond. We all would do well to read more of our Christian ancestors and their deep faith and knowledge of God. They offer us much wisdom and inspiration.  Who today speaks like this? Who talks about the "felicity"  (intense happiness) of heaven? Who refers to our God as the "king of terrors", because truly He is for all the unrepentant! Look how the prophet Isaiah responded to the King of glory when he saw his vision:

Each creature was calling to the others: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord All-Powerful. His glory fills the whole earth.” Their calling caused the frame around the door to shake, as the Temple filled with smoke. I said, “Oh, no! I will be destroyed. I am not pure, and I live among people who are not pure, but I have seen the King, the Lord All-Powerful.”-Isaiah 6:3-5 NCV

And this same God who came and befriended us, saved us from his own terrible wrath to come for our own sins, will return as the greatest terrorist of all time bringing fear to the vast majority of sinners in the world! Look how John's Revelation pictures him!

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The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,  and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.- Revelation 1:14-18 ESV

But for us redeemed by his merciful hand, we know him as the shepherd of our souls. Truly he is the meek and mild Shepherd who is the defender of our lives.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. -John 10:14,15

Our Holy Holy Holy God, has given us who trust in him a  confidence and peace beyond words, because apart from that, we should all tremble..tremble....tremble.... If still lost in our own righteousness (or should I say our lack thereof) The standard is God's holiness. How will you measure up?

  In Christ you are pure and perfect... ...if you don't know him, you are not going to fare well. Terror is the best description.

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Before God blindly?

I am Gabriel!!! I stand in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you this good news!!  (Luke 1:19 exclamations mine)

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This is how I see it. I added the exclamations. This is from the story of Zechariah the priest getting the news of his 80 year old wife's pregnancy; their prayers for a son answered by God in such a dramatic way. Zechariah was standing before God's highest archangel and requesting a sign!?? Really? Haha. Wow. I hope when God speaks to me l can be more properly responsive. I mean he came and appeared before him fresh in the glory of God himself, the archangel Gabriel!

Just before, the text states that Zechariah "nearly peed himself" in fear, when Gabriel appeared in vs 12 (using modern day expressions)! Gabriel had to comfort him to not to be afraid, but that he came bearing good news, and then he told him that he and Elizabeth's prayers were about to be answered with the conception of John.

Just prior to all this the text narrates some about who Zechariah and Elizabeth were. It said they were righteous people before God, living blameless lives following God's commands. Wow. That's quite a statement of how great a man Zechariah really was! He was truly a man of faith, while most only were going through the motions of religion, he followed God out of love and obedient faith.  It had been hundreds of years of mostly silence to the people of Israel. Miracles were mostly stories of long ago history, so when Zachariah gets a visit from heaven's great angel Gabriel, he had trouble with what seems like simple faith. Zechariah sees and trembles and hears the from God his Holy Angel, and then dares ask for a sign to prove what he said was true? LOL. I can't help but laugh.

   We know how the story ends. This statement above is what Gabriel begins with by basically saying (my rendition): "I am Gabriel, " for crying out loud! Are you so blind and dim that you don't take my own appearing before you as enough of a sign?! Well since you apparently are so blind, I'll make you blind until your son is born! That will be your sign!" 

I chuckle at this story, but as I think it over I also freeze with some fear over my own frailties and inability to hear God and obey at first word from him. I too have stood in the presence of not just one of his holy Angels, but the presence of God through his indwelling Spirit! Yet I still get dim-witted and blind and allow myself to fall into sin from time to time. O how this grieves me and causes me to fall on my face in repentance and sadness!    My God who redeemed me and robed me his own glory and righteousness, the goodness of Christ, and who now lives in me through the Holy Spirit; How in my right and sane mind could I ever willfully sin?! How?! Like Paul sometimes, I must humble my heart and say, "O wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of this body of death? (Romans 7:24)

Within us all is a war raging! A war of love for God's law and glory, given by Holy Spirit transforming us from the inside out, the new man born of God, daily fighting the old man and law of sin and death! If you desire God, and truly want to be like Jesus, this battle will never stop raging...the day it does, you have turned around and are walking from God.

Fight my friends! Never give up! From Glory to Glory we shall overcome! We know when we fail our God, we have purification and restoration to keep in the war! All we need to do is repent and come to Jesus. (1Jhn 1:8-9) We too can rejoice like Paul and say as he did in Romans 7:25 ...

"Thanks be then to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Why? Because Jesus himself declared that even if we fall, Satan can never own us ever again and he will complete what he started in us(Phil1:6)! Hallelujah!

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.” -John 10:27-30

Stay in the battle and see with clear eyes the glory of God working in you.

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Think on this.

Why should I be afraid of bad days? Why should I fear when evil people surround me? They trust in their money and brag about their riches. No one can buy back the life of another. No one can pay God for his own life, because the price of a life is high. No payment is ever enough. Do people live forever? Don’t they all face death? See, even wise people die. Fools and stupid people also die and leave their wealth to others. Their graves will always be their homes. They will live there from now on, even though they named places after themselves. Even rich people do not live forever; like the animals, they all die. This is what will happen to those who trust in themselves and to their followers who believe them. Think deeply on this. Like sheep, they must die, and death will be their shepherd. Honest people will rule over them in the morning, and their bodies will rot in a grave far from home. But God will save my life and will take me from the grave. Think deeply on this.

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Time to wake up and live.

Time and again when people died in this life Jesus has made it known that they are not really dead.   We can either take great comfort in this or take great fear depending in your standing with God,  because life is much greater than we know or imagine. We live currently at the tip of the iceberg of life only seeing just a small fragment of what life is and will be. When Jesus went to resurrect the rulers little girl in the text below, was Jesus lying when he told the mourners to go away because the little girl was not dead, but only asleep? Do you think these people back then were so ignorant to not be able to detect lack of heart-beat or breath? No..They were all too familiar with death of the body. More so than most of us today. Yet Jesus referred to her as sleeping. Much like his conversation with Mary at the bodily death of Lazarus where he said we never really die, he is revealing to us that he created us all as eternal souls to live forever and our all too familiar bodies dying is not the end of our lives, but rather just the beginning. Yet as he and the Father have ordained, this small segment of our life will determine all of eternity for us. When he could speak in this way about the little girl because he being God in flesh, knew well the temporal-ness of this current body and phase if life and God sees things much differently than we. It behooves us to look more at life though the eyes of Christ, and look way beyond the grave and death of this body. For the redeemed in Christ who love him and know his love, we have great hope in seeing a new creation and a gloriously resurrected new body to come, yet for those living for self and sin, they have great despair, because this is as close as they get to come to heaven and the blessings of God. And obliteration is not an option no matter how badly they hope it to be.  The will face eternal wrath of God in the lake of fire. If you believe and care for anyone, then we must do our part to help them come to Jesus while there still is time. For it is appointed unto man once to die, but after that judgment. 

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And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. -Matthew 9:23-25 ESV

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Resting deeply.

Could you sleep through a violent thunderstorm pounding your home? I do many times, but I know many who cannot. How about if we add a mega earthquake to that storm?  Could you sleep through that?Okay..you know someone who could maybe? Well then let's move their comfy bed outside and then let the torrent of rain fall down on them and add that storm and earthquake to them. How about then? Could they sleep though that?!   I bet not!    You'd have to either be literally unconscious, crazy, dead, or so full of assurance of your life being in Gods hands, that you would be comfy taking a "rocking-n-rolling-shower-in-bed-while-you-slept" nap!!

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I love the story in Matthews Gospel about Jesus sleeping in the storm. Just think about this. The twelve disciples on a relatively tiny fishing boat in a violent storm on the Sea of Galilee fighting for their lives to stay afloat while water is violently thrashing around their boat splashing in and all over everyone! There is no "below deck" sleeping quarters here...just think like a large canoe! And yet Jesus is quietly taking a peaceful catnap with water splashing all over him... and the thunderstorms seemingly about to sink their vessel far away from land! Think loud, rough and wet!

Read this Matthew 8:23-27 with me...

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

He was asleep! They had to go and wake him! I mean there is so many things to take away from this account and his miracle of commanding the storm and the sea to be calm is what most of us focus on because of its miraculous nature, but don't overlook this important part of the story!

Jesus was sleeping! Really! How can that be? Think about how you cannot sleep when even tiny things worry you and keep your mind churning... Just imaging what is going through Jesus's head to sleep through such an event. Nothing! Absolutely nothing but a dream about riding a cart pulled by 12 little lambs.. Haha. Who knows what he was dreaming, but I can tell you this. It was no nightmare! He had total confidence that the Fathers will must be done... and his heart was so in tune with God's so as to rest totally in God's divine power and sovereignty!  (He and the Father are one in essence and the Spirit kept him humanly aware) So he did not worry that they would perish on that lake because he knew this... God's will was not for them to drown at sea     but to spill his blood for you and me.. on the cursed tree!

Are we willing to let go of life control so much as to drop of all your worries, and truly trust in God? Oh how I pray for this kind of Holy Spirit power. Not so much to command the seas and the winds, but to rest my soul even in the storms that blow through my own mind and life! We all have various storms, but will we rest in Christ through faith?

Come unto me all you who are tired and heavy burdened and I will give you rest. -Jesus (Matt 11:28)

He is the Master of REST! 

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Chewing gum theology

When you read the Bible, do you read it simply to get through it? Or do you read it with a sense of expectation looking for something God wants to speak to you about ?    I have found if we read for the wrong motive it totally changes things. It may become a drudgery, inconvenience, or something we just must do as some religious exercise.  Even for one born-again of God, this can be a trap that makes your "feeding on the bread of life" like chewing gum.  Something you chew on casually, taste a little and then spit it out once the bold flavors are absent. The end result is meaningless.

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God wants to transform our lives through intimacy with him. Like Moses, we cannot spend time with God and not walk away without his glory shining from our lives. If you are not moved, then you did not swallow the truths of who He is and his call on your life. You chewed and spit him out.  This reminds me of my 2 year old grandson, who often chews a new food we give him, that don't suit his taste or texture preferences, and then he pushes it all out of his mouth with his tongue, never swallowing it. The Bible is God-breathed and as such is living an active and will nourish our souls, if we will learn to enjoy it's flavors and swallow.  It penetrates both the physical and spiritual realms of life. It is not supposed to be like chewing gum, but to be solid meat for the soul. We must desire God in this life so much as to be like a deep hunger to a starving man. Holy Spirit indwelling causes those who are the Lords to want to consume him...to hunger to know him and follow his every word. We should naturally hang our lives in balance to hear the next word from our sovereign Savior !    Why would we even say we want heaven and all the glory of seeing Christ face to face and being forever with God in all his beauty and not really have any passion to know him and obey him today? He is God; Our Creator, and full of endless wisdom and love and has good plans for our welfare and our future with him. He speaks through his Word as the Spirit in us makes it alive and guides us in truths that will direct our steps in daily life applications.

Read your Bible books and learn the context first.... Then Slow down... Stop and think and search paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, about some truths God is wanting to apply to some part of your life today. But you got to slow down and listen for that still small voice that is speaking.

God is speaking. Are you listening?

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Yielded to Holy Spirit

There is a real interpersonal mystery in the Holy Spirit. He relates to each of God's elect on an intimate basis. Even so while maintaining his eternal relation to the Father and the Son in the triune mystery. As we read in 2 Corinthians 13:14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all"; herein we see there is fellowship and intimacy with God through the Spirit. (Notice also the triune persons of God represented again) There has been much talk about the Holy Spirit and his power being revealed among us as much in the charismatic movement has been a forced exercise of trying to use God the Spirit for our own human desires or feelings.   But God; He is not one who we can use. He uses us. Intimacy with God begins by surrendering daily to the Spirit and allowing him to lead you. We don't conjure Him up in some emotionalized worship service like some form of pagan spiritist or medium. Worship and power of the Spirit is much more than outward manifestations seen among worshippers in a gathering of Believers, which many times emotionalism and forced jibberish is confused with the Spirit's power and presence. But rather a life of obedience to God is evidence of the Spirit in you. Romans 8:5b says "...those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit." The Spirit is sent in power to encourage us yes, but even more so to empower us to boldly do the works of the Gospel.

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Do you live according to the Spirit? How does this reveal itself in you?  Since the Spirit inspired all of the Bible, wouldn't you likewise assume to see a deeper hunger for those who are true children of God for his Word, and to walk in the ways of Jesus to whom the Spirit leads us to be like? Yet the vast majority of those who call themselves Christian rarely spend time with God listening to him through reading and meditation and obedient application of their Bibles to their lives. Scripture exhorts us to be doers and not hearers only. (James 1:22)

If a regular hunger and making time with God through prayer and reading his Word and seeking his voice to lead is not part of your life, then something is seriously wrong.

Make the change you must to reorder your life. Today is the day of repentance  from known sins that hold you back, and getting your life right with God. Don't delay, because every day missed from this glorious relationship with Christ and the Father through the Spirit is a day others cannot be made new through you.    God does have plans for you, to give you a future and a glorious hope. Yet you must seek him in love and listen to the Spirit and yield to him. The promise is; you will find.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.- Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV

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Love of Christ saves me

I was put to death on the cross with Christ, and I do not live anymore—it is Christ who lives in me. I still live in my body, but I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself to save me. - Galatians 2:20 NCV This bold statement of our death was preceded by Paul's explanation that we who have given our lives to Christ by faith, have in essence, died to trying to save ourselves. He says we died to the law, so we can now live for God. The Law represents your attempts to be holy by your own power.

It can be easy to add our own interpretations of what Paul is saying here. Indeed there are many things we have "died" to, so personally this statement can be a long laundry list of specifics, but in context this is speaking of one particular thought. So reading and thinking about this in context is important if we want to gain the full truth being revealed here.  If you read this passage in context you can see that Paul is preaching that we are not justified by the law. In other words,  we are not made holy and pure before God by following a set of rules of right and wrong.  This is our natural human thinking. In reality we all know every wrong demands justice, but justice is not doing some good every time we do a wrong. Justice is about punishment for the wrong. Doing a good deed never undoes the wrong. If that were the case I could kill someone who I didn't like and then simply go save another person from dying to undo my other wrong and be clean. No! You have to pay for your sins.  All of them. This is the great error of all other non-christian beliefs. The flaw in most human thinking is that we think doing some "right", some kind of equal opposing good deed will nullify the wrong. Humanity deludes themselves this way to cope with our own inherent evil. The problem is any good we do, never wipes out or nullifies any wrong. It is like you are a glass of pure water.  You pour in some arsenic.  The water is now poisoned. I can add some more pure water into my glass to attempt to purify it. While I may dilute the poison somewhat, I still am impure and contaminated. I am worth nothing more than to be discarded and poured out, unclean as God has described. Also to make matters worse, because we are already polluted by sin, the good we try to pour in is also dirty and thus we are defiled all the more. As Paul preached, the Law only exposes our impurity and is the standard that shows our filth before Holy God. Good deeds never wipe out our sins. Each sin is still in need of being paid. Justice demands to take an equal eternal punishment of death from the sinner for every sin committed, since each sin is a violation against the eternal holiness of God for which we were created.  He who has broken one law, has broken the entire law (James 2:10). Once broken  it is broke, and you and I cannot repair it. Bleak and despairing thought indeed.

Paul's point in this passage above is not about all the many sins that I have "died" to (even though it is true all our sins were nailed to the cross), but rather in this context, what primarily was crucified with Christ is our root of sin...The sin of self-sufficiency; Pride.

Pride is the thought that I can do anything good on my own and save myself in any way. I cannot, neither can you. We all need God to save us. This is why the Word became flesh, Jesus, and came among us to die in our place. Isaiah 64:6 made it crystal clear. " We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away."

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So the day we fall on our knees and cry out to Jesus saying, "My God have mercy on me a sinner", realizing we have no good in us apart from his life, that is when we are crucified with Christ, born-again so that we can then and now live for God. Christ's blood alone can pay for my sin, apart from that,  eternal death on my part for every one of them is my lot! So, when we do good, it is not done tainted for personal reasons of payment for past wrongs done, to supposedly balance the scales, but rather out of pure love; love for God and love for man. With my sin paid for, I can love purely and do good things purely, even if by human measures it is tainted with sin. My sin is paid, so no poison remains. This is the pure saving cleansing love of God at work in us. ....nevertheless, I live still in this crucified body with Christ. I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. Praise God, because of the love of God, I have died to the Law and now I live.

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America the Great... ..Babylon?

Then I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people and with the blood of those who were killed because of their faith in Jesus. When I saw the woman, I was very amazed. - Revelation 17:6 NCV The great Babylon, Mother of Prostitutes, and of Evil things of the Earth....this is the title written on her forehead so says the prior verse and she was riding in the the red beast with 7 heads and ten horns...  This vision of John also says that the earth became drunk with the wine of her sexual sin as all the kingdoms of the earth prostituted themselves with her.

Then it goes on to say in vs 15 -16, "Then the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, races, nations, and languages. The ten horns and the beast you saw will hate the prostitute. They will take everything she has and leave her naked. They will eat her body and burn her with fire."

The passage describes her as wealthy and adorned with glamorous jewels and clothing and gold...then in chapter 18 after God allows the beast to destroy this Babylon harlot it speaks of the utter shock and dismay of all the peoples of the earth that she is gone... The one who provided them so much sexual sin and extreme wealth. Even though they hated her and assisted with complicity in seeing her destroyed, they will mourn not for love of her so much as for their own loss of pleasures... Look at this.

The kings of the earth who sinned sexually with her and shared her wealth will see the smoke from her burning. Then they will cry and be sad because of her death. They will be afraid of her suffering and stand far away and say: “Terrible! How terrible for you, great city, powerful city of Babylon, because your punishment has come in one hour!” And the merchants of the earth will cry and be sad about her, because now  there is no one to buy their cargoes— Revelation 18:9-11 NCV

Now I don't claim to be an all knowing interpreter of all prophecies in Revelation, and I certainly can be wrong about who this country is that this end-time Babylon represents.... Over the years I have heard of many possible interpretations ...but when looking around the earth there is only one country that can possibly fit this today;  wealthy, international trader who makes all nations profitable,  sexually sinful, and sexual corrupt pushing nation that satisfies peoples urges all over the earth in which if destroyed would cause so much dismay and sadness over the loss of their lusts...

The United States of America! We are by far more wealthy, and the source of wealth to all the world. We are disgracefully the 100 billion dollar world leader in providing the world with porn producing well over 244 million pages of online porn a year!!  Toping Germany the second largest purveyor of porn by a whopping 20 times! Yes America may be losing ground of leading in many other ways, but our millions of pages of internet perversions are spreading like wildfire across every human on this planet, being consumed by the masses even in the most radical Muslim countries while they curse us and want to kill us.

Sounds like a man and a prostitute kind of relationship doesn't it?

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If this is so, which by all common sense it  seems to be,  the end times Babylon is America as she forcefully pushes her porn, her dollars, her homosexual lifestyle perversions and her bloodthirsty abortions all across the world.... Beware!

We true Christ followers are about to see persecution in America like never ever though possible a few short years ago.  America is drinking the blood of her own babies and soon she is to get drunk on the blood of Gods saints.

Therefore Prepare your lives for action...never before has 1 Peter 1 rang so loud and true as it is needed for us today!

1 Peter 1:13-25 ESV

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,   but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

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Pray for God's justice.

It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them. - Deut 32:35 I have heard it said by god hater atheists/agnostics that they cannot believe in a egocentric genocidal God of the Bible who kills men, women and children. But then again if you asked them if there was a group of people capturing, torturing and murdering their own children and family members and other innocent people they did not like, would they not deem it just to bring those bloodthirsty people to justice? And give them what they deserved, equal punishment for equal crime?

Now we humans live in an imperfect world and we cannot see or know all the intents of the heart. So when humans administer justice we tend to either do it unjustly or err on the side of leniency because of our fear of being wrong or inability to know a persons future actions of either continuation in evil or reformation. We are not all knowing.

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But not so with God. You see it's not egocentric as in a bad thing, when the center and foundation of all that exists demands that we recognize him for who he is. If I buy a pet dog and love it and care for it, it is not egocentric to demand that the dog love me and respect me as its master and owner. If it constantly runs off and seeks the affections of others or its own pleasures I would naturally go try to fetch it and discipline it to teach it proper honor. If the dog refuses my affections and love and hates me and bites me, I will take it and have it put to death, because what worth is there in a possession that brings me misery and pain and has proven it is reprobate beyond repair? Even more so with the just and true God. God created every living thing and for a purpose. If we who are given free will, to choose or reject God and choose to hate him, "bite" at him, run from him, and never submit to his corrections to reform and love him what good are we to him? After all we are a creature created by him and FOR him. The very living cells in us function and are alive because of the power of Jesus Christ who sustains all things! At any moment all he needs to do is say "enough" and withhold his providential giving of life and breath to you or me and we die. These ignorant agnostics think too much of themselves; and their own pride to be the ruler of their own lives has blinded them. Yet for us who are submitted to God in Christ, we are to love them and teach them the truths of God as kindly as we can, that he created them for himself in love not hate, and if we hate and disobey him we will suffer justice at some point.

If God ends someone's life here it is never unjust. Does not a Potter who is molding clay have the right to smash his creation and start over if it does not reflect what he is creating it to be? For man to say that God is unjust in wiping out even the entire earth and all that is in it, including every man, woman and child, the potter has to right to rework his creations. It's not wrong nor unjust. It's only wrong for one of his creations to object to anything he is doing. This goes for all his creatures... Whether in submission or not. He is true to his word, so those who are submitted to him can rest assured that all that God is doing in their lives, even painful things, are for our ultimate good according to his will.

In my reading in Revelation 8 I once again see this word picture of our prayers wafting before God. It says in vs 4-5, " And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake."

God relates to us the sweet incense of our prayers to him....and in context here we are seeing Gods Judgment being dealt out in response to the prayers of his saints. You see, while we are to love our enemies and pray for them, we also are called to value and love justice and goodness and pray for just vengeance from God to all who continue to do evil.

In Rev 6:10-11 we see the prayers of the slain Saints being heard. " And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also." God says vengeance is his...and he will avenge all injustice among his creatures. He is Holy and True.

Yet the word pictures given us here is that God is breathing deeply of the prayers of his people to avenge the injustices among us. Notice what happens immediately after breathing our prayers in Rev 8:5. In our prayers for us to better love our enemies and serve them, we must not shy away from praying for the justice of God to come upon all who continue in sin. It is okay to pray for evil ones to be vanquished by God's mighty hand, but just not our role to take that vengeance into our own hands. God has created for mankind the institution of Government to deal with evil and gave them the power of the "sword", which means death if so needed. So for us now we must pray for evil ones to come to repentance and faith, or justice to be dealt out on them, and serve them in love hoping that even they will come to know the life changing love in Christ Dfaith Jesus we have found. But by the grace of God there we all would be. God hears and will respond in due time. In the end God will make all things right.

He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God- Micah 6:8 Justice is fully interwoven along with Mercy in God't nature. Live justly and mercifully and pray for it likewise to come to all people.

So be it.

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Jesus knows what YOU do.

To the Church in Ephesus Jesus says,"I know what you do, how you work hard and never give up. I know you do not put up with the false teachings ..." Revelation 2:2 NCV To the Church in Smyrna Christ said, "I know your troubles and that you are poor, but really you are rich! I know the bad things some people say...." Revelation 2:9 NCV To the Church in Pergamum He said, "I know where you live. It is where Satan has his throne. But you are true to me...." Revelation 2:13 NCV To the Church in Thyatira the Son spoke, "I know what you do. I know about your love, your faith, your service, and your patience. I know that you are doing more..." Revelation 2:19 NCV To the Church in Sardis 'The One' said, "... I know what you do. People say that you are alive, but really you are dead." Revelation 3:1 NCV To the Church in Philadelphia God said, "I know what you do. I have put an open door before you, which no one can close. I know you have little strength..." Revelation 3:8 NCV And to the Church in Laodicea 'The Amen' spoke to his people, "I know what you do, that you are not hot or cold..." Revelation 3:15 NCV

Do you see ?  Do you get the theme here? Seven times Christ addresses his Church in various locations and tells them He knows them...He sees them... He is paying attention, and He is not sitting idly by letting it all pass. No.  Take comfort in knowing you are known by the the God of all creation. He knows his sheep, and by his Spirit given to us, we too can know him and his voice. Take joy in your struggles to fight sin and darkness within and around you. GOD is more than watching... He is involved in the welfare of his children.

Take Joy...well that is, unless you are like some of those he rebukes who are living in sin...then take head and repent. Turn from sin and start following Christ as you know you should. For they too shall not escape without due discipline to bring them to steps of life.

This is life... Knowing the Father, and knowing the Son, Jesus Christ, whom He sent. Those who know him obey his voice, not out of fear, but love.  Yet for those who are resisting God and living in sin, he reminds us in his Word, Our God is a Consuming fire, and a man reaps what he sows.

Look at these repeating verses again. What does Jesus say? He knows us? Yes. But more specifically... He knows our works. He knows our deeds.  He knows what we do. Jesus knows what you do. Nothing ....absolutely nothing is hidden from God.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 NCV says this... God will judge everything, even what is done in secret, the good and the evil.

Faith in action is doing, or lack thereof is not.

So. Think on this.  What are you doing?

Do you have ears to hear? I conclude with this beautiful thought for those walking in faith.

“Those who win the victory will sit with me on my throne in the same way that I won the victory and sat down with my Father on his throne. Everyone who has ears should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.” - Revelation 3:21-22 NCV

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Intelligence does not preclude blindness.

Science is simply the study of the observable creation. The problem with evolutionary scientists is that they have stepped off into a quagmire of illogical delusion in trying to make assumptions about life's origins and purpose, exempting from their possibility truth; the biblical God who they cannot see or measure, into creating for themselves a substitute evolutionary 'creator' that has absolutely no evidence for existence, has no mind nor intelligence, who has no cause, who has no beginning origin itself, nor has any purpose for evolving things into this dying and decaying Universe that had a finite and definite beginning a relatively short time back, and will one day grow cold and cease to exist as we know it and can readily observe.

Now this is what is most insane about it all: The very Creator God they deny, because they cannot "touch, see or measure" with their carnal minds and so refuse to acknowledge, has been replaced with a fantasy god called "Random Chance" (RC) that created all the intelligence and beauty we see, plus the laws of physics, laws of math, stability on planet earth for the very existence and sustenance of life in a very inhospitable life-destroying universe, and this non-thinking, non living RC god, somehow coded all life with intelligent blueprint we call the alphabet of DNA, and yet, THIS god also cannot be seen or measured or touched!! Now how insane is that?

The infinite and intelligent Creator God, "I Am" was rejected for a delusion; for a lie that by all mature thinking is a ridiculous childish fantasy or wishful thinking. Truly the Idol god of modernity.. Satan is still in the deceiving and blinding business. Idolatry is alive and well... especially in academia, where some of the worlds most "intelligent" people reside. Intelligence does not preclude blindness.

How prophetic and applicable is this passage in the Bible we read in relation to the RC idol god...this passage is not only about the delusion of the homosexual agenda lie, but delusion of mankind in all ways that oppose Yahweh God.

"They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen...They are... God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful...they have no understanding...Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." (Excerpts from Romans 1:24-32)

There was a time early in my life when I used to laugh and be amazed that people "once upon a time" actually carved idol gods out of wood and worshiped them. Not any more. Today my heart does not laugh, but cries. For this is all too real today. Today we do not use wood, but theory and stories and imagination to 'carve out' our gods. I will conclude this on this sad note that God spoke some 2900 years ago that is all too real in the modern world. People never really change.

( From Isaiah 44)

6“This is what the Lord says—

Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:

I am the first and I am the last;

apart from me there is no God.

7Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.

Let him declare and lay out before me

what has happened since I established my ancient people,

and what is yet to come—

yes, let them foretell what will come.

8Do not tremble, do not be afraid.

Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?

You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?

No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

9All who make idols are nothing,

and the things they treasure are worthless.

Those who would speak up for them are blind;

they are ignorant, to their own shame.

10Who shapes a god and casts an idol,

which can profit nothing?

11People who do that will be put to shame;

such craftsmen are only human beings.

Let them all come together and take their stand;

they will be brought down to terror and shame.

12The blacksmith takes a tool

and works with it in the coals;

he shapes an idol with hammers,

he forges it with the might of his arm.

He gets hungry and loses his strength;

he drinks no water and grows faint.

13The carpenter measures with a line

and makes an outline with a marker;

he roughs it out with chisels

and marks it with compasses.

He shapes it in human form,

human form in all its glory,

that it may dwell in a shrine.

14He cut down cedars,

or perhaps took a cypress or oak.

He let it grow among the trees of the forest,

or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.

15It is used as fuel for burning;

some of it he takes and warms himself,

he kindles a fire and bakes bread.

But he also fashions a god and worships it;

he makes an idol and bows down to it.

16Half of the wood he burns in the fire;

over it he prepares his meal,

he roasts his meat and eats his fill.

He also warms himself and says,

“Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”

17From the rest he makes a god, his idol;

he bows down to it and worships.

He prays to it and says,

“Save me! You are my god!”

18They know nothing, they understand nothing;

their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,

and their minds closed so they cannot understand.

19No one stops to think,

no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,

“Half of it I used for fuel;

I even baked bread over its coals,

I roasted meat and I ate.

Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?

Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”

20Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;

he cannot save himself, or say,

“Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

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Heart Corruptions

God,I confess my sin, my frequent sin, my willful sin; You have struck a blow at my pride, At the false god of self, And I lie in pieces before you. Forgive me.

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But you have given me another Master and Lord, your Son, Jesus. And now my heart is turned towards holiness. My life speeds as an arrow from a bow towards complete obedience to you! Help me in all my doings to put down sin and to humble pride. Save me from the love of the world and the pride of life, And everything that is natural to fallen man. O God, let Christ's nature be seen in me day by day. Grant me grace to bear your will without hesitation, and delight to be not only chiseled, squared, or fashioned, But separated from the old rock where I have been embedded so long, and lifted from the quarry to the upper air, There I may be built in Christ forever and ever. Amen.

(Excerpt adapted from 'Heart Corruptions' Valley of Vision, Collection of Puritan Prayers)

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Living like a slave to a perfect Master

When your natural flesh is pulling and tempting you to do what you know is wrong and that which goes against the Holiness of the Spirit of Christ living in you, how do you react?  The easy and broad road that leads to destruction is our natural path. We must look for the hard way; the narrow way; the way that brings life. We must bring our minds and bodies under submission to Christ and the Holy Spirit who will help us if we only try.   Praise be to God who will make us continuous overcomers if we just try! Go and make every moment dedicated to Jesus! He saved you and will continue to do so! It's not by your own power you overcome anyhow...It's by the Spirit alone. So let's stop taking "rest breaks" in this race for the holiness of Christ and buffet our bodies into submission to Jesus as our Lord and King!  In Christ we shall overcome! Press on soldiers... The victories are ours!

You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. So run to win! All those who compete in the games use self-control so they can win a crown. That crown is an earthly thing that lasts only a short time, but our crown will never be destroyed. So I do not run without a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something—not just the air. I treat my body hard and make it my slave so that I myself will not be disqualified after I have preached to others. - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NCV

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Kept by God

Yahweh, Almighty God,You are the  Creator, Upholder, Owner of all things, I cannot escape your presence or control,    nor do I desire to do so. My privilege is to be under the rule of omnipotence, righteousness, wisdom, patience, mercy, grace. You are love with more than parental affection; I adore your heart,    admire your wisdom,    stand in awe if your power,    lower myself before your purity. It is the discover of your goodness alone that can    banish my fear,    allure me into your presence,    help me to cry over and confess my sins. When I review my past guilt     and am conscience of my present unworthiness, I tremble to come to you, I whose foundation is dust, I who have condemned your goodness,     defied your power,     trampled upon your love,     rendered myself worthy of eternal death.

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But my recovery cannot spring from any cause in me, I can destroy but cannot save myself. Yet you, O God, have laid help on One that is mighty,    for there is mercy with you,    and exceeding riches in your kindness through Jesus, your Son. May I always feel my need of him. Let your restored joy be my strength; May it      keep me from lusting after the world,      bear up my heart and mind in loss of comforts,      make me alive in the valley of death,      work in me the image of the heavenly,      and give me to enjoy the first fruits of your Spirit,          such as angels and departed saints know so well. May I dwell in your house forever my God. Amen.

My adaptation of 'Kept By God', The Valley Of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers.   May you be blessed as you humbly come before the majesty of King Jesus. He is the source of living water to all who thirst after God. 'Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.' - Matthew 23:12 ESV

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