Posts tagged ‘God’

The Church the Rapture will Leave Behind

A couple weeks ago I published The Rapture of the Church in which I hoped to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as we enter these last days.  As is always the case, God’s timing is perfect.  Right around that same time, I began reading the book of Revelation as I have been studying the New Testament this summer.  The comments I made in my Rapture post were still fresh in my heart and mind as I read through chapters 2 and 3 about the 7 churches.

To refresh your memory, the letters to the 7 churches are meaningful in a number of ways.  First, they were 7 letters written to 7 actual churches of the apostle John’s time, and addressed concerns and praised their good works.  Second, they are a message to individual churches all throughout the Church Age.  At some point or other we can see our own congregations in one or more of the Revelation churches.  Third, they also speak to us individually.  Who of us cannot read those letters and feel the conviction and/or hope from the Holy Spirit?  Finally, they are prophetic.  Each of the 7 churches represents a stage of the global Church throughout the whole Church Age, from the first to the last, in order.

In my rapture post, I pointed to the 6th church, Philadelphia, as the one who will be raptured to Heaven before the Great Tribulation, also known as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.  And, I pointed to the 5th church, Sardis, as the age we are in now.  The Church looks like it is doing good, but it has fallen asleep and needs to wake up and prepare for Messiah’s return.

Revelation 3:1-4 (TLV) – To the angel of Messiah’s community in Sardis write:  “Thus says the One having the seven spirits of God and the seven stars:  I know your deeds–you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up, and strengthen what remains that was about to die.  For I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of My God.  So remember what you have received and heard–keep it, and repent.  If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. But still, you have a few people in Sardis who have not stained their clothes.  They will walk with Me in white, because they are worthy.  The one who overcomes thus will be dressed in white clothes; I will never blot his name out of the Book of Life, and will confess his name before My Father and His angels.”

We are a church today who has fallen asleep.  We walk into church on Sunday, and out the exact same person.  We do not change.  Our words and deeds are hollow because we have tainted everything we do with compromise with the world.  Divorce, homosexuality, abortion, sexual impurity, the worship of money and false idols (and before you deny that, consider how many Christians idolize celebrities in Hollywood, the music industry, sports…simply observe their reaction when one of them dies).  The church today reeks of the contamination of worldly influence.  We do not fear God.  We have turned Him into a loveable, cuddly, caregiver.  The cold, hard truth of that is far too many in the Church today worship a god of their own making…he is an idol.  The God of the Bible, the One True God, YAHWEH, is to be feared and revered!  Yes, He is the God of the New Testament who loves us so much that He sent His son to die for us so that we could have a restored relationship with Him.  BUT.  He is also the very same God from the Old Testament who is holy and righteous and demands righteousness from His children.  The same God who opened the earth and swallowed the men and their families who dared to stand against Moses.  The same God who destroyed Sodam and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone for their sin.  We have lost sight of exactly who YAHWEH, the God of Israel is.  It is evidence in how we live, what we do, what we say.  Just turn on the local Christian music radio station.  I can hardly listen to it anymore.  There are a great many songs of worship and praise, but there are also many that are feel good, mushy songs.  There is little to no teaching.  No call to repentance.  Everything we do, whether good or bad, is understandable.  We think it is okay because the god we know wouldn’t ask us to live differently than what is comfortable for us.  We don’t know God.

The 6th church in Revelations 3 is the church in Philadelphia.  Prophetically speaking, it is the church that comes out of the Sardis age.  It is the people who do not stain their clothes, who overcome; the ones who wake up and repent, who strive to make their deeds complete in the sight of God.  This is the church who is rewarded for their faithfulness by being saved from the Great Tribulation.

Revelations 3:10-11 (TLV) – “Because you have kept My word about patient endurance, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is coming upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth.  I am coming soon–hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.”

I have always believed that the Rapture would take the church and there would be no one left, except the people who attended church, but never had really given their hearts to God and received His salvation.  But as I continued to read the rest of chapter 3, I felt a hard thunking in my soul from the Spirit.  The Rapture comes during the time of the 6th church, but there are 7 churches.  A part of the church is left behind.  As soon as I understood this word from the Spirit, I began praying for further understanding.  It came from a number of different places, and each time, God gave me an ah-hah as I understood another piece.

The first question is who will be left behind.

Revelation 3:15-17 (TLV) – “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  Oh, that you were either cold or hot!  So because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spew you out of My mouth.  For you say, ‘I am rich, I have made myself wealthy, and I need nothing.’  But you do not know that you are miserable and pitiable and poor and blind and naked.”

A new friend, and sister in Christ, gave me the word for this: the carnal Christian.  Paul talks about them in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (TLV) – “And I, brothers and sisters, could not speak to you as Spirit-filled but as worldly–as infants in Messiah.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready.  Indeed, even now you are not yet ready, for you are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and strife among you, arent’ you worldly and walking in a human way?”

Did you catch the word that connects the 7th church to the 5th church?  Deeds.  The part of the Church that is left behind are the Christians, and yes, I say Christians for such they are, who have not bothered to grow or striven to deepen their faith or relationship with God.  They believe, and they have received Yeshua’s (the Hebrew name of Jesus) salvation from their sins; that is salvation from judgement, but they have done nothing with it.  They still live in a way that looks exactly like the rest of the world.  There is nothing that sets them apart as different.  Paul calls it worldly.  They are content to live their spiritual life on fluff and cotton candy; milk, as an infant does.  The feel good music on the Christian radio station, and quite frankly, sung in our churches every Sunday.  Do we need the praise and worship songs?  Absolutely!  And I am in no way saying that we don’t.  Probably the thing that stands out the most to me is the listeners who call in giving the radio station credit for getting them through the day or even their salvation. That is a very tricky attitude of heart. The messages from the pulpit today refuse to call sin sin.  The Bible that sits on the shelf collecting dust.  Who even bothers to bring one to church anymore?  It used to be that people at least would do that much…it made them look like they were good Christians after all.  Prayer is said only at meals, and maybe in emergencies.  I hope that what I’m getting across is that this is the part of the church, unfortunately the growing part, that is content being a lukewarm, baby Christian; in it for the salvation, but not for the life.  If this doesn’t scare you for yourself, it probably scares you for someone you love.  And if it doesn’t at all, it should.

Jesus’ famous end times passage is in Matthew 24.  He follows that with warnings and instructions in the form of parables in chapter 25.  The first is the parable of the 10 virgins in which 10 young ladies are waiting for the Bridegroom to come for the wedding feast.  Five of the virgins have oil in their lamps, they are prepared, watching and waiting for the Bridegroom to come.  When He arrives, they are ready and are able to enter into the wedding feast.  The other 5, however, did not have oil, were not prepared, were not watching, and they were left outside.  When they asked to be let in, the Groom told them He didn’t know them.

The second parable is that of the talents.  A man goes on a journey.  He leaves a certain amount of talents (coins) with each of 3 servants.  While He is gone, the servants with 5 and 2 talents, respectively, both double the amount they are given.  However, the servant with 1 talent buries it and does nothing with it.  When the master returns, the 2 who doubled what they were given were told to enter into their master’s joy.  But the servant who did nothing with what he was given was thrown out into utter darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  The master, of course is Yeshua.  The servants are the believers, and the talents represent the knowledge of God and His salvation.  What I want you to note is that it didn’t matter how much the servants were given, what mattered was that they did something with it, whether great or small.  Something was rewarded.  Nothing was punished.  It is the carnal Christian, who has the knowledge and salvation of God, but does nothing at all with it, who will be left behind.  If you are a slow grower, but are still growing, you are doing something.  Don’t let that be an excuse to not do more, though.  Continue daily to seek the Lord and strengthen your relationship with Him.

So what will happen to this part of the church, who remain to live out the 7 years of the Great Tribulation?

Revelation 3:18-22 (TLV) – “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white clothes so that you may dress yourself and so the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed, and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline.  Therefore, be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.  To the one who overcomes I will grant the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I myself overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Ruach [Spirit] is saying to Messiah’s communities.”

There are a couple of things I need to point out here.  First of all, Messiah’s communities refers to the Church.  Also, note that Yeshua says that He rebukes those He loves.  So this is definitely to part of the Church, believers who have received salvation.  But they were not taken in the Rapture because of their carnal/worldly ways.

The second is this: “buy from Me gold refined by fire,” and “the one who overcomes…just as I myself overcame.”  For this I need to take you ahead in Revelations to chapter 13:7-10 (TLV) – He [the beast, Satan] was also permitted to make war against the kedoshim [the saints, Christians] and overcome them, and he was given authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.  All who dwell on the earth shall worship him–everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb who was slain.  If anyone has an ear, let him hear.  If anyone is meant for captivity, to captivity he goes.  If anyone is to be killed by the sword, by the sword he must be killed.  Here is the perseverance and faith of the kedoshim.”

This is the refiners fire, and the way the Christians who remain will need to overcome, as Jesus overcame at the cross, through persecution, imprisonment and death.

Brothers and Sisters, I urge you, please, seek the Lord.  The end times are here.  We are seeing the evidence of it all around us every day.  Jesus said that we would know them when the world is like the times of Noah, when every thought and intent of man’s heart is evil.  The world glorifies violence, murder, deception, blasphemy, all kinds of messed up sexual immorality, and they are desperately trying to become gods themselves (changing the gender of people, rearranging DNA in a fetus to create their own life, cloning, etc.). Yeshua said that the times would be like the days of Lot when Soddam and Gomorrah were destroyed after the men of the city insisted on having sex with the men (angels) who came to see him.  Wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters abound.

Jesus also said the following in Matthew 24:14 (TLV) – “This Good News of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”  We just recently had a guest at our church who is part of a mission outreach that gets the Gospel message presented in other languages through film, but also through translated Scriptures.  He reported that it is estimated that the Gospel message will be available in every language in 5-7 years, and the Bible in every language by the year 2033.  That is only 16 years away.  16!!!  Possibly only 5, if the Lord raptures the Church when the Gospel message has been shared.  We cannot say exactly when Yeshua will return, but the point is that the time is short, and if we are awake, and paying attention, like the 5 virgins in Matthew 25, prepared with the oil in their lamps, we will see the Bridegroom coming.  We will not be caught unawares, as though He is a thief in the night, as He warned the church at Sardis.

The time is here, and we MUST wake up and prepare!  The Spirit is on the move, placing in the hearts of His people the urgency to prepare themselves and the church.  I am a witness to that in myself, but I am also witnessing it in others in my own congregation as well as globally.  God is giving us that wake up call, the one Yeshua gave to the church at Sardis, the 5th church, right before the church that is saved from the hour of trial.  The time for the rapture is near.  The Bridegroom is coming to take His bride.  If we are not ready, we will be left behind, and must then face the refining fires if we are to overcome and ultimately reign with Jesus on His thrown.

The words of an old song, based on Isaiah 55:6, comes to mind:

Seek the Lord, while He may be found.  Call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thought, and let him return to the Lord, and to our God.  For He will abundantly pardon.  He will abundantly pardon you.  Return to the Lord.

Leviticus? Oye!!

How many of you have set out with the admirable goal of reading the entire Bible? Genesis is good. It has a great bunch of stories in it. Certainly can’t complain about Exodus with all the suspense. Both are not only pretty easy to read, but actually rather enjoyable. But then there is Leviticus. Not much else can derail a Bible-reading plan faster than…*snore*…huh? What was I saying? Oh yah, Leviticus, the book of the law.

Not meaning to pat myself on the back or anything, but I am pleased to say I have now finished reading it for the 2nd time. Don’t be too quick to congratulate me, though. It took me several months to read those 27 chapters. With Paul’s words to Timothy floating in the back of my mind, the reminder that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable, I asked God many times why Leviticus is even in the Bible.

I have read and re-read, with great fascination, the chapters about the  7 God-assigned feasts of Israel. But I have to admit, my eyes were pretty glassy through the rest of the book. I did find that there were so many commands in chapter 19, that I needed to read that one 2 or 3 times to unpack it all.

Leviticus is the third book of the Old Testament, and written by Moses.  It is the record of the law given by God to the Israelite people after leaving Egypt.  It is not the 10 commandments.  Rather, it is the very extensive list of what sacrifices should be performed for what purpose, and the pretty detailed list of how to go about doing that.  It’s not a book for the squeamish as it talks quite a bit about the particular parts of the sacrificial animals that are to be used, and where to pour the blood, etc.  It contains quite a list of sins and what their punishments should be.  Also an extensive list of what makes a person, or thing, unclean and what to do to be considered clean again.  One can even learn how to deal with mold in a dwelling.  It is a book that was obviously meant as an instruction manual for the Israelites.

Leviticus is for a people who had not yet been redeemed by the Messiah, thus the necessity of the sacrificial system.  So what possible purpose could it have for Christians today?  Why even bother making the effort to try to read it?  And yet, the Apostle Paul did say in 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17 that “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  We must bear in mind that when Paul wrote these words, there was no New Testament.  The Scripture he is referring to was the Books of the Law (including Leviticus), the Prophets, and the Writings, aka the Old Testament.  With this in mind, I can concede that even today it is important to recognize the behaviors listed in Leviticus as ones that God declares sinful.  Still, there must be something more for Paul to declare that ALL Scripture is profitable.  All means all after all.

As I continued reading through this book, pondering its usefulness, and praying for God to reveal that to me, the answer came while reading an unlikely passage.  In chapter 21, verses 16-24 God declared that no descendant of Aaron (the priestly line) who had a physical defect of any kind could go past the curtain of the Tabernacle to the alter and offer the sacrifices because he would profane God’s holy place.  As the daughter of parents who are both totally blind, and as a teacher for students who are blind and/or have other, sometimes quite severe, disabilities, this passage caused me to stop short.  As I paused to pray, I heard the Holy Spirit speak the answer to my first prayer.  Then I understood, not just why this command about the priests with physical defects, but the purpose of the book as well.

The following is the understanding the Spirit gave to me:  The Bible is not just a collection of stories, books, and letters.  It is, in fact, The Incomplete Works of God.  It is a partial biography, or perhaps autobiography of God.  His memoirs.  A record of His works and interaction with mankind.  Of course it is incomplete because no one can know the mind of God…there is so much more about Him that is not recorded in the Bible, but this is what we have.

Each page, chapter, and book is a gradual revealing of who God is.  And each book, as a whole document, has a theme that reveals something to the reader about the characteristics of God.  Genesis shows us that God is the creator.  He created the world, and everything in it.  He created animals and humans.  He created the family that He would send the Messiah through.

Exodus shows us that God is not only God of the Israelites, but God over everything and everyone.  No matter whether a person believes in Him or not.  No matter that person’s status in this world, peasant or king.  There is no one who does not fall under God’s jurisdiction.

Leviticus points to the complete holiness and righteousness of God.  By detailing what is required of His people in order to be holy in His sight, we see that there is no way humanly possible for any man to stand holy and righteous before Him.  Not only that, we see that God cannot, and will not, tolerate any sin, nor the effects of sin, in His presence.  That is what the whole thing about forbidding a priest with physical defects from carrying out a sacrifice was all about.  It was not because the defect was a result of any particular sin on the part of that person, or his parents.  It was because the defect is a result of sin entering God’s perfect creation and distorting all of it.  It was a physical apparition of sin; a living, breathing example of the curse of sin in the world.  This did not say that God did not, and does not love anyone with a disability, by the way.  We can see that He does by looking how mercifully Yeshua (Jesus) healed the many blind, deaf, and lame in the New Testament.  He was the extension of God’s love and mercy, and became the mediator between God and all men.

I wonder what Numbers will reveal?  I have already started reading, and praying for God to show me more of who He is in this book.  I have also begun to keep a record of these revelations in the front of my Bible.  I want a place I can go at any time to be reminded of all God is whenever I need to.  I can’t wait to finish Numbers and see the whole picture!!

 

The Truth About R.I.P.

I have heard it said that celebrities die in three’s.  Recent weeks would attest to the fact that this is not true.  The latest, sadly, is Carrie Fisher of Star Wars fame.  The world has lost a beloved icon, and everywhere you turn you see people wishing her well…R.I.P. Carrie Fisher.

The cold, hard truth is that there isn’t any “rest in peace” for her or anyone else who has not received Jesus as their Savior. 

Right at this moment, I have just infuriated probably every person reading this.  You are thinking, or probably saying, that I am a cold-hearted _________, fill in the blank.  The truth is exactly the opposite.  I am absolutely devastated that Carrie has gone.  I have cried my heart out, and will again.  But I don’t cry because she was Carrie Fisher, superstar.  I cry because she was Carrie Fisher, sinner, not saved by grace, and not in Heaven with Jesus right now, and there is nothing anymore that can be done about it.

She is not resting at peace. 

Instead, she is tormented.  And I am sorry to say all this.  But the truth is, I don’t care that you may be offended.  If that is what it takes to get your attention, then so be it.  The cold, hard fact is that if you don’t ask Jesus to be your Savior, then your soul will live in torment for eternity, too.  There is no peace in that.

 

60 years is too young, and so is your age, whatever it is- whether you are 15 or 90.  Death can come at any time.  What tears at my soul is that Carrie was willing to hear the truth about Jesus.  I remember reading a couple of years ago that she claimed to be an agnostic, but she said she was a “hopeful agnostic.”  Hopeful because she would love for someone to prove to her that God exists.  I have prayed for her ever since.  I prayed that someone would talk to her, show her.  She needed to know how very much God loved her, so much that He sent His own Son to die to take the punishment for her sins.

I could have done more.  That is why I’m angry with myself.  Today, with ready access to just about anyone through social media, I could have at least attempted to contact her, to share God’s love with her, but I didn’t.  And now it is too late.  But by golly, I am not going to let it be too late for you.  I don’t know who you are.  I don’t know your story.  But I do know that every person on the face of this planet is loved by God, including you.  And I know that He wants every person to receive His salvation so they can go to Heaven, including you.  But I also know that every single person that has ever lived, or ever will live, is sinful.  Because of that sin, none of us can be in the presence of God in Heaven without some miraculous intervention.

What I have just told you won’t be enough, so here are the facts from the Word of God, the Bible.  Before you read any further, pray.  Even if you don’t believe in God right at this very moment.  I don’t care.  Do it anyway.  Ask Him to help you see the truth and understand.  What I am about to write is it.

This is your chance to get in a right relationship with God.  Please.  Please, do not reject Him.  He will not poo-poo your rejection when you die.  He will not say, “Oh, I know you didn’t mean it.  Come on in.”  No. 

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

You think I’m being harsh about what happens after you die?  Read the story Jesus told about a poor man named Lazarus, and the unnamed rich man who decided to believe in God only when it was too late.

Luke 16:19-2619 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell[a] from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you, there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’”

There is a Hell.  Whether you want to believe it or not.  There is a HeavenAnd there is a God who made both.  He will send those who reject Him to Hell.  Why?  If He is so loving, why would He do that?  Because He is also fair and just.  He would not be fair or just if He left wrongdoing unpunished.  Wrongdoing is sin.  Ever tell a lie?  Ever disobey your parents?  Ever been jealous of someone?  Ever stolen?  Twisted the truth?  Used the name of God in a way that was not respectful?  Ever hit your brother?  Cheat on homework?  Knowingly take a pen, paper, whatever from work without paying for it?  The list goes on and on and on.  Even the best of people have sinned.  We can’t help it.  It is our very nature.  Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

God is just.  What is the punishment for our sin?  Death.  Spiritual death, which is eternal separation from God and all that is good.  Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell.  2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us,[a] not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

I said that God loves you and wants you to be with Him in Heaven. 

John 3:16 – “ For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Jesus is God’s Son.  We just celebrated His miraculous birth.  He was fully human, and at the same time fully God.  He lived 33 years on this earth in the body of His own creation.  He had his diapers changed, sneezed when He had a cold, vomited when He had the flu, and winced in pain when He stubbed His toe.  But He never, ever, once in all those 33 years from the day He was born until the day He died, sinned.  Not ever.

God’s justice for sin demands punishment by death.  He took on human form, took the blame for our sins when He had no guilt Himself, and allowed Himself to be brutally sacrificed.  That’s right.  For you.  He did what no one else could.  He saved us from the power of sin over us, and from the punishment for our sins.

Jesus offers that salvation to every person, but He won’t force it on anyone. 

I can’t make you read this, listen to it, and respond to it.  As much as I would like to.  Jesus won’t make you respond to Him.  He wants you to come to Him because you want to, not because He made you.  There is only one way to get to Heaven.  That is to accept the salvation that Jesus offers.  If you don’t acknowledge that you are a sinner, then you won’t believe that you need Jesus.  You will think you can get to Heaven all on your own power.  Good luck. Remember the verse up above?  The one that says didn’t we prophesy in your name?  Didn’t we cast out demons in your name and do many wondrous things?  But Jesus said, “I never knew you.”  Why?  Because they were trying to do it on their own.

John 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”  No.  Other.  Way.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  You can’t work your way into Heaven.  You can’t believe there is a god somewhere out there, but not accept the salvation offered by the One and only True God, and get to Heaven.  There is one way, and only one way.

Acts 16:31 – “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.’”  Jesus is the way.

Are you ready?  Have you opened your heart to hear and understand what God is trying to tell you?  Don’t reject Him today.  Instead, confess to Him that you know you are a sinner.  Tell Him you are sorry, and ask Him to forgive you.  Then ask Jesus to be your Savior.  Do it today.  Don’t wait a moment longer.  I guarantee you Carrie Fisher did not think she was going to have a heart attack when she boarded that plane in London, and she certainly did not think she would be dead days later.  Can you foretell your future?

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Be cleansed from your sins today.  Let Jesus take the load of your guilt.  He has already paid the penalty.  Now let Him lift the weight off your shoulders.  Accept His salvation, and He guarantees you a reserved spot in Heaven.  Please.  This chance may never come again.

Jesus said, (Revelation 3:20) “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

WHAT TO DO WHEN GOD’S CALLING SEEMS TO FALL APART

Have you ever been hit upside the head by God?  Have you had that moment of absolute clarity when you know, without a doubt, that God has called you to do something?  In obedience, you step out in faith and begin this new journey He has mapped out for you.  Then suddenly you hit a brick wall…or perhaps the brick wall hits you.  Trouble has come from somewhere, in some way, shape or form.

You begin to doubt.  Oh, the questions that fill your mind.  Have I sinned and fallen out of favor with God?  Is He no longer able to use me?  Was I wrong?  Did I misunderstand?  Maybe He didn’t call me to this at all.  Maybe it was all just my imagination.  Maybe I’m going about it all wrong.  Maybe….  Your heart sinks.  There is a sickness in the pit of your stomach.  You probably even think of how foolish you must have looked to all those family and friends you excitedly told about what God was doing in your life and what He had called you to.  How embarrassing!  You sheepishly hide this new “revelation” that you were wrong, and hope no one ever asks you about it.  What are the chances they will forget it and you will never have to speak of it again?

Moses must have felt the same way, don’t you think?  In Exodus 3 God met Moses alone in the wilderness, and spoke to him through a burning bush, of all things!  The two of them shared this amazing, personal moment in which God revealed to Moses, of all people, His real name (YHVH, pronounced in English Yehova or Yahweh).  Moses-  the Hebrew rejected by his people because he was raised in the house of the Egyptian pharaoh.  The man raised in the Pharaoh’s home, yet rejected by the Egyptians because he was, in fact, Hebrew.  The man who, in his zeal to be associated with his people, and with impulsive anger, killed an Egyptian man for beating a Hebrew.  The man who escaped to the wilderness to become a lonely shepherd.  To this same man, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob intimately revealed His true name, and called Moses to be savior and leader of the Hebrew people.

Moses couldn’t believe it either.  He was a humble man and doubted God could use him for anything worthwhile.  Even if he did as God said, what made Him think that the people would listen to him?  They knew him, and he was not a respectable source of information from anyone, let alone God.  God gave Moses three miraculous signs to do the convincing for him.  Moses still questioned God’s choice of messengers.  “Then Moses said to the LORD, ‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent.’” (Ex. 3:10).  And God put His foot down.  “Who has made man’s mouth?”  He asked.

In the end, of course, we know that Moses went.  He spoke the words God gave him to his brother Aaron, and Aaron spoke them to the Hebrew people and eventually to the Pharaoh.  The people were convinced that God had sent him and agreed to follow.

Pharaoh, on the other hand, would have none of it.  Rather than giving in to the demands of this Hebrew God, YHVH, of whom he had never heard, and who had no territorial rights in Egypt, he refused.  Not only did the Pharaoh refuse to let the Hebrews go on this 3-day pilgrimage to worship YHVH, he decided that their work was too easy.  He would no longer allow straw for the making of bricks to be provided to the Israelites.  They were required to spread out and gather what stubble they could find, and then use that to make the same number of bricks they had done before.  When they were unable to keep up with this quota, they were beaten.

Naturally, the people blamed Moses!  And BAM!  Moses was hit by the brick wall of doubt.  What had he done wrong?  Had he misunderstood?  He must have acted impulsively, and now look at the trouble he got this entire nation of people into!

 

But Moses did the right thing in the face of doubt.  He prayed.  Humbly before God, he said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people?  Why is it You have sent me?  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.”  (Ex. 5:22-23).

Even though God had warned Moses that Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened, and he would refuse to let His people go, Moses expected immediate results.  He didn’t understand that God had so much more to do there first.  The Israelites and the Egyptians needed to be shown the power of YHVH.  In those ancient times, gods were believed to be territorial.  God needed to show His power over the Egyptian gods so that Egypt would let His people go, and so that the Israelites would let the Egyptian gods go and willingly follow and serve Him alone.

God’s reply to Moses assured him of his calling, and that God was indeed in control of this situation.  “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh.  For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.’”  (Ex. 6:1).

Suppose Moses had given in to his doubts…or perhaps I should say Satan’s doubts.  Who do you suppose put those doubts in his mind?  Who do you suppose puts the doubts in your mind?  Who has the most to gain when we question what God has called us to do, and quit?  You better believe it!!!  When you hit those bumps in the road of your calling, stomp them down flat again.

Remind yourself of the certainty you felt when you first received that calling, and above all, pray!  Pray for protection from Satan’s deceptions, and attacks.  Pray for the faith to continue.  Pray for the wisdom to see and understand what God is doing.  Remember it was God who allowed the bumps in Moses’ path.  He did it for a reason, and the bumps in your path likely have some reason, too.  There is so much more going on behind the scenes that you are not aware of.  Work in your heart; work in the hearts of others.  God is in control.  Rest assured that when He calls you to something, He is faithful and just, and will complete it.

*Bible verses are taken from the New King James Version.

If you have been blessed by this article, please take a moment to thank God for what He is speaking to you.

What Hope is There in This Mess We Live In?

What a mess of a world we live in today!

It seems that there are precious few people we feel confident in trusting to do the right thing.  Do you lock your car and house when you leave them?  Did you when you were a child…did your parents or grandparents?  If something goes wrong in a parking lot or on the side of the road, do you wonder if anyone decent will help you?  Or will you instead face danger beyond your circumstances?

Is there anyone beyond your family and close friends (and even then it may be questionable) that you can trust to do the right thing by you?  What hope is there in a world when the general population holds no values of goodness, selflessness, generosity, and faithfulness?

Recently, I had a brief conversation with a fellow political conservative regarding a radio personality we had once considered a standard of our beliefs.  Early on in this train wreck of a presidential race, we constitutional conservatives were shocked by the abandonment of a number of leaders we believed to be strong and true, full-blooded, unwavering in their support of our country, its founding principles, and its Constitution.

We saw a handful of fairly solid conservative candidates, but those we looked to for leadership jumped ship, one-by-one, some in a seeming group plunge!  Even the a-fore-mentioned “standard of conservatism” has left the bedrock on which he once stood.  I confess, I always believed that if there ever came a time for a political “revolution,” so-to-speak, he would be at the head.

So where are we to look when all those we look to for strength and guidance leave us?  

GOD.

When steadfast politicians give in to pressure, when concrete standard-bearers of what you believe in become turncoats, when you can’t trust your neighbor to do what is right by you and your property, and when everyone you see is viewed through the lens of suspect…there is GOD.

Psalm 102:26-28 (TLV) – Long ago You founded the earth, the heavens are the work of Your hands.  They will perish, but You will remain.  All of them will wear out like a garment.  Like clothing You change them, so they change.  But You are the same, and Your years will never end.

Jacob (James) 1:17 (TLV) – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Hebrews 13:8 (TLV) – Yeshua the Messiah is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Malachi 3:6 (TLV) – “For I am ADONAI.  I do not change, so you, children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

This attribute of God, His immutability (He does not change) is the hope we can have in this world that, sadly, continues to change for the worse.  God is faithful to us even when we are not faithful to Him (2 Timothy 2:13).  God’s love is eternal (Psalm 136).  God keeps his promises (2 Corinthians 1:20).  God’s ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30).

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says ADONAI Elohim, “Who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8, TLV).

God NEVER changes!  And while this gives me hope that He is never going to let me down, as humans do, I would be remiss to not point out something very important in this character of God’s.  His faithfulness, His love, His character…they all stay the same, never changing.  But this also means that His commands NEVER change.  His requirements NEVER change.  His expectations NEVER change.  And His WORD NEVER CHANGES.

God commanded that we are to love Him and love others; not commit adultery, not steal, not lie, honor the Sabbath….  Because God does not change, neither do His commands.  If God said that homosexuality is wrong then, it is wrong now, because God does not change.

If He said that children should honor their father and mother so that they would have long life, then that is still true today.  If He said you cannot serve both God and money, then today, as it was in the Bible, that is what He expects of us.  God commanded us to be righteous…that hasn’t changed.  God said, through Yeshua, that there is only one way to heaven, that is to believe in the Son.  That hasn’t changed.

We cannot accept the immutability of God as comfort in this decaying world without also accepting the charge of His unchanging commands.  I hope that you can say like I can, “I believe God is never-changing.  I accept His Word as His unchanging truth, both His commands and His faithfulness and love for me.  Because of that, I can know that I ALWAYS have hope.  I am NEVER alone, for He is ALWAYS with me.”

If you have been blessed by these words, please pause a moment and say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for speaking to you here today.

Trivializing the Attributes of God

That was totally awesome!!!

Holy hotcakes, Batman!

Righteous, Dude!

 

We’ve heard them.  Truth is, we have said them.  They are words that belong to God, but are used for the oomph effect.  What better way to punctuate how great something is than to use a word that describes God, Himself?

When my young son comes to me with an A on his test, what do I say?  “You did an awesome job!  Way to go!”

When something requires a big WOW?  “Holy buckets!”  I tell myself that I’m really saying, “wholey buckets,” but of course I know there is absolutely no difference in the way they sound to anyone listening.

Righteous?  Well, I don’t actually ever say that one.  There just isn’t enough surfer dude in me for that.  For that matter, there isn’t any!  But I’ve heard it said.

Here’s the thing, though.  The Bible tells us, “Righteous are You, O Lord, and upright are Your judgments” (NKJV)*.  The only way we become righteous is through the righteousness of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21).  An exciting ride on the surf board may be just that, exciting, but it is not righteous.

“Holy, holy, holy is ADONAI, the Lord of heaven’s armies, the One who was, and is, and who is coming,” Revelations 4:8 (CJB)*. Only God is holy.  No cats, cows, or buckets…and certainly not excrement!

Deuteronomy 7:21 (NKJV)* – “You shall not be terrified of them; for the Lord your God, the great and awesome God, is among you.”  Did my son do well on his test?  Absolutely!  Was it truly awesome?  Not even close.  Not when compared to Who is truly awesome.

When we use a word to express praise over and over, it starts to lose it’s power.  Perhaps we use them too often without true merit.  And perhaps that is how we have gone from good to great, to awesome.  In so doing, though, the words that describe God have lost their effect.  Equating a cat to the holiness of God, or a successfully played little league game to His awesomeness elevates something that doesn’t deserve it.  While at the same time, it trivializes the One who does.

I can’t be holy or righteous without the veil of Jesus Christ, and I simply can never be awesome.  Nor can anything else in this world.  It is time to put God back in His rightful place. When I use words that are meant only for Him to see who He is, I will see more clearly who I am, and bow reverently before the One who is: holy; righteous; awesome.

*NKJV (New King James Version)

*CJB (Complete Jewish Bible)

There is Power in the Name…YESHUA

There’s Power in the Name…YESHUA

Recently I have been reading a book by Derek Frank called “Escaping the Great Deception.”  In it Frank chronicles the intentional changing of names and words in the Bible in order to remove the Jewishness of it and make it more Gentile.  Historical documents, which I won’t go into here, show that this stemmed from the anti-semitic attitudes of the 3rd and 4th century church who blamed the Jews for the crucifixion of Christ and believed that the church had replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people.  I encourage you to read the book, or visit the website for the accompanying documentary, “Let the Lion Roar” at www.letthelionroar.com to explore this for yourself.

After reading a particular statement in Frank’s book, I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit regarding the name of my savior.  I have been fleshing that conviction out since then.

The point of Frank’s statement was that Jesus’ true name is not really Jesus.  The name God told Mary and Joseph to call Him was Yeshua, which means “Yahweh saves.”  Matthew 1:21 – She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘ADONAI saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins. (CJB)

According to the glossary in the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB), Yeshua is usually transliterated as “Jeshua” or “Jeshuah” in the Hebrew Old Testament.  The name Jesus comes from the Greek transliteration Iesous (pronounced yee-soos), meaning God saves which is the language of the New Testament.  But, of course, that wasn’t the original language of the New Testament either.  Hebrew was.  Jesus and his disciples did not speak, or write, Greek.  Their native tongue was Hebrew.  So the Bible we have today is a translation of a translation at best.  The books of the New Testament were translated from their original Hebrew into Greek, and from Greek to English or whatever other language.  That is a topic for another day.  However, it does make the point that Jesus’ real name is not Jesus.  His real name is Yeshua.  That is the name God gave Him.  That is the name Mary and Joseph called when they went searching form Him in Jerusalem and found Him in the temple.  It is the name His disciples knew Him by.  It is the name that was on the sign above the cross He hung on, “This is YESHUA the King of the Jews” – Matthew 27:37.  Yeshua is the name the angel used when comforting Mary at the tomb:  Matthew 28:5-6 – “Don’t be afraid.  I know you are looking for Yeshua, who was executed on the stake.  He is not here, because he has been raised–just as he said!”

Look at Philippians 2:9-11:  Therefore God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name; that in honor of the name given Yeshua, every knee will bow–in heaven, on earth and under the earth–and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is ADONAI–to the glory of God the Father.

Other examples of the power in Yeshua’s name follow…it is a short selection from a much longer list.  (Capitalization added by me.)

Acts 4:11-12 – “This Yeshua is the stone rejected by you builders which has become the cornerstone.  There is salvation in no one else!  For there is not other NAME under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved!”

John 14:13-14 – “In fact, whatever you ask for in MY NAME, I will do; so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me for something in MY NAME, I will do it.”

Acts 4:29-30 – “So now, Lord, take note of their threats; and enable your slaves to speak your message with boldness!  Stretch out your hand to heal and to do signs and miracles THROUGH THE NAME of your holy servant YESHUA!”

Mark 16:17-18 – “And these signs will accompany those who do trust:  IN MY NAME they will drive out demons, speak with new tongues, not be injured if they handle snakes or drink poison, and heal the sick by laying hands on them.”

If there is such power in the name of Yeshua, the name given to the Messiah by God Himself, what extent of that power are we denying ourselves by praying in the name of another language?  A transliteration of Yeshua I get.  We still have basically the same name, and certainly the same meaning.  But Jesus is not a transliteration.  It is a translation.  This is a big difference.  Think of the names of people of other languages whom you have met.  Maria or Juan from Central America.  My grandma’s name was Ida…German.  Is it just me, or do we seem to keep the names that are easy to pronounce, but change the ones that aren’t?  I have met people of Asian decent who change their names to something a foreign tongue can pronounce.  Yeshua is not that difficult.  Ye-shoo-a.  Not hard.

The names of mythical gods like Zues and Hermes haven’t changed.  Why Yeshua?  Goodness gracious, do we not still call Socrates Socrates and Plato Plato?  Yet Yeshua, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, we call by another name, Jesus.

“Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus.  There’s just something about that name.  Master.  Savior.  Jesus.  Let all heaven and earth proclaim.  Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there is something about that name.”  Except that is the wrong name!  The name of Jesus WILL pass away.  The name of Yeshua will be forever.  Revelations 1:17-18 – He placed his right hand upon me and said, “Don’t be afraid!  I am the First and the Last, the Living One.  I was dead, but look! — I am alive forever and ever!  And I hold the keys to Death and Sh’ol.”

The only reason to change the name of Yeshua is to reduce or eliminate the power in the name.  Who would benefit the most from this?  Only Satan, the great deceiver.  He has managed to deceive most of the world for nearly 2,000 years into not praying in the name of Yeshua; into not calling on the name of Yeshua for salvation, healing, casting out demons; and into not praising the name that deserves the praise – Yeshua.

There are 2 questions then.  If salvation is in the name of Yeshua, is anyone saved that has prayed in the name of Jesus?  And why does God seem to recognize prayers made in the name of Jesus?  I believe we who believe are still saved.  We called out to God.  We asked for forgiveness.  We repented.  We believe that He sent His Son to die for us and then to be raised to life again.  All the tenants are there.  And I have prayed all my life to God in Jesus’ name.  I have felt His presence in mighty ways.  I know He has acknowledged my prayers.  I feel His presence now as I write these words.  So why retrain our hearts, minds and mouths to say Yeshua then?  Because of the power in the ONE NAME that God gave under heaven.  If we have seen the power in using the translation of the name, imagine the power we will see in using THE name…YESHUA.  Let us make Satan flee in the name of YESHUA our Lord!!!!!  Amen.

walking on the narrow path.

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