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A Gift, A Heritage, and A Reward From God?

Psalm 127:3 Amplified

Behold, children are a heritage and gift from the LORD, The fruit of the womb a reward.

Christians and many non-believers will agree with what the Psalmist penned in the above verse. Yet, we hear horror stories of children being trafficked, molested, abused, and many living in subhuman standards. Then there are the many children raised by grandparents because the parents chose drugs and are incarcerated in a facility for criminal behavior.

Our government has made great strides in preventing cruelty to children and ensuring abused children are placed in loving and caring homes, at least in most cases. No one wants to see children grow up in dysfunctional families, yet many Christian homes are not much better.

The Hebrew letter Bet ב was formed as a picture of a house. The names for son and daughter, ben and bat, are derived from this picture. Why? Because when a man sets out to build a house, he begins with children. This was what God desired for all of humanity. The family is still His desire for families today.

Unfortunately, American society and culture have different opinions. There is a sudden rise in letting young children, i.e., five-eight years old, determine their own sex. The catchphrase being used is ‘assigned gender at birth.’ There is much confusion, and the bodies of many children are being ruined. Teachers, counselors, and medical personnel are convincing them that they are something other than what they were born as. They are being told that they can choose their own gender.

Eunuchs To The State Religion?

In ancient days, eunuchs were developed from children and youth for many reasons. Even Daniel and his three Hebrew friends were made to be eunuchs in the service of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar. It was common for the males in the court to be eunuchs so that they could serve the queen and her attendants.

Then there were temple/shrine children groomed to serve in various functions for their entire life. This was common in nearly every ancient country, from Rome and Greece to India and China. These children were dedicated to serve a particular deity and were required to be sexless or without sex organs.

This might sound a little familiar if you have kept up with current events. Perhaps you think I am making an unfair or far-fetched comparison. In America today, more and more male and female children are being given sex-change hormonal drugs, and in many cases, they are left unable to procreate. Thus they have become eunuchs.

In some states, parents have lost the right to intervene and stop doctors from performing such life-altering deeds. Worse, a whole medical practice area has arisen known as gender reassignment medicine.

My question is, how is gender reassignment medicine? God created a person as male or female. Period. He didn’t assign them a gender but created them. The whole country has come under a demonic influence to steal God’s gift of children—the fruit of the womb. No longer can children be children and play, have fun and grow up. Now, they are being told they can be the opposite of what they were born as.

While it is ridiculous and utter nonsense, those pushing this new religion are adamant that it is normal. That’s because they have rejected the one true God as creator and are dedicating a whole generation to the new state-run religion.

Abortion Is Still Child Sacrifice

My job here is not to condemn those that have had an abortion. God forgives, heals, and delivers those who will allow Him to from the horrors of this barbaric practice. However, the fact remains it is wrong. It is not healthcare. It is essentially refusing the gift that God has given a potential parent. That gift is the fruit of the womb.

While states rally to pass legislation regarding this practice, the blood of millions of slain unborn children cries out before the throne of God day and night. The blood of children throughout the ages that were sacrificed to false gods cries with them.

In ancient Israel, we read that some of the kings sacrificed their own children to the fires of Molech. Amos, chapters 5 and 6 give us some indication that this went on when they came out of Egypt.

I mentioned in the beginning that many children are molested or abused. This was also an ancient pagan practice. In America today, this practice is commonly found among those claiming to be Christians. Why? Demonic influence? Family curse? Strongholds? Perhaps all of those are factors. Nevertheless, America has already plunged headlong into a deep ravine of godless acts regarding our children.

Read The Word of God, Not The Drag-Queen Manual

I am sure you are aware of the many libraries around the country allowing drag-queen storytime. Worse, they will not allow Christian books to be read to young children. Recently, Kirk Cameron requested that his book be read in libraries to children. At least fifty libraries denied his request but, at the same time, allowed the drag queens to read books to young children.

There is a double standard held by those who espouse freedom and let everyone live and let live. It works for one group, but Christians are not allowed to practice our religion, raise our children and serve God the way He tells us. We are not being silenced because we have already lost our voice in many arenas.

However, we still have a voice as long as we listen and obey the voice of the Holy Spirit. I am all for loving our neighbor, but we cannot let our neighbor continue to push us aside and let demonic agendas process. It is true what Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “there is nothing new under the sun.” “What was, will happen again.” I am paraphrasing.

What we see in the west is nothing new. Rome is a good example. But, I could point to many nations and empires throughout history that have already been where we are. The outcome for them was eventual destruction or occupation by another superpower.

Yes, Children Are Still A Gift From God

I can’t say it enough, ‘children are a gift from God.” What has changed? People can do whatever they desire with a gift. After all, it is a gift. What you do with it is up to you. However, there are consequences for misusing a gift, especially one given by the Father of all creation.

The plan that God set forth in the beginning for a family is still His plan. It is perfect and does not need our help. If we stick to His plan, we can have a heritage and a legacy. Without children, there is no future. If children cannot procreate, then there is no one left to be God’s family.

Those misusing God’s gift are responsible and will be held accountable. However, we can pray and take action where we can. We need to pray and take a stand before we lose a generation. Don’t be deceived. God created each child as a boy or girl, male or female, and gave them to their parents as a gift and reward from the womb. It is not new, but God’s plan.

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In The Eye Of The Storm

Waiting On The Sunshine

I hope your 2023 has started well. We are recovering from an EF3 140mph tornado that swept through our town, leaving a several-mile-wide path of destruction. But, as with anything in life, we have begun to move on. Storms are all around us, and many are falling away from following the Lord.

We have to go through the storms to see the sunshine. That was a quote from the late Herman Cain. He helped turn several companies around, including Godfather’s Pizza. He also served on the Federal Reserve Board in Kansas City and later ran for president. Cain grew up poor in Memphis, Tenn. So, he understood what it meant to ride out the storms to see the sunshine.

When You Know It’s Near

Before the tornado mentioned above arrived at my house, I had already heard the familiar freight train sound growing closer. Immediately I thought surely that thing wouldn’t come near me. After all, I am prayed up, and God has been so good to me. Yet, despite that, the storm headed right for my neighborhood. I had already shifted into intercession and thanked God for His mercy.

Before it even arrived, my daughter and I were in prayer mode, speaking peace and commanding the storm to leave. It left but not before it fell several trees nearby. No one was injured in my area, but some were trapped nearby. This was a terrible storm, and I don’t know why I stood in front of a glass door praying instead of hiding in the hallway as we are taught.

I had no fear, and something had gripped me to pray and believe that it would pass over and not touch down. Thankfully the city wasn’t demolished. Many had trees on their homes, and some businesses lost roofs. Then there was the loss of power. Despite all of that, we did not complain.

After The Storms

The next few days brought the familiar sounds of chainsaws, generators, and the deep darkness of the night. There was the ever-present smell of pine filling the air. Soon our power was restored, and many businesses opened up. During the process, there has been a heavy presence of law enforcement and power crews from other locales.

When you go through a storm, it is never easy. But, before you know it, it has passed, and now you have to do something- get back in the game called life. The post-storm life is always full of opportunity, and we never know what the outcome will look like.

Never The Same

My city and neighborhood will never be the same. I will never be the same, having gone through what I did. I could have never made it to write this without the Holy Spirit. I wish I could have stopped the destruction, but I believe it is an opportunity for God to bring change to the region.

Apostolic work is supposed to bring maturity to the church. How we handle duress, stress, and the storms of life is often the result of our level of maturity. Complaining and whining do not help us get through the storm and grow from the experience. Neither does blaming God.

God didn’t send the tornado, but He allowed it, and we cannot fully hope to understand all associated with it now. But as a loving Father, he wants the best for us, and he loves when we come together and help one another in times of distress. Helping others and not being a hindrance indicates that we are growing and useful for the kingdom of God.

We Have A Choice

No matter what storms you face, you have a choice in how you handle them and how you come out of them. Remember that the sun will shine again, no matter what it looks like today. God is always testing and trying us; the enemy is always using everything available to stop us.

We can choose to trust God or give in to what we see with our natural eyes and fall away and let the enemy win. Storms will always be here until Jesus returns. So let’s allow the Holy Spirit to be our guide to navigate the storms, trials, and tests that come our way. Enjoy the process because God is enjoying it with you!

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God Says To Just Show Up And He Will Do the Rest This Year

We get busy and caught up with the stuff of life and try to do everything we can to make it. We trust God, read our Bible, pray, attend worship services, give, and sometimes make it to a prayer meeting or outreach. We work and care for our families, yet it seems like we are always struggling somewhere.

Many of us are consistent and faithful in the things of God, and yet it seems like nothing ever changes or we come up short. Whether it is seeing loved ones come to salvation, financial breakthrough, healings, or just a change in our nation, we all are contending for the gospel to go forth wherever we go. We want to see God move.

Yet, we must try the latest formula, newest prayer method, or outreach tactic. We read books and listen to podcasts, and things shift momentarily, but we never see God move like we want. Perhaps God is doing more behind the scenes than we realize.

God is doing more than you realize. You should be more focused on the solution rather than the problem.

Showing Up Is Obedience

I Have said it before: none of us can do everything needed to advance the gospel. That is why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, so that ‘greater works’ can be done before He returns. God asks each one of us to partner with Him in building His kingdom. The assignments are different.

If you obey Him and do what he asks, that is all that is required of you. Obviously, we need to do the basics such as Bible study, prayer, fellowship, corporate worship, and all that is entailed in being part of a New Testament congregation.

However, we are given assignments for our individual callings. Jesus calls us, chooses us, and all we need to do is say yes. By saying ‘yes’ to Jesus, all we need to do is ‘show up’ and leave the results up to HIm.

Show up for work and wait to see how He moves. You have prayed for colleagues to be saved or a pay raise, and now you need to come to work and do your best and expect Him to move. Maybe you have been witnessing to your neighbor who is opposed to everything you believe.

All you can do is set the example and demonstrate what it means to follow Jesus. That means showing up for the kingdom by smiling even when unpleasant and esteeming your godless neighbor more than yourself.

All you can do is obey, and that equates to showing up. Even when you are in doubt and unbelief, depression, fear, or whatever may be holding you back, if you show up, God can use that. He can’t use you when you let depression or fear rule the day and keep you in bed or at home.

Showing up when you don’t feel like it catches God’s attention, and He can work with that.

Showing Up Is Faith

Once again, if someone shows up for work, ministry, or whatever your assignment is, it correlates to faith. You go to work believing that you will receive compensation at some point. You attend worship services or prayer meetings because you believe that is Biblical and that doing so will produce fruit in your life and others.

“By faith-” Those are the words at the beginning of Hebrews chapter 11. Everyone listed there were ordinary people that God called and used because they believed God and showed up where He told them to.

Consider if Abraham showed up on Moriah without Isaac or sent Isaac, but he didn’t go. Or what if Noah never cut the first tree down to build the ark? Perhaps, if Gideon had stayed in the winepress, the Midianites would continue to subdue and intimidate the Israelites.

All we know is that the people who did great exploits were like you and me, except that they should up, obeyed, and God used them. There are so many through the ages whose names have almost been forgotten, but heaven saw them when they showed up.

Showing Up Is Not Quitting

I have repeatedly been told that I don’t quit or give up. But it seems I have resigned so many times that I lost count. I am still writing and doing other kingdom work.

Many like me who get to the point that it would be easier to quit our assignment and go away and let Satan win. However, if you are reading this, you have not yet quit. Jesus told us not to put our hands to the plow and then walk away, or else we disqualify ourselves from the kingdom of God.

It is easy to say, “I quit,” and then sit and pout because it is hard. However, Jesus never said it would be easy, and He needs each of us on the frontlines in the war against hell. We demonstrate that we have not quit by showing up every morning in the word, personal prayer, and fellowship with the Lord and going out the door to fulfill our kingdom assignment.

Showing Up Pleases The Father

When John baptized Jesus, the heavens opened, and He proclaimed He was pleased with His Son because He showed up and allowed John to baptize him. So, likewise, we are His children, and he is rejoicing over you and me right now because we have demonstrated that we trust Him and showed up.

Even if we fail to be consistent, He is still pleased because we come back. We have no other place to go or serve because we are sold out to Him, and He is pleased. I am excited at the notion that the Father is pleased with me. What about you?

Time To Show Up

It is a new year on the Gregorian calendar, and for most, that means a fresh start. If you fell behind last year for whatever reason, now is the time to wipe the slate clean and announce, “I am going to show up.” Who knows what God can do?

Like me, you go year after year, and it seems you make some progress, but you need to see what He has promised. Perhaps, more is hidden than you know, and this year will be the year that all of the promises God has made to you come to light. All He asks is for you to show up and be ready to obey, which will please Him!!

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Five Resolutions You Need To Make In 2023

And Why They Will Change Your Life

Every year, millions worldwide, particularly in the West, make ‘resolutions’ that they quickly break for various reasons. While they are well-meaning and well-intentioned, most are not practical, or the person making the resolution lacks the commitment to see it through. They are controlled by habits that require more than a flippant resolve to see them through.

I have ceased making resolutions like cutting back on sugar, starting a new diet plan, and exercising more. We all know we need to eat healthier, so rather than go to extremes, the easiest thing to do is start slow and not make major adjustments too soon. In addition, we all should know we need more income than outcome, so it’s not rocket science to know we either need more income or cut unnecessary expenses.

What’s The Problem?

Since these are all things we know we should be doing, why do we keep sinking in the wrong direction every year? Perhaps we love eating what is not healthy, or we hate exercise more than just taking a few simple steps to move in the right direction.

Others resolve to read the Bible more or pray more; some desire to volunteer or give more. But, once again, they are stuck in their comfort zone and find it easier to lie in bed or watch the same old sad news to start their day. We all have done it. We want to grow our relationship with the Lord, but we can’t just get out of bed or crack open our Bible.

We know society and culture are broken and need Jesus, but we enjoy listening to the world’s garbage rather than putting on some good worship and inviting the Holy Spirit to change the day.

“If We did the simple, practical things, we would be far more inclined to live consistent lives serving the Lord and not need New Year’s Resolutions.”

Obedience Will Carry Us Through Each Day

Simply put, if we spent more time obeying the voice of the Lord and focusing on Him and His word, then we would be able to do daily those practical things such as eat right, rest, spend less on what we want and more on needs, give generously and even exercise.

But we are human, and I get it. We are weak, so making resolutions helps us to say, “I know that I need to do better at what I eat, how I rest and play, and where my money goes. I’m in the same boat as you, so I am not throwing rocks. So, set proper and practical goals for weight, diet, finances, and rest for the New Year. Here are five things we need to practice daily that will give us more freedom.

1- Forgiveness-Develop a Lifestyle of Forgiveness

If we were participating in the Kingdom of God family feud, the number one blocker to freedom would be unforgiveness. Yes, forgiveness is a principle that Jesus spoke a lot about. People who choose not to forgive others experience bitterness, anger, and other emotional and physical bondages. Unfortunately, there is no survey among people but a command from the righteous judge himself.

What does the scripture say?

Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

We constantly are bombarded with opportunities to become offended by people. Jesus talks about others’ trespasses against us as individuals. The word trespass means to enter someone’s property without their permission. In the Judaic law, to trespass was to break one of the laws.

When Jesus is telling us to forgive men their trespasses, He is telling us to forgive others who sinned or offended us. In other words, if I hurt your feelings, I have entered your ‘property’ or person without permission. Therefore, I have caused a setback in our relationship. Further, if someone breaks the moral, ethical, or other law, we must forgive them.

People must pay the price for their sins, mistakes, and crimes. However, we are not the judge. We must forgive those who hurt, offended, or wronged us, no matter what. It is not an option; if we want our sins forgiven by the father, we need to forgive. Many teach today that Jesus has already paid the price, so we don’t have to do anything.

While Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice, we must repent and turn from our wicked ways. Without forgiving others, we are saying Jesus’s sacrifice was inadequate to cover what they did to me. Why would we not want to forgive them?

Forgiveness will free us from owing someone anything and allows the completed work of the cross to do its work in our lives and the offender. So walk in forgiveness in 2023!

2- Choose To Be Unoffendable

Closely related to forgiveness is being offended. In fact, people hurt us every day, and we get offended and choose not to forgive, and things escalate to the point that we become bitter, angry, depressed, and seek revenge.

In his book, “Bait of Satan, ” John Bevere writes about being offended.” If being offended is the bait of Satan, then why would we want to take it? Yet, we are quick to grab it, hook, line, and sinker, and soon we are reeled into walking in offendedness and unforgiveness and all that is associated with it.

Being offended is an open door to a whole world of demonic strongholds. On the other hand, choosing to be unoffendable means that as soon as the offense occurs, we choose to forgive and place it on the cross. Yes, the work of the cross is sufficient today to put someone’s offense toward us in Jesus’ hands and let it be done away with forever.

We place the offender on the cross when we choose to be offended and not forgive. By choosing not to be offended immediately, we walk in the lifestyle Jesus intended. That’s the Sermon on the Mount lifestyle! So, choose not to be offended.

3- Prayer and Listening To God’s Voice

Earlier I mentioned prayer and how many of us make annual resolutions to pray more or attend more prayer meetings. Prayer is part of our relationship with the Son and Father; without it, we grow spiritually dry and weary. So, it is obvious we need to pray more, but most of our ‘praying’ is one way. We give our lists or offer some thanksgiving and praises, but 90 percent of what most Christians call prayer is us talking.

For prayer to be effective, it must be a two-way street. In other words, God is talking, and thus we should be listening. Messianic Rabbi Dick Reuben said it best: “we have one mouth and two ears, so we need to shut up and listen.”

We ask God for many things, but we do not take the time to listen and wait for the answer. He is always speaking, but are we listening? God speaks to us in many ways, such as through His Word, dreams, visions, prophecy, circumstances, creation, people- believers and non-believers, and of course, the primary way is the Holy Spirit.

So, let’s resolve to listen for His voice and how He speaks to us. Habakkuk wrote it best in chapter 2, verse 1 when he penned these words: I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower and look out to see what he will say to me

and what I will answer concerning my complaint. Notice that Habakkuk waited for God to speak; in his case, he was watching in the Spirit.

In 2023, listen, watch and wait for the Lord to speak.

4- Trust and Obey

It goes without saying that we should resolve or set a goal to trust and obey God more. We get tested when we say we will believe Him for more and trust Him for bigger things. When tests and trials come, we quickly retreat to our cave and allow doubt to rule the day.

Trusting God means obeying Him. If He has given us a word, then we must obey. Unfortunately, Delay often brings discouragement, and soon the spiral brings us into complete and under disbelief. Then we use language that sends the message that we believe but have lost faith in whatever God promised us.

Let this be the year we say we will never doubt what He has told us. His word never changes, including any promise He has given to you or me. So stand firm in your faith just as Jude and Peter admonish us to and give no place for doubt and unbelief.

5- Rest

It goes without saying that we all need to rest more. In our world, people are busier and on the go more than at any time in history. We live in the digital age, where more information is accessible via the internet. People read digital books, play games online, and communicate via social media more than ever. So we should get more done faster and have more time for recreation.

However, we spend so much time glued to our devices that we are consumed with the world’s stuff. Our minds constantly process information, whether it be politics, sports, entertainment, or other areas. We simply do not take time to withdraw and let our mind, will, emotions, and our spirit man ‘rest.’ We are constantly engaged in something.

God said Israel would not enter His rest due to their actions in the wilderness. See Hebrews 3:11. Their unbelief dictated their actions. The rest He spoke of and that Jesus accomplished for us is one where we cease to strive and allow Him to have those issues and worries that keep us from enjoying fellowship with the Godhead.

So in 2023, enter into the rest and live that way daily. Cease striving to figure it all out and trust that God is working it out behind the scenes. Our steps are ordered, but we have to follow them. We have to know where He is and where He is taking us. No, we don’t see it when it is happening, nor do we understand it, but by staying in the place of rest, we have taken our hands off and said I trust you, Lord.

Now is the time to commit to these five simple things we have all been commanded to do. And remember, none of us can accomplish any of this without the Holy Spirit.

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A Year of Thanksgiving

And Turn Around

What a difference a year can make in one’s life. Even in world events, we have seen how one year can change the overall view of everything. Still, we have to be careful and not grumble and complain but rather develop a lifestyle of thanksgiving for all that God continues to do for us, no matter what it looks like.

How The World Changed in A Year

The past twelve or so months have seen the death of one of the longest reigning monarchs, a war in eastern Europe, world inflation, an increase in corrupt governments, the rise of antisemitism, and the growing move toward a Palestinian state rise. All of these things together have caused more fear in people’s lives worldwide.

The Covid-19 crisis may have subsided, but other healthcare scares have arisen, and more will certainly come. Food shortages continue and what food is available is too overpriced for most people to afford. Many can no longer afford to feed their families and pay the bills.

It’s Easy To Complain

It’s easy to complain when we are going through trials and tests. Then when everything in the world seems to be falling apart, we can slip into blaming God or giving credit to the enemy. Trust me, I know this far too well.

But God gives us all free choice, and the enemy is not behind every problem. The governments of this world have long been under the way of the Babylonian world system. People make daily choices, believing that what they do is for the betterment of mankind. Often they are selfish and unconcerned about the ordinary citizen.

Regardless of what others do and how the world seems to be going, we must not complain. It means we are still immature and lack kingdom growth when we complain, blame God and speak cursing, not blessing. We serve a king, and He reigns already, but we often act like what we see in the natural is all that there is. Most live with no hope, or everything is just one big party.

Either way, there is a supernatural world around us, and it affects everything. Our role is varied, but as citizens of the Kingdom of God, we are vessels of blessing, and our job is to advance the kingdom. Complaining lets God know we lack maturity and are unappreciative of all that He has done. It’s easy to blame this or that for inflated gas and food prices, but I remain thankful that we have food and gas at the end of the day. God has never failed me, and if you trust Him, He will never fail you.

A Year of Turnaround For My Family and Me

One year ago, at this time, I was home from the hospital on oxygen after being diagnosed with double pneumonia due to Covid-19. Earlier that same year, my youngest daughter was involved in an automobile accident that left her nearly immobile in her neck and shoulders for nearly a year. It was a year full of setbacks, heartaches, and financial struggles.

My other two daughters had many struggles as well. We chose to press through and believe God for complete healing, physical and emotional, and financial provision. We had moments of near defeat and hopelessness. It was difficult for me to breathe, and I had been fatigued for several months.

But God!

While we sometimes complained, we were constantly reminded that God had given us all promises, and we stood on that. Gradually we each saw God move in every area. I regained my strength and was able to do even more than before I was incapacitated. Gradually my daughter was able to do more without the horrible pain.

God kept us going no matter what came up, even if we reverted back to complaining. Our living conditions were very modest, but we were ok as we had a roof over our heads and food. But God opened the door for my wife and me to relocate to our hometown and rent a home with no ‘proof’ of income.

There were so many things that we all faced. My oldest daughter had the most trying time in her tenure with her current job. My middle daughter overcame every obstacle thrown at her. Still, we saw God move mightily, and we are so grateful.

Thankfulness and Delighting

Job 22:26 ESV For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God.

Job was a man that had plenty to go wrong. He stood on the fact that he did everything right and didn’t deserve what was happening. He and his friends lacked understanding of the unseen realm and how the enemy works. Still, God restored to Job more than he lost.

His friends counseled him to repent of his attitude as they saw it, and God would restore him and be His delight. I find that Job already delighted in the Lord but was being tested and lacked understanding.

This is why we should never complain. We may be in a season of tribulation and testing or under attack from the enemy and not understand what is going on. Regardless, we need to always be thankful that God is for us and not against us and has promises for us- promises to bless us and prosper us.

Complaining to God when we made a bad choice is not the right response either. I think Job’s friend was right about repenting. Returning to God with a heart of thankfulness and gratuity is always the right response, but when we fail to, we have an opportunity to repent, and then we can enjoy and delight in Him.

Serve God With A Glad Heart

Deuteronomy 28:47-48 ESV Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.

Don’t be like the children of Israel who thought that God had put a yoke on them and refused to enjoy His provision and goodness. They instead turned to the gods of the nations around them, who put a hard yoke on them.

We should appreciate what God does for us every day. It may be hard to see it, but if we look around, we can always find others who are much worse off than we are. It also affords us an opportunity to be a blessing to others who are less fortunate. I am grateful to those whom God has used to be a blessing to my family and me.

Here are a few more verses to remind us to be thankful always:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Phil 4:6

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thess. 5:18

Have a Happy and bless Thanksgiving and enjoy and delight in the Lord always!

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A New Year, A Coronation and

Returning To Eden

It’s the time of year when we can celebrate a new year, according to the Hebrew Calendar. I have written previously on Rosh Hashanah as the ‘Head of the Year.’ It is a day of shouting and blowing the shofar. For more on this Holy Holiday, see Leviticus 23:23-25.

Each year many people associate the coming year with prophetic predictions. Often these are things that God is already doing or plans to do anyway, but we put a greater emphasis on them. But the Bible lists specific things associated with this special day. Further, Jewish scholars and rabbis associate many other celebratory activities besides blowing the shofar.

A New Year, A Clean Slate

We all associate a new year with such terms as turning a new leaf, a clean slate, or a fresh start. While that is true, we must understand that it is not just changing a date on a calendar. The Lord commanded this to be observed in the seventh month. Jews technically have two New Year’s, with Passover being the other one.

Passover occurs in the Spring and marks the occasion when the Israelites left Egypt and bondage under Pharaoh. 1 Nisan marks the beginning of the year and is considered the first month.

But, the civil and agricultural calendar begins on the first of Tishrei with Rosh Hashanah. The seven-year sabbatical calendar and the fifty-year Jubilee are marked by this date.

The Hebrew calendar marks creation as having occurred on this day, so it is a day of great joy and celebration. This was when God brought order from chaos and destruction, known by the Hebrew term ‘Tovu Vavohu.’ Thus, the sounding of the shofar reminds God that He alone is the creator and overcame the Tovu Vavohu by His spoken Word and, later, by the Holy Spirit hovering over the earth.

Creation marked the beginning of all things and is like ‘a clean slate.’ Imagine an artist starting to work with a black canvas. That sounds odd, but that is precisely what God did. Likewise, terms like null and void, darkness, and chaos describe the universe before He began to create.

That is how a New Year is, a blank canvas, but we usually see it as a clean white canvas. But, it may not be. So, just saying I’m getting a clean slate is never enough. God is the creator, and we partner with Him through the Holy Spirit. Repentance and receiving forgiveness are part of the package. Consider that the things of yesterday are placed in a black hole and forgotten. Now, that’s a clean slate.

Crowning The King

Since creation is associated with Rosh Hashanah and God is the ruler, it is only fitting that it is also a time for a coronation. Orthodox Jews see this day as symbolic of crowning God as king of the universe. But, as Christians, we know there is another king, Jesus Christ. Eventually, God, the Father, and Son will rule as co-regents over everything. Yes, they are ruling together now, but the enemy is still on the loose, and Jesus has not yet returned.

Since Jesus died and arose again at Passover and the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, many see that the next spiritual holy day to be spiritually fulfilled is Rosh Hashanah. So, it is believed that Jesus will return at or near this celebration. Then He will establish His kingdom on the earth for 1,000 years, and we will rule and reign with Him.

He will rule from the city of Jerusalem, and the nations will go back and forth worshipping Him. Then, as King, Jesus will be crowned. While we celebrate His victory over death, hell, the grave, and His rulership from heaven, we look to the future where He will physically rule on the earth.

The shofar reminds us that a king is coming, and the trumpet will sound, preparing His way. When the kings of Judah and Israel were crowned, it was a grand celebration with the blowing of the shofar and a feast. Jesus will marry His bride, the church following His coronation, and there will be a long-awaited feast. Is this not a reason to celebrate?

Returning To Eden

I mentioned that Rosh Hashanah is associated with creation and that man had lost his position in the paradise called Eden. Also, chaos and disorder again emerged on the scene, and man and everything on the earth fell under the control of the devil, fallen angels, and men who served them.

There were several rebellions on the earth, and in each one, humankind made poor choices that affected creation as a whole. Thus creation seemed to fall back into Tovu Vavohu. Finally, however, God planned to bring everything back into order and sent His unique Son, Jesus, to bring complete restoration.

He told us that He would make all things new. He took care of all the rebellions and made it possible for us to enjoy fellowship with the Father once again. Everything that He did is cause for celebration as the restoration of all things will soon be complete. This will be complete in the age to come.

Thus, Jesus’ works are a reversal of the curse, the fall, the rebellion, and everything that was not the result of His creation. Therefore, we should sound the shofar and rejoice and celebrate that we have a king who is restoring everything in heaven and earth and live the victorious kingdom life now.

Rosh Hashanah Everday?

While Rosh Hashanah may be celebrated once a year, Christians should see it as an opportunity to celebrate and rejoice every day. We are thankful that we are no longer outcasts with no hope of returning to the paradise God intended for us to live in eternally.

What I have described here is really the gospel. You may have never heard it that way or thought of it that way, but it is true. God, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, are always restoring. When people are healed or miracles happen, it is a sign that God is still bringing everything back into the created order He intended. But, if you don’t know Jesus, you will never enjoy that and experience this restoration.

Don’t miss the future coronation of Jesus and the restoration of all things!

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The Greatness Of The Father:

The Joy of His presence

Key Verses Isaiah 62:4-5 “For the Lord delights in you…. And your God will rejoice over you.”

Growing up, I felt God was always waiting for me to mess up so He could smite me. Unfortunately, most disciples of Christ are never really discipled and go through life feeling the same way. Further, we tend to blame God for the emotional pain we constantly battle and never let Him heal us.

God is Not The Cop In The Sky Waiting For Our Failure!

Then, there seems to be many Christians who focus solely on the loving Father, Glad God, or the Good Father to the point that they think that whatever they do is alright and do not have to be held accountable. There is no fear of God as a righteous judge, so they live as if there is no accountability anymore. They say, “It’s under the blood.”

God is Still The Righteous Judge!

Nevertheless, while both are extremes, the truth is that God is a joyful, loving father yet is still a righteous judge. Therefore, if we sin, we have an advocate, Jesus, who has paid the price whereby we can enter the holy places and come to sit in God’s presence and experience complete joy.

But, if we continue to live a life of disobedience, sin, and rebellion, He will eventually turn us over to the enemy. In Romans chapters one and two, we see that is what God did early on. This passage also refers back to Psalm 82 and Deuteronomy 32. Then there is the man in the church at Corinth sleeping with his mother-in-law. In 1 Corinthians 5:1-11, Paul tells the church that if he doesn’t stop sinning, he will turn him over to Satan.

That may sound harsh, but that is what God’s wrath is about. This is why many have difficulty understanding events in the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation. We tend to gravitate toward God being bad or so gracious that He is no longer like the Old Testament God since Jesus has come. Yet, God has not changed. In fact, He expects more of us because we have the Holy Spirit in us and should live victorious every day.

The Greatness of the Father Should

Cause Us To Want To Obey

Psalm 16:11 “In your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand, are pleasures evermore.”

Knowing that the Father loves us and rejoice in us is reason enough to want to always please him. Desiring fellowship with Him and the Son should be our first priority. When we mess up, sin, disobey, or blow it, we need to repent, place it on the cross and forget about it because He does.

He is for us and eagerly waits for our return into His presence with open arms. Most of us struggle with this aspect because we view God the same way we do our earthly fathers or parents. Often we do things deliberately to hurt our parents because they hurt us.

Sometimes we rebel against God because of wounds and hurts others have caused, and we ultimately blame Him. Yet, even while we are away living in rebellion, He is still like the father in the prodigal son story (Luke 15:11-32).

His Presence: Abiding Joy

Zeph. 3:17 “He will rejoice over you with gladness”… “He will rejoice over you with singing.” ESV

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. ESV

In Deuteronomy 28:47, we read that if the Children of Israel continued in idolatrous ways that they would be sent into exile and away from the presence of God. Why? Because they did not serve God with Joy and a glad heart for the abundance of God’s goodness.

The only place anyone can find pleasure and joy is His presence. Sin separates us. The blood of Jesus allows us to be forgiven and stay in His presence. Why would you want to do anything that would jeopardize being in His presence and maintaining that joy? When we do mess up, we often act like He’s mad, so we seem to take forever to repent and ask for forgiveness.

Healthy Balance

The answer to all this is to have a healthy view of God as our Father and judge. We need to quit living in the extremes and live in His presence. Some churches have adopted the phrase “A Presence Centered Church” as their motto.

They each offer their understanding of that phrase as a body, none of which is wrong. However, presence centered should be every Christian’s lifestyle, and no one should have to publicize that through media. It should be like the days of old when people heard that God’s presence was in a church. They showed up to see what was going on.

We must be carriers of His presence, including joy, goodness, and mercy. As we go about our lives, we should remember that He is singing over us and delighting in us. He is interested in everything that we do.

Let’s live in the balance that God is rejoicing over us and when we are disobedient, then be quick to repent and enter His joyous presence. We cannot enjoy Him and truly worship Him otherwise. So let’s approach Him with reverence, knowing He is waiting for us.

Psalm 32:11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

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Balaam, Job, And Jethro Speak To Modern Society and Culture

Which One Are You?

We have seen a rapid decline and erosion of society and culture at all levels in America in the last couple of decades. Sadly, many followers of Christ have sat silently and done nothing, while others have openly embraced the changes. The church has let the government remove prayer and Biblical values from our schools, government buildings, and public avenues. It is no longer safe to call yourself a Christian and espouse a ‘true’ Biblical worldview.

We each have a choice; silence or just going along for not wanting to rock the boat is still a choice. Many in the body of Christ speak out only to be canceled. Sometimes the canceling comes from within the Church. This is nothing new, but it is certainly not the right answer. Some say we shouldn’t be involved in politics, while others believe we should overtake every area of society.

I believe we should be involved and strongly influence, but we are not to take over. Instead, we preach the gospel, which will ultimately prepare the way for the return of the King of Kings to rule from Jerusalem. In the meantime, three men in the Bible embody all three levels of attitude Christians have toward society and culture.

An Ancient Crisis: Slaughter of the Innocent

The recent overturning of the Roe v. Wade Court case by the US Supreme Court has caused every state to scramble to get laws in place regarding legal abortion and a woman’s right to have one. The Bible may be clear that taking a life is wrong, but many still find arguments that support their cause. We can all twist any verse to make it sound like what we want.

Child sacrifice and taking children’s lives for a ‘cause’ is as ancient as the world religions. It is nothing new, but it doesn’t make it right. There were several instances in the Bible where infants and toddlers were killed by order of a king.

There was the incident shortly after Jesus’ birth where Herod ordered the death of all males two years and younger. Then, there is the order by Pharaoh to slaughter Hebrew baby boys in the book of Exodus. Later we see the king of Judah, Ahaz putting his own children through the fire as a sacrifice to the false god Molech.

In the book of Amos, chapter five details how this ritual entered Israeli society early on as they passed through the wilderness. They even carried false gods with them while they sacrificed to YHWH. This was in direct violation of the commands given to Moses at Sinai. Further, YHWH is not into child sacrifice, despite what some say regarding the potential sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham or even the sacrifice by God’s own Son, Jesus.

The text repeatedly tells us that sacrifice and offering children is the practice of pagan worshippers. We live in a post-modern, post-Christian world, where the Biblical worldview is not accepted or credible. Further, abortion has resulted in the loss of millions of babies that only God knew their destiny and their assignment.

I am not here to condemn those that have had abortions, no matter the scenario. But, because of the ease of obtaining an abortion, it has resulted in many ruined lives. God is more than able to heal wounds and scars as a result of these actions.

However, I want to look at an unfamiliar situation from the Old Testament era and see how three men acted when confronted with the idea of killing Hebrew baby boys to stave off a threat to Pharoah’s throne.

Three That Advised Pharoah

Nearly everyone is familiar with the story of Moses and how he was rescued from the Nile River and raised in the house of Pharoah. You may recall that the order went out for the midwives to put to death any sons that were being born. However, the midwives feared God and did not do as Pharoah commanded.

That is a key phrase missing from most Christians today: they feared God. That thought will transition us to these three counselors, Balaam, Job, and Yitro, or Jethro. The Talmud and other early sources tell us that Pharoah had various counselors from time to time. When prophecies about one being born who would help the Hebrews gain freedom and potentially threaten Pharoah’s throne, he consulted the three men mentioned above.

The book of Jasher gives much insight into these dealing, but because there are no original texts and there were previous forgeries, it is not a viable source for our discussion. However, you can check out one book on the subject here.

We are all familiar with these three men and their accounts in the Bible, but you probably didn’t know that they were counselors to Pharoah, and he didn’t devise the scheme to kill the Hebrew boys on his own. In fact, it was Balaam, the prophet, who initially proposed the idea. So there may have been two Balaams; if that is true, this would be the great-grandfather of the Balaam from the book of Numbers.

Regardless, a man named Balaam, who was the father of the two sorcerers, Yannes and Yambres, from Paul’s letter to Timothy, proposed the idea and encouraged it. There was an agenda in suggesting such a thing by Balaam, but that will be the subject of future writing.

Then there is the prophet Yob, or Job. Yes, Job and Balaam are two of seven men known as gentile prophets by the Jews. We know the Bible tells us that Job was righteous and that he was later tested severely. As an adviser to Pharoah, Job was in a very important position. Yet, tradition tells us from Jewish sources, such as the Talmud, that he remained silent or told Pharoah to do what seemed best.

Some sources said that Job had previously had the idea to enslave the Hebrews, but most say that he remained silent. Further, many state that this was the source of his suffering. We can’t say for certainty, but we know he was there and most likely remained silent.

Then there is the man of seven names we know as Yitro or Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law. He had other names like Reuel, Putiel, Chobav, Heber, Keni and Jeter. Yitro was a title meaning excellency, so that was most likely the title used at Pharoah’s court or by those subservient to him.

The Talmud records that Jethro opposed the killing of Hebrew infants and had to retreat to the desert. That seems plausible as we find him there when Moses comes upon the scene later as a man fleeing justice. Some sources relate that Jethro encouraged Pharoah to kill the infants and after that repented and had to flee. Regardless, Yitro or Reuel was sincerely repentant of the actions of the king of Egypt, while Balaam encouraged it, and yet another, Job, stood in silence.

Time To Decide

It’s time to decide where you will stand. We can join in the debate or remain silent. Whether it is abortion, racism, children and sexual identity, or human trafficking, we have a choice, and being silent is still a choice.

It’s time to repent for the silence of the past or allowing the voice of Balaam to silence ours. Even if we are forced to retreat and lose homes, friends, or businesses, we must be a voice to a generation that is searching for answers. Like the three counselors, we are not perfect and may be prone to make bad choices periodically.

However, we are the voice of the Lord. We have the living Word inside of us, and we know the truth. So, we must be willing to be canceled. But, are we really canceled? Society may boycott our businesses or not purchase our goods and services, but that does not cancel us. The internet does not belong to one entity, and as Christians, we are responsible for being active and engaged in the day’s issues.

What is your decision? Will you let Balaam pull you away from speaking out? Will you repent for your silence? If we remain silent or remain fearful, what will be the result? Perhaps I shall end by saying, like Uncle Mordecai told Esther, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise (for the Jews) from another place, but your house shall perish.” Esther 4:14

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What Is The 787 Generation?

Discipling The Next Generation!

My wife and I stepped out faithfully to fulfill God’s assignment given to us. In 2015 my wife introduced me to Psalm 78. That would come to identify what we now refer to as the 787 generation. But it is not just one generation like Gen. Z., Millennials, Baby Boomers, or Baby Busters. It is the generation of current children and youth and the generation to come.

I want to identify what that generation should look like due to obeying the command found in Psalm 78:5. Our goal is to see a generation that will walk humbly with the Lord and not be like the Ephraimites and turn back when it is their time to pick up the mantle and fight. While I believe and teach that children can do almost anything we adults can do, they still need to be discipled.

The Failure to Disciple A Generation

When I was growing up, I heard my father-pastor speak of the teenagers of that day as different and more challenging to reach than his generation. Sociologists, theologians, and teachers will try to argue many reasons as to why this was the case. They referred to them as a rebellious generation. There were the Vietnam War protests and the ‘hippie movement’ of the sixties.

Yet, many of today’s church leaders came out of that rebellion, and others went on to bring a dark stain on that generation. When it was my time to graduate high school, we were expected to do great exploits.

But, turning the world upside down for Jesus was not something placed upon us by leaders, teachers, and even parents. I know most people aren’t supposed to be in full-time ministry, but regardless we are supposed to be like the early disciples and turn the world upside down for Jesus. As a result, many left the church in mine and the following generations.

We have seen this problem worsen. Why? Again we can point to many reasons. Yes, society pulls on our children and us to follow a different path. Students are raised in church and Christian homes, and when they make it to college, they receive a plethora of worldly teachings that shake their spiritual foundations.

Soon they find themselves coming out as atheists, agnostics, or practicing new age, gnostic beliefs and practices. Why? Perhaps they were not properly discipled. They were not grounded in the word of God. If I had not been rooted and grounded in the Word, I would have quickly fallen sway to secular, worldly ideas and became someone with a philosophical mind devoid of anything resembling the Jesus of the Bible.

Sadly we see this now occurring in the Church. Preaching is just moral practice and not the cross of Christ. Worship has become a conundrum in Rock and Roll performances or a mini-concert. It seems that Sunday morning has become full of idolatrous practices. The doctrine of Balaam has begun to take hold of us in this hour. We need to disciple every generation.

Psalm 78:5-8 He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel,

which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children that the next generation might

know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,

so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God,

but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers,

a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast,

whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Three Things God Established For Future Generations

  • Established a Testimony In Jacob- By establishing a testimony in Jacob, he was able to pass it to his children and their children his parents and grandparents imparted to him. God established his covenant with Abraham and renewed it with Isaac and Jacob. Like Abraham and Isaac, Jacob had a life-changing encounter. Future generations also had encounters that would make God more personal to that generation. Thus, the testimony or witness was established and meant to carry over to each generation.
  • A Law In Israel- Yes, YHWH gave the law to Moses. We still keep the ten commandments as gentiles (nations). The law would point to a New and Better Covenant through Jesus, which would be less cumbersome and allow us freedom from sin. The law was not meant to be burdensome, but we make it that way in how we obey Jesus’ commands. I feel that is why many leave the church. They never have a real relationship with the master.
  • The Command To Teach Children, Now and unborn. What will we teach them? I have no grandchildren, but I have trained, discipled, and equipped my children to teach their children. If we don’t ground the current generation in the word, we will lose them.

Six Things To Teach Children, Now and Future

Set Their Hope In God

The Children of Israel failed to keep their hope in God alone. They often turned to the gods of the nations around them. When the enemy came knocking on the door, bringing oppression, they were weak and forgot what God did for them in the past.

We are like the Children of Israel. We are ok, but when sickness or other traumatic event occurs, we let fear or depression seize us. We forget that God supplied all of our needs supernaturally last week and that He is still the healer. We live in a world with so many conveniences we tend not to trust God but what we can do ourselves.

Part of discipleship comes by demonstrating faith when situations of life arise. The younger generations need to see their parents or the older generations demonstrate ‘hope in God’ and God alone to develop solid faith and not lose heart and turn back.

Not Forget The Works Of God

The Children of Israel watched as God delivered them from a hot furnace of affliction. He bore them on eagle’s wings and eventually drove out the nations in Canaan right in front of them. Yet, one generation died in the wilderness because of short memory. They complained and grumbled, not remembering what God was capable of doing.

We have all seen God demonstrate His power in our lives. Just being born again is a miracle in itself. Yet, we forget that one miracle. We don’t testify enough of how the God of the Universe can live inside we weak humans. He has done so much in mine and many others’ lives; how can we forget Him and His marvelous works. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to teach the next generation what God has done for us and what He will do for them.

Keep His Commands

Jesus commanded us to keep His commands, and further in the Great Commission, He commanded us to teach them. But, sadly, most millennials and Gen Zers don’t know what the Great Commission is or what it means.

God gave the law to protect the Israelites from worshipping the gods of the nations around them. The law was to help them enjoy God. Over time they made it cumbersome, and many rebelled. It seems that goes on in the church today. Jesus made it easy to follow Him. But what we put man’s traditions and expectations in place, so our youth find it cumbersome and fall away. We fail to teach what Jesus commanded.

Not To Be Like The Previous Generations

This is talking about not following the mistakes of those that have gone before us. I grew up, and a lot of religion still surrounds me. But, they are man’s traditions and not God’s commands. We do many things because it looks good and we get results for a season. But, when the season is over and God is ready to do something different, we keep doing the same old thing.

I have been a part of some major revival movements in my life. Thankfully they weren’t like previous generations. But, as God pours out His Spirit on future generations, I am sure it will not look like ours. Thank goodness, because we want it to look like what we think, but generation 787 kids and youth want to experience God uniquely. God doesn’t change, but how He reveals Himself to each successive generation may look different.

A Generation With Steadfast Hearts

A steadfast heart is fixed and unmovable. We need to teach our youth to have their spiritual eyes fixed on Jesus and not move from that place. In Numbers 22-25, we read about Balaam’s prophecy and how he taught the Midianites to entice the Israelite men to go after Moabite and Midianite women and serve their gods.

A man named Phinehas was zealous and had a steadfast heart. He was jealous for what God was jealous for. He ended the plague brought on as a result of the sins of the Israelite men by impaling a Simeonite man along with his Midianite accomplice. Where are the Phinehas’ in the young generations who will stand and throw the spear and stop the plague of impending judgment coming from heaven?

Faithful To God

Let’s face it, Israel and Judah were not faithful to God. That is why they suffered and had to leave the land. Yet, God still loved them and kept His covenant. Even today, Israel is unfaithful to God. It is a secular Jewish state with those practicing Judaism in a set of religious traditions void of what God desires.

We are raising a generation to be faithful to God in every circumstance. We will not shrink back, and we want a generation that will remain true to God and His word, even though we see many doing the opposite. Being faithful to God means avoiding doctrines of demons, not denying Jesus even under persecution, and continuing to love God first and humankind second as oneself.

Pray And Participate

Prayer is foundational to everything we do as believers. We need it more than ever for the 787 Generation as they are confronted with so many voices vying for their attention. If we don’t pray, their eyes will be blinded to the gospel. Already the world has claimed many young lives through New Age practices, CRT, LGBT+, and other religions. They are confusing our children.

We need your prayers as we seek to reach parents and youth who are bombarded with false information telling them how they should go. But unfortunately, Disney, Hollywood, the schools, and all sorts of media are more than ever reaching our children.

Will you do your part by praying and help us to reach this generation before it is too late? Now is the time, not later. The gospel is the only answer to take back this and future generations. Get involved at your church or ministry. Start Bible clubs this summer to reach the youth who need the hope you have. Do something, don’t let another generation be lost to the world’s ways.

Thank you, and God Bless you.

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Five Benefits Of Contemplative Prayer

Meditation and contemplative prayer are not something we generally associate with prayer. Instead, we associate prayer with talking to God and waiting on His answer. Thanksgiving, blessing, praise, asking, seeking, and supplication are the most common ways we pray.

So, what is contemplative prayer? As the name implies, it is prayer where we contemplate. Meditation is one way we can perform contemplative prayer. But do we mean by to contemplate?

The Oxford dictionary defines contemplate as thinking about, looking at thoughtfully for a long time, or meditating. Some common synonyms are study, consider, and weigh.

Meditation is defined as ‘to think deeply,’ to consider in silence for a lengthy period of time.

These definitions are basic, but the general idea consists of long periods spent thinking deeply, considering and looking at or studying the Word of God, or in intimate communion with the Godhead. The Godhead is the three persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Yes, they are people, and the most essential part of the Christian life is fellowship and Communion with each member daily. But, there are times when we need to shut everything down, television, cellphone, social media, and even family, to ‘contemplate’ on the Word and with the Lord. There are many benefits to doing so, but I will discuss five.

Draw Near To God

One of the benefits of Contemplative prayer is it allows us to draw near to God in a profoundly intimate way. Through contemplative prayer, we quiet our minds and open our hearts to the presence of God. As we journey inward through contemplative prayer, we are blessed with the opportunity to experience the divine love of God more fully. In this way, contemplation allows us to deepen our relationship with God and enjoy a more intimate connection with the Divine.

Our Spirit man is hungry for fellowship. As humans, we need other people around us to do life together. Likewise, we need a relationship with God that can come from deep, intimate fellowship. By studying and meditating on the Word and asking questions about particular passages, we begin to open our hearts for a deeper walk.

Contemplative prayer has been practiced by many as far back as the Old Testament days. For example, the Psalmist wrote a lot about meditating on the word. In fact, Psalm 119 is written entirely about the word and the benefits of meditating on it.

In his Pamplett ‘Practicing His Presence’, brother Lawrence discusses how a life of meditation and contemplation brings in more of the presence of God. Finally, the monastic movement gained momentum through the centuries because of the desire for many to live in solitude and quiet prayer to draw closer to God. However, we need to learn this practice in a hurried and on-the-go world.

Allows Us To Break Away From Daily Life

We live in a world that constantly demands our time and attention. It seems harder and harder for many to find time to read the Bible, let alone pray and just sit before the Lord. When we carve out time for contemplative prayer, we allow ourselves to break away from the daily routine of life and get in touch with God.

In the silence and solitude of contemplative prayer, we can clear the junk out of our lives and focus on what matters. This can be a difficult task amid a busy life, but it is worth taking a few moments to connect with God and recharge our batteries. If you haven’t tried contemplative prayer before, I encourage you to give it a shot. You might just find that it’s precisely what you need to get back on track.

Besides, Jesus is waiting for you. He wants to know about your problems, issues, likes, and dislikes. Jesus wants to hear how your day went. He also wants you to hear what he thinks about you. So breaking away to enter contemplative prayer should be a regular part of our day.

Increases Our Ability To Hear God’s Voice

Contemplative prayer is a powerful tool to help us hear God’s voice. In the silence of contemplative prayer, we can quiet our minds and open our hearts to God’s presence. Then, as we still our minds and bodies, we become more attuned to the Holy Spirit, and we can begin to hear God’s voice speaking to us.

This doesn’t mean that God will start speaking to us audibly, but rather that we will become more aware of His leading and guidance in our lives. Contemplative prayer can help us connect more deeply with God and hear His voice more clearly.

In the busyness of our lives, it can be easy to forget God is always with us and available to us. But, when we take the time to pray contemplatively, we are reminded that He is always here for us. Contemplative prayer increases our ability to hear God’s voice because it allows us to focus on Him and tune out all the other noise in our lives. It’s a chance to truly connect with God and listen for His guidance.

Developing A Lifestyle Of Listening

Another benefit of contemplative prayer is it helps develop a lifestyle of listening to God and His voice and less time talking. It can be difficult to find silence and stillness in a fast-paced world where we are constantly bombarded with noise and distractions. But in contemplative prayer, we quiet our minds and hearts before God, creating space for Him to speak.

As we learn to listen for His voice in the silence, we begin to integrate contemplative practices into our everyday lives. We become more aware of His presence amid our daily activities, and we learn to slow down and pay attention to His promptings throughout the day. As a result, we develop a deeper relationship with God and a greater understanding of His will for our lives.

Listening helps us hear the Holy Spirit telling us when we are grieving Him or getting out of alignment. By listening in the middle of the daily chaos, we can avoid the traps of the enemy, and we can always walk in a manner fitting to the Kingdom of God. We are more prone to obey the words of Jesus than to let our flesh dictate the terms of a given situation.

Thus, a listening lifestyle does not mean we are always silent, but our heart is postured and ready to hear what the Holy Spirit is telling us at any given moment.

We Behold His Glory and Are Transformed

The fifth benefit of contemplative prayer is that we behold the glory of God and are transformed. In contemplative prayer, the more time we spend in meditation and His presence, the more of His glory we behold. The more of His glory we behold, the more we are gradually transformed into His likeness.

The Bible says that “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Contemplative prayer is one way that we can behold the glory of God and be transformed by it. It is the vehicle whereby we can unveil our faces before Him.

As we fix our eyes on Him, He changes us from the inside out. We become more like Him in character and conduct until we ultimately reflect His image perfectly. Therefore, contemplative prayer is a powerful means of sanctification, transforming us into the people God intends us to be.

It’s A Process

A life of contemplation and meditation on the Word and God is a process. It is a journey that is filled with joy and transformation. However, we should not take it lightly. I believe it is a discipline that every believer should practice at some level regularly.

Don’t quit your job and join a monastery or move to the woods to seek more solitude. Begin where you are and make changes and adjustments as God speaks to you. Don’t let anything, a relationship, TV show, or a job prevent you from practicing this as part of your walk. Enjoy a life of Contemplative Prayer.

Let me caution you that I am speaking of meditation on God’s Word and with Jesus, the Father, and Holy Spirit. Yoga, transcendental meditation, Zen Buddhism, the Quran, Pearl of Great Price, or Book of Mormon are not part of the life of contemplation a Christian should be involved in. Using crystals, smoking pot, or any drug, including alcohol, is not part of the contemplative lifestyle. Jesus loves you and wants to connect with you and not a you that has been influenced by some other form of meditation or prayer.

These other methods and practices open up occultic and eastern religious practices and many dangerous doors. Therefore, stick to the plan that Jesus gave us. Be Blessed.

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This Passover Discover Hexit: Long Before Brexit There Was Hexit

Passover is coming up, which means it’s time to learn about Hexit. Oh, you have never heard of Hexit? Hexit is the ancient Hebrew exit that occurred long before Brexit made headlines. Just like Brexit, Hexit was a big deal at the time. But, unlike Brexit, Hexit will be celebrated for eternity.

But what exactly was Hexit? And why should we care? Keep reading to find out!

Passover is the Exodus story of when the Hebrews were freed from slavery in Egypt and given the Promised Land. It’s a story of hope and liberation, of God’s faithfulness to his people. But it’s also a story of failure and despair, of a people who were forced into slavery and lost all hope of ever being free.

It’s a story that has resonance for us today, as we see people worldwide struggling against oppression and injustice. As the Hebrews were brought out of slavery by the hand of God, so we are called to freedom. And just as the Promised Land was a place of hope and possibility for the Hebrews, it is also a place of rest and peace for all.

Pros and Cons of Brexit

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, a decision that has come to be known as Brexit. There are several reasons people voted for Brexit, including a desire for the UK to have more control over its immigration policy and laws. However, there are also a number of potential downsides to Brexit, including the potential for economic instability and reduced cooperation between the UK and other European countries. Only time will tell what the full impact of Brexit will be, but it will have far-reaching implications for both the UK and the EU.

Brexit was about a choice for the United Kingdom. The decision of whether it would stay a member of the European Union or not was in the balance. There are many implications beyond the effects back in Uk that would affect the Eu as a whole and the member states. Ultimately, the Eu lost about 20 percent of its economic power and a more significant share of its security stability. The people of the Uk had control over their destiny instead of remaining a member of a large Union that offered more control over their lives than freedom.

Pros and Cons of Hexit.

Let’s face it; the Hebrews were enslaved. Leaving the Egyptian Empire meant total freedom. Previously they had enjoyed the favor and prospered. But, when a new Pharoah came to power, he didn’t ask them their opinion or give them a vote. It was a slow, gradual process that found them without the excellent standing they enjoyed under the previous Pharaohs while Joseph and his brothers remained alive.

It seems then there would only be pros for the Hebrew exit. Things like the ability to go where you want, make your own decisions, choose your own career path, and not depend on government subsidies for your existence. They could also become entrepreneurs, not just working for the government, building idols and buildings dedicated to the one who had enslaved them.

The downside is that you no longer had your day planned for you, at least in part. You would have to find food in the desert before you made it home and get along with the other tribes. Did I mention their leader? Well, Moses, yes, but Moses was not really in charge. Yahweh was their leader. That is why they didn’t get a vote. I guess they voted when Yahweh heard their groans and pleas while in bondage.

Why We Remember Hexit-Passover

So, the decision was made and the date set. Like Brexit, when the day came, there would be changes that would have lasting consequences. For the Uk, it meant they could control their currency and economy and weren’t forced to abide by the rules of the Eu. But it impacted travel between the Uk and the Eu member states.

Back in the Egyptian Empire, Hexit meant the Hebrews could have an economy and travel out of Egypt, from under the Pharaoh’s control, and into their land promised to their ancestors. But, it also meant many dangers. They would find no friends, just enemies. Everything from lack of food, Amalekites and many other ‘ites,’ the desert, scorpions, heat, etc. So, should there have been a vote?

Perhaps if the Hebrews had voted and known what lay ahead, they would have stayed. Unfortunately, they forgot how many of their ancestors were fierce warriors. Remember Simeon and Levi’s revenge for Dinah at Shechem? There are many stories of wars in Goshen not mentioned in the text of the Bible but found in sources like the Book of Jasher. Like Abraham, they were fighters.

After a few hundred years in bondage, the warring spirit is gone. Freedom came at a cost. Mostly for the Egyptian empire, since it meant the loss of free labor and the loss of their firstborn. For the Hebrews, it meant they would have to make their own decisions, even following Yahweh or not. That would be an ongoing battle they fought long after entering their promised land.

Hexit Is Our Story

We can all find ourselves in the Passover story. We know of the comparison to Christ and the lamb, the parted sea symbolizing resurrection and new life, but what about the other battles and choices? Like the Hebrews, the choice was made for us at Calvary. I guess they could have stayed in Egypt. Many choose to remain in spiritual Egypt and refuse to enjoy the benefits of the kingdom of God now.

This Passover and Ressurection day celebration reflect on all that Jesus did for you. Like Israel, you can be free from tyranny forever. Yet, even though they were free, it seems their minds remained in bondage. Unfortunately, that is the story of so many who call themselves Christians.

Paul tells us that Christ purchased our freedom, and all of our sins, including strongholds, were nailed to the cross with Christ. Yes, the Father is our leader, and He is a good, good Father. But, He has given us one better than Moses, His one and only Son, Jesus. We don’t have to gather manna since Jesus is the bread of life, and He is our provider.

This spring, as we celebrate the victory of the cross and empty tomb, remember all that the Father and Son have done for us. Let’s appreciate the work of the cross and enjoy freedom liberty, and be ready for the soon return of the King, Jesus.

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Four Reasons Why The Cross Is A Better Symbol Than The Empty Tomb!

We see them everywhere, hanging around people’s necks, tattooed on skin, printed on T-shirts, on stationary, and in front of church buildings. The cross has come to mean different things to different people. It can be a symbol of peace and love. To some, it represents hate.

Since the celebration of Christ’s death on a cross along with His burial, resurrection, and ascension are days away, I was pondering the cross and empty tomb, and I wondered why don’t we use an empty tomb as our symbol. After all, without the tomb being empty, we would have no hope, and Jesus would not be at the right hand of the Father, waiting to return and gather His people for eternity.

It seems a far stretch to think of the tomb as our symbol despite Jesus not being there. So, I will look at the cross, why it is a better symbol than the empty tomb, and why we should be thankful for it.

“The empty tomb would be a strange symbol for a religion which believed that its founder had conquered death and risen from the grave. But the empty tomb is not our only symbol, and we can never forget that it was the cross, not the empty tomb, which first revealed to man the power of God’s love.” James Stalker

Without The Cross, There Is No Sacrifice

The cross is a tree or two pieces of wood nailed together. That’s it! So, why all the fuss? In the ancient days, crosses were used as a means to execute criminals. The victims were left hanging on them to warn those who would pass by.

Paul wrote, “Cursed is everything that hangs on a tree.” Galatians 3:13.

What does that mean? Paul is conveying something to the church at Galatia linked to why Christ was nailed to one of these things. He was cursed, but the Bible tells us He took on our curse. He literally became our curse.

But, more than that, the cross became an altar or place of sacrifice. We can point to many scriptures, but Romans 5:8 and Galatians 2:20 are a couple of good ones. In the Old Testament, the altar was where the sacrifice was laid. The animal had its throat cut, and the blood was sprinkled on the altar.

It is the blood that makes atonement for sins. Thus, the cross became the altar for the sacrifice that would abolish the need for more sacrifices. Jesus’ blood was the only blood that the Father would accept for the atonement of our sins. The cross was the altar where the body of Jesus was nailed so the Father could look down and accept or reject His sacrifice. Without an altar, there would be no pleasing sacrifice for the Father to accept, and we would continue in our sins and would have to continue to offer animals regularly.

The Cross Demonstrates Christ’s Love

The cross is also the place where Jesus demonstrated His love for mankind for all time. The Old Testament is not just a bunch of fictional stories compiled to make us feel good. The entirety of The Old Testament points to the coming of Jesus and His death on the cross. It also depicts Him suffering, but rising from the dead and conquering death and the grave.

Why would He do this? What God would die for His servants/devotees. Certainly not Molech, Baal, Ra, Mirtha, or any of the ancient or modern gods. They demanded worship, but there was no relationship, no intimacy, and no love.

We all know John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in hIm should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. So, dying for the sins of all people so that they can live and fellowship with Him and the Father eternally seemed to be a cause for joy for Jesus.

Once again, He could die on the cross, and that could be the end of it. But the cross is no good without the empty tomb. But the empty tomb is not necessary without the cross, which means suffering, bleeding, punishment, and death. So the cross symbolizes Christ’s love for us, period.

The Cross Is A Throne For A King

It has been used for centuries to represent Jesus Christ- our King. Contrary to popular belief, the cross was not meant to be a symbol of shame or defeat but rather a throne for Jesus Christ. He was given a crown of thorns and declared King of the Jews, but His actual throne would come through His death on the cross. Let us explore this powerful symbol and its meaning for Christians today!

After dying on the cross, Jesus was buried, but as we know, He rose from the grave after three days. Several hundred people witnessed this resurrection and return to life over the next forty days. After that, Jesus ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. He is there ruling and reigning over the earth, but He is not present here.

He rules through the Holy Spirit living in those who have chosen to accept His free gift of salvation and serve Him. When we accept Him, we accept Him as King, Savior, and Lord. When He was alive on the earth the first time, He had no home, nowhere to lay His head. Perhaps the cross was His only Home. It was where He demonstrated His rulership over everything in the heaven, earth, and even death, hell, and the grave.

Without the cross, there would be no reason to anticipate Jesus’ return to set up His eternal throne in Jerusalem and rule as King of the nations, King of Israel, and King of Kings. No earthly king could (or would) do what He did when he laid down His life for His people. It takes more than a crown and a scepter to reign eternally as King of Kings.

The Cross Means Complete Freedom

Finally, we come to the question of freedom and what that means to a Christian now, in this life? Every believer will tell you, “Christ purchased our freedom from sin and death,” While that is true, unfortunately, we have not been taught the whole story. If freedom from sin and its penalties and living with the Lord eternally were all it was about, why don’t we just die and ‘go to heaven’ as soon as we are saved?

Jesus purchased the key to living the kingdom of heaven lifestyle in order for us to live it out now. When John preached, “The Kingdom of God is at hand,” he said it has come near or is manifesting. That means the kingdom has arrived but not in its fullest dimension. It is here in partial fulfillment.

Because it has not fully arrived, we remain in a battle with forces of darkness known as demons, principalities, fallen angels, and such. These rebel forces are real, and their job is to keep us from walking out the kingdom life to its fullest. Thus we face life-controlling or emotional issues like rejection, shame, guilt, fear, pride, rebellion, jealousy, witchcraft, sexual perversion, the occult, greed, etc.

Chrisy purchased our freedom from these strongholds, and in the same manner, He obtained complete healing as part of the package. Just as we are in a spiritual battle, our bodies are subject to decay and death because of the sinful nature and the fall of mankind. But Christ wants us to live disease-free in this age. We do not have to wait for a new body, but we will get one at the rapture.

Enjoy The Gift Of The Cross

Christ paved the way for you and me to live free from sin, sickness, death, emotional strongholds and with victory over temptations of every manner. There we ought to be thankful for the cross, and when we see it, remember everything He has given us and what He endured to give it to us. Salvation, healing, deliverance, and a joyful life are gifts for us to enjoy now.

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Changing Seasons Are You leaving Or Going?

When it comes to seasons of life, we all look forward to a nice change. But, our perspective and mindset can turn a successful and healthy transition into a disaster. If all we do is say ‘I’m leaving here,’ but never realize we are going somewhere else, we can remain in the past.

Our approach to change can affect our experience. For example, spring is here, but many still feel the effects of winter due to cold nights and mornings. Others focus on the long hours of sunlight and warmer afternoons. If we see the warmer weather as a progression towards spring/summer, we make adjustments that allow us to enjoy the change.

Whether you are old or young, there will always be in times of change. Here, I want to examine how the Children of Israel had a choice, and the majority still had the mindset ‘we are leaving Egypt’ even centuries later. You can be in exile and still be going somewhere.

Leaving Egypt: You’ve Already Left

Most disciples of Christ continue to use the phrase: “we are leaving Egypt,” meaning that they are leaving the ways of the world and the thinking that goes with the old nature. The problem is most disciples are born again and receive teaching, become filled with the Holy Spirit, and thirty years later, they are still struggling with the same things they did before salvation.

If we keep thinking the same thing, we get the same results. When we are first saved, we are excited and have a new perspective. But, without proper discipling, prayer, and the Word, we will not grow. Without growth, we become stagnant and remain the way we were before we were born into the Kingdom.

The Children of Israel wandered for forty years, complaining about the situation. They mentioned going back to Egypt regularly. The Israelites desired to go to Egypt instead of relying on what God had for them long after the kingdom was established. They were supposed to go to Babylon for seventy years and return to Jerusalem.

They left Egypt, but that first generation perished because they did not have a healthy mindset of where they were going. They left Egypt physically, but their minds their hearts were always in Egypt. We can be like them. According to Paul the Apostle, we have moved on from elementary things of the Spirit to the meat, only to find ourselves still living in defeat.

We Are Going Home

The failure of the first generation was that they didn’t believe the report of the two spies. That was the result of a mind not focused on the promised home. They remembered what it was like in Egypt. They failed to remember God’s hand working for them, not against them. They saw their bondage as God’s abandonment instead of His preparation for their land of plenty.

Most disciples of Christ live life just like that. They are saved but never walk in victory. They desire gifts, healings, revival, and intimacy, and they experience God’s goodness in their lives. But, they lack much fruit. I.e., joy, peace, mercy, etc. They are not allowing the Holy Spirit to transform them.

Thus, most Christians live with a leaving Egypt behind mindset. They fail to see they are out of Egypt and never look towards home, the promises of God. Another problem is that many believers live with the mindset “when I die, I am going to heaven,” yet live defeated. That negates the work of the cross.

If we had a proper perspective of heaven, we would realize that we can enjoy the Kingdom lifestyle now. Abraham and those listed in Hebrews eleven were each looking for a city, the New Jerusalem. Joshua and Caleb (Moses did too, but was not allowed to go in) saw the promised land as their home. The rest failed to look past what they had to do to enjoy their new home.

Life in the kingdom is meant to be enjoyed now. We will live with Jesus here on the earth for 1,000 years in the next age. Beyond that, the New Jerusalem will come down, and the new heavens and new earth will be our permanent home. But why wait to live in victory? The fruit of the Holy Spirit is meant to be present now, not just in the age to come.

The exiles in Babylon soon forgot Jerusalem. It is ok to be at peace in exile, but we have to maintain the attitude that we are eventually going home. If Nehemiah had just said we are leaving exile, many would have wanted to stay without knowing where they were going.

Of course, Jerusalem was their goal, but living in exile for so long probably took the desire to go home out. So instead, they just wanted to leave, maybe go into the desert or go north or west where there were no Persians. Do you understand that leaving and going might be the same, but we need to be going!

It’s Time For A New Perspective

Whether you are entering a new profession, contemplating marriage, childbirth, or moving across town, these can be positive changes. However, they are a source of stress due to the work involved and the efforts required to go from point A to point B. Don’t let negative and anxious thoughts steal your joy.

The stress will soon be over if you persevere and go through the process. Remember, God has a plan, and He orders our steps. Pause and contemplate what God has promised you, and thank Him. It’s easy to focus on what we don’t have rather than look at what we have and where we are headed. But, if you are going somewhere, you will get there with a thankful and joyous heart. Before you know it, you will have gone through the necessary steps and will enjoy a new season.

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Why Is Disney Turning Your Kids Red?

And Why They Need To Be Heavenly Blue!

I generally avoid politics, but Disney’s new release “Turning Red” has got me and many others seeing red after reading the plot summary. I am not speaking of red in the sense of a political party, but red from anger as is the case of the teenage girl in the newly released movie.

For some time, Disney, especially Pixar, has been doling out films that are not only demeaning to the values of Kingdom of God-minded believers but are infiltrating another generation with more idolatry, eastern mysticism, and new age and other supernatural beliefs. The battle for our children and another generation may be over before it really gets started.

Here Are Three Negative Facts Regarding Turning Red

Degradation of Parents and Parental Authority

I don’t watch much of Disney’s latest inventions for a lot of reasons. But, as a parent, I have noticed how most of the material tends to be geared toward single-parent homes as if that is always the norm. Also, Disney makes the children disrespect their parents and as they approach those teen years they rebel and choose their path while still under parental authority.

Single-parent-led homes occur for many reasons and it is very difficult for parents to raise children without a spouse. However, Disney seems to always kill off the dad, or make him some worthless deadbeat. They make the mom turn to drugs or some ancestral spiritism that further delineates from Godly values.

In Turning Red, we find Mei Lee angry with her parents and seeking to be free from their parental control and restraints. As the movie progresses she discovers an inner panda spirit that pops out when she becomes angry.

In the end, she chooses to keep the panda spirit versus being delivered. She tells her mom it helps her be with her friends. The mom thinks that means her family but it doesn’t. More and more you are turning to more than sex, drugs, and rock and roll. They feel that parents are out of touch and Christianity is dead and void of anything meaningful.

As a parent, I encountered my own problems but I always geared my children towards the Word of God and let them see for themselves. I raised them in church and let the Holy Spirit have freedom in their lives. Fortunately, they are still serving God and ministering to Him. As parents, we bring past baggage into a family and we must learn to lay it on the cross.

We must also trust the Holy Spirit with our children. The middle school years are hard enough and I admit many churches don’t meet the spiritual needs of our youth. We have to offer the full gospel and not continue to give a watered-down version void of the supernatural. We also have to be careful who we let educate them.

Regardless of where children are educated, we, the parents are still responsible and will be held accountable. In many instances, government-led education divides families and causes a loss of spiritual identity to a generation. It must be reversed. Thank God for Christian educators in public schools and parents who pray for their children and raise them to fear God and not man.

Your Inner Self Needs Redeeming

Mei Lee holds out for the Red Panda spirit that has been in the women for generations.

Many Disney movies deal with this New Age teaching that we have to capture the inner self. Our inner self is born with a nature to sin. Mankind is not good. We are morally bankrupt without proper rooting and grounding in God’s Word.

Until we are born again we are void of anything good. All of our good is based on our work and our own efforts. We need to grab our inner self, our soulish nature, and nail it to the cross. That is the only valid response, not partnering with a demonic spirit that takes over when we can’t control our anger.

Anger, like any emotion, has to be dealt with not through anything we can do on our own. Instead of seeing red, we need to see blue as in Holy Spirit blue. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, counselor, helper, and the one who enables us to bear good fruit. (See Galatians 5:22)

Anger can be handed down from previous generations, but it is not something God wants us to keep or a red panda to burst out when we can’t control it. Instead, His choice is repentance and coming out of agreement with it. Repentance is the answer to all of our inner needs and issues, whether rejection, pride, rebellion, or fear.

You Need Deliverance

I don’t care how long ago you were saved. You and I both have issues we are dealing with. We need deliverance from strongholds like pride, rebellion, anger, religion, and many more. It is part of the process. Salvation is a process, as we are being saved, and prepared for the day of redemption.

Disney, Hollywood, and others have brought in Eastern religions, eastern mysticism, and New age thought to such an extent that sometimes we hardly recognize what is wrong. In Pocahontas, she talks to a grandmother’s spirit in a tree. In Encanto, there is a shapeshifting relative, and each member of the family has some special supernatural ‘self’ that helps the family.

The list is endless, and Disney is not alone. Books and other written media also encourage sorcery, divination, familiar spirits, and other forms of witchcraft. I realize that many Christian movies and media are cheesy and simply void of good characters and plots.

Still, the church has witchcraft flowing every Sunday. Manipulative prayers seeking to stronghold God into getting what we want or cursing our fellow believers have become standard. Why? Because our society is filled with it, and rather than be the agents of change, we are changed.

We need complete freedom from the strongholds we carry. We need healing from our past hurts and wounds. Perhaps we would be better parents if we nail our life-controlling issues to the cross and let God heal our hearts. Perhaps we can share some of the blame with Disney. But we can stop it by filtering what we allow into our eye gates and those of our families.

Time To Turn Holy Spirit Blue

The answer to Disney, Hollywood, and western culture is allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us. By keeping the panda spirit, Mei Lee made a statement to her generation. You can choose what you keep. That goes for all of us.

You have a choice to let Holy Spirit have complete control over your mind, will, and emotions. When you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, you give Him everything you have. That means He comes to live inside of you so you can live the Kingdom Lifestyle now.

There is a lot of good material on deliverance, healing, and freedom in Christ available now.

Battlefield of the Mind, by Joyce Myers, continues to be a classic on this subject. It is a good read. For children, we, as parents, can teach them the Word, and as they grow older, we can explain inner healing and walk them through it. There are many resources available, so there is no excuse for any child of God to continue seeing red in the ‘spirit’ when they can see blue, with the Holy Spirit.

Resources for Deliverance in Children:

Deliverance for Children and Teens by Bill Banks is available on Amazon

A Manual for Children’s Deliverance By: Frank Hammond, Ida Mae Hammond

Available at Christian books .com or by clicking the link above.

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Don’t Bow To Haman’s Plots

This week was the celebration of Purim, celebrated as a joyous occasion by Jews all over. It commemorates the saving of the Jewish people by the acts of the Jewish queen Esther. The Old Testament book of Esther provides details of the events that led up her actions and the consequences of Haman’s plots and schemes.

Haman’s Plot

Haman was an official in the king’s court, just as Esther’s uncle Mordecai was. Haman had plotted to see the Jews exterminated and convinced the king to write an order that would have resulted in the complete destruction of the Jewish people throughout the empire. Unfortunately, the plan was hatched so well that the king did not even realize that his order would result in the ultimate demise of the Hebrew people.

Haman had many co-conspirators that aided in writing the document, convincing the king to issue his decree and be ready to execute the order. It reminds me of order number sixty-six in the Star Wars episode ‘Revenge of the Sith’ where the Jedi were to be considered traitors or enemies of the republic and were to be consequently executed.

No one knew of the order except for the Republic army troops. So, it was a secret plot, which called for the extermination of the people who had kept the peace in the galaxy so well for hundreds of years.

In our story, Haman plots with others to get rid of the people to whom the Prince of Peace would eventually come. Haman was an Amalekite, a descendant of the people that opposed Israel in their early days. The Amalekites were an ancient race and one that tried to stop God’s plans on several occasions in Genesis through 1 Samuel. While their antics against Israel were nothing new, at no other point in history did an Amalekite have so much authority.

That is what made Haman’s plot such a powerful one. The only way to prevent it from succeeding would be to arm the Jewish people ahead of time to defend themselves. The king had issued a decree that made it law and could not be repealed.

A Time As This

Esther, or Hadassah, had been chosen queen out from among a vast number of candidates in the kingdom. Upon discovering the plot by Haman, Esther’s uncle, Mordecai insisted that she would have to act or God would choose someone else.

Who knows, perhaps you were born for such a time as this was his directive to her. That would be no easy task, requiring her to approach the king. To have an audience with the king meant you were invited or if you showed up uninvited, you needed grace and mercy for the scepter to be extended, or you would be executed.

Esther planned a banquet and invited only her husband, the king, and Haman. After successfully approaching the king and having both men attend her banquet, she divulged Haman’s plot, and even her uncle Mordecai was commentated by the king for his loyal actions.

Haman met his demise on the gallows he had built for Mordecai and other falsely accused court members. Thus, the plot was foiled, and the schemer was punished. The Jews defended themselves from their would-be murderers and survived to fulfill their assignment, at least partially for now.

Stand Up To Those Plotting Against You

You may not be a Jedi facing execution or a Jew facing destruction, but the enemy has plotted and formed weapons to shut you up and, if need be, to kill you. People complain about how hard it is to serve God and be faithful with so many obstacles, traps, and weapons formed against them. Yet, that is the enemy’s assignment.

We need to be like Mordechai when the Haman’s come calling, wanting you to bow or stand up when they come across your path. Our nation is faced with a plague of what many call cancel culture. We are told we have freedom of speech and speak our beliefs, but if they do not line up to be politically correct, then certain members of society call for our voices to be silenced or canceled.

That is what they tried to do to the Jews and they thought they had done to Jesus. At some point you have to draw a line in the sand and say thus far and no more. We have to be heard before it is too late or the enemy will silence us for good.

There are situations we face every day where we can speak up for truth. Often we do not want to rock the boat. Sometimes it is wisdom to be silent for that moment, but eventually we will have a queen Esther moment and the Lord may say, “who knows whether or not I brought you here for this time.”

The hour is late and we cannot continue to mis opportunities to proclaim the gospel and reach the lost with the truth of the good news. The Church is in disarray and many have intoduced doctrines and teachiungs that are contrary to the gospel, but are finding a following. Will you follow or lead? It is time to decide.If you follow the latest trend, where will it lead you? If you follow the Word, Jesus, He will lead you toeverlasting life, or what we also call immortality. It’s time to stand up and be heard!

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How You Can Always Be Successful!

Success means different things to different people. But, generally, people are considered a success because their business made a big profit or a book sold a million copies, or an invention worked. For most people success is getting a good-paying job with benefits and making ends meet.

That is also basic life, also called making it, or ‘making a living.’ Just because you have a good-paying job, a few kids, and a faithful spouse does not mean you are successful, even by the world’s standards. Health, whether physical, emotional, or mental has a role to play and can alter one’s ability to become successful.

In the kingdom of God, success is measured very differently. Having family and friends is part of the journey of life no matter how it is measured.

But, if you accumulate wealth, family, friends, businesses, and maybe a best seller or two, are you successful? That is not how God measures success. I have evaluated my own life many times, especially in the last few months, and it seems that by the world’s standards, I am not a success, or worse, I am a failure to them. So How does God define success?

Successful or Obedient?

I heard the Lord telling me that he wasn’t after success but rather obedience this morning. I knew exactly what He meant. I measure success by how many people read a blog, follow me on youtube or Facebook, or how many watch a TikTok video. I like to look around and wonder why this person already has 1,000 followers or subscribers.

I sign up for the classes that tell you how to ‘grow your channel’ or how to be at the top of amazon with your book. I read everyone’s story, and finally, I realized I am not called to be successful by the world’s standards. If what I do each day is born out of my relationship with God and I do it wholeheartedly, then I am obedient. That is success.

2 Samuel 15:22 “Does the Lord have as much delight in burnt offerings

and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than a sacrifice,

And to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. NASB

It is really up to God how the results play out. Yes, people want to write books to sell and make videos that people actually watch. But, if all you do is what He tells you, then that is all He expects. Some people are called to grow a channel or website. Others are messengers with a heart of devotion to just please God.

I am not saying that other Christian media influencers are not devoted to God, but rather that their purpose is different. God uses different people in different ways. The person with 1,000 or more subscribers can reach the masses. But maybe you or I are not supposed to reach the masses. Perhaps, we are just supposed to be faithful in the little, and someone we touch will reach the masses.

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, we want to hear well done, good and faithful servant. That is all that matters, whereas with Saul he couldn’t resist the urge to stand up and make sacrifices himself. He wanted to move things along. After all, he was the king and he wanted to be successful in the people’s eyes.

Yet, his disobedience cost him his kingdom, which meant he was unsuccessful to the people and to God. That was what made David and other men like Phineas in Numbers 25, successful. They each had a heart to please God. They were jealous for what He was jealous after.

Just Do What He Says

At the wedding at Cana, Jesus’ mom told the servants to do whatever He tells you to. So, of course, they did without question. Jesus said His time hadn’t come, but that didn’t deter Miriam (Mary). You know the story where there were several jugs that were miraculously filled with the best wine that was saved for the end.

If you do what God tells you each day out of obedience, you are already successful. No matter the outcome, He always provides for your needs. We are all servants, and He takes care of us. In the end, you may be what the world calls a failure, but when you are dead, or long after you started, the journey, you may be recognized as the greatest at what you do.

The prophets of the Old Testament didn’t own property or have many possessions. God always provided, yet they seemed to suffer more than most. They were not popular and were constantly being ridiculed and persecuted. They even got mad at God, and one, Jeremiah, considered God to be deceptive.

Still, they were obedient, and what they wrote and prophesied has been handed down and studied for thousands of years. Many today consider them the most outstanding characters in the Bible next to Jesus. Our perceptions often determine how we respond to something.

Many people today want a big name or titles like prophet or apostle. Actually, in the New Testament, those are gifts or functions. The only title we are given is that of a servant, but then He changes that to friends.

John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. NIV

However, we are still to function as servants in the world. We are His friends who He calls to serve others eahc day. So, if you are a good and obedient servant of the Lord, then you are a success.

Just Stay Humble

In the end, the only the left to say is to remain humble. Whether you have one million followers or just under a hundred, your job is to obey. Jesus started with twelve, and when He returned to heaven, He only had around five hundred,, and most of those had abandoned the way.

By today’s standards, He wasn’t very successful. However, His movement has flourished and thrived in the most adverse circumstances. No one gave Him a platform. He just attracted people wherever He went. Like Jesus, the Father is your platform, and He will use me and you to attract whomever He wants.

Like me, your primary calling may be in the secret place. You may be a writer or other media voice, but your identity is not found in those things. You are a son or daughter of the Most High God, and that cannot be changed. You have a message, and ultimately, you must become the message. That is what people are looking for. Not so much the message, but the messenger, because if they see us, they see the message. (Whitefield 2021, 176)

In the end, they must see and hear Jesus in all we do and say. When you have been obedient and done all that was asked, there is a crown of life waiting for you, and you may never know until the next age who you have impacted.

In the meantime, I am going to be making some changes. I have already updated this website to reflect more of who I am and my message. I am getting back to helping you with those things that keep you from completing your assignment. I will be publishing more fiction that will hopefully be a tool to reach more people for the kingdom.

However, I will continue to write about the nations and God’s Heart for them, as well as the second coming, Israel, and the age to come.

Blessings

Joseph Floyd

References

Whitefield, Samuel. 2021. Will You Choose the Wilderness? 1 vols. Grandview, Mo: OneKing Publishing.

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Five Reasons Putin May Be

An Instrument In God’s Hands

Most people cannot find any good coming out of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, there is always good going on, even in the midst of chaos, death, destruction, mass migration, and utter confusion. Many have lost everything and have no home left.

I have personally spoken to friends there who have lost homes, and some, while they are safe, one asked, ‘when will this hell be over?’ Indeed, those suffering from the events around them may be asking, ‘where is God’s mercy?’ But, unfortunately, while He is in the middle of it all, working behind the scenes, it is hard for those suffering to see anything good right now.

Despite the horror and devastation of these events, it is more than likely that Vladamir Putin may still be an instrument in the hands of God, and here are five reasons why:

  • Many Jews Are Returning Home

In a previous post, ‘The Hunters Are Coming,’ I discuss one of the possible reasons behind these events. The Lord promised to bring the Jews back to Israel in the last days. He promised that they would return, and He would build them back up.

Numerous scriptures relate to this topic, primarily found in Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah. In the book of Deuteronomy, God promised the Israelites that if they chased after other gods and failed to obey Him alone, they would eventually be exiled from the land.

However, God promised the first time that they would be in exile for seventy years, which set Daniel to pray for their return. Then Nehemiah enters and rebuilds the broken-down wall. So they return to the land under the direction of Cyrus.

They were scattered again in seventy A.D., where they remained until the late 1800’s when many began to return to the land. In 1948 the modern nation of Israel was born.

Yet, many have refused to return home, or it was an impossible task for others. The holocaust saw many Jews die at the hands of a wicked and terrible ruler, a hunter, who sought to destroy them.

Organizations sprang up in the late 1900s that focused on their return. But many Jews have been stranded in the Former Soviet Union, awaiting proper paperwork or approval from the already overworked Israeli government.

God indeed did not ordain this war, but He is using it as many relief organizations and the Israeli government have helped many thousands of Jews return home to Israel, as is their right.

For more information on this topic, check out these resources: https://www.amazon.com/Intercession-Aliyah-Patricia-Frame/dp/1291085424

https://www.amazon.com/Still-They-Israels-Final-Return/dp/0615185576/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3HSTS3F3FKET3&keywords=barry+wagner&qid=1646846431&s=books&sprefix=barry+wagner+%2Cstripbooks%2C373&sr=1-3

Both explain the Final Exodus and how to get involved.

Romans 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “I RAISED YOU UP FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE, TO DISPLAY MY POWER IN [dealing with] YOU, AND SO THAT MY NAME WOULD BE PROCLAIMED IN ALL THE EARTH.”

Amplified version

Exodus 9:16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

God raised Pharoah and Nebedchanezzar to use them to deal with His people Israel. He hardened Pharoah’s heart to glorify His name among the nations. Still, the children of Israel were stubborn and rebellious, which forced God to discipline them adversely.

How is it possible for Pharoah and Nebedchanezzar to be tools in God’s hand, and later, He punishes them? Like us, each of the unrighteous rulers from the past is given a choice and is also provided plenty of opportunities to repent.

He uses wicked schemes for His purposes and plans to go forward in all the earth. God had promised Abraham in Genesis that his seed would be enslaved people in another land for 430 years.

The purpose was to be forged in the furnace of affliction so they would be a peculiar nation, a holy people, serving God alone. Later His plan was for Israel to be a light to the nations and bring them to serve YHWH alone.

A few nations came to worship YHWH, but mostly it was Israel turning toward the gods of other nations. After YHWH had enough of Israel’s rebellion, He sent Nebuchadnezzar as the instrument that destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. Many Israelites were carried off to Babylon to live.

Yet, God punished him as he did every other evil ruler. Nebuchadnezzar was forced to crawl around and eat grass like a cow. He went mad for seven years, but God restored him.

Throughout the ages, many wicked and unrighteous people have worked despicable acts on the nations, especially the Israelites. Yet, even amid the suffering and pain, God always raised a remnant to accomplish His will and let His work go forward.

Eventually, all of the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord. But, in the meantime, we must pray and watch to see what God is doing amid this horrible situation.

For more, check out my previous blog: https://josephlfloyd.com/2022/02/27/the-nations-rage/amp/

3. To increase Prayer and Faith

It goes without saying that war will cause people to pray more. Before the current conflict, there was talk about a ‘possible invasion.’ Many turn to seek the Lord. The praying people were not limited to just in Ukraine.

The situation has been intense ever since the fall of the Soviet Union. Ukraine and Russia also have a long and storied history that has included a lot of war and political maneuvering. The current crisis is worse than might have been expected.

After the president of Ukraine allowed ‘proselytizing’ by evangelicals, many took to the streets in prayer. The enemy hates revival or any move of God and will use any means to prevent it from spreading. Russia has been very closed to missions for some time. The Orthodox church is the ‘official church,’ and they are pretty much a puppet of the state, as they always have been.

However, there is a hunger and thirst for revival among many parts of Russia. God always uses such crises to cause people to turn to Him in prayer. Consider the Children of Israel in the book of Judges. Every time they strayed away from God, He would send the Philistines or Midianites to harass, fight and often subjugate the Israelites.

Then God would raise a deliverer who would judge the sins of Israel, and after a period of prayer and repentance, they would defeat the enemy. So, yes, YHWH won the battle, but it was through mighty people who had the confidence to believe in Him.

So, now as then, God causes people to arise and lead people spiritually, politically, and in every other sphere of society. He uses trying times such as wars and rumors of wars to arouse people’s hearts for Him and His purposes. The enemy brings disheartenment and discouragement, while God brings faith and victory.

4. Birth Pains- A Trial Run of Things To Come

I have also written some on this subject and will not belabor the point except that just like with the COVID-19 viral pandemic, the things we see happening are like a trial run of future events. They only point to worse things around the corner.

Wars and rumors of wars are merely more birth pains, but they mean we are closer than ever before to the return of our Lord Jesus. I am not downplaying the impact on the people in Ukraine and Russia. I have many friends in Ukraine who are blessed to have been spared and still be alive.

So, this has certainly hit home and almost to the point of being personal since I have many wonderful friends and love this nation. Yet, places like Ukraine are strategic for many reasons, and wars are nothing new.

Our posture is to continue to pray and help the people suffering there in Ukraine in any way we can. However, we also need to be aware that no nation, including the USA, is safe. Because of the downward moral decline in the US over the past few decades, we should be crying out like the Ukrainians for mercy.

5. For The Honor And Glory of God’s Name In All of The Earth

Ultimately, God will win out, and the whole earth will be full of the knowledge of His glory. Habakkuk writes in chapter 2 verse 14: For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

“For from the rising of the sun to its setting, my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 1:11 ESV

Many other verses talk about God’s name being honored among the nations and his glory filling the earth. Unfortunately, men like Vladimir Putin have been around since the beginning. They attempt to control people and lead them away from God’s plans and obedience to His commands.

Early on, the despot, Nimrod, gathered all of the people to build a city to the sky in direct disobedience to the command to spread out and multiply all over the earth. Since then, the enemy has sought to keep people from worshipping God and will stop at nothing to accomplish this goal.

It is Satan’s plan to keep men divided and at war so that they will not find time for God, or they will blame God for all of the bad things. We live in a fallen world that will soon be cleansed of evil, and Jesus Christ will establish His throne in Jerusalem, and all of the nations will come and worship Him there. There will be no place for Putin’s and the like in the government as all of the kings of the earth will submit to Jesus’ rule!

In the meantime, continue to pray and believe for the best outcomes, including an end to the war with peace, hope, and joy to the people of Ukraine. Also, pray for justice in the matter of Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs.

See an earlier post: http://josephlfloyd.com/2022/02/18/wars-and-rumors-of-wars/

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From Ordinary To Famous: Finding Your Unique Place In the Kingdom

This Is An Excerpt From The Unpublished Book Wielding The Spear Of Phineas

In every generation, some are born to do great exploits. But, usually, they grow up quite ordinary and seem to blend in with all of the other kids. There isn’t really anything exceptional about them except that they are destined to do something extraordinary and exciting.

Most likely, they have a seemingly normal childhood to everyone around them. But there is a parent, mentor, or even someone they may apprentice, who takes notice of their uniqueness. We often call them a ‘diamond in the rough’ because they just seem to shine amidst the rough and mundane around them.

A child with a great destiny is often keenly aware that they are unique, which can be a problem. Life can be a great tutor to root out pride. But if you are born into a family that inherits its vocation, then you have no choice of what you will be doing for the rest of your life.

But you do have a choice of how you discharge that duty. You can do it with half-heartedness and do an average job and be known for just good enough quality, or you can perform your duties with passion, zeal, and whole-heartedness every day. It’s a choice you make early own.

You may pick up good habits if you have a good teacher as you are trained. Or, you may be a scoundrel. Take our main character Phinehas. There were others before and after him who failed miserably. He had two selfish uncles who didn’t understand the family business.

If this story were about the “Godfather,” the uncles would be like Sonny and Alfredo, and Phinehas would be like Michael. Instead, the grandson of Aaron was raised in the tabernacle around offerings and sacrifices just as the rest of the male family members. What was it that made him different?

Perhaps he had an excellent spirit, good character or he was just committed to seeing a job through to the end. He learned the right way to do things, and that was all he knew.

Greater still is the fact that Phinehas understood the needs of the family’s one client. After all, this client created and funded the business.

You must understand what is going on here. It is like a business, but the family business of Aaron the Levite was more than that. It was perhaps the first non-profit, at least from the worldly standpoint. The entire family of Aaron, his sons, grandsons, and future generations would be fed and clothed by the shareholders and investors.

These investors were no ordinary stockholders. Instead, they were direct descendants of formerly enslaved people who left an Egyptian desert loaded down with the goods and chattel to do all that was necessary to please the one client. After all, it was by His hand that they were set free so that they could serve Him and no other client.

I guess you could really call it a sole proprietorship since the only client already owned everything. Thus, we can only conclude that He set all of this up because He wanted to have a relationship with these people. Aaron and his family were what we would call ‘middlemen.’ The other people, the stockholders, and investors were the recipients of all of the clients’ affection.

Everyone is always wanting to cut out the middle man but in this business, which is actually a kingdom, it survives by the actions of these middlemen. (Or middlewomen- the term middleman in my usage refers to male and female-all of humanity that has entered the kingdom of God)

The owner of the company, which is really a kingdom, sent His Son to make it possible for all people, everywhere, to become part of the family business. The Son became the ultimate middleman. A middleman is a mediator, which is a good description of an intercessor.

So, we see how our hero, Phinehas, was born into a family that served the one client, the God, and creator of the universe, and how he was trained just like all of the other priests. He would have also been one that taught the investors and stockholders, the rest of the people, what God expected and how to relate to Him.

But there was still something rather unique and extraordinary about the man Phinehas, grandson of Aaron. There was something about how he loved his job, he loved His God, and he wanted all of the people to enjoy life and enjoy God.

But, things shifted dramatically from the ‘usual life’ to a radically different one resulting in a plague that was wiping out the people. Yes, the investors and shareholders were dying, but then they were the ones that precipitated these events. Of course, there was the head of a competitor, Balak from the Moabite for-profit company who used one who was supposed to represent the same client that Phinehas’ family served.

The details will be poured over later, but my goal here is to establish the necessity of middlemen, mediators, and intercessors in every area of life. Intercession is not limited to just praying for the sick, the sinners’ salvation, the nations, leaders, and our co-workers. It is not just prayer.

As we will learn intercession requires action. Prayer, standing in the gap, and crying out for others is in itself work. However, prayer alone is often not enough. Sometimes we have to ‘put feet on our prayers.’ If we sit and do nothing then the turmoil around us will only get worse.

This book is a call to action from passivity in prayer and watching from the sidelines, to a lifestyle of prayer, fasting, and being ready to jump in and take a stand at a moment’s notice like Phinehas.

Psalm 106:30

But Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked. NIV

But Phinehas had the courage to intervene, and the plague was stopped. NLT

Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed. KJV

Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, And so the plague was brought to a halt. NASB

Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stayed. ESV

Then Phinehas [the priest] stood up and interceded, And so the plague was halted. AMP

As you can see Phinehas’ actions were sudden, unplanned, swift and had lasting results. These acts were considered righteous acts for all generations to come. The Book of Revelation speaks about ‘the righteous acts of the saints’ as the fine linen of the bride of Christ. (Revelation 19:8) Some translations render saints as God’s holy people. Either way, Phinehas and the Old Testament saints are considered saints for all time.

The New Covenant has made it possible for all people to be called saints through the blood of Jesus. My point is that we need to need to understand what intercession is. We need to quit sitting idly by and get into the contest as Phinehas did. Many of us have been taking a stand for years, and so it is time to step it up. We also need to enlist others to come out and stand up for righteousness.

I will be discussing intercession as relates to more than just prayer. I will delve into righteousness and what righteous acts are as well as look at reasons why we take a stand. Often there is no one else willing to take a stand, or there just isn’t anyone. Sometimes we are comfortable and lose heart, so we need courage.

Finally, everything we do should be done and led by the Holy Spirit. He represents the heart of God in every situation. Without him we can’t possibly please God. He gives us faith to believe and act. We take a stand for the honor and glory of our Father, righteous judge, and the one who owns it all.

May the Lord bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you, amen.

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The Nations Rage:

Some Reasons Why These Things

Must Take Place

Part 3 of Rumors of Wars

In The Olivet discourse, Matthew 24, Jesus answers three questions asked by the disciples. When will He establish His kingdom, when will the Temple be destroyed,, and what is the sign(s) of His return? These were the questions on their minds, and they knew that somehow they were all linked.

In Matthew 24:6, Jesus tells them that ‘wars and rumors of wars’ should not be a reason for alarm since they will happen. In other words, they are necessary. Why are such things necessary, and why are they just the beginning of birth pains?

It Was Prophesied: Psalm 2

If you have read much of my writings, you already know that Psalm 2 is a critical passage when it comes to the nations. The whole Psalm deals with the kings of the earth and the nations in turmoil, raging against God’s leadership. They are trying to throw off God’s leadership as they see it as cumbersome and burdensome.

Nevertheless, God laughs at their plans. At the tower of Babel, we saw all of the people resist God’s plans and how He dealt with their rebellion. The confounding and confusion of the languages resulted in keeping the people’s plans from coming forth. Nevertheless, God is sovereign, and His plans will be accomplished.

As the people scattered from Babel, they built nations, cities, kingdoms, and empires. These were all a result of man’s desire to rule and reign over the earth. While that is our destiny, it must be done under the sovereign leadership of one leader. Initially, God gave that task to Adam,, and after the fall, man has been under the idea that one ‘man’ can rule the nations.

One man will rule all of the nations in the age to come. Psalm 2 tells us that the nations are His inheritance. His name is Jesus Christ. God had a plan all along to redeem the nations, and that will be accomplished by Jesus through His people, the church. That is one purpose of the Millenial kingdom: for man to be ruled by the second Adam, Jesus, and the nations to submit to His rulership. He will rule and reign for 1,000 years from Jerusalem.

A Spiritual Battle For The Earth

It has been a spiritual battle ever since Adam and Eve surrendered the title deed to the earth at the ‘garden of Eden.’ Jesus won it all back, and we are the agents by which His kingdom advances. Since the disciples were sent to disciple the nations, there has been a struggle for the nations.

As territory is taken for the kingdom of God, ancient demonic forces are displaced, and nations are transformed into sheep nations. Christian persecution results from resistance to the gospel, whether by individuals, religious groups, or national governments. Often wars result over religious affairs or one race believing it is superior.

Either way, it is a spiritual battle won through prayer, worship, and preaching of the gospel. The kingdoms of the earth are influenced by heaven or hell, and light, or darkness. Satan desires control over man and this world. He will lose in the end, but many wars will come before the final battle.

Nation’s Destroying Nation’s: Ethnic Superiority

Racism has escalated to an all-time high. It is not just a black vs. white thing or an American thing. But we see it in the news more and more, and we hear more groups crying out for justice against one ethnic group while causing harm to another. Racism has led to many tribal wars and genocidal activity throughout the ages.

However, these things must increase to reveal God’s heart for the nations. Often, it is worse from within God’s people. Israel was supposed to set the bar and demonstrate God’s love for the nations. Likewise, they were to demonstrate His judgment against the nations that would not surrender to Him.

God used wars in the Old Testament to cleanse the land of pagan worship. But we see His heart displayed when He sends a Jewish prophet to the enemy of the Jews in the book of Jonah. Or how God feeds the nations through another Hebrew named Joseph. Later we see men like Elijah, Elisha, and later Peter and Paul sent to the nations to tell the Good News.

Israel was set to be the chief among all the nations. But that didn’t make Jews superior or inferior, but rather servants to bring the gospel to all nations. The nation of Israel is far from being the Israel that they were created to be.

In the end, wars occur for many reasons, but they always result from someone wanting something that is not theirs. This usually causes conflict between people groups, and then an attempt is made to rid the earth of one of the people groups. God allows such things for several reasons, such as choice and free will, and also to allow leaders and people to demonstrate Godly or kingdom values.

The Holocaust of World War II is an example of mankind seeking to annihilate one people group. The Nazis and others offered many reasonsrs. For the Jews, they had been given ample time to return to the land of promise long before this event. They became comfortable in the land of exile, resulting in their near annihilation.

God was not promoting their genocide, but He was seeking to bring them home. Unfortunately, today some wars are the result of threats by one people group. These things will continue until the races, tongues, and people groups surrender to the commands and statutes of the Kingdom and surrender to Jesus’ leadership.

To Cause Us to Cry Out For Jesus’ Return

Towards the end of the book of Revelation, we read that the Spirit and the bride cry out for the return of Jesus. That is the end game. Wars and rumors of wars stir people for peace. Political leaders gather for peace talks. Meanwhile men talk and the war machine rages on.

Recently, in Myanmar, a military coup took over a duly elected government and began massively killing innocent people. God is never for such events. However, He will use them to drive people to pray and worship and call for the salvation of the entire nation, including the vicious military.

Just as He used the Holocaust to bring about the state of Israel, He uses evil acts to point people to Him and His purposes. Suffering and persecution will separate the nominal from the real followers of a leader or movement. Christain persecution and martyrdom always cause the church to grow and not the opposite, which the enemy wants.

Persecution, suffering, and even martyrdom will drive us to cry out for Jesus to come and judge the earth. We long for His return and for our prayers fill the bowls along with the prayers of other saints. (See Revelation 5:8) There is a time coming when our prayers will be answered and Jesus will return, judge, and bring peace to the earth.

Conclusion

Psalm 67: 3-5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,

for you judge the peoples with equity

and guide the nations upon earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you!

Ultimately, wars accomplish nothing good. What the belligerent’s desire is never the real heart of God. Consider the crusades that were fought to restore the Holy Land to Christianity. Pope Urban and others failed to realize that the Kingdom of God is invisible for now. It will fully manifest when Jesus returns. Meanwhile, the gospel is not advanced by the sword, but it will go forth due to many nations taking up the sword.

The closer we get to the return of the king, the nations will rage more and more. This will come from a power grab, but ultimately it is the result of a spiritual battle over the nations and kingdoms of the earth.

Satan piece-mealed the people into nations and isolated them. Now God is bringing them back so that His Son will have an inheritance. If we are the bride of Christ, then is it not our inheritance too. Anti-semitism will continue to rise, along with other ethnic wars, cleansing, and struggles. As they increase in number and complexity, the rise of prayer and the call for Jesus’ return will grow stronger and stronger.

So, to sum it all up, wars and rumors help us draw closer to God and cry out for Jesus’ return. It also reminds us of God’s heart to see all nations be discipled. It is our duty and mandate to see the kingdom of God advance regardless of what political entity we face. Remember that they are just birth pains when you hear of these things. It will intensify!

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The Hunters Are Coming

Over the last few days, I have been in deep intercession over the crisis in Russia/Ukraine. As one who has visited and ministered in Ukraine,, I am familiar with many of the issues at hand, including some you won’t hear in media. But, I have heard ‘the hunters are coming over the past few days.

So, the question is: who are the hunters, and who are they hunting? Why are they hunting? What does that have to do with Russia and Ukraine? To answer these questions, we must turn the scriptures that outline God’s promise to return the Children of Israel to the land from where they were sent into exile. A couple of verses, in particular, will answer these questions.

Jeremiah 16:15–16 (ESV): 15 but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers.

16 “Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the LORD, and they shall catch them. And afterward, I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.

The Lord spoke to the prophets to tell the Israelites that they would be judged and sent into exile. He also repeatedly said to them that they would return from exile to the land from where He sent them. In the Jeremiah 16 passages, he mentions bringing them back from the north country where He sent them.

Initial And Subsequent Application

Many theologians and scholars will tell us that this verse was fulfilled back in the time of Jeremiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel. Some say that the hunters and fishers were the Babylonians who overthrew the Southern kingdom and Jerusalem. They also destroyed the temple. They went looking for Jews to either send back to Babylon or other provinces are place them into subjection to the Babylonian empire.

Secondly, they believe this was fulfilled when the Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the city and the temple. While this application fits the passages, we need to be careful and remember that prophecy can have multiple fulfillments and applications.

While many Jews returned to the land from exile, not all came back. Many Jewish groups have lived in places like Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan for many centuries. They were there when Christ came to the earth. So, not all Jews returned from exile before the temple destruction.

Also, after the temple was destroyed,, all Jews were scattered, and this time it was more than just Babylon or countries around the Middle East. North Africa, Europe, and the counties of the former Soviet Union all saw Jewish peoples arrive over the following centuries. With their arrival came persecution,, and once again,, they sought a place where they could live and worship freely.

So, we see that we can apply Jeremiah 16:16 to the first exile but the story does not end there, nor does this author believe that YHWH meant for it to. The destruction of the temple meant that the Jews no longer had a central place of worship and were scattered due to Roman persecution.

The Overlooked Jews of Ukraine

The land of the north obviously refers to everything north of the land of Israel. That would include the nations of the Caucasus mountains region, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and the rest of the Former Soviet Union. Turkey, Eastern Europe, and North Africa were also important regions where the exiles ended up. In later centuries Jews would end up in every country of the world.

But, of all the nations, Ukraine probably had more Jews than any other at the beginning of World War II. When WWII broke out the Jewish population of Ukraine was around 2.5 million, but in the end, it was around 100,000 or 150,000. The holocaust is well known in places like Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Holland, Belgium, and France.

The Ukrainian holocaust has been highly overlooked. Often the local police in Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova helped the Nazis round up Jews. I have been to Babi Yar (Grandma’s Ravine) outside of Kiev where 38,000 Jews were stripped down, shot, and piled into a ravine. In Odessa, it was much worse. The Romanian army was given governmental oversight over parts of Ukraine and Moldova.

I have seen where the Romanians shot babies or threw their bodies against a wall shortly after birth. But, for some reason, we do not hear about these stories or the significance of the Holocaust in Ukraine. Under Stalin, many Jews lost their land, or their papers indicating that they were Jewish.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the door was opened for the ‘fishers’ in Jeremiah 16:16 to begin helping Jews in the FSU return home in Israel. Organizations like Ezra International arose to help Jewish families who could not afford the trip to Israel. Many of them had incomplete paperwork and so through agencies like Ezra they worked with both governments to help gather all paperwork and to date have seen close to 100,000 Jews make Aliyah.

Aliyah literally means to go up, to go up to Jerusalem. Today it is applied to an Olim, or Jew seeking to return, to anywhere in the land of Israel. Of all the Jewish groups those of the FSU have had it the hardest. The language barrier and many do not circumcise or practice other covenantal rites making them more ostracized.

Nevertheless, there are still many Jews in Ukraine and all of the Former Soviet Union nations. The window has been open for many years, but it may be closing. As one who has been and ‘fished’ some of these people and helped them go home to Israel, I also know that many of them fear the day the ‘hunters’ might return. Some of them remember what happened under Stalin, or a few were alive during the Holocaust and somehow survived.

The Hunters Are Not Going To Help!

Perhaps in the original application, the hunters may have simply been looking for Jews to assimilate or send to Babylon. But, through the centuries the hunters have taken on many names and faces. Some were known as Haman from the book of Esther. Others were Sanballat and Tobiah, or Spanish Inquisitors. There have been many in the Church who were anti-semitic, like John Chrysostom, Martin Luther, and even the great St. Augustine.

Modern hunters include men like Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin. There were many under them who helped carry out the orders to hunt the Jews and terminate them. There are several reasons why the enemy has sought total annihilation of the Jewish people as a race. Mainly so that there will be no Jews in Jerusalem to say “Blessed are you who come in the name of the Lord.” This was one of the conditions of Jesus’ return when He told the people they would not see Him again until they invite Him back with that statement.

Also, Paul promised Israel would be saved. We know God is not done with Israel and will fulfill her role as the chief of nations in the age to come. However, the enemy seeks to destroy them before any of that can occur. The hunters that are coming in these last days are not coming to help them. They are not like the fishers who are helping them return.

They Don’t Know They Are Hunters

As armies gather for invasion and the world speculates the various reasons, no one considers that the spirit of anti-semitism is working behind the scenes. Sure, wheat, gas, oil, apricots, sunflowers, and reserves of various metals and gems may be on the agenda but there is much more behind the scenes. To say it is all about NATO is a farce.

I doubt that soldiers join the Russian army saying, ” Let’s find some Jews. ” The leaders probably don’t have that in mind either, but we are dealing with a spirit. As we see anti-semitism rise around the world, it is only natural that it will escalate to be part of a hostile invasion. Why not? When Russia annexed portions of the Crimea a few years back and fighting broke out many Jews fled towards the west for fear of their lives.

So, we won’t hear the news say that Russia is looking for Jews in Ukraine, but we will hear stories of Jews being driven from their homes and land and many even killed.

What Do We Do?

As always our response is to pray for the peace and safety of these precious Jewish people in the land of the North. Pray for their salvation and hope. Pray for a safe exodus in the final exodus. This means they leave the lands of exile and return home, to Israel. Pray for the safety and health of workers helping them.

Currently, Israel is trying to get as many as 75,000 Jews out of Ukraine. Ukraine was the setting of the play/movie “Fiddler On A Roof,” and was the home of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. So, it is a very important part of the end-times puzzle. It is dear to the heart of God and Yeshua. None of us want to see war, but sometimes these events will take place as part of Biblical prophecy or cause God’s plans to be put into motion.

Either way, God desires His people to leave exile and go to the land of their patriarchal fathers. The time is now, so let’s pray for this situation from God’s heart!

please take a moment to watch the accompanying video
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Wars And Rumors of Wars:

Signs of The Times?

What Is Going On Behind The Scene?

Matthew 24:6-8 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. NIV

Almost anybody you ask has heard this verse quoted either through a church service or even in secular media. Believers and non-believers recognize Matthew’s writings and can easily apply them to the global stage and many currently escalating situations.

We have seen just in the last thirty or forty years civil wars in Serbia, the break up of the Soviet Union, Middle Eastern terrorism and continuous threats to the existence of Israel, and many nations in Africa, Asia, and South America experiencing a continued civil war or dictatorial mayhem.

The current border tension between Russia and Ukraine is nothing new. Ukraine stood strong against the Red army when Lenin and the bolsheviks took control of the Imperial government and replaced it with a Socialist one. For a thousand years or so, the Russian and Ukrainian people have lived side by side but have also been at times hostile toward one another.

I have personally visited Ukraine on several occasions and love the people and culture. In fact, I enjoy studying the culture, languages, and people of the Former Soviet Union countries. It is a region filled with diverse people groups, religions, languages, and cuisine. Unfortunately, in missions and evangelism, it is an area often overlooked, or many see it as completely hostile and closed.

However, there has been a lot of Revival activity in Ukraine as of late, and in the past, Russia and other FSU nations have experienced revival. But, like all moves of God, the window may be closing. With escalated tensions, one has to ask, “what good can come out of this?”

Why Now?

As Jesus said in Matthew 24, the wars and rumors of wars and kingdoms rising and falling are merely birth pangs. This is nothing new. But why is this situation escalating now at this time? Could biblical prophecy pointing to the rise of the Russian Bear and a coalition with Iran and other nations be coming forth? Are we closer than we realize to the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy?

None of us know for sure, but signs are clear that we are closer than ever to seeing these types of things manifest. As we know, our world will never go back to the way it was pre-covid. So, to couple plagues and disease along with wars and rumors of wars, we have seen governments seek to exercise as much totalitarian authority as possible. How much can they get away with?

Perhaps, Russia is seeking to find out how much they can get away with. Is it just gas and oil they are after? Or is it an opening to the Black Sea, which they have after annexing portions of the Crimea? But, ultimately, it won’t matter as the kings of the earth continue to rage and thrash about as they seek what is not theirs to have.

The Nations Will Continue To Rage

Psalm 2 asks, “why do the nations rage?” The kings of the earth are raging for various reasons, but they all are supported by the fact that their rage results from the Anti Christ powers that have sought rulership of this world since Genesis 3. In Genesis ten and eleven, we see the table of nations that resulted after Nimrod led a rebellion at Babel.

Since the Babel event, God has sought to restore the nations, and He began that with a man named Abraham. His seed formed what would become the nation of Israel, the chief among nations. Unfortunately, the Israel we have today is not the Israel God desired. But that will change, and Israel will take up her place as chief among the nations with her king, Yeshua, ruling from His throne in Jerusalem.

So, the nations continue to rage because they are in rebellion against their king, Jesus. They are part of the false-New Jerusalem, Babel, or Babylon. Such disputes we are seeing will be settled by Jesus in the age to come. I know many of you have no idea what I am talking about. Your theology may not line up with the Millenial Kingdom or 1,000 years of Peace, but it is straight out of Revelation and passages in Isaiah.

It has been the plan all along to restore everything as it was created. The first Adam gave up rulership, but the second Adam, Jesus, has taken it back and His people, believers, and disciples everywhere, are to continue advancing the Kingdom of God. Soon the war to end all wars will appear, and all will know who is in charge.

Birth Pangs Will Continue

‘All of these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.’

Every woman experiences birth pangs before giving birth. The nations will birth either a healthy nation that will follow the commands and teachings of Jesus or will be a goat nation and follow after Satan and his plans. As we get closer to the return of the King, these things will intensify.

Currently, the eyes of the world are on Russia/Ukraine. It has taken the attention off of the pandemic and Middle East situation. It has caused some to forget that there are empty grocery store shelves in the USA and ongoing issues in the supply chain. Many have forgotten that Christians are persecuted in China as the Olympics continue. Or have we forgotten that people are suffering and starving under the Taliban in Afghanistan?

There are other issues that I could add, but we cannot get distracted and forget the pain and suffering going on around us. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus and prepare for His return. As things get worse naturally, keep focusing on Him and do not allow the enemy to steal your joy or peace.

If it is only the beginning, or somewhere near it now, then we still have a lot to see and experience. However, we are probably further along, and things can move fast in a moment of time. Regardless our job is to stand in the gap and pray for Jesus to receive His inheritance: the nations.

Stay tuned for Part 2: The Hunters Are Coming

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Five Things That Will Keep You In Spiritual Alignment

Maybe you have never heard of spiritual alignment or no one has ever taught you about it. Your car has to be aligned or it will not function fight. Likewise, our bodies need to be aligned or our walk will be out of balance and we will experience pain and difficulty in our physical bodies if not corrected.

I recently discovered I had a flat tire and proceeded to fill it with air. I notice some metal sticking out and realized that the tire had worn through on the inside. How could a tire with half of its life expectancy still remaining be that far gone? Upon further examination and talking with a tire pro it was discovered that the vehicle was badly out of alignment, and getting the necessary adjustment would fix the problem.

Later the Lord spoke to me and said you are out of alignment with me. I pondered, thinking well I have done what you asked me so what is the problem? Well, that is the question to be answered. If our cars and bodies can be out of line and our walk or ride is bumpy, shaky, or just not right, how much more our spiritual walk?

The Problem

So what do we mean when we say someone is out of alignment? If a person has bad hips, knees, or foot problems it affects their gait, balance, and overall walk. It is painful and we make adjustments until we get the proper treatment to fix the error.

The same goes for our vehicles. They put the vehicle up on a machine and check various components connected to the tires and steering to fix the cause of the misalignment.

But, what do we mean by our spirit man being out of alignment? Obviously, ou walk with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is not in line. In the book of Amos, the children of Israel were found to be out of line. God had placed ‘a plumb line’ next to them and they were not plumbous or not in a straight line according to the plumb line.

God puts His measuring lines next to us periodically and if we do not measure up then we are out of alignment. He still loves us and enjoys us, but we cannot enjoy Him fully since false alignment means we are out of fellowship.

So what causes us to be out of alignment spiritually?

  • Unconfessed or unrepented sin
  • Wrong or bad relationships
  • Wrong spiritual covering
  • Disobedience
  • Lack of fellowship or intimacy with the Lord
  • Generational curses
  • Unsurrendered areas of our life

We can have issues at one or more of the above areas at the same time. These can also open us up to demonic attacks which can cause us to grow further out of alignment. Worse is the fact that we begin to stop praying, reading our Bible and worship. So, what are five things that can always keep us in alignment?

1- Surrender Every Area of Your Life

If Jesus is truly Lord of each one of our lives then He owns every aspect of our lives. Thus we are supposed to surrender everything to Him when we are saved. If we surrender our spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, financial, and relational areas to Him then we will always walk in alignment.

There are past issues and sins that we tend to want to hang on to not realizing that He already owns them but we haven’t surrendered them. The children of Israel worshipped God and kept His commands until they encountered foreign women or foreign gods. So they had these cycles of rebellion and repentance that really meant they were not surrendered to YHWH.

That is how we are. When everything is fine we slack off in our prayer, Bible reading, and serving others. Then we do things that displease Him and step out of alignment and wonder what went wrong. The truth is we should never get out of alignment. Our prayer, worship, and all aspects of kingdom life should be the same no matter what is going on around us.

So surrender to Jesus every area of your life now so you can benefit from the fullness of His abiding presence and joy. Otherwise, you will always be out of line like the children of Israel.

2- Continually Being Cleansed

Spiritual cleansing is not a one-time fix it. You don’t take a bath once or twice a year and expect your body to be in perfect alignment, do you? So we need to cleanse ourselves daily with the washing with water through the word. (Ephesians 5:26 ESV)

Cleansing is not just about repentance. It requires something to come through our spirit and soul and wash it clean. The Holy Spirit’s job is to direct us to the Word that will do just that. The Word, along with prayer and worship will always keep us clean.

The Holy Spirit also brings a cleansing fire that examines us, if we allow Him to, and brings every area into complete cleanliness. This allows us to be in alignment and Hear God’s voice better and walk out His commands.

3- Repentant Lifestyle

Repentance is a part of the Kingdom Life. Like other things mentioned here, it is not a one-time thing. There are things we do daily and then there are generational curses handed down that we need to come out of agreement with. There are also areas that we never addressed after coming to salvation. Sometimes we repent of pride, but we never get to the root.

Paul wrote that we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Phillipians 2:12-13 KJV) Fear and trembling means that you desire to get rid of any weight that holds you back. You do that by repentance or coming out of agreement with those areas that are not in line with God’s Word or Kingdom values.

It is thus a lifestyle that we practice and it will keep us walking in alignment daily. It also allows the Holy Spirit to highlight other areas we need to deal with from time to time.

4- Prayer & Fasting

There is so much to be said about these areas. Prayer is our lifeline and if we allow anything to hinder our prayer life then it will quickly open us up to misalignment. Fasting is also a command from Jesus that most believers see more as a suggestion. Fasting helps us in our prayers as we go deeper and let go of creature comforts. Coupled with prayer it strengthens our ability to talk to and hear God at the same time, even though there is often a time of silence.

Remember God hears us and it may seem like He doen’t hear us, but we must persevere in our prayers. It is through prayer and fasting we get the victory and our daily instructions. It is here we find much of the intimacy and fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit which is our last area.

5-Intimacy and Fellowship

I have already touched on this and it is hard not to since all of these areas overlap. But, we rob ourselves of intimacy with the trinity or godhead when we cease to worship, prayer, thanksgiving, praise, and obedience. Whether it is the written or spoken word in our lives we must always obey or we risk losing fellowship.

Continually denying ourselves time to fellowship through prayer, worship, and Bible Study can result in our lives being like the Ephesians in Revelation chapter 3, who lost their first love.

Therefore it is imperative that we walk in fellowship with the Spirit every moment or we risk falling into sin, and ultimately our lives get out of alignment. The people we associate with and even the congregation we are family with are vital aspects of our spiritual lives. If we are under the wrong covering or hang out with toxic friends, this can lead to further alignment.

Walking in the Spirit will ensure that we stay in alignment every day and I have provided five tools that we need to practice so that we walk in perfect harmony with the Lord.

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Let Your Joy Be Heard!

In Nehemiah 12:43 we see all of the people rejoice at the reading of the law. In chapter 8 they had grieved when the law was read and they became convicted that Israel had neglected the law and worse they had failed to serve YHWH, the Lord, wholeheartedly.

Nehemiah’s answer was not to continue in sorrow but rejoice, because “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 ESV

We have heard that verse repeated so many times that we have failed to see its full meaning or we just don’t appreciate it. I think we like to encourage others with it, but we fail to apply it in our own lives.

Yahweh is a God of joy, full of compassion, slow to anger, and is always good. Having said that we are still confronted with a world filled with disease and sickness, death, extortion, human trafficking, bondage, murder, anger rage, and many more issues. Yet, God is good and is cause for joy.

Nehemiah had learned to choose Yhwh’s joy over the lies of the enemy and believed the obstacles in front of him were the end result. Rather he chose to live in God’s presence and encouraged the people to do likewise. Choosing to serve and obey God always is to choose joy.

The kingdom life is a life of joy no matter what. In Nehemiah chapter twelve there was a joy heard far from Jerusalem recorded in chapter 12 verse 43. Joy can be seen through facial expressions, dancing, and other ways. However, joy also has a sound and the world needs to hear our joy.

So, I encourage you to let the joy of the Lord be your strength and let it resound loudly wherever you go. You don’t have to be on social media or a musician to make your joy be heard.

Rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice, Phillippians 4:4 ESV

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Five Things That Enabled Nehemiah To Finish The Assignment

And How You Can Complete Yours

Recently I have been writing from the book of Nehemiah and discussing the ways and means that the enemy uses to try to stop God’s work from going forward. I talked about Sanballat and Tobiah and their attempts to do anything to keep Nehemiah and his workers from finishing their assignments. I applied these to our situation to help us understand the enemy’s tactics.

I want to conclude these studies with a look at Nehemiah and what helped them press through and complete the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem. So many times we focus on what the enemy is saying and doing and we fall into the traps established to counter our mission. What was it that kept Nehemiah’s team from falling for these tricks and that enabled them to ‘finish the task?’

1- Perseverance

I think that having a spirit of perseverance to finish the job is an understatement. Yet, if we are not careful, we can allow the tactics presented to us as Sanballat did to Nehemiah to cause discouragement, doubt, and a desire to just quit and become lazy.

When we become discouraged we tend to look at how much is left to do instead of what has been accomplished. Just to be allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall was in itself a cause for celebration. Nevertheless, the work had to be done and it wasn’t easy. It was probably hot, and coupled with long hours, lack of materials or funds to procure them, and motivating the workers that alone was a big enough challenge.

It was further complicated when leaders from the local government representing the king back in Persia showed up. Their mere presence was enough to bring intimidation, doubt, and discouragement. But, they opened their mouths and teased, taunted, and threatened the workers. When they saw their efforts were fruitless they conspired to kill them and even sent false prophets in hopes that they would be tricked into walking away.

Nehemiah came to complete an assignment and had the backing of the leaders back home. That plus the fact that it was God’s work fueled his passion for the work. Nehemiah set his mind to rebuild the wall when he was in Susa before he departed for Jerusalem. Thus his determination to rebuild the broken down wall resulted in a spirit of perseverance that spilled over into the workers that kept them focused until the end.

No matter what you set your hand to do, do it as unto the Lord with a spirit of perseverance. So many lack that today, yet Jesus told us that we must persevere until the end. That end can be many things but for our purpose here it is the end of an assignment. Then we must persevere until He returns. I urge you to press on!

2-He Recognized It As God’s Work

Despite all that was against him, Nehemiah was too quick to remind the enemy that this was God’s work. Jerusalem is God’s eternal city, and is the place where He has placed His name forever. He had promised, through the prophets, to return the exiles from where they were scattered and to rebild the city and temple.

Nehemiah had read these promises and knew that it would not happen unless someone went and did it. He also knew that it was all work that would be orchestrated by the hand of God. He reminded Sanballat of this fact. When he was told to stop working and could have easily walked away, he chose to stand and fight and complete his mission.

When God does a work, He supplies for all of the needs. But, that does not mean that the enemy will not show up and try to spoil God’s plans. When we submit to the taunts of the enemy, we are coming out of agreement with God’s plan and mission for us. God’s work has no room for failure because we lose focus.

The enemy’s lies are just that, and the truth is what God has already told us. If you are attempting something God-sized, then he will provide, and it is He that will accomplish it and finish it through you. So, remember the assignment from Heaven is God’s work, and we are workers in His kingdom. Of course, there will be delays, discouragement, and all sorts of evil to deter and destroy God’s work, but we must remember it is His work, and we cannot stop.

3- Authority From Heaven

Because it is God’s work, therefore it is He that sends and equips the workers. Nehemiah not only read the prophecies concerning God’s plan to rebuild it, but he also recognized that Heaven would send someone or a group to return ahead of the exiles to rebuild the city. In other words, he had been granted authority by the rulers back in Susa, but greater was the authority He had from Heaven.

When God sends you to do a work, you have the full weight of heaven behind you. Authority is as if Jesus Himself is standing there. That was how it was when the first disciples set out to complete the task of discipling the nations. We can also see God’s heart in discipling the nations throughout the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.

We also see the resistance to the gospel in those books. The spirit of AntiChrist, Baal, and all manner of witchcraft arose to prevent the worship of the one true God in Jersualem and the nations. However, men like Nehemiah received authority from heaven and walked in that as they completed their assignments. You have been given greater authority because of Jesus so what is yours or mine excuses?

4- Nehemiah Operated In The Opposite Spirit Than Sanballat

When the enemy comes and speaks lies, we are to counter it with the truth. That is what Nehemiah did. For instance when Sanballat told him to stop, he replied that he couldn’t because it was the “work of God.” Later when another tool of the enemy speaks lies, Nehemiah tells him he is just making it up in his head-vain imaginations.

At one point false propohets showed up to attempt to trick Nehemiah and his friends into meeting with them in the temple. Nehemiah was quick to recognize a trap. You and I must stay on our guard and be astute to the traps, ambushes and lies of the enemy. It is important we stay in the Word, prayer and in the presence of God. Otherwise we will be more prone to be trapped by the enemy and think it is God when it is not.

Remember what God has spoken through His Word and His promises to you. He is not a liar. If He tells you not to do something, then He has a better plan, and so when the enemy comes and tells you to get down off the wall and follow them you must stand and call the spirit out. Stand your ground and stay in your freedom. Do not be yoked with the enemy’s plans anymore.

5- The Joy of the Lord

Nehemiah 8:10 “Do not be grieved for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah had ample opportunity to become offended and think God had abandoned Him. So many times we lose our joy because we allow discouragement and doubt to take root. Nehemiah had read the law and the people grieved due to sorrow. But, this was a time for celebration.

We get caught up with things going on around us and forget that the Lord’s joy is truly our strength. It is still one of teh fruits of the ‘spirit’ and thus we should always be full of joy. God’s Word should cause joy unless of course we need to repent and it brings grief. But, still, that lasts only for a moment or a season.

God is in the business of restoration and we are His instruments of that. There is enough restoration that needs to take place in this world and the people of earth need to see some real, lasting joy. Nehemiah’s joy kept the workers going strong. His joy was like a beacon shing brightly so that they would not be deterred.

Do you carry that joy as a beacon or lighthouse for others, or do they always see you down and full of defeat, discouragement, and doubt? Today be free from those things and walk in the Joy of the Lord. After all, Jesus was full of joy when He went to the cross for you.

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Slaves In The Promised Land?

I know that the title of this article may open up a lot of thoughts and avenues as to my content. When we hear promised land, we immediately think of the land promised to Abraham and his descendants. Many consider The USA or similar western nations to be a type of promised land because of the many freedoms and opportunities. Likewise, others regard those nations as the opposite since there is a history of the slave trade in many western nations.

Modern slavey still exists in many forms in the world. Everything from human trafficking in sex slaves and drugs to the pornography industry and similar forms of control over people’s lives. All of these and more contribute to what I am actually discussing. Most followers of Jesus Christ are born into the Kingdom of God and enjoy the freedom that comes with that lifestyle for a season only to fall back into the old ways and become ‘slaves’ to the life-controlling mindsets the world offers, and many never grow and mature.

The Promised Land Now

Many sermons are taught regarding Christians living in the promised land now. Since the Kingdom of God is ever increasing and we can enjoy the benefits of that life now, then we are, in a sense living in the promised land now. However, we will not enjoy the full benefits until Jesus returns and establishes His kingdom here for a thousand years.

Meanwhile, we are supposed to walk in victory and freedom in the spiritual realm just as the children of Israel were supposed to in that natural. The Children of Israel were given the land promised to them through covenant with their patriarchal ancestors. They still had to fight giants and cleanse the land of their enemies. Idolatry had taken root in Israeli society before their entry into the land of Promise.

Similarly, when we are born into the Kingdom of God through salvation, we still have issues, sins, idolatry, and generational curses that we must lay at the cross and walk into more freedom. Our sins are forgiven but being a disciple of Christ means you surrender everything to Him. That is the idea of Lordship. Yet, he keeps testing us and causing us to surrender more and more areas of our lives until we are emptied.

So, we have victory just like the Children of Israel, but we also have to continuously cleanse ourselves of the old mindsets, ways, thoughts, and sins. Paul said, “I die daily.” The Hebrews had been forced out of the land and under the rulership of another kingdom. Now they had returned under Nehemiah, and when the law was read, they were reminded that their ancestors had sinned and thus they were not in charge of their own land.

Given Over To Our Own Devices

Many believers live their entire life in the kingdom no different than before they were born again. They never deal with sin issues, life-controlling issues, or how to enjoy a kingdom lifestyle. They don’t live in the authority that Christ purchased for us at the cross. They live as if they are waiting to go to heaven and then they can live like that.

When the children of Israel came out of Egypt, they were still living in a slavery mindset. They saw the miracles that God performed and how He led them for forty years. Then they came into the land and could not subdue the enemy completely.

Finally, they turned to idolatry over and over again until God had had enough. He did what He promised in Deuteronomy twenty-eight when He told them if they bowed and worshipped other gods then they would go to a foreign land and others would rule their land. Essentially they would be ‘slaves in the promised land.’

In Romans chapter one Paul explains that those who serve the creation and not the creator were given over to their own devices. That means that we live our lives our way and not the way God has planned for us. Instead of the surrendered life, we live the kingdom life as we see fit or feels good to us. Thus, we are no different than the Children of Israel or the pagan nations.

In some regards, we are worse since we have been taught the Good News, but we choose to live the same we have year after year. If we are not growing closer to Jesus every day, we are backsliding. Choosing to do things our way instead of surrendering everything to God is idolatry and will be dealt with like the Children of Israel.

The difference is that we have the Holy Spirit telling us daily to come and have fellowship with Him and get in the word. We have no excuse to be walking around with a worldly mindset, which is equivalent to a slave mindset. It is just like the Children of Israel who saw signs and wonders from Heaven yet chose to follow the world’s ways or worse, their own ways.

Come Out And Be Free

But, there is hope. God is merciful and full of lovingkindness, slow to anger, and righteous. He is quick to forgive us. All we have to do is pray and surrender. It is that simple. Dying daily means that we shed the old, carnal nature and come out of agreement with things like pride, rebellion, fear, anger, idolatry, and many other areas that seek to control our every thought and deed.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Why do you want to taste the freedom that Christ purchased for you only to turn back and take on a yoke of slavery? Christ came to set us free forever. That freedom starts when you are born into the Kingdom of God and continues forever. You can live in the promised land of Heaven now. You don’t have to go backward or live in the promised land as a slave. Surrender to Jesus as Lord and enjoy life in the kingdom now.

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Five Things You Need To Know

About Inventions of The Mind

We all have our own personal thoughts and that is part of what makes us unique. God created man with free will and the ability to think and choose for Himself. That is the beauty of the gospel of the kingdom. It is His love for us and His desire for us to choose to love, obey and follow Him alone.

But we live in a fallen world and we are constantly bombarded with competing thoughts and choices we must make. There is the world’s way and God’s way. Then there is our way which is no good unless it is surrendered to God’s way, which is the Kingdom of God way. Often what we call the enemy is our own thoughts. Likewise what many liken to the voice of God or the Holy Spirit told me this or that is nothing more than our own thoughts.

Inventions of the Mind

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to ‘take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

We destroy arguments, and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ, ESV.

As I mentioned earlier, God has created each person to think for themselves, but unfortunately, our minds are of this world and need renewing. (See Romans 12:2) Our minds need to come out of the world’s way of thinking and develop a kingdom mindset. This process starts when we are born again and continues after we have been saved.

Because our minds are being renewed daily, there is a three-way battle for supremacy. Really it is a two-way battle because we are going to submit our thoughts to the world or the kingdom of God. Nevertheless, we deal with something called vain imaginations or, as Nehemiah puts it, ‘inventions of the mind.’

Inventions of the mind are those thoughts where we just make stuff up. It has no substance or is not rooted in facts but may be solely lies, conjecture and hearsay. Thus it serves no good purpose, and I have assembled five facts about this from Nehemiah chapter 6.

Core Verse Nehemiah 6:8 Then I sent a message to him saying, “Nothing like these things that you are saying has been done, but you are inventing them in your own mind.” NASB

Other translations say ‘making it up out of your head’ NIV ESV, ‘feigning out of your heart,’ KJV and NLT say just making it all up.

1- Inventions of the Mind are Made Up In Our Hearts

Well, that is obvious, but it exposes what is in our hearts. We make up stuff for a variety of reasons: to save our reputation, keep us out of trouble, to bring misery on others, to be included, and because we are hurting, to name a few.

Whatever the reason, it is still wrong and is doing it the way of the world. In Nehemiah’s story, Sanballat and his cronies had tried everything possible to stop the work from being completed with no success. So they started telling lies and inventing false information regarding Nehemiah and his friends to stop them.

Their lies were unfounded and had no basis since they were granted permission first by God and secondly by the king of Persia, who had authority. So when someone starts gossiping or lying, we need to steer clear and pray for wisdom. Likewise, we need to avoid being used by the enemy in making up stuff in our hearts.

2- Inventions of The Mind Are Meant to Frighten You

Whenever people start speaking out untruths against you, it is meant to frighten you to be unsuccessful in your assignment. Fear is an excellent tool of the enemy, and we know that words are powerful. If we let them, they hurt and sting us to the core of our identity.

We must recognize the enemy’s tactics and let the words roll off like water off the back of a duck. Otherwise, they will take root, and fear will grow into a stronghold. Also, we can fall into the trap of vain imaginations. That is how the work of the enemy grows. One person makes up stuff against someone, and they respond with vain imaginations, and lies, and try to use worldly weapons.

3- Inventions of The Mind Discourage You

When people talk about us and make up stuff and tell lies, it hurts and demoralizes us. As I wrote previously, the spirit of Sanballat is an intimidating spirit seeking to stop us, and discouragement is one of the enemy’s main tools to accomplish this goal. If enough lies and made-up stuff is spread, we get tired and weary of dealing with it.

All of this is a form of witchcraft. So we need to be careful not to be the one causing discouragement. We are meant to bless and build up. Yet, if we are around people constantly tearing us down and speaking against us, then it may be time to break off relationships. Either way, don’t fall into the trap of discouragement. They are just words.

4- Inventions of The Mind Try to Stop and Destroy You

Whatever your Kingdom assignment is, it is essential to Jesus, and you need to complete it. Therefore you are a threat to the Kingdom of darkness, and Satan’s goal is to stop and destroy you at all cost. He will use others to stop you and will use you to prevent others if you let him.

We must recognize the enemy’s work and come out of agreement with it. Instead, people will tell you anything to pull you off of your assignment. Worse, we usually don’t realize we are being used to hinder God’s work until it’s too late.

5- Must Be Recognized and Overcome

Our core text is Nehemiah’s answer to the enemy’s accusations. Nehemiah walked his assignment out in humility and boldness. That is our goal in walking out our kingdom lifestyle. Walk humbly before God with holy boldness. When accusations start to come our way, we must stay humble and respond with a soft answer. That will turn away wrath and heap coals on the heads of our enemies.

Likewise, we must take our thoughts captive and put them under the cross. Even if we know something to be true, or we have fresh revelation from God, we must be careful, as we can easily slip over into the fleshly mindset. If God reveals something, it is most likely for you to pray about and not tell others as we usually mix our minds with the mind of Christ, and so it is best to be quiet until he releases us to speak. Be a blessing.

I hope these five things will help you recognize how the enemy works by causing us to make up stuff in our heads or invent stuff in our minds. I also pray it will cause us to surrender our minds to the Lord and be used effectively and complete our assignment.

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Have You Felt Like Giving Up Lately?

If you venture out to the store or listen to the news at all it opens up a wide array of opportunities to become depressed, discouraged, and just feel like giving up. With Cancel Culture and the full-blown assault on Biblical values, it is enough to cause one to become discouraged and adopt a defeatist mindset.

It is really nothing new. It is the same tactics that have been deployed for ages. The methods have changed since we live in a modern, digital world, but the enemy’s end goal is the same– your discouragement and destruction.

Covid -19 and all that surrounds it is meant to do just that. Many are using it as an opportunity to silence voices that oppose them and their agendas. Likewise, the people of God haven’t helped their cause due to their silence and lack of action in large numbers. Also, the lack of unity in the Church has allowed the voices of intimidation to flourish. We all know we live in perilous times, but we also know that the people of God cannot quit and will not be silenced.

Enter Sanballat The Intimidator

It doesn’t take a prophet or rocket scientist to see that the voices of intimidation are sounding off in every sphere of society. Government mandates, social media manipulation, and broken supply chains are just some of the many areas our minds are being bombarded with. Everybody has their opinion and interpretation of the latest Covid recommendations and that is part of the plan of the enemy to further divide the people.

When Nehemiah was given permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall surrounding the area we now call the ‘Old City’, he and his team were met with a daunting opposition in the persons of Sanballat and Tobiah.

If you are attempting anything for the Kingdom of God, then you will undoubtedly face opposition. Just following Jesus alone is enough to elicit an attack of discouragement and demoralization against you. However, many of us have stepped in mighty ways only to meet intimidating voices telling us we missed God or it’s a waste of time.

The story of Sanballat is found in the Book of Nehemiah. It is a back and forth event where Sanballat taunts Nehemiah and the wall builders. Each time the attacks get more and more intense with threats to their physical well-being as well as reporting misinformation to the authorities back in Persia. Does any of this sound familiar? Each time Nehemiah responds with a prayer or a word deterring their efforts.

Nehemiah 2:18-19 “Then I told them that the hand of my God had been good to me, and also the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, ‘Let us rise up and build.’ So they strengthened their hands for the good work. But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite subordinate and Geshem the Arabian heard it, they laughed us to scorn and despised us and said, ‘What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king? MEV

In verse twenty Nehemiah explains that the God of heaven sent them, even though the king had provided permission. He also explains that Sanballat and his minions have no portion, right, or memorial in Jerusalem.

In chapter four, Sanballat becomes furious and mocks the workers, discouraging them to the point that they are demoralized. They overcome that only to find new threats and lies being circulated in chapter six. They are telling rumors that Nehemiah and his workers are planning to rebel. Nehemiah also encounters a false prophet named Shemaiah in chapter 6, verse 10.

Overcoming The Intimidation And Lies

Even though Nehemiah had permission to be there, he was surrounded by those working against their efforts to restore and rebuild the eternal city of Jerusalem. Yet, he was not deterred. Legally he was granted permission to do his work. But greater than any earthly king’s permission, he recognized that he served the God of heaven, and all was being orchestrated by his hand.

Nehemiah 6:16 And when all of our enemies heard of it, all the nations around were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. MEV

Nehemiah 8:10 Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. MEV

Despite everything that the enemy threw at Nehemiah, he stayed focused and completed the task joyfully. As we grow closer to the return of Jesus, the Spirit that was at work in Sanballat and Tobiah is working harder than ever. He uses lies, false prophecy, witchcraft, and manipulation to discourage us or at least pull us down from the wall.

In my recent Covid battle, there was a strong spirit of depression, fatigue and I just felt like quitting. Some might call it Jezebel, but whatever you call it, I felt lonely, discouraged, and I said, ‘what is the point?’I was hospitalized for twelve days, sent home on oxygen with no income, medical bills, and unable to write or do anything.

But like Nehemiah, I found confidence in the Words of Jesus. I was reminded of His promises to my family and me, and the battle is His. Even as I write, the Sanballat voice is speaking doubt and discouragement. But, I have learned to focus on God’s voice and His promises. He has never failed us. When things do not go as expected, we usually expect it to go a certain way.

Our job is to just put our hands to the trowel like Nehemiah. We need a sword in one hand to repel the enemy’s attacks. If Nehemiah had listened to Sanballat and Tobiah, perhaps rebuilding the wall would have been delayed years or even a century or two.

Regardless of what the enemy throws our way, God will still get His work done. The question is will you obey His Word, or will you climb down from the wall and throw ‘in the towel’?

We don’t pray imprecatory prayers like the Psalmist wrote because we are under the Cross. However, we pray for the Holy Spirit to convict and our enemies to come to salvation. People are not the enemy but can be used. God has set each of us on a path, and the enemy has a goal to intimidate us to the point we get discouraged and quit.

Quitting is not an option in the kingdom of God!

Luke 9:62 MEV ‘No One who puts his hand to the plow and looks back at things is fit for the kingdom of God.’

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What Kind of New Years

Resolutions Should We Make?

Every Year millions of people all over the globe will make ‘resolutions’ that, while well-intentioned, are either impossible to achieve or they really have no intention of keeping. Often we make resolutions just for show, as if to say, ‘hey, I am making a change.’

Personally, I haven’t made any such resolutions in many years. My primary purpose is that what I would declare as a New Year’s resolution was already a goal I was working on. However, after a few weeks or months, I realized that I had quickly failed at meeting my goals or circumstances that kept me from achieving those goals.

Why Do We Make New Year Resolutions?

Like so many things we do, especially in the West, we forget why we do things. Resolutions come and go, and often we just do it because it is the in thing, or that’s what everybody else does. It is not wrong to set new goals, establish better boundaries, or just make some changes.

The coming of a new year is a time to reflect and look back at the past season and look forward to the new. But, unfortunately, we often get caught up in yesterday’s failures and have remorse that we didn’t do better and assure everyone that this next year “I” can and will do better.

So What Is The Problem?

The problem with the vast majority of resolutions is that we make unrealistic goals, or they are born out of selfish pride. We don’t seek the counsel of the Lord on these matters. We know all year that we need to make dietary changes or exercise more, and we use the ‘new year’ as a crutch to prolong the obvious.

Often we set goals with our spouse, family, or close friends and it becomes more of a competition. Sometimes that is alright, but it can result in it severed relationships. Nevertheless setting goals and having someone help keep us accountable is in itself a noble thing.

How Should We Approach Resolutions?

Like any goal that we set the road is paved with challenges and obstacles meant to deter us from achieving our goals. The whole idea is to make some sort of change. If you are like me you don’t like change. But, some change is necessary.

No resolution, goal, or such lofty aspiration is achievable without help. The world talks about self-determination, perseverance, and pressing through to achieve those goals. But without the Holy Spirit and His guidance, it becomes idolatry.

It is ok to say I made it, but unless we acknowledge God’s guidance then it is all on us. Most people who obtain their goals usually take all or most of the credit.

So, our approach should be first to ask the Holy Spirit to help us make the right resolution or goal. They must be realistic. Secondly, ask Holy Spirit to give us a game plan to achieve each goal. Don’t set too many new goals to work on at once either.

Start out small and take practical steps, praying and obeying the Lord all along the way. This is the time when we move forward that it should be Spirit-led.

Our Primary Resolution

Our first and really only resolution should be to obey and keep the first commandment first. “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul, body, and really all of your being.

We should obey Acts 3:19 before we do anything in any new season. As Peter said, “Repent, then, and turn to God, that your sins may be wiped out, and that there may be seasons of refreshing.” (NIV) What better time to ‘wipe the slate clean’ and start a new year fresh with the Lord. That should be our goal for each and every day.

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 ESV

Our daily resolution then is to seek Him and His Kingdom first. May the Lord Bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you and your family every day this year.

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Chanukah: A Look At Freedom From Oppression and Tyranny

The eight days of Chanukah have just concluded, but it’s not too late to reflect on the events around this holiday. You may not be familiar with this ‘Jewish Holiday’ and the events surrounding its inception or how it is connected with Jesus and His followers. It is not one of the seven commanded feasts outlined in the Torah, so how is it that Jews are celebrating it for eight days?

We find mention in John 10:22-23 that Jesus was walking in the temple, in winter, and celebrating the Feast of Dedication, as Chanukah is known. It is also known as the feast of lights. The events occurred in 166 BCE in Jerusalem. The Seleucid (Greek) ruler Antiochus Epiphanes forced many changes in Torah observance among the Jews. He suppressed the worship of YHWH and did away with temple worship and sacrifices to YHWH in exchange for sacrifice and worship of Zeus or other Greek divinity.

During this time of tyranny, many Jews had sought reform while many remained faithful to the Word of God. Of those who obeyed the Teachings of Moses were a family called the Maccabees. They sought to worship YHWH as was prescribed, and since that was hindered by an oppressive government, they rose up and rebelled against this oppressive regime.

The temple is lit by a seven-branched menorah fueled with olive oil. The story tells that there was only enough oil for one day, and yet the menorah remained lit for eight days until fresh oil could be procured. The message is Jesus is the light, and as His disciples, we are carriers of that light wherever we go. We are to bring it into the darkness all around us. Eight means new beginnings, and it indeed was a new beginning.

The Maccabean revolt lasted a couple of years, and in it, Judas Maccabees and his followers were able to take back Judea and tear down the altar of Zeus. Previously Antiochus is supposed to have sacrificed a pig in the temple, which would fly in the face of any Jew and YHWH. That would be almost the ultimate desecration of the temple and altar. I say almost because it is only a prelude to the coming Antichrist and his plans.

In Matthew 24:15, Jesus refers to Daniel 11:31 when He mentions the abomination of desolation and the abolishing of the daily sacrifice. This occurred under Antiochus IV but is only a prelude to things to come. If it was fully fulfilled before Jesus, then why is He speaking of it as an end of the age event?

Are All Governments Instituted By God?

In Romans 13, Paul writes to the church in Rome that was being persecuted by the likes of Nero. He explains that governments are servants and ministers for God for good. Therefore, we are not to fear the government and its leaders. They are supposed to be for us and not against us. These people were facing severe persecution.

Paul is not condoning the evils that kingdoms and governments carry out. God established government for our protection and welfare, but wicked people have perverted that and brought oppression, tyranny, and injustice. In some nations, governments change almost daily. Nevertheless, there are legitimate governments and leaders God places over a people.

Proverbs 21:1 tells us that the heart of the king is in God’s hands. We pray for God to bring about change in a situation, especially where it is counter to His Word and the values of the kingdom. We need governments to pass laws that help people and not hinder them. Paul tells us to obey the government, but there is an exception.

Freedom From Tyranny

In the USA, we have seen many good things do for the people, as well as some that shifted the oppression from one group to another. Since the beginning of human history, there has always been an individual or a group seeking to control those placed under their leadership. Likewise, there have always been those who sought to serve and help the people.

The history of the United States has been a checkered one, to say the least. Slavery, intolerance and oppression of Native Americans, and extended poverty among immigrants. Some of the worst living conditions occurred among immigrants working in big cities in poor working conditions and little pay. African Americans continued to struggle long after freedom from slavery, and the struggle for them and other international groups continues.

Many argue that governments don’t exist to feed the poor, provide housing and other basic life necessities. The Church has long failed to minister to the poor, needy and down and out resulting in many moving for political means to fix the problems that have been around for thousands of years. Oppression and Tyrannical forms of government will continue and worsen as we anticipate the coming of the Lord Jesus.

Moving Toward The Man Of Lawlessness

There is a point where one must ‘disobey’ government rules and regulations. That comes when those laws run counter to the Word of God and His commands. Telling people they can’t gather for worship, even in homes is the primary example. We hear about this in China and similar areas but we don’t think of it as a Western thing.

Yet, in Canada, UK, and other Western nations people are being arrested for gathering to worship, preaching in the streets and similar freedom of religion expressions. But non-Christians do not suffer the same fate in these areas. More and more in the US we are seeing persecution of Christianity take place. We can’t be passive any longer.

While we don’t take up arms as believers like the Maccabees we must let our voice be heard and likewise take a stand and say thus far and no more. The persecution has extended to Social Media, and we often find Christians pitted against one another.

All of this is preparing the way for the Man of Lawlessness of AntiChrist. We see cities being destroyed and burned without anyone taking a stand to stop it in those cities and if someone does they are considered a traitor. Burning everything down is not the answer. Yet, eventually the Man of lawlessness will step up and tell us that he has all the answers. In other words he will let lwalessness abound so he can provide the solution.

Preparing The KIngdoms For The King

While many disciples are preparing for the return of Jesus to rule and reign on the earth, many leaders, government, religious, and others are preparing for the AntiChrist. There have been many tyrants throughout the ages who tried to rule through oppression. Names like Nimrod, Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Caligula, Nebuchadnezzar, and Nero remind us of how one man can be used to control and oppress, murder, and control so many people.

The final attempt will be much like what many have done in the past but on a global scale. What Antiochus did in the temple will be minuscule compared to the Man of lawlessness requiring worship of him from a central place like Jerusalem.

After all, Jerusalem is God’s eternal capital, so why wouldn’t he rule from there if he claims to be God or the Messiah? But, it will be short-lived just like all of his predecessors. Jesus will return and set up His capital in Jerusalem and the nations will come and worship Him there.

The Kingdoms of this world will be His. So this holiday season remember that we have victory over the Anti Christ and that spirit through Christ. We do not accomplish it with swords like the Maccabees did but rather knowing that Christ will win in the end and we will rule and reign with Him.

Enjoy Life In The Kingdom

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Five Ways To Avoid Identity Theft

Recognizing and Maintaining Your Identity In Christ

Amid the political, cultural, social, and religious wars that seem to be endless, there is one thing people forget about. Identity theft is at an all-time high, and with a digital economy and so much on social media, it’s no wonder that identity thieves are on the rise.

However, I am talking about the oldest form of identity theft known to us. This one goes back to the garden of Eden and is Satan’s number one tool in deceiving every person of their true identity. You may have had your social security number compromised, your bank account hacked, or even your IRS account hacked and used.

But that pales in comparison to losing your identity as a Child of God, heir, and co-heir with Jesus, priest to God, and chosen to rule and reign with Christ. The vast majority of believers don’t even understand or identify with who they are in Christ. Worse, those not yet born into the kingdom do not know their true identity. Below I will discuss five practical ways to avoid identity theft by Satan and his minions.

Don’t Get Offended

Satan’s number one tool is the bait of offense. He used that with Eve when he said, “Did God really say that?” This placed doubt in Eve’s mind, and since she only had Adam’s word as to what God actually said, she became offended at God and her husband. Imagine not believing your spouse or close family member and taking up an offense, and deliberately disobeying the command of God.

That is exactly what we do when God gives us a command, and then when someone questions what we are doing, or ridicules us, we doubt, second guess what we heard, and then disobey and birth Ishamel. We then blame God when everything goes wrong.

Ephesians 2:10~ “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Adam and Eve were created by the hand of Yhwh. You say ‘how can ‘they be in Christ if came three thousand years later?’ John 1:1 tells us, ‘in the beginning, was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ That is Jesus.

Colossians 1:16 ‘by Him all things were created. So the Son played a role with creation as the Father and Spirit did, together in unison. When we blame God, we blame the creator. We must stand our ground when the deceiver comes when His lies. In the hour we live in, we are bombarded with news and words that sound good, but they are not the Word of God. Listening to any voice other than the voice of God leads us astray, and ultimately we get offended.

We get offended at God or someone who offends us, and that sets up a whole mess. When we are offended, we set the offense as an idol and focus on it and replay it repeatedly. This is a result of taking our eyes and ears off of Jesus. The only way to avoid losing our identity to an offense or offender is to give that offense to Jesus, place it under the blood, and worship. Crucify the flesh.

Galatians 5:13

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love, serve one another.

Leviticus 19:18

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

Realizing that we are in this flesh and that it is easy to slip over and be offended, we need to be quick to do the next step on our list.

Be Quick To Forgive

Unforgiveness can destroy relationships, families, churches, workplaces, governments, and individuals. Unforgiveness can lead to sickness, bitterness, and broken lives. Ultimately, when you choose not to forgive an offender, then you are saying what Jesus did on the cross is not good enough for them. You put them in bondage to you, and it is idolatry.

Idolatry has many aspects and is more commonplace than we realize. Placing the offense is putting it above your relationship with Christ. It pulls you out of being a child of God. Kingdom people are quick to forgive because they understand the power of forgiveness. It goes with our identity.

Matthew 6:15, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. ESV

Not forgiving also places you as an enemy of God. He is a God who loves reconciliation and forgiveness, after all, He sent Jesus to reconcile us to the Father. We must stay reconciled, so choosing to live a lifestyle of forgiveness is the path to maintaining the proper fellowship with God.

Staying In The Word: Discover Your Identity

Knowing who you really are is the ultimate key to avoiding identity theft of identity crisis. Study the Word to see what it says about who you are. We are born into a fallen world and we are born into the Kingdom of God and then we come into the fullness of who we are. But we have to walk it out.

Galatians 2:20 “ I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

The list of verses are endless, describing who we were created to be and who we are. The cross is the stopping place that transforms us from the old, dead man or woman to the person filled with life, joy, and confidence in their calling as a Child of God, a priest, and one destined to rule and reign with Christ. Don’t listen to anything that tells you differently. It’s an identity thief.

Unceasing Prayer

Prayer is our lifeline with the throne of God. It is part of how we were created to be in joyous fellowship. Jesus spent hours alone in prayer with the Father. Paul said to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all things. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

God seeks for people to share His heart with in prayer and intercession. We often hear people say, ‘intercession is for a select few.’ That is like saying evangelism or any other ministry is just for a select group. We are called to personal prayer and devotion. Without it, we cannot mature and develop as people of God.

Prayer also increases our ability to hear the voice of God and brings life, joy, and peace. So, when the enemy comes with deception or an opportunity to be offended, we recognize it and take authority over it. That is the mind of Christ, a mind that seeks to kive in the word, be unoffendable, forgive and pray for those who persecute us or offend us.

Consider Job and his three friends. Job’s friend’s advice may have been sound and reasonable, but it was misapplied. No one really understood what was going on until Elihu showed up. In the end, God told the three friends that Job would pray for them. So Jesus told us in the Sermon On The Mount to pray for those who despise us and pray for our enemies.

Worship The Lord At All Times

What we place the highest value on or who we spend our time with says a lot about what or who we worship. Worship involves surrender. People like Mary of Bethany demonstrate extravagant worship. Anna at the temple is another one that lived a life of worship, surrendered to the King.

We were made to worship God. If we choose to become offended, live in unforgiveness, or identify with any sin or life-controlling issue in our lives as believers, then we have lost our identity. By choosing to focus on things of this world, it replaces our true place of worship. We are hindered in our identity as a worshipper.

Learn to worship Him continuously. Choose not to fall from a place of worshipping before the throne at all times. It is a choice. It is who we are.

Kingdom people should know who they are and live in that place daily. We should not allow Satan, a person, or anything to keep us from walking in our identity in Christ. Live loved. Live forgiven, and forgive quickly. Stay in the Word and in prayer. Blessings

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Does Anyone Know What Time It Is?

To have to ask that question means something is missing or there is a misunderstanding. I have a clock, and every device I own has a digital clock that is working fine. So exactly what am I referring to when I ask the above question? Looking around the world, especially in the United States, answering that question would depend on who you ask.

The Western Church has undoubtedly lost the urgency of the hour. So few are praying for the nation’s direction, and few are teaching and preaching the real gospel. Our country is more divided along political, racial, religious, and many other lines. We have pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine. Our country’s southern border is out of control, and the only time we hear from our leaders is to promote personal agendas.

Many are talking of the ‘mark of the beast,’ one-world government, and so on. Fear abounds like never before, and the Church of Jesus is not exempt. Many who call themselves disciples of Christ bear no fruit and often look and act just like those who are not followers of Christ. Despite all of the changes with Covid-19, lawlessness, famine, and so forth, we seem to think things will eventually return to the way they were.

Many are still amassing their fortunes, and attempting get rich schemes, preying on the poor. Then there are those calling evil good and good evil. No one is seeking the Lord! Few are crying out for corporate and national repentance. The selfishness continues to abound as long as we can get food, clothing and we are still in our warm dwelling. We seem to act oblivious to what is going on all around us.

It’s Not A Time For This!

Before I tell you what time it is, let me tell you what time it is not. We all have basic needs in this life. We work and serve, and God provides. There is nothing wrong with having things we can enjoy so long as they aren’t controlling us. But, let’s look at the story in 2 Kings 5:15-27. Here we find the story of the Syrian general Naaman who leprosy. He went to Israel to seek healing. But, he was upset because the prophet, Elisha, didn’t come out to meet him, and worse, he told him to wash in the Jordan River.

Nevertheless, Naaman obeyed and was completely healed. In return, as a show of appreciation, Naaman asked Elisha what he could do for him.

2 Kings 5:16 “as the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will take nothing.” Naaman urged Elisha to take something, some clothes or gold, anything, but Elisha refused. The gospel is free, but those who preach it have needs. They are provided for by the hand of God through various means. Elisha was a faithful servant who would not accept worldly possessions for what the Lord had accomplished.

Gehazi’s Greed

But the prophet’s servant had a problem with Elisha not receiving from Naaman. So he devised a scheme whereby he would get something for himself. Gehazi runs after Naaman and explains that two men of the sons of the prophets showed up and needed a change of clothes and some silver.

After depositing the goods in the house, he went before Elisha, who already knew what had happened. 2 Kings 15:25 And Elisha said to him, ‘where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” NASB

2 Kings 15:26 Then he said to him, “Did not my heart go with you when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Is it a time to receive money and to receive clothes and olive groves and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants?”

Elisha tells Gehazi that the leprosy of Naaman would cling to him, which it did before he left Elisha’s sight. This story is packed with so much for us to glean. But, my focus is the prophet’s statement regarding a time to receive stuff. Obviously, it is not a time for those things. Elisha had already refused Naamans offer, and if the sons of prophets had need, Elisha would have accepted something.

There are times to receive wealth and goods. God provides our needs through the jobs we work, other people we encounter, or supernatural means. My point here is we need to discern the time we are in and know we need to spend our every hour wisely doing what the Lord has called us to.

Time To Seek The Lord!

If it is not a time to focus on amassing things of this world for this age, then it must be time for something else. America, and really all nations, but especially the United States, has departed from the ways of the Lord. The Covid-19 pandemic has forever changed the world. Yet, many in the body of Christ are still bound in fear, and others are being led astray by false doctrines, false Christ’s, and doctrines of demons. We also war with one another with name-calling and labels.

Instead of being divisive over vaccines, political agendas, conspiracies, and media reports, we should do what the prophets of old told Israel to do. Yes, we need to refocus. We need to obey the Lord and seek Him, not man’s wisdom or the ways of the world.

The prophet Amos reminds them that they carried pagan gods through the wilderness and even offered their children to Molech, just as we have done. Like Israel and Judah, we have become at ease.

Amos 5:1 ‘Hear this word which I take up for you as a dirge.” The prophet reminds them of their failures and many sins. Yet, he takes up a dirge or a lament. Then in verse four, He directs them, “For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel, ‘Seek Me that you may live.’”

Verse 6: “Seek the Lord that you may live, lest He break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, And it consume with none to quench it for Bethel.” NASB

Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.”

Isaiah adjures the wicked to forsake his way, unrighteous thoughts, and return to the Lord, who will have compassion on him. Repentance is a good thing that leads to righteousness.

The Lord’s mercy and compassion are new every day, but are we experiencing His compassion or His consuming fire? Are we spending more time in the Word, prayer, and personal or corporate worship? Or do we spend eight hours in front of the television, on social media, participating in worldly pleasures? I’m not legalistic, as I enjoy a good football game, movie, or time of fellowship.

This is a call to run after and seek His face. Isaiah said, seek Him while you can, meaning there will be a time where it is too late. There is coming a time where this age will end and the next begin. If you have not accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and followed Him now, then there will be no more life after you die, except the Great White Throne judgment.

Now is the time to repent and turn away from this world and age’s selfish pleasures and foolish whims. America needs revival, and it will come. But it must come to the house of God first. Now is the time to fast and pray like never before. We are losing more freedoms, and our freedom to gather and worship corporately is being threatened. Will you regress and hide? Will you be like the Church in Germany in World War II that stood by while Jews were rounded up and sent to their death.

God loves us and will show compassion, but we must turn away from our wicked ways and seek Him, now!

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Three Reasons We Should Rejoice That Jesus Is With The Father

As Christians, disciples of Christ, or believers, we should always be filled with joy and a glad heart. Why? There are many reasons, but having our names written in the Book of Life is cause enough by itself. However, we rejoice for so many reasons, including the fact that we can have fellowship with Him, and we can hear His voice.

So many Christians are living in fear or are still bound by life-controlling issues. This not only hinders their relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but limits their ability to be ready for Christ’s return and life in the age to come. Further, we often ‘obey’ but not out of a heart of love. This also blocks our joy.

John’s Posture of Joy

In John 3:29, John the beloved writes about John the Baptist when he says, “the friend of the Bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the Bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.” MEV Why did the fact that John heard the voice of the Bridegroom bring so much joy to John.

The Jews of that day understood the paradigm of the bride/bridegroom as it related to the Messiah. In ‘The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah,’ Alfred Edersheim, a Messianic believer, mentions that God was married to Israel and the tabernacle was the place of consummation. This was a cause of great joy.

Edersheim also indicates that Jesus’ appearance in John chapter 3 at the Jordan corresponded with the Messianic marriage week. There was a tradition among the Judean Jews known as the institution of the ‘friends of the bridegroom,’ and among the Galilean Jews, the ‘sons of the bridechamber.’ So John’s appearance was like the best man introducing the Bridegroom to the bride. What a great cause of joy, the gladness of heart, and rejoicing!

In John 14:28, Jesus tells His disciples that He is going to the Father. They didn’t understand and asked many questions. They wanted to know about the timing of Him establishing His kingdom and the end of the age. They also inquired as to when He would return.

But, Jesus tells them that ‘if you love me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father.’ So, I give you three reasons why they should rejoice and why we should rejoice that Jesus went to the Father.

The Return To The Father

Jesus’ return to the Father had many implications. It meant that He could send the Holy Spirit to dwell in believers. It also meant believers had a teacher, guide, and counselor. Jesus’ return means that He is interceding for us. But the most significant reason is His death on the cross. Yes, without Jesus returning to His Father, the cross and even the resurrection would be void.

Jesus loves every one of us and desires to be with us, but He loves the Father too. The day is coming when we will all be together. Meanwhile, Jesus had to ascend to heaven to cleans the heavenly temple and place His blood on the Mercy Seat. But, in accordance with marriage preparation, He is preparing a place for us.

The Greatness of The Father

The Father’s greatness is a source of joy for all believers. But, unfortunately, the Children of Israel saw the miracles, signs, and wonders but did not learn to rejoice at His greatness. Instead, they chose to murmur and complain.

I am afraid the Western church has lost the ‘fear of God’ and no longer recognizes the greatness of the Father. Instead, we treat Him like a vending machine, or worse, when He doesn’t do things as we expect, we get mad and fall out of fellowship. We sing about His Goodness but do we really understand it? If we did, we would be overflowing with joy.

Jesus understood the greatness of His Father. He did nothing without His Father. The Father and Son are so intimate that they desire that each of us have the same relationship with them as they do each other. Many of us have mastered fellowship with the Son or the Holy Spirit, but we still stand afar off from the Father.

A Confirmed Faith

One major aspect of faith is what is unseen. We believe because we don’t see it, naturally. But, after all, isn’t faith the ‘substance of things not seen.’We believe in Jesus, but we don’t see Him. Further, we take Him at His word when He says He will return. How could He return if He didn’t go back to the Father?

It all plays into the wedding theme and the friend of the Bridegroom preparing for His return. He gave us the Holy Spirit and told us to disciple the nations and prepare for His return. By pouring out the Holy Spirit, He demonstrated His desire to pour out and fill us with His Joy. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.

There is much to say about what He is preparing for each one of us. In the age to come, we will each have various responsibilities, and each one will be done with joy and out of love. But why do we need to wait? While He is preparing for us, shouldn’t we be preparing for Him and His glorious return?

Like the early disciples, we long to be with Jesus. However, we are joyful and glad that He chose to endure the cross for the joy set before Him. That joy includes a seat beside the Father, pouring out His Spirit on His people, and preparing to return for those who have prepared joyfully for His return and the establishment of His Kingdom.

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Three Reasons There Is A Labor Shortage and God’s Remedy

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a massive labor shortage in the USA and other nations. There are many reasons for this, including fear of the virus, fear of the vaccine, mandates, and other causes. However, that is not the labor shortage I am speaking of.

You have probably seen fast-food restaurants closing early, department stores, schools, government, healthcare, and other areas running into many problems due to these work-related issues. Of course, those situations will eventually be alleviated. But there is on labor shortage that has been ongoing for at least two thousand years.

The Laborers Are Few

Matthew 9:37-38 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest that He will send out laborers into His harvest.” MEV

Jesus tells His disciples to ask the Lord of the Harvest, the Father, to send laborers. While we were driving to visit family this past weekend, I came upon miles and miles of white cotton fields, ready to be harvested. Soon the farmers will fire up harvesting equipment and the harvest will be reaped.

Of course, it requires effort on everyone’s part. Then there is the need to fuel the equipment. In the end, the cotton is taken to a gin, where it is separated from the seed and processed.

As I looked at the white fields, waiting to be harvested, I was reminded of Jesus’ words in John 4:35, “ Do you not say, ‘there are yet four months, and then comes the harvest? Listen! I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for the harvest.’

Why The Laborers Aren’t Laboring In God’s Field

There are numerous reasons why we don’t work in the Lord’s field. First, the harvest is the lost, those without the knowledge of Jesus as Lord. They are the ones who have never heard the good news. They are also the hard-hearted who have resisted the gospel. They are without Christ, without salvation, and therefore have no hope. Yet, the time is never more urgent for their salvation. The field is truly white with the harvest of souls. But why aren’t we reaching them?

It’s The Pastor, Evangelist, or Missionary’s Job!

Wrong! No scripture says it is only the work of the five-fold ascension gifted ministers from Ephesians 4:11. It is not just the job of people who move to foreign lands and live among a least-reached people group.

The job of Pastors, Evangelists, teachers, and other like ministers is to equip every believer to do the work of ministry. Yes, you are a minister. If you have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, Kingdom, you are a minister of reconciliation to bring others into the Kingdom of God. Jesus sent out twelve to the nations. There were others among His group. They were already sharing their faith long before He was crucified.

The mission of the twelve was to make disciples of nations, and as such, they were fulfilling Israel’s call to be a light to the nations. Later, Paul went to the Gentiles and raised up churches, but he had helpers and established elders in every city. The work quickly spread because the few spread out, and those that they reached, in turn, reached others. They didn’t keep silent. So what is our problem?

Too Busy With Our Own Needs

Often we become inundated with doing life, and as we go about our daily business, we fail to engage people. We are so wrapped up in our own needs that we miss opportunities when they present themselves in front of us.

We fail to pray for the person at Wal-Mart, or even our co-workers. Often we don’t share our faith because we are embarrassed or fearful. We want to be accepted, after all, we need our job. We put our job above God and His commands. We forget who our provider is. So many do not speak out against the evils of the day.

Complacency and Lack of Concern

When we are first born into the Kingdom, we are fully alive and in love with Jesus. We are eager to share the gospel. But soon, the cares of life weigh on us to the point that we don’t pray for the lost. We are not burdened that people are dying with no hope. They die without Jesus and will meet their doom.

Our lack of concern causes us to turn a blind eye to the needs around us. The other thing we hear is people say, “let someone else tell them.” We leave it up to someone else to go, and yet God may have chosen us to go to the streets of some big city here in the USA.

It Is Not Good News If It Doesn’t Reach Them In Time!

Pauls Answer

1 Corinthians 9:16 MEV “Yes, woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel!’

In Romans 15:20, Paul tells the reader that he sought to go where no one has gone so that he would not build upon another man’s foundation. He was compelled to go. He was under an obligation.

Why should we who have been so blessed keep this gospel for ourselves? Paul even went so far as to say that he had ‘fully’ preached the gospel in all the places where he was sent. The spirit led him, and even when he suffered, was jailed and stoned, he did not stop. We quit if someone gets offended at us just for standing up for the gospel.

No matter what happened, or who opposed him, Paul was steadfast,and he drew strength from the Lord. We must yield to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and share our faith. Likewise, there are those of you who God has singled out to go to the least-reached people and bring the gospel. After all, they can not hear without a preacher, and they cannot preach if they are not sent. (Romans 10:14)

IT Must Be Finished

Samuel Whitfield has written an excellent book entitled “It Must Be Finished.” There is no other way to put it. Jesus is not coming back until every person on the planet has heard the gospel at least once.

Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and the end the end will come.” MEV

Many believe Jesus could come at any moment, but that is after Jerusalem calls Him to come back, Matthew 23:39, and the gospel is preached to every tribe, ethnos, nation, people group, and language as a witness. So what are we waiting for?

Already persecution is at an all-time high. Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors minister to the persecuted church in some of the most challenging places for the gospel on the earth, while we in the west continue to enjoy our freedom to worship. However, that is slowly dwindling away. The Church in Canada is experiencing unprecedented persecution, and street preachers are being arrested, having broken no law.

It is time to be counted as the laborers. Will you answer the call. You may not can go to the nations, but you can pray and sow for those who do go. Sadly many return broken due to lack of proper prayer and financial support. But you and I have a role here and in the nations. It must be finished. Meanwhile, pray for the laborers that have answered the call.

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Four Applications of The Feast of Tabernacles: Now & Forever

The celebration of the final feast on the Hebrew calendar is known as the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot, or Feast of Booths. It began at sundown on September 20 and will last one week until sunset on September 27. It commemorates the years that the Children of Israel spent in the desert on their way to the promised land. During this time, God protected them, and they lived in booths.

Leviticus 23:33-36 “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel, saying: The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. On the first day shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no regular work. For seven days you shall offer food offerings made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day it shall be a holy convocation to you, and you shall offer a food offering to the Lord. It is a solemn assembly and you shall do no regular work.” MEV

Leviticus 23:39-43 “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall keep a fest to the Lord for seven days. On the first day is a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. You shall take on the first day branches from majestic trees– branches of palms trees, branches of leafy trees, and willows from a brook and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native children of Israel shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” MEV

There is a lot to unpack in these verses. First, the children of Israel lived in temporary shelters that God provided after leaving Egypt. Second, Sukkot celebrates the fact that they were between the Promised land and Egypt. It also mentions it taking place after the gathering of the harvest. Further, it is a joyous celebration with lots of food and branches offered to the Lord. Finally, it is a feast with the Lord.

It goes without saying that the Feast of Tabernacles is the most joyous celebration of the seven feasts. We find the celebration of this feast mentioned in several places, namely 2 Chronicles 8:13, 1 Kings 8:2, 2 Chronicles 31:3, Ezra 3:4. Zechariah 14 reminds us that the nations will be going to Jerusalem to celebrate the feasts.

I used to wonder why and how that would be possible? There have to be nations and an Israel in order to fulfill that prophecy. I believe that will be fully fulfilled in the following age or the Millennial Kingdom. Nevertheless, the Feast of Tabernacles has many prophetic applications for Jew and Goyim (Gentiles) now and for the future. Here are four that remind us to celebrate every day with the Lord.

From Wilderness To Promised Land

One of my mandates is to prepare people for Christ’s return, and that entails various components. First, I want us to see our lives here on the earth as it is now as living in a wilderness. The wilderness is not such a bad place if we learn to embrace the life that God calls us to live. The wilderness is the place of trial, tribulation, and ultimately it represents surrender.

We tend to speak of the wilderness in negative terms. However, John the Baptist lived most of his life there, as did many others we are unaware of. That is the place of encounter. Consider Moses and the burning bush. Elijah sat by a brook and waited for his next assignment. The wilderness was also the place of trial and testing for our Lord Jesus.

We speak of the wilderness in a negative light, and we are always trying to get out. Our seasons free from the wilderness seem to be short-lived, though. Could it be that we need to continually go through these seasons to be fully prepared and equipped for our Lord’s return? After all, the earth became a wilderness when Adam lost dominion. However, that will change at our Lord’s return and we must be ready to follow Him as the earth falls under the control of The King, Jesus.

Ingathering of the Harvest

Moses mentioned the Feast of Tabernacles following the harvest. It was important that the celebration could only commence once the harvest was fully gathered, and then they could rest. This reminds us that at Pentecost the harvesters were filled with the Holy Spirit. But, the time will come when we will not be working in that vein anymore.

Consider John’s words in Revelation 14:15, “Then another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap. The time has come for You to reap,for the harvest of the earth is ripe. ‘” MEV

There is coming a day of reaping or gathering of the harvest. Jesus told us to pray for laborers because the harvest is plentiful, but there are few laborers. (Matthew 9:37, Luke 10:2). The prophet Yoel (Joel) spoke of a great harvest after a tremendous outpouring of The Holy Spirit in Joel 2:28. It’s past time for the Spirit to be poured out without measure so that when the angels reap there is a great, great harvest!

God Tabernacling With Man

God’s original plan was to fellowship and tabernacle with Adam and all humanity that would follow. But, unfortunately, that was lost, and ever since, God has established patterns and protocols to get us back to that place of fellowship.

The tabernacle in the wilderness was a temporary booth like those the people lived in. Solomon’s temple was a temporary structure, just as the second temple and Herod’s improvements were. These would give way to when Messiah will establish His throne in Jerusalem, and the nations will worship. This, however, is a prelude to the age beyond where the New Jerusalem will come down, and Father and Son will dwell with humanity forever.

When God came in the flesh, we see the Word dwelling among men. Later God chose to fill everyone that confessed Jesus as Lord and repented and turned away from the old life with His Holy Spirit. What other God has chosen to live among all of His disciples? That is reason enough to rejoice and celebrate!

Joyous Celebration

Tabernacles is the most festive of all the feasts, and it points to when we will celebrate with the Lamb and the Father forever. One of the great feasts mentioned in the Bible is the Marriage Supper of The Lamb in Revelation 19:7-10. Now, you have to be invited to attend. These are the elect or chosen of the Lord. He chose you before you chose Him.

The one’s not invited are the ones who refused to follow the Lamb here. They declined the invitation by not accepting Jesus as their Saviour, King, and Lord. This is the wedding of eternity. You don’t want to miss this celebration. I believe it will be ongoing for 1000 years.

Regardless of how long the wedding supper lasts, we will be rejoicing and celebrating with Jesus in Jerusalem with Israel and the nations. Then will be celebrating eternally with the Father and the Lamb for an eternity.

Hallelujah! Rejoice and be glad for the bride has made herself ready! The Ekklesia, the church, the bride, will be ready.

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Jesus Our Mercy Seat

Jews and Christians should be familiar with the term ‘Mercy Seat’. Ask anyone familiar with the word “Mercy Seat,’ and they conjure up images of the High priest entering into the Holy of Holies every year in a supernatural manner. We know that he had a sacrifice in one hand and incense in the other, and so supernaturally, the thick veil that separated the Holy place from the Holy of Holies was lifted so that he could enter.

Once behind the veil, the High priest placed the atoning sacrifice on the mercy seat, and the Glory of God would descend and consume the offering. The room would be lit entirely with the brilliant, radiating beauty of God almighty. The shekinah kabod would fill the whole room.

The people on the outside could see this brilliance and would be on their knees at the incredible presence of God. The High priest remained in God’s presence until it lifted. Unfortunately, this process had to be repeated year after year. The only way people had access to God’s glorious presence was through this high priest. We now have a High Priest in Jesus who has provided us continual access to the Father through Him.

The Mercy Seat

The Mercy Seat was the lid on the ark of the covenant that was surrounded by two angels facing each other. One represented the Old Testament by looking forward to the New Covenant, while the other looked back at the Old to remind us where we have been or where we have come.

The Mercy Seat was the place where the priest laid the sacrifice, and God would descend and rest. It was His throne on the earth for that period that He rested. Then, he would meet with the High Priest here. This is where God would meet with the High priest to get a ‘word’ for the people for the coming year.

Exodus 25:17-22

“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide. You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends.

The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark, you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel. (NIV)

Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Mercy-Seat

Many other verses discuss and develop the Mercy Seat: Leviticus 16:2, 14-15; Exodus 30:6, Numbers 7:89, Exodus 26:34. This was the holiest piece of furniture in the tabernacle/temple. The Philistines once captured it due to the Israelites treating the token of God’s presence as a trivial piece of ordinary furniture. It was tantamount to idolatry since the ark itself is not God’s presence.

Later, David had the ark moved to Jerusalem after no one sought it for thirty years under Saul. They didn’t follow protocol and carried it on an ox cart. This resulted in one man’s death and another, Obed Edom, being immensely blessed.

Later, when the Babylonians surrounded Jerusalem, the ark was moved and hidden to prevent it from falling into pagan hands. The ark that Moses had built has been lost ever since. This means that there was no ark in the second temple, signifying a prophetic shift pointing to the coming of the Messiah.

The Mercy Seat In The New Covenant

I mentioned in the title that Jesus was our Mercy Seat. But first, I want to see how this was developed. The cross was the place of sacrifice. The temple veil was rent in Jerusalem at the moment Jesus died. Jesus was man and God hanging on a wooden cross. He was placed there by brass nails. This fulfilled the requirements for an altar under the Old Covenant.

He was the sacrifice, and He was God. The glory of God filled Him. When the breath left His body, He descended to hell to get the keys to death, hell, and the grave. (See Ephesians 4:9, 1 Peter 3:19, Colossians 2:15). Later we see Jesus was in the tomb for three days, and then on that Sunday morning, some disciples visited the grave only to find it opened.

John 20:11

11 Now, Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.NIV

Jesus was laid on a slab of rock and laid there three days. When it came time for Him to be raised from the dead, two angels appeared. That is what Mary saw when she looked in. She was the first person to see the Mercy Seat in the New Covenant. Two angels at each end where a sacrifice had been laid. The glory of God in the flesh had been there but had conquered death. Later, Hebrews tells us that Christ cleansed the heavenly copies, meaning He cleansed the actual altar and mercy seat in heaven. (Hebrews 9:23-28)

Jesus Our Propitiation

The New Testament Uses the word propitiation in several places. 1 John 2:2, Romans 3:24-25, Hebrews 9:5.

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Propitiation

As the propitiation, He became the sacrifice. He is God and is the place where we meet God. He is the second person in the Godhead and offers access to the first person. Jesus also became the altar of incense which represents prayer. Thus, He is our High priest, intercessor, and the place where we meet God. Without Jesus, we have no access to the Father.

We need to take time and soak in what Jesus did for us and what He represents. I want you to know that there is no other sacrifice, and He paid it all. However, we are in a fallen world and in a body with a nature to sin. We have been redeemed or bought, and we belong to Christ. But we sin daily by simple things like gossip, pride, jealousy, and other things. So, we must daily confess our sins and repent, but know that we are always loved.

Unconfessed sin hinders our relationship and separates us from the full fellowship with the Godhead or the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s not legalism, but rather relationship. Be obedient but know that the price was paid, and you are covered.

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You Don’t Have To Hide Until the Day of Atonement

The Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur is one of the Fall Feasts outlined in the book of Leviticus. Jews will celebrate with fasting, prayers, reading the Torah, repentance, and forgiving others. It is a solemn day to seek the Lord. But, does the Bible teach a ‘Day of Atonement for all people of the nations.

Do We Need To Be Atoned?

Hide Our Nakedness

The idea of atonement is as old as original sin. The first time we see a need is in the garden of Eden. Shortly after Adam and Eve partake of the forbidden fruit, they realize their nakedness and seek to cover or hide it. God even asks the question, “who told you that you were naked?”

Yahweh covered their nakedness with clothes of skins. (Genesis 3:21 NIV) Notice that their nakedness was covered. So, God demanded a covering of sins. He hates it and doesn’t like to be reminded of it. From that moment on, the plan was set in motion to restore mankind to his previous state of glory.

The Blood of Bulls And Goats

The age of the law came with Moses and the Ten Commandments. The path to having the people’s sins forgiven and covered now was marked with blood from animal sacrifice. Previously the Patriarchs had offered offerings of slain animals. They burned them, and God received these offerings. Job was one of the earliest mentioned. Then, of course, Abel was the first man mentioned to offer a burnt offering.

So, Moses and his brother Aaron set up the Levitical priesthood that would be in charge of making these various offerings for the sins of the people of Israel. Notice that the need for atonement has gone from two people to everyone, but one nation is setting the path to the future Messiah.

These offerings were required annually and could never satisfy the need to atone for the many individual and national sins committed. There would have to be a better solution, and God had planned that before He created the world.

What Is Atonement?

Simply put, to atone means literally to cover or make amends. The Jewish hat men wear is called a Kippur, the same as the name of the Day, Kippur. The day of covering. The best way to describe it is to admit wrongdoing when someone robs someone and gets caught.

Admitting guilt is the first step, but then they must say they are sorry or demonstrate remorse. Remorse is not repentance, but when we sin or come out of agreement with kingdom values, we repent by coming back into agreement with Kingdom values.

But now, there must be restitution. So they may have to pay back the money, tell the victim they are sorry, and now because they broke the law, face the penalty. That is where the court orders everything from probation to prison time.

The Kingdom Of God’s Requirements

So in the Kingdom of God, when we sin or break one of the commands or statutes that Jesus gave, what is the penalty? Well, we go back to the garden and see that God told them they would die. That is not physical death but spiritual.

That is why Jesus came, and that is the Good News. But what did He do? He became the penalty for us. His death was an atoning death. Hebrews 9:5 says that He literally became the Mercy Seat or propitiation. The mercy seat was in the Holy of Holies, and the High Priest entered once per year to offer the sacrifice there.

The author of the book of Hebrews tells us in 9:12 that Christ entered the Holy Place in heaven by His own blood, not with bulls and goats. Hebrews 9:25 says that he put away sacrifice and sin for all time. It doesn’t mean that people quit sinning, but now they have a way to escape, a way for atonement for all time. Christ literally became the punishment or penalty for us.

Christ’s sacrificial death did away with the need for bulls, goats, lambs, doves, and any other sacrifice that we could offer. He also provided a way to access the Father and enable us to live the glorious life we were intended to now and forever. His blood not only covers but washes away our sins.

That Day: The Lord’s Day

Yom Kippur reminds us that Christ not only paid our penalty but gives a blessed hope for this and every age to come. The Old Testament mentions ‘That Day’ and the Day of The Lord several times. There are indications that there are different Days of The Lord.

I previously discussed the various days of judgment day. This is where the atonement kicks in. There is the judgment seat of Christ where believers will be judged and receive crowns and rewards followed by a wedding and coronation of a KIng, Jesus.

There is the judgment where Jesus separates the sheep and goat nations at the end of the age. (Matthew 25:31-46) Finally, there is the Great White Throne Judgment where all who have rejected Christ or the wicked from every age whose names are not found in the book of Life will be judged by Yahweh and cast into the lake of fire and be eternally damned. This occurs at the end of the Millennial Kingdom and will usher in the time when Heaven comes down and meets earth, and we go in and out and live eternally there. (Revelation 20-22)

If not for atonement applied now and forever, we would have no future. There would be no one to stand as our advocate, no intercessor, and on judgment day, no one to say, “your sins are forgiven and washed away.” Therefore, be glad and rejoice that your name is written in heaven. Enter into the joy of His rest forever and forever, amen!!

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Five Keys To Glean During The Days Of Awe

You may not have heard of the term ‘Days of Awe’ as a follower of Christ but it is part of the Fall Feasts that Jews are currently celebrating. Previously I wrote concerning the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah, and its correlation with the end of the age. I discussed why a Christian should be concerned with all of the Feasts and how Jesus has, and will ultimately fulfill them.

Currently, we are in the midst of the ‘ten days of awe’ that began on Rosh Hashanah and will conclude this Tuesday on the Feast day of Yom Kippur. I will detail more about that in other work. What is meant by ‘days of awe,’ and what does it mean for believers? During these ten days, there is a lot for anyone to ponder as every person must be judged and has a choice of whether to be atoned by the blood of Jesus or reject it and spend eternity in everlasting punishment.

The Jews take this time to examine their lives and seek to forgive and be forgiven. This is in line with Jesus’ words where He says in Mark 11:24-25, “therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” ESV

Matthew 6:14 “if you forgive people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” NIV

Besides a time of examination, forgiving, and being forgiven, there are several other things associated with these feast days that I want to reflect on as we ponder our past, present, and future in the Kingdom of God. First, these should be a reminder of how much Jesus, or Yeshua, has done for us and our future with Him and that we can be confident that there are rewards for overcoming the trials of this life.

The Days of Awe & The End of The Age

  • Creation- The awe of creation is associated with Rosh Hashanah, and it is believed that God’s creation of mankind is marked by this day and His calendar has its beginning at this time. Creation reminds us of God’s original intent for man to have dominion over the earth and rule and reign. Since Adam forfeited that right with original sin, it has been redeemed by Jesus, and we can look forward to the Millenial reign where we rule the earth with the second Adam Jesus, who is our King.
  • Judgment- Yes, there is judgment coming. That comes in many ways, and it will depend on what you do with Christ and His teachings or Kingdom values.

A- Judgment Seat of Christ is where rewards are handed out: 1 Corinthians 5:10, Matthew 16:27, 1 Corinthians 3:10-13,15. Christ will sit as judge. The idea of the judgment seat was developed in the Old Testament. It is known as the bema seat. John 19:13, Acts 25:22. See 2 John 8, Revelation 3:11. Other verses include 1 Corinthians 4:2, 1 Cor. 2:9-10, Luke 19:17,19, 2 Timothy 2:7, Revelation 3:4-5.

Paul vividly describes our walk with Christ and eternal rewards in his writings with such language as running a race for the prize, levels of attainment such as gold, silver, clay, wood, hay, and stubble. Christ talks about the Father being the judge, but He also mentions rewards for faithfulness and overcoming trials. Thus the judgment seat of Christ is for believers and is a time where our actions will be rewarded in one way or another.

B- Great White Throne Judgment- Revelation 20:7-15. This is when the wicked, and all who have rejected God in every age, those who rejected Jesus, from this age and the age to come, will be judged and cast into the lake of fire.

C- Christ’s judgment of the sheep and goat nations-Matthew 25:31-36. This is where Christ separates the nations according to whether they have followed Him or not. This will occur at the end of this age. There will be a remnant from every nation worshipping the lamb in Jerusalem in the age to come. However, many nations will fall away as many are currently under the control or influence of the ‘gods’ of this world.

3- 3 Books of Life- Psalm 69:27-28, wicked are blotted out. Daniel 12:1- those whose names are written here will be rescued at the time of the Great tribulation. Luke 10:20, Philippians 4:3, Revelation 3:5, Revelation 20:15. If your name is not written there, you will be cast into the Lake of Fire at The Great White Throne judgment.

4- Book of Remembrance-Malachi 3:16. Psalm 56:8. The book of remembrance is special in that it records the righteous and their righteous deeds. This could tie into the rewards handed out by Christ. Suffice it to say your name can be in the Book of life and the book Of Remembrance.

5. The Wedding: I have written about this elsewhere. Jesus talked a lot about weddings, Paul mentions it in his writings, and finally, we see this in Revelation 19:7-9 and 21:2, 7-11. Those at the wedding are the chosen or elect in Christ. They are prepared ahead, and Jesus talked about wedding guests and being prepared in various parables.

We see the wedding theme developed in the Old Testament: Isaac and Rebekah. God consummated His marriage to Israel at the tabernacle, and language such as unfaithful Israel denotes God’s devotion to her. Suffice it to say that the bride of Christ and the wedding should take place before the start of the following age as they will be the ones partnering with Christ in ruling and will receive rewards, as I discussed above.

More To Understand

There are at least five more areas to glean from regarding the days of awe:

1- an awakening blast of the shofar. This should arouse us from slumber to be ready for the trumpet that will send us up to be with Christ.

2- The time of Jacob’s Trouble or the Great Tribulation where the Jews will suffer more horribly than ever before. Jeremiah 30:7. Matthew 24:15-31.

3- Opening of Gates- many gates opened in heaven and here that have remained closed until these last days. They also reference the opening of the age to come. Gates denote government and authority.

4- Resurrection- Regeneration- 1 Corinthians 15:17, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. This occurs at the time of the rapture. The saints receive new ‘glorified’ bodies like Christ had after His resurrection and will live in these for eternity.

5- Season of repentance. After all, that is the primary reason for the Holidays. As believers, it affords us a great opportunity to draw closer to Jesus and prepares for the Great Harvest. Joel 2:28. Incidentally, revival requires repentance.

In conclusion, the days of awe should make us become more fascinated and amazed by our Lord Jesus and bring us closer to serving Him with hearts of love, overflowing with His joy.

We should embrace the end of this age and be more prepared to live in eternity with Him. There is no place for fear in the Kingdom of God for fear, shame, or guilt. Be ready to face the future, knowing your name is in the Book(s).

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Should Christians Care That It’s Rosh Hashanah?

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Beginning Monday, September 6, 2021, on the Gregorian calendar, Jews and some Christians will celebrate the feast day known as Rosh Hashanah. The day will be marked by the blowing of the Shofar a total of 100 times in synagogues all over Israel, New York, and other places around the globe. The feast will conclude on sundown on September 8, 2021.

But the question that I am asking is one of major importance and one we, as disciples of Christ, need to take a long, hard look at. I am not Jewish, but I fully understand the importance of the feast days and how they tie into God’s calendar in this age and in the next. In order to answer that question, we need to define what Rosh Hashanah is and then its importance now and in future days.

The Name Says It All

The word Rosh Hashanah literally means ‘head of the year.’ That is why it is called New Year’s day, Jewish New Year, or the beginning of the year. The Hebrew calendar actually has two New Year’s, a civil and an agricultural. It sounds confusing, but God arranged it that way.

The civil year begins at the feast of Passover, which celebrates the Exodus from Egypt and the birth of the Jewish Nation. The Hebrew calendar is tied to the moon and its phases. Thus, the date is not set until the New Moon arises for the corresponding holiday. The agricultural year, as well as Sabbatical years and Jubilees, begin at Rosh Hashanah.

Numbers 29:1 “In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you will have a holy assembly. You will do no ordinary work. It is a day of blowing the trumpets for you. MEV

This is the verse that established the feast day known as Rosh Hashanah, but the various teachings, meals, and other things that are part of this feast developed over the centuries to follow. Originally God told them to blow the trumpet or shofar. Anytime the word shofar appears in the Old Testament it is translated as trumpet.

Creation and Judgement

The Hebrew calendar is based on God’s creation of mankind, Adam. The word Adam or Adamah has many meanings, including ground, earth, and man, or humankind. Thus Hebrew scholars believe that Rosh Hashanah is linked to the creation of Adam and Eve and that every year God comes down and examines every person’s deeds, good and bad. That is why the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur follows, and finally Tabernacles.

The current year on the Hebrew calendar is 5781. The new year that begins tomorrow evening is the year 5782. That is important because of the Hebrew letters פב or peh-bet. The importance is the letter peh represents the mouth, and bet is the second letter. The prophetic significance of this year is speaking what edifies and glorifies the Son, Jesus. For a deeper understanding of the prophetic meaning of 5780, 5781, and 5782, follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUlU7dFFSUM.

So, you see how the calendar is linked with creation and judgment, and God has set times for certain things to occur. Accordingly, we know that Israel was born after the Exodus around 1500 years ago. My purpose is not to establish a young or old creation narrative but to establish how God’s seasons are different than ours.

The Feasts Fulfilled Thus Far

When Jesus came the first time, He celebrated the feasts as well as the holiday of Chanukah. We see the latter in John, where He celebrated the Feast of Dedication as Chanukah is known. He was celebrating the Passover with His disciples just before He was arrested. Likewise, He was the fulfillment of the Passover feast.

But He told His disciples: “And He said to them I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you that I will never eat it again until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Luke 22:15-16 MEV

Mark 14:25 “Truly I say to you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.” MEV

Wow! Jesus told his disciples that He would not celebrate the Passover meal until He celebrates it in the New Kingdom. The Passover meal evolved years after this to become what many celebrate today with the egg, apples, nuts, and horseradish. Yet, we know that when Jesus celebrated it, they broke bread and drank the fruit of the vine.

The second feast that Jesus has fulfilled was Pentecost. This holiday occurs fifty days after Passover and celebrates the ingathering or harvesting. Again, Jesus promised that His disciples would receive the Holy Spirit and be powerful witnesses in all of the earth. (See Acts chapters 1 & 2, Joel 2:28). This is the period we are currently living in where the Holy Spirit is working in all of the earth to bring the Harvest.

The next feast in line is the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Teruah or Rosh Hashanah. It is celebrated by the blowing of shofars, but Jews also celebrate it with food and joy. Apples, nuts, pomegranates, and honey, along with many traditional dishes, are associated with it.

The fact that Jesus celebrated all of these feasts and told us He would celebrate Passover again in the New Kingdom should be enough to say to us that The day of the Trumpet blast or Rosh Hashanah should have a literal fulfillment.

A Shofar Blast, A Wedding, and A Wedding Feast

So the next prophetic event on God’s timeline associated with humankind is the day of the Shofar Blast or Yom Teruah. Since Jesus died and arose at Passover to institute a new ‘holy nation or holy people,’ and He sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost for the Harvest, why should we not expect Him to come around the time of the Fall Feasts? I am not a date setter, but we must be aware of the season upon He returns.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4 that the regeneration or resurrection of the dead in Christ would appear at the sound of the last shofar or trumpet. Then at some point after that, there will be a wedding where Jesus marries His bride, the Church, followed by the greatest celebration ever. (See Revelation 19:7-9, 21:2.9, Eph. 5:25-27, 2 Cor. 11:2)

The exact way this will all play out is another subject and has brought on many debates. However, we should focus on the fact that there will be a heavenly shofar blast, followed by a wedding and a long, perhaps 1000 year, wedding feast. Thus, we will be drinking the cup of the fruit of the vine in the next age.

Live Ready

Regardless of what goes on around us, we need to live ready. We must fellowship with the Spirit, Son, and Father always. Worship the Son and stay in the Word. Intercede and pray for the nations and the salvation of Israel. We have been given all we need to live for Him and make disciples of the nations. Celebrate the feasts now and recognize there is a shofar sound, and there is also a judgment.

One final word about celebrating the feasts:

Then it will be that all the nations who have come against Jerusalem and survived will go up each year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. (MEV) Zechariah 14:16

The day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles follow and will be fulfilled in the age(s) to come. Live Loved, Live ready.

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Don’t Be The Least In The Kingdom

Previously I discussed becoming the greatest in the kingdom. It requires one to humble themselves like a child and remain humble and serve. The kingdom of God is the upside-down kingdom where the greatest is the one willing to go to the lowest place, as in humbling themselves and serving in it, the example of Jesus.

But who is the least, and what does one have to do to become the least in the kingdom. The ‘Sermon On The Mount’ teaching is about kingdom lifestyle and the values of the kingdom. So much good teaching is found here, but it is often overlooked or not taught properly.

Matthew 5:19-20 “ Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” ESV

In verse 18 of Matthew chapter 5, Jesus tells the listeners that until heaven and earth passway, not one iota or yodh will pass from the law. In other words, even the smallest letter, yodh, in Hebrew is essential. Everything is important when it comes to all of the commandments and statutes. We cannot pick and choose which ones to follow.

Teaching Others To Break The Rules

In these passages, Jesus is not just saying if you break one of the rules (or values of the kingdom), you are the least. We all can rebel, turn away or come out of agreement with one kingdom values here and there. Already today, I may have judged somebody or forgot to inspect the beam in my eye. But, I can quickly turn away from that mindset and seek forgiveness and align my mind with the kingdom value that says look at the beam in my eye first.

Where we fall and become, the least, is by aligning ourselves with values contrary to the kingdom. When we break a minor command and then go unrepentant and teach others to do the same, then we are on the road to be the least. It is not enough to relax the commands, as one translation puts it.

We have to go so far as to adjust our lifestyle to teach others to break the same command. That occurs in several ways:

  • BY our actions- people see what we do, and they follow our bad example.
  • By what we say- just the words we use
  • By actually teaching or preaching that which is contrary to what Jesus taught
  • Who we associate with- aligning ourselves with people teaching and practicing doctrinal error with no repentance.
  • Where we Go- people see everything we- where we shop, eat, etc.

Everything we do must glorify God, and our speech, actions, and even what we listen to must reflect kingdom values. It is one thing to relax or break one of Jesus’ commands here or there, but He is talking about continually doing it and causing others to do likewise.

Matthew 5:20 ‘unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.’

The Pharisees’ brand of righteousness was based on strict adherence to the letter of the law and not the spirit. They were self-righteous, pious, and upright. They jumped through all of the hoops. Their brand of righteousness was more like religion and legalism. They had added to and taken away from what God had given them. They had missed the intent of it all, and that is why they couldn’t inherit the kingdom.

You Can’t Keep It

The Pharisees tried to force everybody to be like them, and no one could keep every letter of the law. That was the whole purpose of Jesus’ coming and giving us the Holy Spirit. We will stumble, but we have an advocate who can bring us back. If you are in the Word, praying and worshipping daily and being led by the Spirit of God, then you will not become the least in the kingdom.

The Pharisees actually caused everybody to stumble

The Holy Spirit is our counselor and teacher, and if we listen to His promptings, we will not get off course. When we try and keep every command in our strength, we have already set ourselves up for failure, disappointment, and eventually causing others to stumble. Do yourself a favor, and don’t fret over being the least. Stay humble and in fellowship with the Spirit of God.

Time To Turn Back

If you find yourself doing things you shouldn’t, or practicing something contrary to the kingdom’s values, stop and repent. If you have been teaching others doctrinal error, then repent. That is the beauty of the kingdom. Unlike the Pharisees, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us.

There are many teaching and practicing doctrines of demons and tickling men’s ears. But they can also repent and find the truth. Maybe you were led astray by these modern Pharisees or wolves in sheep’s clothing. Then you still have the opportunity to go from least to greatest. That is the simplicity of the kingdom of God.

I have to continually ask God to put a guard over my mouth, protect my eyes, and guide my steps. Why? Because I can relax any command at any time. If I am not careful, I can relax so much that it becomes a habit, and others soon follow me down the slippery slope. That is why we must quickly turn away from evil thoughts, lusts, or anything that might pull us off the narrow path.

Just Stay Humble

The key then is to stay humble, stay in fellowship with the Spirit, and watch who or what you let into your life. I am not talking about people you are evangelizing or helping in Jesus’ name. I mean your close friends, church, etc. Remember, humbling yourself like a child is the path to be the greatest in the kingdom. Pride to remain a kingdom command breaker and leading others astray is the way to the least in the kingdom!

Stay humble My Friends!

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So You Want To Be The Greatest In The Kingdom Of God

Human nature means that we want to be loved and feel appreciated, not just by God but by people everywhere. We want to be well thought of, respected and we desire that our voice is heard. We even go so far as to say, “I want to be great and well-known.” We are no different than those first disciples who asked Jesus, “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-6)

We can all identify with one or more of the disciples, and it is no different when we ask questions as they asked. However, the answer may surprise you. It surely surprised them, and it is contrary to the world’s thinking. When we think of great people, we think of famous leaders, inventors, authors, politicians, military leaders, and business people.

Those famous people may or may not have had what it took to be great in the Kingdom of God. Remember, it is the upside-down kingdom when compared to this world. So, that is one reason we need our minds renewed to have a heavenly perspective. Before we come into the kingdom, we think like the world.

Are You A Child?

So then, who can be great in the kingdom of heaven? In answering His disciples, Jesus called a child to come over and explained, “unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18: 3 MEV)

So, the question is, are we like children? Remember when you were born again? That childlike simplicity and joy we experienced. How we wanted just to obey and serve Jesus and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. That was our only desire. Our every desire was to please the Father, walk with Jesus, and be filled with the Spirit.

But, somewhere along the way, we let the world’s ways take us up, and if you are like me, you wanted to climb the ladder of success, even in the church. So, many want to be well-known in the church as great leaders, with degrees, accolades, and titles like Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, and Bishop, just to name a few.

Our job is to stay humble and be known as a servant. Where are the servants? Do you want to be great? The apostles were known as the scum, the off-scouring of the world. It doesn’t sound great, but they were humble servants. Paul often referred to himself as a bondservant of Christ. We are co-heirs, friends and we will marry the bridegroom, Jesus. But our position is still as sons and daughters, with child-like faith and humility.

My wife and I have worked with children for many years, and when it comes to teaching and really anything we do with them, we keep it simple. That’s how we want it. Children can tell if I’m genuine. They know our motives. They don’t want to be lied to or manipulated. Just tell them what to do, and they do it. Yes, there are those troubling kids that are difficult, but we seem to find a way.

Humble Yourself To Be The Greatest

Matthew 18:4 (MEV) “Therefore whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom.”

It doesn’t get any clearer than that. Humility is the opposite of pride. You can have great ideas and be used mightily by God, but you are the lowest in God’s kingdom without child-like simplicity. Humility is demonstrated a lot by Jesus. Consider who He ministered to and where He went. He often did work that was for slaves of the nations, like foot washing.

He put His hands in the mud and healed the blind or ate with ‘sinners,’ demonstrating this principle. Ultimately, He suffered the death penalty that was reserved for criminals, opponents of the Roman government. We say we want to be like Christ, but when was the last time we went to the lowest place, whether in our prayer closet, the soup kitchen, the slims, or where the homeless hang out. When was the last time we offered to clean the church, cut the grass or visit a widow?

We tend to think that all of that is for the hired people or the staff. We typically don’t see Church leaders walking in humility as described in these passages. That means we have to do better. Instead of raising the bar, we lower it. But, we should be lowering to the point of humbling ourselves as servants and then let Jesus raise us up. Jesus set the bar high to go low.

Receiving Jesus

“And Whoever receives one such child in my name, receives me.” (Matthew 18:5 MEV)

If you receive a child or anyone like a child would, then you have received Jesus. Children usually don’t have motives unless they are planted there by someone with false motives. Children just want to have fun and enjoy life. When they have a need, they expect mom or dad or the adult they approach to help them. So it is with the kingdom of God. When someone has a need, we approach as if it were Christ Himself. Giving that cup of cold water means it is as if Christ is drinking it.

So often, we shy away from the less desirable, the unlovable, those that look and act differently from us. But aren’t they the ones to whom Jesus went? James tells us that pure religion is to minister to the poor, widows, and needy.

Concerning the gifts, I just would like to mention that they are to be used to build up and edify. When the Holy Spirit uses us to prophecy, or heal, or any other gift, we become the servants, and we are the vessel. It is as if we are speaking to Jesus. One who prophecies, for example, becomes the mouthpiece of God at that moment. The prophets of the Old Testament saw themselves as servants.

Serve With Thankful and Humble Hearts

So, the challenge is to continue to serve and labor for Christ as little children. Develop a thankful heart and stay low and even when He raises you up and your name becomes famous among men, stay humble and serve Him and His body. The day will come when all of these things will be judged!

Enjoy life in the Kingdom!

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Wielding The Keys of The Kingdom

When it comes to teaching on the Kingdom of God, one area that has been overlooked or improperly taught is the ‘Keys’ to the kingdom. The kingdom of God is governmental, and it offers its citizens the same rights as any earthly kingdom or government. However, because the Kingdom of God has not fully manifested in the earth, there is a continual battle between the kingdom of darkness as to which kingdom will prevail.

Jesus has won the victory, but we are in a battle to advance the Kingdom until He returns and establishes in full in Jerusalem for millennia. After that, heaven will come to earth in the form of the New Jerusalem or heavenly Zion. In the meantime, Jesus gave His disciples ‘keys’ to the government and operation of His Kingdom in the earth to be used now.

The Keys Received By Faith

Jesus mentions these keys in Matthew 16:19 “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

In the preceding verses, Jesus asks a question to the disciples ‘ Who do you say I am? Peter answered, stating that He was the Christ or Messiah. This was the answer to a long-sought question: when will the Messiah come, and what will His kingdom be like. They were looking for an earthly government to overthrow the kingdoms over them.

Peter’s statement required faith. Faith is necessary to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus made a startling proclamation to Peter when he said in verse 18, “thou art Peter and upon this rock, I will build my kingdom.” What is the rock Jesus spoke of? Was it Peter the rock, whose name was Cephas meaning ‘rock?’ That is what many early believers taught. They also taught that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome, which became the Papacy’s office.

They see Peter as Christ’s successor on the earth. But is that what Jesus was teaching? The rock that Jesus’ kingdom is built upon is the rock of faith that Jesus is the Messiah or Christ. That bedrock confession gains entrance into the Kingdom. But there is more. Jesus asked the question to all of the disciples, and Peter answered. Jesus answers Peter and all of the disciples by explaining that He will give them the ‘keys of the Kingdom. It was their belief and later ours that allows us to receive these keys.

The Keys and Authority

Keys allow the holder to gain access to something that has been locked. It also allows the holder to close or shut out certain things or people. Keys give someone authority. The Catholic church teaches that the pope alone has these keys since he is Peter’s successor and Peter alone the keys. As I have already stated, that is not proper exegesis, and there are numerous scriptures relating to keys and believers’ authority.

Ephesians 2: 19-22 tells us that Jesus is the chief cornerstone and the disciples, not just Peter, are the foundation upon which the church is built. 1 Peter 2:9 explains that we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a chosen people to proclaim the excellencies of Christ. Jesus is the rock upon which the kingdom is established and built, not Peter, the Pope, any denomination, or other leaders.

Luke 9:1 “Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. 2- And He sent them to preach the Kingdom of God and heal the sick. 3- He said to them, “ Take nothing for your journey: no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, and do not take two tunics.” (MEV)

Jesus sent them out to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons. Matthew’s account in chapter ten tells them to raise the dead and cleanse lepers. Then we have the Great Commission, given in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-18. Here He tells them to disciple the nations and that all authority is provided to them through Him. They again preach the kingdom, and Mark talks about power over serpents and scorpions and deadly things. I believe this is the authority over demons and the kingdom of darkness.

We Have Received The Keys To Use Them

If we believe that faith in Christ gives us these keys, then why are we not using them? He tells us what doors they unlock. Healing, salvation, eternal life, joy, peace, deliverance, cleansing, and protection are benefits of the Kingdom. There are many other benefits. We have been given authority, all authority in heaven. Jesus holds the keys, and He gives them to those who believe. We are saved by grace through faith, and that faith allows us to receive the keys. Then we have authority over sickness, demons, and worldly influence. But, we must learn how to use these keys.

It’s like a policeman or doctor who has been given authority to represent the courts or healing. They had to learn the rules and how to apply them. When a king sends His ambassador, He has the same authority as if the king was standing there. 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are ambassadors for Christ. We are representatives of Him and His kingdom.

Someone once asked how can we be seated in heavenly places? (see Ephesians 2:6) I explained that we are spiritually connected to Christ through the Holy Spirit while we are here on earth. It is like a policeman who represents the laws of a city or state. They have the same authority as the mayor, governor, or a king. When we show up, it is as if Christ was there since He lives through us by the Holy Spirit.

Now we have been given all authority, so why do we not use it? We have free healthcare-physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. We must take the time to sit with the one who gives that authority and develop our relationship and understand how His kingdom functions. This is one of the main things not taught today. The Kingdom of God is life-changing, bringing joy, peace, and complete freedom.

I pray that we will all grow to understand our authority and how to use the keys. Jesus said whatever we bind or loose here, it is as if we did it in heaven. That is the reality of the Kingdom of God being here now, even though it will fully manifest at His return.

Until then, use the authority you have received when you confessed and believed Jesus is Christ and made Him your Lord by surrendering to Him. It is quite humbling to have been given so much authority, and so we must stay humble because that is who we are, humble servants of the King.

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The Gospel Of The Kingdom: Good News Not Fake News

In Matthew 24:14, Jesus told His disciples that ‘this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all of the nation’s and then the end will come.’ Unfortunately, that has not occurred, and even worse is the fact that what is often preached is not the gospel that Jesus preached. When He came, He brought the kingdom of God to the earth, and healings, deliverance, miracles, and the dead being raised were manifested results of His presence and authority.

Why did Jesus say this gospel had to be preached? Previously He told them that false Christ’s would appear and preach a different gospel. Missionaries and evangelists have spread the ‘good news’ but often, what they taught was that you get saved in you believe in Jesus and are ready to go to heaven. Discipleship includes learning kingdom values and surrendering your life to live out those values.

The Good News

The real gospel includes what Jesus taught and what He did. He taught the Sermon on the Mount, which takes the Ten Commandments and expanding them into New Covenant life. He taught that He was the fulfillment of the expected Messianic ruler. He was, in fact, to sit on David’s throne. The good news also meant that people would no longer live in bondage, or be sick. Healing and deliverance are manifestations of the kingdom of God.

The Good News was not fake news, but the religious leaders tried and eventually succeeded in quieting His preaching. But, it was short-lived as He defeated the grave and, after His resurrection, sent out His disciples to the nations while He returned home. Now the Good News would spread faster unless Satan entered to alter the message.

The Message Is Changed

The gospel’s message has actually never changed, but the messengers changed it or at least what they preached. They taught many heresies early on, including Gnosticism, but later the message alone was not enough. It became works-based, and many who thought they had received the gospel had heard a thimble full of truth. Thus, by the time of Martin Luther, the church wasn’t all that needed reforming. The message needed to be made clear and spoken clearly. The truth had to be made alive.

After a few centuries of advancing the kingdom to the uttermost part, we still have many people groups who have not even heard the name of Jesus. So it is ashamed that they haven’t heard of Jesus, and we have many preaching a different Jesus or a different gospel. Many teach about prosperity, amassing worldly wealth, and living for the world.

Repentance as a lifestyle is no longer preached, and worse, many are teaching a hyper-grace where you don’t even need to repent. That is almost worse than works-based and leads to more bondage. People are not receiving the truth, and they are too focused on filling their coffers or building their kingdoms. Thus the messages we often hear are focused on us and not Jesus.

The Cross: A Throne For A King

The kingdom of God is the complete opposite of the kingdoms of this world, and what kingdom exists where the king actually dies for His servants? Where else is there a kingdom where the king is enthroned and raised up at His own execution? At that moment, as Jesus suffered and was dying, He found His first new servant. The thief who asked to be remembered went right into the kingdom and experienced a new life.

After His resurrection, Jesus walked among men and sent twelve Israelites out to be a light to the nations, thus partially fulfilling Israel’s role. They took the real gospel as far as they could. It would be centuries and a scattered and regathered Israel before the real gospel would reach the uttermost parts. Since Jesus said this gospel had to go to the whole world before the end, it has taken this long, and soon the Good News will return to Israel, and there will be a remnant crying out, “Blessed Is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’

God’s throne is built upon justice and righteousness, and what better place to see that than at the cross. He made it possible for us to be right with the Father and be justified freely.

The End-Times is Part of the Gospel

One final aspect of the good news of the kingdom is that Jesus will return. You see, when we die, our spirit goes to be with Jesus, but that’s not the end. After receiving a resurrected body, we will return to the earth and rule and reign with Jesus for 1,000 years. Jesus promised to return, and He will land on the Mount of Olives and walk into Jerusalem through the eastern gate and set up His throne, and His kingdom and all of the nations will come and worship there, in Zion.

So without the end-times, there is no gospel. We know that Jesus told His disciples no one knows the hour of His return except the Father, but He told us what season and what signs to look for. He also told us which ones are just the birth pangs. He gave many parables explaining how some would be ready and some would not. He sent the Holy Spirit to prepare us as well as to comfort and teach us.

We have been given the greatest gift we could ever receive: That God would come and live inside of us and prepare us for the most significant moment in the History of the world. That is when Jesus returns and judges the whole earth and establishes righteousness.

Be careful and examine the scriptures like a good Berean and follow the teachings of Jesus and be ready for His return! That is not fake news.

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Being Continuously Comforted In These Difficult Times

Truly the days we are living in are tumultuous ones. Everywhere we look, there is more opportunity than ever to want to withdraw and disengage from the world around us. Lawlessness, disease, political turmoil, natural disasters, pestilence, and the ongoing enigma associated with the pandemic known as COVID-19 continue to cause us increasing discomfort. The uproar continues as new variants form, and the debate to vaccinate continues.

There is enough misinformation without Christians camping out on their favorite Bible topics and beating each other up if you dare disagree. I am not talking about the non-negotiables such as the trinity or Godhead, Jesus-birth, death and resurrection, and His return to establish His kingdom. Original sin, Holy Spirit- gifts and fruits, baptism and Communion are also what I term non-negotiables. All followers of Christ must adhere to certain beliefs.

We may differ on the timing of specific end-time prophecies, worship styles, or how a local congregation is governed. Still, we agree on these ‘non-negotiables.’ So many focus on the bad, such as lawlessness and the rise of the Babylonian system, the one-world government, that they forget to focus on Jesus.

Comfort, Comfort My People

When John the Baptist came preaching, he declared the Kingdom of God. We seem to remember the fact that he called for repentance and changing of our minds and lifestyles. We see the Elijah aspect, and we tend to gravitate towards the negative. But John’s ministry is a ministry of comfort.

John 3:29 “He who has the bride is the bridegroom. But the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this Joy of mine is complete.” (MEV)

John was satisfied because the one whom He was waiting for was present, and He could now diminish. His work would be slowing down, and he was making room for the one he had been telling others about. Thus, John was comforted, and he offered comfort to those he ministered to. His joy was full, and he was complete and satisfied. As the days grow darker, we must carry joy wherever we go. How can we declare the kingdom and its king and His return if we are not full of His joy?

John understood his role and was full of joy because he stood intimately in the presence of the bridegroom, spiritually and physically. None of us have actually stood in the presence of Jesus unless we visited heaven, physically or He showed up physically. I have heard His voice, and I talk to Him, and I know He hears me. That alone is satisfying.

I hear all of the bad news, the politics, the vaccine discussions, murder, abortion, death, and all sorts of worldly stuff, and I keep myself in check through prayer, worship, and the Word. I am delighted when I am in His presence and His Word. That is the key to remaining at peace in these troublesome times.

The Promise of Tribulation

Jesus spoke a lot about suffering, trials, troubles, hardships, and even persecution to His disciples. Paul tells us not to let these things separate us from God’s love in Romans 8:35-39. Jesus has overcome the world according to John 16:33. That is enough to give us joy every day. We should wake up rejoicing and go to bed praising Him.

I am not there yet, but as we move along in our walk, we should learn to make rejoicing a lifestyle. Our security is in Jesus, His promises, His presence, and the victory He has already afforded us. If we believe that He died and arose and He has a place in His kingdom for us, then we must believe His promise to return and set up His kingdom and we will rule and reign with Him for 1,000 years and for eternity.

Rejoicing in suffering is difficult, especially when we are going through it. It seems like I have had a long string of trials. I never know how He will come through or what the end of that season will look like. My job is to rejoice and trust Him. That is how we turn it over to Him.

Comfort Comfort

Isaiah 40 begins with those two words: comfort, comfort. We should be comforting the world around us instead of joining in the discomfort that the world seems to offer up continuously. The rest of the verse says to tell Jerusalem that her warfare has ended. Wow! We are supposed to be pointing Israel and the nations to Jesus, but we seem to be engaged with the warfare.

Warfare can be physical and spiritual. For Jerusalem, it is both, and it is some of the hardest I have ever endured. The spiritual battleground around Jerusalem is so intense because that is the number one battleground on the earth. It is the spot where Jesus will return and set up His kingdom.

That is what comforts me. Knowing that He will rule and reign from that spot, and the enemy’s time is coming to an end. That is our blessed hope. That is such a liberating thought. We have the assurance that not only has He overcome the world, but He will physically return, and we will rule with Him.

In The Meantime

As the world grows darker, we, the body of Christ, must continue to rejoice and be the light in the darkness. The Holy Spirit is the comforter, and we welcome Him in every situation we go through, and in all of the turmoil in the world. It is truly the Father’s pleasure to see us rejoicing as we anticipate the return of the King to Zion.

We must recognize the events of this world as the enemy making His greatest stand to try and prevent the return of the King. If He can keep us from being comforted or walking in victory, then He is winning. He will do anything to pull us down, including deception, fear, anxiety, and persecution. No matter what comes our way, be comforted and rejoice.

When Jesus said, ‘those that mourn will be comforted,’ another way to look at it is the lovesick for His return shall be comforted. We will fully be comforted when we see Him, but for now, let the Holy Spirit fill you with peace, comfort, and joy.

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Living A Lifestyle Of Repentance

Growing up I was exposed to the words repent and repentance all of the time. I had this mental picture of someone always bowing before Jesus and never being able to do anything else. But the only time I heard anything about repentance was at church, so I thought that was just something we did on Sundays.

Today, we hardly hear any preachers or teachers talk about repentance and the good that goes with it. While it is wonderful to hear how much Jesus loves and enjoys us, we could experience more of that love by letting go of more and more of the junk in our lives that hinders us from going deeper into the things of God.

Many are now teaching a hyper-grace that says Jesus paid it all and you just come and accept what He did and that’s the end of it. Then there is the legalistic view that I grew up with where you come to Jesus, repent, and do some works like evangelism, ushering, feeding the poor, etc. Those things are needed but we should do it because we love Jesus.

Repentance That leads To Fruit

As John the Baptist comes on the scene we find him preaching ‘repent, the kingdom of God is at hand.’ In other words, since the Kingdom is near and the Messiah is near, at hand, the way to gain entrance is through repentance.

Later, he told the Pharisees to bear fruit that foes with a life of repentance.

They were the teachers of the Torah and the ones charged with instructing the people, but they had strayed away from the intent of the law and were bearing religious activities instead of fruit worthy of the kingdom of God.

As Christ-followers we are called to live a life worthy of the King. We represent Jesus everywhere we go. We encounter the stuff of the world daily so we need to come out of agreement with those things. Also, when we are saved, or enter the kingdom of God, we repent but our minds must continually be renewed.

In other words, we have to take every thought captive and pull down strongholds. When we don’t take thoughts captive we allow them to take hold in our spirit. Instead of thinking kingdom-minded, we think our thought or worldly thoughts. Regardless we must daily come out of agreement with old thoughts, old life choices, and past hurts, wounds, and where we have let our emotions rule our actions.

That is the power of repentance and as we move into maturity as kingdom-minded people we should be bearing fruit that reflects a life of repentance. What we did twenty years ago we should not be doing, and we shouldn’t let things affect us the same. Daily we are to come out of agreement or change our mind regarding choices, actions, and words.

New Creation

Since we are a new creation, then we should act like it. New creatures aren’t the same. So why do we not act and look like new creations to the world? The Holy Spirit is the one that convicts us of sin and helps us to come out of agreement and enter into agreement with the ways of God.

As new creations, we are like a snake shedding its skin on a daily basis. Or we are peeling our onion layers back daily. We enter the kingdom with a lot of baggage and ten or twenty years later we are still holding on to our favorite ones.

Christ died for our freedom and He is worthy of us letting go of all of our hurts, wounds, traditions, lusts, addictions, pride, jealousy, and rebellion. When we give Him those strongholds they are placed under the blood and then He puts up a no fishing sign. The enemy tries to get us or our family and friends to go fishing and bring it back again.

Deliverance and inner healing are really repentance and coming out of agreement with things like anger, wounds from rejection, and all of the other junk. Repentance is a good thing. We need repentance so that we can recognize how much He loves us and enjoys us. He wants to fellowship with us and we need more of Him.

Repentance, inner healing, and forgiving those that have wounded and hurt us opens the path for more of Him and to go deeper in His love.

Do you want to experience more of Jesus’ love and power? Do you want revival in your home, family, or church? Then live a life of daily repentance. But I caution you not to keep reminding God of the same thing day after day. If you repented of being rude at Walmart yesterday then that was the end of it.

So we need a healthy view of repentance. It is necessary, but it is not works. We need to repent of previously unconfessed or unrepented sins.

That is when repentance becomes burdensome. Like everything else in the Kingdom of God, we need balance. We need to live a repentant lifestyle birthed from a relationship with the Holy Spirit, and not just going through the motions. When it is truly led by the Spirit of God we will experience more of Him, more freedom, and we will bear fruit of repentance.

That is true freedom in Christ. Enjoy life in the Kingdom!!

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Freedom From Depression/Heaviness

Preparing For Zion

Part I

Freedom from Depression and the Spirit of Heaviness

I am consistently refining and redefining how I approach my message and how I achieve fulfilling my assignment in helping to prepare the way for the ‘Return of the King.’ I will continue to delve into the valleys, mountains, stones in the road, and crooked places so that we will each be prepared for the return of the king, Jesus. Jesus will return to Zion after he stands on the Mount of Olives. He will establish his one thousand years of peace and rule where all nations will worship Him in Zion, Jerusalem.

The issues we encounter today will not be part of that lifestyle. There will be many born in that age, but those of us who follow Jesus now will be in our glorified body. It is that transition period where Heaven will soon be on earth entirely. Therefore I will continue to explore the valleys, and this blog deals with depression and heaviness.

Depression and Heaviness Defined

First of all, let me define depression. Depression can be defined as a mood disorder that is defined by sadness and loss of interest. Depression keeps you alienated, isolated, and often confined to bed. Medical news today defines it as sadness, a feeling of being down, and loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities. Persistence of these moods and identifying with them leads to long-term depression, and we get to the point that we feel heavy all of the time.

Depression is real, and if we do not deal with it early on, it takes root and becomes a significant stronghold. It is often associated with rejection, fear, insecurity and can lead to anger, paranoia, and rebellion. There is a real medical disorder with a chemical imbalance, but that is less common than we think.

Most people today find prescribed or other medicinal agents to help overcome. I am not against these as they have a place, but we often do not apply the scriptures that we read in our devotions. We read it, pray, and then when something comes up, rather than believe and stand on the word, we allow heaviness and depression to overtake our minds to the point after a while, we cannot function in life as we were meant.

This article is not intent on dealing with the whole medical side, but the spiritual and emotional aspects of heaviness. When we deal with trauma, depression, fatigue, and other emotions will generally arise. However, we must not let traumatic events rule our lives. Christ has already given us victory over every valley and mountain so that we can enjoy a kingdom lifestyle now.

I can truly address this disorder as I have faced many days, weeks, months, and years where I succumbed to depression and heaviness. I can speak with sympathy, empathy, and as one who knows that you cannot tolerate or play mildly with these mindsets. I have often identified with the prophets, David or even Job, as each one of these went through various stages of depression, heaviness, rejection, and experienced victory over these areas through the Word of God.

The Prophets, and a King and Depression

Elijah and Jeremiah are two of my favorite characters in the Bible. Perhaps because I have studied them a lot and can identify with some of their issues, I feel like an expert sort of. We are familiar with Elijah’s run from Jezebel to the cave where he hid and came calling, asking, why are You Here? He answered that ‘he alone was left of the prophets and those that did not bow to Baal.’

Then there is Jeremiah, who often asked, “why does the way of the wicked prosper?” In Jeremiah 15, he explains to God that he did what he asked him to do. All he got was persecution and ‘pain.’ I have often thought that his incurable pain was physical. Still, as I studied his life, I see rounds of depression, self-pity, and just feeling sorry for himself, feeling that God was not trustworthy.

God explains to Jeremiah that he needs to repent and find the good in everyone, and by repenting of feeling this way, God will restore him to his place standing before him. He told Elijah that there were at least 7,000 who had not bowed the knee, and God wasn’t through with him. Both of these men continued to minister and be God’s spokesmen. Much of Jeremiah’s sadness came from his lament over the coming destruction of Jerusalem and later what he saw as a lonely city. He gives us five chapters outlining this sad event as the city of the Lord lies in ruins in the Book of Lamentations. In Hebrew, it is actually the book of How? Meaning How did it come to this?

Then there is King David, who spent many years running from Saul as he had been anointed the true king, chosen by God. Later, David has one of his lowest moments at Ziklag. David and his men return home in the town of Ziklag only to find their women and children had been captured by the Amalekites. Now his men want to stone him. His Philistine ally, Achish, had to send him home since the other Lords Philistine refused to let him fight with them.

Now David is devastated. He lost his own family, and his men have turned on him. 1 Sam. 30:6 gives us the answer for all of our Ziklag moments and other traumas.

“And David strengthened himself in the Lord.”

David also had a traumatic moment when his son performed a coup and took his throne. Later, Absalom is slain, and David must mourn. He also mourned the loss of the child conceived from his lustful moment with Bathsheba. For a good study on David’s emotions during these times, read Psalm 18 and find how he trusted God and rest, peace, and joy in God.

The Garment of Praise

The Bible is filled with other stories where people faced difficult seasons and how they found their way to breakthrough, victory, and an overcoming lifestyle. Psalm 54:7 says that “the Lord has delivered me out of all of my troubles.”

Psalm 55:22 “cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you.”

The Lord and drawing strength from Him enables us to press through to the next day and the next level.

Isaiah 61 is the chapter Jesus read from in the synagogue where he speaks of Himself as the one fulfilling the acceptable year of the Lord, setting the captives free. In verse three, we read, “to those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. (KJV)

We are supposed to be like oaks, trees planted by the Lord that will not wither in the heat. Depression and heaviness are the enemy’s heat that he sends to cause us to wither and die. Receive the garment of Praise today and walk in a life of continual praise, even when adverse events are occurring all around us.

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Introducing The Friend Of The Bridegroom

A Well and A Wedding

John 3:29 “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.”

John The Baptist: A Friend of The Bridegroom

In the above verse, the author of John’s gospel, John the apostle, is writing about John the Baptist and his role as the forerunner of Jesus. John came preaching repentance, and he quoted Isaiah 40:3-4 when mentioned that he was ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness.’ This was John’s answer to his disciples explaining why he didn’t try to stop Jesus from baptizing.

John the Baptizer, as the name should be correctly translated, explained his role was to get people ready for Jesus’ arrival on the scene. He used the analogy of members of a wedding party for several reasons. First, weddings were a joyous occasion in the Jewish culture then. Weddings are still an incredibly festive time among Jews today.

John also used this analogy because he understood his role in introducing the groom to the bride. Jesus is the groom, and his bride is the righteous from the Old Covenant and those born of the Spirit in the New Covenant. The forerunner is the one who went ahead of the groom to go and prepare the bride or make sure that she was ready.

The forerunner, or friend of the bridegroom was supposed to go through the streets shining lamps, and at some point, he would sound the shofar, or ram’s horn, announcing the coming of the groom. The friend of the bridegroom was a long tradition going back to the days of Abraham. It was a message that the Essenes, of whom John was affiliated, knew quite well, and some Essenes spent most of their time fasting and praying in this vein.

A Bride And A Well

Genesis chapter 24 outlines the story where Abraham gets a bride for his son Isaac. It is a very typical story where marriages are arranged in Middle eastern fashion. But it is also a story for us to apply as we anticipate the return of Jesus.

Abraham sends his head servant, Eleazar of Damascus to seek a bride in a far away country. Instructions and gifts are provided to Eleazar so that when he arrives at the place he will know what to do. Isaac is back with Abraham and never sees his future bride until she arrives with Eleazar.

When Eleazar arrives he finds Rebekah at a spring, or well where many young women were gathering water in their jars. Eleazar prays for favor and for the right young lady that God would have to be the bride of his master’s son to offer water for him and his camels.

Before the servant could finish his prayer, Rebekah arrives with her jar on her shoulder. Her father was the son of Abraham’s brother Nahor. His name was Bethuel and Rebekah was very beautiful and still a vigin. When Eleazar saw her he ran to her and asked for water from her jar, and she obliged him.As the story goes Eleazar finds favor and Rebekah is given permission to return with him and become Isaac’s bride. He gave many precious gifts to Rebekah and her family. She returns with Eleazar after they blessed her saying, “ May you, our sister, become the mother of thousands of ten thousands, and may your descendants possess the gates of those who hate them.” Genesis 24:60 MEV

Upon arrival Isaac sees Rebekah and she sees him and they are both immediately in love, and Isaac takes her into Sarah’s tent and she becomes his bride, and the mother of many , many thousands and millions of peoples. The story has many symbols that we can easily overlook. Eleazar is the servant, but he represents the Holy Spirit seeking a bride for his master and his son. The master is God the Father, Isaac is Jesus and Rebekah is the church, the bride of Christ.

Jesus Seeks A Bride At A Well

Jesus spoke of weddings and made many comparisons to His ministry and His return to a wedding and wedding feast. He performed His first recorded miracle at a wedding feast in Cana. You see God has been looking for a bride for His Son for eternity. The prophet Jeremiah told the Children of Israel when they were preparing to be removed into exile that the voice of the Bridegroom, the voice of the Bride, and the voice of those who rejoice in the Lord would return to the land. (see Jeremiah 33:11)

Weddings were so important in that culture that Jeremiah spent a lot of time prophesying that the voice of a wedding feast would not be heard. How sad. No wonder he lamented, and later wrote How? How did it come to this? God had married and consummated the marriage in the tabernacle in the wilderness and now Israel has become a harlot.

When Jesus arrives on the scene, John is not only preparing the way for Jesus as Messiah but as the Bridegroom of the Righteous to become the bride of the lamb. Jesus gave us an example of His intent to include the nations in this bride to be when He went out of His way to go to Samaria. We make so much out of this story, but we always miss what Jesus was trying to tell us.

Jesus did come to the lost sheep of Israel first but their role was to be a light to the nations and that would be fulfilled when He sent out the twelve. So Samaria is the last place a righteous Jewish rabbi from Galillee would be found, unless He is making a statement.

He goes to a well. Why? Was he looking for water? He said He was the living water. Was He looking for a bride? Yes, but not the literal woman, but all of the Samaritans, certainly all nations, not just Israel.

Jesus went to a well looking for a bride amiong the nations. (see John 4)

The Holy Spirit: Friend of The Bridegroom

We like to put ourselves in the context as forerunners like John the Baptizer as preparing for the return of Christ. There are special voices that God has raised up to be just that. Also, every believer and disciple of Christ is a forerunner in some way.

We are not only the bride but we assume the role of ‘friend of the bridegroom’ when we introduce others to Jesus. But the real friend of the bridegroom, the one doing all the work is The Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is looking all over the earth for people to come into agreement with their destiny as the bride of Christ. Not only do we enter as citizens of the kingdom but we will marry the lamb. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring us gifts and prepare us for the wedding.

Sure, He uses people like us to prepare the church. Others help us to get ready. We help each other, but it is Holy Spirit’s job to prepare us and then He will tell the Father that the bride is ready and the Son will come get her.

In Revelation 22:17 ‘the Spirit and the bride say come. Let him who hears say ‘come.’ Let him who is thirsty come. Let him who desires take the water of life freely.’ MEV

Notice that the Spirit and bride are inviting others to the well, or river of life. Wells and weddings are what it is all about in the Kingdom of God. Join me with the real friend of the bridegroom and say come quickly Lord Jesus and come all you who are thirsty.

Revelation 19:7 tells us that the Bride has made herself ready! That is only accomplished by and through the work of the Holy Spirit. So let us allow the Holy Spirit to make us ready!!!!!

Thanks to Jill Austin and her book Dancing with Destiny :Awaken Your Heart To Dream To Love To War, for the revelation of the Holy Spirit as the Friend of the Bridegroom.

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Five Signs You May Be Dealing With A Mammon Spirit

Jesus talked a lot about provision, money, wealth, and its effect on the kingdom lifestyle. He talked about putting God first and storing up treasure in heaven. He also talked a lot about serving and helping others from a love relationship with Him and the Father. When it came to dealing with storing up earthly riches, Jesus talked about a spirit called Mammon.

Matthew 6:24 “no one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” NASB

What Is Mammon?

The Greek word ” mamonas ” means wealth, riches, possessions, or property. Having land, houses, cars, and other possessions is by no means bad. It takes those things to live. But the question is ‘do they own you, or do you own them?’ Does the money work for you, or do you work for money? In other words, it is true what the scripture says ‘the love of money is the root of all evil,’ 1 Timothy 6:10

I am not here to judge or tear anyone down but rather to help you look at your heart and examine it as I have and allow the Holy Spirit to bring freedom in how you handle money and finances. Everything we have belongs to God, and we are just stewards. However, if we get into debt or can’t pay bills or buy food, etc., we tend to stress and worry. This is not healthy, nor is it part of God’s plan.

Matthew 6: 26, “ Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”

Birds, Birds, and More Birds

I’ve noticed since spring, an abundance of birds on and around the property where we are located. I have watched them, and they get closer and closer to where we sit outside. There is a barbed wire near that area, and they come and sit and watch us and sing. Most recently, I have seen a goldfinch land and perch there. Most people WhenSuch a beautiful creature and a reminder that God orders their steps. Then there are sparrows, wrens, chickadees, crows, cardinals, blackbirds, bluebirds, larks, robins, and geese. The geese stop off in the field and, without fear, eat and lay and move about until they are done, and the leader honks and they follow in perfect formation.

Not only are these birds taken care of by our Father in heaven, but they seem to know that they are safe around here. Even the geese know when to stop and leave. I have also seen a few doves, and they are marvelous birds. Every bird has a function, and purpose and is part of God’s plan. Don’t you think he has a role, purpose, and plan for you and me?

Whatever stage you are at on the journey in the kingdom, we must always consider how we handle money and ‘riches’. This reflects how we view God and His kingdom. We are so accustomed to borrowing money for nearly everything around us. Amazon, Target, and all major retailers each offer their own credit card or line of credit. At some point, we have to quit being slave to debt and be free as we were meant to be with the resources God has provided us.

I have five things that signal you may be under the influence of the spirit we call mammon (mamonas) or riches.

Worry And Anxiety Over Money

Concern is not the same as worry, but it can lead to it when we obsess over money and constantly figure out ways to make more money. That leads to stress, anxiety, insomnia, and a whole host of psychological and physical problems. When this happens, then you are working for money, and not the other way around. In addition, a lack of trust in God’s provision leads to anxiety.

Money Mismanagement

I know people, and I have been one myself, who never have money because they simply cannot handle or manage money well. They make good money, but they are always broke. They don’t tithe or give into the kingdom, they never save or invest, and they spend beyond their means. This leads to worry and other problems.

Impulse Buying

Have you ever gone shopping and walked into the store, and before you found the first item on your list, your cart was half full of stuff you don’t need? Are you one that watches infomercials and purchases the latest fashion or nifty, trending items? Those impulse buying habits will keep you broke, and with a lot of stuff, you have no use for and probably never will.

Greed

You probably want to skip past this, thinking that it only applies to the super-rich when it can apply to anyone, especially the super-poor. Greed is like cancer that is never satisfied. I have seen poor people go to a thrift store or even ministries that offer free items, and they just can’t be satisfied with a few items. Often, they are worse than those loaded with many.

Greedy people have a thirst and hunger for money and possessions that cannot be quenched. Shopping addictions are also a form of this monster.

Bondage of Debt

I have already mentioned that the Bible says that the borrower is the slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7. But also, the Bible tells us that the wicked borrow and do not pay back. Psalm 37:21 Nasb. So many people have a mortgage, two car notes, and credit card debt.

When they do borrow, most people can’t seem to help themselves and get too much house and too expensive a car for their income. So they don’t plan ahead. So, God is our provider, but he also gives us wisdom. He is not a genie in a bottle or a vending machine.

When we come into the Kingdom of God, we work for Him. He owns everything, and we are stewards. He provides for us as he sees first. Money is just one means to obtain goods and services we need to live. The job is not the only way in which God provides. Kingdom-minded people must learn to live a kingdom lifestyle and not be controlled by riches or wealth. Jesus told us to lay up treasure in heaven.

One final thought: God is all about multiplication, but He likes to use what we have. Elisha used a widow’s oil to help her get her miracle. It multiplied, and she sold it to pay her debts. Have you set money aside that God can multiply?

If you identify with any one of these areas, then come out of agreement and come into God’s plan for provision and let your money work for you.

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Ten Characteristics of A Religious Spirit

The term religious spirit or spirit of religion is not mentioned by name as such in the Bible, but the evidence is everywhere, especially in the Gospels. Daily our thoughts become a battlefield where we must take captive every thought, putting it on the cross and taking up the mind of Christ. Unfortunately, however, we often yield to thoughts that are being guided by demonic influences.

Through time, these thoughts become strongholds and influence or control us. That is how it is with the ‘spirit of religion.’ Jesus encountered it when he confronted the Pharisees or religious leaders of the day. There was no Biblical mandate for a Sanhedrin or any similar religious group. This evolved after the exiles returned and rebuilt the temple.

Since there was no ark of the covenant in the second temple because it was hidden before the destruction, there was nowhere to bring the sacrifice, no mercy seat, and thus the priestly function was altered. In response to the need for instruction, the schools of the prophets gradually evolved into what we see present when Jesus arrives on the scene. They had taken the ten commandments and built a system of dos and don’ts of 613 in number.

No wonder he spent so much time dealing with this spirit. They had lost the heart or true meaning of the matters. They had become dull, full of tradition and man’s ways, and had no relationship or understanding of what the Torah was really there for. The word Torah should be translated into instruction, but we have lost that understanding.

Today the same spirit exists in our world. Religion can be a good thing, and according to James’ epistle, it is a heart matter where we serve those in need. Whether it shows up corporately or individually, we have all been subjected to the snares of this unclean spirit at one time or another. Below I give ten characteristics that anyone can identify with. This is only a sampling.

1-Leave The Command of God For Man’s Traditions

Mark 7:8 ‘You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.’ ESV other translations say you have left the commandments of God and hold onto man’s traditions.

I remember growing up as a Pastor’s son, and my dad would ask his flock why they did something a certain way, and the reply was, “ we’ve always done it that way.”

If we are doing something, we need to know why and it should be from God. If it is no longer working, we must let the Holy Spirit lead us to fresh streams.

2-Teach Doctrines AS Commands

Many of the things that are taught and practiced are commands from God through His Word. However, some things we call doctrines are not God’s commands. Telling someone that Salvation requires works or putting needless conditions on how to mature in discipleship are examples.

3-Hypocritical

Often someone can say something, but they do the opposite in practice. For example, they say they are prayer warriors or intercessors but never attend a scheduled prayer meeting. Perhaps they say they love helping the homeless but never participate in any way.

4-Critical Spirit

A person operating in a critical spirit is often controlled by a religious spirit. They never find the good in anything and criticize the sermon, music, lights, and everything else. They can never find a good word about a person or situation.

5-Jealousy

Jealousy and envy are strong spirits in their own right, but they often come in with a religious spirit. A church or person operating with religion often is jealous of everyone and everything around them. They compete and desire position and recognition and will step on whoever they have to to get it.

6-Pride

Again, this is a major spirit affecting so many in the body of Christ. The Pharisees had a lot of pride due to their status. Many in the body of Christ are afraid of losing a position when a new move of God comes. As a result, many get comfortable and are unwilling to change because pride has helped them maintain a position, one that often was not where they were supposed to be in the first place.

7-Rejecting God To Establish Your Own Traditions

We often do what God says, and through time, we just keep doing it because it feels good. God has moved on, and we are unaware of it. I have been part of some major moves of God where this happened, and once the leaders realized and decided to move with God, it was too late. We need fresh streams to keep His work fresh and alive.

8- Always Looking Back At The Past

If we always admire what God did twenty years ago, we will never see what He is doing now! Looking back helps us learn and grow, but we should never camp out on past moves of God.

9- Accuse Those Who Do Not Follow You

We want everyone to like us and like what we teach. When we get a fresh revelation, and people don’t think it is as great as we did, we get offended and offer labels to them like Jezebel or deceived. We should always speak the truth and let the Holy Spirit handle the results.

10- Glory In Anything But The Finished Work Of The Cross

A religious spirit will always steer the focus away from Jesus and the finished work of the cross. That is the last thing Satan wants us to focus on.

Satan always offers a counterfeit to what God says and does. That is His goal. He doesn’t care if you go to church, pray, feed the poor, or read your Bible; he just doesn’t want you to fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Come out of agreement with a religious Spirit and strongholds like pride, jealousy, and accusation, and come back to the Word. Repent and return to your loving Father’s arms.

Get ready for the New thing that God is bringing. You will never accept what God is doing if you and I remain under the guise of religion, always watching and criticizing.

Scripture references: Mark 7: 1-14; Matthew 15:3, Matthew 15:12.

Some material adapted from Peter Wagner’s Book ‘Freedom From The Religious Spirit”, Chosen books, is available on Amazon. See Chapters 3,4, and 5.

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Understanding The Mark of The Beast

A Jewish and First-Century Context


I hesitate to even write on the Mark of the Beast with all of the carrying on about the COVID-19 vaccine. Yet, I feel that I must do so now as there is so much out there that is simply error, lack of understanding, ignorance, or just plain untruth. We need to take a look at the context of the book of Revelation and particularly chapter thirteen.

The Book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John on the island of Patmos, where he was living in exile. Jesus appeared to Him and told him to write what he saw. Jesus tells us plainly in the opening verses that the Book of Revelation that it is a revelation or revealing of Him. Yes, there may be strange creatures, a lamb with seven heads: slain, Beasts, plagues, bowls of judgment, horses released, a city compared to a bride, and many unusual things, but this book is all about Jesus.

With that in mind, remember it was written near the end of the first century where the Roman empire was already persecuting and killing Christians in large numbers. It helps to understand the context of something and why and when it was written. Since Revelation is prophetic, it is often misunderstood. You have to put it with the other one hundred and forty or so chapters about the End-times to get an understanding.

Marks Mean Property

Marking the body is an ancient technique used to identify personal property, such as a slave or a brand on cattle. In addition, the Amalekites used to mark their bodies to show their dedication to their gods. Women who were involved in prostitution or who were sex slaves also had marks to identify them as such. Marking the body, whether through piercing, tattooing, or scarring the flesh were used in every society throughout history.

The Native Americans marked their bodies for war, religious ceremonies, and other special needs. Likewise, African slaves were marked in various manners, often to identify who they belonged to. Hitler had numbers marked on the bodies of Jewish people during WWII. Today we find gangs have a unique mark, often a tattoo that means they belong to a particular gang.

Every one of these serves to demonstrate that the recipient of the mark was someone’s property or a devotee to a religious cult, tribe, gang, or other similar groups. Regardless of the purpose or the recipient, there was always someone on the other end of the mark, whether enemies, a slave master, a pimp, gang leader, cult or other religious leaders or even an organization. Even in modern warfare, armed service members often get a tattoo as an identifying mark, sort of a rite of passage.

Binding The Law On Their Bodies

Deuteronomy 6:4-8 “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”

You may recognize verse four as the Shema that every Hebrew child can recite at an early age signaling their recognition of the one true God, YHVH. Then we find the greatest commandment, loving God with all of our being. The Jews were told repeatedly to teach their children the statutes, laws, ordinances, and commands of God. Moses went further to say to them to bind them to their bodies but notice where.

The first place was between the eyes, near the seat of thought, memory, and where learning is located, the head. Between the eyes indicates that they were to meditate on it day and night. The second place was the ‘hand.’ The original Hebrew just said hand. We use the hands to work and perform duties such as writing down God’s Holy Word.

Today you can find religious Jews wearing a tallit and the phylacteries as they are known on their forehead and left hand. No one knows why the left hand is used, but that has been the case for three thousand years. The wearing of the phylacteries or symbols of the law is an outward symbol of their devotion to YHVH, Adonai, or God and His laws, statutes, and ordinances. They are making a statement saying that they belong to God and He is near through His Word.

The Sealed of God

Revelation chapter seven lists those sealed in their foreheads as 144,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. In chapter nine, we see the angels being told to only harm those not sealed with God’s seal in their forehead. We see this introduced at the beginning of chapter seven.

We see in the latter half of chapter seven those who came off victorious from the Great Tribulation from every tribe standing around the throne and worshipping the Lamb of God. So now we have those with God’s seal in their foreheads and those tribulation martyred saints worshipping around the throne of God. The Bible also speaks about another seal, and that is the Holy Spirit. When we first come to believe, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13 ESV)

Other verses that speak of the Holy Spirit as a seal for believers include 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 4:30, 2 Corinthians 5:5, and Revelation 22:4, which says they will see His face and His name will be on their foreheads.

Worship of The AntiChrist: His Mark His Property

I will not belabor this work by reciting Revelation chapter thirteen. You can read it, and you need to after this. I just want to focus on a few key ingredients. First, the Beast has a mark that he requires everyone to have to buy and other essential goods and services. Without it, you go hungry. Second, this Beast is part of the AntiChrist unholy trinity with the false prophet as the third member.

To tie it all together, we saw that the Jews had a ‘mark’ or bound the law to the left hand and the forehead, the saints of God are sealed by the Holy Spirit, and the Jewish witnesses are sealed in their forehead. This sealing indicates we belong to the one true God and that we have pledged to worship Him alone and no other ‘god,’ not even a Beast with a number of a man.

Thus the AntiChrist will seek to lure people of every status into making an eternal pact with a bowl of lentils like Esau and Jacob. But this is not about a blessing, but one’s eternal soul. Therefore, by taking this mark, you cannot be sealed by God, and you have decided who you want to serve.

One Final Key From Daniel’s Friends

There have been many ‘Anti-Christ’ figures throughout history, and each one demanded worship of all of those with whom they held influence. The book of Daniel highlights one of the famous empire builders who ruled over many nations. His name was Nebuchadnezzar, and he built a statue demanding that when the people heard the music, they should bow to the statue and worship.

Daniel’s three friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, as they were called in Hebrew, refused to bow to the statue when the music played. You know the story of how they were thrown in a fiery furnace, and Jesus appeared and walked among them. They came out unscathed by the fire and smoke because they were obedient and served God first.

The lesson is that the AntiChrist, Beast, and false prophet will demand worship of every tribe, tongue, nation, people, and language on the earth. They will require them to be marked, so they know who is devoted to them. Those who refuse to face a death sentence where they will either starve, suffer, be tormented, or ultimately martyred.

I think that makes it pretty clear. You will be sealed and marked by God or the Antichrist ruler and his Babylonian system. Where do you stand? Will you bow and worship the statue? Will you sell out to Satan and his kingdom? That is what it is all about, not a vaccine, or chip. These are just means to an end. A dry run to see what they can get away with.

The kingdoms of this world will fall, but before they do they will make one last effort to rule and take as many to hell with them! Who’s mark or seal do you have?

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Pruning Season In The Kingdom of God

https://www.tiktok.com/@jlfloyd103/video/6985511443726667013?lang=en&is_copy_url=0&is_from_webapp=v1&sender_device=pc&sender_web_id=6981029436221933061

Follow the above link for a short video on this subject.

I’ve been talking a lot about dealing with baggage, hurts, wounds, and stuff that holds us back in our Kingdom walk. I have discussed how we need to be zealous to get rid of those things in our lives that hinder us from walking in full fellowship with God. Still, sometimes there is a time where Jesus takes care of stuff for us.

I am talking about pruning season where the Master gardener comes and cuts out the dead, useless, and often times worthless branches. We think we are ok and we are doing things that please the Father, and we may be bearing some fruit but to the world, they see a half-dead tree. If we are truly abiding in him then every branch will bear fruit.

Abiding is Pruning

John 15:2, “every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and

every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

Verse 4 “Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

The meaning of truly abiding in Christ is often misunderstood, but it is simple to understand. Abide means to remain stable, fixed, wait patiently and accept without objection. Jesus uses the illustration of a vine. He calls Himself the master gardener, vinedresser, and pruner.

If you have never grown grapes, scuppernongs, or muscadines, then this illustration may not be familiar. However, even if you have done any gardening, whether flowers, fruit trees, berries, or vegetables, you know the principle still applies.

I used to help my grandmother with her vines. Every year after the fruit was picked and gone, we had to determine which branches needed pruning. You see, we are the branches, and Jesus is the vine. He is the one the supplies the sap to the branches. The branches are nothing without Him.

That pretty much illustrates abiding. The branches yield to the vine and are unable to grow or produce fruit without the vine.

The branches grow and sometimes they just produce green leaves and no fruit. When a branch continues to bear no fruit, it is worthless from producing grapes or fruit. It needs to be cut back so new life will stream forth, and it can produce fruit and not just leaves. Knowing where to make the proper cut to prune is vital. Cut too short, and it may do no more than just produce two worthless branches. Cut too close to the vine, and it may trigger the branch to wither and die.

So you see, while abiding means life, pruning is a part of abiding and means hope to bear fruit again. Who wants just to produce leaves and look good. Yet, that is how we often do in the kingdom of God, we do a lot of things, but they really bear no fruit for the kingdom.

It’s Our Turn

It’s time to examine our lives and everything that we do. Is it bearing fruit, or is it making us feel good and look good? Why do we do what we do anyway? What is our motive? Maybe we are doing exactly what He told us, but it has become mundane and void of life.

There are many reasons why we stop producing fruit in any given area. If we are not in a state of continuous worship, prayer, and daily in the Word, we loosen the vine’s flow, and we are unable to receive. Perhaps we have grown into a big branch, looking like a superstar, and we just need to be cur back. Whatever the case, let Jesus highlight those things in your life today and allow Him to make the cuts. If we do it ourselves, we will surely make a mess.

After all, He is the vinedresser, and He knows what He is doing! Jesus, we thank you that it is pruning season, and we permit you to prune us back. WE also allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse and heal the wounds where the pruning cuts. WE choose not to be offended at you or any means by which you use to prune us.

Thank Jesus for preparing us to bear much fruit in the days ahead.

Enjoy pruning season with the Master.

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