Sunday, November 22, 2015

Understanding the ultimate counterfeit

I am blessed with friends and brethren. They fill my personal life and professional. And while all are dear, some are more special than others. Over the years, four people have emerged that can be classed as ‘best friends’.

Of those four, one stands above the others for closeness of spirit, doctrine and shared interests.
And he has an eldest son, whom I treasure and whose name is Nate.
And Nate, for some inexplicable reason, listens to me. Obviously, Nate isn’t perfect.
And last night, we were together for a social event, when scripture became the topic. And I mentioned to Nate that I was toying with a ‘study’ or idea about a specific passage in John.
And Nate asked.

And I tried to explain, because well… he’s Nate. But I didn’t do a very good job of it, possibly because my memory isn’t what it used to be and (more likely) because I don’t have a full grasp of it yet.

So for the second time in a row, I’m going to blog about something because someone asked me a question.

Whew!

" These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling.
2 They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.
3 These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.
4 But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. Jn 16:1-4 1


Say what?

Today’s headlines routinely make mention of a ‘war on Christianity’. From our government. From portions of our society. From competing religions.

Jesus warned us that would be true. However, and this is a HUGE ‘however’…the warning that HE gave, was persecution…from ‘the synagogue’. Not...other religions, but the religion (church) that housed the disciples.

Now, before you think I’m talking about a war between Christians and Jews, I’m not. Yes, Jesus did say 'synagogue', but unless you think He meant this passage to ONLY be for the Jews that were His disciples (and I don't believe that), then the message is for ANY of His disciples. And 'synagogue' means 'your church'. Jesus MEANT…’you will be betrayed by your own church’.

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 2Th 2:1-3


A falling away…from what?

From God.

Not by JUST ‘the world’, but by ‘the church’.

11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2Th 2:11-12

“Believe a lie”.

What lie?

an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.

Yes. THAT lie.

People who are actively doing Satan’s work…killing Christians…will think they are doing it in service to God.

Not Muslims. Not Jews. Not Buddhists.

People who call themselves Christians…will be killing people who ARE Christians. And thinking they are ‘offering service to God’.

Now THAT…is a big lie!


Obviously, Satan must have a hand in this.

My previous blog was comparing Satan’s counterfeit of ‘tolerance’…to God’s value of ‘mercy’. In all things in this world, Satan will have counterfeits to God.

To deceive. Counterfeits deceive. To make people think they are ‘good in God’s eyes’, when in fact, they are only ‘good’ in their own eyes.

The Book of Revelation is one of the least read books in most churches. People can often get confused by it. It isn’t written in ‘plain english’. It’s written mostly in images, metaphors and symbols.

One of the most debated passages in Revelation is the 20th chapter, discussing ‘the millenium’. The ‘thousand years’ of peace and prosperity of Jesus and his disciples, because…
Satan is bound up.
And at the end of the thousand years…
Satan is released.

And many of the people I’ve spoken to about this passage seem to think, when Satan gets out of prison, he instantly goes around with new energy, ‘making war on the church’.

But that’s not what the scripture says…

7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle:the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. Rev 20:7-8

‘To deceive the nations’.

To fight FOR Satan against Christians.

Because to just declare, “I’m about to go up against Jesus! And lose! Who's with me!?” is not a winning sales pitch. So he has to deceive people into believing they are serving God, when they’re not.

And ‘the church’ is helping him sell…

11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. Rev 13:11-14


There are two ‘beasts’ in Revelation. The first one represents civil government. It is that ‘beast’ whose ‘mark’ we must NOT receive. A mark of money. Only governments can issue money.

The second beast is the ‘church’. Please note the ‘two horns like a lamb’. Anytime a lamb is used in scripture, it is an allusion to Christ’s sacrifice. Beast number two…has two horns LIKE a lamb, but NOT truly OF a lamb.
An artificial Christian church. Deceiving them that dwell on the earth, to worship…their government. ‘The world’.

The second beast actually influences people to take ‘the mark of the beast’ from beast number one.

And succeeds…

3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
……….
7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. Rev 11:3-10


The ENTIRE WORLD is rejoicing over the death of God's two witnesses.

What in the world can we DO?

Fight the right battle. With the right weapons. A clue is in the sixth chapter of Ephesians. I recommend reading the entire chapter, but here is an excerpt…

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph 6:10-12

It’s not ‘flesh and blood’ that is our enemy. We fight a spiritual battle for truth. Our weapon is truth.
We must know the Word. We must digest it. We must meditate on it, pray over it and finally…’understand’ it.
We are promised by God, that He will help us do that.

The alternative is a guarantee by Jesus…that Satan WILL deceive us. You, me, everyone we know.
Truth and understanding…vs…deception.
The ultimate counterfeit.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Tolerance vs. Mercy

I posted a little blurb this week on Facebook, that tolerance and mercy were not the same thing.

One of my Facebook friends asked me to elaborate. Not because he has difficulties with Christian doctrine. Far from it! But because he's currently on the same subject in his private studies.

(I don't think that's an accident, by the way. I believe the Holy Ghost speaks to us globally, as the community of Christ)

Anyway, back to the difference between mercy and tolerance.

Tolerance...is Satan's counterfeit. He wants 'the world' to replace mercy with tolerance, just as he wants to deceive all people to replace all of God's Word, with his own values.

Tolerance, is the absence of rules.

We are told, coerced, swayed, pressured, exhorted, cajoled...pushed, by all media and many educational systems, to "accept" people for "what they are". And if we don't, we "aren't good Christians".

Anyway, tolerance is the concept of never telling anyone they are wrong in the eyes of God. The very concept of 'sin'...is considered hateful. If there are no rules, then there can be no transgression before God.

I'm okay. You're okay. Satan says it's okay.

The thing is...

God does have rules.

He calls them commandments. In the Old Testament, Moses had ten of them. Jesus condensed them to two.

And neither God the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost....EVER said "it's okay to ignore them"....


Jn 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.


Jn 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.


1Jn 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:



God has rules.

And He spent a couple thousand years, proving to mankind through Mosaic Law, and then the Sermon on the Mount, that humans are NEVER going to be able to fully adhere to those laws.

Mercy, is the forgiveness of failure.


Mt 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.



There can be no NEED of mercy, without first acknowledging a failure.

Tolerance says there is no failure, for there are no rules.

Tolerance and mercy are directly opposed to one another.

Jesus expects His disciples to practice mercy...

1Co 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.



The bible actually has a few different words for the same idea:

Charity = mercy = grace = forgiveness.

In the original text of the New Testament, those four words come from four different Greek words. And yet, all of them translate to 'benevolence'. Forgiveness and kind heartedness.

In today's languages, some of those words have other meanings as well. 'Grace' has a nuance of long term benevolence, where 'forgiveness' may be interpreted as a single event. In modern times, 'charity' can also mean generous giving of goods or money or service.

But ALL of them mean 'benevolence' first. The single most loving message any Christian can give and spread, is forgiveness. We forgive each other to illustrate how God forgives us.

Mercy is...forgiveness of a transgression. We cannot be 'saved' from our own sin, until and unless we ask Jesus for forgiveness.

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:



Tolerance will never seek forgiveness. Tolerance will always block humility. Tolerance is arrogance, spitting in the face of God's rules.

There has to be at least one moment in our lives, where we plead for something we cannot earn. We cannot do that, if we're 'tolerating' a life with no rules.

And anyone who has once TASTED the sweet breath of air that is mercy, then knows how to practice it on others. Not by ignoring God's rules, but forgiving those who break them.

Mercy is learning that guilt must be dealt with. Mercy is relief. Mercy hopes each person will find the same mercy he/she has received.

Mercy is gentle, but mercy isn't blind.




Sunday, June 7, 2015

Jesus and Patrick Swayze



Let’s be clear. Until we reach the point where it doesn’t matter any more, Satan is going to hide his true intentions.

(there is a point in our future where he does finally reveal himself. But we aren’t there yet)

Indeed, Revelation 20 warns us that when he is released from the abyss for a short time, he will come out to once again ‘deceive the nations’ (Rev 20:8). But for right now, he’s not going to announce, “Hi! I’m satan! Won’t you follow me!?”

He’s going to deceive people. And THE lie he will be selling is, “I’m going to make you think you’re following Jesus, when in fact, you’re following me.”

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matt 7:22-23)

There are people who will believe all their lives they are following Jesus, when they’re not. How is that possible?

False doctrine, posing as the real thing.

In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. (Luke 12:1)

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day can be compared to many of the Christian leaders of today. Anyone….ANYONE…who is promoting, teaching, preaching or even just exhorting false doctrine….should be…avoided if possible. Rebuked if necessary.

How do we disciples resist that?

Be Berean.

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)


You’re going to have to study the scriptures yourself. Learn them. Meditate on them. And know…when the leaven of the Pharisees is being served. If you don’t, you’re at the mercy of every Pharisee out there.

And ONE VERSE illustrates that, more than any other.

Let me repeat that.

ONE verse. That you know well. And have heard your entire life.

Is used as the cornerstone. The flagship. The drumbeat. The leaven of the Pharisees.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Matt 7:1)

The ‘be nice’ verse of the bible.

So much damage has been done with that one verse, it is indescribable. Entire lives have been driven by that one verse, to the exclusion of any other.
It is quoted by well-meaning disciples.
It is quoted by well-meaning non-believers.
It is quoted by well-meaning pastors.
It is quoted by NOT so well-meaning anti-Christs, too. As a weapon. To silence Christians.

I have often seen it mentioned on social media as ‘THE most abused verse in the bible’… and that is certainly true. But there never seems to be a discussion of….WHY…that is true.

Maybe because it would take a little while.

And it really wouldn’t fit the world’s simpler attitude. The world wants all Christians to just follow Patrick Swayze’s advice.

Years ago, Patrick did this movie. “Roadhouse”, it was called. He played a bouncer in a bar. He was instructing other bouncers in the bar how to do their jobs and he kept saying, “Be nice.” No matter what happens, “Be nice.”

That’s basically the MIS-used interpretation of Matt 7:1. Just ‘be nice’. If a Christian isn’t ‘being nice’ at all times, they aren’t behaving like a Christian.

I think that’s a little simple and a little wrong. I prefer to think of it as the Three Monkeys Doctrine….
… ‘Speak no evil, surely rebuke no evil, why… don’t even THINK any evil.’

“Judge not” is used as a punchline in almost EVERY conversation about God, Jesus, the bible and sin as, “You’re not being nice to me. You’re a Christian. Christians have to be nice and shut up!”

Judge not. “You can’t say that to me!”
Judge not. “You sure can’t rebuke me! You’re a Christian!”
Judge not. “You aren’t even allowed to THINK that about me! Or about anyone!”

And it’s often a non-Christian….using ‘judge not’…to tell a Christian to shut up. Often, Matthew 7:1 is the only verse in the bible a non-Christian knows. It’s all they need to know. Because often, an uninformed Christian also believes ‘judge not’…DOES mean… ‘shut up!’. ‘Be nice!’ ‘Three Monkeys!’

That isn’t what Matthew 7:1 means.
Repeat.
That ISN’T… what Matthew 7:1… means.
Not even close.

Anyone who is Berean…should be asking themselves right now, “Okay then. What DOES it mean!?”

Before we talk about what Matthew 7:1 (Judge not.) DOES mean, let’s get really clear about what it does not mean.

(Please note: for brevity’s sake, we’re only going to look at one or two verses each, of the different arguments. But there are many more verses that apply. These are not an isolated themes)

It does not mean, “You can’t tell someone they’re wrong.”

It does not mean, “Don’t speak to a preacher about where he’s wrong.”

And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.
The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? (Luke 13:14-15)



It does not mean, “Don’t speak to a lost person about where he’s wrong.”

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:10-11)
It’s strange how the “go and sin no more” portion of that passage doesn’t get quoted much. Satan can create a false gospel (leaven of the Pharisees) just by omitting a few words.



It does not mean, “Don’t speak to a Christian brother about where he’s wrong.”

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (Gal 6:1)



It does not mean, “Don’t speak to an anti-Christ about where he’s wrong.”

But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?
Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.
For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. (Acts 25:9-11)



It does not mean, “You can’t REBUKE.”


It does not mean, “You can’t REBUKE…a preacher.”

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.(Acts 7:51-3)



It does not mean, “You can’t REBUKE…a Christian brother.”

And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.
But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. (Mark 8:32)



Indeed, we are COMMANDED to…rebuke our brethren.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (2 Tim 3:16-4:5)



It does not mean, “You can’t REBUKE…an anti-Christ.”

For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:
Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.
One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. (Titus 1:10-16)



It does not even mean, “Have NO opinion at all (don’t even judge in your heart or thoughts).”



It does not mean, “Have no opinion at all (don’t even ‘judge’ in your thoughts) about…a preacher."


Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Col 2:8)


It does not mean, “Have no opinion at all (don’t even ‘judge’ in your thoughts) about…a Christian brother.”


But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (1 Cor 5:11)



It does not mean, “Have no opinion at all (don’t even ‘judge’ in your thoughts) about…someone you’re preaching to.”

And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
And when ye come into an house, salute it.
And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. (Matt 10:14)



It does not mean, “Have no opinion at all (don’t even ‘judge’ in your thoughts) about…an anti-Christ.”

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:8-9)



It’s fair to say, “Judge not” does not fit neatly into The Three Monkeys Doctrine.
It doesn’t mean ‘have no opinion.’
It doesn’t mean ‘don’t say anything.’
It doesn’t mean ‘take no action.’


Ironically, just five verses down from the infamous verse One… there is this…

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. (Matt 7:6)


So… in order for a disciple to take action (don’t cast pearls)… you have to ‘judge’ that someone is a swine.


So it isn’t the Three Monkeys Doctrine after all. And it isn’t the Patrick Swayze Doctrine, either. Lest we forget, Patrick Swayze said, “Be nice. Until it’s time to NOT be nice.”

So if it isn’t Three Monkeys. And it isn’t Patrick. WHAT in the world does ‘judge not’ really mean?


To understand, we first have to make an observation about all the verses discussed above. Every one of them is an instruction to us about forming an opinion, rebuking, contradicting or acting…towards others…based on something they did or said.

Observable BEHAVIOR... or ... WORDS.

We are allowed to ‘judge’…another person’s actions or words, that directly contradict scripture. Anything we can see them do or hear them say, that is listed clearly as sinful.

ESPECIALLY…if they are speaking or TEACHING about the Word, God, doctrine or the nature of sin in particular.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matt 18:6)

Because it is our duty before Jesus, to get His message out, clear and accurately. And when that message is being distorted, it is our duty to correct it.
It is our DUTY to correct it.

And that requires us to exercise ‘judgment’. It also requires us to KNOW THE MESSAGE ACCURATELY ourselves.

Be Berean.


Now… what we ARE commanded to avoid… to ‘judge not’… is judge what is in someone’s HEART.


Again for brevity’s sake (I know. There’s nothing brief about this message)… I’m not going to quote the entire passage. But you might want to go read ALL… of Romans 14.

Yes. All of it.

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. (Rom 14:12-14)


The bible is a complete book, in that it tells us everything we need to know, to reconcile with God and walk with Him.

Everything we NEED to know.

But not everything there is.

Some of the details were left out. Details like…
Sabbath. Some people observe a Sabbath. Some don’t.
Lord’s table. Some people feel compelled to observe it weekly. Some monthly. Some yearly.
Tithing. Some people feel all tithes must be given to their church. Others give some in other ways.
Water baptism. Dunk? Sprinkle? Not necessary?
Ritual liturgy in worship service…vs…free form.
Holidays.
Etc.

These are issues of managing your own spiritual walk, that are not discussed in detail in the bible. You have to find your own walk, based on the understanding you and the Spirit have reached on your reading and meditation of the Word.

Some people think there is NO room for interpretation. Some think there is.

And you MAY NOT AGREE with your brother. But you don’t answer for him. And you don't get to tell him what to do. And you don't get to 'judge' him for how he worships.

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (Col :16-17)


If a brother is sleeping with any woman other than his wife, that behavior can be scripturally proven to be a sin. You can CALL it a sin. You can TELL him it’s a sin.

You can’t (and shouldn’t) tell him he’s not a Christian.

That’s for Jesus to decide.

Only Jesus knows what’s in his heart.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Satan's Sunday School

I am running out of television networks that I can watch.

HGTV just canceled a future show that featured two brothers in the real estate business. The cancelation was due to their outspoken views on….sin.

It’s unlikely that HGTV did NOT know about this situation beforehand. However, several politically liberal media outlets got wind of it and made a stink. Primarily pro-Gay organizations.
I have mixed emotions about this.

First (but not necessarily most important)…all Christians need to understand that all major media outlets, all major television networks and all major ‘Hollywood’ movie studios…all of them…are anti-Christ.

Now, some of them are KNOWINGLY anti-Christ. Some of them are merely reluctantly anti-Christ for business necessity. And some of them would argue they are not, but do daily make their living promoting the VALUES…of Satan.

If you’re promoting Satan, you’re anti-Christ. There is no middle ground.

If you’re bowing to the will of sin, you’re anti-Christ.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot:I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Rev. 3:15-16


HGTV is a business organization. Their first priority is to make money. And in today’s world, that requires them to be (they think) politically correct. And in today’s world, political correctness includes catering to the whims of left-wing organizations.

Strangely, political correctness does not include catering to the whims of right-wing organizations. But that’s a message for a political blog.

Also strangely, Hollywood has recently decided that movies and television series that discuss the bible…can be money-makers.

It’s a strange world.

But it isn’t God’s world.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. Eph 2:1-3


“Gratifying our flesh and following its desires and thoughts”…sounds like every product Hollywood puts out…and the lifestyle of every member of the entertainment community.

And the lifestyle they actively promote.

So when Hollywood makes ANY PRODUCT about God, the Bible or Jesus in particular, it’s exactly like asking Hollywood to come teach your Sunday School.

Let’s repeat that.

You’re inviting Satan…to teach your Sunday School.

The most recent/famous example of which is Mark Burnett and Roma Downey…and their productions of “The Bible” and “Son of God”.

From the exact same guy that invented and produced the “Survivor” program for television. A program that extols and rewards all the virtues of Satan. Greed. Conniving. Lying. Backstabbing.

Oh! You’re the BEST CONNIVER!? Here is your million dollars and the fame that goes with it.
Yep. That’s the guy I want to be teaching MY Sunday School.

The ‘argument’ I hear most is, “But these movies can start a dialogue between us Christians and any of our friends who are lost. It’s a great tool for spreading the Gospel.”

To which I answer, “You’re already supposed to be doing that….”

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts:and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you… 1 Pet 3:15

“…why do you need Satan’s help?”


Now…at the beginning of this blog I said I had “mixed emotions” and I haven’t been too “mixed” yet. HGTV has shown its colors. NatGeo and the History Chanel routinely have “investigations” about some aspect of Biblical history they think they can poke a hole through. Etc.

What I have a mixed feeling about is represented by the two young men whose show was canceled before it could get started.

Because they were preaching against sin.

I was under the impression our “Great Commission” was NOT about telling the world how sinful it is (the world already knows that). I’ve always believed our message should be “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand!”

In other words, “Jesus can take care of this for you.”

“Mercy is available.”

“Joy is just an open door away.”

No. Let’s NOT talk about “love”, for no other reason than the world has twisted the meaning the word into something ugly. Biblical ‘love’ can also be described (and should be) as ‘mercy’. Or ‘charity’ (which sadly, has also been twisted to just mean ‘give money’…though that isn’t what the bible means).

So these two young men were singled out for their faith. HGTV chose its side and its Satan. And Christians shouldn’t be surprised when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
However, we should at least, get the message right first.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

What do I want?

My friend David Briggs shared a picture on Facebook this morning, thanking God for…being God. And it reminded me of a favorite verse in Hebrews…

Heb 13:5 Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down


(Amplified version)

Now that verse is about MORE than just money. The love of money is the root of all evil...but I can (and often do) substitute in that verse...loving anything that won't be in heaven.

Every time I go to thank God…I am chastened by WHAT I’M THANKING HIM FOR. Because it’s usually something smaller than Him.

This verse tells me that He…is the only thing I should ever want.

And this train of thought always leads me to a mental picture of heaven and what I will be doing there….

Praising God. The Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Admiring the purity of God. Rejoicing in righteousness…will be my daily activity.

How much of what I do HERE…fits that description? Almost none.

I pray for health. And I pray for mercy. And I pray for work. And I pray for another day of His company. For me…and for others.

All of that boils down to ‘stuff I want’. Now, the ‘stuff’ may or may not be Godly things to want, but it doesn’t negate the very real fact that I am constantly in the business of…WANTING…something. And it's never anything that I would need or want in heaven.

In heaven, when all the dust settles and God’s plan is done and Jesus is the light of eternity…there won’t be anything TO want.

Nothing….to want.

Nothing…to fret about.

Nothing…to miss. Regret. Nothing FROM HERE...to thank Him for.

Nothing.

And all of my time will STILL be completely occupied by thanking and praising. Grateful just to BE there. Praising God…for just being HIM.

I don’t want that down here….nearly as much as I should. And the tragedy is...there isn't a thing in the world STOPPING me, from getting a jumpstart on all that 'thanking Him for being Him'...right now.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Three Days

I’ve always been fascinated by God’s use of numbers/numerology in the Bible. Any student of His Word, cannot HELP but be profited by at least a basic understanding of what numbers mean to God in his message to us. Every page contains clues of understanding in the numbers.

So I occasionally stumble across a cluster of ‘threes’….that needs to be mentioned. I’ve posted about ‘three fires’….which I believe is important. And ‘three commandments’…I hope that was edifying.

And now…the Three Days.

I have been crawling through Isaiah lately. Crawling…not because it’s hard or distasteful, but because it’s got SO MUCH MEAT for any disciple to chew on. And I’ve been doing this in a New American Standard Version of the Bible. That’s significant because always before, I’ve read the Prophets in the King James. And while I do love the King James, I am discovering that a more ‘modern’ translation, is helping me understand better. I do keep the KJV handy, though.

That’s another conversation.

So I’m crawling slowly through Isaiah, which is arguably the most important of the Prophets…and I can’t help but notice all these DAYS. Almost every chapter says something is going to happen….in ‘that day’. Or…’the day of the Lord’. They’re everywhere!

(It might be helpful here, to mention that all the chapters of Isaiah don’t fit together as one long ‘play’. The reader can take most chapters as individual, separate conversations).

I noticed a pattern. Those ‘days’….are not talking about the same thing. (You probably already knew that, but in the event someone doesn’t… I thought I would mention it.) In fact….there are three distinct events that those Days represent. And they aren’t in any order, which could be further confusing.

Day One… the day a child of the Lord… becomes acquainted with God for the first time. Sometimes referred to as ‘the salvation event’. Or ‘being born again’. Or ‘awakening’. This is a signal event in any true disciple’s life.

Day Two… the day of final judgment. By God. On His entire creation. Also sometimes known as ‘Armageddon’. ‘The end time’…etc.

Day Three…(and this one very often gets blended in… in the minds of disciples… with Day Two. But it’s a separate event) The establishment of a new heaven and new earth. The opening of the gates of the Kingdom and God’s people entering in. Eternal paradise.

So I went through my bible and started penciling in a “1” with a circle around it, when appropriate. Or a “2”. Or a “3”. And I noticed that it’s possible to confuse “1” with “3”, since they both speak of joyous events. Similar joyous events.

I also noticed there were some chapters which had ‘that day’…. but really couldn’t be applied to any of the Three Days. …. Oops. There went my theory about ‘threes’, because suddenly, there weren’t three any more. There are four.

Not really. Day 4. Is not like the others. Day 4 can be recurring… there can be a multitude of Day 4’s.

While there are a multitude of occasions were ‘the three’ are mentioned, there aren’t multiple OCCURRENCES of any of the the Three… in human timelines. There is only one Day 1, 2 and 3... apiece.

Day 4 isn’t like that. It happens… a lot. Day 4… is when God is mad at, and/or punishes… either the children of God or the apostates… or both. Which sounds like Day 2… except when it’s Day 2… that is THE END. Day 4 is always followed by more human history. So Day 4 isn’t Final Judgment. It’s just chastisement.

Besides, Final Judgment (the second death) does not apply to the children of God. Another difference between 2 & 4.

Day 1…

Then you will say on that day,
“ I will give thanks to You, O LORD;
For although You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away,
And You comfort me.
“Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
For the LORD GOD is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.”
Therefore you will joyously draw water
From the springs of salvation.
And in that day you will say,
“ Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name.
Make known His deeds among the peoples;
Make them remember that His name is exalted.” Isaiah 12:1-4


And

In that day the Egyptians will become like women, and they will tremble and be in dread because of the waving of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which He is going to wave over them.
The land of Judah will become a terror to Egypt; everyone to whom it is mentioned will be in dread of it, because of the purpose of the LORD of hosts which He is purposing against them.
In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will be speaking the language of Canaan and swearing allegiance to the LORD of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction.
In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD near its border.
It will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them.
Thus the LORD will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. Isaiah 19:16-21


See also Isaiah 26:1-4

A couple of points….

First, there are uncounted occurrences where the Bible mentions something along the lines of “I brought you up out of Egypt”. This is a catch-phrase for Christian salvation, for God also brings us out of our own nature and into a repentance knowledge of him. Any time you see “out of Egypt”, you may assume “salvation event”.

Second, in this instance, God is also giving salvation to the Egyptians…which equates to Peter taking the Gospel to ‘the heathen’…i.e….Gentiles. It still qualifies as Day 1.

Day 2…

So it will happen in that day,
That the LORD will punish the host of heaven on high,
And the kings of the earth on earth.
They will be gathered together
Like prisoners in the dungeon,
And will be confined in prison;
And after many days they will be punished.
Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed,
For the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
And His glory will be before His elders. Isaiah 24:21-23
And..

In that day the LORD of hosts will become a beautiful crown
And a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people;
A spirit of justice for him who sits in judgment,
A strength to those who repel the onslaught at the gate.Isaiah 28:5-6


See also Isaiah 13:6-11. Isaiah 2:12.

Day 3… (the fun stuff)

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. Isaiah 11:1-10

And…

The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;
A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,
And refined, aged wine.
And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,
Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.
He will swallow up death for all time,
And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces,
And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
For the LORD has spoken.
And it will be said in that day,
“Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.
This is the LORD for whom we have waited; Isaiah 25:6-9


See also the entire chapter of Isaiah 56.


Day 4…


Isa 7:23 And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns.
Isa 7:24 With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.
Isa 7:25 And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle. Isaiah 7:23

Please note that this CANNOT be Day 2… since AFTER this occurs, Isaiah conceives a child.

It should also be mentioned that these ‘days’…. are not necessarily real, 24 hour periods of time. Oftentimes, the term ‘day’ is used to mean ‘the unfolding of this particular event, from start to finish’. And WHEN that event is completed, ‘the day’ is at an end.

Additionally, this division of Days and the understanding of their meanings, applies across the entire scope of every Prophecy. Jeremiah, for instance. And Day 1.

Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him:
But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.
Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.
For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished. Jeremiah 30:7-11


The list goes on.

It should also be noted that the word ‘day’… does sometimes mean… JUST a day. That is most often true in the histories, like Samuel and Chronicles and Kings, which are not prophecies.
This also stretches into the New Testament. In Matthew 24, when Jesus is discussing ‘the end’ (Day 3), it is noteworthy that He mentions a lot of OTHER events that must occur before ‘the end’ comes about. How do we KNOW it’s Day 3? Look at verse 31…

And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.


And finally, the understanding of ‘Days’ can help decipher the most obscure of scriptures….The Book of Revelation. Did you know, for instance…that Day 2 is mentioned in four different passages, with four different points to make? But it is still JUST…one event… Day 2… Armageddon…
Rev 6:11-12
Rev 11:15-19
Rev 14:14-20
Rev 19:11 – Rev 20:15 (the big one)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Three Commandments


I once wrote a message entitled “Preponderance”. I may call that back up sometime and post it to the blog. The basic idea being, whatever topics God discusses in the bible the MOST…are the ones He wants us to take the most seriously. Conversely, the things He discusses the LEAST (or not at all) are probably of less importance to Him.

When we take the time to go through the bible in its entirety (yes, it takes a while)…and if we’re paying attention while we do it, then over time, we learn what matters most to Him.

If you don’t want to stop right now and do that, I’d like to helpfully point out the obvious. God…has these things called ‘commandments’.
Bet you instantly thought of the movie, didn't you? The Ten Commandments. ‘Fess up. You know you did. Charlton Heston? Red robes? Big waves coming apart? Golden calf? Busting up those stone tablets?

Okay, I’ll stop.

The ACTUAL ten commandments given to Moses are in Exodus 20. It is one of the few passages of scripture I would encourage everyone to memorize. To clarify…I’m not suggesting you memorize the Ten themselves (though that would be good)…I mean, just memorize WHERE they are…so you can always go look them up. Exodus 20. Starting in verse one.

With apologies to God, I’ll give the short version of each…

1. Love God and have no other God(s). Nothing matters more than God.
2. Make no graven images.
3. Don’t take God’s name in vain. (this doesn’t mean what you think it means…but that’s a topic for another message)
4. Remember the Sabbath day. (neither does this)
5. Honor father & mother. (this does)
6. Don’t kill people.
7. Don’t commit adultery.
8. Don’t steal.
9. Always tell the truth. And nothing but the truth.
10. Don’t covet someone’s wife or stuff.

Ten of ‘em. Yep. And yet strangely, the title of this message is ‘The THREE Commandments’, so I must already be confused. Until we apply the concept of ‘preponderance’. All ten of those commandments fall into two general categories…

1. A disciple’s relationship to God. First and foremost. (Commandments 1-4)
2. A disciple’s relationship to other people. (Commandments 5-10)

Everything. And I mean EVERY lesson of the bible…either pertains to one of those two PASSIONS of God…or is seriously less significant. The ‘preponderance’ of all scripture…is either Lesson One or Lesson Two.

But don’t take MY word for it…

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.Matt 22:36-40

Yep. Uh-huh. Yes. Yes, I did. Went and got Jesus, Himself for backup. ALL the law. ALL the prophets. Basically, “Everything the Father… and I… and the H.G. have to say to you to that MATTERS TO US, is summed up in these two commandments. You get these two THESE TWO THINGS right and the rest will take care of itself.”

That…is first-rate ‘preponderance’.

And if you now go back through the books, chapters, passages and verses…of the entire Bible… that you’ve been reading for years and view them through your ‘Two Commandment’ glasses, all of a sudden you realize that it’s true. The bible has God talking, teaching, cajoling, encouraging…COMMANDING…and getting angry when we don’t…about those two things.

Now…the next obvious thing that should occur to us is…we really DON’T…know…how to accomplish those two things. In our vanity, we might THINK we do. Let’s debunk that right away…

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Romans 8:7-9

Let’s keep in mind, that every single disciple of Jesus, is someone who has to first ‘be born again’. We enter our spiritual kingdom and service…as newborns. Any experience we already have from time spent in this world, has been in a state of enmity at God, so there’s no WAY we can ‘hit the ground running’…knowing how to please Him.

Our service, heart attitude, spirit attitude…everything that pertains to Lesson One must be learned, from the point of view of what HE wants, not what WE think might do. Additionally, though our parents may have taught us how to get along with people, we have to learn what God thinks is disciple-behavior towards people, too.

And no, it’s not the Golden Rule…

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matt. 7:12

Or, to be more accurate, it’s not JUST the Golden Rule. To deal with all the different types of people and situations in this world today, in a fashion that befits a disciple of Christ, means learning more than one line. Remember, the bible is FILLED with a ‘preponderance’ of lessons on this topic. If one line would suffice, God would have left it at that.

Okay. So we reach the point of knowing WHAT GOD WANTS, which is the purpose of a commandment. We know that everything that matters fall under the umbrella of these Two Commandments. We know there’s a learning curve and we take the time (years….not twenty minutes) to learn HOW God wants us to follow those Two. So we ARE done, right?

Right?

Uh….no.

See, there’s this THIRD commandment. No, it wasn’t ‘the golden rule’. That wasn’t our third, but there IS one…

GO TELL PEOPLE!!

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen…Matt 28:16-20

This passage is what we commonly refer to as The Great Commission. Jesus wants us be witnesses in this world, that He exists, that the Father is watching, that the H.G. is real. That it’s all true.

There is a preponderance of scripture to reinforce this commandment, also. But I’ll give the one that scares me the most and tells me just HOW important this is to Jesus…

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. Mark 8:34-38

In the context of discussing true discipleship, Jesus specifically mentions that a REFUSAL to give public testimony, will be considered…by Him…to be a betrayal…of Him. Serious stuff.

Okay. I really don’t want to end on a gloomy thought, so here’s one more that’s uplifting…

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 1 Pet 3:15

1. Love God unconditionally and don’t let any other love get between that.
2. Love other people as much as you love yourself. Even enemies. Especially enemies.
3. Tell people. With your lips and your daily example, that Jesus has bought you and rules you.

In fairness, the disciple SHOULD be warned. If you DO do those three things…Yul Brynner (or his spiritual kinfolk) really will chase you.

It’s worth it.