Who Can Save the United States of America?

As I continue to age and mature physically, emotionally, and most importantly spiritually, I find that the depth and breadth of the Word continues to emote awe.  The book of Ezekiel, by the prophet Ezekiel who was exiled in Babylon around 600B.C. or so, centers upon the themes of Judgement and blessings for Israel. His words are quite relevant today:

Ezekiel 14:12-14 NIV
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its people and their animals, even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job —were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

The meaning might not be obvious at first, so let’s look a little deeper. The elders of Babylon had approached the prophet Ezekiel asking for his guidance, as they had fallen away from God. This is a central theme throughout human history as nations grow and fall, with a strong moral decline always preceding their eventual destruction.

Above Ezekiel is saying (as received by God) that even three of His most righteous men Noah, Daniel, and Job together, could not save the fallen nation. That is a massive statement. God chose Noah of all men to save before the flood. God saved Daniel from the mouths of lions and made him prime minister of six nations. God loved and trusted Job so much that he allowed him to be tested by satan, and paid him double for his suffering.

If those three men could not save Babylon in the eyes of God, what can save our country from it s dive into moral oblivion? The answer of course is Christ, as he already paid for our sins, but are you taking the steps necessary? Is your church not only saving you, but teaching you how to live a life for Christ? Your soul is you, and is beyond priceless. Please do not pay lip-service to God as he knows your hearts. Much of our generation are “practical atheists.” What does that mean?

It means that while they might say out loud that they are Christians, they do not live their lives for Christ, but instead themselves, or this world. Be sure that your pastors, your shepherds, are guiding you on the true path to salvation. It does not do well to dwell in mediocrity when you are preparing to defend your right to eternity. Christ is the answer to your salvation, please be sure that you taking all of the steps necessary for you and your loved ones to enter His kingdom!

If you want to be saved, open your heart to Jesus and pray the following:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died for my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I now invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Many people will share memes of various things, but not posts such as these. Please remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” 

Agape Love – Tests of your Faith

Tests of Your Faith 

One of the great things about God is that you can’t hide anything from him. In our modern world of technology, everyone fears that “someone” is watching. The funny thing is, not only are “they” watching, but God watches, and he doesn’t miss anything. 

People have a tendency, especially on social media, to only show the “good” things about themselves, or perhaps, elaborate a tad more than is realistic to give the appearance of being better than they actually are. You can’t hide anything from God, and he knows that. He knows that we will all fail miserably in living up to his expectations, and what is so great about him, is that he not only gave us a way out (or into his eternal kingdom) through the sacrifice of His Son, he allowed us to retain free will, and choose how we will spend eternity.

Throughout our lives we are tested in ways that we can see and acknowledge as being tests, and in other ways, when we are not aware that we are being tested. One great way for you to acknowledge if you are fervently trying to walk the path of righteousness, is how you respond to certain conditions that you will face in life.

As an example, Luke 6:27-36 addresses the concept of loving your enemies. First the definition of “enemy” in this context can take many forms (i.e. those who are generally not for you, compared to those who intentionally intend to, or have, committed you harm etc.), but the really important thing in these verses is the concept of love. Love is a central theme in the Word, and there are many forms of love, some described quite succinctly by not only Jesus, but Paul. Here however in Luke (some believe that Luke here is the physician, and companion of Paul), the author is using a most precious form of love, and that is called “agape” love.

Agape love is the purest form of love, or how God loves his children. Another way to look at it might be, with agape love you do not care what someone looks like, who their friends are, what they have done, how they have treated you, how they have belittled or stolen from you, or lied about you, or if they have hurt you or your friends or anything like that. Essentially agape love is pure love and concern for the well-being of someone, regardless of their appearance, and whether or not that love is reciprocated.

Can we love like that? Sure, many of us can say that we do, or have, but can we follow through with that love? A good test is brought out by Luke, let’s examine a few different translations:

Luke 6:28-30 NIV
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

This translation does not bring out the full context behind the thought. Bless those (pray for and assist) those that have intentionally committed you harm. If someone takes [something] from you, let them have it, don’t demand that they return it, and give them more than they take… To help a bit more let’s examine another translation.

Luke 6:28-30 MSG
When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff.

I’m not a huge fan of the Message translation, normally I will read the NIV for general reading, and the NRSV for study, however sometimes the slang of the MSG can help highlight a few concepts. This translation says if someone is or has done you harm, pray for them (respond with the energies of, implies an intensity or fervent nature of the prayer) basically while they are doing you harm. Let them slap you, let them steal, let them gossip, in other words, while they sin not just against God, but against you, pray for their soul while they are doing it.

Think of that type of love. Let’s say someone takes someone, or something from you that causes you enormous pain and suffering. Here Luke is saying “No tit-for-tat,” or perhaps more clearly, do not demand, seek, or even think about retribution in any shape or form. Simply love them and know that the act they are committing against you, will be paid for by God, in a way that he deems appropriate. Pray for them because our God is a vengeful God, against those that have harmed his children. You know their actions will result in their suffering, so instead of taking action yourself, pray that God will open their hardened hearts and heal their souls, so that they too, can become children of His Kingdom.

That is a very difficult thing to do. Imagine someone taking your child, and then sometime later, you have the very person who committed the crime in the cross-hairs of your rifle a few hundred meters away, and no one knows you are there, do you pull the trigger? Of course not! Why? God knows you are there, and more importantly, so do you. Our purpose should not be just to strive to be better people because we believe in Christ. We should want, we should desire, we should strive to be better, because we are children of the most High God!

Agape love. The purest, truest, most beautiful form of love. Loving someone no matter what they have done, are doing, or will do to you. Loving someone purely, without jealousy or even a whisper of avarice. Loving someone because you know that no matter who they are, what they look like, or what they have done, at their center, their very core is their soul. The breath of God. Nothing is more beautiful.

Pass the tests that come your way in life. Strive to do so, because you are beautiful, you are loved, and you were created out of that love by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God who spoke worlds into existence, flung stars into space at a whim, and loves us enough to look past our faults, and see that within our core is the ability to love Him, as he loves us. 

If you want to be saved, open your heart to Jesus and pray the following:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died for my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I now invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Many people will share memes of various things, but not posts such as these. Please remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” 

Great Song: “Let Go” by Dewayne Woods :)

I heard a great song this evening while watching a sermon by John Gray. DeWayne Woods, an award winning singer came on stage and played “Let Go.” The lyrics say a great deal, in how we all cling to “things” in this life. We must have the newest gadget, toy, car, or clothes… we are literally tempted and seduced by commercials that we must have “that thing” and rush to amazon or a store to buy it. We spend a great deal of time “sprucing up” the vessel that is our physical bodies, yet spend little, if any time on that which is most important: our souls. As some of you know I faced death once, and it scared the living heck out of me. A friend said “If you know you are saved, why worry about death?” Quite simply, just because I am saved does not mean I am immune to fear, the unknown, or human failings.
 
Romans 6:26 tells us “…the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” With that knowledge I should be confident and comfortable with what comes next. After all death is the natural cycle of this life, in which “… the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7)
 
A few friends said why do you post things about Jesus on Facebook, aren’t you ashamed? Before I felt His spirit, I might have been a little bit because we all suffer from vanity of some form, a desire for approval from others. However, here is the thing. That moment when we all face judgement, God will not care what others think about our actions. He will know our hearts and why we chose to do what we did. If you know that God is real, and that actions you choose to take in your life are against his will (sin), and you consciously choose to take those actions you will have to face the consequences. Forgiveness is available for all who seek it, you simply must humble yourselves, and realize that if you want to live in peace beyond this life you need help to do it. That’s why I liked the song tonight. Here is the chorus:
 
As soon as I stop worrying,
Worrying how the story ends
I let go and I let God
Let God have His way
 
Have you ever thought about why Satan is so mad.. and evil? Pastor John Gray said something funny tonight. In context he said maybe Satan is mad because he made one mistake and got kicked out of heaven. Yet here we are, making mistakes each and every day of our lives, yet He sends His Son down to us, as a sacrifice for our sins, so that we may be forgiven and return home to him. We really are awfully lucky, aren’t we? Could any of us make it without forgiveness? ✝️🤠
 
I couldn’t find an actual music video of the song, but here is a version on youtube. If your heart has not yet hardened (hardening of the heart is when people can not open their hearts to the Truth about Jesus), this song may bring a tear or two to your eyes ❤️
 

I Worry

I worry. Have you ever been in a crowded place like a movie theater, or stadium; and taken a moment to look around to realize that every single person you see is an individual human life? Each with their own thoughts, dreams, fears, joys, hopes, and more importantly, their own view on life. At the same time, each of those people will at some point face the end of their life. Then…. What will happen?

We all have our personal view of the purpose of this life. Why are we here? Are we here to trudge through each day going through the motions of living, or perhaps is there a chance that something else is involved?

The truth is that God is real. I was literally healed on the altar, and felt the touch of the Holy Spirit. I’ve always believed in God, but only once in my life felt the truly awesome, powerful, and wonderful touch of his presence. So why do I worry?

Our souls, our spirits are trapped within our physical bodies. We are influenced and tempted by the flesh. Most people will casually disregard these temptations as nothing more than folly, or joy in living. The reason they do this, is they have not felt the touch of the spirit, taken the time and effort to learn the truth, or accepted Christ as their savior. Sadly, even those that have accepted Christ and attend church regularly will often times yield to temptation, usually through self-validation, and consciously commit sins even when they know better. The good thing is Jesus knows our failings, and forgave us through his Blood at Calvary.  So why do I care?

Every life is an absolutely precious gift. Try not to disregard a stranger that crosses your path, as they could be an angel on earth, or a person in need. Have you ever been in need, alone, or suffering, and been walking around somewhere that people simply passed you by, and wished someone would say “are you O.K.”? How nice would it be if you took a moment to do that for someone else?

Take a moment each day of course to praise God, and not just tell him your problems, because he already knows what they are. Then, more importantly, take a part of your day to help a fellow human being. In this day of modern technologies, how many people wake up alone, live alone, and go to sleep alone each and every day? That is a horrible way to live, and no one deserves to spend a life like that.

Many people will have stopped reading by now, but if you have not, here is something to help you out. In this life that you and I are living, we are literally in bondage. Our souls are chained to our physical bodies because of the original sin, and these physical bodies are a constant source of temptation. If you glance at someone that you find physically attractive, are you tempted? Is that temptation pure? How about lying to make yourself look good? Or lying about something you did wrong, so other people will not look down about you. How about stealing because you could get away with it, or hurting someone’s feelings to make you feel good for a moment.

By accepting Christ as your savior, you can break the chains of bondage, but that is only the beginning. You must fill your soul with His Spirit by reading his word, learning his word, and living your life for Him. If you have attended a church and left because you did not feel welcome, that is O.K., find another. I’ve been to churches all across the country, and witnessed people that have attended for years pretending to live for Christ, while falling to unimaginable temptations. None of us are perfect, nor can we achieve perfection in this life, but we can try. Finding a good church that serves His needs, and Your needs is difficult. Don’t give up. Has your Pastor walked up to you and said: “How is your soul?” This is important in many ways. If your Pastor doesn’t ask, ask yourself, and just as important, ask a friend.

No human knows the absolute truth about this life, but it is quite possible that this is a one-shot deal. If it is, are you sure that you are ready for what comes next? I worry about myself, but I also worry about anyone that might be reading this.

Please don’t make the mistake of not seeking the truth; of striving for eternal salvation. Your chains CAN be broken. Accept Christ, learn his word, but more importantly live for Christ every single day. You will love yourself more if you do.

 

To Rebuke is to Love – Proverbs 27:5-6

Proverbs 27:5-6 spoke to me:

Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.

In our politically correct society, people often say to only speak kind words to one another, and to never criticize each other. However here in Proverbs, Solomon, who was granted wisdom by God, says something entirely different. Those of us who were reared during the times of “tough love,” or when punishment was given for wrongdoings, can better understand Solomon’s intent with these passages than those who have been raised in different times.

“Open rebuke” in verse 5 is best defined as when someone provides honest criticism, or disapproval of the action of another. For example, historically one of my failings was the common use of vulgarity, because I spent a great deal of my life in a culture where that behavior was considered normal and accepted. While I have always believed in God, I never considered the use of “colorful metaphors” to be against God, until someone recommended that I research our Bible more deeply to see if perhaps there might be something contrary to my belief. So several years ago I did just that, and found that in the Book of Proverbs, our current reading assignment, there are 25 verse referencing our “mouth” in one form or another. Indeed Jesus himself said: “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Therefore the person who loved me enough to rebuke me, helped guide me closer to the path of righteousness!

This brings us to verse 6, which may not be as direct, or clearly understood as verse 5. Essentially what Solomon is saying here is that there is value in reproof. Let’s re-examine the verse again:

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Here “wounds from a friend” is referencing where someone loves you enough to correct you when you perform an action that is against the intent of God. Perhaps he could have stated it better something like this “A friend who corrects you out of love can be trusted.” If someone truly loved you, would they ignore your sins, or would they try to guide you back to the path of righteousness?

An “enemy multiplies kisses” is more obvious. This is something I have found over the years to be common among churches around the country. People will freely gossip behind your back, yet speak praise in front of you. This was one of Jesus’ pet peeves as is demonstrated throughout scripture.

One might round up the thoughts of Solomon in this manner: True friends understand that all are sinners, and attempt to keep one another on the path of righteousness, so that we all may celebrate His Glory together in the Eternal Kingdom!

Many Are Invited, But Few Are Chosen

I love how the Spirit still teaches me as I read the Word. Matthew 22:14 is often quoted, but rarely fully understood. Of course we can not comprehend God’s true meaning in this life. After the Parable of the Wedding Banquet Jesus says: “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” There is quite a lot in those few words aren’t there?

Jesus said: “Many are invited” [to the Kingdom of Heaven]. Important to note here is that He does not say “all.”

Jesus then said: “but few are chosen” [of those invited] to enter His Kingdom. This might make one consider, why invite someone, if they will not be chosen?

Answer: Free will.

God allows us to choose to submit to the qualities that He defines for acceptance to His Kingdom, however if we refuse and blatantly disregard his decrees, will we be one of the chosen? Can we live in this life without regard for the next? Can we consciously choose to disobey our God and expect to be allowed entry?

We are saved by Faith, but chosen through our works that demonstrate our acceptance of, dedication to, and involvement in the Kingdom of God. Krister Stendahl (New Testament Scholar died 2008) spoke well when he said “Man’s behavior indicates whether he is elect or not.” This is similar to how Jesus said “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles a person.”

It’s amazing how the Spirit can still surprise and inspire me after all these years… Of course our life in His Kingdom is eternal, so I’m just trying to live well now, so that I can make it through the door… Hopefully this little blurb might help you think a little too 

If Your Faith Is True, You Need Not Fear the “End Times.”

There are many who fear and / or preach the “end times,” but unfortunately fail to see the bigger picture, in that we each will face our own end time, as defined by God as he allows us to fulfill the number of our days. You know how people have stolen greatly from me in money, loyalty, property, and spirit, and I have allowed them to do so without fear of recompense, for that is what Jesus would want me to do. Jesus’ brother James said in his epistle “Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air].” This life that we are all living is nothing but a wisp of vapor in the endless expanse of eternity, so we need not be concerned about building bunkers on earth, but instead, enforce our bunker of Christ through our Faith in Him. If our faith is true, we need not fear the “End Times,” but rather embrace them with open arms, for they signal his second coming that exemplifies the end of our suffering.  

How Can We Save Our Nation, and Ourselves?

Our country has been in a state of moral and ethical decline for many years now, and it has reached a point that people are becoming concerned about civil unrest at a level not seen for some time. Many ask why this could be so, and God has an answer in His Word:

2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV – if my people, who are called by my name,  will humble  themselves and pray and seek my face  and turn  from their wicked ways, then I will hear  from heaven, and I will forgive  their sin and will heal  their land..

The vast majority of people in our nation have lost their humility and love for God, believing that God should live to standards that they decree for Him, instead of what He has decreed for us. That is one of the problems with accepting the gift of Free Will; we have our free will, so we can choose not to obey and suffer the consequences. Here God lays down a simple rule, that for a nation to experience his blessing, (whether that nation be Solomon’s, Ezra’s, or our own) those who have been chosen to be His people must cease from their sins, turn from living lives of proud self-centeredness, pray to the Lord, and yield their desires to his Word and his will. Then, and only then, will he a grant heaven-sent revival.

Our Human Spirit Is The Lamp Of The Lord

Proverbs 20:27 spoke to me this evening 😎… There is so much in this scripture, that even after reading it, and the commentary, I feel it is worth further study. Here is the NIV version:
 
The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord
that sheds light on one’s inmost being.
 
Now the NRSV version:
The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord,
searching every inmost part.
 
Notice the difference in the translations. NRSV says our Spirit is searching, yet the NIV hints at our Spirit exposing our inner nature… After reading two separate commentaries, my current thoughts are that Solomon is saying when God breathed His life into us, he left a part of Himself, or His Spirit within us, as Genesis attests. However, what else might Solomon be saying? Since I have felt His Spirit, literally, when I was healed on the altar, I can say that feeling is… otherworldly, and indescribable… I feel, but do not know for certain, that the main reason God decided to open His Spirit and heal me, is that when I was praying on the alter, when I was suffering, I humbled myself so deeply and thoroughly, the God knew not only was my repentance real, but my humility finally let Me know, that I can not, and do not wish to live without Him. Thus, our battle as human beings, and His creations, is between the temptation of the Flesh, and our acceptance of His gift that is within all of us. Therefore, if we accept His gift, His Light shines within us. ❤️
 
These are just my current thoughts on the verse… It is a good one… Below are two commentaries that you may find useful if you have read this far 😇
 
Expositor’s Bible Commentary
Conscience that searches motives. God provides everyone with a spirit that can evaluate actions and motives. The Hebrew literally says that the “breath” is the lamp of the Lord (see NIV note–the NIV interprets it differently and supplies “searches”). The “breath” (or “spirit”) is that inner spiritual part of human life that was inbreathed at Creation (Ge 2:7) and that constitutes humans as spiritual beings with moral, intellectual, and spiritual capacities. This spiritual nature includes the capacity to know and please God–it serves as the functioning conscience (the metaphor of “lamp”). This point is further developed in the second part; the searching makes it possible for people to know themselves. If one’s spiritual life is functioning properly (i.e., yielded to God through salvation and controlled by his word [Heb 4:12]), then there should be increasingly less self-deception or indifference to righteousness.
 
Understanding the Bible Commentary
The Hebrew of verse 27a is ambiguous, as the margin of the NIV attests. The marginal reading is to be preferred. It seems to mean that the life-breath from God, by which a person lives (cf. Gen. 2:7; Job 32:8), penetrates to the very interior of a person. This could be taken as a warning, but better, as a consoling indication of how intimate God is to humans (“more intimate to me than I am to myself,” as St. Augustine said). This is not merely the voice of conscience.
 
✝️

Hate The Sin, Love the Sinner

I’m so glad Life Changing Realities Fellowship assigned readings from Proverbs… It is good to review them again, and again… King Solomon was beloved by God, because when God asked him what he wanted, he did not ask for immortality, or riches, but simply wisdom… and it was granted. It’s amazing how his thoughts written between 970-930 B.C. are fundamental cores of morality that have been lost in what we consider “advanced civilization.” I’m constantly amazed at how being right, and good, and true are perceived as being incompatible with technological advancements, when in reality the opposite is true. Tonight a few things spoke to me in our assigned reading, and one is truth… meaning, have you ever been around someone that you know was lying, and it made you feel ‘funny’ inside, or maybe an ill feeling? That is your righteousness struggling to get out. I never really thought about it, but tonight we were assigned Proverbs 13 and verse 3 states: “The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.” My first thought was it seemed odd that King Solomon, beloved of the Lord, would use the word “hate” when referencing the righteous; but then it hit me. King Solomon was not saying that the righteous hate the people who lie, we hate the sin, and that is true. I’ve found it to become quite commonplace of late that people pretending to be righteous, everyone from Preachers, or those pretending to be, long-standing Christians, well anyone really, seems to accept a lie as “normal” and “acceptable” behavior. For me it is important to try very hard to stay on the path of righteousness, because as soon as a foot slips from the path, the fall becomes entirely too easy. So if you feel “something” when you sin, or see someone sin, then you have hope, because that feeling is your soul’s desire for righteousness struggling to come out! Good read tonight 😀✝️🌞